Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I amsterdam

Amsterdam is a melting pot for different cultures and has an ever changing identity that is evident even within the architecture. Most of Amsterdam is full of row housing that extends from the inner city to the outskirts. These buildings go back to a time where the building's width accounted for the cost of the building instead of the overall area. This led to houses being built right next to each other and usually about three to four stories high. The smallest of these is only a little over two meters wide from the street view. Of course this layout is greatly determined by the canal system that runs parallel to the streets. Boats are constantly running and many offer tours from a different vantage point of the city. Just as many cars as you see parked on the sides of the canals there are boats tied in the water.

It is also home to many apartments and one of the most famous is the WoZoCo housing complex. This building was designed for senior living and is eye catching from the street due to the huge cantilevers that jettison out in front of the facade. Known for its well designed floor plans, it also provides balconys ordinated in bright colors the catch the suns rays. Many of the housing complex's to the west of the city are on a horizontal scale, but the WoZoCo takes it to a grander scale.

In the middle part of the city, Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District, is marked off with red lighting and children-to-be-accompanied-by-parents signs. This is perhaps the biggest tourist destination in the city and is home to numerous shops and bars. The biggest draw is however the ladies that rent out rooms in that area. The district occupies several streets and still maintains the overall look of the city but with more neon signs and higher traffic in the streets. This is not the area of the city for anyone to travel to and not expect to feel a little un-comfortable at some point. It's not for everyone but adds to the character of the city and sets it apart from other places in Europe. Most of the night life around the city moves to this area and mixes people of different ages and races around the canal lined streets. Most people are quick to denounce this area but it is a part that has been around for a long time and helped to build a very interesting city. There may be a lot of free thinking, but it's what helps to make the city. It's still not a good place for the timid but is an experience unlike any other and the prices in bars and dinners are no different than any other part of the city, making this a affordable place to visit...although I guess it depends on what you do. It should also be mentioned that any woman can rent the rooms...any size, any age...

The northern part of the city shows off some of Amsterdam's growing pains as construction disrupts the flow of the city. This is where a lot of the higher rising and overall bigger buildings have moved and adds for a totally different experience than the rest of the city. You don't find old churches and row houses here but rather museums and office buildings that surround a large port. this is where the old and new attempt to merge and create something different in this ever changing city. Amsterdam will be a very interesting city to see how it continues to develop and grow over the coming years. Its hard to overlook the construction now, but there is a lot of potential for the architecture to become as diverse as the culture.

Amsterdam is a very unique culture experience and really offers something for everyone. The american influence is everywhere and almost anyone you find speaks some English. This makes it a very comfortable environment to travel around the city. Most people are friendly and restaurants offer translated menus. It really puts things into perspective of how important tourism is for the city and how a different culture has affected the growth of it. It's been a good time and a nice change to see such a different place than what I'm used to and I look forward to seeing how the rest of Europe stacks up to it.

Tomorrow it's on to Berlin, Germany, where the travel program officially starts.

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