The Netherlands

Do you want to live someplace where bicycles have the same priorities as automobiles? Then move to The Netherlands. In America they build a road and as an afterthought add a white painted line near the curb for bicycles. Here, even the bridges in this bicycle-friendly nation have separate lanes (as wide as car lanes) for the two-wheelers. The country is 90% flat as a pancake and it's also the most densely populated country in Europe. It's also home to the tallest people in Europe. The men AND women are tall here. Heck, I'm six feet tall and frequently found myself on the short end when encountering the womenfolk. It's a funny situation because next door is Belgium, which is home to Europe's shortest folk.

Though it's a small country in terms of land and people, it's a force to be reckoned with in the business world. Some of the world's biggest banks, insurers, shippers and trading companies call Holland home. Notice how I called The Netherlands, Holland? During my first trek through The Netherlands a company official reprimanded me for referring to the country as Holland. Holland is an area of The Netherlands. However, about 90% of the locals I encountered call the country Holland.

Taste buds change from country to country. In The Netherlands, cucumbers replace pickles as the condiment of choice on sandwiches. The Dutch also like their french fries slathered in mayonnaise. McDonald's, the international fast food king, adheres to that well-known slogan "think globally, but act locally". How? In Spain and Germany you can order a beer with that hamburger and fries. Here in The Netherlands, the pickle has been replaced by the cucumber on their McFeast burgers.

Speaking of food. I have a huge sweet tooth and have been compiling a list of my favorite goodies found in Europe. From The Netherlands I'm adding grote stroopwafels. Take two circular severely flattened waffles and add a butter/rum honey-like concoction in the middle and viola! a very tasty snack. Thanks to my digital camera, in the coming months you'll see pictures of the delectable desserts which made the "Ten Best Goodies" list.

Maastricht, a picturesque city of 125,000 in the southwest corner of the country, is a sure shot to make my list of "Ten Favorite Cities in Europe"