The Hague, The Netherlands (Nederland)

February 23-27, 2001 (also a week in August 1998)

It was here that it all began really. I was invited to spend a week or two in the Hague.

Little did I know that it would eventually change my life. What I saw in those weeks was a slightly different way of being that I wanted to see more of... and see if it was real. Cocooned as an armchair traveller for over a year, I then head out am still, for the most part, on the road for exploration.

And now I'm back in the Hague with the same family. Wisdom drips casually and effortlessly drip from the mouths of this United Nations executive and travel agent spouse. They have true global experience to speak from and itís reassuring to find my thoughts are generally on the same line as theirs. While much older than myself, I hope that this couple will remain friends of mine for life.

Last time, I was introduced to Netherlands 101, but the great art of Dou (a student of Rembrant, arguably better), whose philosophy and expression of Dutchdom carried with me for the remainder of my stay.

I hadn't had a good feel of small Dutch towns so my hosts took my to the windmills, Kaag, Kapen, Laren, Zaanse Schans, Kastel de Haar, Kastel Nijenrode, Loenen and Vreeland. It was exactly what I was looking for, but all a blur to write about more specifically.

While I never thought it made a difference before, after over a week in this country I have developed a deep appreciation of having a landscape with more than two dimensions. It's flat and all of the romantic castle scenes or cozy small towns here consistently lack the visually critical element of gentle rolls and dives.

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