Amsterdam

Cause and effect (Or: Train chaos by NS)

On Tuesday the train system here in the Netherlands, run by a company called Nederlandse Spoorwegen or more commonly NS for short, went to hell. Well, maybe not literally, but I am sure a lot passengers thought it was!

The craziness actually started around 17:45, when a 21-year-old shoplifter stole something from Albert Heijn at Schiphol airport and fled down the escalators to the train platform. As he noticed he was being chased – by the military police, due to shoplifting at a national airport! – he decided to jump into one of the train tunnels to get away. He was found and arrested anyway.

Amsterdam Centraal - stock photo from NS

Amsterdam Centraal – stock photo

But think about it – what happens when someone runs onto the tracks? The trains are immediately stopped, of course. Anything in the general vicinity. That was the begin of the chaos – Schiphol is an important hub for both travelers entering and leaving the country. But no, it gets even worse.

About an hour later, NS tweets there is a major issue with the railroad switches (which determine what direction a train should go in, this platform or that platform; this direction or that direction) in and around Amsterdam. Because of this, no trains can enter or leave the city. Amsterdam isn’t that far from Schiphol airport – about 15 minutes by train, give or take. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Around 20:00, NS reports that the situation has been fixed and they are bringing the system back online. Around 20:30, this proves not to be the case, with the train system around Amsterdam still down. By 22:00, NS has about 70,000 stranded passengers on its hands and is forced to shut down a train station at Amsterdam-zuid (Amsterdam south) because of overcrowding on the platform.

Passengers begin referencing a seldom used hashtag, #treinpoolen (car pools for train passengers) to try and get car pools organized for people to get in and out of the city. NS even references it in a tweet. It’s too complicated to bring in buses to get people home, since it is too overcrowded and most of the buses are in use elsewhere in the country for other ongoing construction projects. The NS does however promise to get the remaining passengers home that night, with roughly one train running every hour (manually) in each of the directions from Amsterdam. Around about 03:30 that night, the system is fully cleaned and restarted. The only hinderance left is that some trains might be shorter than normal Wednesday morning, since they aren’t in the right starting place anymore. The NS promises to look into the situation.

Later on Wednesday the report is released with the cause of the railway chaos (article in Dutch). It turns out that the thief running into the train tunnels and the major issue with railroad switches around Amsterdam are connected. Cause and effect. When the trains around Schiphol were forced to stop and remain in their current position, one of the trains found itself in a very unlucky place. It was sitting right above the area where the software determines whether a train goes this way or that way. The software thought that a train was repeatedly arriving, and so it repeatedly passed information about which platform to go to. Just over 32,000 times, or 32,768 in exact terms. With 16-bit software, this causes an integer overflow. At the same time, a worker tried to add a platform number by hand for this train. The two events together caused a minor meltdown. Here’s the official article about the cause (still in Dutch).

The crash caused some corruption in the data. Around 20:00, the corrupt data seemed to be removed, but when the system was re-started this was not the case. By 03:30 that night, the system had been fully cleaned and brought back online, just in time for the morning rush hour.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Daily Dutch living, Transportation | Tags: | 4 Comments

Dunkin’ Donuts in Amsterdam (Or: Mmmmmm, donuts)

“Doughnuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” — Homer Simpson (from “Marge vs. the Monorail“, season 4, episode 12). So much of my childhood was based around the Simpsons!

Here are a few more photos from Marco and I’s trip to Amsterdam a few weeks back – this time from the local Dunkin’ Donuts on Damstraat. Dunkin’ Donuts opened stores in the Netherlands at the beginning of this year. So far they have 5 locations across Amsterdam with plans to move into other cities by the end of the year, including nearby Zoetermeer.

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 2

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 1

And of course Dunkin’ Donuts is looking to open a location in The Hague in 2018 (article in Dutch).

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 4

It isn’t without controversy – Dutch political party PvdA was against Dunkin’ Donuts coming here due to the food being unhealthy (article also in Dutch). PvdA is Partij voor de Arbeid, or Labour party. Understandable, but I do not believe fast food should be banned purely for health reasons.

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 3

In an attempt to cater to local audience you also have locally inspired donuts like Dutch blue (far left), Tulip (middle) and a donut with the logo of Amsterdam (far right)…

Stroopwafel donuts by Dunkin Donuts, Amsterdam

and a stroopwafel inspired donut, with a piece of stroopwafel cookie on top and caramel filling. Sounds heavy! 

Six donuts from Dunkin Donuts in AmsterdamOur six choices are above. Top row, left to right: apple crumble, toasted coconut and Dutch blue (Delft blauw pattern). Bottom row, left to right: chocolate rainbow, maple drizzle, and lemon.

I don’t like donuts with filling (I know – sacrilegious!), so the two donuts for me were the chocolate rainbow and the lemon donut. 🙂 Yum!

Categories: Amsterdam, Food | Tags: | 4 Comments

Eye-catching (Or: Photos from Amsterdam)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Marco and I were in Amsterdam last week to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary. And I have more photos to share! Here is a look at the EYE Film Museum, taken from across the river IJ.

EYE Film museum in Amsterdam, from across the river, Sept 2017

It is the national museum of film, containing over 40,000 films, from classics to modern film. Their website states that there are four cinemas, an exhibition space, a floor reserved for educational activities, a store and a bar-restaurant. They also host film-related programs and debates.

