Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Amazing urban peace...

In the night it started to rain. Puddles appeared where there had been green grass. The sand could not absorb the downpour. Lots of happy ducks.
People donned rain capes and cycled off as usual. The day remained grey.
Amsterdam remains beautiful! Indeed, a quiet envelopes the streets. It is still August, holiday month, but almost over.
I walked down to the Town Hall (known as the Stopera, combined with the Opera House) and noticed a considerable decrease in tourists. But still met a couple from the region of Abruzzo, so could keep my Italian oiled. When we sailed down the east coast of Italy a few years ago we visited Abruzzo and admired its mountainous beauty. That was September 2014 (for the record!)
Today in Amsterdam there were still quite a few people out on foot, despite the rain. And of course, it did clear up.
Here some pix of a flotilla cycling through the Rijksmuseum, and nearby canals.
Returning home from my expedition I encountered a sad sight: on the corner of the street where the (historic monument) building has stood for several hundred years, the once French consulate, Maison Descartes, was being emptied. The building (a landmark monument) has been sold to a property developer and the French consulate is off to The Hague. No more lovely French films without subtitles (!), no more delicious meals (there used to be a real French cook who produced real French cuisine, not minimal!) and no more cultural activities (I once had the pleasure of hearing Tim Parks talk about his writing). Definitely the end of an era. Not yet clear what will happen with this building (presently in need of considerable t.l.c.): we wait to see. Happily it is a monument and thereby protected...
Here some pix:
taking boxes and furniture from an upper storey
Boxes being exited!
Yes, I think this counts as the end of an era ... or perhaps simply part of the ever-ongoing urbanization of the inner city. It seems that "ordinary" people are being pushed out, schools closing, and cities in Europe and elsewhere being taken over by hotels, restaurants and trinket shops. No, this is definitely not true of Amsterdam, though I do detect these tendencies ... But the Gymnasium (secondary school where you can learn Latin and Greek and many other subjects to a very high level before opting for university if you wish) which my kids attended is still round the corner from our house and still flourishing. However, the small bakers and butchers and flower shops have all gone; the supermarkets and "to-go" shops have taken over.
Yet this remains a fascinating city to live in; and on my visit to the Town Hall (the Stadhuis, donating its first two letters to the name Stopera: the Opera wins!) this morning I enjoyed a wonderful typically Amsterdam scene: two children, strangers to each other, a blonde three year old girl and a dark slightly older boy, played a  game circling one of the large pillars in the spacious waiting room. It was a kind of hide and seek... she found it hilarious and her delight was infectious: the little boy, more serious and shy to begin with, was soon sharing her giggles and whoops of delight. One of the many Dutch people watching, said how good it was to see this uninhibited pleasure (before the woes of the world overtake these children!).
Outside it is raining again. Here's a picture of the sky brightening. Beautiful city. Trees, and bikes, and water.

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