Ten Days in Europe – Part 2

Sagrada Família

OCLC, the global library cooperative, helps thousands of the libraries around the world make information more useful and accessible. Libraries and OCLC believe what is known must be shared, and working together, they make breakthroughs possible. The business portion of the European trip all took place in Amsterdam. Amsterdam, with a population approaching one million, is the Netherlands’ capital. The beautiful city is known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system, and narrow houses with gabled facades. The unique features are legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. We were fortunate go have guided tours of the incredible Van Gogh Museum, and see works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum. The board and committees accomplished a lot of important work during the week, but it was also nice to tour and dine with fellow trustees and the management team.

Cycling is key to Amsterdam’s character. There are more than 800,000 bikes, more than four times the number of cars. Amsterdammers bicycle nearly 1.25 million miles every day. The city has 249 miles of bike paths. Between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles are pulled out of Amsterdam’s canals each year where vandals or owners of broken bikes threw them. The City backs up the character with money. It is investing more than $150 million on bicycle infrastructure before 2020, nearly $120 million of which is for creating 38,000 new bike parking places. Amsterdam also encourages electric vehicles. I saw more Tesla’s there than I have seen in Connecticut. Connecticut likes electric vehicles also but its car dealers don’t so the legislature bans Tesla showrooms for ordering Teslas. Protecting the status quo. You can see some Amsterdam photos here.

There were any number of ways to get back home from Amsterdam, but my first choice was easy: Barcelona. The interest came from Origin,  the 2017 mystery thriller novel by author Dan Brown. It is the fifth installment in his Robert Langdon series, following Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Inferno. I read them all, but Origin was the best. What really piqued my interest was his detailed description of a church called Sagrada Familia. I could not believe what I was reading. It was a novel, so he must have made up the description. I search for it and found his description was completely accurate. I had to see it in person. It is one of those things you have to see to believe. Construction began in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026 or 2028. How could something take more than 140 years to build. If you get to go see it, you will understand. The highest part of the church will be 500 feet tall. Barcelona was a great experience. You could easily spend weeks there seeing the incredible architectures of Gaudi, the parks, and an abundance of good food. See some of our Barcelona photos here.

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