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Along the paths and canals of Amsterdam

The Begijnhof

One of the conference sponsors hosted an interesting guided walking tour of Amsterdam for 8 of us from Canada, US, India, Taiwan, Ghana, Africa, Australia and the Caribbean. My favourite part of the tour was the Begijnhof, shown above. After its long history as a Catholic almost-convent (the women took vows but were free to leave to marry), this beautiful peaceful enclave has 105 residents, all widows. After the bustle of Amsterdam, your heart rate responds to the serenity of the quiet closed-off courtyard. Amsterdam's oldest house is also found here.

The homes in Amsterdam are distinctive both for their gables and for how crooked they are. Sometimes this is because their pilings have deteriorated, but partly it's intended: the upper stories usually lean out to ensure the furniture which is to be brought up by that hoist on the gable won't hit the house, as dramatically shown down this little street.

 Of course we walked through part of the Red Light District. Despite the early morning hour, there were a few women 'in the windows', extremely generously endowed as we were in the part that specializes in the extravagantly endowed. We didn't see any blue lights, which signal gay sex on offer. This trade is not restricted to one district as Wayne was to see more windows just by our hotel where he walked to take his bicycle tour. This is a shot of a day care centre wedged between the windows. 

Our walking tour was followed by lunch and canal tour, another peaceful interlude. I tried to capture the view of nine consecutive bridges which you can just see peeking out from behind the first bridge in the foreground.
We caught sight if Amsterdam's smallest house,
As well as many other characteristic houses and houseboats. Here are some typical scenes. 
I particularly enjoyed the many houseboats and how they squeezed little gardens into their space. 


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