Amsterdam – A City of Canals

We arrived in Amsterdam around noon of December. 10th. Since Netherland is so high in latitude, the sun was hanging low in the sky, shining powerlessly through clouds, making me feel it was 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

I didn’t realize that Amsterdam is fifty feet below sea level. Back in the early thirteen century, the Dutch people started to build the dams on Amstel River to hold back waters from the North Sea. Hence, its name “Amsterdam,” meaning the dam built on the Amstel River, was born. Since then, canals after canals were built in the shape of a spider web spreading out from the center of the city – Dam Square, making Amsterdam a fascinating city of canals.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

The Dutch people are at the front line of fighting global warming. Obvious, if Greenland melts, Amsterdam is the most vulnerable place on earth. Therefore, there are a lot of researches and projects that are already underway to address the water issues.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

We stayed at Hotel Pulitzer on the bank of canal with a room of canal view. I was a little shocked to see the water in the canals was a dark brown color – so dark that it’s almost black. The Hotel concierge told me that it’s because of stagnation of the streams and lack of oxygen in the water. I guess it is also because of centuries of the dirt at the bottom of the canals. However, I saw swans and ducks swimming in the canals!

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

There so many things to write about for Amsterdam – its architecture, history, art and industry, etc. The things that struck me the most are the canals and art. Here are some really nice paintings displayed at the hotel:

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

The first day in Amsterdam, we strolled around the Jordaan – the neighborhood characterized with art galleries and boutique shops, and visited Anne Frank’s house – the thirteen-year-old girl who documented her experience hiding from the Nazis in her diary during the Second World War.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

The next day, we went for a canal tour, which is a great way to see the city. And even better, the canal tour took us to Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest collection of works by Van Gogh with more than two hundred paintings including many famous masterpieces. Although I am not that big a Van Gogh fan, I discovered some paintings that I had not seen before that I really like.