We’re on the road today, heading for a stop in Germany before we reach home in Italy once again. As we exited The Netherlands, I began to reflect about my awesome 4-day adventure and realized that my attitude towards Holland has changed drastically since I first visited in 2005. Then, and even in the last few years, I’ve viewed The Netherlands as “tame”, or “safe”, especially when I compare them to our travel goal of travel and potentially life in Southeast Asia, which has yet to become realized. I stand corrected! If you have been grouping The Netherlands into the “tame” category and written them off, here are some reasons that you may want to re-think your attitude:
- The Netherlands are a truly international place, with people living and working there from all over the world. With Schiphol and KLM connecting Europe to the rest of the world, to The Hague attracting numerous amounts of expats, you can find people from everywhere, going everywhere. Not only is that a really exciting vibe to experience, but it also means 2 very important things: English is widely spoken, and there is amazing food from all over the world in one country. Guess which one of these things Drew’s the most excited about…
- The Dutch people have commuting down to an art-form. The Netherlands might remind you of the Northeastern part of the United States because of its’ commuter lifestyle. If you are visiting on a bus tour or only sticking to Amsterdam, then you may not have the pleasure of seeing how the country gets to work. This trip, I was on a commuter train 3 out of the 4 days that we were there, and it was easy. Trains ran on time or only a few minutes late (often early!), and getting to the train only required a bus ride, bike ride, walk, or drop-off from someone who didn’t mind (that’s my hubby). Smartphone apps can help you to plan and keep track of your trips and see all of your timing options. Announcements at each stop are clear. Really, there is nowhere that I’ve been that has been an easier place to travel within the country.
- Biking is expected and biker’s rights are upheld. Hubby is an avid road biker, and I am slowly rediscovering recreational biking. As a more timid and less-aggressive biker, I find it intimidating to ride on some busy roads in our hometown, Vicenza. In The Netherlands, the bike lanes are wide and next to the sidewalks, and they often have their own traffic lights. If you are looking for a place where bikers are respected, you’ll find it in The Netherlands. Just make sure to watch out for bikes if you’re a pedestrian!
- Tulips. In case you missed yesterday’s post, Spring is a very nice time to visit Haarlem (near Amsterdam) and see tulips at the Keukenhof Garden. If you love the beauty of natural things, like flowers, then you’d enjoy Holland.
- Dutch Renaissance Art. The Dutch Renaissance painters were just as influential as the Italians were, and you can appreciate their art in many museums throughout the country.
- Canals. If you’re visiting The Netherlands for the first time, you might be surprised to see enough canals to rival Venice’s claim to fame! Canals add to the charm of many Dutch cities and are fun to walk near (even take a boat ride in, if possible) if you’re on vacation.
I’m sure that if I had stayed longer then 4 days, I would’ve found even more reasons to convince you to also reconsider The Netherlands as a spectacular travel destination. I guess I’ll need to solve that problem by going back someday!