Friday, October 19, 2007

Culture Is Not Dead

The ServoyWorld Conference was absolutely wonderful - the best yet - and it was really, really great to see all the new faces as well as all the familiar "fans" as well. I've been in The Netherlands for the past 10 days - and this time around I actually got to actually see the city of Amsterdam.

Sure, I had the usual plate of speaking, organizing, customer meetings, sales meetings, staff meetings, partner meetings, etc. that always goes on - but I actually got a chance to get out of the hotel (not my default mode, if you have ever traveled with me).

In fact, the first day we arrived my wife, Brenda, and I used almost all forms of transportation known to man: walking, car, bus, plane, tram, boat, subway and taxi. I think we only left off biking and skateboarding! Needless to say, we had a blast. In all the times I've been to Holland and the times I've been to Amsterdam, I really had never gone past the "tourist" sections.

This time was very different. We had a wonderful dinner with Marcel Trapman (CEO of IT2Be) and his girlfriend Monique at a very charming restaurant located in the basement of a building. I would have NEVER even known it was there - and forget about ever going there on my own. After dinner we walked to the downtown "Theatre District" and had a couple of drinks at an old bar. It was really, really nice.

Then there was the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The home of the grand master Rembrant - and viewed all the paintings, artwork, porcelain, swords, etc. from the 15th - 17th Century. You could literally stand 2 feet from the stuff - and it was really awesome viewing the famous (and not-so-famous) works of these artists from hundreds of years ago. There were some that were so photo-realistic, that today people would just use Photoshop and give it the "brush look." But these folks were hard-core - they even had to mix their own paints, and would work on single paintings for up to 2-1/2 YEARS. Amazing.

With all the culture, history, architecture (there are buildings leaning at a 15 degree angle - in more than one direction - so much that they have to trim the doors so they will open every few years), atmosphere, shopping and cool stuff - I could STILL pick an American out of the crowd, no problem.

The first tip-off is the white shoes and socks, followed by the volume of their voice and their hurry in getting their check and leaving (not done in Holland - where people love to just hang out and having dinner is a 2+ hour experience). They were always the ones in the coffee houses trying illegal (but tolerated) substances, were the ones at the Red Light District taking up a collection for a buddy to go into one of the "red light" houses (brothel), etc.

I wore non-white shoes, with non-white socks and dressed like everyone else (jeans and nice shirt). If anyone asked - we were from "Canada", eh? The public transportation system is amazing, and the people are very nice - and 99% of them speak very good English (WAY better than my Dutch!).

If you ever get a chance to go there - I would highly recommend it!

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