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The Netherlands

The Netherlands or Holland, what’s the difference? The official name is The Netherlands, but Holland is often used, probably because it is easier to say, much like the USA is often called America.  Two of the most populated provinces (or states) within the country are North Holland and South Holland.  It is likely that Dutch travelers would say that they were from one of these provinces and the name of the province became interchangeable with the name of country.

 

The weather in The Netherlands is very moderate. The summers rarely get very hot (generally around 20c or 70F) and the winters rarely get very cold (generally around 5c or 40F) but year round it can be very rainy.  So bring your rain wear.

 

One problem in the Netherlands is that transportation is very unreliable. Traffic jams can stop traffic for hours and the train system, while extensive, is probably the least reliable in northern Europe. The word vertraging means delay; get used to it. You will always get where you want to go, but you might not get there on time.

 

One big advantage for the visitor is the fact that nearly everyone speaks very high quality English. In fact, they speak it so well; it is hard to believe it is not their native language.

 

The food is not the most interesting. In fact, there is not much in the way of Dutch Food, except Dutch Pancakes which, are very tasty. They look sort of like a cross between a crepe and a pizza. Anything can be put on top and they are eaten for lunch or dinner with cheese, bacon, ham, etc or for desert with fruit, ice cream, chocolate, etc. As Indonesia used to be a colony of Holland, and many Indonesians immigrated, one can find Indonesian food everywhere. In fact, most Chineese restaurants here are actually Indonesian. Try Rijstafel (Rice Table) which is an assortment of different Indonesian specialties, generally quite spicy. You can usually get vegetarian or meat Rijstafel and usually they are very good. This video gives an overview of the Dutch cuisine. Click Here . One restaurant, The Five Flies, is mentioned. Click Here . While the restaurant serves good food, in a beautiful environment, it is pricey. The origin of the name, Five Flies, is from the five 17th century buildings that the hotel has adjoined to create the restaurant.

 

The Netherlands is famous worldwide for drugs and prostitution. This is because it is a lenient society and Dutch believe that people should be allowed to do what they want as long as it does not hurt others or is harmful to society. However, do not make the mistake to think that Dutch people enjoy these.  On the contrary, unlike in many countries where young people experiment with marijuana and other light drugs, most Dutch people do not and are even shocked by those who have.

 

The Netherlands is a small country, but most of the major cities and more than half of the population is concentrated in the center region called the Randstad. The entire region of the Randstad is within 1 hour of Amsterdam, making all of these places easy to visit using Amsterdam as a base. The main cities of Randstad include:

 

Amsterdam

Delft

The Hague

Haarlem

Leiden

Utrecht

Rotterdam