Flower Bike Man

Along the bridges and streets of Amsterdam keep your eyes peeled for the Flower Bikes. These are the handiwork of an American man named Warren Gregory, Flower Bike Man. When his wife had difficulty finding her bike, he decorated hers with colorful flowers so it stood out. He also decorated a number of abandoned bikes and staged them along the route home to their houseboat so she wouldn’t get lost.

Souvenir and Window Shopping

As I walked along the canals of Amsterdam, I noticed these funny little boys in a window.

Among the items for sail are items of Blue Delft ceramic. These delicately painted vases and plates were crafted at a 33 different “porcelain” factories. Only one of them is still in business, Royal Delft. These items are made of earthenware but were designed to compete with Chinese porcelain.

Some of the most popular Delft Blue items are the Kissing Couple. No one knows for sure the true history of the young lovers. Some think they are based on a photo taken in 1920.

Wandering the streets of Amsterdam you can find Antique Shops, Sweet Shops, Bakery’s and Dutch Cheese Shops. There’s literally something for everyone.

Seven Country Houses

Architect Tjeerd Kuipers, is most famous for the aptly named Seven Country Houses. The row of seven houses represent the architectural styles of Europe. Exotism is the term for a romanticized longing for what is far away. Each of the houses is built in a different architectural style representing seven different countries in Europe.

Germany, France, Russia, England, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are all represented in architectural styles of their respective countries.

If you’d like to see these for yourself head to…

32II Roemer Visscherstraat
Amsterdam, 1054 EZ
Netherlands

52.3615, 4.8770

Please remember these are people’s homes and businesses so don’t be a nuisance.

Fishing Village to Modern City

The Dutch capital of Amsterdam in The Netherlands started out as a fishing village in the 13th century. Today it is a cosmopolitan city full of historic neighborhoods and an exciting nightlife.

The 17th century is considered Amsterdam’s Golden Age. Thinkers and artists such as Rembrandt and Descartes called Amsterdam home.

Along the canals, the narrow houses were built by merchants. They had their businesses in the front with access to the canals and lived in the back and above. A trio of canals Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizergracht encircle the historic city center. The waterways gave the merchants a means to bring goods and materials into the city. The houses average 25 -35 feet across and have steep gabled roofs.

You can lose an afternoon wandering the streets of Amsterdam. Every facade has a story to tell.

Going Bananas in Cologne

The name Thomas Baumgartel may not be a household name, but his contribution to world art scene cannot be forgotten. He is affectionately known as “Banana Sprayer” in grafitti circles.

As you venture about Cologne, keep an eye out for Baumgartel’s handiwork. In 1987, he spraypainted a banana on the Museum Ludwig. Later that same night he was apprehended in a major sweep and spent the night in jail.

The banana tag is seen as a badge of honor, patrons could tell a museum was worth visiting if it had been deemed so by Baumgartel.

Want to learn more and see Baumgartel’s studio, click below…

Shrine of the Three Wisemen

Dreikönigsschrein, the Reliquary of the Three Kings is a tomb where they say that the remains of the Three Wise Men are enshrined. Set in a huge display case behind the main altar of the Cologne Cathedral, this is considered to be the largest shrine in the western world.

It took the world renowned goldsmith, Nicolau de Verdun spent half of a century building this masterpiece. The shrine was completed in 1225 and the remains of the Magi were laid to rest here.

This golden Reliquary of the Three Kings is made of wood, coated with gold, silver, enamel, and adorned with precious and semi-precious stones.

According to the legend, Queen Helena, mother of Constantine travelled to the Middle East to find the remains and bring them back to Cologne. The reliquary is comprised of three sarcophagi, two on the bottom and one on top.

More about the Three Wisemen can be found at this link…

http://projects.leadr.msu.edu/medievalart/exhibits/show/reliquary_cathedral_comparison/three_magi

Das Rathaus in Koln

The Cologne City Hall is one of the oldest Rathauses in Germany. Documents that mention the City Hall date back as far as the mid-12th century referring to a “House of the citizens”. In the 14th century, the current city hall was built on its foundation.

In the early 15th Century, a tower resembling a church steeple was added. The 5 story tower of the Rathaus is decorated with 124 figures of emperors, kings, popes, honorary citizens of Cologne and patron saints of the city. Due to a poor choice of building materials the figures deteriorated over several centuries and were restored several times.

When standing in the square, take a look back at the city hall tower. Watch the clock every hour when it chimes. When the clock strikes, the bearded head beneath it shows tongue and starts teasing passerbys.

As you’re looking at the carved figures, pay special attention to what they are standing on. You will see a number of monkeys, musicians and hidden under a larger statue of Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, there is a man giving oral sex to himself. Dating back to 1410, the obscene carving was a popular motif in the Middle Ages. It literally represents showing one’s backside to the authorities. The carvers wanted to show that they don’t care about the morals or the public appearance of the authority figures.

Konrad von Hochstaden was the Archbishop of Cologne from 1238 – 1261. His position as one of the seven elector seats of the Holy Roman Empire made him quite powerful. Kings throughout Europe beseeched him for his approval before their coronation. In addition to laying the foundation stone for the Koln Cathedral, it’s also thought he used his authority to implement a tax on beer. Probably a very poor decison given the number of breweries in the city.

If you want more information or plan a visit The Rathaus follow this link.

https://www.cologne-tourism.com/see-experience/poi/historic-town-hall/