Monday, June 25, 2012

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

These views of Amsterdam look very similar to modern views, with tilting canal houses settling unevenly over the years.

One of the things that differentiates today's view from yesterday's is the forms of transportation. These cards only show people on foot along with one lone horse-drawn cart. Today, you would see some cars, motorcycles and mopeds, but you would also see thousands of bicycles. The bicyclists do not wear any fancy bike gear though, no spandex racing outfits like we might see here in the United States. On our recent trip, we didn't see any helmets either, just typical street clothes, although sometimes the bicyclist might be holding an umbrella or a cup of coffee. All very casual. Here's a night view from the living room of the place where we were staying.

And here is a view of the bicycle parking garage near the train station. I'm afraid I would never find my bike.

Unfortunately, there are no messages on the backs of these cards, but there are interesting instructions in the stamp box. If you wanted to send the card at the less expensive printed-material rate, you were instructed to cross out Briefkaart and Carte Postale. At this less expensive rate, you were only permitted to include the name and date, no message was allowed. This was not unique to the Netherlands. I have seen it on cards from a number of different countries, but I've never seen the rules spelled out like this. The backs of both cards look the same, so I'm only including one.


  1. That’s a nice night view from your window. Do I see rain on the street?

  2. If you include a message it's considered to be a letter. Holding an umbrella and a cup of coffee while you're cycling, that' s a nice challenge!

  3. How interesting -- and what lovely old postcards. That view from your room is absolutely lovely. I wish I was looking out at that. And all those bikes at the train station? Yikes -- how do they find their own?

  4. All the bikes were great, but as a tourist you learn pretty quickly that they appear to have the right of way over pedestrians, so you had better be watching for the bike lanes! It was also sort of amazing that the mix of traffic seemed to move along fairly seamlessly, even at intersections with no stop/yield signage in any direction, like the one on the other side of the bridge in the view from our lodging- in the US there would have been an accident every 15 minutes there, but the locals seem to know 'the dance' and we didn't see one incident in 3 days.
    Regarding the tilting/leaning buildings, guess it makes sense that if you build a city on wooden piles driven into the mud that you might get some differential settling after a few hundred years. I also read though, that some of the buildings were designed to intentionally lean out at the top of the front facades to facilitate hauling goods to the upper floors with the winch that many structures have built into their gables, without them banging into the building. Might just be an urban myth, but considering the steep, narrow, almost ladder-like stairs between floors of the old Dutch houses, it would make some sense!

  5. Yes, Nell, that is rain on the street. Looks rather romantic when viewed from indoors.

  6. My one regret in Brugges was not being quick enough to photograph a nun riding a bicycle -- in full habit:) Great view from your window!

  7. Lovely. Its nice that the view in the postcards is the same as the one from your window. I love all those bikes. It was a throwback to highschool for me, when that is how most kids got to school. We had a huge lot for parking the bikes. I don't think we realized how neat it really was.



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