Saturday, October 16, 2004

Quick Netherlands report

I'm back in London after the better part of a week in the Netherlands (or should that be 'The Netherlands'? – Holland is just so much quicker to say, especially when you're getting over a cold!)

The country is very wet, and usually very rainy. I managed to find possibly the only stretch of several almost rain free days in Autumn, or possibly any time of year. I was incredibly lucky and saw quite a lot of sun, and only a few spits of rain. It was, however, pretty cold, and noticably colder on the clear sunny days. I would not choose to go there in winter.

The public transport is very efficient and reliable and runs precisely on time. Except for yesterday when I needed to get to the airport and there was an all day strike. Not like those nice convenient Action Buses strikes that go from 10am to 3pm. We were warned of traffic jams and chaos, but nothing like that eventuated. We think maybe everyone stayed home as advised.

I had a lovely time with Louise and Pete, in fact I extended my stay. I filled my head up with Van Gogh, maybe a couple of hundred paintings in two different museums. I discovered that you can live happily and reasonably dryly, 6 metres below sea level. I saw more bicycles than I've ever seen before, though Mum & Dad probably saw more in China… I rode a bike around a national park, where there are supposed to be wild boar though I didn't see any. We took a boat tour of the Rotterdam port, which is the largest in Europe and claims to be the largest in the world. It certainly is big. We got up close to some really big ships, saw endless fields of containers, found out how dry docks work, and listened to the commentary in four or five different languages, one of which, luckily, was English. I also did a canal tour in Amsterdam. I tried souvenir shopping but couldn't quite bring myself to buy overpriced clogs. Most of my souvenirs are postcards and other items from the museums. Amsterdam's airport, Schipol, has some really classy shops, including an outlet of one of the museum shops (The Rijksmuseum).

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