So many bicycles, they have parking garages for their bicycles.
Sergio informed us he currently has four bicycles---seems a bit of an overkill until he also talked about the theft problem. And those bikes--they are not the sleek state of the art bicycles my biking friends all have parked in their living room (worth more than their cars)--but clunkers--old beat up- scratched up--doing good to have brakes--not worthy of a garage sale clunkers.
EVERYONE walks or rides their bikes---or paddles a boat---IF you have a car you cannot afford the steep parking fees. SO we saw very few rotund city dwellers. If they want to get somewhere, they use their own steam or jump on the public transit. There are bike paths throughout the city adjacent to the single lane car paths. I had visions of the American headlines, "Tourist Dies in Bicycle Stampede" everytime I ventured into the path of a flying cycle.
And how did all those canals get there? Well when you build a city in a swamp, you have to contain the water somewhere. There were as many canals as streets. The houses are built by driving pilings deeps into the muck--much like our beach houses here in the states--only no ocean view---only a gross trash filled canal. It seems they dredge all the canals once a year for bicycles and bodies---not necessarily in that order. Something about over-indulging and falling into canals created the sea of bodies.
We saw no dikes--no boys with the fingers in leaking dikes and no windmills--except for this one in a suburb--all for show. The city is kept dry by more efficient methods these days. In fact they are so efficient, the guide informed us they came over after Hurricane Katrina and gave the US Corp of Engineers a lesson.
Sergio, with the hat, is of Italian ancestry---I am not sure if there are any Netherlands natives. We walked--and walked and he gave us a blow by blow of the birthplace of big business being The Netherlands. Reminding us that Amsterdam was once the center of commerce for the world and the fatherland of big business. Why in fact the first publicly traded stock originated there. He was bragging, but NOW we know who to blame for the poor economy!
The city is teeming with people and every step requires negotiating the crowds. We sat at a sidewalk table at the Italian eatery for pasta at lunch and ate club sandwiches for dinner, since we are all starving after a full day of sight seeing and visiting the city market across from our apartment.
I am reminded of the life of ease here in America. I think nothing of jumping in my car to drive the mere mile to see the grands. I never walk to the store, the bank, or a restaurant--even though they are all within walking distance. After coming home eight pounds down, I understand why I saw very few over weight people on our trip. There is no need to diet when you are out exercising your intake. The over indulgence--even gluttony we experience here in the states is replaced by a gluttony of another kind in Amsterdam. More on that tomorrow.
And put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite