Hixie's Natural Log

2005-05-25 13:45 UTC Spring 2005 Travelog: Part 1 (Amsterdam)

I wrote this on a tram in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam's public transport service is unbelievable. It's almost as good as Prague's, the only thing that makes Prague's better being the stronger overnight service.

The trams have two conductors. Or rather, they have a driver and a conductor. One sits at the front, one near the back, in a special booth. I've never seen that before.

On my way from the airport to the town centre yesterday I noticed a building, maybe an office building, with the cut-down remains of tree trunks in its garden. However, and this is why I bring this up, they weren't real stumps. They were made of metal. Sculpted metal tree stumps. I guess it was art. I have to say, oddly, I quite liked them. Not that I saw them for long, but still.

Later while walking around Amsterdam itself I found a small park with huge lizards walking about. They were beautiful creatures, lounging in the sun, climbing over the short wall around the park, looking at the passers-by. They too were made of metal. Brass, I believe. Maybe there is a whole metallurgic bio-ecology here.

In the area near the lizards is a big chess board on the ground. Watching people play chess when you can walk about the board is strangely fascinating.

In the evening I met up with LH and her boyfriend, and we went out for Indian followed by drinks at a Marijuana bar. The bar had a gorgeous resident cat who seemed quite at ease with the crowd around him, ignoring it completely while sitting on a barstool and watching the pigeons walking around outside.

Even when there were no pigeons. But that's cats for you.

I was quite amused, by the way, that when I checked in to my hotel, I was told that I could smoke in my room, although not too much since the smoke detectors are quite sensitive, but that I must not smoke grass. I've never had that explicitly stipulated to me before. My hotel is a quaint — that is to say, old and small — hotel, situated by the water. This being Amsterdam, that tells you nothing at all. There's almost as much water here as in Venice.

There isn't much open wireless Internet around Amsterdam, at least not in the commercial areas. I stumbled upon a hotspot while the tram drove through a residential area. I've built up a whole array of very useful shell scripts and commands, for example:

while (true); do /sbin/iwgetid -r | xargs perl -e '$" = " "; $s = "@ARGV"; $s = "(disconnected)" unless length $s; printf("\033]0;%s\007", $s)'; sleep 1s; done

...which puts the name of the current hotspot into the title of the tab in which you run it. Quite useful to monitor your connection.