After a busy week it was time to relax a bit and enjoy a community or two that I hadn't explored before. Some of the students went for a weekend tour of Dusseldorf, others to Amsterdam, but Rob and I biked to nearby Leiden. Leiden is a college town that has the oldest institution in the Netherlands. The number of universities seems to be high per capita, but they aren't as large as ours in the U.S. One could argue that 40k plus students is not the most effective learning environment.
One subject of debate throughout the week is why and how the Dutch are so good at creating outdoor public spaces that work and are nice places to linger for a coffee or beer. The first and most important element of the best ones is that they are free from noisy traffic (autos or scooters). They offer opportunities to watch people go by. They are comfortable, qwe were in two different ones yesterday that had outdor couches with umbrellas. The spaces they create are largely free from beggars and maybe thaf is a functiin of their excellent social services network (Rob said this isn't always his experience in Italy (as an example).
We discussed the area aroud Skidmore Fountain and the new Director's Park. The latter is truly a great place because it offers an attraction (water feature), a place to sit (under the glass canopy), restaurants and cafes, and is close to the main shopping district.
One thing the Dutch don't beat us on is coffee, ours is superior by far.