Monthly Archives: July 2012

Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten…

The title of this post comes from the name of a lovely old Dutch song, “On the Amsterdam Canals.”  The sort of old song you will hear sung by people in the wee hours of the night, but anyway, the first bit of the chorus roughly goes:

On the Amsterdam canals
I pledge my heart forever
Amsterdam fills my mind
The most beautiful city in our country…

Indeed.  I’ve been here nearly a year, and am fairly convinced that this is not just the prettiest city in the Netherlands but maybe even the entire world!

But anyway, one of my most favorite things about Amsterdam is the view from my apartment, namely sitting out on the little balcony and watching the world go by.  In Amsterdam, this translates into a lot of boats- big tourist boats, little old wooden ones, and pretty much everything in between you can imagine. (This boating is not at all like the sort one does in the USA as you’re not allowed to have a wake- instead it’s more of a cruising while enjoying drinks and snacks with friends sort of boating.) Some of the boat traffic is particularly amusing for various reasons, necessitating a picture, so here is the best of the canal traffic I’ve seen over the past year for interested parties-

The legendary clog boat!  Which I saw once just after I moved but didn’t think to take a picture, was kicking myself for several months that I hadn’t taken said picture, but finally spotted at the end of May.  Whew!

The living room boat- this guy actually keeps his boat one canal over, I’ve seen him several times.

This picture was taken in the middle of winter and I’m not sure what it’s about- I suspect the group needed a picture for something?

Lots of strange boats on Queen’s Day filled with revelers…

And part of a regatta of boats- a very long one actually, they caused several traffic jams- which was about who knows what, but things like that happen quite often in Amsterdam.

All those people in Amsterdam
All those lights late at night on the square
No one can wish for more
Than an Amsterdammer!

Photo: A View of Budapest

So here’s a curious detail of my life during the past year: I have visited Hungary four times, most recently this past weekend, and don’t think I’ve mentioned it once here.  Such is the curious nature of familiarity, and the nature of going somewhere when the primary intent isn’t so much to explore it so much as to visit your relatives (in my case my brother in Budapest and my grandmother and cousins in Miskolc, two hours train ride east).

Not like we just sit around at home of course- in the past year I’ve toured the Hungarian parliament twice (once in Hungarian, once in English), climbed the hills on the Buda side to the old castle four times, clambered around the Bukk mountains in the northeast, took a dip in the Cave Bath (as awesome as it sounds, a thermal spring in a natural cave), sample the local nightlife as well as the local wine and palinka

Ok I guess we do a lot of exploring but in familiar-to-us places so it never gets mentioned, so here’s a nice view of Budapest with a statue of King St. Stephen and the Freedom Bridge spanning the Danube with my brother’s university in the distance.  Cheers!