Compared to India, where cars, buses, bikers, autorikshaws and stray cows jostle for the same limited space, the traffic in central Amsterdam doesn’t feel chaotic. While riding a cab last week, my perspective shifted a little. The cars share the same road with trams. The cyclists and the pedestrians occasionally spill over into the same shared space from their designated lanes. So the traffic here is chaotic too but a harmonious kind of chaotic. That said, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, but it’s population density is still a third of Delhi. Plus, respect for traffic rules and others’ personal space keeps traffic flowing smoothly.
p.s. I am quite enjoying playing with Instagram’s new Hyperlapse app. Considering how shaky the cab was and how hard it is to hold a phone-camera steady for six minutes at a stretch, I am quite impressed that it pulled out a somewhat usable footage out of the ride. While by default it speeds up the video 6x, it also allows you to save a 1x version which sounds like a great way to get image-stabalised version straight from your phone’s camera.
p.p.s. Here is another, much shorter segment from the same ride:
p.p.p.s. Found myself relating a little to Apple’s misunderstood TV spot – at least one of the persons sharing the ride thought I was taking selifes.
A boat ride through the canals in Amsterdam should be on the itinerary of every visitor. You could rent a pedal-boat or take a tour in a covered tourist boat, but an open motorboat is highly recommended. On the streets by the canals, life marches on at its usual pace. From a boat in the canal, it seems to slow down. The views seem more panoramic, the bikes locked to the railings of the bridges overhead more picturesque. It’s as if the city is letting you in on its grand scheme – one that isn’t revealed to cyclists or pedestrians.
Last weekend was the first time we were visiting Paris in winter. Since winters in this part of Europe have been relatively mild, we could walk around comfortably till late. Encouraged by fewer than usual tourists everywhere we went, we decided to give climbing the Eiffel Tower another shot. On our past visits to Paris we had been deterred by long queues at the ticket counter. This time there was no queue. The top of the tower was shrouded in clouds and looked quite surreal. It was as if the top half was never finished. When I craned my neck from the second floor viewing deck to look up at the tower, I was reminded of the postcards you find in the souvenir shops in Paris that show the tower in various stages of its construction. They were also an inspiration for this collage: