Reflections off an Amsterdam Canal

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May 8th 2005
Published: December 4th 2005
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My room at the Amsterdam Gallery HotelMy room at the Amsterdam Gallery HotelMy room at the Amsterdam Gallery Hotel

The same size as the closet at our temporary apartment in Okemos, Michigan...$65.00 US/night
I have been in Amsterdam now for six days. It’s Sunday morning, cool with a hint of dampness in the air, birds were singing earlier around five a.m. when I first opened my eyes. The Dutch weather has been mostly ugly, cool to cold, blustery winds, gray skies for the most part and rain just about every day. But what did I expect weather-wise, this is Northern Europe and it’s only the first week in May. The trees are green and the tulips are up and outside my window right now in the quiet early time at my hotel, through the frosted pane of glass, there is a patch of blue up in the sky.

Two young Turks, very nice young men, run my hotel. And the waitress at my favorite café is Polish. So—I really did not have contact with a Dutch person until I went to visit my two friends, Tanja and Marc in Rotterdam. That’s the European Union nowadays, people from all over Europe can go and work and live where they wish.

Amsterdam is an excellent example of the Dutch fear of Big Brother. Marijuana can be legally grown (seed packets are sold in shops on the street), three plants are allowed per person. You can carry up to three ounces on your person without a problem. And there are the “stoner” cafes where you can legally smoke your own stuff among people of the same smoke ring. The only real NO NO is that you’re not supposed to sell it. Pushing is a crime. The Dutch simply do not see any sense in a “War on Drugs” at least in the case of pot. Maybe the Dutch learned more from the failed Prohibition experiment in the United States than Americans did.

Prostitution is also legal. Scantily clad beauties wave to me (as I pass by) from red-curtained, red-florescent light framed picture windows in central Amsterdam in the so-called “Red Light District.” “No thank you, ma’am.”

And the gay community celebrates The Gay Games with gaily-decorated floats chugging up and down the canals in the opening ceremony. Amsterdam is not a prude.

The food is expensive at the restaurants but I self cater from the big Albert Heijn HuisMerk, the Dutch answer to a Giant, Kroger or Farmer Jack. I did allow myself to stray off my vegetarian regimen to try
At a fish stand.At a fish stand.At a fish stand.

I love the haring stuk...Dutch sashimi
a couple Dutch classics: haring stuk (what appears to be the body of a raw herring (minus head and tail) smothered in raw onions, cut into chunks and eaten with a toothpick; and zurkool (a heaping mound of mashed potatoes covered with cooked sauerkraut and flanked all around by a carnivore’s meat dream: wurst, pork chops, a thick slice of bacon, shanks of beef and on and on.

My happiest moment in Holland: Visiting and sharing a wonderful day with my Dutch friends Tanja and Marc. My saddest moment: Witnessing the intense hate, mistrust, disgust and raw anger that the people of the world feel towards George W Bush and the America that reelected him—this was at a “Stop Bush” rally on Saturday, May 7, 2005 on the Museumplein here in Amsterdam very near the wonderful Vincent Van Gogh museum. How would Vincent have painted the scene? Probably in bright blood reds.

Well that’s it for this entry and by the way this blog and blogger will be on ice for the next several months as I return home. Marilyn and I finally have a tentative closing date for our brand new DC condo. I want to be

I won't have to eat again for about ten years.
with Marilyn and help put this new home in order…our new Okemos, Michigan place is also coming soon, maybe in June. So I will be busy putting lives and homes back together with Marilyn through the summer. See you in the fall. Michigan Schlief.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Funny seeds for saleFunny seeds for sale
Funny seeds for sale

People in Holland are allowed to grow and harvest three marijuana plants for their own personal use.

This collage says it all.
STOP BUSH rally--AmsterdamSTOP BUSH rally--Amsterdam
STOP BUSH rally--Amsterdam

Is this what the people of the world think America is up to??
STOP BUSH rally--AmsterdamSTOP BUSH rally--Amsterdam
STOP BUSH rally--Amsterdam

The signs were not very friendly.
Amsterdam--A city of canalsAmsterdam--A city of canals
Amsterdam--A city of canals

I saw a dead fish floating in one of the canals, and ducks floating on the water's surface. So there is life in the canals. People live in the houseboats, some of which go for cool million euros..Ouch!

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