I'm writing this blog entry from Holland and it's very clear that everybody in the whole world (well, everyone at Facebook, Blogger, MySpace and similar sites) realises that I am here. I know they know because I'm confronted by Dutch log-ins and Dutch ads even though my knowledge of the language stretches to an embarrassing "yes", "no", "thank you" and a few other odds and sods. All this tracking stuff is getting a tad too sophisticated, isn't it?
I shouldn't really be writing about Holland when I haven't even updated WARTE readers on my trip to Austria last month, but I'll throw in a couple of observations.
Amsterdam is still pretty much exactly as it ever was, except with knobs on. Coffee shops, bicycles and canals, along with an all-pervasive smell of wacky baccy - at least in the square mile around the central station. Ladies are still plying their trade in shop windows and everyone speaks excellent English. Not the ladies plying their trade, you understand, as I didn't stop to speak to them. Everyone else.
I had a really good tomato soup in one of the side streets in town. The kind of tomato soup that you only ever get in continental Europe, made out of delicious things like tomato. And fresh basil.
Travelling this morning by taxi between Amersfoort and Leusden, I was astonished to see whole loads of school kids in their mid-teens riding in convoy at the side of the road. When I say convoy, I mean 60 or 70 of them at a time. English teenagers would only gather in a group this large if they were planning on steaming a bus and robbing all the passengers of their watches and mp3 players. There was something wholesome and uplifting about seeing the Dutch children heading off cheerfully to their studies. They looked for all the world like characters from an Enid Blyton story, setting off on a happy adventure together. My driver said that some of them pedal 10km to get to school, so they must be pretty fit too.
Anyway, enough already. It's beddy-byes time in the Netherlands and I have a full day's work tomorrow. Austrian pictures and commentary coming soon. Promise.