The so-called Bible Belt in The Netherlands means that the places in that region are very strict reformed. Call it calvinistic if you wish. This means that women never wear trousers (metaphorically maybe, but certainly not in clothing). They go to church twice on a Sunday, sometimes their faith forbids them to have injections against polio and such, blood transfusions and abortions.
These are the most traditional of people in The Netherlands and they are also represented in parliament.
This is the Hervormde Church (Reformed) in Staphorst. Interestingly it's an old tower but a modern church that is obviously much larger than the old one that once was attached to the tower.
BTW... Hervormd (Reformed) does not necessarily mean you are very strict religiously. This church has many forms and traditions, from strictly traditional to average to quite free in thought and customs (Vrijzinnig).
But in Staphorst the most strict form is tradition.
Black cap (special Staphorst design)
Shirt with two rows of 9 silver buttons
Little black tie
Black or brown trousers with 2 buttons (made of coins sometimes)
Special Staphorster model clogs, but shoes on Sunday
The female costume always shows the level of mourning that the person is in. This is a theme in so many costumes around the world.
Cap: black or black and flowered, silk or satin, with gold head brooch with 7 or 8 twists, depending on the level of wealth.
Skirt: black or black and blue striped.
Underskirt: red or blue or black/white striped
Apron of blue wool or cotton, with a bit of checked or flowered fabric at the top
Black stockings and white clogs, on Sundays black shoes with silver brooch.
I guess we all agree on this on; there is nothing more exciting than going travelling - exploring another country, experiencing a different culture, travelling around in new ways, sampling the local cuisine and chatting to the local people for a different perspective on life.
However during our travels we learned that there is one certain thing that you should be aware of and prepared for to make sure that the trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. We always try to see everything once we're there, but this is not always an act of responsible travelling. We always talk to the locals and we know that they have the information about just the right spots to visit and how to undertake them. It will not only enhance your experiences but also avoid any unnecessary hassles.
For me the travel tips I have written down in this section made the most of mine travel experience and I came home in the same happy, healthy state that I left.
Maybe it sounds a bit weird, but as an experience traveler I know that you every now and then need this kind of information in advance: electricity in the Netherlands is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to the Netherlands with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
There are three main types of voltage converter. Resistor-network converters will usually be advertised as supporting something like 50-1600 Watts. They are light-weight and support high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. However, they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices. Some companies sell combination converters that include both a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. This kind of converter will usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need both types of converter, then this is the type to buy.
Outlets in the Netherlands generally accept 1 type of plug: Two round pins (see the picture). If your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. Depending on how much you plan to travel in the future, it may be worthwhile to get a combination voltage converter and plug adapter.
Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being at our travel pace is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. At Alkmaar (and this probably counts for our entire home country) it was rather difficult. We found out that there are a few local beers, only known in the particular area. But anyway nothing really special, which was a bit of a disappointment. Therefore we finally bought the same beer as we drink back home, Grolsch!
Grolsch Brewery (Grolsche Bierbrouwerij) is a Dutch brewery founded in 1615 by Willem Neerfeldt in Groenlo (Grolle). The beer from Groenlo gradually became better known in the surroundings of Groenlo. Through the years the demand for Grolsch beer shifted from a local to national and eventually international level. It is a bit bitter and has a pale colour. You can taste the hop flavour, and has a alcohol content of 5 percent. You should try it!
Almost all, and for sure all authentic, farmhouses have enormous straw roofs. This is seen often in these surroundings as the material is in large amount available in the direct vicinity. The lakes just somewhat East of Staphorst (where also famous Giethoorn is situated) have enormous kane-fields on which the long waterplants are "harvested" and used for roofs, baskets and a lot of other purposes.
Farmers in The Netherlands always had a love for green. No wonder, their daily profession had everything to do with nature and the most natural colour of all is ... Green. Though details sometimes are made white, blue and sometimes even red or yellow, large surfaces are always painted green. This also results in a beautiful unity with the surrounding fields and acres.
Holland is famous of them and almost all foreign visitors go home with a pair (miniature or in the right seize to wair): "Klompen", the famous Dutch wooden shoes. Well, walking around Staphorst you will see them more then just accidently with one or two people as here these shoes are still very frequently used. While working in the garden or on the land, but also to hop on a bike and go shopping. Watch the frontdoors and besides the math on which you clean before entering ... yes, there they are and ... at (almost) every farmhouse.
In this wonderful village you still can see them. Local Dutch traditional cloths. Many still wear the dark coloured (blue and black) skirts, sweaters, jackets and scarves around the head. Staphorst is quite famous even for us Dutch, as a place where the people stick to this tradition and ... as they are not directly under fire of masses of tourists, the people are not overrun by photographers. Anyway, it is stated at entrance of the village that one is not allowed to take pictures of any citizen (with or without traditional local costume) without permission out front. However, one can of course accidently get one on the picture while making a photo of the church's entrance while waiting a little ... (-:
The farms that you see on either side of the main road of Staphorst are mostly related to milkfarming. In the fields behind the - quite narrow - stretch of farmhouses along this road, are the fields where the milkcattle (so preferably the black and white spotted cows, known as Hollands-Fries) are grazing the grass that will guarantee loads of, and very good milk. Dutch milkfarming is well known to deliver not only the most liters per cow, but also milk of perfect conditions.
Very distinguished are the windowshutters at each and every one of the farmhouses. Large wooden, and carefully painted, planks that can be turned to close the windows when weather is cold or windy. Now-a-days however the windowpains are stronger and the glass is isolating by double or even triple layers. The use is gone, but the shutters have now a decorative function and ... that is a function that they do very well. It lights up the village in a unknown way for many.
Very specific I found the decorations that were repeatedly seen in the windows above the frontdoor of the houses. Wonderful curly ironwork stood up like a tree with a large foot and two mirroring branches. The curls have again smaller decorations, maybe leaves or something. What it means? I have no idea, but when you're visiting and find out if there is a special meaning to it, then please, do let me know.
Some framhouses in Staphorst have them, normally in places near the door or even just inside in the hallway or toilet. Tiles with wisdom on them. nice rimes and sayings. Here are a few from the tiles in the attached picture.
1. Oost, West - Thuis Best (East, West, at home the best - Dutch saying that equals the English "home sweet home")
2. Poem of Toon Hermans (great Dutch cabaratier / conferencier)
"Je hebt iemand nodig
Stil en oprecht
Die als het erop aankomt
Voor je bidt, voor je vecht
Pas als je iemand hebt
Die met je lacht, met je grient
Dan pas kun je zeggen
Ik heb een vriend"
"You need someone
Someone true, someone honest
That when it really matters
Prays for you, fights for you
Only when you have someone
That laughs with you and cries
Only then you can say
I have a friend"
3. "Arbeidt rustig zonder zorgen
Wat niet gereed komt is voor morgen
Houdt uw rust altijd in ere
Alleen een dwaas werkt zich de kolere"
"Work calm and without worries
What isn;t finished is for tomorrow
Keep your rest always in honour
Only a fool works himself to hell"
4. "Zaken zijn als kruiwagens
Je moet ze duwen"
"Business is like a wheelbarrow
You've got to push them"