1353 BT Almere
GPS Latitude (N): 52.195611
GPS Longtitude (E): 5.130163
9433 TJ Westerbork (Zwiggelte)
9433 TJ Westerbork
De Slingeweg 20
De Slingeweg 20 7115 AG Winterswijk Holland
7234 ST Wichmond
Vierhuisterweg 72, 8919 Ah Leeuwarden
6027 RD Soerendonk
Soerendonk, North Brabant
The Netherlands (also popularly, though inaccurately, called Holland in English, in Dutch Nederland) is a Benelux country in Western Europe, facing onto the North Sea and the United Kingdom and bordered on land by Germany and Belgium. The people, language, and culture of the Netherlands are referred to as "Dutch".
The Netherlands is administratively divided into 12 provinces (provincies). The western part (Holland) is the most industrialized and about half of the population lives in and around this area. It consists of
The southern Netherlands have a distinct cultural identity because the population is (or was) largely Catholic. The two provinces are
The northern Netherlands is the least densely populated region:
The eastern provinces are
The Wadden Islands, five inhabited islands off the north coast, lie in three provinces (North-Holland, Friesland, Groningen).
The Netherlands has many cities and towns of interest to travelers. Below is a list of the most notable.
- Amsterdam - capital and main tourist destination.
- Alkmaar - historic city north of Amsterdam.
- Groningen - capital of the province of Groningen.
- Haarlem - historic city and capital of the province of North-Holland.
- The Hague- seat of the national government, seat of the International Court of Justice and capital of the province of South-Holland.
- Maastricht - historic city, capital of the province of Limburg.
- Rotterdam - Port city, second largest in the world, after Shanghai.
- Utrecht - historic city, capital of the province of Utrecht
- Zutphen - ancient medieval city in the central-eastern part of the country, very well preserved center.
- Breda - historic city, with beautiful historic buildings but also pretty modern architecture.
Groningen won the award of 'best city center' in the category of 'large cities' for 2006; Zutphen won the same award in the category of 'medium-sized cities'.
A car is a good way to explore the countryside, especially places not connected by rail, such as Veluwe, Zeeland and The North Sea islands. Driving in the Netherlands is normally quite pleasant - the motorway network is dense, roads are well-signposted, and Dutch drivers are among the least aggressive in Europe. However, this one of the most densely populated countries in the world, so be prepared for heavy traffic and congestion in all but the northern part of the country. When driving in cities, always give priority to cyclists when turning across a cycle lane. If you are involved in a collision with a cyclist, you will be automatically assumed to be guilty (until proven innocent). If you only wish to see cities a car is not the best option. Due to limited road capacity and parking, cars are actively discouraged from entering most bigger cities.
Drive on the right. The speed limit in build up areas is 50 km/h, sometimes there are zones where there's a maximum of 30 km/h. Outside of towns speed is limited to 80 km/h (this includes most N-roads). On some local roads the speed limit is 60 km/h. On the highways the limit is 120 km/h except on some roads where the limit is 100 km/h. On a few highways in the west of the country the speed limit has been reduced to 80 km/h since 2005. During rush hour signs above many roads indicate the current speed limit. On semi-highways and some of the N-roads the speed limit is 100 km/h.
Your speed will be checked nationwide by the police. Drinking & driving is not allowed and there are many breath controls nationwide. A unbroken yellow line next to the sidewalk means no stopping, a broken yellow next to the sidewalk means no parking. Some crossings have "shark teeth" painted on the road, this means you have to give way to the other traffic. Note that police also use unmarked traffic surveillance cars, especially on the highways.
If your car breaks down on the highway you might go to the nearest roadside emergency telephone; these "praatpalen" can be recognized as they are about 1.5m high, yellow and have a rounded bunny-eared cap on top. This is the direct connection to the emergency and assistance services. Alternatively, you might use a mobile phone to recht the ANWB autoclub via toll-free number 0800-0888; your membership of a foreign autoclub might entitle you to discount rates on their services. Leased (business) cars and rental cars are usually serviced by the ANWB services included in the lease/rental price; but you may want to check any provided booklets.
