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July 30, 2014

Taxi app uberPOP making its way through Amsterdam

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 12:26 pm

As of today selected Amsterdam clients using taxi app uberPOP can organise taxi-like rides with private persons and pay for them using their smartphone. The company also offers two other services that feature properly licensed drivers and vehicles, but it is uberPOP that remains a thorn in the side of cabbies, as it offer rides up to 50% cheaper than normal cabs.

Besides having much more overhead (insurance, permits to drive over tram rails and bus lanes, etc.), cab drivers in Amsterdam have to write down every trip they take, which I find ridiculous and dangerous as many do it while driving, something an uber driver probably doesn’t have to do.

In London, where the app has been available for some time 12,000 taxi drivers protested last month, although many Londoners are gladly using the app. Earlier this year in Paris riots broke out, with people being hit and cars being smashed. The city of Brussels demanded uber make changes to its app in order to keep it legal, including making drivers obtain certificates of good behaviour.

The main objection to the app is that it takes work away from real taxi drivers, but then the app is legal and the drivers and cars currently meet local rules and regulations. Anyone is free to take a properly licensed taxi if they want, but with the mess that is Amsterdam’s taxi services, switching to uber will probably be a major relief for a lot of people.

In Amsterdam drivers continue to refuse small trips, preferring tourists going from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol Airport. They also often refuse animals, sometimes speak poor Dutch and/or poor English, and have one of the highest fares in the world. I personally get good taxi service when I need it because I don’t take taxis from Amsterdam Central Station, which is physically regulated at night by security staff like some Banana republic. Even tourist website ‘I Amsterdam’ says “Amsterdam recently launched a campaign to improve taxi services”, while happily listing uber under ‘special taxi services’. Fancy that.

(Link: www.elsevier.nl, Photo of taxi sign by Ben Fredericson, some rights reserved)

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July 29, 2014

The Jacksons to lay flowers for Michael in Amsterdam

Filed under: Music,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:16 pm

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The Jacksons are performing at Paradiso in Amsterdam on Wednesday 30 July and were scheduled to lay flowers this afternoon at a memorial billboard featuring a famous photograph of the late
Michael Jackson taken by Dutch photographer Claude Vanheye in 1977. Located on the Gustav Mahlerplein in the Zuidas business district, the billboard was installed on June 25 and will stay there until mid August.

However, word is that Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine were stuck in France due to bad weather and now hope to honour their late brother Michael on Wednesday, but it’s not confirmed yet as I write this, so we’ll keep you posted.

The above-mentioned picture (click to see) features a young Michael Jackson with a camera walking through the Jordaan district of Amsterdam.

UPDATE: The Jacksons should be at the memorial billboard around noon on 30 July, as per Nu.nl.

(Links: www.at5, www.legendarymichaeljackson.nl, Photo of Michael Jackson illustration by kasiQ, some rights reserved)

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June 20, 2014

Boisterous café blames limiter for loud music

Filed under: General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 12:51 pm

Café Goos in the South of Amsterdam decided to party on with some music after the Netherlands won 5-1 against Spain in the World Cup on 12 June. However, the music was too loud for the neighbours who complained and the café owner was given a warning: pipe down or else it will cost you 5,000 euro next time.

Dutch cafés are required to have limiters on their music installations, often dedicated mp3 players or computers, in order not to exceed legally allowed sound levels. However, the authorities claim that Café Goos’ setup using an iPad was just not working properly. The owner blames the limiter for not working properly, as if he had no control over it, which is lame and will still cost him 5,000 euro if he can’t sort it out.

A football win is not an excuse to make more noise than usual although I am sure many people in Amsterdam would tolerate it if it were a semi-final or a final. Cafés are very often at odds with neighbours over noise in major Dutch cities and is a top complaint around the country. Amusingly enough, the Amsterdam district with the least noise problems as of March 2014 is the South.

(Link: www.parool.nl)

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June 18, 2014

Animation film of Amsterdam’s 17th century boom

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 10:52 pm

The Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) has recently uploaded a five-minute YouTube film to its channel with nice animation showing the expansion of Amsterdam’s canal ring in the 17th century.

The animated film shows the growth and expansion of the ‘grachtengordel’ (the canal ring, a Dutch word that is a rite of passage in itself when you can finally pronounce it properly) that took shape during the Golden Age. It shows the Royal Palace on Dam Square, the Westerkerk (‘Western church’) and the houses on Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.

The now famous posh Jordaan district starts off the expansion phase, with animation that makes you feel like a bird flying over the city.

(www.amsterdamherald.com, Image: Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde, public domain)

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June 9, 2014

Amsterdam’s rich district Zuid throws money in the trash

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 11:08 am

coins-sarah-joyLast January garbage collectors found 46,000 guilders in old office furniture that most likely came from the offices of Amsterdam’s district Zuid (‘South’).

The money was found by an HVC employee in Hoorn who was busy compressing a container full of wood when money boxes started popping out, revealing the banknotes they had inside. The district told Parool that they never missed the money. The district ordered the money to be returned. The paper doesn’t say what legal grounds they have to do so.

Amsterdam Zuid is home to the richest residents of Amsterdam, so it’s quite ironic that they could lose tens of thousands of guilders without noticing it. Residents of some Amsterdam Zuid neighbourhoods are so wealthy that when they get fined for double parking, they prefer to call their expensive lawyers rather than paying a small fine.

The Netherlands replaced the guilder by the euro as its legal tender in 2002.

