Friday, November 2, 2012


Back from the land of wind mills and cheese! At least, that's what it seemed Holland was all about growing up - my Dad is Dutch so we had a few small intros, but having just been, there's so much I didn't know about part of my own heritage! Beyond the blue and white Delftware pottery, spekulaas (almond and cinnamon cookies), french fries with mayonnaise and wooden shoes, there's much more.

Even at first stay or based on what we've all heard about Amsterdam - decriminalized marijuana and legalized prostitution among gardens of tulips - there's a lot of history here. Like how sex workers here are required to pay the same taxes on their income as all other legal EU citizens. Or how there are not a lot of old growth trees in the cities because during the Occupation residents were forced to cut them all down to build fires to keep warm - and worse, had to raid the homes of their missing Jewish neighbours for furniture to burn. Or how they boiled tulip bulbs for nutrients when there wasn't nearly enough food to go around. 
This is the slimmest house in all of Amsterdam. Along the canals, all of the houses are very very slender and tall. That's because when they were being built, homeowners were taxed by the width of the structure, since canal-front property was highly valuable. This made for some incredibly steep and somewhat dangerous stairwells! Most of these homes are also built leaning a bit further out toward the street at the top, because they moved trading goods, furniture and such by creating a pulley system that attached to a hook at the front part of the roof. This way, as they moved things in and out (impossible to do up the stairways!), they didn't ruin the facade of the house.
Despite how cold it was, I couldn't believe how many flowers were still alive and kicking! Jeff and I really did have a great time roaming around the rainy and cold city - a big difference from the weather we're used to here. The canals are absolutely beautiful in Amsterdam. And at nighttime, to see the Red Light District all lit up among the beautiful architecture and old style street lamps was really amazing. A bit contradictory, maybe, but really, really beautiful. 

Walking around the old cobbled streets you have to be careful not to get in the way of any bicyclists - like we heard while we were there, the Dutch are these really nice and kind people, but they seem to transform when they get on a bike. 
I have to admit, it's nice to be back wearing flip flops all the time again. My feet were not happy to be stuck in boots all week! Once I finish up with reports, I get to keep going with a book I started on the break: 
But for now, to finish up some work left behind...
PS - I love book recommendations if anyone wants to share! Alligator is the first book I've picked up since the summer, but I'm happy to be back in the reading swing and hope to keep it up.
- Amanda


  1. Hi there. From a fellow Canadian!! Hope all goes well in Kuwait. My wife, Jean, and I have been to Holland a few times, in the fall, in the winter, and most recently in the spring, at the village of Zaanse Schans where we got to see their large collection of windmills. Most people know that windmills were once a major part of the Dutch landscape, however today, they are a rare thing to see as you drive around The Netherlands. For us, a trip to Holland just wouldn’t have been complete without seeing windmills in action. If anyone would like to check out the variety of windmills that we saw, they are at:

    Should you return back to Holland in the spring(April!) look to visit the beautiful gardens at Keukenhof, which is considered the best outdoor gardens in the world!! We have traveled to many places on the planet, and The Netherlands is at the top of our list. And one of the key things to witness in Holland are the Keukenhof Gardens in April!!

  2. I love those photographs! I'm glad you're sharing them.
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