Likes & Dislikes


“When people talk about the ‘Dutch landscape’, we ought to treat the word ‘landscape’ with caution – there aren’t many parts of the country where you’re out of sight of built-up areas. We at last found two such places: one where some rows of trees concealed the houses behind, and which they called a forest (don’t step off the path!) The other was a nature reserve along the seashore near Zandvoort. The reason you don’t see the houses from here are the five-meter-high sand dunes, as well as a so-called ‘viewpoint’ (which we found funny, but the Dutch mean it seriously) – a wooden bench atop one of these dunes, from the top of which you can gaze at other dunes, and see dozens of meters in every direction.

I know that when a Dutchman says he’s going for a ‘tour’ he means cycling for miles along perfectly constructed, 0° differential sea-level cycle paths near his home, or else taking a trip to France. I don’t mean to rip on the Dutch countryside – it’s very pretty – but if it’s an adventure you’re looking for, you’d be better off dropping some legal psychedelics.

The high point of many visits to the Dutch countryside – or perhaps the low point, on account of the huge numbers of Italian tourists on the verge of expiring with excitement – is a visit to a place called Marken, about 20km from Amsterdam. It feels, if I’m honest, a bit like a classy Legoland, but the fact that it can only be reached across a dyke does lend a certain exoticism to the trip.


“Be sure to go to Koog-Zaandijk. From Amsterdam, it takes about 20 minutes by train. It’s a beautiful little fairytale village with many windmills. There’s also a kind of small open-air museum where you can buy all kinds of Dutch souvenirs, clogs, etc. What’s good is that it’s not very well known, ergo is not a tourist mecca. When I told the locals where I was going, they were surprised, for even they had not heard of it. :-D
You can request a map of the area at the train station, bike rental offices, and tourist agencies, as well as directions to the dams, small villages, sea and lakeshores, and swamps, but you can also find this information online. Train to Leiden, then again by bike (from the station) to Keukenhof. You will never see so many tulips and other flowers in your life. It turns out that of lilies alone there are thousands of varieties. Then to Amersfoort in the southeast by train. A beautiful small town with medieval streets, houses, charming paths along the canal, oh and a medieval main square with a marketplace. Don’t miss the aged cheese, it’s cheaper and better than at home.”


“Bypassing the motorway, we headed to Utrecht along the banks of the canals, to see the heart-warming Dutch 'countryside' that really looked its best in such sunny, nice weather. There was some inexplicable serenity in the air. The water everywhere, the lush greens, the flowers planted and tended on every street, the rows of larger and smaller houses, their gardens reaching down to the canal and each with a barbecue area, and the whole pleasant, outdoor atmosphere all had an effect. Sometimes a large castle or park indicates that there are social differences here as well. The snow-white pull-up bridges spanning the canals as they open up in front of the larger ships are charming. The abundant water is sometimes higher than the mainland, while the road we were on sometimes seemed almost fragrant. Nowhere are the unpleasant sour smells of sewers or bogs common in such places. It’s not just the flowers that smell sweet here.”

Netherlands - Zaandam - r.g. photo




“I thought biking in Holland would be easy, given the flatness of the country, but I didn’t factor in the headwinds. These have a very pronounced effect, even within the lower range of speeds a bike offers. I often say that under 80km/h, riding a motorbike is fun, and above that speed it’s work (and with a motorbike I’m not pedaling, just holding on to the handlebars). The same is true of a regular bike, except the cut-off point is more like 20km/h, and if the wind is blowing in your face like it was in mine, then you lose the feeling of fun the minute you sit down on the saddle. The only consolation I had was the hope that, heading back, I’d have a tailwind to push me along (somehow it never worked out that way.)
These young Dutch people are unbelievable: they scroll through their phones while cycling along, the way we might at a bus stop. This isn’t what annoys me most, though – it’s the number of mopeds riding on the bike path, and all doing well over 40km/h. What the hell are mopeds doing on the bike path? I had a look in the driving code and to my consternation it turns out this is perfectly legal, not just in Holland but throughout Europe. Meanwhile, in certain countries, the Segway, which cannot go over 20km/h, is banned not just from the bike path, but from whole cities. Ridiculous. (phica, 2019)

Inside a Dutch train


In Dutch restaurants do not expect complaisant customer service.  It may take 30 minutes before your dish arrives, and it may take half an hour before they give you the check. Waiters will not even apologize. (Tourists from the US are often boggled at such services.)

Netherlands - soused herring - m.j. photo

Netherlands - oliebollen (Dutch beignet) - a.g. photo

Netherlands - pannenkoeken (Dutch pancake) - m.b. photo


Many shops close as early as 6 PM.

