Schiphol is an exercise in protestant European orderliness. A female voice over the P.A. system drones on in a friendly, unwavering monotone about which flights are arriving and departing at which gates. Somehow, this exact same voice cautions "Watch your step" every time we step on or off the moving sidewalk. I wonder if they are twin sisters working in tandem, Bertildis and Betje. Or maybe androids? Over the hours of our stopover, the voices never vary in pitch or cadence.
Hedonism is permitted, if strictly regulated. I see a small group of men smoking cigarettes in a tiny glass box. Meanwhile, the airport gift shop openly sells ash trays and all sorts of items emblazoned with a cannabis leaf.
Our return stopover here is unbearable - an eight-hour wait. We opt to steal some sleep at a nearby hotel with hourly rates. A free shuttle bus takes us through five minutes of Dutch countryside, and along the way we see adult cows with short, stubby legs. If Darwin had it right, we can assume their legs would be longer if they really needed to be. Unsurprising that in this part of the world, they are efficiently constructed and engineered, with no bone or muscle wasted.