If you are involved in an accident, both drivers need to complete and counter-sign a statement for their respective insurance companies (damage form/"schadeformulier"). You are required to have this form on hand. The police need to be notified if you have damaged (public) property (especially along the highways), if you have caused any sort of injury, or if the other driver does not agree to sign the insurance statement. It is illegal to hit and run. If the other driver does this, call the police and stay at the scene. The emergency telephonenumber is 112 (tollfree, will even work from disconnected mobile phones); the telephonenumber for non-emergency police presence is 0900-8844.
Road signs with directions are plenty, but having a map is useful, especially in cities where there are many one way streets, and getting from one part of the city to another is not always so straightforward. Be careful not to drive on buslanes, often indicated with markings such as Lijnbus or Bus, nor on cycling paths, marked by the picture of a bicycle, or by a reddish color of asphalt.
Fuel is easy to come by. Along highways many gas stations are open 24/7. More and more unmanned gas stations can be found, even along highways, selling petrol for a lower rate. These unattended stations accept all common debit and creditcards. All gas stations sell both petrol and dieseloil; the "premium" brands have the same octane level (they alledgedly contain compounds that improve fuel efficiency to offset the higher price). Liquid Petroleum Gas is sold at relatively many gas stations along the high ways, but it is never sold in built-up areas. The symbol for LPG gas is a green-colored gaspump-icon, set beside the general case black-colored gaspump-icon. LPG fueled cars need regular petrol to start the motor, and can also be operated using strictly petrol, though it is more expensive. Do not use diesel oil pumps meant for trucks to fuel your cars; while the diesel oil is the same, the pressure is much higher.
Parking fees within cities can be pretty hefty. When considering to go to bigger cities, especially Amsterdam, but also cities such as Utrecht, Rotterdam or even Groningen, seriously consider going there by public transport to avoid traffic jams and the great difficulties involved in finding a parking spot. Many cities use clamps or will tow away your car if it is parked too long (or in a handicapped spot). P+R park and ride facilities are available at the outskirts of bigger cities; you can park your car cheaply there, and continue your journey via public transport. Note that Amsterdam is the only city that offers public transport at night, apart from the night trains.
Traditional highlights are pancakes (available in 'pannenkoekenhuizen'), mashed potatoes with carrots and bacon (hotch-potch 'hutspot') and pea soup ('erwtensoep' or 'snert'). You'll have to go to a traditional restaurant to find this however.
Other "typically dutch" foodstuffs are:
- Chocolate sprinkles ('Hagelslag'), used to sprinkle on top of buttered slices of bread (much like jam),
- Chocolate spread on bread,
- Bars of unadorned chocolate,
- Dutch peanut butter on bread, which is considerably different from e.g. US peanut butter. Sometimes topped with chocolate sprinkles,
- A bread roll with butter and a slice of cheese for lunch, rather than more elaborate lunches,
- Dutch coffee (dark, high caffeine grounds, traditionally brewed),
- Oranjebitter (orange, bitter liquor drunk only on Koninginnedag), jenever (a sort of gin), Dutch beers
- Rookworst (literally "smoked sausage"), available to go from HEMA outlets,
- "Limburgse vlaai" (predominantly in the South) a kind of cold pie, usually with a fruit filling.
Some of these "typically dutch" foodstuffs taste significantly different from, but do not necessarily improve upon, specialties from other countries. For example, while Dutch coffee and chocolate can instill feelings of homesickness in expats and might be seen as "soulfood", fine Belgian chocolate and Italian coffees (espresso, etc.) are considered to be delicacies.
Drop (liquorice) is something you love or hate, you can buy all kinds of varieties. You can get it from sweet to extremely salty (Double salt).
Modified: 2007-02-19 19:06:51+01