Weekend trips and long vacations to the Netherlands

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My girlfriend and I have traveled almost everywhere we could within a days drive from our house. One place we haven't been is Holland. We're just going to hop on the A3 and drive there on Thursday. We need the break after everything that has happened the past 3 weeks.

 

We're heading towards Haarlem just west of Amsterdam and hoping to camp on the beach. We're not going for a pot tour or to check out the red-light district. We just want to get away and see something new and this should be easy, even if we hit a few Staus. I won't be taking my surfboards as my jaw is way too weak for that kind of adventure. The weather looks beautiful and we have the gear - just camp, watch the dog and enjoy the Euro beach life for the first time.

 

Any advice or suggestions? Thanks!

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We were just up there, the flowers should still be blooming.

 

We did the Keukenhof flower show, but it was spendy and crowded. You can just drive around in the local area and see fields of various sorts, a bit south and west of Amsterdam.

 

They have a little windmill museum area nearby as well. Zaanstad. Free admission to area, pay to get into individual windmill museums.

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I'd recomment a visit to the island of Marken. It's not really an island anymore as it is connected to the mainland. It's on the otherside of Amsterdam but nowhere's far in The Netherlands. It's an old fishing village and the locals quite often dress in National costume, for the very good reason that they like wearing it! It's awhile since I've been there, but I seem to remember Haarlem is quite nice, I've got some relatives there I think. Further south near Den Haag (The Hague) is Scheveningen which is a popular seaside resort, famous for it's sandcastle competition amongst other things. I'm not sure about sleeping on the beach, even if it's allowed, but it can get pretty windy on the Dutch coast, the North Sea can get a bit wild!

One tip, don't try speaking German to the Dutch, stick to English, they speak it better than a lot of native speakers and while they're very fond of the Germans money, you could come across a bit of anti-German feeling. Generally the Dutch are a friendly easy going bunch, but it isn't Bavaria so watch your valuables.

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English, they speak it better than a lot of native speakers and while they're very fond of the Germans money, you could come across a bit of anti-German feeling. Generally the Dutch are a friendly easy going bunch, but it isn't Bavaria so watch your valuables.

I've got some Dutch friends who I ski with and have learned this ;) Very cool people. They are down in Chamonix right now (as I should be).

 

I got offered a job at the Hague. No thanks. At least not yet. :)\

 

Looking forward to this road trip. I'll post some pics when we get back. We're doing this west coast American style - just go and figure it out on the way :D

 

cheers!

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Good advice from everybody above, including speaking English rather than German! Get to British General Stores on Eerste Constantijn Huygensstr. in Amsterdam. I think it's on tram 2 from Centraal Station. There's a website which gives transport directions, in any case.

 

In any case, it's not very far, and you will be able to get all the Brit food you want for you and all your TT friends there. Be sure to leave the car OUTSIDE Amsterdam if you don't want to pay the high parking fees, and just take a short, relatively cheap train ride from Haarlem, instead.

 

There's also a store called Tijn's near the Albert Cuyp market that will get you American and Mexican foods...not everything. It's not a mecca like BGS, as these foods are a sideline, but it's a lot cheaper there than the American food store on Leidsestraat near the Leidseplein.

 

Anyway, bring lots of cash, and some sturdy bags to haul it all home.

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Anyway, bring lots of cash, and some sturdy bags to haul it all home.

By the way, 'Grass is really greener on the other side of the fence' (Holland/Netherlands), but don't carry any amount of grass, when you are traveling back. The German police might bust your @rse! :P

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Hoge Veluwe is one of my favorite places to go besides Amsterdam. I love the Kroeller-Mueller museum and riding bikes through the naturepark. In the park the bikes are free, you just take it and go and leave it where you want to leave it in the nature park when you're done riding it.
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Further south near Den Haag (The Hague) is Scheveningen which is a popular seaside resort, famous for it's sandcastle competition amongst other things. I'm not sure about sleeping on the beach, even if it's allowed, but it can get pretty windy on the Dutch coast, the North Sea can get a bit wild!

You cannot sleep overnight on Scheveningen beach, it's patrolled, but there are some campsites nearby and the Ibis isn't terrible if you get bored of camping.

There's a Turkish restaurant on the beach which has great fish, but there's some reasonable choices along there.

 

And of course Crazy Pianos - it's an experience, aye.

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We stayed on the Amstel Boatel in Amsterdam its like a prison ship in the Harbour. it was cheap clean and just a short walk from the Railway station and centre of town.

 

This was some years ago but it cost very little. we then drove on to Denmark and toured sweden . great holiday.

 

We love the Dutch people they have a great sense of humour and are very kind people.

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One tip, don't try speaking German to the Dutch, stick to English...

Are they offended if you just start speaking English assuming they do too or should you politely ask first if they speak English? I should visit Holland too since everyone here thinks I'm Dutch anyway. :rolleyes:

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Don't ask if they speak English right off, unless you want to see Dutch arrogance off the block. "Of course," is the only answer, barring very few of the younger generation, who understand it anyway, even if they don't feel as confident about speaking it. Even very old ladies seem to understand English, but I would only ask politely if the person was much older than you. Else, the only intro is a smile--and that is enough to please their ego, that they have the upper hand.

 

While nice, the Dutch are extremely arrogant. Punt uit.

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Haarlem is quiet compared with its big brother Amsterdam (which I know much better) but still worth visiting. Forget your car and hire bicycles. Follow the specially marked bike route to see the interesting parts of town. Details from the VVV (tourist office).

