, Derry, New Hampshire


September 20, 2012

Column: Taking the time to watch a strange world go by


Young and old alike pedal everywhere in Amsterdam. One day, before our tour started, I stepped outside the hotel to take in the morning air. It was early, before the trams and buses created the city’s sound track. In the distance, I spotted a lone biker approaching the hotel. From 50 yards away it became clear it was a woman. As she got closer, I could see she was middle-aged and dressed for the workday in a long skirt, leather jacket and stylish boots.

While a typical American professional might pull into a parking lot or step out of a cab, this woman locked her circa 1965 Schwinn in the bike rack in front of the hotel, turned around, smiled at me and said, “Good morning. Are you ready for the city tour?”

Yes, I was, and fortunately, it was a bus tour, and she was the guide. I wasn’t ready to risk life and limb trying to keep pace with Amsterdam bikers. And besides, it allowed me to engage in my favorite vacation pastime — sitting and observing life in a foreign city. Many would consider that doing absolutely nothing at all.


John Edmondson is a teacher in Hampstead.

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