Am sitting here in Amsterdam's international airport -- awaiting my direct flight to LAX. 12 hours await. While I wait our upcoming boarding, am thinking of the past week at the IBC Conference -- my first IBC, and the longest time away at a conference (the full 5 days plus travel).
First, while it is fresh in my mind, Amsterdam's airport does it right -- in all respects. Organized, efficient, clean, interesting (great shopping and food choices), downright pleasant. Yes, the "P" word -- something I have never said in the past 10 years for a U.S. flying experience. Do you remember those days where your family can walk you up to your departure gate? Do you remember those days where you and your family could have a relaxed meal together before your flight? Well, they exist here in Amsterdam. Here, in this world, the security checkpoints are at the gates themselves. And, the security agents are, again, downright pleasant. I am flying KLM so, once again, I know that experience will be pleasant -- because, on the inbound, the KLM flight attendants were pleasant. In fact, smiley.
How about the city itself? It's been years since I have visited Amsterdam. I had, quite frankly, forgotten how beautiful this city is. Love it. Could live here. It's a beautiful city, unlike no other (canals everywhere of course). Bikes (not motorcycles, but actual bikes) are everywhere -- I mean, everywhere! They pass each other, full speed, without incident - almost like some well-choreographed dance. No helmets either. No shouting. No "on your left" commands. Simply a polite ring of an old-fashioned bell if alert is needed. I have never seen anything like it, and it makes the city come alive. I also believe it keeps people incredibly healthy -- because they are active. Daily. During our stay here, I rarely saw an overweight person (and, when we did, we suspected that they were tourists).
How about the food/restaurants/cafes/bars? From what we saw and experienced, first-rate, memorable, unique. We had some wonderful meals here. We saw some wonderfully alive neighborhoods.
And, finally, the people of Amsterdam. As much as I hate to generalize, I will here. This city is laid back. Stress-free. Fashionable (not much "slob-ware" here). Friendly. Polite. Again, pleasant. What a wonderful culture. We have much to learn from it back in the States.
So, here's to you Amsterdam! You are wonderful host. And, I -- together with my family next time -- will most certainly be back soon.