Holland or The Netherlands is a small country in the western part of Europe best known for its notorious city: Amsterdam. Although I love it, there is so much more to it than sex and drugs, so stick around to find what makes this land so special and why you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single city.
This was my 4th time in Holland and yet I didn’t manage to cover all it has to offer (of course this means that there will be a 5th time 😀 ). In the past, I have been to Rotterdam, where I stayed for 3 months and from where I went to visit Den Hague, Gouda, Den Bosch and, last but not least, Amsterdam. This time I got to spend 5 full days in Amsterdam from where I went to Giethoorn – The Venice of Holland, Zaandam – home of lots of old windmills and, my very special, Keukenhof – The Tulips garden.
What you need to know when you are planning a vacation in The Netherlands is that the weather is unpredictable, one minute you can be sweating and the very next freezing in the rain. So make sure you are dress accordingly and always keep a rain coat around. Also, make sure you have VERY comfortable shoes since you will be walking A LOT. The beauty of this country is in the canals and the magnificent old buildings, also you should have stability when you are climbing in a boat, taking a tour in an old windmill or walking for 8 – 9 km in the tulips gardens, so say bye bye to those high heels and say hello to Converse shoes.
Giethoorn – The Venice of Holland
If you are looking for a combination of Italy’s Venice and Holland, you should rent a car and go to Giethoorn, a small town in the northeastern part of the country. You can also try to go by bus, but it can be quite a journey, that’s why I suggest getting a car.
What makes this place special? Well, the only way you can see it is by foot or by boat, the canals are everywhere! The traditional houses and the bridges, make this town one of a kind in beauty. You should also rent a boat (15 euros – for a 1h tour) and drive it across the canals, don’t worry about falling and drowning, since the water is only 1m deep :).
Zaandam – Windmills heaven
Only 40 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus, this small town is the home of old windmills that were restored and transformed into museums. You can choose to see in real life how these were used for oil, woods, corn, paper etc. Also here you will find the oldest mill, built before 1451 ( this being the year it was first mentioned in a document).
The city has little inhabitants and most of the people you will meet are visitors. But you can also wander the streets and see how the Dutch people like to have their houses and gardens.
Keukenhof – The Tulips garden
Unfortunately, Keukenhof is only open from 22 March until 13 May, so if you want to see it, you need to make sure you plan your vacation at this exact period next year. Although I’ve been 3 times in the past, only this year did I get to see the gardens and it was at the end of the season, 5th of May.
61% of the flowers sold on the entire globe is from The Netherlands, so Keukenhof is like a teaser for the beauty that is exported from here. Huge fields with colorful tulips are going to make your eyes and soul blossom with beauty. And if these are not enough then the lake with the swamps, along with miniature windmills and with the real ones will definitely conquer your heart.
More pictures from my day trip to the Tulips garden: Keukenhof – A Small Piece Of Heaven In The Heart Of Holland
Amsterdam – The city of canals
I left at the end the most notorious city from Europe, where everything is permitted. Unfortunately many come here only for these 2 sad reasons: prostitution and drugs. Both of these are equivalent to buying a temporary escape from reality and missing the real experience of visiting this amazing place.
Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and it is best known for its canals. The main transportation method is cycling, so make sure you rent a “fiets” (bicycle) to cover all the important places. I am not a big fan of museums so I will not make a list of places to visit. I love wandering the streets, eating at the local places and mixing with the Dutch people. As a suggestion, you should consider going on a guided boat trip to find out more about the history of the city and to see it from the water.
One thing that I adore in Holland is Coffee Company, a local version of Starbucks, but with a better taste of coffee. Also make sure you go to Albert Heijn, the local supermarket and try the stroopwafels, local sweets made from honey and a crusty cookie.
For me, Holland will always be like a second home and will always have a special place in my heart, even when I freeze to death in the rain :). I would advise everyone who travels to this destination to keep an open mind and not to focus on the wrong things.