I really need to catch up on these posts as I’m writing this one a week behind and while in Portugal!
Anyways, after a trip to this canal ridden, cheese filled, and beer soaked country I must say it’s an awesome place. The people, the environment, the landscape, the architecture, its all just extremely pleasant. Down side is that the weather doesn’t get very warm though. I only stayed here for a weekend so it may be that I didn’t see some of less nice parts of the country but I really enjoyed my brief stay here.
The largest part of what make Holland pretty cool is the people. Coming from Paris, I became adjusted to people with a little less than a cheery disposition and a sense of industrious spirit. Holland was the complete reverse. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was extremely welcoming upon my arrival to the country. This is certainly aided by the fact that many spoke English (and others foreign languages on top of that generally) and thus conversation wasn’t as difficult. Still, it has been the most pleasant welcome I have had in my time in Europe. Adding to my admiration, was this sense of people who just get stuff done. This is a hard feeling to describe precisely so it’s best to compare and contrast the people of Paris. For example, the people is Paris walk painfully slow with no apparent rush to get anywhere whereas alongside a Dutchmen we flew in and out of stores and the like doing what we set out to do in the most efficient way possible. Another point of difference is that in Paris nothing really gets done till after lunch and early mornings nothing is open lest someone have to rise before 9am to do work. With the people I stayed with in The Netherlands we were up and about well before 9am despite having drank the days previous.
I have to imagine the welcoming attitude of the Dutch extends from the overall contentment and humility they seem to practice in life. From what I encountered of they population everyone seems satisfied with their lot in life and simply desire to relax with a beer like everybody else. This may be best expressed by paraphrasing our host in the
country. Upon asking him about his job he summarized his feeling as such: I know that if I went to college I could be doing more important work and be more involved with running the organization, but I’m happy with what I do, it’s good work, and I hope I can stay there till I retire. Even if recognition that he is doing unskilled labor my host was still satisfied with his place in the world and offered no complaint. Perhaps this is because of the humility of those who are in a higher position such as a friend of my host that I met. The man knew 5 different languages and was high level manager for an international oil company and yet he was as down to earth as anyone else present. He simply stated his job as if it were any other while enjoying his beer and food like all the others around.
The people certainly impressed me the most in The Netherlands but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more to see. An interesting part of this country is their intricate canal system that links most the country to the sea. This gives them a great advantage as shipping can be conducted from most section of the country for importation and exporting. Additionally, a city is simply more pleasant with a body of water close by though it does keep temperatures more cool for better or for worse. Another cool feature was the extensive bike lanes all throughout the country. These aren’t reserved for large cities and can be found alongside roads all over the place. Just as prevalent as bike routes are wind generators scattered throughout the countryside. This may seem like an odd thing to remark but it truly is pleasant to see clean energy being harvested right before your eyes. The Netherlands is known for environmentally friendly behavior and policy (the people also reflected this mindset) so it was good to see concrete evidence of it right before my eyes.
I would have really like to spend some more time in The Netherlands to get even more of a sense of the people and the country but, for now, a weekend will have to do. It’s likely for the best as I’m not sure I could handle the endless amounts of beer consumption that is common there. It was a rare occasion not to have a beer in my hand during my stay. All in all The Netherlands is a great place to visit and I highly recommend taking a trip there.