Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Places where we used to live

First posted to Multiply May 9 2009

I should be packing, the trip home starts tomorrow morning. But I have my brother's house to myself tonight and can't stop messing with the pictures, deleting the poor and excess ones, naming the others. The Hoorn fotoos need to be organized, right now they are just being dumped.

Anyway, while that is happening, here are some that I took in Amsterdam, which also needs to be blogged about, :).

When Chris and I first lived (in delicious sin) together, which was quite a daring thing to do in 1963, we had a furnished room in a sort-of-hotel, on the corner of the Raadhuis straat and the Keizersgracht. This is it.
Our room had the window above the balcony, and the bay window on the canal side to the right. The trees on the canal side were huge. They must have been removed and replaced since then. When one sat in the window seat it was like sitting in a tree. The view from the bay window was this, though better. This was taken from the bridge at ground level.
From the other window we saw this:
The WesterKerk, the tower is the tallest in Amsterdam and an icon for the city. I was very happy there. Talk about Location! To be continued, it is time to pack. Next:
The entrance to what used to be Hotel Torna Sorrento, and is now Hotel something else. Posting this as a private joke for Chris: below our old dwelling is a lamp store. We had one on the ground floor of Westerstraat 191 as well. That is the house below. The lamp store had a fire, and we had the pleasure of watching pretentious fake chandeliers gently float down from the ceiling and bounce.
This building used to be married student housing. We were so lucky to be assigned a flat here! Later it was a feminist book store at one point, and now it is something boring and private. First we had the first floor above the store, later the one above that. I liked that one best. It was a bit smaller, but it had a roof terrace outside where one could sit in the sunshine with a view of the Westertoren.
Around the corner was this: I believe it is the 2nd Anjeliers dwarsstraat. Note the Westertoren at the end of it.
We showed this as a slide once to the Canadian-raised little girls of Korean geologist parents. Their reaction: "How do you get out of there?"

Answer: Follow the street all the way to the Prinsengracht, the outermost of the 4 concentric semi-circles that are the main canals, all built in the 17th century. The city inside the inner one, het Singel, is older. You end up near the Wester Kerk again.
Surprise: the Dutch mania for gardening has now reached the inner city! We always had parks and trees along the canals, but the last few years everytime I go I see more greenery in the narrowest, used-to-be-slum streets. The brighter aspect of gentrification.
Finally, a last word on Jordaan chauvinism. This is the area of the second house, the one in the Westerstraat. Back in the days when it was still a working class neighborhood with an identity all its own, the Jordaners used to say that you were not truly Dutch unless you lived in Amsterdam. You were not truly an Amsterdammer unless you lived in the Jordaan. And you were not truly a Jordaner unless you could see the Wester Toren from your bed. We could!

I am very happy in  my Kootenay mountain paradise. But a part of me will always be at home in this city.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing a bit of your history and these lovely photos ... I feel like I've had a little excursion into a beautiful land!

    Thanks, also, for visiting my blog and leaving me a link to The world's Healthiest Foods. I've only had a brief look but it seems to be a fantastic site with a lot of great information.

    Have a great day!

    Small Footprints


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