I don't know why tourists still get lured to go to this place. Ignorance maybe? Of course it's an easy way to see something else than Amsterdam, but surely there are many much better choices available. Volendam is McTourism, it's quick and easy and it may even have some ' taste', but with just a little effort you'll find something far superior. If you really want to get to know this country there's absolutely nothing to see and nothing to do here. But if you're interested in people who put on so-called traditional dress for you, or if you want to have an expensive picture made of yourself wearing that stuff, this is the place to go. If you really want to see a more authentic side of this country you will have to do some homework. It's worth it! If you want it the easy way; walk on to Edam. It's next to Volendam and far more interesting.
When i visited amsterdam i was expecting a city openminded with legal drug use and porn...that's ok with me as long as it remains away. But it's not the openmindness but the whole industry built upon drugs that really annoyed me...you can walk to the streets ans people offer you coke! I m pretty sure that even the residents of amsterdam don't cope well with all this flacuation of tourists who come to amsterdam just to get stoned....
Unique Suggestions: Basically don't answer to street junkies and drug dealers. They may appear annoying but never harm you
Fun Alternatives: All the other cities except amsterdam are much more cool.........especially Leiden which is just 20 minutes by train to amsterdam. There you ll surely have much more fun
Windmills, many people think of them when it comes to the Netherlands. Some people even think the country is full of them. They have become a cliche, one of many that exist about the Netherlands. But actually windmills are a much more worthy national symbol than tulips or cheese. There are about 1000 of them left and you'll find them all over the country, usually outside cities although there are a few even in places like Amsterdam and Utrecht. Unlike churches and farmhouses there are hardly any regional variants, the type in the picture is common all over the country (and is also found in parts of Belgium and Germany) although their use may have differed. Windmills in the west of the country (the actual Holland) often were used for land reclamation while in other parts of the country the processing of grains or seeds was the only function. This very windmill stands in Willemstad.
From a rational point of view windmills have become outdated and unnecessary things, and many have been demolished or little more is left but an empty tower. Some more will disappear in the future, as politicians refuse to guarantee that no tall buildings will be build nearby that may block the wind. This attitude has already prevented the rebuilding of a windmill in Breda, one of the tallest in the country, now just a sad tower. All it takes is a little willingness on the politicians behalve, but it seems this is too much asked. An old windmill in Amsterdam is threathened by the same attitude and will be closed soon probably.
If a windmill doesn't operate regularly the wooden gear will eventually begin to rot. The remaining windmills are still there because people have chosen to maintain them, usually volunteers. This also means that many windmills are open for visitors. When you get a chance walk in and be amazed about the ingenuity of these early industrial machines. And don't forget to leave a small donation, or buy one of the products that may be on sale. Maintenance of an average windmill costs 10.000 to 20.000 euros each year!
In the Netherlands you don't have to tip for service, especially if all you got is drinks. Waiters here receive good enough salary and don't rely on tips. Of course if service is good you can always round the bill or to leave Euro or two, they'll appreciate it very much. So don't make the same mistake as I did, during my first few weeks here I was leaving 10-15% tip everywhere ;-)
sidenote: please be aware that my bf is dutch and as such his views may have crept into my thinking a little. Still, I can observe these things for myself,and I tend to agree with him.
The Netherlands is not just windmills, tulip fields, those blue and white delft plates, clogs et al. Yes, that's all there, but there is a lot more of the country to discover. So don't limit yourself. The train network isn't bad (I hear a few dutchies at the back disagreeing), so hop on a train and go somewhere new.
And if you really want to buy some clogs, there's always the shop at Schipol airport ;)
The Keukenhof is a beautiful garden with many bulb flowers. It is open in Spring and summer, but the best time to visit it is when the tulips are blooming, of course. It is located near the town of Lisse in the West of the Netherlands.
The negative point of the Keukenhof is that it attracts thousands of visitors that rally in a limited amount of espace. The situation is particularly bad inside the pavillions that hold the orchid and tulip exhibitions, where it can get really claustrophobic.
Unique Suggestions: Do go to de Keukenhof if you love parks and flowers, but try to go on a week-day, as it is a bit calmer. Weekends are really packed with people and, unless you are a extremely gregarious person, that spoils all the fun.
Fun Alternatives: Since the keukenhof is located in the very heart of the main region of flower fields, you may have enough tulips cycling around the area. Personally, I find it is much more interesting, for the Keukenhof is a garden, very beautiful, well kept and with rare flowers, but a garden after all, like there are many other around the world. However, the flower fields are something almost unique to this region and really enjoyable.
Probably not typically Dutch but we will all complain about the weather.
Somehow a summer will always remembered for its rain even if there was plenty of sun too.
If summer is too wet, the farmers will complain that the harvest won't be good and we can expect higher prices.
if the summer is too dry, the same happens.
The winters will be considered wet and horrible if there is no frost and nice snow.
If there's frost and snow then there will be complaints about the effect it has on traffic and that it is COLD.