Netherlands - cheese shop - Krista photo



Netherlands - legal - cannabis starters kit! - b.k. photo

Public safety


Netherlands - police


Netherlands - national flag - this could be the oldest tricolor flag - adopted in 1572 - "Prinsenvlag" ("Princeflag") - Nederlandse nationale vlag

Destination in brief

Netherlands (Holland) in brief 

The Netherlands is a northwest European country, a constitutional monarchy. Its neighbors are Germany (east) and Belgium (south). Both its northern and western coastlines are on The North Sea.

Size: 41,500 km² (25,800 mi²)   

It is a very flat country, with almost 25% of its territory at or below sea level.

Population: 17.1 million (2019) – 77% Dutch (native to the Netherlands) - 32.3% of the Dutch population are blond

The Dutch are the world’s tallest people: men’s average height is 184 centimeters (6 ft) and women’s 170 centimeters (5,57 ft)

86% of the Dutch speak and understand English. 

Official language: Dutch (West Frisian is a co-official language in the province of Friesland, in the northern part of the country) – Afrikaans and German are the closest languages to Dutch 

Religion: Most of the religious people are Roman Catholic or Protestant, but this is only about 20% of the total population, as 75% of the population is non-religious. About 7% of the population is Muslim. 

Capital city: Amsterdam is the official capital but The Hague is the seat of government 

Average net monthly salary: 2,280 Euro (2019)

Most frequent surname: De Jong

Dutch companies invented the CD, the DVD, WiFi, and Bluetooth

Big Brother and The Voice come from the Netherlands. The same Dutch TV producer created both and the TV shows have both been franchised in over 50 countries around the world.

The Netherlands exports a quarter of the world’s tomatoes.

Optimal timing for tourist travel: April-September

Most frequented tourist attractions: many places in Amsterdam, Windmills of Kinderdijk, Breda, Alkmaar, Den Bosch, Haarlem, The Hague

A (confessedly silly) selection of stereotypes about the Dutch: 

Polite, open-minded, travel a lot, do not like to be aligned, dull, well-organized, efficient, peaceful, the countryside people take care of their tulips at the foot of windmills, gladly the seat on a massive wheel of cheese, like sharing their determined opinion about everything, often wooden-headed, stubborn, incurably stingy (and they call it being economical), predatory in business, laid-back, they can even be happy if things are not getting for the worse


The Dutch language tends to be perceived as ugly. Dutch contains some harsh and guttural, retching-like sounds. No one would consider Dutch to be a romantic language.
Even the Dutch don’t seem to consider Dutch to be a romantic language.  For example, many couples would rather say “I love you” than “Ik hou van jou”.  Dutch may get their romance notions from American movies; Dutch movies tend to be quite crass when it comes to romance.

Dutch is not a particularly beautiful language when spoken, but it can be quite a beautiful language in the written word. Some of the beauty of Dutch is lost as the new generations tend to speak with less eloquence. 


There is a fear that with global warming occurring, the sea levels could rise, completely submerging the Netherlands into the sea.




“Both nature and the cities are very tidy and clean, while there are rows of shops offering various services and products even in smaller towns and villages. Getting on the train is like boarding a large national metro network – which incidentally runs at 200km/h – everything can be paid for electronically, etc. The Netherlands as I am just how I imagined America when I was younger, before I was confronted with its dark side, or as I imagined we would be living in 2030. When you cross the border into Belgium or Germany, you suddenly feel like you’re flying 50 years back in time: the tidy fields are replaced by weedy wastelands, there is dirt and trash in the cities, there are not so many shops, etc. It is as if the Netherlands has created a "mini future" for itself, which suddenly ends when you cross the frontier. How come Belgium, with much more money, or Germany with a stronger economy, have not been able to keep pace?”


“There is a lot of frustration, people from different cultures think differently, their habits are different... e.g. they are not dog friendly. These are such small things, but they lead to specific small conflicts... I don't know what the solution is, but it would be good in Europe if European customs were to remain (at least as the mainstream). For those looking for something exotic, go on holiday to Turkey... I just add that they are not friends of bacon, nor of miniskirts, nor of partners holding hands when walking, nor of gay people, or Jew, or women walking alone, or Christians, and they hate caricatures, work, each other, and purity.”


Dutch people are stereotyped as blunt or slightly rude, uppity, but cordial, helpful, clean or hygienic, gifted language skills, intellectual (some are smart alecs), and very pleasurable personalities.

Many Dutch are careless. If they accidentally step on your shoes, bump their bags or elbows onto you, they mostly won't ask for pardon or showing any sincere regret.

