I expected to see a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, and I wasn’t disappointed. However, not until I visited the bike parking lot did it sink in.
Surrounding the public transit stations are huge bike lots. Some of them are multi-stories high and comfortably house tens of thousands. Some like this were outside and stacked to make efficient use of space. Maybe it’s not so strange, but I was amazed nonetheless.
Since everyone is accustom to it, biking seems like a natural thing to do here. It made me wonder why we can’t seem to get it together in places like Florida where I live. From a transportation perspective, we are like dinosaurs, relying on our cars to get everywhere. If we don’t figure out a better way, we may soon end up like the dinosaurs.
Here is another photo from Nice France. I took this as I walked around the streets above the harbor on a hot August morning.
The hill above the harbor is steep, and I remember thinking to my self that I didn’t want to get too hot first thing in the morning. So I paced myself and took slow steps, trying to avoid exertion. That was a fool’s errand because I quickly became covered in sweat no matter how slow I walked. I ended up getting ice cream for breakfast to cool down. That’s just how I roll.
Nevertheless, I prefer to walk around these little streets as opposed to the more famous beaches of Nice. Beaches I have all around me in Florida, so when in Europe, I like unique places like this; even when covered in sweat and eating ice cream.
Here is a scenic section of road through Myakka State Park. It’s not too far from the campground, so it’s not uncommon to see cyclists and hikers.
Spanish moss hangs from the oaks all around this region. Where I live, we have oaks draped with it. Squirrels and bird use it for nests, and after a storm, enormous loads of it get blown to the ground.
There are several roads like this in the vicinity. I think they’re called canopy roads. There is one just outside the park that I’ve taken photos of a couple of times.
I’ve tried taking pictures of the oaks and moss near my home, but there are too many houses in the background, it’s not the same. So when I’m out and about in this area, I’m always on the lookout for these types of scenes.
This was taken on a hot day in Barcelona last summer. I had just arrived from hot Florida and went out walking. It was so hot I had to pause in the shade. As I did, I noticed others doing the same thing.
In fact, it seemed like everyone was doing the same thing, going from one patch of shade to the next. Maybe I should have just stayed inside with the nice air-conditioning, but that’s what I do at home in Florida. Here I was in photo safari mode and the coast of Spain was my savanna.
As I took this, I was sitting across from a little restaurant on the pier. I was thinking it seemed odd that the main food on the menu was cheeseburgers and hot dogs; so much for European cuisine. But they had air-conditioning, so I seriously thought about going inside. Then my hunter instincts kicked in again and I moved on.
It seems every time I look at my photos from Amsterdam there are bicycles. Any direction you look people are going this way and that on bikes. It’s refreshing to see especially from a North American perspective. The only way I can relate to this is having grown up in suburbia where, as kids we rode bikes everywhere. Here, they just keep on doing it as adults.
From a photographic perspective it creates ideas for images. One of my favorite is riders in motion. To do that you have to pan the camera along with the rider. If the shutter speed of the camera is set slow enough you get a blur like this. It’s an effect that evokes a sense of motion.
This is a type of street photography that I practice when in urban settings. Photography is the art of noticing things. When you have a camera and are purposely looking for scenes you notice more. On the other hand, if you are walking to the store and have your mind on what to eat for dinner you might miss a lot. Photography is a practice of being present in the moment and open to things going on around you.
In this case I was standing around and noticed the stairs and horizontal motion of cyclists which created an idea in my mind. I took several shots panning my camera right and left depending on the direction of the cyclist. This was my favorite of the bunch.
This is a random shot I made in Amsterdam while walking around in the rain. It got me thinking about some general differences between the European and North American people.
In northern climates there’s no avoiding the rain. What strikes me is the commitment of europeans to using bikes. It’s one thing to ride a bike on a sunny day, but cold and rainy weather is another thing. I’d rather not ride in the rain, in North America its too dangerous and we don’t have many bike lanes.
Not so here in Amsterdam; there are as many bike lanes as roads and people are committed to this as a primary mode of transport, even in the cold and rain.
While I was walking around in near freezing weather I wore mittens and a scarf, yet I saw people riding without gloves and sometimes more than a little skin exposed. So using bikes here is a commitment beyond just fair weather riding. That’s not something that even occurred to me until I saw it for myself.
I suppose that because so many europeans use bikes, riding in the cold is normal. I think we North Americans can learn from that. It’s not so bad when if we just get on board with the idea.
The other thing that struck me was that folks here are in good shape. They’re burning calories not only from riding but by staying warm. Of course our bodies use energy just to maintain body heat when its cold.
Anyway, this is a long winded post about people and bikes. Not sure why I got off on such a tangent. I guess I was impressed by europeans and their preferred mode of transport. From that one little thing you can learn something about a people and their culture. I think we could use a dash of that here in North America. That’s my 2 cents on the subject.
This is one of my first impressions of Amsterdam. I arrived a couple of days ago for the opening of the Best Top Photographer exhibition. As soon as I got to the hotel I was out walking around the central section of the city. For some reason I had it in my mind that it was cold and not many people would be out. I’m obviously not from around here. There was a light rain but no wind and everyone was out enjoying themselves as though it was a summer evening.
That was awesome to see, so much going on, so many people outside, walking, biking, …whatever. It’s nice to be in a place where people still know how to have fun. Someone told me last night about a saying from Iceland, that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
For someone just stepping off a plane from the states and on to the streets of Amsterdam, the one thing I would mention is to stay out of the bike lanes. The bike lanes are highways and if you’re not from around here you could be in for a surprise. Bikes are the main source of transportation and they’re everywhere, no exaggeration, everywhere.
Anyway, after a long flight from Florida, walking around the central district on a Saturday night was just what I needed. About an hour past midnight I made it back to my hotel, but the city kept on buzzing late into the night. It was a good first impression.
Actually, I have no idea if this is a typical day or not, I’ve only been here once. But because it was a Tuesday and not the weekend, I have to assume it was typical. I guess I’ll have to wait until I come back to be sure. The beach is protected by a seawall and the shops are all open and outdoor bistros serve beer, wine, coffee and pastries. Personally I could get used to this as a typical day. We stopped along here and had a drink at one of the cafes as we watched the everything around us. If I did live here I’d probably live to be a ripe old age, playing checkers or bocci ball with the other escapees from modern civilization. Then I’d sit and have a glass of red wine while I watched the people go by. Then I’d get up in the morning and do it all again. Just another typical day in Collioure, France.