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As if Amsterdam did not have enough attractions of its own [May 8, 2013]
You may not realise it, but this splendid castle and its surrounding countryside are actually in Amsterdam.
They've already got the Van Gogh museum, the Nightwatch and all the other wonders in the Rijksmuseum, Unesco-listed canals, splendid canal houses, good shops, bikes and a fake cheese museum ... but those clever clogs in Amsterdam's marketing department are laying claim to other bits of the Netherlands as well.
The Parool says Muidersloot castle has cunningly been renamed Amsterdam Castle Muidersloot, the beaches in Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are Amsterdam Beach and the bulb fields as Amsterdam Flower Strip - at least according to new brochures designed to lure tourists to this all-encompassing metropolis.
It's not theft, Machteld Ligtvoet of the city's marketing department told the paper. Amsterdam, she says, is a strong brand and these new parts of the Dutch capital are benefiting financially from the increase in tourists. Who cares if the tourists get a little confused.
Tourists are at the centre of another power struggle being played out in Amsterdam which shows shows just how parochial city officials can be at times. The tale of the cycle way through the middle of the Rijksmuseum is a long, long saga... stretching back 10 years when the museum was closed for renovations.
To cut a long story as short as the piece of road, the dispute boils down to this: the museum bosses and local borough council of Zuid says the cycle track should remain shut - during the day at least - because of the danger to tourists and museum visitors. The new entrance to the museum is right next to the cycle track and we all now how blind tourists are when it comes to bikes - even when they are cycling on them.
Might seem pretty obvious, especially as the bike lane no longer leads anywhere since the museumplein was renovated many years ago. But no, not to the bike lobby and not to the bright sparks in city hall, who insist the cycle lane will be open on Monday as planned.
Roderick Evans-Knaup of local party Red Amsterdam (red as in save, not communist) sums it up pretty neatly really. 'Safety is being used as an arguement to delay the opening even longer,' he told the paper. Well yes, I don't think anyone is actually disputing that.
You might think there are more important things worth fighting about, but no. Even a short stretch of public road which goes nowhere is worth a battle...
Mind you, if the city council has its way, those pesky boroughs will no longer have any powers to do anything from next year. At first they came up with all sorts of plans and ideas to keep the boroughs alive, but central government has smacked them down.
So now there are to be no policy-making powers, no say in zoning and most of all, no choice about what they do with their money. The little fiefdoms must die.
ThisAmsterdam may side with Zuid over the bikes and the Rijksmuseum, but we are very firmly on the side of the Rijksoverheid when it comes to Zuid and friends. We're also very fond of Amsterdam castle, Amsterdam beach and well, while we are about it, what about the Amsterdam island of Schiermonnikoog?