Like so many cities all over the world, Amsterdam has been forced to take special measures to stop the spread of the corona virus. Cafes, restaurants, universities, and museums are shut, many shops are also closed, and people are supposed to work at home. The canal cruises have been suspended (see above) and the streets are deserted. Schools are shut, although teachers use the internet to reach the kids. (An eight-year-old expert I consulted confided to me that her mother was stricter than her teacher.)
Since I had some business to do at the railroad station, I cycled through an abandoned city center. Here are some photos.
The Rozengracht (“canal of the roses”) is usually a crowded street.
The house of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who kept a diary in which she documented her life in hiding during the war years 1942-1944. Usually, there is a long queue over here.
Normally, this is the terrace of the cafe in the center of the photo. (The statue to the left is dedicated to one of the greatest Dutch writers, Multatuli.)
The Nieuwendijk (“new dike”) is one of the busiest shopping streets in the country. Some shops are open but I found it quite shocking that it was so deserted. (My grandmother was born in the house in the center.)
Amsterdammers are not sure whether bicycles are soulless objects, so it’s heart-breaking that no human seems to care for these bikes.
The tunnel for cyclists and pedestrians underneath the railroad station.
The railroad station itself. No travelers; the only people I saw were the ones at the ticket booth. There were also people from the railway police…
… who were feeding the pigeons. Normally, the birds find some food at the waste bins.
Some of the shops in China Town were open but there were no visitors.
The infamous Red Light District. All brothels have been closed.
In front of the fifteenth-century Weigh House often is a market. Now there was one man with a pram (and a mouth mask).
Cycling back, I came along Dam Square. A couple of people, feeding pigeons again.
My favorite cafe, the ancient Brakke Grond (“the brackish ground”), has for the past decades been used by the Flemish Cultural Center (right). No beer, no fries, no visitors.
A police car parked between a music hall and a cinema. One cyclist. In the evening, there are crowds over here; during the day, people walk along to buy tickets.
I did not like this: a preacher talking about the vengeance of the Lord and announcing that the end was near. No Dutch church says corona is God’s punishment and indeed, this man was English or American. He ordered repentance to an absent audience.
I liked this a lot better: an advertisement for a concert that was supposed to take place this April but has been postponed for ten months. It’s a line from a song every Dutchman knows and can be translated as “we shall go on until we’re together”.
[More than ever, we live in a global village, so I decided to write this in a global language.]