Amsterdam's Frozen Canals

Every winter, locals anticipate an icy spectacle and this year it finally happened. Amsterdam's canals FROZE! For those of you who may have missed it, the city turned into a real-life snow globe for the first time since 2012. What a majestic sight! 

Desipite feeling under the weather, I bundled up and ventured out to the Prinsengracht on Friday afternoon. To my delight, the canal was indeed frozen as skaters of all levels and brave explorers began filling the natural ice. At first, my intention was only to observe and snap photos, I hadn't planned to actually hop down onto the ice (natural ice is, no, was a huge fear of mine!) but this year I'm all about taking risks and trying new things so... 

I watched and waited to find a good point of entry where I, reluctant at first, slowly and steadily, slid down onto the ice from the bank of the canal. Anxious, for both myself and my camera, it took a few nervous minutes to catch my bearings. Once the ice felt stable, my slow steps turned into more confident strides and soon enough I was loving it. Suddenly, I'd stepped into another world where walking on water was a reality, it was magical!


Wheeee! I can't believe I'm jumping for joy in the middle of a frozen canal!

A friendly stranger snapped the photo above and immersed in the moment, I did a gleeful, little hop in the air.  So, there you have it. Eight years and endless memories along with the Prinsengracht—from the countless boat ride to canal side picnics and our annual Gay Pride parade—but this was definitely one of the most remarkable moments in my Amsterdam history. This weekend, I feel even more in love with my adopted city. 

I was in the action for about half an hour before my fingers went numb and I headed off to my last meeting of the day... only to return again later in the evening.  By then, the frozen Prinsengracht had turned into a wild scene, complete with (frozen) boat parties, gluhwein and plenty of ice skaters. You're probably curious if people fell in. Well, of course, they did. However, that didn't dissuade the Dutch who love to skate, this was their moment to shine and on natural ice nonetheless!

I love living in a city where it's socially acceptable to take a spin on the frozen canals. In fact, the city helped make this happen by closing off the canals during our week long freeze to encourage ice formation. I was a bit shocked to find a few of the self-made gluhwein stands (pictured below) had not really thought through the idea of stretching an electrical extension cord over ice which is of course bound to melt at some point. 

Ready for more? I sure was! Thinking back at this weekend, I still can't believe that I stood in the middle of a frozen canal and had the courage to face the cold and go back for more. The following day, I returned to our belved canals with my friend Bert to catch the action. I'm glad we did because the ice began to melt later in the afternoon and by Sunday, our ice walking fantasy had melted into history. 

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Autumn Sun Flares in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's canal district is a magical wonderland to explore - no matter what season - but something extra special happens when golden, autumn sunshine pours over the city. On a recent sunny afternoon, I took my chance to wander the canals and experimented with the aperture settings to capture the perfect sun flare. 

What do you love most about autumn? The cooler weather or magically changing leaves, perhaps? One of my favorite visual textures, watching sunlight gleam through the leaves, is made even more lovely with the spectrum of golden yellow and rusty reds. Here are a few to sunflare photos to enjoy...

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