 

On May 5th pop festivals or “Bevrijdingspop” (celebrating liberation in WW II) take place in the NL including Haarlem. Visit the “Grote Markt” (central market square) where there is usually something happening, e.g at the moment there is an amusement fair. There is a weekly market held there too which is not full of tourists. The cafés around the square are pleasant. Keukenhof does indeed get full, but is still worth visiting. April is the month for flowers in and around Haarlem.

 

There are only a few coffee shops so you won’t be tempted much, but if you are, quality and price can be better than in Amsterdam. The red-light district is small.

 

Bloemendaal aan zee (Bloemendaal on Sea) has several camping sites and is just 30 minutes away by bicycle.

 

If you’re going to use public transport, save the hassle and extra cost of buying on-board and buy a “Strippenkart” (multiple ticket) which is valid for all PT in the NL. Available from tobacconists, railway and/bus stations etc.

 

Most younger people speak English, but most all people will appreciate it if you can say a couple of words (e.g. hello, goodbye, please, thank you) in Dutch. The Dutch aren't arrogant. Outside the main tourist areas they can be surprisingly conservative, but are no more arrogant than anywhere else.

 

HTH

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Shit! It's April. Don't go until you can include April 30, Queen's Day. It is the BEST day ever to be in Holland. All the Dutchies are in a good mood, there's beer in the streets and live music on the Museumplein and all around A'dam. (All the other cities celebrate too.) Then, too, it's the only day the Dutchies can have their Garage Sale/Car Boot Sale and everyone's got their stuff out on the streets. It's so much fun, you'd be wrong not to wait to include that day, if you can tweak the timing of your agenda.

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@Heath--ever work with them? They all say they know how to do X...and ends up they can't. They are like the Japanese in their inability to admit weakness. They will never say directly that they can't do something. I could list a ton more examples. Basically, act like a tourist. If they see you as a money making opportunity, they will be on their best behavior. Interesting folks. I'm not damning them full stop, but they have their ways, so much so that it makes me laugh to hear folks complain about Germans, not getting how interesting their near neighbors are. Spend some time there...it's eye opening.

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Hoge Veluwe is one of my favorite places to go besides Amsterdam. I love the Kroeller-Mueller museum and riding bikes through the naturepark.

That is one of my fav parks and museums.

 

I really liked the Tulips gardens of Lieden (spelling?) and smaller places like Delft, Ouedwader (spelling?) are also special little places. I stayed at a hostel north of Amsterdam near the Sand Dune National Park in Castricum. Nice place about a 2K walk to the beach.

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@ funf: Yes, I have spent a lot of time in the NL and have worked with people there. Could be that you have had a bad time – but I haven’t. It’s true that the Amsterdam character can be different, but that often happens between a large well-known city and other parts of a country.

 

Don’t act like a tourist! Just be a normal visitor. Many tourists make problems for their countrymen by over-indulging the relative freedoms of Amsterdam and elsewhere, which really irritates me too when I experience it. I try to argue that they are just individuals and don’t necessarily represent their whole country (difficult when they very often come from the same two countries). Unfortunately, such behaviour has now resulted in political pressure to reduce certain freedoms – which doesn’t exactly improve the attitude of the locals.

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@Heath, I think you are right that A'dam has a different flavor to other places. I lived there five years, so yes, I met some Dutch folks I still call friends. That said, come on, there IS a baseline arrogance to the general population. Anyway, imo.

 

I love Holland, go back when I can, but still have days I have to shake my head. Most times, with laughter, thank goodness.

 

Example. I'd just seen a guy jogging in freezing cold wearing a jacket, mittens, and a g string. No one batted an eye. Then I take out my brush at the computer at the library, and a woman gives me an earful about the toilets being the place for that! wtf? Running in g string--no comment. Brushing your hair--get an earful. I reminded her that the Dutch are tolerant and mind their own business.

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We had a great trip to Holland. It was a bit frusturating finding places to stay (we did the trip by the seat of our pants) but it all worked out. I still was/am feeling pretty lousy from my injuries, but we made the most of it and had fun. The weather was great, the people were super nice and the towns were great to explore. We ended up staying in Valkenburg the first night as we got a bit of a late start that afternoon. The next day we drove to Haarlem and then toured that city for a few hours (very cool) then headed for the beach. The camping there was less than desirable and I was a bit turned off by the beach scene. Just not my cup of tea. So, we headed back down south and stayed in Den Bosch for the night. We had a great lake behind the hotel for taking walks and letting the dog loose and had a good time touring the city.

 

We'll definitely be going back up there in the near future. So much more to explore and see. I don't know if we'll drive again, however. The entire highway system seems to be under construction! I've never seen anything like it! Staus everywhere and even with a GPS, it wasn't all that easy getting around detours and construction zones. I did get a lot of great pictures. It's a very picteresque country for being so darn flat!

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It was a bit frusturating finding places to stay

 

 

even with a GPS

Looks like you had a GPS. Couldn't you use the POI feature and find the nearest hotel, from where you were? I'm asking so, because last weekend, I also drove up to 'Zwolle' in Netherlands, for some work and used my GPS system, to find hotels.

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We had a dog with us and that made things tough. We had planned to camp and found out a lot of the campsites didn't allow dogs either. But, to answer your question, we did use the GPS to find our hotels. We'd stop in at one, ask if they took dogs, the answer was always no, but they would then help us by calling other hotels they knew that took dogs to see if they had vacancies. They were all very helpful.

 

PS - I'm a certified GPS trainer. I know how to use them ;)

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