We are just back from a short Easter family vacation in Belgium and the Netherlands. We enjoyed our fair share of canals, XVII century architecture, good beer and pictures wearing clogs. The two Vermeers we saw at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam were alone worth the trip.
What surprised me the most was the sense of modernity that we felt driving through the Netherlands. The Dutch not only have the best motorways I have ever sampled, but they seem to have a sense of what is visual right. Rotterdam, where we couldn't stop, has been a destination for contemporary architecture for a while now; the surprise was to discover the care shown in often innocuous industrial buildings, as well as in modern public infrastructure (bridges, freeway interchanges, etc). These structures, normally drab and poorly design, show a subtle level of visual sophistication that I found quite unique.
Lastly, it was fun two drive-by and see (no time to go inside) these two Modern Architecture classics by Gerrit Rietveld and Le Corbusier: