Monday, June 13, 2011


We are staying in the one of the quiet residential streets fringing the city's main park. Houses are substantial, with increasingly deep front gardens, most with clumps of green foliage shrubs and trees, a few with sprawling roses or dotted with hollyhocks. Dad loved hollyhocks. There's the odd planter box, on a window sill, or front steps, spilling over with Lobelia or Impatiens. The footpaths are nicely paved with charming street lights and not an ugly wire to be seen. Here, substantial three floor townhouses with generous back gardens and the park opposite sell for two million euros.

The Vondel Park in early summer is lush and green. There's a tranquil blend of wild meadow, sweeping grasslands and ponds. The winding roads are for bicycles, the occassional jogger, and the few pedestrians wandering off soft crushed pebble paths.

The Dutch and their bicycles - in the rain showers, not even getting wet, an umbrella, a phone, two children, a basket of shopping, boy and girl, all in smart street clothes, upright, perfectly balanced. It all embodies freedom and the individual, with the common sense, mutual respect and responsibility such recognition returns. No signposts here, no petty endless repetition of what to do or not do, where to go or not go. The contrast with our own Centennial Park and its infestation with regulatory hardware couldn't be greater.

And, the Concertgebouw is two blocks and ten minutes walk away.

No comments: