Postcards from the Netherlands, part 3 of 3

Victoria Plaza Hotel
Victoria Plaza Hotel, Amsterdam

I visited the Netherlands in May for a week on business and returned again recently for three weeks. I took a lot of photos and made a few observations. This is what I found.

Point 5, the accommodations

The hotels in the Netherlands are like Dutch restaurants and train stations combined. Many of them are old and apparently designed by architects with an interest in the occult, resulting in narrow corridors, winding stairs, and windows that look out onto narrow shafts surrounded by other windows, presumably to trap spirits from the netherworld (note the similarity to “Netherlands”). The Victoria Plaza Hotel in Amsterdam and the Arnhem Centraal Hotel in Arnhem are prime examples.

Often they were apparently built in World War 1 to house war orphans, which is why they are mostly cramped, musty, airless, and furnished with single beds. Internet connectivity is good to excellent. Television is fair to middling, with a bizarre selection of channels in assorted languages with intrusive subtitling. English is represented mostly by BBCs 1 thru 4, MTV, and the Discovery Channel. At night, several minor channels become sexy lady channels, where sexy ladies rub their boobs and entice you in Dutch to text them for some reason. Sexy ladies should not speak Dutch. It has throaty crunching sounds like German, only more frequent.



Light switches are generally large rocker switches set high on the wall, between 39 inches and 5 feet 7 inches. This is apparently a cruel joke, given that the war orphans would have needed a stick to turn the lights on and off. Also, they are universally placed outside the bathroom for the lights inside the bathroom. This is apparently so that mischievous children can turn the lights off when someone is showering or pooping, giving the war orphans a precious few moments of laughter and happiness (or terror at being the one left to shower or poop in the dark). The lights in bathrooms are old-fashioned ballast-type fluorescent light that flash like lightning until they warm up, which is sort of entertaining for a while. Some toilets flush “backwards”; the less said about this, the better.

The Netherlands is an old country, of course, with much fine, old architecture. But the way things get old is by first becoming outdated, then aged, and then vintage. Voila! In a hundred years, you have something that is “old”. But in the meantime, there’s a lot of outdated wallpaper, tile, and furniture sitting around, waiting nervously in the hope of becoming vintage rather than being replaced. In America, we junk anything that is more than 20 years old that hasn’t already fallen down from being built as cheaply as possible in the first place. It’s a cultural difference.

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