As for all the bicycles – they’re fanatics, particularly in Amsterdam! Healthy fanatics, I might add, who ride with the wind and the right of way, as per the rules of the road, to work, to market, to school.
With ten days devoted to looking beyond the stereotypical windmills and flatlands of this small nation of 16.9 million, I discovered much more to the Dutch than blue eyes, cheese, and wooden shoes. Would you believe the stoic Dutch . . .
More than 25% of the country is below sea level and more than 50% of the country lies less than three feet below sea level. One guide likened the “lowlands” to a pancake floating in a bucket of water.”
It stands to reason with a population density of 498 people per square kilometer (the highest of any European country), Nederlanders had no alternative but to grow up (hence their great heights) rather than out. For comparison, as of 2014, the United States had a population density of 35 people per square kilometer. Let’s not talk about the Americans and obesity!
The capital city of Amsterdam is built entirely on poles driven almost 11 meters into soil made up of clay and fen (fen is a type of wetland characterized by peat soil dominated by grassy plants, sedges, and reeds). Furthermore, today’s Amsterdam rests atop 10 layers of ruins.
The Netherland’s Royal Dutch Airline, Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, (KLM), is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. The airline was founded on October 7, 1919. Gives new meaning to “The Flying Dutchman,” moniker.
Frugal is truly fashionable when it comes to the Dutch. It’s obviously the reason bicycles are so popular, what with the cost of gasoline continually rising (and the flat terrain). Given the Netherlands ranks seventh in the World Giving Index, it’s obvious they make good use of their frugality.
An impressive 87% of the population (at least those over the age of 15) speak English and 66% speak German. Oh, and they all speakeze Dutch. I can do Pig Latin, but that’s the extent of my bilingual talents beyond “good morning” in a handful of languages.
So wish I could share pictures. Still without the bandwidth to support all the fun!