Amsterdam: Different, Quieter, Ghostly

Landing on the doorstep of our children’s apartment that they share in Amsterdam; we arrive in the midst of an already five-day quarantine. Time to hunker down. Nothing like parents popping in for a surprise visit amid the world in chaos. A last-minute decision as we sprung from Australia towards Europe turned into an unexpected family reunion. A lucky play by fate.

Barren Streets

Walking through the center of town, it was almost eerie with how quiet the once lively streets were. The love and vibrancy that we had experienced over the last 35 years of visits, gone. My eyes could not believe what I was seeing, it was as if I were silently treading through a forgotten ghost town. I kept shaking my head in disbelief that this was real, this is what 2020 looked like. This apocalyptic scene before my eyes was the current reality.

This pandemic ripped through the world without a single pause, countries rushed to find any method to slow it, contain it, protect those they could. NO one was prepared. No one thought that a virus could manage such a catastrophe so quickly, but this virus showed the world that it could and would. This event, this virus, this pandemic will be studied and researched, I am sure, with the hopes that the next generation is ready. This is the event in our lifetime that has and will continue to change the way the world we know functions.

COVID-19: Netherlands

The lockdown looked different in the Dutch providences, there was no strict lockdown on the people. Citizens could take daily “mental-health” walks, run out for essential needs, and breathe the fresh air on the streets. Walks were our saving grace as we all were crammed into the tight confines of our children’s apartment. But not many ventured out, the fear of the virus had them hunkered down behind locked doors, leaving the streets barren and calm. So calm you could hear every noise, even the soft sound of a pin dropping.

The sick were to stay home. For those so ill that they believed a hospital was needed, a doctor was to make a house call, weighing the symptoms and deciding if they could endure without the hospital. They hoped to slow the stream patients that were overwhelming the hospital, to keep the sick off the public transportation system, which was always running, even in the midst of the quarantine. A brilliant method, I thought, to minimize the spread.

Amsterdam the city of parties. The upbeat vibes and lively sounds that would waft through the streets were all gone, and now this eerie, empty vibe existed. The shift in environment striking, below a video showing just how striking.

It is hard not to reflect on the damage this virus has inflicted as I walk down the empty streets filled with closed businesses. I wonder, will they survive? What will the future of festivals and concerts look like? What will the transportation system look like? How will we move forward and interact with each other from now on?

What changes still have to come? Will traveling resume? Will airline find a safe way to deal with the crisis? These being just a few of so many question and concerns that fill the minds of those living through this time, a time of so many unknowns.

As with all things though, time will only provide the much sought-after answers. I just hope that the cure, the vaccine, the solution that comes is NOT worse than the cause.

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