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View Full Version : visiting holland....an old darkstarian post.


mr_G
14-03-2006, 13:34:02
Traveller essentials Facts at a glance Culture History Get Around
In a country where you can get a sex change on the national health scheme, and where Hilde and her two dads can share a joint to celebrate that she likes boys too, why does the washing up always get done straight after dinner? The Netherlands has managed to combine liberal attitudes with one of the most orderly societies on earth, in a community which manages to be radical and sensible without being silly or staid. The Dutch aren't bogged in their clichés, even though bikes, dykes, windmills and blazing flower fields are pretty much the norm outside the major cities.

For travellers, the integration of the clog and the microchip works well. The Netherlands is easy to travel in and the locals are friendly and speak excellent English, but towns are still surrounded by canals and castle walls, the endlessly flat landscape which inspired the nation's early artists still stretches unbroken to the horizons, and the dykes still occasionally threaten to give way.
Environment
Although the Dutch have the cute habit of calling anything higher than a speed bump a mountain, the Netherlands is largely a flat and soggy bog. Most of its land has been reclaimed from the sea over the centuries and the drained polders are protected by dykes, very few of which are plugged by little boys' fingers. More than half of the country lies below sea level and only in the south-east Limburg province will you find hills. The Netherlands is bordered by the North Sea, Belgium and Germany. The Rhine is the major river, slurping up runoff from the proper mountains in Germany and Switzerland and slopping it out all over the flat lands.

One of the country's worst disasters hit in 1953 when a high spring tide coupled with a severe storm breached the dykes in Zeeland drowning 1835 people. To ensure the tragedy would never be repeated, the Delta Project blocked the south-west river deltas using a network of dams, dykes and a remarkable 3.2km storm surge barrier which is only lowered in rough conditions. In 1995 the largest mandatory evacuation in the Netherlands since the Zeeland disaster was carried out after heavy rain in France and Belgium caused the Meuse and Waal rivers to flood. Some 240,000 people were relocated from Gelderland, the region based around Nijmegen, due to fears that dykes along the two rivers would burst.

Forget about wilderness in the Netherlands. This is Europe's most densely populated country, but it feels like the most organised place in the world. The western hoop of cities including Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam is one of the most densely populated conurbations on earth and even out of this area it doesn't get exactly isolated. Towns often blur from one to the next, linked by highways and bicycle paths. Neat, flat, muddy fields and tame and pleasant woodlands act as buffers; there are even places where you can hear the twittering of birds above the constant traffic drone.

The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate with cool winters and mild summers. It can get pretty drizzly here, especially in autumn and spring when it can seem as though it's going to be grey forever. But because the Netherlands is such a flat slab of a place, changes sweep through quickly when the wind starts to blow.
When to Go
Hordes of tourists snap their way around the Netherlands in summer, but there's no denying that this is the best time of year to sit by the canals for a sip and a toke. Spring is a good time to visit as the bulbs are in bloom - April for daffodils, tulips in May. If you can be in Amsterdam for Koninginnedag (April 30), do it! Rain is spread pretty evenly over the year, so there's not much point trying to avoid Dutch drizzle. Winter can get bitingly cold, but the museums are quiet and if everything freezes over, there's great ice skating on the canals and flood plains.

MOBIUS
14-03-2006, 22:20:52
Summarise please!

mr_G
14-03-2006, 22:37:31
rotterdam beer cubic houses

MOBIUS
15-03-2006, 00:54:57
Oh, you mean like wot we did!?:beer: