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October 17, 2006


Serendipity has been ruling this Am*dam visit. Last night we met Dabor, who became our guide and invited us for a homecooked vegetarian meal. Today, while renting a bike, I asked if they had maps. The clerk didn't have any free ones, but he offered one for sale. As we talked, I absently opened the map, surprised to see it showed not the center, but the north suburbs. He apologized for the mistake, but now I was curious. He explained the north is where the "normal people" live. It's a mix of housing blocks, pastures, and floating bird sanctuaries. He took back the map and replaced it with a free color photocopy with a highlighted bikeroute. Since we were on an island in the Amstel River, we were already halfway there, so we decided to ride out along the levee. We were lucky--it was uncharacteristically warm and sunny for mid-October. As in other European cities, the transition from urban to rural is extremely abrupt, so although we were close to the center, all we saw all afternoon were green fields and quaint villages. We stopped for a snack and looked over the water to the construction crane ballet of another Dutch megaproject. Amsterdam is a sci-fi city, mixing centuries of tradition with futuristic new architecture and massive terraforming projects. We rode back to the center....

misty morning en route to cirkvice train platform