By Keri Brady-Benzing Abroad writer
One thing I have noticed after spending two months in Europe is how easy it is to move around from place to place. Flying to another country is relatively cheap—sometimes even cheaper than flying from state to state in the United States.
It is also interesting to see how the transportation system works in each country I visit. The country that impressed me the most in terms of transportation was the Netherlands. I stayed in Amsterdam for four days, and the first thing I noticed walking around on my first night were all the different methods of transportation and the limited number of cars that seemed to be out on the street.
There seemed to be an infinite number of bikes in Amsterdam. When you go there, everyone mentions how much people bike, but it’s hard to wrap your mind around it until you are standing there on the street and there is a separate bike lane that isn’t part of the sidewalk or the road. When you stand at the crosswalks, you don’t really have to be too careful about cars, but you do have to stay alert for the bikes and listen for the little bells that tell you that they are coming up behind you.
Canals run up and down what feels like every other street in Amsterdam and connected to the railings of all the canals seems like a limitless number of bikes. There are also big sections of areas like in Dam Square where bikes are parked in a mini parking lot just for them. There are an estimated 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam, more than there are residents, and every year upwards of 12,000 bikes get pulled out of the canals.
But if you aren’t a bike person and you’re in Amsterdam, don’t worry. They also have great trains, trams and buses. While we were there, we bought a weekend pass that allowed us on any tram or bus. The tram system is great in the city, with stops that go almost everywhere every few minutes so that you can make it to the other side of the city easily. It’s very similar with the buses, but the trams are much more common. There are also trains that have a few stops in the city but also go to the airport and out to the rest of the country and even into parts of Germany.
We were able to figure out how to navigate the public transportation in one day, and it was so cheap for the value that we were getting out of it. It made me a little envious because the transportation is not quite as nice in the United States. For example, where I live in Maryland there is one bus but people rarely ever take it because everyone prefers to drive. No one else bikes much either. Yet, having public transportation easily accessible is so environmentally friendly, and it can be cheaper than driving everywhere every day.
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