Lately, summers can be quite hot. We've had weeks of around 25-30 degrees Celsius. Of course we will then stay inside and buy air coolers as Dutch climate should definitely not take on the air of a tropical country.
If it is nice and warm, it always remains like that for too short a period.
In short, no weather is ever any good!
Unique Suggestions: Just don't start about the weather! You will always get a complaint :-)))
Fun Alternatives: Tell your Duch hosts that the weather is even worse in your country (make it up, if you must). You will either be contradicted (true or not) or you'll make us feel better :-)
The weather is taken very seriously though. Because the country is below sealevel.
Check Dutch weather station KNMI for the story about the big flood in 1953 where over 1800 people died.
The photo is from that website.
The bike is THE means of transport in The Netherlands and renting a bike is very easy. However, rent a bike with a proper lock as stealing (some call it 'borrowing') bikes is a daily business for many. In a special travellogue you can find everything about bycicles and bycicling through The Netherlands.
The Dutch are known to foreigners to be a very kind and appreciative audience when it comes to concerts, theatre and such.
Why? Well, anyone will get a standing ovation!
Most audiences in the world will applaud politely or even enthusiastically when a show has ended. Only rarely do people stand up.
But in The Netherlands it is custom to always give a standing ovation.
Artists from abroad like to start their world tours in The Netherlands. We won't let anyone down.
There you have it. Our way of applauding, with the standing ovation has devaluated the whole thing!
Flowerbulbs are a very attractive souvenir, but if you are flying home, make sure that importing these is allowed. Some countries do not allow entering of biological or agricultural goods. So please, do first check if you are allowed to take them home, it ould be a pitty if you couldn;t.
When people from abroad come to stay at my house and if they are remotely interested in language, it has struck me that the word "Lekker" is especially interesting to my guests. It's an easy word to say and very distinguisable from other words as it is often used on its own. They work out quickly that it has to do with food. But then they become confused. Because I would exclaim "Lekker" not relating to food but for example having a nice sit-down or commenting about the weather.
It's a typical Dutch stop word.
Unique Suggestions: You'll hear this word a lot in NL.
Lekker = tasty or nice as in:
Lekker eten = having nice food
Lekker wandelen = having a nice walk
Slaap lekker = sleep well
The flower fields are beautiful to see, but this garden is a real tourist trap. I have never seen so a crowded park in my life. After ten minutes of seeing crowds and lines, we desisted and went away. It did not look extraordinary anyway.
the little village of Volendam is a nice place indeed, fishermans village with a very nice harbour, and tiny streets packed with all kinds of stores etc, and quite a lot of the photoshops has an atelier upstairs, or in the back, where they "trick" tourists into dressing up in traditional Volendam clothings ( old fashion ones that is )
Unique Suggestions: walk pass the photoshops:)
Fun Alternatives: take a snack, or a drink at the bayside restaurant:)
Nothing, if you're invited to morning coffee or afternoon tea. At least, it isn't necessary.
Wine or flowers or chocolates if you're invited for dinner.
Don't be surprised if the Dutch say that you shouldn't have brought something. It's politeness because if you hadn't, it would sure be talked about once you left.
Unique Suggestions: If you bring flowers, don't limit yourself to a mere bunch of tulips. Bring a proper bouquet and have it giftwrapped.
The Dutch splash out on flowers. Many families buy fresh bouquets every week to brighten their homes.
Fun Alternatives: Of course you can let your imagination go and and bring something else. Especially if you know your hosts, they'd also be happy with a gift that is typical of your country.
If you're invited to dinner and want to bring wine, then it isn't unusual to ring and ask if white or red would be appreciated.
Congratulations! You are invited to a Dutch home. So what should you expect?
Unique Suggestions: Depending on the type of invitation:
for morning coffee: arrive at 10-10.30 at the latest and leave at 12:30 at the latest. You will probably not be invited to lunch. Take coffee literally: usually 2 cups of coffee and some cake or biscuits (only because you are there as a visitor, usually the cake will be left out).
for afternoon tea: arrive at around 15.00 hrs and leave at 17 hrs at the latest because you will probably not be invited for dinner. Tea will consist of just that: a few cups of tea and some biscuits. Don't expect a lavish meal!
for dinner: make sure you know which time to arrive. Normal family dinner time is around 18.00 hrs but for a small dinner party 19-19:30 hrs is usual. Make sure you bring a small gift like flowers or chocolates or a bottle of wine.
You don't need to bring anything if you're invited for coffee or tea unless there is a celebratory reason to do so.
Why should you not stay too long? The Dutch usually cook dinner with the exact amount of food they expect to need. Five members in a family? Then 5 meatballs or pork chops. Get the drift?
Fun Alternatives: The Dutch are not unhospitable. In fact, the customs I describe above are changing slowly, thank heavens. It just doesn't enter their minds to make a visit into a lavish occassion.
For example, I often invited friends for tea and would insist they stay for dinner too. But often this was rejected because my visitors were so afraid they'd overstay their welcome.
The fact that I usually have a lot of food in the house (just in case) is more a peculiarity than usual.
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