This is my fourth night in Amsterdam and although I have not seen much of the city center, I feel I’ve already gotten a great impression of Holland and the Dutch people.
For the work portion of my trip, I am staying in a hotel located outside of the center in a wealthy residential neighborhood. The surrounding area has boutique shops, several restaurants, a bakery, and small produce and grocery stores. Everyone I have encountered from taxi drivers to random strangers that helped with directions to restaurant owners to businessmen at the trade show have been so engaging, friendly, and helpful. What a breath of fresh air! Sometimes I feel trapped in an attitude of xenophobia in Louisiana and it is often very surprising to me when strangers are so genuine and interact positively with me as a foreigner.
A few other observations:
Surprising amount of greenery for a city (parks, gardens, trees, flowers)
Dutch people are very health conscious and active (they also seem to be wealthy, but it could just be because of the neighborhood I’m in)
It doesn’t get dark till after 10:00pm
Quality of food found in restaurants (outside of center) has been exceptional
Family, leisure, and relationships are important in Dutch culture
Overall, from the short time I’ve been here, I get the impression that this country is very welcoming, accepting, and open minded. I’m excited that tomorrow I’m starting the “pleasure” part of my trip and am headed to Delft with a colleague.
Can’t wait to learn more about this beautiful country!!