While we've travelled extensively in North America, we had never been to the continent. I cannot describe the magic of getting into a plane - travelling for 6 hours and finding myself in a place that is so unlike where I live - the air, the colours, the cobblestone streets, the canals and masses of humans on black coaster bikes going off to work with tiny little soft-headed babies - one behind the handles, the other behind mummy.
No helmets, no fuss, no bother and no slowing down ever. (Look closely below - these are rows upon rows of bikes parked outside the train station)
Very quickly we learned that in the world of Amsterdam transport - bikes and scooters are #1, trams & buses #2, and pedestrians #46. Tram doorways open onto bike lanes. And, sidewalks, bike lanes and often roads are all on the same elevation, a little ting,ting,ting bike bell meant we were within seconds of serious harm. Who has more fun than the Dutch just walking around town? Every time we heard a MAYMAW, MAYMAW, MAYMAW ambulance siren, we looked at each other and said, "One less tourist...."
Just to give you the scope of the number of bikes - there are about 750,000 people in Amsterdam - and at least 3 per person. There were 840,000 bikes stolen last year - and that was a good year according to our guide. Good for whom....?
I fear I'm in the running for most-disjointed post today, but work comes first. So, I promise lots more photos in the days to come. In the meantime, here is just a tease of what we saw at Keukenhof with 99,998 of our nearest and dearest flower lovers from around the world: