My Expeditions

Travel expeditions, expeditions in to the mind, into rituals, into cultures, into computer programming, into thought process, into anything that I can imagine....

Monday, August 29, 2005

First trip in Holland -- Alone

I landed in AMS - Schipol Airport last Sunday. The very day, I had a small trip to the DAM Square and the Centraal station(no spelling mistakes there.). The idea was to have a feel of the city, I am going to live in for the next few weeks, and also to get a bus pass, so that I can travel about during my stay. The week I landed in wasn't so neat. The garbage cleaners had gone on a week long strike, and there was this shopping festival, through ships, from all over the world.

Well, that was the first day in AMS,

Today being the Second Sunday in the Hollow Land, my roomy - Jayasankar had arranged for a trip to some of the cities of the Land under sea level - Holland. He was kind enough to pay my bill, so that, I can pay later and also gave me his mobile phone, just in case, for emergency use only.

I had to use the mobile, in the very first hour itself. I got down at DAM Square, after boarding the tram at Johan Houzingalaan (sounds something like that, but read Johan as Yuohaan). I got down at DAM Square, but din know how to get to the bus stop. I used Jay's mobile to call up Madhav. After thinking for a while, he suggested that I should ask for the Teaser's restaurant, if people don't recognize AmEx Bank. Luckily for me some road cleaners understood where AmEx bank was. Thankfully, I wasn't embraced by asking them for the restaurant. The bus was waiting a couple of buildings away from AmEx bank.

After getting the boarding pass from the office, I finally found the bus and boarded it. It was a nice bus, and we weren't allowed to have food in it. First thing that the tourist guide showed us was the railway station (Centraal) and the thousands of bikes (bicycles) parked in a multistoried stand. I wonder, how we can identify our cycle from that lot. I usually have a tough time recognizing my cycle at Pallavaram cycle stand.

Then there was this arch. Arches are common throughout Europe I guess. You can find one almost everywhere. Like Paris for instance. This particular arch was the arch for the port. Wait a minute.. Where is the port now? It has moved to someother place?? Quite possible.

We saw many things on the way, including some windmills that were used to drain water from the sea, to claim the land. Almost all bridges in Holland can be lifted to make way for boats. I don't know how many of them are still operational.

The bus had 12 Infy guys from London, 2 South African Pharmasits of Indian Origin, practicing in London, 3 different old couples of Indian origin now living in different parts of Europe, including Swiss. Thus the bus was filled with Indians or at least ethnic Indians.

Our first stop was at a Wodden shoe factory. There they showed us how they make some costly wodden shoes which can be used only for show case. People claim that they still use the shoes for some agri work, as it is waterproof. I dont know, how t will be waterproof when the water is ankle deep.

We had passed through the Alsameer flower market. It was closed for the weekend.

We went through The Hague and passed through Rotterdam also. No stopping what so ever. We then went to Delft. There they had this blue pottery. They had originally tried to copy Chineese and Japaneese Pottery, and imported clay from neighbouring countries. Instead of using the wheel for making the pottery, they make the clay into a proper liquid and pour it into hollow POP moulds (Plaster of Paris). its very costly and when asked if they can be used for normal house hold, the reply was it was for showcase only. They were also complaining that the Chineese were making fake pottery with their name. Hmmm... something fishy???

At Delft, we had stopped for lunch. As usual, like any other Indian long distance bus, the driver almost forced us to have our lunch at his fav. restaurant. People are same everywhere. I requested the guide to help me find a place to have my food, which I had brought. She asked me to have atleast a drink so that she can get me a table to eat my own food. I ordered a capaccino. I think, i did the right thing. We had stopped for an hour, and I finished my lunch in just 15 mins of stopping. After that, I wandered through the streets of Delft. Old beautiful, Typical Europian architecture. It was good. I was roaming for 45 mintues. Others werent lucky. They barely finished their lunch when the bus was ready to leave.

We stopped by at The Hague. We saw the prison where the War crimes criminal - forgot his name- is being put now. we stopped at the International Court of Justice, and the flame of peace.

We were passing through some forrest like area. The guide told us that it was a park built in the 1930s. Actually, during 1930s, there were was an economic slump and people were without jobs. In order to provide jobs to people, the govt came up with an idea of building a park. Many thousand people were employed for the next decade and the job they did : plant trees, and build a park. WOW.. what a way to give employment.

There was this American guy in his mid 30s who had come with his old mom. He was quizzing the Guide about the difference between Holland and The Netherlands. She replied that it was one and th same. Just an allias. But later, I came to know from Jayasankar, that before The Netherlands became a country there were many small provinces, and Holland was the biggest province. People wanted Holland to be a part of the new country. But Holland demanded that its Capital, Amsterdam should be the capital. The big boy always wins. The wish was granted. But it is still very funny to me. There is nothing in Amsterdam to call it as a Capital. The queen, the Parliament, and all govt offices are all at The Hague. Amsterdam just boasts about a very big airport, some cannals, and no-culture. Then what else is there in Amsterdam to call it as the Capital????

That was the end of my first tour of Holland.

will keep posting....