The Netherlands is quite a civilized place, very quiet (even the dogs), and in addition to efficient trains and trams as in other parts of Europe bike culture is very strong. Not only for individuals to get from place to place but for transporting the children, pets, and goods. There are designated bike lanes, crossing lights especially for the bikes, and rentals at every train station. Of course, in the big cities the canals are a major source of transport as well.
Obviously the driver of this barge has a lot of experience with making turns in a canal, dragging a load behind him. Looks like he’s better than most of the RV drivers who come to Mendocino.
We picked up our bicycles that will be our primary mode of transportation this week. They say the Dutch are born on the bicycle and everyone has one. Of course, the Americans are the only ones protecting their heads with helmets.
Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe because it is so small. People live in very crowded towns that allow for farmland and open space in between. We rented our bikes in one town and rode 3 miles back to Bussum through the open land you see. Notice how much this looks like Dutch landscape, especially the expanse of sky.
This is the house of our friends Buz and Pamela Graham in a town close to Amsterdam. The town was established in the 18th century for wealthy people who wanted to escape the city. There are some large houses but in this neighborhood lived the people who “served” the wealthy like the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. The houses are basically duplexes very close together, narrow, and tall to save space. In a tall narrow house the stairs are very steep. One does not go up and down quickly.
In Amsterdam one crisscrosses the canals and at this time of year many of the bridges have beautiful flower baskets. All have houseboats with some that are quite elaborate and some look like watery slums. We heard a tour guide saying that at the end of World War II houseboats were a temporary housing solution that stuck. Can’t verify that one. Needless to say they look very permanently temporary.
Have seen some very small cars since parking is quite a challenge in this city though bike parking can be had fairly easily. Many canals have these kinds of draw bridges. Van Gogh made one famous in a painting he completed in Arles. This one is on the main canal on the Amstel River.