The Netherlands

I have visited the Netherlands many times and enjoy every visit. It seems like I discover new things every time. Be it my South African background, but I really like the place. The FOOD. The PEOPLE. Just every thing. The Dutch are very hospitable people and their food incredible. A huge variety, well prepared and very, very tasty. They like their spices … check out the history of the Dutch East Indian Company and you will also understand why Van Riebeeck was sent to South Africa.

The Netherlands is a small and flat country. The Dutch have been very successful in recovering land from the ocean in fact it is most probably the only country in the world where land area INCREASES, rather than decreases (losing out to the sea). Known for its windmills, excellent cheese, and tulips, it is an experience that you will never forget.

For many, Amsterdam is synonymous with drugs and prostitutes. I did, however, found on my last visit that restaurants are not tolerating drugs (although legal) and tell patrons that they will be asked to leave if they use drugs. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. The ladies of the “night” sit in huge windows, scantily clothed, in order for customers to inspect the “goods!” But, there is considerably more to Amsterdam than getting stoned and laid.Amsterdam-Bridge

Central Station is a must, as there is so much to see there and the surroundings area. Should you visit, you will inevitably end up at the station as you will be using the excellent Dutch transportation system to get around.

Things to see/do in Amsterdam
• Damrak
• Rijksmuseum
• Anne Frank museum
• A canal trip
• De Bijenkorf (incredible store with incredible cakes!)
• Eat an “uitsmyter”
• Visit as many restaurants as you possible can
• Drink a lot of good Dutch beer
• Make sure you order a dish with sate sauce
• Church square
• Eat at an Indonesian rijstafel (rice table)
• Keukenhof

I can go on and add much more to the list, but the best way to see Amsterdam (as is the case to wherever you may travel) is to WALK, WALK, WALK. Talk to the locals and ask them what you see, where you should go. If you are “shy,” go to the local i and inquire there. Built around gragte (canals) Amsterdam can be very confusing, so make sure you have a map with you at all times.

During my last visit, I stayed outside Amsterdam in a campground. It was inexpensive and beautiful. The bus would pick one up outside the campground and drop you at the metro station (it is about a 20-minute walk away) and in no time would one be in the center of Amsterdam. The beauty of staying here is that it is within walking distance to nearby neighborhoods with outstanding restaurants and pubs. It was at one of the restaurants that I “discovered” sate sauce. An absolutely must when you visit the Netherlands (btw, recipes are available on the internet, however, a fair warning: One gains like 20 pounds by just looking at this incredible sauce, let alone eat it!)

Because the Netherlands is such a small country, I strongly recommend day trips, and top of my list would be Delft, famous for its blue and white pottery, appropriately named after the town. Traveling by train is very inexpensive and the rail system is very thorough and trains run regularly.

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