Royal Palace in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

A look at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, also in the heart of the city

Royal Palace Amsterdam - other side, Sept 2017

The lesser photographed “back side” of the building, including a 6 meter tall statue of Atlas carrying the globe on his shoulders

What are you reading board in American Book Center in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

And finally, the “What are you reading?” board in the American Book Center.

What am I reading right now? Open kaart, by Brenno de Winter. It’s a book about the OV-chipkaart system in the Netherlands, or the card used to travel on public transportation throughout the country. Specifically the book covers the historical security issues as detailed on Wikipedia, mostly related to how easy the card was to hack in the beginning. It sounds dry but it is a fun read… if you’re into that sort of thing, of course!

Categories: Amsterdam, Marco&Niki, Reading | Tags: | Leave a comment

Beurspassage in Amsterdam (Or: A beautiful shortcut)

Earlier this week Marco and I were in Amsterdam to celebrate our wedding anniversary (four years!). One of the places we visited was the Beurspassage, a small passage which connects two well-known Amsterdam streets (Damrak and Nieuwendijk). The passage itself is only a 5 minute walk from the central station. The top and sides are covered in art – including a giant fish!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam - fish sculpture - Sept 2017

A giant fish, just like I said!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

Towards Nieuwendijk

Beurspassage in Amsterdam 2, Sept 2017

Towards Damrak

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Primark entrance, Sept 2017

Giant green shoes hang on the wall by Primark…

The only thing I would have wanted was that it was longer. But it was very pretty nonetheless!

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Flowers in Albert Heijn (And: Free tulips yesterday in Amsterdam)

A touch of color enters the world…

Even though it is only January, sometimes it can feel like spring. Especially in Amsterdam! Yesterday was National Tulip Day, the third Saturday in January. It’s the official begin to the tulip selling season, and to celebrate this the tulip growers bring 200,000 tulips in crates to the Dam Square in Amsterdam. Once everything is set up around 1pm, anyone can enter and get pluck a bouquet of tulips for free. Expect to stand in line for a few hours, though! After about 3 to 4 hours, all tulips have been plucked.

First, a link in English, with a stunning time-lapse video from 2015, including the setup. And a link in Dutch, with photos of 2017 Nationale Tulpendag, including photos from above which show the overall design. I find it a nice touch that the design for 2015 is different than 2017.

Speaking of tulips, I took some photos of flowers on sale at an Albert Heijn in The Hague:

tulips-by-albert-heijn

Tulips!

flowers-by-albert-heijn

A bushel of flowers

Categories: Amsterdam, Culture, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

Delft blauw guitar (Or: Random curiosities in the Rijksmuseum)

As my last post suggested, Marco and I visited the Rijksmuseum a few weeks back. Here are some of the photos I took. First, a guitar made in the style of delfts blauw:

Delft blauw guitar in Rijksmuseum

Now look at the picture again, but this time focus on the top of the guitar. That is a bit unnerving!

More delfts blauw:

Delft blauw items at Rijksmuseum

A painting illuminated from the back with lights:

Illuminated painting at Rijksmuseum

And finally, a look down at the Rijksmuseum library:

Rijksmuseum library
I’ve always loved taking photos of spiral staircases. Pretty!

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Clouds (Or: Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

From a few weeks back, when Marco and I took a day off to visit Amsterdam:


Note the “I am Amsterdam” art installation (climbable at your own risk!). Besides the Rijksmuseum we also visited the American Book Center, an English language bookstore, and Eichholtz Delicatessen, a great store for American (and international) candy and snacks.

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Amsterdam (Or: View from the canal)

Here are some more pictures from the canal boat ride we took back in the summer of 2010 (“we” being Roger, Marco, Marco’s Mom and I).

Random family above.

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Picture books (Or: Tien kleine heksjes)

Before there were chapter books like Het geheim van de verliefde hulpkok, there were picture books like Tien kleine heksjes (10 little witches). Marco and I had gone to Amsterdam Public Library, and we stopped at the children’s section for this photo.

You can see more pictures of the children’s section of the library by looking at one of the first posts I wrote for this blog.

Categories: Amsterdam | Tags: | 4 Comments

Traffic jam (Or: Amsterdam’s in-water boat show 2012)

Roger was gracious enough to send me some pictures of Amsterdam’s in-water boat show which starts today, September 4, and runs through Sunday, September 9. He has been watching the construction of the marina over the past few months, which will house all of the boats this week. Apparently most of the marina will stay after the boat show wraps up, which is nice.

Location: Amsterdam Marina, NDSM Shipyard; Werfstraat 4, 1033 SN Amsterdam

Of course, it does mean there will be more traffic in the area, which hopefully won’t put a damper on Roger’s commute to and from work each day. It’s only four days, at least! Here’s a floor plan of the boat show so you can see the amount of boats that will be docked there. As Roger noted, it is kind of weird to see “Manoeuvreren voor vrouwen” in the lower left of the floor plan (maneuvering for women)… as if men don’t need any help, or all women need help. (I would!)

You can also see a list of activities broken down by day — though it seems like a lot of activities happen on all of the days.

There will be 200 exhibitors and 300 boats. You can read more about the facts & figures of this event by going to the press section of their website.

Categories: Amsterdam, Culture, Transportation | 3 Comments

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