Saturday, February 19, 2011

I sit here writing and looking out the window. Few hundred meters away a windmill is rotating. That is to say, the blades on the windmill are rotating, not the windmill itself. The streets in the shopping "center" across the road are full of people. I can hear the children calling and their parents calling back. All in all a nice day even if it's slightly chilly. Most windmills you see in The Netherlands are stopped. Modern electric equipment has taken their place. No matter if they were used for grinding corn or pumping water. The windmills today are only for tourists and to keep ties to the past of The Netherlands. Most of the windmills are being maintained and taken care of by an army of volunteers and only used on special days for show.

Yesterday evening I went to Haarlem for few drinks with coworkers. Lousy drunk that I am, I did the mistake early in the evening to try to keep up with their drinking so I was pretty much out of the running before midnight. I'm still a bit "under the weather". But I got to see parts of Haarlem. It did not strike me as nice as Leiden did last weekend but I understand that the nightlife in Haarlem is very active. Anyway I can't really claim to know all about a town or city by spending one evening there.

The bad things about public transport here is that there pretty much isn't any between midnight and 7 in the morning. One can always take taxi but the taxis here in The Netherlands are a bit like the New York taxis, you can count yourself lucky if the driver speak English and has a drivers license. About the only positive thing is that all the taxis here have GPS, although you have to know how to spell the town and the street where you're going to. It used to be that the taxis here were like the old taxis in London where you could get into a taxi, name any obscure place and the driver would not only know where it was and how to get there. He could also tell you where the best pubs were in the neighborhood and if someone famous lived there. Sadly the taxis in London have changed a bit although you're still safe by taking the old type black taxi. Back to The Netherlands. The government here changed the laws so that just about anyone could get license to drive a taxi. That had the unsurprising results that almost anybody does. If you come to The Netherlands call a taxi company named Verkuyl. +31 (0)297 341 000 They'll come to the airport, or wherever you are, and pick you up. They accept credit cards, although there is a small surcharge. They don´t try to cheat on you by taking the long route and their drivers all speak English.
If you fly to Schiphol you don't have to take the first taxi in the line. If you see nice taxi, in the middle of the line, feel free to walk to it and get in. If I was driving a taxi here I would get a pink Mercedes and aim for the female passengers.

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