Late December and early January saw Parts of Western Europe experience a cold snap. Amsterdam, and especially the east of Holland, was not spared the sub zero conditions. On more than one occasion nightly falls of 10cm were predicted accompanied by arctic like winds.
On the one hand the blanket of white creates a beautiful covering of the city as the usual grime, garbage and dog shit is hidden away. There is a sense of purity and serenity captured by the hundreds of photos that made their way onto Twitbook etc. As for me I was working in The Hague and staying at the Kurhaus hotel by Scheveningen beach. I had never seen the sands so white! A few folks had combined snow boarding with kite surfing making the most of the conditions.
And with the charm comes the chaos. Apart from trying to ride a bike through either slush or along ice there is dealing with the Dutch infrastructure. You would think the country had never had snow before. Trains stop running, trams back up and roads resemble a stretch of highway outside Basra with cars in ditches (ok, perhaps a slight exaggeration). However, during a three week period trains were running to a winter schedule which means fewer trains running at slow speeds and shorter trains. I understand the 1st two but why a shorter train. What this means is basically twice the capacity of a train trying to get on resulting in even more delays. The shared experience though does bring people together.
As you read the above, for those not from The Netherlands, I should let you know that complaining about NS Rail is actually a national pastime – a right of passage. It is actually part of the inburgering exam! Now that I have passed I can complain with credibility.