Adam Piggott has left his native Australia for the Netherlands, and found it a liberating experience:
Compared to Australians the Dutch have personal freedom. All those kids zooming around on bikes that I mentioned? No helmets. Not a single one. On several occasions I have witnessed a teenage boy giving his girl a ride on his bike. The girl is usually facing the boy, her legs dangling over the bike in a relaxed manner, as she casually smokes a cigarette. It is the epitome of freedom.
Kids don’t play in the street in Australia. Kids don’t get themselves to school anymore. The roads are clogged with parents driving their children here, and driving their children there. It is a sterile society.
Funny, sterile is the word I used when describing Melbourne:
Rather than being a hotch-potch of genuinely avant-garde establishments, they are regulated into places far more sterile than the author is making out. Walk into any bar and you’ll see enormous signs warning people about drinking too much, detailing hefty fines for various alcohol related offences. At some point in the evening a squad of police in high-viz vests may well come walking through the joint, and you can be sure none stays open beyond the permitted time (or opens if there are no office workers around).
From my point of view, I’d take a bit of groaning infrastructure over sterility any day.
At street level, it feels as though one has a lot more personal freedom in France than in Australia. Judging by what Adam is saying, the same is true for the Netherlands.
Welcome to Europe, Adam!