26.07.2012 27 °C
Summer's here with a vengeance in Amsterdam. The backpackers trudging from the station are bowed and sweating under their packs, fair skinned locals are making every effort to work on their tans and little boats of families putter along canals. Lovely girls in summer dresses cycle upright and dignified to work and tourists in tiny shorts and minimal tops queue for the essential sights. But it may only last another day! Cool weather and rain is on its way back.
We started the day in the Herensgracht Museum which charts the canal development with some clever multimedia elements, and pictures of the canals when they freeze! Skaters take to the ice in droves! The grand house has a wonderful hidden garden at the back- the benefits of wealth- scents of heliotrope and lychnis.
Later we joined a walking tour which ducked through courtyards of the Dutch East India Company and a retreat for women (the beguinage), past the famous windows of the red light district, coffee houses with their herbal extras and several churches and palaces. Oh and a cheese shop and market. We might head back to look at the Jewish quarter and Rembrandt's home tomorrow.
The day finished over beers at a cafe chatting to an English guy on his last days before home, a singer from California and a musician from Canada. The world seems a lot smaller. Lots of intense conversation about politics, The Crisis, the euro, and food.
As we wandered back, music drew us to sit. In a church square, harp and violin wove a thin sound around passers by, bicycles and occasional motor boats. It was the pink granite triangle we sat on which commemorates the oppression of homosexual people, the pink triangle being the Nazi's required ID.