Friday, May 22, 2009
Author: Wendy Mussoline
It’s only been a couple days in The Netherlands and going Green has become the theme. There is an overwhelming sense of preservation/conservation within the community. A perfect example is the mass transit systems. I’ve been on more trains, buses and bike rides in the last two days than I have been in the last 5 years in the States and I’m looking forward to a summer where public transportation is the norm. We arrived in the train station in Delft and the first thing we saw was hundreds upon hundreds of bikes densely packed along the racks and metal railings. I don’t know the statistics, but I would guess that well over 50% of the people working in Delft ride the train and then either ride a bike or walk to work. At the end of the day, they return to the station and lock up their bike until they return the next day. Trains are so timely, smooth and efficient. Traveling by bus, train, tram, and bikes is definitely the norm. I think I’ve seen two SUV’s on the road thus far.
In an attempt to mesh with my surroundings, I went to the “marktplaats” website where they buy and sell merchandise on-line. It is very similar to craig’s list, except it is all in Dutch. I figured out the search engines, put in my zip code and found a bike (looking at pictures only since I couldn’t read the inscriptions) for 60 euros. I emailed the gentlemen and in his response I recognized that he did not speak english. I attempted to call him on the phone hoping we could understand one another, but the language barrier was an issue. With much persistence, we agreed to meet at the train station to do the exchange. To my surprise, the approximately 65 year old gentlemen arrived at the train station and I purchased my bike. I am so pleased and have been riding it ever since.
The classic windmills were beautiful as we toured them yesterday. Their primary use was for water transport and the inner workings with the big wheels and wooden beams turning were definitely impressive. But, what I didn’t know, was that their secondary use was for housing families. A working structure used for shelter. No wonder this country has kept its head above water for so many years!