I spent a half-day walking around the centre of Amsterdam following a speaking engagement. I can never decide how I feel about this city.
It’s a place with many scenes of great beauty – water, trees, long vistas with distant vanishing points, interesting and colourful buildings. Yet at the same time, there’s so much that’s ugly – prostitutes and the men looking for them, clouds of skunk-smelling smoke from seedy cafes and equally seedy passers-by, over-dense human population and the mess that accompanies it, endless junk food served by people with scorn for their customers.
Walking back to the station, I saw this swan nesting in the best material she could find in central Amsterdam. She seemed to me to sum up the paradox of the town – great beauty nesting in filth and making the best of it.
This is the mythical greek Titan, Atlas, bearing the heavens on his shoulders, a focal point of the main hall in the Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam.
Atlas was given this task as a punishment by Zeus. You’ll note it’s the heavens, and not the earth, which is his burden.
This photo is unexpectedly one of my most widely-used pictures. You can use this photo in your publication or web site by visiting iStockPhoto.