The layout of central Amsterdam is easy enough to navigate. Beautiful, slow canals are cluttered by small wooden dingys (some half-sunk) and houseboats, their calm brown waters patterned with dark reflections of the bright leafy trees above. Short stone bridges vault over each canal in elegant frozen arcs. The canals spiderwebbed out from the central station, as tall, narrow brick buildings lean drunkenly against their neighbours. Jeff and I were in town for 2 nights, during a short mini-tour of The Netherlands and Germany.
There’s a lot of bicycles crowding the streets of Amsterdam. Rusted and dented all, the bicycles of Amsterdam live their turbulent lives chained to the bike racks that line every canal and street. Jeff’s friend Niels joined us for a pub crawl one night and explained bicycle culture of Amsterdam. He owns two; one in his home city, and one chained up in Amsterdam near the station for visits here. The bikes apparently get stolen every few months, he explained. The locals’ unusual reaction is one of acceptance, and commit their money into buying huge chains (thick enough to secure a small elephant) instead if spending money on the bike itself. If the bike is stolen, it wasn’t in great condition anyway, so no big loss.