(Photo by Sarah Joy, some rights reserved)

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June 2, 2014

Eric Slot’s murder atlas of Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:18 am

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The idyllic scene you see above is part of what was the most murder-stricken street of Amsterdam in the 20th century according to Eric Slot, author of the book Moordatlas van Amsterdam, which was published in early May.

The street is called is Oudezijds Achterburgwal, located in Amsterdam’s red light district. It is the location of many a sex worker’s place of business which is why, when AT5 interviewed Slot about his book two weeks ago, the interview took place on the second most murderous street, Zeedijk—prostitutes are said to have an aversion to cameras.

The book is the culmination of two decades of studying murder in Amsterdam. It describes a thousand murders of the 1,800 or so that took place in Amsterdam since the year 1900.

According to the publisher the book “notes trends, characterises neighbourhoods, shows you which professions are dangerous and explains the popularity of the knife in Amsterdam Noord”, and more.

The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to murder with ‘only’ one murder per 100,000 inhabitants a year, but Amsterdam is one of the most ‘dangerous’ capitals of Europe with 3.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The interview of AT5 with Slot is full of interesting titbits, including the fact that the inhabitants of Amsterdam themselves aren’t very violent—the problem usually stems from outsiders coming to the city. If you understand Dutch and have 30 minutes to spare, I suggest you watch it.

(Photo by Flickr user Taver, some rights reserved)

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April 19, 2014

“Amsterdam, give Holocaust survivors their money back!”, says NIOD

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 1:39 pm

museumplein-jcm718What should a city do when its citizens survive the death camps and arrive home to find all their possessions stolen, even their homes (where now Nazi collaborators live)?

With possible answers ranging from “give them a hero’s welcome” to “do everything in your power to restore normality” to “charge them back taxes for property they haven’t had the use of”, after World War II was over, the city of Amsterdam chose the latter.

Three years ago university student Charlotte van den Berg stumbled upon 342 cases of retroactive taxes for Holocaust victims in Amsterdam’s city archives where she worked part-time. Toby Sterling reports:

Van den Berg notified city officials about the documents and received assurances they would be fully investigated. Now and then she checked in, only to learn that nothing had been done. [...] In desperation, she turned her findings over to Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool in March 2013.

There is a method that seems to be favoured by Dutch officials who wish to deal with the wrongs their predecessors committed long ago, whether they had assisted Nazis with persecuting Jews or killed civilians in the revolutionary Indonesian war, and that method is to let the passage of time finish what the evil-doers started.

Parool’s publication of Van den Berg’s findings in 2013 got the ball rolling though and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies started its own research. NIOD’s report is due later this month, but in the meantime details were leaked to the press. The institute will allegedly recommend that the city repay 400,000 euro in fines and 4.5 million euro in back taxes. That’s just for one very narrow category of taxes, “fees for long-term leases when the city owns the ground a house is built on”.

(Photo by Flickr user jcm718, some rights reserved. Here you see the Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein in Amsterdam. Currently a prime real estate location, Jewish owners of a house in this location had to sell the land because they couldn’t afford the costs involved in making the house liveable again and partly because of retroactive taxes, according to Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad)

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April 10, 2014

The Anne Frank tree in Amsterdam is branching out

Filed under: History,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:08 am
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Back in 2010 the world famous Anne Frank chestnut tree had blown over and broke. In an effort to save something of this tree mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, branches were take in order to try and grow saplings.

Today, one of the saplings is big enough to be planted, and its prestigious destination will be the Capitol in Washington, DC, the seat of the United States Congress. This is not the first time the United States has planted saplings from the Anne Frank tree; in fact 11 have already been planted throughout the country.

The sapling will be planted on the Capitol’s west front lawn on April 30.

(Link: www.miamiherald.com, Photo: annefranktree.com)

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March 14, 2014

Dutch municipalities make 660 million euro from parking tax

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The most expensive parking garage in the country is in Amsterdam under the Bijkenkorf department store and at De Kolk, both right downtown. Both parking garages charge a whopping 5,71 euro an hour, while the cheapest parking garage in the country not too far from Amsterdam in Hoofddorp asks for just 0,80 an hour in a city full of commuters and big international businesses.

Amsterdam rakes in a cool 162 million euro of parking tax from parking meters and permits. In 2013 Amsterdam made a record amount of money from parking tax, to the tune of 166 million euro. Back then the price of permits went up, the paid parking zones got bigger and more ‘meter maids’ were doing the rounds. What’s really funny is that in October 2013 the city claimed that parking was no longer their cash cow (in Dutch), but still made a record amount that year.

In 2009 Amsterdam had the most expensive parking on the planet. See also: Amsterdam parking rates slashed.

(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl)

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February 19, 2014

North Korean hostesses cover traditional Dutch song

Filed under: Food & Drink,History,Music by Orangemaster @ 5:29 pm

Two years ago, a North Korean restaurant (now closed) in the West of Amsterdam had caused quite the commotion having been accused of spreading propaganda and all that jazz. But at least there was after dinner singing.

Now in the East part of town restaurant Haedanghwa features North Korean food with traditional after dinner songs sung by North Korean girls in traditional garb. The fun part is, they sing their rendition of the Dutch standard ‘Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten’ (roughly, At the Canals of Amsterdam) that they apparently worked very hard not only to sing, but to understand. They practiced for a few weeks and now you can enjoy the video.

(Link: www.vice.com, Photo of Pyongyang restaurant by Comicbase, some rights reserved)

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