Cold and Damp in the Netherlands


Before reading this post, go stand in the shower with the cold water on for a minute or two. Don't take your clothes off. Now settle down and try to get comfortable. That is what Amsterdam has been like for the last couple of days.

Autumn is not a great season for visiting countries along the North Sea, at least not if one likes warmth. In general I do fine with cold weather, but it's also been raining and I have been soaking wet, which makes for misery.

Wet square

In the last day the feeling of the city has shifted: we changed to Winter Time, and a lot of tourists cleared out on Sunday afternoon. The leaves have not really started to turn yet, though.

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But let's go back a bit. On Friday we met friends at the Bokbierfest, then took a ferry across the water to another bar for a couple more drinks. On the way back, we saw this: one of those tiny little delivery trucks drove right onto a pedestrian/bicycle ferry.

Little truck on the ferry

In order to be able to go on the ferry, a truck must be able to get from one side of the ferry to the next (it doesn't turn around while crossing, so you enter on one end and exit on the other). That corridor back there with the motorcycle is wide enough for a tiny little truck, but not much else.

Little truck on the ferry

(Apologies for the fuzziness; it was very dark and we were on a boat, after all.)

Little cars being sort of an obsession for Noel, our Saturday morning excursion to the Oude Zoud, a shopping district in the South, had this as its highlight. Later research tells us this car is so small you don't need a driver's license to drive it in the Netherlands.

Little tiny car with Noel

Once the touristy things were done, we went back to the festival. It's a simple concept: 7 Euros gets you a 0.2L glass, and 2 Euros gets you a token. You buy a glass and a bunch of tokens and go around tasting various beers, one token apiece. If you are strategic, you can use a group of friends to taste a lot of beers for a little money. If you are me, you just try a few and drink the entire glass.

The festival was held at the Beurs van Berlage, which you may be able to guess from its name is the old stock exchange (beurs = bourse). It's a nice building, somewhere in between Arts and Crafts and Art Deco. An architecture book in the cottage we're staying at claims it as Art Nouveau, but it is definitely not that.

Earlier on in the day, the main hall is nicely clear and you can get to various beers quite easily. Later it fills up with more casual drinkers and becomes intolerable, so we mostly limited our visits to the earlier hours.

At the bokbierfest

Off to the side there is a smaller space that used to be used as a non-smoking room before Amsterdam went non-smoking indoors. There's seating there, and because there are not so many dispensers it tends to be less crowded. We colonized a set of benches as a group. Here you can see the decorative motifs: the frieze is mosaic, while the pattern in the brick is done with coloured bricks.

In the lounge at the festival

Sunday was largely spent walking around getting really damp, although in the evening the rain finally stopped. As we were walking from dinner (at a reasonably authentic Mexican restaurant) to a pub, we passed this sandwich shop. The sign does not immediately bring to mind bread for me.

Sandwich shop

We ended up last night at the Arendsnest bar (Heron's Nest), where they had a very impressive collection of beers on tap. It was full of people known to our friends from previous festivals, which is generally a good sign about the selection.

Drinks at the Heron's Nest

I should say now that I'm not much of a beer drinker. I like it, but I doubt I would have gone way out of my way to go to the festival if it were not that friends were going to be there.

Some other odds and ends from the past few days:

This is what the curbs look like out of the ground. They're not very deep compared to the curbs often used in other places, because too much weight concentrated at one place in this kind of soil would mean sunken curbs everywhere. That's also why they're as wide as they are. In soft delta sand you need to spread the weight over a wider area.

Piece of curb

And yesterday we came across this bollard dug up and thrown to the side. I don't know what happened there, but you can see that they are not set too far into the ground. Which might explain why so many of them have such significant leans; a tap from a car bumper and a shallow bollard will tip over. I suppose that's better than destroying the car, but it seems kind of ineffective given the kinds of speeds cars can get to on these tiny streets.

Knocked out bollard

And in the odd storefronts category, we have the toothbrush shop, complete with motorized ferris wheel with little toothbrushes sitting in it.

Toothbrush store

And an eyeglasses museum (and apparently store, as there were prices on most items in the window).

Eyeglasses museum

It's a funny little city, Amsterdam.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ayse published on October 27, 2008 2:54 AM.

Amsterdam in the Fall was the previous entry in this blog.

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