Well, our time in the Netherlands is done. We arrived in Vilnius yesterday and slept in late this morning. Unfortunately, the card reader we brought with us decided, after we left, to draw too much power, and the iPad we brought along as a computer won’t mount the card from our digital camera anymore (tested it in Portland and it worked). We have an actual computer in our apartment here in Vilnius, but it is running Windows 98, and I can’t find any drivers for either the card reader or the camera, so we’re kind of out of luck again.
Amsterdam was a beautiful city, we really had a great time there. I think it’s a bit hard to describe just what it’s like there, without seeing it yourself, but it really is wonderful. The traffic situation there is also a bit hard to describe without having seen it. The roads are small, there is a lot of traffic (mostly pedestrian and bike, though there are a fair number of cars), and the traffic just kind of flows constantly. It feels very different to Portland, which is very stop-and-go, structured and organized feeling in comparison. Basically all stop lights (I don’t think I saw a single stop sign) function as yields, and traffic of all types is just constantly moving. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but after taking some time to ride around, it works amazingly well. Most of the center of the city is almost entirely car-free – not because cars are forced out, but because it would just be a nightmare to drive through there, and the streets are just full of people moving around. It’s amazing to watch, because legally a person on a bicycle has nearly absolute right-of-way, and if a person in a car hits them, it’s major trouble for the driver. This being the case, people in cars stop dead in their tracks to let you turn, merge, cross streets and don’t pass aggressively on shared roads. As Marc told us, there’s one rule about riding a bike in the Netherlands, you’re number 1 in traffic. It really is the best way to travel there, easy, convenient, safe, and really enjoyable.
Most of the pictures above are from Saturday, when Marc took us touring around the city – we had some raw herring with onions, sat at a cafe, and saw hundreds of people heading to a religious-themed party on their bikes as we made our way around the city. We then split up and Patrina, our friend Erika and I went to the flower market and the Albert Cuyp market on our way home. You’ll have to wait for those and other photos though, sorry :)
Hope you all are well, we’ll talk again soon :)