Why go to Holland when Murf can bring it to you?!?!

I (along with co-worker Bill Friday) was able to go to Holland in April 1996 for a network managers meeting. It was a very productive meeting and allowed me the opportunity to see the primary and largest Philips research lab as well as a good deal of Dutch culture. I found the people to be very friendly and helpful. Both Eindhoven and Amsterdam were very nice cities with plenty to do. I was able to pick up a few words of Dutch, the most notable was "Ugly American" which apparently means "Lovely Tourist". As I said, I met some very nice people.

These rantings are soley the work of John A. Murphy. They do not reflect the views or opinions of my employer or my travelling companion Bill Friday.

Murf's Top 10 Tips and Highlights of Travelling to Holland

  1. Get someone else to pay. I can't stress how important this point is to having a really good time in Europe. My angle was to make the company pay. It meant having to spend many long days and evenings in meetings with Bill and other Philips employees, but my boss believed my expense report and I was reimbursed.

  2. It is realllllly hard to take a good picture from a moving train.

  3. You can, however, take a fairly decent picture from a bus. BTW, did you know that the windmills are actually peoples houses? They even have genuine Dutch people inside! The few windmills that still function act as water pumps....which doesn't say much. If you stick a pin in the ground you'll strike water. 50% of the land in Holland is technically below sea level, recovered and protected by their cool system of dikes and canals.

  4. When in Eindhoven, make sure you pay homage to the founder of Philips. If you climb the statue and rub his head you'll be guaranteed a spot in the upper echelon of Philips Management. If your doubt me, go ask J. Timmer, F. Carrubba, and C. Boonstra. I'm not going to say if I did or did not, as it might spoil my luck, but lets just say that someday I'm destine to have a bigger office than I have right now.

  5. If going to Europe, make sure you have nice weather. Some practical jokers told me before my trip that all it does is rain in Eindhoven. We didn't see rain all week. If you ever go, make sure you bring shorts and a bathing suit. The day I arrived it was 25 degrees outside (or about 80 for us Ugly Americans). The Dutch, nice people that they are, took the Monday afternoon off from work and/or college to show us how the cafe's work. Apparently they work best with lots of people and a generous amount of beer. The sunshine is merely a catalyst.

  6. Keep your eyes open, look both ways before crossing. While in Holland, beware of bikers. No not people on motorcycles. Not crazed messenger types. I mean respectable business types in suits and dresses. They actually ride bikes to work as a form of transportation! Can you imagine such a thing?!? One thing I did notice was that all of the bicycles are from before the time of Unix (ie. before 1970). Apparently if you bring a bike to town that is of this time period you can count on it being "permanently borrowed."

  7. Humor shows up at unexpected times, in unexpected places. The gods of destiny wanted to make sure that I knew that irony was alive and well on other continents. Thus, they had this little girl playing in the street underneath this sign. Too bad it took me so long to get my camera out or it would have made a nicer action shot of her actually playing in the street.

  8. They can't spell Central, but they build a nice train station. Now the meeting is over and I'm in Amsterdam. This is the train station. A beautiful building. New York's Grand Central Station might have been just as inspiring at one time, before a well-meaning capitalist thought it would look better with a huge glass box on top of it.

  9. To make New Yorkers feel at home, outside the train station was a robotic blue mime. He tortured passers by. He scared small children. He was unkind to his mother. He ate his dessert first. He was also wise enough to leave two "Ugly Americans" alone.

  10. Of course we had to take a canal boat ride. If you go to Amsterdam, a canal boat ride is a good quick overview of the city and its history. The river that runs through the city and feeds the canals is the Amstel. We went for just an hour as I've heard bad things about the 3 hour tour (Chorus: the 3 hour tour). Ran into a small language problem. Apparently the American English phrase "Hey, get out of my way I want to take a picture" translates into "Please block my view with the back of your head". Bad luck on my part I guess.

  11. Never let the fact that most Top 10 Lists have only 10 items discourage you.

  12. Wherever you go, check out local monuments. This used to be a fort that guarded a couple of the canals that wind through Amsterdam. Decades later when they realized that downtown Amsterdam wasn't likely to be attacked via canals they built a nice clock tower on top of it.

  13. Ahhh, Dutch culture. I think it important that when you visit another country, that you try and drink in the essence of their culture. This is me in front of the Rijks Museum. They have a lot of paintings from the 17th and 18th century. The most famous one is "Night Watch". If a Dutchman asks you what is the most famous painting in Holland, say "Night Watch". If he asks you what you are going to do while in Amsterdam, say "going to go see Night Watch". If he then asks, "Would you like to know where the red light district is?" answer, "No, but could you please direct me to the Rijks Museum, I would like to see Night Watch". It will make him think you are a sophisticated scholar....the joke is on him. If you go to Amsterdam you can't help but find the red light district; its easier to find than water.

  14. This is the old Heineken factory. It was nice, but closed. Apparently a few years ago they moved their operation south, out of the city. So for now this is the worlds largest brick billboard.

  15. A little luck never hurts. Bill must have done something good in a past life, as his hotel room had a small terrace. This is me overlooking the city. It is cooincidental that the red light district happens to be in the background.

  16. Erin waits patiently for daddy to come home so she can show him how she has hacked into the international banking network and devalued the guilder. I give her all my now worthless Dutch currency.

  17. Last, but not least, one very important tip. Don't work too hard while in Europe. When you get back you'll be exhausted. Your cats will use you as furniture and your wife will take unflattering pictures of you.

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