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Saturday, November 13, 2010

AMSTERDAM

In case you missed it, my most recent Huffingpost Post article was published two days ago, and suggested that Qatar might well be the ideal country to lead the world towards sustainability.  I'd appreciate your comments.

I am now in Amsterdam, one of my very favorite cities, the capital and largest city in the Netherlands.  It has an urban population about the same as Hawaii, but is very compact and walking will get you anywhere, although the tram system is also convenient.

The first recorded use of the name Amsterdam was in 1275.  The Golden Age of the port was in the 17th century, when the Dutch East and West India Companies led the way towards various colonies, including Indonesia, but reached a nadir point in the early 19th century when Napoleon absorbed the Netherlands.

The city is remembered for tulips (unfortunately, in the spring--yes, black ones, too, but no blues), canals (my hotel, Pulitzer, is between the Emperor's and Prince's), bridges (400), pickpockets, Anne Frank, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Heineken beer, rijsttafel (Indonesian rice table) and the legality of marijuana and magic mushrooms.  Interesting that at the end of World War II, Americans were the tallest people, an average of 5' 10" for males, while Dutch men were only at 5' 7".  Today, they are the tallest nation with the average Dutch male just under 6' 1''.  The American male?  5' 9.5".  I suspect this has to do with immigration.  However, it is believed that Americans might be heavier than the Dutch.  Not a joke!

The 2010 Mercer best cities ranking has Amsterdam at #13, which is a lot better than Honolulu at #31 and San Francisco #32, the highest American cities.  Vienna is #1.  The Mercer Safest Cities list has Amsterdam at #10 (Zurich is #1) and Honolulu/San Francisco at #40.

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