"The Netherlands, bigger than you probably think" Netherlands by OlafS
Netherlands Travel Guide: 31,780 reviews and 86,414 photos
Warning: these pages contain personal opinions. Read no further if you have a problem with that. And don't complain either when you're not prepared to actually read. It's perfectly easy to give a negative comment on any of my tips, but please have at least the decency to read that tip before you do!
The main purpose of these pages is to give factual information about The Netherlands to anyone who want to learn more about this country. I want to provide a different view on cliches and misunderstandings about my native country. Facts, not propaganda advertizing. Whether that's convenient for others or not. If others want to repeat the cliches, that's their business. Allow me that I don't.
Why? Because the government won't do it. They leave the task of tourist promotion to commerce, and therefore you're shown a very commercial image that is superficial, only partly accurate and definitely very incomplete. On purpose. To fool you.
This page is an attempt to correct that image. It contains general information about the Netherlands. For information about locations see my other pages. I've made pages about many places, but in addittion you can find tips about smaller towns and villages in my pages about provinces.
The Netherlands. A country:
- that is actually called Holland,
- is mostly below sea level,
- live in windmills,
- are greedy,
- still wear traditional dress and wooden shoes,
- are all addicted to drugs,
- all speak excellent English,
- grow tulips,
- are all ooooh so tolerant and neat and
- almost all live in Amsterdam because the country isn't much bigger than that.
Are you still there? Yes, those clichés are scary, aren't they? Imagine your own country being described in clichés, how would you feel? Or do you actually believe in them? Well, none of these "facts"are true, they're cliches and misunderstandings. But many tourists still think this is what The Netherlands is about. And why not, this picture is not that much different from the one that is officially promoted. Unfortunately our government does not care the slightest bit about accuracy. Cliches sell, and money is more important than accuracy. Our government and tourism promotors want you to come to Amsterdam, perhaps make a short trip to Volendam or De Keukenhof, but that's about it. Amsterdam, tulips, windmills and wooden shoes. They don't really want you to see the rest of the country. They don't even want you to know what this country is REALLY like. Why not, you may ask? Well, because they don't care much about the rest of the country to begin with. The international image of "Holland" has been built up so carefully that anything that might distort that view is considered bad publicity. This also explains that the west of the country has become some sort of standard, and that other parts of the country are often called "completely different than the rest of the country" by people who haven't actually seen all of the country. Of course regions differ from each other, but there's no standard. This image is especially painfull realizing that most of the other identities are older and better preserved in their purity than that of Holland.
And the bad thing is, many people from the Netherlands repeatedly confirm the image because they believe that it is what you, the tourist, want to hear, even though they often know better themselves. Not me! I prefer to give you another look at my country. Not a complete one, definitely not a perfect one, but at least it is an honest one based on my own knowledge, research and experience, not copied from travel books and government brochures. I'm not going to paint you a picture that's prettier than the model, but I will show you parts of her beauty that others won't reveal. You decide if you want to see them. Oh, and I'll try to explain who or what we are. That should be fun.
It's probably like that everywhere in the world. Hardly anybody ever sees the smaller places, except perhaps one or two close to the capital, if it's not too much of a fuss to get there. But in this country there are so many small but great places it's really a shame hardly anybody notices them. In fact, it's frustrating. I feel like I'm a chef in a top class restaurant where you can eat the greatest things, but all the people ever order is baked beans, sausage and spam. Believe me, I don't dislike big cities, I really don't. But although these often are impressive collections of great architecture, for me they rarely beat the charm of smaller towns and villages. And yet, few people ever see these places. Hardly anyone sees Kampen, and Veere mainly attracts tourists who already happen to be nearby. Many people pass Ravenstein by train or car, but few take the opportunity to actually see what it's like. Shame. I'm not going to tell you that you should visit these places that I like so much, I can't force you anyway, but I do strongly recommend you to at least see one or a few other places than Amsterdam, and I'm not talking about the ripoff that is known as Volendam. See my pages!
- Pros:Very diverse country with many historical towns
- Cons:Only the clichés are promoted well, if you want to know the real country you'll have to do your homework
- In a nutshell:Give it a go, and look beyond the obvious!
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