"What is true about our country and what not ?" Netherlands Travelogue by tompt
Netherlands Travel Guide: 32,494 reviews and 86,815 photos
Some people have an image of life in our country that is not entirely true. In this travellogue
we will give some examples.
Holland (or better Netherlands) is a small country with 16 million people living here. Therefor we
have not much open space left. And for the ones that thought that space was filled with the cows,
who provide milk to make our famous cheese. You are wrong! Some cows have the
privilege to roam freely in the green meadows, but most cows are in a stable all the time like
the next picture shows.
This cows live in this stable all their life. They have everything they need here. Food, water, a brush to scrub when itching. Their waste is falling onto a floor with holes in it. An automatic cleaner is pushing all the dirt through the holes in the manure cellar. They can walk or lie down, just what they decide to do.
Do you think our entire country is filled with windmills ??
You are wrong..........
There are 1.048 windmills and 108 watermills left in our country. Zuid-Holland is the province with the most windmills (220), and province Utrecht has the least (33).
Why then is our country famous for its windmills? There are countries with many more mills. Well it is because the windmill symbolises our struggle against the water.
About half of our country is under sealevel. We live 5 meters (15 feet) under it. And our houses and land are protected by dikes. Like this dike we were standing on taking a picture of Veere. But water is sipping through dikes, and rain that is falling on the low part can't flow into the higher sea. Therefor we used the windmills. Today it is mostly done with electric or diesel mills.
Anybody here that thinks our country was once saved by a little boy (Hans Brinkers) by putting his finger in a hole in the dike ??
Sorry, but that is just a story..... written by the American writer Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), in Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.
As the two previous stories stated not our entire country is below sealevel.
This map of the Netherlands shows which part is below sealevel and the parts higher up.
The dark blue is below sea level.
The lowest point in our country is 6 meters below sealevel and the highest point is 322 meters above.
Nobody is expecting any of us walking on wooden shoes.......do you ??
Well it maybe surprise you but there are a lot of people still walking on them. The wooden shoe is a great safety shoe and shields against moisture. So it is used often by farmers, or people who work in the flowergrowing business.
And there are people so used to it they wear it in their free time too.
Find wooden shoes in our rural areas.
Bikes are the best transport in Holland ......
Yes that is really true, at least for the cities. Where you beat traffic on your bike.
But also to make trips in the weekends. We have a very good network of special bicycle paths.
When driving a car here be aware.....cyclist use to think they have absolute priority everywhere on the roads. And when you hit one our law says you have to pay for the damage, just because you are in a car!?.
Once we were standing in line somewhere in Canada and the cashier asked the two boys in front of us if they were dutch. No, they replied, we are from Sweden, but why do you ask?
The cashier said all dutch people are tall. Next was Gonnie, measuring 1.56 meters, and she stated: i am dutch..
The canadian cashier will probably never state a prejudgemental idea.
Statistics however say the average dutch men is 1.80 meters, and the average dutch woman is 1.68 meters. That is a world record...... so the cashier was right and Gonnie is an exception.
By the way Tom is 1.86 meters, and looks real dutch.....
It is not always raining here. Sometimes we have these real dutch skies, like in the picture.
Statistics show that it is only raining here for 7% of the total time, that is only 600 hours a year.
The wettest year in the last century was in Vaals in 1966 with 1382 mm of rainwater that year. The most dry one was in Stavoren in 1976, only 353 mm came down.
In 2003 we had a great summer with no rain to be mentioned and high temperatures around 30 Celsius. Up till end june 2004 it is terrible, lots of rain and on the 23rd a real autumn storm.
The bottom line, be prepared for the worst and the weather could surprise you in a good way......
Why are there so many questions in the forum about coffeeshops? Is it because people asume we all use drugs?
first: most of us never even tried the stuff.
second: it is not legal ! You just won't be arrested.
Why can you buy and smoke marihuana in a coffeeshop then?
In order to get things under control politicians thought it was best not to punish people using soft drugs. So they decided to allow shops where you can buy and smoke it, but only in small amounts (max 5 gram).
How about drugs outside of the coffeeshops? The law prohibits everything to do
with selling or buying drugs, but it is not illegal to use it. So you won't get arrested for
smoking it on the street, but you can't buy or sell it.
How about the dutch people?
Are they polite, and helpfull?
Well it depends on how you are asking for help...... Asking a dutch if they speak english will not help you a bit. Because almost everybody does, and it is often considered an insult when you ask it.
If you bother asking the way in German you will probably be send in the wrong direction, just because it is german.......
If you don't ask at all, we will not bother to help either.
(this all may sound strange, but you will get the hang of it)
In general, dutch people are very direct. They won't try to say something tactfully, but just confront you.
Depending on your point of view, this is rude, tactless or refreshing.
Sometimes i ask people why they visit our country, and what they like about it. Very often the answer is: the dutch are so relaxed.
Well i am absolutely not agreeing with that! Government is even having a campaign to persuade people to take it easy, to leave some blank spaces in their agenda, and that of their children.
We are are always running from one appointment to the other, we want to do everything.
Why then do visitors have the idea life here is relaxed?
Maybe because the only thing we take time for is dinner. No hurry when we are eating, dinner in a restaurant will take at least one hour and often more hours.
Or maybe because the visitors are on a holiday and don't experience the workingday of the dutch, only the leisure times. And i must agree we have a lot of leisure time, because of the minimum of 20 vacationdays a year (most companies give 25).
Does everybody work here? No unemployment is high (9,1%). And many of us don't work a full week. The Netherlands has Europe's highest rate of part-time working.
(Gonnie for instance is working 4 days of 8 hours.)
More facts and fiction to follow here.....
Some remarks of non dutch living here:
- Dutch people take their own bags to the supermarket to pack their groceries in.
- Almost all Dutch people can swim and skate.
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