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Notes on the Geography of The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection

Amsterdam has VOC vestiges, too.

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The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 1

Here: the Headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Company. In its own way and day, a bit like the Pentagon. Case in point: a Dutch administrator happened to be visiting British Sarawak in the 1930s and saw, to his astonishment, that the British colonial officers were eating with the locals. In 30 years in the Indies, he said, he had never heard of such a thing.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 2

A side entrance. The bicyles hint at the building's current use as part of the University of Amsterdam.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 3

The Dutch East Indiaman "Amsterdam," a modern replica of a ship built in 1748. The original vessel never made it to the East Indies. Bad weather delayed the departure, an epidemic broke out, and the captain deliberately beached the ship at Hastings, just beyond the English Channel. He salvaged the crew and cargo, but the ship sank in the mud, where its hull can be seen today at low tide.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 4

On the 4,800 voyages conducted during the long life of the VOC, only 100 ships were lost; most completed their journey in eight months. On the other hand, those same ships typically carried 200 men on the outbound voyage but only 110 on the way back. Most were less than 20 years old when they left the Netherlands.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 5

The massive keel, once buried with cannon and saltpeter for ballast on the outward voyage and with tin or saltpetre on the return. Pepper was laid in next and covered with textiles--cheaper ones, then more expensive. This replica was made of laminated tropical woods, rather than the original solid oak.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 6

A typical street in the city "centrum," where most of the VOC employees  presumably lived.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 7

The view from within. Feel a bit chilly?

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Just in case you wonder how movers operate these days, now that the old block-and-tackle rigs (up there on those neck gables) are ornamental. That wooden platform you see on the oversized ladder is motorized and runs up and down on wheels.

The Netherlands: The Amsterdam Connection picture 9

Tuvan throat-singers echoing under the Rijksmuseum--and selling their own CDs. A nice indicator of the city's continuing cosmopolitan character.


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