• Netherlands

Netherlands

Overview

The Netherlands is a melting pot of cultures and traditions seen in its windmills and tulips that stretch out over a flat landscape of reclaimed land called polders. The Dutch are generally warm and gentle people. You are sure to be welcomed in the country by their sweet smiles and courteous manners. Tourists can laugh with their good sense of humor as well as enjoy with them their positive stance in life. They will be good hosts in the relaxing ambience of the countryside as well as fantastic tour guides in the bustling metropolis.

Sophisticated capital centers and sleepy rural towns are connected and at the same time separated by canals, dikes and castle walls. The capital city of Amsterdam gives a unique traveling experience that draws a lot of attention from tourists across the globe. The city of Randstad is the most densely populated area in the whole continent of Europe. But the number of people cannot hide the country’s natural beauty.

Netherland’s southern region boasts scenic landscapes of white sands, and heath moors. Natural preservation is seen in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Discover the rich history of Maastricht in the south. Savor the relaxing mantra of walking in the off beaten tracks or simply enjoy cycling around the trails of sleepy villages.

Have fun in the streets of the Netherlands with its loads of seasonal festivals and colorful cultural activities. Animated art scenes can be seen in buildings, houses, and even sidewalks. And take a superb culinary trip inside terrific pubs and restaurants.

The country’s roots started in what they call the Golden Age. The country reached its zenith through the artworks of Dutch Masters like Frans Hals, Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt. Their distinct styles in use of brushes and paints testify that aside from endless superb vistas, the country also has some great talents to share. Their paintings are valued in many galleries and museums in the Netherlands.

May it be a personal or a family trip, the Netherlands is sure to give a kick to your once boring life. Welcome aboard!

When to Travel

 Netherland’s climate is typically mild and maritime. Summers are warm often with changeable periods and extreme hot weather is out of the question. Winters are cold with frosty days. Rain is expected all year round. March is the driest month and July to August is the wettest. Coldest months start from December and lasts until March.

Anytime can be a good time to visit the country. Just be ready to go with changeable weather. Remember that there are only few sunny days during summer but global warming would have possibly changed that for now.

Like most of the countries in Europe, Netherland’s peak season is from June and lasts until August, months that are known for being hot. Hordes of tourists crowd the country at this time. Sitting with a cup of coffee in the canals and chatting will be perfect, and enjoying the summer holidays in coastal areas will be fantastic. Brace yourself with traffic in July because it signals the start of lively events that will be highlighted in August.

Bulbs are fantastic during spring with April daffodils and May tulips in full bloom. In the capital city of Amsterdam, it will be quite busy during Easter but the Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) held every 30th day of April can be worth fighting the crowds. Netherlands will take a calm break around October to March. For those who want to avoid the crowd, quiet museums are definitely for you. Tourists can mingle with the locals in some cozy pubs while sipping a favorite drink.

Netherlands Cuisine and Drinks

Netherlands may not be world-renown for its fine dining but visiting the country will make you agree that a hearty Dutch meal can be quite good. Meals in Netherlands typically consist of meat, potatoes with some type of vegetable to go with it. But the country is famous for its specialties and mouth-watery treats.

The Dutch are famous for their dairy products and Dutch cheese ranks the first. To name a few, Gouda, Leerdammer, Edam, Dutch Mimolette, Leyden and Maasdam are some cheese varieties that are exported. Raw herrings cured in salt are also ubiquitous, from herring stands along the streets to some fancy restaurants. Other dishes worth trying are pea soup which is made of smoked sausages and green peas and the hotch-potch, a dish of mashed potatoes with carrots and onions and often served with slowly cooked sausages or meats.

Have a taste of the country’s desserts like the poffertjes, a small slightly risen pancakes topped with butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Get lost in the taste of syrup waffle which can be bought packed in supermarkets or can be made fresh in food stalls or street markets.
Other typical foods found in the country are yummy chocolate sprinkles, unadorned chocolate bars and chocolate spread on bread. Then there’s the Dutch version of peanut butter with lots of Asian spices and herbs.