Dutch are proud of their bluntness. They even regard it as a virtue.

A culture shock may hit a foreign girl/woman when the Dutch boy/man asks to split the bill when on the first date.

Dutch take their work and studies seriously, but they know how to enjoy their free time and live to enjoy life, and they don´t let age get in the way of that.

People are very egalitarian, the distance between the lowest and highest employee is minimal, people are very informal.
Women are free to behave and dress as they want and are generally safe out on their own.


“On the bike path, if you don't move over to the right side and someone wants to overtake you, they will start ringing the bell immediately. The Dutch ride fast – once, for instance, I was overtaken by two boys riding side by side and chatting. However, if there’s an accident, they immediately rush to help. Their straightforwardness can be seen as aggressiveness by foreigners. If they don’t like the food, they don’t force a smile and say it’s interesting, or similar evasions. Euphemism as a concept is unknown to them, so they find it a hard phenomenon to grasp. There were some stories about the Dutch character in our Dutch class. The teacher told us some stories she had heard from an ex-tram driver.
As an example: it is said that tram drivers like to deliberately send new residents and tourists in the wrong direction as a joke if they ask for a street or place. But it’s not usually personal, it’s just meant as a joke. The tram was at the stop when a female student started banging wildly on several doors before finding a place to board – only the first and one middle door are for boarding, the others are only for getting off – then, still in a fluster, showed her pass to the conductor. The conductor saw it was a student pass, and asked what she was learning. "I'm a medical student," came the even more exciting answer. The conductor: “Then those doors would be long dead.”
I’ve heard from several people that they don’t understand irony. Well, in that case, if that’s true, then they have a whole different concept of humor. Even in our Dutch class, the teacher had a bigger laugh than anyone else in the group. We just smiled, but we couldn't laugh as much as her.


“The Dutch zealously preserve their traditions and are proud of their past. For example, by working hard to push back the sea, they brilliantly created their dam system. They are also proud of what trade has created over the centuries, not only in material but also in intellectual goods. there is a national awareness in the Netherlands that the tradition of the peasant way of life and respect for farming can coexist without rivalry with urban and scientific society. Many Dutch people are lovers of boating, and something recently occurred to me in connection with this: the stereotype of the Dutch on land – a bit distant, not too spontaneous, and happiest plowing their own furrow – is no longer the case on the water. In the harbors, people help to pull each other up from their boats, and picnic together on piers. If a small boat or a huge yacht passes by, people wave at each other.

They don’t tell white lies, so if they don’t like the coffee you brewed, they’ll say so quite directly. They’re happy to express their opinions in different areas of life, and if they mean no they’ll say no. At first, I took this a bit personally, but then I changed my mind: it’s better to hear an opinion clearly now than to find out later. That way, if the criticism is constructive, I have time to make some changes. Many people hunt for “aanbiedings,” that is, products on sale. Because of this, they are able to visit up to 4-5 different stores in one morning. In the Netherlands, it is not a shame to buy and save on discounted products, and thrift is a popular habit even among the wealthy. I found the attitude that fiscal prudence is a moral virtue very easy to like. They also sell chocolate chips in all quantities, colors, and shapes on buttered bread, often eating it for lunch, and some caregivers even think it’s healthy… Many of the kids ride their bikes even in winter, lightly dressed in the rain and snow, or worse, just sit on their bikes and freeze. They usually don’t just invite you to lunch or dinner if it wasn’t arranged well in advance, even if you’ve traveled a long way to meet them.”


