Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Amsterdam - Day Four - Viking

Day four in Amsterdam, October 4, 2013, our last day in Amsterdam but the first day of our Viking riverboat cruise. We wanted to make the best of our last day in Amsterdam. After getting up early to practice Taijiquan by the school I got into the Hotel Fita just moments before it started to pour rain. The rain was coming down hard while we ate our breakfast. It seemed that we would be stuck in the hotel until it was time to check out. That was a depressing thought. However, after breakfast the rain suddenly stopped as soon as it started. This gave us an opportunity to go out and take a few more pictures and spend a bit more time walking around the museum area before we checked out of the hotel and headed down to the port to our boat,

I don't know what this building is but I like it so much i had to take this picture and include it in this post

We managed to get a picture of this sculpture before it was mobbed by tourists

See what I mean!

A picture of the music conservatory which is at the opposite end of the field from the Rijks Museum. It was also a lovely building.

One last canal picture before we headed back to the hotel to check out.

We checked out of the hotel by 11:00AM and made our way down to the dock to our Viking boat, the Atla. The Viking brochure told us that the boat would be moored at one of three piers. Fortunately, all three piers were within walking distance on one another. We disembarked from the tram at Central Station which is almost at the harbour. The problem was that we were not quite sure how to get around Central Station to the water. We stopped and asked a couple of men who worked at the station how to get to the piers. One said go all the way around, the other said walk through the station it was faster. We decided to walk through the station because it was the fastest and shortest route.  Once inside the station we realized that to get through the station one should have first purchased a ticket. We took the risk and walked through. No one stopped or questioned us and we were at the dock in just a few minutes. As soon as we crossed the road to the water's edge we say our boat less than 100 meters away. There was a large red pavilion on the dock in front of the gangway to the boat to welcome passengers. 

Once on board, we were relieved of our luggage, checked in and shown to our room, all in less than ten minutes of setting foot on board. We were informed that there would be a lunch was being served from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. Since we had not eaten since breakfast and had exerted not inconsiderable effort getting to ship we thought it would be a nice idea to have some lunch. We made out way up to the lounge where an extensive buffet lunch was being served. As soon as we entered the lounge we were offered champagne which, of course, we accepted. As vegetarians, we are always interested to see what there is for us to eat. We were delightfully surprised. There were at least half a dozen different salads for us to eat and we sampled all of them. 

After lunch, we were informed that there would we a welcome walk around Amsterdam. We were provided with a local English speaking guide who took us around the old area around Amsterdam. When we were first taken to our room we were informed that there were two receivers that were for our use. the receivers were used to tune into the transmitter that our guide was using. In this way, even if the guide was some distance away we could still hear what they were saying, it was a nice system. We used the receivers for the first time on our last day in Amsterdam. Our guide showed us some of the historic sites in the old city and talked about the history and development of Amsterdam. It was all very interesting, especially so after having spent three days in Amsterdam already. At the end of the tour we returned to the boat in time to take part in a lecture given by a local historian.

The speaker, Ilsa,  started her talk with the story about the cat in the cradle. Apparently, at least two different villages claim to be the village where the story came from. IN Holland, dikes were built up from mats of willow that were built up year after year. Workers would dig ditches to direct water away from the swamp. The rivers would flood the reclaimed land every year. The dikes would sink as the rivers rose. These were challenging problems to deal with, Eventually, water boards were established to manage water issues. A Polder is a district with certain water levels. Each Polder had its own chairman, To become a member of the water board you had to drink a liter of water then write a poem. If the poem was good then you would be admitted to the water board.

In the 17th century the water kept rising in Friesland in Holland, the land was wet. Many people left but those who stayed became experts in managing water. Many technical experts in managing water emerged. There are three villages,  one has experts  in dredging., another has specialists in building floating islands, a third has experts in engineering projects to manage water.

Finally, Ilsa turned the discussion to Kinderdyk, our first stop after leaving Amsterdam. The Kinderdyk windmills were designed to pump the water from the canals to a basin to keep the level of the water low in the canals during high tide. When the tide was low the windmills would pump the water back into the canals. In this way the windmills helped to manage the water level in the canals. Kinderdyk was the first area in Holland to have electricity. Eventually, steam pumps replaced the windmills.

Today in Holland, the policy is to have wider and deeper rivers to make the water flow faster. There is also a policy to hold more water in the land. If you take all of the water out of the land then the land starts to sink. Global warming will have a significant affect on Holland in the future as global water levels start to rise. The Dutch government, as are all governments, is dragging its feet in implementing a plan to deal with global warming.

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