Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Netherlands

Just back from 10 days in the Netherlands, and a greater contrast with Maine one could not find.

Maine is almost twice as big, but with only about 40 people per square mile. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 1,000 people per square mile.

From morning to night, Amsterdam was as crowded as the Rockland Lobster Festival. That may be because the temperature was in the 80s and everyone was out.

The Netherlands is heavily industrialized (but also has some 3 million cows and sheep).

There is almost no poverty, at least as we know it.

It is flat, flat, flat. In Maastricht, though, we did climb a "mountain," Sint Pietersberg, one of the highest places in the country at 300 feet.

The Dutch tame the ocean, Mainers fight it.

If there weren't dikes, two-thirds of the country would be under water.

In Maine the thrilling sights are rural. In the Netherlands, they are urban - Rembrandt's House, the Anne Frank Museum, 17th century canal houses, sitting in an outdoor cafe and watching the world, in all its variety and purpose(ful)(less)ness, go by.

The best part of the trip? We kept ourselves so cut off from newspaper, radio, TV and the Web that we didn't know that bin Laden had been found and killed until 6 days after the fact. The joys of getting away - summer in Maine, here we come.

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