Netherlands or Holland? I have heard about non-Dutch people arguing over the correct terminology. Well, it turns out that Holland is just a part of the Netherlands. Think about it like New York City as a part of USA. Here are 7 things you need to know about the Netherlands.
The Dutch Colony extended to quite a fair bit in the world, including Indonesia. Now, it is a tiny country, trying not to drown.
That is because the Netherlands is under the water level, and the rising water level is not helping. In fact, windmills were first created to pump water OUT of the city so that it does not get flooded! And hence the water dams in the country to contain extra water.
- General: Culture and People
- Dutch Food
- City of Dams
- What Makes Netherlands Unique
General: People and Culture
The Dutch culture fascinates me. In general, the Dutch are very low profile people. Even if you are rich, you do not drive the streets with your brand new Bugatti, gold plated, wearing your latest Chanel suit and carrying your Louis Vuitton bag. (Unlike the Asian and Middle Eastern culture like Hong Kong and Dubai)
People are treated equally, and they do not like to show off. This is evident because you do not see many monuments around the country. (Unlike Mr Napoleon and his monuments in Paris, France) In school, people generally do not strive for the best, and a high-than-pass is good enough. In fact, some people are sad when they get too high, because they could have studied less! How different it is from Singapore, where it is always a competition to see who gets the best grades.
Does cheese make you tall because of calcium? Netherlands has a cheese-eating culture and you find cheese shops everywhere. If the answer is yes, then it makes sense that Dutch are the tallest people in the world. Fun fact: my Dutch roommate is 190+cm.
It is funny because everyone is super tall, and it took me 1 week to find a bike for my height! The saddle of a bike for a “normal Dutch” is at my belly button. I can barely get on the seat. Of course, not every Dutch is super tall. The average height for males and females is 185cm (6’08”) and 169cm (5’64”).
But most people I meet at above 190cm. And people can’t stop calling me tiny.
Guess what the Dutch speak? ……………… it’s still Dutch. I personally think that Dutch is a funny version of German. Dutch is similar to German and also similar to Swedish. My friends can talk to a German or Swedish while talking in their own languages. As for the question: is Dutch a beautiful language? Well, let’s just say that I am not a very huge fan of the language.
What if I don’t speak Dutch? No worries, English is commonly used here. In fact, the universities are taught in English and most people learn a foreign language (usually English). It is almost like English is a national language here.
Depending on the seasons, the weather changes rather drastically. The climate is changing so the weather is only getting more messed up.
Spring & Summer (April – September)
Spring and summer is the best time in the Netherlands. From the famous Keukenhof and tulips blooming to the boat trips in the canals and beaches in the north, you need to explore every corner of the Netherlands. The weather is hot and sunny, and everything is open. It is also the peak season, so watch out for the prices.
Autumn & Winter (October – March)
Autumn and Winter can be very beautiful. Light fresh snow falling on the rooftops and frozen lakes to ice skate on, it’s a winter wonderland. There are also Christmas markets in November – December, making it the ultimate experience. However, the period before the snow is rather horrible. You have strong winds and rain, but it is not cold enough for snow. It makes you wonder if you are actually in London instead. (kidding)
However, Autumn and Winter are great times to visit the museum. It is less crowded and there are more deals around.
The best way to eat a stroopwafel is to put it over your hot coffee or tea and allow the caramel to melt between the waffle cookie. When it is cold and snowing outside, a hot tea with stroopwaffles melting in your mouth is like no other.
Netherlands is well connected with trains all over the country. You can go to any train stations and get a brochure of the train passes. In the middle of the page, you have a free map with all the lines of the trains. It helps a lot when you are deciding where to go and travel. You can also buy train tickets for a 75% discount if you know where to find it.
Trains, Trams, Cabs
Other than trains, you have buses in big cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Maastricht, Eindhoven, etc. It is also common to find trams in major cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Cabs are also possible, but they might be relatively costlier.
It is not Netherlands without a bicycle. There are more bicycles than humans in Netherlands because everyone has an average of 2 bikes per person. People cycle a lot. Cycle to work, cycle on the weekends, cycle to another city.
Netherlands is very flat, so it is easy to cycle. The highest point is St. Petersburg in Maastricht, and it takes you 3minutes to walk to the peak. That is the highest point in Netherlands.
So where can I rent a bike? You can rent them in train stations by getting an OV-Fiets card. Get the OV-Fiets card for the bicycle. With this card, you can just grab a bike at any train stations in the Netherlands and cycle to your destinations. It helps you to save on transportation, and to burn off that fats from the delicious selection of cheese in Netherlands.
Things To Note About Transportation
- Application to download: for trains (Andriod, Apple), for buses (Andriod, Apple)
- Websites to visit: NS.NL (trains), 9292 (buses)
- Offline Maps: google maps, maps.me
- Load your maps before going on your trip
- Buying your transportation tickets: you can either use your OV Chipkaart or buy individual tickets
- Train tickets: online at NL or at the train station in the yellow boxes or customer service counter
- Tram tickets: on the tram itself
- Bus tickets: on the bus itself
Cities of Dams
What do you visualize when you think about the Netherlands? The bicycles by the canals and the uniquely beautiful Dutch architecture? Fret not, that will be what you see often!
Netherlands use the dams for trade, transportation and to keep the water out of the city. In Amsterdam, the dam was created around 13th century in the Amstel River. Hence, the name: Amster-dam. The city grew around the dam and gained in trade and wealth. The canals in Amsterdam is called Grachten. It is also part of UNESCO World Heritage in 2010!
What makesthe Netherlands unique
There is nothing like the smell of the Netherlands. Every time I leave the Netherlands for my travels, there is one particular smell that reminds me of home. I could smell it from the train station. Can you guess what it is?
It is marijuana.
There is no better way to remind me that I am home, other than the strong smell of weed. Yes, soft drugs like marijuana and mushrooms are legal in Netherlands. That is why “coffee shop” in Netherlands is NOT A PLACE FOR COFFEE. It is a place to get your drugs. If you want to get coffee, ask people where is the CAFÉ. There are many websites to find locations of coffee shops and stonerscolony is one of them.
Although drugs are legal, it is interesting because there are very few people who smoke! Most Dutch I meet do not take drugs. It is usually the tourists (in Amsterdam) taking the drugs in coffee shops, occasional locals and many French, Belgians and Germans who live near the borders.
What I found interesting from my Dutch friend, Rudd, is that: you can bring your drugs to the government to test for its purity. THAT.BLEW.MY.MIND. And by drugs, it includes LSD, MDMA, and Cocaine. (Basically things you learn in school to never touch)
You can bring your pills to the government and they will run tests to determine the substances inside. This helps to prevent people from taking “bad” drugs and to be responsible of what they consume. So I guess if you do purchase drugs, keep the contact of your dealer just in case the results show that there are harmful substances in your pills.
Cycling, drugs and beautiful cities – that is what I think about when I came to Netherlands. What is your vision of Netherlands? Do share your “stereotype” of Netherlands with us!
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.