1672, a year of disasters

There are two things I really disliked about Amsterdam. The traffic and the trash. I’m not just having a moan because I had to lug a great bag around with me. And it is an excellent stopping point now the Eurostar goes there direct. However… Well, let me explain.

The traffic means being a pedestrian makes you a second class citizen. It’s not just cars, buses, vans, trams and motorbikes you have to watch out for, there’s also the bikes, trikes and scooters who don’t have to obey road rules, especially traffic lights. They also seem to be allowed to park anywhere they want.

And how come pedestrians get the worst surface to walk on when all wheeled vehicles get lovely smooth surfaces? If people were serous about stopping cars driving in big cities, they’d rough up the road a bit and smooth out the pedestrian space.

The other thing I dislike about Amsterdam is how dirty it is. There’s litter everywhere. I thought London was bad but it has nothing on the Dutch capital. I guess it’s the foreign tourists unless locals don’t like where they live. I don’t know.

I do wonder why people rave about Amsterdam so much. Is it the dope? You smell it everywhere so I guess it has an appeal. The red light district? The art?

Something I really liked about Amsterdam was the maritime museum. Once an arsenal, it now houses a wonderful series of displays on the marine history of the Netherlands.

I spent a glorious couple of hours there this morning, leaving my bags in the excellent care of Hotel Library, where the shower has super high pressure and the floor slopes enough to warrant changing the bed linen around the other way. Mind you, the mosquitoes were a bit lethal. Okay, I had the windows wide open but, even so, they didn’t have to bite me.

Anyway, the museum is where the title comes from. A lot of awful things happened in 1672, and possibly the worst thing is the subject of one exhibit. It is about the Battle of Solebay on 7 June 1672. It was between a combined English/French naval force and the Dutch fleet. It was basically a draw. One side lost more men, the other lost more ships.

Ironically, King Charles II of England, had a set of giant tapestries made, showing the battle and hired a Dutch artist to make the sketches. The artist only knew the battle from his own side so had to discuss things from the other side with an English naval officer.

The museum has lots of lovely models, including a mass of yachts in one gallery.

Outside, tied to the dock, is a full sized model of the Dutch East India ship, Amsterdam. The original, built in 1748, was abandoned near Hastings following bad storms in the North Sea and English Channel during her third attempt at a maiden voyage. The one permanently moored was constructed between 1985 and 1990 by a fleet of volunteers.

It’s a masterpiece. It just looks and feels so real. Mind you, there’s a lot of debate whether a museum should display a replica. There’s also the fact that the original is a constant reminder of colonialism and slavery. It’s a tough call, especially when you hear little kids running around, enjoying it so much. I guess, if you don’t read about it, it’s just a big old ship, that’s great fun to explore. And, after all, the ship didn’t do anything awful.

But, of course, eventually I had to head back to the hotel to pick up my baggage and then hot step it to Amsterdam Central to queue up for Eurostar.

Sometimes, having a walking stick and travelling alone has its advantages. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, the kindness of transport staff is sometimes incredible.

I was standing in the queue for Eurostar 90 minutes before departure when a young chap asked if I was travelling alone. When I said yes, he directed me to the head of the queue and straight into security. It was a wonderful gesture.

And the guys at passport control, both Dutch and British, were fantastically chatty and pleasant. Makes train not plane a much better option.

The trip home was smooth and easy with brief stops at Rotterdam, Brussels and Lille. Of course, it’s always easier in Premier standard.

On arrival at St Pancras, I decided I couldn’t face the tube so I spoiled myself with a taxi to Waterloo. I realised I was running the perfect public transport trip to Sweden but, to hell with it. I just wanted to get home as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

I finally walked in the door at 11pm. Exhausted.

And, just in passing, I received my Google report for July today. It plots my photographs for the months based on the location data. Obviously it missed out southern Sweden and the Eurostar journey, but I reckon it makes a pretty map of my travels. Particularly given it includes Cornwall.

All up, an amazing 20 days. I only wish Mirinda had been with me.

This entry was posted in Gary's Posts, Sweden 2022 [Gaz]. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 1672, a year of disasters

  1. Mirinda says:

    Great map – not seen that before.
    The fake ship looks a similar style to the vasa ship.

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