10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to the Netherlands
Looking to Visit the Netherlands? Read on to discover the ten things you must know before visiting the Netherlands in order to make the most of your vacation.
The Netherlands is an international city that receives millions of visitors from across the world. Just like any other foreign city, visitors encounter loads of challenges when preparing for trips to the Netherlands. The good thing about Netherland is that most residents speak English, which makes it easy to communicate with English speaking visitors. The Dutch are also helpful; hence, they can assist you when you face challenges making it easier for visitors to adapt and enjoy what this country offers.
1. There’s a difference between coffee shops and cafes
The Netherlands is among countries that tolerate the use of weed for personal use. As such, Marijuana is available readily, and it is common to see tourists going to Amsterdam just to try out the local flavors.
If you are looking for your regular latté, don’t embarrass yourself by ordering one from a coffee shop. A coffee shop in Amsterdam is where you will get Marijuana, and I’m sure that’s not what you want. Always ask for a cup of caffeine from the cafés.
2. The Dutch speak English, but you need to learn Dutch
Despite English being their second language, most people can speak English fluently. If you are an English speaker, the language barrier should not be a big concern as most locals can speak English well, especially those in Amsterdam.
It is, however, advisable to learn some Dutch phrases. These terms will help you to start conversations with the local people easily. You can get a local with a good command of English to help you translate dutch to English, or you can use https://www.translate.com/dutch-englishto learn the language on your own.
3. Always keep your bike safe
Bicycle riding makes a big part of Dutch identity. The Dutch love to cycle, and it is estimated there are about 19 million bikes for 17 million people in the Netherlands. The best way to explore the cities is by using a bike. You can hire a bike from the locals.
Bike theft is, however, a big problem. So ensure your bike is well locked up so that you won’t fall victim to losing your bike. Hired bikes come with a fixed lock to clasp around the wheel and a second lock to secure the frame of your bike to a pole. It is advisable to use both locks to make your bike difficult to steal. This way, you won’t have to incur losses of paying for the stolen bike.
4. Don’t take photographs around the Red Light District area
When you visit Amsterdam, it is disrespectful to take snaps of the girls in the windows. If you do, there is a chance they will come out, grab your phone and throw it to a canal. This is because they detest people taking photos of their profession.
5. There’s a non-existent queuing behavior
The Dutch don’t queue. You will be surprised how the Dutch enter the train or tram pushing hard in order to secure seats. To some people, this may come out as rude, but in Dutch culture, it is a normal thing. The Dutch are also known to be extremely direct, so the non-queuing behavior is something that is believed to have stemmed from their nature of being direct.
6. Street food is indeed nice
There’s delicious street food available in most cities. The cuisine is prepared in a Dutch-inspired way, making it tasty. Some of the delicious you can find in streets include;
- Frites which come with a heavenly mayonnaise sauce (also called patat)
Besides being mouth-watering, buying street food can help you save money while in Amsterdam.
7. A lot awaits beyond Amsterdam
The Netherlands is not only about Amsterdam. There is a lot of adventure and magic beyond the country’s capital. In fact, the best of this international destination lies beyond the capital. However, most travelers make a mistake of only planning an itinerary just to explore Amsterdam. Let your itinerary cover other cities to examine the depth of the traditional charm.
Another exciting region to consider visiting is The Hague, which is home to most of Netherland’s history, where you also get to learn about Dutch culture. Some other exciting destinations include;
- Maastricht, and
8. Be ready for sun, rain and everything in between
When you visit the Netherlands, be prepared for all-weather. You should expect plenty of sunshine during summer and snow during winter. Therefore, ensure you pack appropriately, especially when visiting Amsterdam. An umbrella and enough layers should help you get through such weather. Also, like most European cities, Amsterdam is best explored on foot, so be sure to bring flat sturdy shoes for walking.
9. Make your bookings early
Bookings in the Netherlands, especially in the high seasons, should be done in advance. Hotels in the big cities are usually fully booked during the summer seasons when tourists are many. Getting accommodation during this time can be time consuming and expensive. Consequently, booking in advance can save you a headache. It’s best to book your accommodation online before you even leave your country. The good thing about booking early – is that you can always cancel the booking some weeks before due date and therefore no losses.
If you plan to visit attraction centers, you must buy tickets online. Failure to book online will see you spend long hours in queues. In some other attraction centers like the Anne Frank House, there are few tickets available for each particular day. If you fail to book a ticket in time, you may have to wait until the following day to visit the place.
10. The Dutch are very direct
There are very few people in the world who are as direct as the Dutch. It is predominantly in the culture of these people to speak their mind without mincing their words. They are always brutally honest and tend to give a straightforward ‘no’ without providing further explanations. In most cases, other people perceive this as being rude.
Having known the lifestyle of the Dutch people and how they live amongst themselves, it will be easier to enjoy your stay in the Netherlands. Make sure you follow the best practices mentioned above to avoid snarl-ups when associating with the locals.