Going Dutch

One of my very favorite places to visit is Amsterdam, Holland. I’ve only gotten to explore it once, and that was during a long layover on an assignment to Africa, but it left an indelible imprint upon my memory. One of my fondest memories of the Dutch city is its all-enveloping old world charm, accentuated as it is by a strong sense of place that moves to a kinder and gentler pace than Americans abide.

It reminds me of sleepy Savannah, Georgia, where I used to live in a renovated brownstone for three years, only instead of Savannah’s picturesque squares, Amsterdam features scenic canals in its historic city centre. Above is a picture I took of one of the canals during my visit there and on the bridge are several bicycles, which the city of Amsterdam has more of per capita than anywhere else in the world, adding to its charming mystique.

Amsterdam’s laidback lifestyle is cogently captured in a recent New York Times article titled “Going Dutch” by American expatriate Russell Shorto, who writes: “The Dutch seem to be happier than we are. I’ve found that Dutch people take both their work and their time off seriously. Indeed, the two go together. The fact that the Dutch work only during work hours does not seem to make them less productive, but more. I’m constantly struck by how calm and fresh the people I work with regularly seem to be.”