Reflections on the Netherlands

Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. Did I mention that yet?

In the countryside (on the island of Texel), people really do wear wooden clogs! We saw several, and some even had laces. No idea how that works.

Amsterdam, and most of Holland, is flat. Very flat. That’s how they get away with such cruiser bikes.

The countryside around Amsterdam has wind turbines all over the place. The presence of wind-generated power can be easily seen. It’s encouraging and, in my opinion, cool to look at.

We skipped the coffeeshops and only skirted the edge of the red light district, and have no regrets. Amsterdam is a vibrant, lively city even without them. And there was delicious beer everywhere!

The city centre is full of narrow buildings. This is because buildings are taxed based on their width at the street. All of the buildings in the core are built on piles driven into the ground. In the past, builders drove their own piles — but not all builders were good at it. As a result, many buildings started to lean out onto the street or into their neighbours as they settled. The government finally intervened, and took over the management of foundation quality control. To recover costs, buildings started being taxed by width, because wider buildings required more piles. The narrowest house in Amsterdam is only 1.02 metres wide at the street. That’s narrow.

Sometimes dutch is like english — ‘central’ in dutch is ‘centraal’. Sometimes it’s very different — ‘please’ in dutch is ‘alstublieft’. Just when we thought we might get the hang of a sentence here and there, we’d inevitably run into differences like that.

‘Old Amsterdam’ cheese is delicious. So are meals from ‘Wok to Walk’.

Many people live in houseboats moored throughout the city’s canals. Some of them looked like palaces. I would even go so far as to say that some of them were “architecturally significant”. Really.


    No coffee shops = no left handers?

    Did you see Hans Brinker with his finger stuck in the dyke?

    hans Brinker hostel is horribly Awesome!! stayed there if that means anything to AL.. haha

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