Tag Archives: Vondelpark

SHADES OF GREY – Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Oh dear, it is cold out on the Schinkel Canal!

Oh dear, it was cold out on the Schinkel Canal!

There is something to be said for jetlag. If you can’t sleep you may as well get up and get outside, and at such an early hour you’ll practically have the world to yourself.

This is fine if you have a camera over your shoulder and Amsterdam’s Vondelpark waiting for you just across the canal.

The Vondelpark was waiting for spring. It may have been in the air, but it was as yet undetectable to the naked eye. The park was mostly grey, so I kept it that way. Continue reading

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: CHANGING SEASONS – Amsterdam

Riding through Amsterdam's Vondelpark is pleasant in almost any season, however...

Riding through Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is pleasant in almost any season, however…



There’s nothing more miserable than an Amsterdam winter. Sure, there may be the odd crisp, clear day with merry skaters on the canals, but the fun never lasts.
Not my Vondelpark photo this time - it's from the Volkskrant newspaper.

Icy bike paths make for treacherous riding. Not my Vondelpark photo – it’s from de Volkskrant.

Grey sludge with drizzle becomes the default weather setting, with people heading to school and work in the gloom and not getting home till after dark.

Fortunately Mevrouw T and I are able to miss the worst of it and migrate like swallows to the sunny southern climes of Australia.

But it is always great to come back to The Netherlands just as people are getting excited again and the lovely Vondelpark across the canal from us comes to life. Continue reading

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THE LAST MINUTE AMSTERDAM ‘TO DO’ LIST

We’re going to miss having the Vondelpark on our doorstep. Just time for a few more bike rides.


The day is rapidly approaching that Mevrouw T and I will be leaving Amsterdam to spend a few months in the southern hemisphere.

Along with the farewells to family and friends, the polishing of the kitchen benches and fixing the leaky sink ready for tenants to move into our spotless apartment, there are a few things we need to do before we leave town. Continue reading

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KONINGINNEDAG – kids in the park on Queens Day

Amsterdam's Vondelpark was a sea of orange for the annual Queens Day celebrations.

The Vondelpark is traditionally the place where children can perform, play, sell the toys they’ve grown too big for and the outfits they wouldn’t be seen dead in now that they’re sophisticated 12 year olds.
Continue reading

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KONINGINNEDAG 2010 – Queens Day in pictures

Oh it was busy in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark!

Even the buses were jostling each other - ouch!

We knew Koninginnedag (‘Queens Day’ if you’re not Dutch) was coming days ago. There were orange streamers in the streets, silly orange hats for sale in the shops, flower stalls selling only orange tulips. In Dirk van den Broek supermarket I met a 10 year old boy buying 20 dozen eggs. ‘Making omelettes for Koninginnedag?’ I asked. ‘No, people can throw eggs at my brother. He stands with his head in a hole and people try to hit him. One euro for three eggs.’ Kids can make money in lots of inventive ways.

Just hold a violin and look cute

My favourite this year was ‘throw a smurf’. The country that gave us Vermeer and van Gogh also gave us reality TV’s Big Brother and Vader Abraham’s smurfs. In a Dutch variation on the coconut shy, kids could pay a modest fee to hurl a fluffy stuffed smurf at members of the royal family smiling at them from a pyramid of Droste cocoa tins.

Try your luck at shuffleboard

The royals are still popular though. On the telly we watched as Queen Beatrix led her family through Zeeland to great applause. You may remember last year’s tragedy when someone drove his car at the royal bus, killing himself and six people in the crowd. After last night’s memorial service for the victims, everyone was relieved that this year it was the old Koninginnedag again.

Only idiots who pressed the emergency stop button on a train and striking garbage collectors threatened the fun this year.

At Apollolaan street market there's always a chance of finding the vinyl LP you wish you hadn't given away when you bought your first CD player.

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VONDELPARK, AMSTERDAM – Spring fever

March 21st is officially the first day of spring. To celebrate the occasion, the sun made a brief, tentative appearance, causing Amsterdammers to throw off their coats, jump on the bike or the joggers and hurry to the Vondelpark, the largest patch of green in Amsterdam, vowing ‘this year I really am going to get fit’…but first let’s have a coffee and a beer in the sun.

The park is long and thin – a couple of kilometers long and only about three hundred metres across. It’s also car free, crisscrossed by walking paths and cycle tracks, weaving between the lakes, sculptures, formal gardens and cafes.


The purple crocuses are blooming, the storks are nesting on their pole and the Vondelpark Toad Protection Society is helping stray amphibians migrate across the local streets towards the safety of the Vondelpark lakes…where the storks are waiting.

Joost van den Vondel was a 17th century Dutch poet. His poems are remembered by few these days, but his statue still stands in the centre of the park. And you can google his poetry: “Amstelredam, die ‘t hooft verheft aan ‘s hemels as, en schiet, op Plutoos borst, haer wortels door ‘t moerasch.” (Amsterdam, who raises her head to Heaven’s axis, And shoots, on Pluto’s breast, her roots through the swamp). Sorry if that’s not an accurate translation, but it’s my best guess.

Film Museum

When I first came to Amsterdam in the 1970s, the Vondelpark was the domain of the backpackers, many of whom spent the night camping here, trading travellers’ tales, mind-altering substances and bodily fluids. I went there in daylight hours for the music sessions, dominated by the Turkish drummer who knew only one rhythm. I took my yellow fiddle and jammed along with the guitars and harmonicas of other wannabe Bob Dylans.

Jan Bronner's sculpture Teun de Jager, by the Rose Garden

The Rose Garden was a notorious gay beat, where people strolled around with colour-coded handkerchiefs hanging from their back pockets. Which handkerchief you displayed and which pocket you dangled it from gave other strollers the clue to the sort of adventure you were up for…so I found out later.

The park has become more regulated since those happy hippie days. Bossy signs now ban camping (of the tent variety) in the park. Sunbathing is allowed, but nudity is not. Live acoustic music is encouraged, but quite rightly Turkish drums are now banned.

Some local residents and concerned park users questioned why sex in the bushes by the children’s playground is apparently still okay, while walking a dog without a leash is not. Writer Youp van ‘t Hek argued in the local Amsterdam newspaper that the lawmakers had got it right this time. He and his wife had always enjoyed sex in the Vondelpark bushes. The children’s play equipment was convenient for hanging up their clothes, but such harmless fun should not be interrupted by a wet doggy nose.

Despite the attempted crackdowns on fun, I have a personal reason to like the Vondelpark. I met my wife here, on a sunny spring day in 1976. Perhaps she liked the colour of my handkerchief (it certainly wasn’t the quality of my fiddle playing) and we took it from there.

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