“Dutch women are tall, thin, usually blonde, and very beautiful. Dutch women can be divided into a few basic types on the basis of their appearance, but within them, they are very similar. For example, for a long time, I kept mixing up several of my classmates. Their names are usually unpronounceable. They are extremely determined and full of self-confidence. They always know exactly what they want. They are very honest and quite open. They wear quite a lot of make-up, but their dress suggests that they prioritize comfort over uncomfortable but pretty clothes.”
“According to my observations so far, Dutch women are tough, independent, strong, determined, but also laid-back. They are tough because they are raised in the spirit of equality between men and women, so they cannot play the weak woman, cannot expect doors to be held open for them, are not necessarily offered a seat on public transport (even if they are heavily pregnant) and strong, because surely you have to be when you’re taking several children to school by bike at the same time. They are independent, go to work early to make their own money, do not like to be supported, an if a child comes, they put them in a crèche three months after giving birth so that they can return to work. They are determined, because when they have to stand up for themselves, no matter what the delicate situation, they are sure to know their rights and are not afraid to voice them either in the workplace or in public, while queuing. In addition, they are straightforward and practical, start working with wet hair in winter and summer since it saves time, just like applying makeup on the train or tram instead of at home. Nail polish is often worn, but while they like to apply it, they’re not so keen to remove it. Why bother, since it will be worn off sooner or later anyway?”
“Dutch fathers spend a lot of time with their children, taking them to school in the morning and putting them to bed in the evening. In fact, it is not uncommon for them to work four days a week and dedicate the fifth to their children. Mothers manage to find a good work-family balance by working part-time. That way, they get back into the world of work, but they also have enough energy and time left for the family. Their children are treated as individuals who can express their own opinions. They respect their personality and individuality, making them more independent and autonomous. Happiness is the measure of success, not school results. It’s also important for them to have the family together. They start the day with breakfast together regularly, and the kids can get a chocolate sprinkle on their buttered bread (really!) The point is to be together, of course, which increases their school performance and reduces behavioral problems. Grandparents are also an integral part of family life, regularly taking care of their grandchildren, which helps them develop attachments and enriches the emotional world of their children. It is also a relief for parents, allowing them to work or recharge.
School ends relatively quickly, and the whole afternoon is spent outside in free play, not homework. The Dutch saying is “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes." And yes, free play has an amazingly good effect on a child’s personality, intelligence, and healthy development in general. There’s not much competition for college admissions either; they teach kids to enjoy learning, to find an area they’re passionate about, and which they’d love to deal with in the future. They put a lot of emphasis on cooperation and empathy, not on individual results. Nor is it typical of mothers that they want to outdo each other; it doesn’t matter which one arranges the coolest birthday party.” (2017)


“In the Netherlands, you can always be sure that there will be a total stranger around to remind you of the importance of following the rules. Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been warned to turn off the lights on my bike (it was half-past nine in the morning, well after sunrise), take off my coat in a cafe (I had just entered), and park my bike at the designated spot, not leaning against a lamppost.
Just as the Dutch created their own country, so they wrote their own beloved laws and unwritten commandments. They seem to want nothing more than to give everyone instructions.
The first commandment of the Dutch is that Gij zult niet klagen (Mustn’t grumble!). That's why the answer to the question how are you? (Hoe gaat het met jou?) is: I can’t complain (Ik mag niet klagen).
The Dutch strenuously deny that they are patriotic, but cannot tolerate negative feedback. If you criticize either the country or their behavior, all you hear is: Als je het hier niet leuk vindt, rot dan toch op! (If you don't like it here, you can buzz off.)
The Dutch are quite individualistic and think straightforwardly. There are quite practical reasons behind the sometimes brutal sincerity of the Dutch. Straightforwardness means speed. Speed means efficiency. Efficiency means money.” (2019)

Tourist etiquette

1. If you ask a Dutch for his/her opinion about something, expect an honest answer.  You may not like it but tolerate that the Dutch will not put too fine a point on it.

2. The Dutch hate it when anyone walks on the bike lane. They may shout at you roughly.

3. Don’t assume all Dutch are tall and have blond hair and blue eyes. It is rude and insensitive to tell a local that, oh, you don’t look Dutch”.

4. Don’t insult or disrespect Dutch women. In the Netherlands, it is normal to dress lightly in the summer, but it’s by no means an invitation for catcalling or being harassed by horny male tourists from certain parts of the world.


,, There’s very little sense of hierarchy in the Netherlands. All people are thought of as equal. That can mean that anyone can speak to anyone else the same way as long as they express their thoughts/feelings honestly.
That can shock a foreigner who is used to certain deference towards, say, older people or those with a higher social standing. Most foreigners wouldn’t believe the way Dutch kids talk to their parents and teachers, for instance."



Netherlands - poffertjes (small pancakes, baked in iron skillet, traditionally served with melted butter and dusted with icing sugar) - r.k. photo

Netherlands - Stamppot (mashed potatoes mixed with mashed cole, cabbage and stew roll) - m.s. photo

Netherlands - erwtensoep (soup made with split peas, vegetables, and pork meat) - h.h. photo

Netherlands - Waffles are Belgian, stroopwafels are Dutch - d.s. photo



Population (in 2020): 109,400

Alkmaar - s.p. photo

Alkmaar - s.p. photo


Population (in 2020): 119,700

Leiden - i.s. photo

Leiden - Tom's photo


Population (in 2020): 290,500


Population (in 2020): 95,000

Delft - n.y. photo

Delft - g.a. photo


Population (in 2020): 290,600

Eindhoven - a futuristic building - l.l. photo


Population (in 2020): 147,600

Haarlem - Windmill De Adriaan - r.g. photo

Haarlem - Grote Markt (main square) - Ilona's photo

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