Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's Spring!

It's beautiful weather now in Holland. There are lambs, calves, (goat) kids, baby birds of all types, and even tiny snails and miniature grasshoppers. The sky has filled with sunshine and turned from winter grey to a rich blue with cotton-puff clouds. Trees have leaves in all shades of green, and the tulips are in full rainbow bloom.

Field after field of flowers perfume the roads and villages - and riding the motorcycle around the country is pure pleasure. The biking season has begun, and every weekend there is an event planned.

I've made some observations about the Netherlands, although my experience of the culture and people has been somewhat limited to the area where I live. Amsterdam reminds me a lot of New York City - not just in the architecture, but in the friendliness there. Strangers talk to you, and in Amsterdam at least, English is common.

But there's so much more here outside of the city too - tolerance, generosity, openess, and charity that is more than what I've experienced back in Los Angeles.

I now have health coverage - good health coverage. I'm not even eligable to apply for health insurance in the US unless there's an open enrollment for those with pre-exisiting conditions - and the few times there were, I could not have afforded it anyhow, or at least wouldn't have paid the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars each month for crap care back there.

Pot is legal here. Not a big deal, just that it is. I haven't observed anyone abusing it, dependant upon it, nor is it a big thing with the kids. The drinking age is 16 for beer, 18 for hard liquor, and yet compared to the US, drunk driving is rare.

I've been here eight months, and not heard about one fatality involving alcohol. I'm sure it must happen, but it's not a daily occurance like it was in LA. Nor have I heard of anyone being an alcoholic, binge drinking, or even seen public drunkeness outside of an adult party - never on the street or driving.

Guns are illegal, so a gun being used in connection with anything is also rare, again not a daily event as it was back in LA. Yes, crime does happen, but far less than what I'm used to experiencing.

The air is clean, and one can breathe deeply here.

They have a good educational system, and children graduate. While they are still in school many kids have jobs as well. Most families eat dinner together, and kids more often than not grow up with two parents. There's far less in the way of junk food and processed food, so people are generally healthier, and certainly thinner than most Americans. Just thinking about soda - yeah they have that, but when you go to someone's home you are offered coffee. I still haven't been to a fast food restaurant as yet, and I don't miss it.

I haven't seen any homeless people, or panhandlers, as that is also not common here. There seems to be programs for everything so that one is never left without support of some kind, education, training, work, benefits, therapy, what ever they can think of to make things better, they try and do it.

You can tell the minute you leave the Netherlands and cross into Belgium, as suddenly the quality of the roads and houses deteriorates. I've been looking for the "ghetto" or poor people section of the various places we drive through here, and so far, I haven't found one. I have been warned not to walk alone at night in certain areas, (not that I would, of course) but usually it comes with a lecture about pickpocketers - which when you explain that as a danger to someone who has lived in LA, Miami, Philadelphia and NYC, it seems like this is a much safer place.

But on to the photos! I've been ill, as always, so I have a bit of catching up to do, but I'll try to put a description with each image.

On our way to the last bike bash before spring started. 40% chance of rain, and it did.

The rain didn't stop us, and we managed to get set up before it was really bad.

Our friend Manuela, who is a good person, a good wife, and a good cook.

Our friend Bob. Also a great guy, whose expression usually doesn't let on how sweet he really is.

Who knew I liked winter camping in the rain?

Queen's Day is a holiday everyone celebrates. It's the birthday of the mother of the current queen.

Amsterdam was probably much more crowded during the day - we didn't get there until the late afternoon.

At least one of us was wearing orange, the color of the Netherlands.

So neat to feel right at home here in the city.

It was raining slightly towards the end, but we took a bike tour around the neighborhood to see the tulips.

Trust me, the colors are brighter and more breathtaking in person.

And the scent! Delicious, sweet and heaven to the nose.

There's a tulip route you can follow, that guides you through acres of colors.

A picture really doesn't capture the experience.

A picture of me taking a picture of flowers.

These are my favorite, the multi-colored tulips.

Lots of bikers enjoying the sights and smells along with us.

It's not a postcard, but it sure looks typically Dutch!

Three days of bike bash and good friends.

New friends too. Hi Dirk!

The first time it's been warm out with the bike.

Another new friend's cool bike.

The next day we went to Germany, since it was close by the bike bash.

And it took a long time AGAIN to try and find a single place that served sauerkraut!
And I always thought that was German food...

I love German food.

But then again, what food don't I love?

And back across the border!

Senior Fuego


The gang of good people

Our tents

Senior Fuego on the ride home

I'm not sure why this is here, but the Dutch were pirates...

Now that's a typical Dutch roof

Most places here look like this little village. This is downtown.

In the back garden - I helped plant these!


There's a Dutch kabouter watching over everything

When they get this big, you have to respect them

Other things I found in the garden




Just the coolest! Hopefully, I'll have more to add soon.
Tot ziens!

1 comment:

"Ace Underwood" said...

Okay, I'm convinced. I'm moving. :-)

Those pictures are gorgeous!