Archive for the 'grachts' Category

Let’s do some shots, you know I can’t turn ’em down.

People use water here for everything. The canal system serves as a water park, a great place for a restaurant on a barge, and, for an unfortunate many, an impromptu bike lot. I’ve seen the canal cleaning boat twice since I’ve been here, (without my camera, alas) and both times it’s been piled high with blackened bicycles scraped from the bottom of the grachts.

They probably landed there because some bicycle thieves rode them for a victory lap, then shoved the evidence in the drink when they got bored. Speaking of drink, here’s another theory: inebriated miscalculation. I’ve never been drunk on a bike, but I’m clumsy enough to have trouble parking it sober. Some people probably tried to chain their bikes to a bridge or some other railing, and the bikes went overboard. Or, even better, they cycled right into the canal. I’m not sure how deep the canals are but I think they are easy to escape if you fall in. They’re definitely nasty enough to motivate an escape. I mean, houseboats use them a sewers. Hell, drunken pedestrians use them as sewers! It’s gross.

Anyway, here’s the song of the day: Nosebleed by Illinois. You might know it from an episode of Weeds or from me yacking on about what a good song this is. Enjoy!

Download Nosebleed by Illinois.

Queensday: The Dutch St. Patricks

Dutch Word of the Day
koninginnedag: Queensday
Vandag is koninginnedag.
Today is Queensday.

Queensday is the most hectic day in the world. It’s impossible to get around anywhere in the city. It’s such a problem. Everyone was wearing orange, (even the dogs) drinking on boats and wandering the streets. We saw some woman getting pulled back into a boat after falling into the Prinsengracht. Today wasn’t cold, but that couldn’t have been good. I hope her cell wasn’t in her pocket.

All of the boats played that repetitive, bad techno that one usually associates with gay pride floats, except everyone here was into it. It was a little scary because when music that’s entirely beat driven and there are sound systems playing all over the city, if feels like it’s all one big song that never ends. There were a few exceptions. The “Cha Cha Slide” boat was my personal favorite.

People set up stoop sales in front of their homes and were trying to sell all there stuff, including pancakes and beer. Apparently, Vondelpark was entirely reserved for children selling their stuff, dancing around and playing instruments. I’d have loved to have seen that, but it just too crowded to even think of going there.

I felt bad for the tourists who rented MacBikes, because bikes were nearly useless today. There was no tram service, either. I’m a bit worried, cause I’m heading to London tomorrow, but I should be fine.

Right?

Westermarkt

Dutch Word of the Day
zomer: summer
Het is zomer tijd!
It is summer time.

It was 78 degrees today. It’s really beautiful weather. We’re going to have a ten degree drop later this week, but when I look at New York and New England, I really don’t mind. Sometimes I just walk between around the Jordaan between the Herengracht, Keizergracht and Singel and just embrace the crooked canal house homogeneity. It’s even prettier when you’re not freezing.

The Westermarkt is finally out of it’s scaffolding. It’s so pretty. It’s hard to find a good angle to get a good shot. (click it and you’ll get a larger image) I think I would have to be either in a boat or a nearby building to capture it perfectly. I took this shot from the Keizergracht. The paint is really beautiful. I’m glad I got the flag mid-flap.

I still have to go inside.

The More You Know: Everything you own in a gracht to the left

Dutch Word of the Day
het bocht: the trash
Het is tijd uit het bocht nemen!
It’s time to take out the trash!

Grachten (city canals in Amsterdam) can become quite filthy. They aren’t safe to swim in at all, except for the ducks, and it’s really quite nice to see them moving in pairs in the springtime. I can’t wait until we get some ducklings on the scene. That’ll be too adorable.

They’ll drag the grachten a few times a year and find hundreds of rusting bicycles below the surface. I was musing on the canal related suicide/murder rate before, but I still haven’t asked around. (I’ll ask my Dutch professor later.) Once in a while, I’ll forget to take out the garbarge and I’m very tempted to hurl it in the gracht. But there are houseboats around and I’d feel bad about polluting someone’s home.

However, there are certain things worthy of a gracht burial that can’t wait for garbage day.

Last night, I was having a nice thorough room clean when I stumbled upon a ring from a rather undesirable ex. (Cue violins? Kazoos? I dunno.) How it made it from America to here, Lord only knows. Could’ve sworn I left it at home. I didn’t want the thing lingering in my garbage can until Thursday because I had already took out the trash for Sunday night. What’s an American in Holland to do?

So I put on my jacket, took a little walk and flicked it into Leliegracht that’s around the corner from me. There aren’t any houseboats there, and I’m sure the ducks were asleep somewhere else.

I recommend this very cathartic activity to anyone with small, irritating objects that they can’t seem to shake. (Except for objects such as whiny children and bitchy cats. Well, maybe those, too.) It’ll make you feel great.

Maybe I’ll ask him about how much jewelry’s in there, too.

Fall into the Gracht

Dutch Word of the Day
dronken: drunk
De Nederlanders geven niet om dronken mensen.
The Dutch don’t care about drunk people.

Or clumsy sober people. Or people learning to ride bikes. So many of the grachts don’t have any guard rails at all, and are just a plain sheer drop into deep and dirty water. In the picture above, you can see that there are cars parked along the canal and there isn’t much danger of people falling in. However, in De Wallen (the Red Light District aka the drunkenest place in the world), there is a gracht on a very popular street with no cars at all. It’s not like they’re manned by lifeguards or police boats or anything, either.

The Red Light gracht sums up the Dutch attitude towards a lot of things. There are no return policies in the stores so if you buy something, you’re stuck with it. They’ll sell you drugs and it’s you’re own damn fault if you turn into a bum. There are many ways to fall into the gracht here if you’re not careful.

I’m very shocked that there’s no formalized Mafia here. Brick shoes would be very common in a place like this. The fact that bodies are (during certain years) common in the Hudson River makes me wonder about this place. I know they find hundreds of bikes under water every few years. I wonder about murders.

Not just murders, but suicides. In some parts of Japan that are serviced by bullet trains, there’s a little suicide problem with people jumping onto the tracks right as the train comes. In New York, there are frequent attempts to jump off the major bridges. Since the weather can be very dark and depressing, I wonder if they have a problem with it over here. According to the Trimbos Instituut there were 94,000 attempts in the Netherlands in the past year, but they didn’t specify which were in Amsterdam or about the methods used.

I’d research it further, but this crappy connection won’t let me.

Dutch Word of the Day gracht: city canal Dit is m…


Dutch Word of the Day
gracht: city canal
Dit is mijn gracht.
This is my canal.

This is what the Prinsengracht looks like near the Anne Frank Huis, which is a block from me.

Quick language note: the canals within the city are called grachts, the ones outside the city are simply canals. I bought a ton of things today, including a cellphone, a toaster, textbook, notebooks and some groceries. I walked a whole lot cause I didn’t want to waste my strippenkaart (their equivalent of a metrocard, though not as effiecient as ours. Some kind of party tonight sponsored by the ISN. I don’t know if I’ll go. I’ve been a lameass about parties and orientation events, but I’m still a little jetlagged.

I won a bike lottery so I’m getting one soon. That means I can join the citizen run roving death squads that patrol the streets.

Nap time!


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