Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 11 of 126 › view all entries
By 9:00 a.m. Helmut had his belongings packed into a couple of boxes, several plastic bags, and his backpack. I hadn't been in town long enough to unpack. It was just after noon when Albert and Robert arrived with a brand new rented Renault panel van to begin the move. I figured we would use the hook - seen on wooden or steel beams protruding from the peaks of all the narrow buildings around Amsterdam, old and new. The simple block and tackle system with long ropes to street level provided a clever way to hoist heavy or bulky objects to or from any level since stairs were so steep and narrow. I was eager to not only witness the process but be part of it. One or two of us would probably heave the rope, one keep pedestrians clear of the dangling cargo, while another swung the load into open barn-like doors located at each floor. There wasn't really a lot of stuff to move and we could be finished in a couple of hours with two or three hoists.
But using the hook was not in their plan. Instead, we hauled everything ourselves down to street level and into the van. Most items and boxes were manageable but some were bulky, awkward, and heavy like a wooden bed frame, the particle-board panels dividing the flat into two rooms, shelving, a cabinet, and the kitchen appliances. There was only one 180 degree turn to maneuver from Helmut's second floor flat. It didn't matter that the walls got bumped and banged since the building was coming down anyway.
The first van-load to the new place was another adventure in itself.
The man turned off his engine, folded his arms across his chest, and sat back pouting like a six-year-old. Our driver did the same. It was a standoff in the backstreets of Amsterdam. Intense moments passed before Albert jumped out and confronted the driver. Angry words shouted back and forth, arms waved, and other traffic found new routes. If that was an American city, the streets would have surly cleared in a hail of gunfire. Neither was about to budge. We all got out of the van, locked it, and began walking toward a nearby bar. The Turk finally backed out, fuming, and went on his way. His anger had probably been intensified by a lack of food, being Ramadan when Muslims cannot eat during daylight hours.
Altogether we made three trips across the Amstel to the new apartment - well, new for Amsterdam as the building was only 85 years old. We hauled everything up to the third floor completing the move by 7:00 p.m. Huffing and puffing at each climb, I would never understand why we didn't use the hook.