, 2022-12-20 10:16:44,
Over the past week or two, the temperatures have gotten a bit chillier here in the Netherlands. While many people assume that the Dutch ice skate to work via canal on the regular, the reality is that’s pretty rare. Not because people don’t skate, but because the water simply doesn’t freeze as often as it did in the past. Next week we’ll have lived in the Netherlands for 5 years, and during that time the ice only froze in the Amsterdam area twice. The last time was in February 2021, when the country had a pretty solid deep freeze for a number of weeks, making skating viable just about everywhere.
In any case, this past weekend things finally got cold enough and the ice thick enough that it was time to skate. What is ‘thick enough’ you ask? Well, I’d argue that the Dutch have a relatively thin definition of that. At least in comparison to most places. However, what’s also left unsaid is that most Dutch canals are actually pretty shallow. This comes from someone who has spent considerable time in them, extracting failed drone tests and action cameras. Short of major shipping waterways, most of the others are maxing out at 2-3 meters in depth (there are 1.2 million Canals in the Netherlands). And many neighborhood canals might only be a meter in depth.
Also of note is that schools even teach ice safety. My 6-year old daughter’s Amsterdam public school class had ice safety discussions last week as the ice started forming. They talked about what exact ice thickness levels are considered safe, what to do if you fall in, what friends should do if someone in their group falls in, what to do if you fall in but slide under the ice, etc… I was pretty darn impressed. Obviously, at 6 years the hope is that kids aren’t out there solo without parents. But that by constantly instilling this from a young age, it’s ingrained in culture (and it is). Just like it’s effectively required that all kids get their swim diploma (a multi-tier system), with many schools even doing it.
In my case, people were skating on our neighborhood canals, which is fun in its own right. However, I headed over to the Amsterdam rowing basin, where the Olympic rowing team trains. It’s also basically next door to the DCR Cave, making it a quick pedal. This is one of the best spots to skate around here, because it’s easy to get to, plenty of bike parking, and super long uninterrupted ice. And even a restaurant at the end to grab food/drinks. In my case I…
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