Amsterdam: Bikes, Canals, and the Dutch Sense of Humor – Part 3

Part 3 – The Dutch Sense of Humor

When traveling abroad and interacting with people who don’t normally speak English, they will say things in the most delightful way.  For instance, someone described his street as “harmonious” when he meant that it was crime free. What gets mixed up in translation is so entertaining to me.  That can be seen in some of their storefront advertisements.  Other times, as in street art, no words or translation are needed and the message is universal.

A mens sock store
Looking stylish while selfie-ing.
Keep it nice.
Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam and now his house is a museum.
These statues are subjects from various Rembrandt paintings.
Save yourself
Bike art
I think this was just art, I don’t think anyone rides it. The tile on the ground loosely translates to “put your garbage here” for garbage pick up day.
I found a few of these all over Amsterdam. It’s to raise awareness for the National Foundation Against Senseless Violence.
Very Banksy-ish. Found on a hotel wall.
It’s happening all right.
What a great mantra.
Then there’s this guy. He boats around the canals making music to anyone who will stop and listen. On his boat is what looks like a player piano roll that he operates by spinning the wheel. Then he also plays trumpet and whistles classical music.


Amsterdam: Bikes, Canals, and the Dutch sense of humor – Part 2

Part 2 – Canals

Canals are an ever present part of life in the Netherlands.  Amsterdam in particular is known for them.  It’s one of the coziest, most charming cities that I’ve visited in Europe so far. You can’t get two blocks without crossing a bridge. Unlike Venice, which has it’s own charms, Amsterdam is a living vibrant city that doesn’t feel like its sole existence is tourism.

According to Wikipedia: Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, has more than one hundred kilometers of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, form concentric belts around the city, known as the Grachtengordel. Alongside the main canals are 1,550 monumental buildings.[1] The 17th-century canal ring area, including the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan, were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010,[2] contributing to Amsterdam’s fame as the “Venice of the North“.[3][4]

Here are just a few shots of the waterways of this gem of the Netherlands.

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Amsterdam: Bikes, Canals, and the Dutch sense of humor – Part 1

Part 1: Modes of Transportation

There are many ways to get around Amsterdam, but the most popular by far is bicycle. There are more bikes than people. Bikes have their own lane, and right of way over cars and pedestrians. There’s a technique drivers use to avoid “dooring” a bike, by using their right hand to open the driver door, rather than the left. That way you are more likely to look over your shoulder behind your car to see if a bike is coming. Check it out.

There is the standard Dutch bike.

But there are so many bikes!

So you have to make sure yours stands out in the crowd.
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There are bikes for cargo.
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And even the mailman delivers by bike.

In bad weather, just cover your bike.
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There are other methods of transportation and the Dutch do it in style.

You can go by canal.
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How about just a loaner boat.

You can always go by car.
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Don’t go too fast – this one could tip over if you go faster than 40km (25mph) around a corner.
Just hide it behind a tree:

Then there are delivery trucks
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Insert human to put their size in perspective:

How about a race car?

Or the most ridiculous vehicle (because I don’t know how you can get it over the canals, or around any tight corner, of which there are many):

Or let’s just go for something more laid back:


Iceland for an hour

While planning a recent trip to Europe, I thought I’d try out Iceland Air. They have decent prices and a not terribly inconvenient layover to break up a long flight. That layover is really short so make sure you have long enough between flights in case the first flight leaves late.  They will eventually get you to your destination (via another airline if theirs are not available) but it can be tricky. I am speaking from second-hand experience.

It feels like a giant ad for visiting Iceland, and I must say there are worse ad campaigns out there.  The country looks breathtaking and some day I’d like to do a longer layover (a few days) to take in the exotic beauty of this country.

For now, a view from the air will have to do.

iceland-air-1-copyThe quality isn’t great through an airplane window, but here’s the obligatory wing shot with emblem. The sun was just rising over Iceland which made for some nice color in the sky.


Little villages dotted the land.  What struck me was the vast open space.


I’ve never seen country like this, and look forward to exploring.



On to the Netherlands…

Holland is an amazing country.  They are an innovative people, they reclaimed a good portion of their current land from the surrounding seas after all!  Next post will showcase the beauty and humor of the Dutch and Amsterdam.