already at the airport in the netherlands i noticed something different; nobody said the magic words "excuse me". in the ladies room people passed each other, or had to wait to get to the sink or whatever. in the us this dance would be accompanied by many excuse me's, and now it was silent, and somehow that was weird! at the platform waiting for the train there was plenty of time observing the dutch going to work (it was the early morning); women were dressed so differently! to me they looked more confident, especially the older women. and... what a relief; stylish shoes! no extreme high heels, although many did wear a bit of heels, also the very tall women (and there were many tall people. haha, i almost forgot that in the netherlands im one of the short people). now that im back i have a renewed incomprehension for the big white sport shoes that most people seem to wear here, no matter how well dressed they are!
while in the train i saw sooo much graffiti everywhere, thats really not the case in boston, i thought it had increased, but apparently it had always been like that (how easy it is to forget things!).
but.... the best was to be on my (own) bike again. in utrecht! i had not done that since we left in april 2010 for boston. the traffic seemed crazy; sooo many people, such narrow streets, even more bikes!! but the cars are much smaller, and the pace much more relaxed. as much as i am scared to bike around here, amidst the chaos in utrecht it was just relaxing! no honking or irritated screaming simply because you are on a bike and on the road (as happened just this sunday here, grrrr). it was extremely crowded but everyone was courteous and nobody was in someone else's way.... (or do i now make it seem better than it actually is?! anyways, compared to biking in boston it was just pure fun! and so pretty, ofcourse, biking along the canals, wathcing the cute old houses on the other side.....
above the center of utrecht. a mess of bikes wherever you go. a mess, but somehow organized, and ofcourse its hardly ever a problem to find your own bike back amongst all those others. in the back a few of the many cafes where you can sit outside; the weather was, surprisingly, extremely good most of the time i was there!