Saturday, October 21, 2006


On our way to Central Asia, we had a long layover in Amsterdam, so long that Rich declared that we should try to get into town and spend some time wandering. I was game, so we stowed our luggage, went through passport control, and got the train into the center of the city. This is the train station there; amazing isn't it?:

The station lets one off right next to the old city, which is what we wanted to see. It was worth it. The architecture from the 17th c. is unbelievable, not just because it is so unique and lovely, but also because as a result of having been built on swampy lowland, the buildings have settled into the most impossible angles. It is a testament to the Dutch building expertise that these buildings have stood for so long. I am certain that there isn't a stick of furniture in the entire place that stands equally on four legs. If you look closely you can see the iron braces on the outsides of the buildings-- of course, they are decorative too:

The catch to all this is that the old town is right where the "red light" district is, which was pretty depressing. It was discomfiting in the extreme to walk past some marvelous old pile and suddenly get an eyeful of some pathetic, haggard, overweight old thing in the window, dressed in nothing but a lacy outfit that barely covered her. And then there are the streets devoted to stores selling sex toys...ugh....and the pervasive presence of homosexual couples. What is it with these Dutch, the beneficiaries of some of the brightest stars of the Reformation, that they should come to this? What happened? No, we took no pictures of this tragedy. We can only hope that there is ministry going on to bring the Word back into this place, if God should be so gracious. Fortunately it isn't all like that, and we did see some pretty residences both old and new.

We had lunch in an outdoor cafe, forunately under an awning, as it began to rain.

Something that happened to me more than once was sort of funny: when I travel I never wear makeup; it's just too much of a drag to maintain. Well, it turns out that most Dutch women aren't too involved with it either-- they look pretty good without it in a plain, practical, good humored sort of way. With my blond hair and un-made-up face, I had alot of folks mistaking me for Dutch and trying to talk to me in that language. Rich said he didn't know why they would make that mistake; I am well under the average height of Dutch women-- which at 5'7", is the tallest in the world. The men average out at 6'3".

So that was our introduction to Amsterdam. I hope someday to make a fairer acquaintance with it, and to hear what God is about in that place. May He have mercy on her and on her people.


Blogger The Clinging Vine said...

Is that right? The Dutch are that tall? By reading Betty Neels (with her Dutch doctors and settings) I'd gathered they grow 'em tall in Friesland, but hadn't grasped the Dutch as a whole are height-enhanced.

From Kuyper to what it is now...depressing's the word, alright. :-(

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

Amsterdam sort of scared me, after dark. I'm thinking we toured some places, like Anne Frank's house where she was hidden...was that in Amsterdam?...and I remember the canals and the fact that the town is lower than sea level.

we did go into a hash bar...the bulldog? and left again. And we ate some funnel cake-type treats sold from little vendors in the main square.

I remember seeing a group of kids playing basketball (???) and every single one of them being blonde!

what fun, Eleanor, to tottle around the place and really look at things.

8:13 PM  

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