Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Last week, I left Lisbon for a while and re-visited Amsterdam, a city where my eyes always get delighted.
One day, I found myself in a beautiful landscaped courtyard surrounded by houses. The street noise, the traffic, the rumble of the trains, the crowd - all gone. I was in a broad and peaceful courtyard and, I swear, it was like the wooden door I had stepped through, had carried me three centuries into the past. So, that was, then, the Begijnhof, an oasis of calm in the heart of the frantic city.
A brick path lined with a dozen lovely two- and three- and four-story brick houses on the left, opened on the right for about 50 yards, at which point it curved right and lost itself behind a pretty country church with a tall brick bell tower capped with slate.

.Dazed by the unexpected quietness, I started down the path. There was a bulky metal sculpture on my right and though there were other people out and about, there was still an air of respectful silence. I would have had the illusion the entire place was there to myself, otherwise. It was such a relaxing spot, such an idyllic place to be. With what I’m sure must have been a sappy sort of grin on my face, I strolled around the perimeter of the central green, soaking up the atmosphere of autumn.
The houses were beautiful, each with its little garden and its gauzy white curtains behind white-trimmed windows. Pretty fancy.
The housing and the church were very well preserved. The place was founded in 1346 for the members of a Catholic sisterhood. One of the houses was a 15th century example of a wooden construction and the others dated from 17th and 18th centuries. Lonely old single women live in the place and have special assistance.

As I had pushed open the wooden door and set foot into that oasis I had no idea at all what had been waiting for me within the walls of the Begijnhof. I liked what I visited and revisited of Amsterdam, but I liked it in that quiet oasis a lot better.

Thank you!


  1. Very good shots of that oasis... yes, it must be an oasis, indeed! Thanks for sharing a little bit of your short stay in Amsterdam, a city that I really love.

  2. Amsterdam is the most crowded city I have ever visited, but you've captured its unique quiet spots.