CANALS, BIKES AND AN ABANDONED TOILET
This summer we decided to travel the region of the Baltic Sea. We started our journey in Amsterdam. A perfect choice. The morning we arrived in Amsterdam the weather was perfect. It wasn’t the weather that impressed me, but the magic and beauty of this city totally overwhelmed me.The canals, spreading throughout Amsterdam, gives the city a delightful sense that it is suspended in ribbons of water. The sky reflects across the deep-green canals. Clouds travel across the slowly moving tides, buildings reflecting, trembling in the wake of passing boats. This city is a serious mix of water and bikes making an interesting sense of quiet. The clutter of traffic, the honking, the deep belly rumble of a busy city, in Amsterdam is reduced to a sweet hum.Whether riding tandem or traveling in an attachment on the bike, the family errands are run, the kids in tow, rain or shine. It is not unusual to see a family traveling along the streets, a bundle of kids bouncing along in a special attachment. In the lovely summer afternoon light, the kids amuse themselves, talking, playing games or sitting patiently watching the passing scenery.There are a few restaurants that serve the diners on tables set along the edge of the canal. In the summer the air is fresh, the evening temperature delightfully cool and comfortable. Quiet conversation, the rippling water, a setting sun, what more could you want for a romantic evening dining experience.There are other places along the canals that cost nothing more than a bottle of wine, a crusty baguette of bread and a hunk of cheese to make the evening perfect. The sunset, always the star of a dining experience needs no fancy menu to be pleasing. The canal offers more than romantic dining. There are excursions for the serious and sophisticated, with champaign and exquisite nibbles. Then there is the water experience for the couch-potato with comfortable lounging, chips and a bottle of an Amsterdam beer. The visitor, and resident alike, has the option of taking a small quiet trip along the canals. The soft putter of the motor boat, the amazing views, what a great way to spend the evening.There are visual surprises along the canals. Banski like art, displayed on an opening in an ivy strewn wall was a delightful, surprising bit of entertainment. In Amsterdam, art is both very old, dating back to the masters of the Renaissance, while at the same time keeping pace with the contemporary taste. Even a parked bike can be a still life. While strolling along one of the canals we happened upon a contemporary piece of art that Andy Worhol would have scarfed up in a heartbeat; a discarded toilet and clock. I’m sure there is a story, a reason why these items sit on the walkway. Perhaps, and I have no idea if this is the case, it might have been near time for the trash-collectors to make their rounds. Amsterdam sits in my mind like a cool stream of jazz; soft, low notes, lazily tripping across a melody, forming a magic only experienced by the senses.