So, The Netherlands is a pretty odd place. Nobody takes a credit card; everything is really expensive; the landscape is totally flat (Mr. Marsden was quite right); public bathrooms in places like department stores and gas stations are super clean because there is a person standing there cleaning it and taking your 25 cents (Euros, so its worth about 5 dollars) and they give you a bad look if you don't understand this right away; there are a ton of people in a very small space (most dense country in Europe, I've read); and, today at least, lots of crazy wind, sideways rain, lightening, traffic, and all that fun stuff. Its been so windy that glass windows on apartment buildings are shattering (like in the stairwell in my apt building) and I thought my little car was going to blow off the highway. At least it is warm, in the mid-50's, and the sun crept out from behind the clouds for a few minutes this afternoon.
Also, everyone is really strict and formal about everything; I sort of "popped by" the veterinarian who does acupuncture for dogs locally; I just wanted to see the office and maybe chat with the staff -- only, there was no office and no staff, she runs the practice out of her house and I ran into her in her yard, and she was not too excited to have an unscheduled visitor. "Call first" is definitely recommended around here. Oh, and driving -- its true, nobody strays from the law, not one little bit. No rolling through a stop, certainly no right-on-red's. I have to watch for bicycles when crossing the street; there are so many bikes leaned up against every handrail, building, wall, road sign, really any space that doesn't involve ingress or egress from a building is taken up by a bicycle.
Joe and Carrie and I drove to Amsterdam today, just for a look, but the weather was so bad that we didn't stay long nor did we take any photos. Definitely a lot of character in that city so I'll go back and explore sometime on foot. On the highways coming home however, we did stay long, over 3 hours to go 33km. Gobs of traffic. Better than yesterday though, when I drove in circles forever, lost!
Utrecht is a beautiful city, and the area around the law school is great. So different from UW: very urban, VERY old, fancy shops, bike stores, churches, gothic, brick, cobblestones, narrow streets. I'll post some pictures in a few days. Tomorrow, we'll explore some dogpark possibilities near home.
Today's conclusion: I like this place but it is certainly foreign and it makes me miss the familiarities of what I'm used to in the US.
Thursday, January 18
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