The notoriously flat, partly reclaimed, only somewhat windmill-ridden The Netherlands is a densely populated country of over 16 million inhabitants, bordered by Belgium and Germany, and coasted by the North Sea. Often referred to as Holland, or more broadly speaking as one of the Low Countries, it is part of the Benelux economic union along with Belgium and Luxembourg. There’s a wealth of immediate, unique associations with this marvellous place; of red tulips and red lights, cheese and canals, bicycles, artists and wooden clogs. A country known for its liberal outlook and cultural capital, there’s so much more to this place than Amsterdam, but it’s a pretty spectacular place to start…
With its promise of relaxed coffee shops, drifting canals and impressive façades, once youget to know Amsterdam it’ll become a handsome friend you can crash with anytime you’re unsure of the world and your place in it. A collision of quaint and colourful canopies, lanky buildings and infamous seediness in select streets, Amsterdam spirals its canals outward in cobweb uniformity. Sunny days are for sequestering yourself a picnic spot at the Vondelpark and gazing on its surging fountain, rainy ones were made for Rijksmuseum, where you can schmooze with the Rembrants and the Vermeers. Every day is a bicycle day, and best enjoyed in organised manner with a tour company, who’ll tailor your spinning to some of the most sought after sights in the city.
For those who came for tulips, the Noordoostpolder has the most in the entire country. Visit during its tulip festival for a mind-blowing carpet of colour spreading acres across the landscape. Other popular natural sites include Holland’s largest national park, De Hoge Veluwe, a huge conservation area with rambling routes, cycle paths, horse riding and no fewer than three museums! Fancy a giant’s eye view of the country? One of the best places to take the kids, Madurodam is a theme park which has perfect, tiny models of The Netherlands which come to life with spinning windmills and miniature street parades!
If the siren call of the ages leaves you hankering after something more historical, there’s plenty to be seen in Maastricht; with its two basilicas, Roman ruins and cobbled streets it’s said to be the country’s oldest city. Visit the bright crimson Sint Janskerk, a 17th century Gothic church, or bedazzle your wits in Selexyz n’ Dominicanen, a palatial cathedral crammed with books! Football lovers should hop on the train to Rotterdam, where intense local matches are followed by unforgettable nightlife. Feeling stately? Den Haag is home to the Dutch royal family, mansions, boulevards, and all the accompanying grandeur you could hope for. Then pop over to nearby Scheveningen, a seaside district of The Hague with stretches of beach for everyone, from kiteboarders to nudists.
Last Edit by Site Administrators on 7/05/2012 EDIT NOW >>