Lighting Up the Dutch Winter

The cold humidity of the Dutch night sunk deep into the bones of my hands, but I couldn’t resist re-positioning the camera for another picture.  LED lights were piercing into my eyes, but my thoughts were focused on how old this particular canal was.  And how cold my hands were.

Plus, how often do you get to take a picture of giant, floating heads in front of buildings from the 17th century.

Certain areas of Amsterdam are illuminated every winder during the Amsterdam Light Festival, and I’ve enjoyed it both years that I’ve been here.  This year we sprung for some boat tickets to see the route that had been specifically designed for water viewing.

I had mixed feelings about that, but it was mostly because we were crammed in across from a teenage Dutch couple.  The girl repeatedly tried to take pictures with the flash on, and all that managed to do was blind everyone else on the boat when it reflected off of the windows.  Needless to say, her photos sucked.

That click-happy girl did help me realize one valuable lesson, though:  see the festival by boat, but try to avoid the big tourist cruisers, if possible.


Also, the boats are enclosed and heated, which makes for a much warmer experience.  The downside is that the windows fog up from the hot breath of the gawking tourists, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to see out.

The cramped space and foggy windows were the main reasons that I found myself hanging off the edge of the canal the next night.  Aside from nearly watching a little girl get run over by a bike while posing for her mom’s camera, it was much better.

If you get too cold, you’re never very far from an inviting little café.  They’ll happily serve up some hot drinks and bitterballen.

Just hurry, you only have one more week before the festival ends!

Dutch Word of the Day:


This word sounds very similar to “licked,” except it requires a bit of an H sound from the back of your throat before the T.  In yet another similarity between the Dutch and English languages, this is the word for “light.”