Monday, January 02, 2006

Amsterdam - Day Nine

After eating Mexican, a well balanced diet always includes ice cream. This is a nutritional fact that I discovered after years of research. To maintain good nutrition, we had Mexican and found a Hagen-Daas. I ordered koffie (Engish translation: coffee) to enhance my culinary experience – hot coffee with cold ice cream. It’s a ying-yang diet. The clerk took a paper cup that would hold at least ten ounces and began making the coffee, I’m thinking “All right! Finally, enough coffee to justify 2 euros ($2.50)”. When he handed the cup to me, it was less than half full – once again only four ounces. This brings me to an ironic warning about travel in the Netherlands. In this land with abundant water, a person can become dehydrated unless financially well-to-do or in possession of a hydration pack. Unfortunately, I left my pack in Arizona and I’m too cheap – er, make that frugal – to pay 45 cents per ounce for water. This is strange. In the deserts of Arizona we waste water. Walk into a restaurant and a glass is served without asking for it. Here, order it and it you’ll pay for a six ounce glass without ice. Earlier this week, in a restaurant, I paid six and one half euros (about $8) for about a quart of water. This is free enterprise at its best – a huge supply, a huge demand and a huge price!

Joking aside, bring a good water bottle or plan on buying water at a grocery. In a grocery store it’s possible to buy one and one-half liter bottles of water for 41 cents euro. The plastic bottles can be returned to the store for a 25 cents euro credit so the water costs 16 cents euro. Shoppers go to the grocery carrying reusable bags containing empty bottles. A machine, built into the back wall of the store, has a round hole into which the bottles are inserted and a display accumulates the credit for the bottles. After pressing a button the shopper is issued a credit slip which can be redeemed with a cashier. I think this is an excellent way to recycle.

Yesterday, at lunch, we were sitting close to another couple. I thought I heard English and listened more intently to determine if they were speaking US English. I heard a phrase and knew they definitely weren’t from the northeast. As we began a conversation, I learned they are from Oklahoma. Later in the day, I head a young lady on a bicycle call out to a young man riding in front of her, “Phillip, wait up!” These two couples are the only American’s we’ve met since arriving.

It’s been a great trip. Here are some things I’ve discovered or confirmed.
  • We haven’t entered a restaurant, store, theater, museum or other business where English wasn’t understood and spoken.
  • The travel guide that described the Dutch as somewhat rude was inaccurate. Everyone has been most pleasant.
  • We Americans could learn much from Dutch/European engineering. I’ve found some intriguing designs.
  • Crime and auto accident rates appear to be much lower than in the US. We’ve seen few police and heard few sirens.
  • We haven’t seen the first person who appeared to drink to excess or be
    intoxicated.
  • There's a shortage of baseball caps and beards! Surprisingly, no one stared at me.
  • Of all cities that I’ve ever visited, a city in the Netherlands would be my first choice in which to live. This is the highest recommendation I can give for the Netherlands.

(Photo Gallery)

2 Comments:

Blogger Gaye said...

You and my dad share the same well balanced diet theory--ice cream!! He eats a casserole bowl full every night--he's nice and trim too...go figure...

Sounds like a high rating for the Netherlands--I'd love to visit there one day!

1/02/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Photo of Julie
You cannot play the piano with gloves on!

1/03/2006 04:52:00 PM  

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