Finding a place to eat is never hard. There are restaurants specializing in Chinese and Indonesian cuisines and there are also those that cater dishes from the Middle East. Vegetarians can also find a dish in any restaurant. If you are on a tight budget, snack bars will be the place for you. Town centers and areas near public transportation are full of them. You just need to pick your best. The most popular snacks are french fries.

Tea and coffee are customary in Netherlands. Dutch eat black tea that comes with different tastes like the ones with fruit infusions. Coffee is always offered when visiting houses. Tourists will also love the traditional hot chocolate topped with whipped cream during winter.

The Wieckse Witte is among one of the most popular beer in the country together with Heineken which is world famous. There are also bitters and gin like the orange bitter drink only during the Koninginnedag and the Dutch gin which is available in two types – the old and young.

Popular Sights in the Netherlands

Anne Frank House- Visit the Anne Frank House and share the experience of the young Anne Frank in her struggles during the World War II written in her famous book, “The Diary of a Young Girl”. Tourists will see the part of the house that had been the Franks’ hiding place to escape the Nazi prosecution. One of the most revered displays in the museum is the original diary of Anne Frank. Other than that, there are collections that are related during the World War.

Heineken Experience- A vacation to Netherlands will never be complete if you miss going to the Heineken Experience. As one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country, Heineken Experience has been catching the attention of beer lovers all around the globe. The place houses the world renowned Heineken beer and visitors will be enlightened on how the Heineken Company started. Along the way, there are some interactive exhibits and pit stops giving out free Heineken beers where you can drop by. You will really remember your Heineken experience with all the memorabilia gifts given to each visitor.

Van GoghMuseum- Located in a modern building, Van Gogh Museum is beginning to get the attention of the public. The museum houses the painter’s unique and colorful artworks with sections showing other artist’s artworks as well as his contemporaries.

Rembrandt House- Have a say about Rembrandt’s works of art inside the Rembrandt House. The house showcases permanent collections of the artist’s work and includes that of his teacher Pieter Latman as well as Rembrandt’s students.

National Maritime Museum- Take a tour inside the Maritime Museum and marvel at the displays showing centuries of Dutch Naval History. The biggest attraction is the life-size Dutch ship called the Amsterdam which is docked at the back of the museum.

The Dutch Resistance Museum- Drop by the Dutch Resistance Museum to have an idea of the activities done by the resistance movement back in World War II. The displays including weaponries and false documents just show how the brave the members of the movement were.

Practical Info

Currency

The single European currency or Euro (€) is the legal tender in Netherlands. It is divided into 100 cents. There are seven banknotes in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. There are eight coins in denominations of €2 and 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. The 1 and 2 cent coins are still in circulation but are unofficially phased out. Most shops already round off prices to the nearest 5 cents.

ATMs are available almost anywhere in Netherlands. Most of them can be found outside banks, at airports and train stations. If you are limited to a maximum withdrawal per day, note that the day will correspond with that in your home country.

Currencies can be exchanged at banks, post offices and exchange offices with the GWK sign outside. Banks and post offices offer the official rates and charge reasonable commissions. Banks are closed on weekends but exchange bureaus are open. The GWK exchange offices are generally located at major railway stations, border crossings with Belgium and Germany and at Schiphol Airport.

Credit cards are accepted in large hotels and restaurants as well as midrange shops and stores. Frequently accepted cards are American Express, MasterCard, Diners Club and Visa. Traveler’s checks are not good to bring as a back up since they are already on their way out. But if you want to use them, better opt to take American Express or Thomas Cook in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US dollars to avoid additional charges. GWK offices are still changing checks while few shops and restaurants will accept them.

 International transfers can be done via American Express and Thomas Cook. Their offices are in the capital city of Amsterdam. Also, you can send money through Western Union. Their agent is GWK.

About the author Heather Demars

Heather is a gifted writer and has a passion for travel.  She penned the first chapter of a novel in the eleventh grade when she and her best friend decided to co-author a best-selling romance. Though that particular endeavor failed to make it past her cluttered desk, she never gave up her dream of writing. Winters’ Solace is her first novel, and she feels insanely blessed to see this particular item checked off her bucket list.

View all posts by Heather Demars

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