Although almost half of it lies beneath sea level, The Netherlands is one of the most urbanized – and densely populated – nations on earth, with a huge range of places to visit packed into a relatively small area. To get to know it a little better, we asked our Dutch representative, Corinne, to give us the inside scoop on her home country. This is The Netherlands: Unlocked!
Photo: Shereen M. Via Flickr CC
Stroopwafel : “syrup waffle” is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. Large versions are sold in the streets as a snack.
Hutspot is a dish of boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots and onions with a long history in traditional Dutch cuisine.
Boterpunt: a Dutch treat, ⅓ butter, ⅓ sugar and ⅓ flower mixed by hand till you get a round ball. Flatten it and put in the oven for 25 minutes at 180 °C. Very heavy!
Erwtensoep or snert is a pea soup of green split peas, different cuts of pork, onions, carrots and often potato. Slices of rookworst (Dutch smoked sausage) are added a few minutes before serving. The soup is traditionally eaten during the winter. Koek en zopie outlets, small food and drinks stalls which pop up only during winters along frozen canals, ponds and lakes and cater to ice skaters, usually serve snert as a hearty snack.
Photo: Sheila Sund via Flickr CC
The Netherlands has all four seasons and it is always great to explore it. In summer go to the widest (well, almost) beaches in the world; in winter explore our great museums in Amsterdam with Dutch painters like Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Every season has its own charm and beauty. The month of May is important if you want to enjoy the beautiful colours of the tulip fields. The peak season of July and August means there are a lot of tourists in the cities and lots of open-air cultural events, festivals and nightlife.
The Netherlands is easy to explore by train when you are travelling. Make sure to rent a bike in The Netherlands: almost every train station has a bike rental. It’s a great way to explore the countryside and not hard to do since it is a flat country and it has a great cycling infrastructure.
Photos: Moyan Brenn via Flickr
The Dutch shake hands when they meet you for the first time. Be aware, if they get to know you a little bit they will shake your hand and kiss you three times on the cheek to say welcome and also do this saying goodbye.
One of the most famous Dutch books is off course the diary of Anne Frank. The Dutch also have a very famous children’s book called Nijntje (Miffy). She is a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, Nijntje, is a shortening of konijntje, meaning little rabbit.
Amsterdam is a well known film location which has been used for famous films like Diamonds Are Forever and Ocean’s Twelve. The film Girl with a Pearl Ear Ring is a film based on a painting by Johannes Vermeer. This film will shows you a lot of old streets in Dutch cities.
Photo: Lies Thru a Lens via Flickr CC
Check out http://tickets.holland.com.
Groningen has the youngest average population in The Netherlands. It has a long and turbulent history, which becomes evident from the historic warehouses, courts and buildings. Groningen is also a city with nerve, with the most numerous examples of innovative architecture within its boundaries. In addition, it was once proclaimed the city with the best city centre in The Netherlands because of its charm.
Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in Holland, as you will quickly discover when strolling through the historic inner city. Churches, city walls, monumental merchant houses and big squares merge seamlessly with a comprehensive and varied range of shops. Maastricht is also a city of indulgence and culinary highlights.
Middelburg dates back to the late 8th century or early 9th century. Middelburg is a city in the south-west of The Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. Situated on the island Walcheren, modern Middelburg has preserved and regained much of its historic and picturesque character. There are lavish 17th and 18th century merchant houses and storehouses standing along canals, of a similar style as found in cities like Amsterdam.
There is so much to see outside the (well-known) cities!! So, leave the cities behind for a few hours and discover the surrounding Dutch countryside. Drive through idyllic landscapes. Visit the dunes at the island of Texel, for instance. Much of the area is a bird sanctuary and accessible only on foot.
Schokland used to be an island. Occupied and then abandoned as the sea encroached, it had to be evacuated in 1859. But following the draining of the Zuiderzee, it has, since the 1940’s, formed part of land reclaimed from the sea. Schokland has vestiges of human habitation going back to prehistoric times. It symbolizes the heroic, age-old struggle of the people of the Netherlands against the encroachment of the waters.
Stelling van Amsterdam: Extending 135 km around the city of Amsterdam, this defence line (built between 1880 en 1914) is the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling water. Since the 16th century, the people of The Netherlands have used their expert knowledge of hydraulic engineering for defence purposes. Amsterdam was protected by a network of 42 armed forts and 4 batteries, acting in concert with temporary flooding from polders and an intricate system of canals and locks. It was, however, never fully used. The forts and the infrastructure were left in place, largely in their original state.
Photo: Bert Kaufman via Flickr CC
People think the Dutch are all wearing wooden shoes. Well, most people don’t, but in some villages you can still find some (old) people who do!
A lot of things are for free in The Netherlands. You can go to parks, enjoy dance events and outdoor concerts. It all depends on what you are looking for.
The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance and is generally regarded as a liberal country, having legalised abortion, prostitution and, to some degree, euthanasia, while maintaining a progressive drug policy. In 2001 it became the world’s first country to legalise gay marriage.