Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Strongest ratings from middle of scale, i.e., Centric-Venturers and Centric-Authentics
Did You Know…?
- The Netherlands counts approximately 1,000 working windmills.
- The country has more bicycles than residents and twice as many bikes as cars.
- Amsterdam is built entirely on piles.
- Schipol Airport is more than 14 feet below sea level, having been built on a lake bed.
- The Dutch are the tallest people in Europe.
Holland’s capital, Amsterdam, charms with its canals and maze of small streets. The countryside also looks like a picture postcard, with windmills, canals and picturesque villages. Few destinations live up to their stereotypes as completely as Holland.
It also is the country of porcelain (think Delft), cheese (Edam and Gouda) and fine art (Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer) — and wooden shoes, tulips and dikes.
The destination intrigues North Americans because its architecture, flat landscape and cultural characteristics provide a contrast to the rest of Europe. Besides, the Dutch are friendly and have a broad familiarity with English.
North Americans have historical reasons to feel a kinship with the Dutch. English is more like Dutch than any other language because England was once overrun by people from the area in and around today’s Holland.
Besides, before England took over all of America’s original colonies, there was New Netherland, which in the mid-1600s encompassed parts of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.
However, today, we happily cross an ocean for Dutch treats at their source. Holland has attractions that appeal to all personality types — ranging from biking and mud walking to eating Indonesian foods and visiting fine museums filled with works by Dutch painters. Even in this small densely populated nation, there are nature reserves and other places for enjoying the pleasures of activity, or contemplation, in relative solitude.
And then, there are the dikes, the feature that really sets Holland apart. While they have morphed into tourist attractions, the dikes (along with sand dunes and water pumps) remain part of a broad system of protection for a country where, at high tide, roughly a third of the land sits below sea level. Manmade canals also drain the land and serve as waterways.
Finally, there is the name: Strictly speaking, Holland refers to the western part of the country whereas the Netherlands refers to the whole country. Even the tourist office uses both names.
Holland, like all northern European countries, can be dark in winter because of its short days, but the trade-off is the promise of lovely long days at midsummer.
Things to do for Venturers
- Take day trips using inline skates as your transport. In the De Graafschap part of the Achterhoek region, seven skating and inline skating routes have been signposted, carrying catchy names like Castle and Convent Route, Stork Route and Witch Route. Or, look for routes in the Flevoland and Friesland provinces. Holland’s flat land facilitates this activity.
- Rent a historic ship. Options include flat-bottomed boats such as barges, botters (fishing smacks), clippers, schooners and tjalken (spritsail barges). They have sleeping quarters and come with crew and skipper, but you would be expected to help out with some tasks.
- Holland has more than 350,000 windsurfers; try your hand at the sport.
- From Glope Events, you can choose to ride in a hot-air balloon, pilot a single-engine aircraft (for 20 minutes) or skydive in tandem with an instructor.
- Visit the Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. While smoking this weed is illegal in the U.S., Holland has legalized the substance for everyday use. You can eat so-called “space cakes” in Amsterdam bars or even attend the city’s annual Cannabis Cup, at which experts test the smokes in the way wine connoisseurs sip wines.
- Make the rounds of pubs, cafes and other nightspots in any of the larger cities.
Things to do for Centrics
- Go biking. Everyone does it, for fun and transportation. More than 10,500 miles of cycling routes will get you almost anywhere.
- Stay in the Grand Hotel de Kromme Raake in the village of Eenrum. Calling itself the smallest hotel in the world, it has only one room and the room’s bed, called a box bed, is behind doors in what looks like a large cupboard.
- Weigh yourself at the Witches Weighhouse in Oudewater, using scales that date from 1482. The purpose? To prove you are not a witch. This harkens back to a time when folks believed witches weighed next to nothing, and you too can receive a certificate saying you weigh too much to be a witch. Then, tour the museum which highlights the history of witch hunting.
- Buy a pair of wooden shoes. For women, make that clog pumps (wooden high heels).
- Choose a restaurant that offers rijstafel, which is a Dutch word for rice table and refers to an Indonesian meal of rice with numerous side dishes, often pretty spicy. As an alternative, order nasi goreng, an Indonesian fried rice and comfort food for many.
- Consider the open-air museum at Arnhem, which features more than 80 historic houses from across Holland. See how the Dutch have lived in the last 250 years, then eat a typical farmers’ meal.
Things to do for Authentics
- Holland is a land of flower bulbs, and not just tulip bulbs. Schedule a visit to coincide with the Bollenstreek Flower Parade, which winds its way from Noordwijk to Haarlem in late April and is the largest of many Dutch flower processions seen from April through September.
- Go to the world-renowned Rijksmuseum to see as much as you have time for of paintings by the Dutch masters.
- Tour the Gouda cheese factory in Gouda, then enjoy samples. Don’t overlook the town either.
- Walk the Vermeer Trail in Delft, which was the painter’s hometown. The trail includes the church where he was baptized, located on the Great Market Square, plus the setting for Vermeer’s “View of Delft” and the place where it is believed the artist modeled his “The Little Street” painting.
- Visit the Keukenhof Gardens in spring. The tulips and daffodils are the stars, but they are not alone. More than 7 million bulbs produce flowers here each year.
- Visit the village of Kinderdijk for a cluster of 19 windmills. The 18th century mills were built to drain excess water from the Alblasserwaard polders which are below sea level. Opt to walk or, in summer, view the mills while on a canal cruise. You can visit the inside of one mill in late March through October. You also can go to Kinderdijk on a boat excursion from Rotterdam.
For more information, consult the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions at www.holland.com