Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Public squares in Amsterdam

it is exciting to be in a land so far from home. however, running through the heart as a tiny stream is the loneliness of being away from home. sometime this tiny stream can become a bit too much to handle. however, such times are few and far between.
i like being around people. where ever i am. i do like to visit parks and other beautiful places but then it is quite rare. i would like to sit in a square with people walking all around me. i seek solace in the fact that there is humanity around and it never lets me down.

for instance the best place to sit and watch humanity go by is the dam square in amsterdam. it is one of the most important landmarks in the city centre. with nice buildings around it. there are tourists milling around all the time.

amsterdam centre is for the tourists. americans in great number. followed by japanese and then there are some from rest of the world. american, perhaps, come more to smoke legal joints. and in between the joints go out to see the museums. including the privately run sex museum.

coming back to the dam square, there are always some event taking place. sometimes there is music being played. another time a juggler was having a great show. yet another time there was a stage with some jazz music being played and on the stage were three young girls shaking their legs while singing the chorus. i quite like the youngest, barely in her teens, trying to swing. few weeks ago there was a huge religious book sale. representative of religious organisations of all kinds were selling thier books. the time when i pass by, the largest stall was the one selling satya sai baba's teaching. iskon also had a stall but nothing compared to one representing prashati nilayam. iskon, may have realised that religion, like fashion, moves in fads. perhaps iskon, feels that like fashion which is cyclic, their time may come again.

the only place to sit at the square is around the war memorial or on the steps of the palace. both are not the best places to be. there are always some wild and boisterous american youth group around the memorial. the steps of the palace is littered with food and drink packs. usually, some shaky hands spill large quantities of sticky drink that renders large part of the step unsuitable to sit. i should perhaps take my own chair and watch the people mill by.

last weekend, i woke up early and went to sit in another square called 'spui' (said spow). this is nice small place that has various kinds of markets. on friday it is second hand books, on sunday it is art. though there are lot of cafes around spui, it is quite noisy with trams going up and down. however, on the singel that runs perpendicular to spui and parallel to the canal, there are many nice cafes. i have been one called just '404', indicating the house number. it is a nice cafe that sells fruityogurt drinks. one can also find some german beers like warsteiner here. it is a nice small place and is quite frequented by the students of university of amsterdam.

two other popular squares are rembrantsplein and leidseplein. these two are completely filled with tourists right up to the brim. naturally, cafes here are all expensive. i never sat at any of the cafes here. though i do purchase icecream from 'australian' and watch some artist paint psychedelic painting that are snapped up by eager americans. perhaps to kind of help them remember the state their were mostly in, when they are back home.

around nieuw markt, where the red light area is, there are many cheap cafes. as one comes out of the metro one enters the Waag area. this is a small tower from where people were hanged, years ago. it was a place where freight from ships were weighed. some of the cafe here nice and also sells draught belguim beer: lefe, duvel, palm, etc. because of the prices and the area, it is frequented by students.

i still havent been to the jordaan area as yet. but then my stay in amsterdam hasnt come to an end yet.

1 comment:

bleu said...

nice coverage. you have a nice way of conveying the feel of the place.