The Netherlands, about the size of Maryland, is a compact country with strict zoning ordinances, where even the semblance of wasted space, say, near an intersection of highways, is turned into a park, however small, with leafy trees, flowers and benches. We knew from previous visits to the Netherlands, but especially from a visit five years ago when we rented a car and toured the country for a week, that most of the Netherlands consisted of farms and quaint villages. Although it surprises many, the Netherlands is the world's second largest agricultural exporter, with the United States as the largest exporter.
As the jet's wheels hit one of Amsterdam's elongated runways made possible by a previous reclamation project and we rumbled toward the terminal, Mr. H. remarked, a certain amount of awe in the former military man's voice, "Schiphol's huge now, at least twice the size of Dulles (the Washington, D. C. international airport)." And, so, five years since our last visit -- but this time on foot, with a multi-day bus/rail pass for longer city trips -- we began our five-day exploration of Amsterdam, a city we love, a city that 2,400,000 call home.
|During a walk along another canal, the driver of this electric car (so marked on the door) parked near a boat as cyclists rode by. It's impossible to overstate the Dutch's forward approach to environmental measures.|
|I love street vendors, and Amsterdam has a lot, ranging from displays of old books, to paintings, to jewelry to odds and ends. However, don't be deceived. They are strictly regulated.|
|But as one feast ends, another begins. Yours truly at Schiphol. Next stop: Venice.|