C and I are just back from a truly wonderful few days in Amsterdam. Neither of us had been there before. It’s not an easy thing to find a European city that is new for both of us at the same time. Please welcome to the stage, AMSTERDAM!
I took plenty of photos and noticed lots of things about this “Venice of the north”, so I am going to do a few posts so as not to bore everyone with one long one.
Before my parents renovated our house in Connecticut, it had a scary staircase. The house is an old New England farmhouse with small rooms, nooks, crannies and two very steep staircases that fit into the walls of the house. The house was built before staircases were a feature. This particular staircase was daunting from above or below. My grandfather wrote on the stairs, from the bottom to the top, “You Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”. When my parents renovated the house Jacob’s ladder was a part we were sad to have to remove. It had to be removed because those kinds of staircases are not feasible for children’s safety, not to mention the safety of pets or older humans. My mother saved the staircase, though. It currently resides behind our garage, a staircase to nowhere.
Amsterdam is full of staircases like Jacob’s Ladder. All the staircases we encountered were narrow and quite steep. The canal houses themselves are narrow and steep so it follows that the staircases would be. But it almost seemed like a joke at times.
When we opened the door up to the AirB&B flat we were renting, we were shocked at the tiny, steep white staircase that awaited us. It looked like a fun house. All that was missing was the wonky mirrors along the walls. Yet all Dutch staircases are like this.
Often they curve slightly around at the top or bottom making them even more treacherous. Even in larger buildings where the stairs can simply climb right up they were practically vertical.
We ventured out to a newly built up part of the city for a gig one night. We got off the tram in an area populated by glass apartment buildings. The area looks similar to the Grand Canal Dock neighborhood of Dublin. There is a grassy amphitheater in a park area near the tram. There are steps up and down, cut into the side of the small hill. The steps were terrifyingly steep. Even in a modern area! Even when they didn’t need to be!
The Dutch are brave. Between their staircases, the many canals, and a constant bikers at along all the streets, Amsterdam not the city for you if “health and safety” is highest priority.
It is my new favorite place, though. I can safely say that all the treacherous obstacls are completely worth taking on for the pure delight of the city itself.