My grandfather lived in Amsterdam. He had a day job, but at night he taught ballroom dancing. And since we never met, this is a place where I sometimes imagine myself reaching across time. To a seafarer there are few places as fascinating as the “grachtengordel” or ring of canals. This is a destination where over the past centuries some of the most bountiful and luxurious cargoes on earth have been loaded and offloaded for distribution. In total Amsterdam has one hundred kilometres of canals. 90 islands. 1500 bridges. Restless tourist barges prowl and they have undeniable right of way. The result is a dance.
According to UNESCO , which placed Amsterdam on its World Heritage List in 2010, “the Amsterdam Canal District illustrates exemplary hydraulic and urban planning on a large scale through the entirely artificial creation of a large-scale port city. The gabled facades are characteristic of this middle-class environment, and the dwellings bear witness both to the city’s enrichment through maritime trade and the development of a humanist and tolerant culture linked to the Calvinist Reformation”.