for fellow travellers

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amsterdam to Edinburgh and The Low countries

The sovereign states of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are loosely known as the Low Countries meaning thereby the countries lying for the most part below sea level. When I first visited Amsterdam I was struck by the  three storey high, cycle parking filled with hundreds of cycles and roads with separate tracks for cyclists. Then slowly I came to know that this and other low countries are some of the countries which are most worried about the environment and most aware of the effects of global warming, because a fraction of the rise in sea level, spells doom for them. These countries have learnt to fight with the sea and conquer it or may be they have befriended it and have learnt to live with it. They have successfully reclaimed land from the sea for ages  and have learnt to keep the sea at bay with the help of dykes.
The route which we had mapped out, was from London by Eurostar to Paris and from their by Thalys train to Brussels and again by train to Amsterdam. From Amsterdam the initial plan was to take an overnight crossing across the sea and reach Hull in England. Due to lack of time we later decided to fly to Edinburgh from Amsterdam. This was our costliest flight in this trip. We had to pay extra for the checked in baggage also.
This time on my agenda in Amsterdam was Anne Frank house, a canal cruise, eating pancakes and doing whatever else we could manage because we were really short on time.

The queue for Anne Frank house can be really long and it can upset your plans of further sightseeing, so it is best to book in advance on the net. It was an experience going through this house and I wanted to expose my children to this part of human history. It seems almost unbelievable that humans can do such ghastly acts against there own kind.

A canal cruise is  a must in Amsterdam. The best way to see the city. There are glass topped boats which take you through all the major canals. The number of houseboats in the canals is strictly regulated and when one retires only then is another allowed to enter the canal.
All the houses in Amsterdam have a girder with a hook attached right at the top of the house .This is to lift things from the ground with the help of rope and hook through the window, as the staircases are so narrow that there is no place for larger things to be taken up by the stairs.
As we were in Amsterdam in June, it was not possible to see the tulip gardens so instead we went to see the Tulip Museum, which is near the Anne Frank House. This museum can only be used as a filler. I did not think much of it, but as we did not have time for anything else it was good enough. The first image is a photo of a photograph in the tulip museum.

Kohinoor Restaurant
We had great Indian Food at a restaurant called Kohinoor near Anne Frank House and later the next day we had pancakes from Sara's Pancakes. Sara's Pancakes was expensive. We just took one Indian Pancake, the filling was Indian. Nevertheless we enjoyed it.

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