Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Metro can be such fun!

It takes me half an hour to get to work each day. Trams 1, 2 or 5 get me to Central Station then I get metro 54 to Bijlmer.

Although the metro is a rapid-transit system connecting various parts of the city, it’s not the mode of public transport used in the city centre (Amsterdam Centrum), the only part of the city that tourists tend to visit. There, the tram is king. Working in the outskirts of the city, I need to use the metro even though I prefer the stop-start jerkiness of the tram. It connects far-flung bits of the city but only consists of 4 lines at present. Born in 1968, it’s a very modest and much younger cousin of the great metro systems of the world, like the Paris Metro and London Underground.

It took me about 6 weeks before I noticed something familiar about the metro map. I was standing in a packed carriage on my way home and peering through the tall Dutch men at the map above the doors, checking how many stops were left before I got to Central Station.

metro map
When the carriage emptied, I took the pic above. The angle isn’t great but for those of you who know the London Underground, you’ll know why I was reminded of it.

GVB metro mapI had a closer look at the metro map on the platform. The similarity was still there but not quite as strong. With only four lines spread across a representation of the entire Amsterdam region, the similarity is less obvious. It wasn’t quite as much of a reminder of the London Tube as the compressed map in the carriage was. At the bottom, towards the right, I noticed that the map had been produced with permission from the London Transport Museum.

I’d come across my first example of another public transport map based on Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground map.

Although the Amsterdam metro map has been called a soulless copy of the London Underground map, with only four lines, what else could it be? Soulless or not, it also spawned its own version of the infamous Tube anagram map. For all sorts of annoying legal reasons, the London map was removed from its original site but it can still be seen here.

As to be expected, the anagrams are Dutch words. Many of them are very funny but not of much use to a person who can’t speak Dutch. I could translate them (or get them translated) but, instead, have decided to produce my own version with English words. Yes, I know that I’ve come to the party late but I seem to be good at that. With a good anagram generator it’s a simple thing to do but some of the shorter station names were problematic. Being Dutch, they make use of Dutch word constructions which differ from those in English. There were a number of them that didn’t produce any anagrams in English. To get around that, I cheated by tacking ‘station’ on to the station name to 'force' an English anagram from the anagram generator. I did it with these stations: Bijlmer, Brink, Bullewijk, Gein, Westwijk and Zuid.

Here you have my version. If you click on the map you'll be taken to another page where you can hover your cursor above the station name to get its proper name.

amsterdam metro anagram map
So my daily commute isn’t between Central Station and Bijlmer but, depending on which map you use, it’s either between ‘Notelaars Intact’ (Whole Walnut tree) and ‘Belrijm’ (rhyming bell) or ‘Raincoat Talents’ and ‘Tom Jib’s Latrine’.

Note: I've had some problems loading the anagram map using Firefox. Not sure if that's a problem with my computer or something else. If you're also having a problem, let me know. The problem may have something to do where the page is hosted. Try here if you're having a problem.


Blogger mike said...

Rectum enslavement?! You dirty, dirty man!

This is fantastic.

11:23 am  
Anonymous Tom Cat said...

What an interesting post Nomad! I find all sorts of transport logistic systems to be absolutely fascinating, from how airports work, to sea ports and also Metro systems.

For me, a gorgeous metro system is one of things that makes a city that much more alluring. I would love to go visit London, for instance, just because I love taking the trains.

Makes me wish Joburg had a nice modern metro system. Even though we are getting the Gautrain, I suppose it won't really be the same as a big metro system.

9:18 am  
Blogger Esther said...

Interesting post. I usually have terrible luck with metro systems like ending up at the last station on the line. This has nothing to do with my apparent ineptitude to read maps. ;)

I can't see the anagram map in firefox either, and in IE it just shows a little red x on the image.

10:43 am  
Blogger Ariel said...

Ow, Mike's favourite station is the same as mine! I use to work in the building opposite the WTC, so what would my stop have been? I am so sure I got off at Penile Spewer many times too... This is a brilliant post, hilarious stuff! Amsterdam's metro is not soulless, it's just diminutive when compared with London's. But it's also less crowded, which is a bonus. I'm surprised you don't go to work on a bike. I used to, unless it was raining.

1:33 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

mike: Can I help it that the anagram generator has a one-track mind?

Tom Cat: Your love of trains may be somewhat diminished if you had to commute on the London ones too often!!

Esther: Most annoying about the map not displaying at times. Sorry about that. I’ve put a link to another place that seems to work all the time. But, having said that, the other map now works for me whichever browser I use.

Ariel: My daily trip is as follows:
Raincoat Talents, Mature Wink, Leap Now, Penile Spewer, Taut Bras Wait, Metals, Lepers Gawk, Gendarme Waved, Red Dutch Vein, Near A / Sad Lit Vent, Tom Jib’s Latrine.

I keep meaning to buy a bike and will yet do so.

2:01 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Haha, this is brilliant.

When you now take your daily journey, do you find yourself converting all the place names to their rectal equivalents? I do hope so.

8:22 am  
Blogger Caroline said...

Very funny Mr Nomad - I couldn't get the click to take me anywhere but I can see you've had fun anyway!

4:15 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Clare: I must admit that I do have a tendency to do that.

Caroline: What a pity you were unable to read it. I’m not quite sure what the problem (there isn’t always one) is but if you have the patience to try the clicks a few times, it seems to work.

9:11 am  

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