Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Amsterdam - Five

I noticed the cane. His father was zipping his coat and his mother was searching for their tickets. One of the pleasures of our trip has been to observe people, watch for animals and look for cultural differences. Without sight, he could do none of these. “Was he born this way? Does he realize how much he misses? Perhaps he enjoys life more than I realize.” The sadness that I felt was tempered by the way his parents cared for him.

Two threads of thought floated in my mind. How would a handicapped person navigate Amsterdam? Buses, trams, bicycles, autos and canals have few barriers. To cross the street requires crossing a bicycle lane, an auto lane, a tram lane and the center median and then the lanes in reverse. The pedestrian paths are narrow and are not always located in the same place. There are multiple steps and landings to be confronted, turnstiles and yellow boxes to stamp strippen tickets that must be folded to the correct line, multiple trams using the same station and nothing to prevent a person from stepping off the platform to the tracks below. Impossible! I’m accustomed to seeing blind students on campus in Flagstaff and, perhaps, have grown somewhat insensitive to the challenges they face and their abilities to live with independence. Here, it would be impossible.

The second thread of thought compared the life of this young man with the prostitutes in the red light district. They have the ability to live with independence, the hope of a better way of life and the remote possibility of freeing themselves from their present situation. This young man probably has no hope of vision. Both situations are sad

We took a train to The Hague which is about 36 miles from Amsterdam. A round trip ticket cost 17.50 euros. The trains are double deckers with large windows and gave us the opportunity to see the countryside – green fields, canals, furrowed fields covered with a light snow, large green houses for raising plants, traditional windmills, horses, sheep, ducks and large white swans with graceful necks. Yes, I normally dislike cities and it felt wonderful to be in the country.

I enjoy Amsterdam but I found The Hague to be more enjoyable. It appeared to have a slower pace. Architecture was similar but somewhat distinct. If you visit the Netherlands, you might consider staying in The Hague and taking a train to visit Amsterdam.

We discovered a bench that I recognized from a distance. It was constructed of two non-functional solar panels. Behind the bench was an LED display that showed the electrical output of the functional panels at that location. It was late in the day and cloudy so the display read zero. Hmmm? I hadn’t thought about our solar/wind system since we left home – which is as it should be.

We ate at a restaurant that did not have English menus. I was able to understand that the choice I ordered was a sandwich consisting of bread, cranberry something, some type of ham, some variety of cheese and something else. The “something else” turned out to be walnuts. The waitress asked if I wanted “regular” coffee and I said yes, thinking regular versus decaf. When she bought the coffee I realized regular meant regular size – about 4 ounces – which was served with a long twisted and colored marshmallow.

Enough writing for now! There’s more to see and do.



Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I've been having such a full time with family here at Pendragon Hold that I have had to "sneak" blog reading time, but I have tried to get over to follow your adventure in the old world, and it's been really great. Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me think of the couple of times I got to see Lisbon back in the 70's between revolutions while in the Navy.

I can tell you are a spiritual man, perhaps troubled by the dogma you have given so much of your heart to most of your life. Bob assures me that however you have fed your soul thru whatever means, it's all been good. I'm certain that even if there's no Christ as you understand him to be waiting to greet you on the other side, something just as amazing will be, so you will not be embittered with what you find when that fine time comes. Don't misunderstand me, my friend, I do not challenge your faith, but I am impressed by how you have used it. Thank you for blogging and allowing me and others to know you.

12/28/2005 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gaye said...

Thanks for taking me along on your trip; I really enjoy your company; let's see more.......

12/28/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I'm enjoying your trip, and the photos. It was a long time ago that I was in Holland, and I regret to say that I don't remember a lot of it - thanks for sharing it.

12/28/2005 07:10:00 PM  

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