Netherlands (Holland)/tips of Holland

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Question
Good day Steven. We are planning to visit Holland for a week and planning to visit Rotterdam, Gaaga, Amsterdam and some small villages on our ways to these cities. Can you give some tips about these? I am interested in everything (food, souveneres, excurtions etc..), maybe the things that tourist can not to know - would like to know Holland inside)
And also i am interested in flee markeys in these cities and i have heard about a big outlet in Amsterdam - can you tell me how to get there and the address of it?
And I have heard about the excurtions to the cheese farms in Maasdam or in Edam how is it possible to orgonise?
Thank you very much

Answer
It has been some time since I went back to Holland so parts of your question I'm not really up to date on. I will advise you on things and places I do know about. I hope this will help you
You should be able to find answers to your other questions at www.holland.com. So here goes:
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Here is some information on things to do and see in The Netherlands (actually, Holland is the name of a province, but just about everyone uses the name for the whole country).

In Amsterdam, the public transportation around the city and the train service to other parts of the country are excellent. However, if you want to see things like de Haar Castle and the Kroller-Muller Museum the easiest way would be to rent a car and use Mappy.com (see next paragraph) for directions.

There is a great website for maps and driving directions in Europe: www.mappy.com. You could use it to print out driving directions virtually anywhere in Holland or any other country. The basic website for the country is www.holland.com. I would use that website for general information and ideas. By the way, as far as safety in Amsterdam and other cities is concerned I never had any problems in that area, but A'dam is a metropolitan area so I would just use common sense, as you would in any strange city.

If you want to do more extensive browsing in general, www.johnnyjet.com might also give you some useful leads on travel-related websites.

Now some recommendations for things to see:

In Amsterdam, the first thing to do (if you have not done so before) is take a tour boat ride. Take a city map with you, and mark the location of things that interest you as the boat passes them. Then you can go back after the boat ride. The Anne Frank House, for example, is one of the most popular attractions in A'dam.

Public transportation is excellent in Holland, so whatever you can't walk to in the city (or country) you cen get to by bus, trolley or train. You can even rent a bike and take it on the train with you.For museums in the city, the two most famous are the Rijksmuseum and the van Gogh Museum. Both are great museums, and I highly recommend them (assuming you're looking for culture and not just Heineken). Speaking of Heineken beer, the brewery is near the Rijksmuseum, and they have an excellent tour, with samples.

Of course, the famous Amsterdam Red Light District is worth seeing. Be careful about taking pictures of the women and windows, though, as they don't like it. I'm not saying don't do it, but don't be conspicuous about it (if you want to amuse your friends back home, there's a large statue of a phallus in the District).

Frankly, my favorite museum is in Utrecht, a short train ride from A'dam. It is the Museum  Speelklok (Musical Clocks). It's a short walk from the Utrecht train station, and is relatively small (the tour takes about an hour), but they demonstrate dozens of fascinating mechanical music devices and it is well worth the time. See www.museumspeelklok.nl, and click on the little British flag for English text.

Not far from Utrecht (if you can get transportation) is de Haar Castle, one of the most beautiful in Europe (www.kasteeldehaar.nl), and in the small town of udewater, between Utrecht and Gouda, you can get weighed on the historic Witches Scale and get a certificate proving you are not a witch (www.heksenwaag.nl, click on the link at the top for English language). By the way, that certificate is a wonderful souvenir, and the scales are part of history, not just a tourist attraction. They go back to the Spanish Inquisition.

There is another tourist town, called Volendam, north of A'dam, that is picturesque, but is purely tourist. The thing I really enjoy there is the small photo shops, where you can dress in traditional Dutch costumes, complete with wooden shoes, and have your picture taken in an old Dutch living room setting.

Another interesting museum, north of Arnhem, is the Kroller-Muller Museum, which specializes in van Gogh and his more modern contemporaries. For more info get on the Holland website, click on Amsterdam, then Museums, then More Museums, and you will see the link to Kroller-Muller. When it comes to art, this is my favorite museum. It's not nearly as big as the Rijksmuseum, but it is out in the country, and has a great outdoor sculpture museum. It is also not far from the Openlucht (Open Air) Museum (which you mentioned in your message), which is a bit like Disney's Epcot, but devoted to the old Holland. I would highly recommend a visit there in conjunction with the Kroller-Muller Museum.

There are, of course, many other things to see and do in Holland. These are just some of my favorites. Browse through the holland website and you'll see lots more. But in my opinion, the best thing about this little country is its people, most of whom speak English (and Dutch and French and German), and almost all of whom genuinely like visitors.

Have a great time!

Steve

PS: Almost forgot. Find a good restaurant for pannekoeken. These are large crepes (pancakes) with almost any kind of topping you can imagine. I happen to like apples, cinnamon and powdered sugar. This, by the way, is dinner, not breakfast. Also ask for a good Indonesian restaurant and try Rijsstaffel (don't let the "j" in Dutch words fool you. It is pronounced like our "y"). This is a dish of white rice surrounded by small dishes of various goodies, which you mix with the rice. These are a couple of the Dutch peoples' favorite treats (mine too...).

Netherlands (Holland)

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Steven Kleid

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If you are planning a trip to The Netherlands and would like some information on places (like the official witches` scales) that most tourists never hear about, I would be happy to provide a few suggestions from my 3 years in that beautiful little country. Here`s one right off the bat: Don`t limit yourself to Amsterdam!

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I was stationed there for 3 1/2 years, as the principal Public Affairs officer for the U.S. Air Force. In 1998 I received a citation from the United States Ambassador to The Netherlands for "...significant contributions to the fostering of friendship between the peoples of The Netherlands and the United States."

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