Netherlands, Travellers information

Netherlands

Introduction

Maarten Munnik has sent this information on the Netherlands, which Susan has added a bit to.

Why Go?

A few internet-sites about museums and attractions (all sites are in Nederlands, additional languages are noted):

Rijks Museum in Amsterdam - Paintings and Dutch culture. You can also see the site in Español , Italiano , Francais and Deutsch . If you can't get to the museum in person, the site is quite interactive, including a virtual tour (don't try it on a slow connection!)

Rijks Museum miniature ship.

Rijks Museum miniature ship

Madurodam, Holland in miniature. "Among many other attractions, miniature city Madurodam boasts the canal houses of Amsterdam, the Alkmaar cheese market and parts of the Delta Works, all replicated in minute detail on a 1:25 scale. Watch windmills turn, ships sail and modern trains traverse the city on the world's largest miniature railway."

Madurodam, Holland in miniature.

Netherlands Open Air Museum - Dutch old architecture and culture. Mostly in Dutch, but info on opening hours, prices and key dates are also in English and in Deutsch .

Netherlands Maritime Museum Amsterdam. "The Netherlands Maritime Museum is housed in the National Naval Depot, a former arsenal of the Dutch Navy that is over 300 years old."

Home page of the Netherlands Maritime Museum

Burgers' Zoo - A zoo with a special viewpoint. Site available in English, Francais and Deutsch .

Museumserver - A collection of all Dutch museums. "a platform for Dutch museums on the Internet. More than 250 Dutch museum sites are included in the Museumserver, providing you a fabulous show of art, culture, history and science from the Netherlands. Some parts of the English version of the Museumserver are still under construction. Our apologies for the inconvenience."

Efteling - Fairytale country. "Efteling is one of the leading family attraction parks in Europe. Each year, some three million people visit the World of Wonders in Kaatsheuvel, in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. They step into an enchanting adventure, right away from reality. Efteling presents fairytales, attractions, entertainment and events in a nature park covering 72 hectares. Fairytales are alternated with exciting and enchanting journeys of discovery through the different Realms. Entertainment on paths and in squares is a gay characteristic of the entire park." Susan: Sounds like Disneyworld! Site available in English, Francais and Deutsch . Not interactive, but very attractive site with lots of information about the park.

De Zaanse Schans - Old-fashioned Dutch town life. "The 'Zaanse Schans' is a characteristic living and working area on the River Zaan, with wooden houses and windmills dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth century. In museums, workshops and windmills you can experience something of how the Zaan-siders lived and worked..... " Quite good 'Guided Tour'. Site also in English.

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Getting There

Transport (to and from the country - e.g. ferries, air cargo)

To get to and from Holland by road, you can use Germany on the east or Belgium on the south. By ferry you can go to England (the west) but usually people take the "chunnel" (a tunnel to England from Caleigh, France to Dover, England). Reservations are not necessary, but often much more cheaper.

Also you could leave by air via Schiphol (Amsterdam) or by boat (Rotterdam).

Border Crossings

Inside Europe borders are open and check's are rare. Vehicle's don't need a Carnet and there are no "forbidden" items besides the usual stuff like fire-arms, drugs, exotic (endangered) animals (dead or alive).

Visa Requirements

Visas: European Union residents just need their EU papers to enter. No visas are required for travellers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the USA for visits of up to 90 days.

Usually "non-European's" need a "schengen-visum". This is valid for all "Schengen-country's" which includes most of Europe. It depends on your nationality if you need it, check at a Dutch embassy or consulate.

At this time the following list from http://www.buza.nl contains nationalities that do NOT need a visa.

Andorra

Argentina

Australia

Bolivia

Brazil

Brunei

Bulgaria

Canada

Chile

Costa Rica

Cyprus

Denmark

Germany

Ecuador

El Salvador

Estonia

Finland

France

Greece

Guatemala

Honduras

Hungary

Hongkong, BNO pasp.

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Korea (South)

Croatia

Latvia

Liechtenstein

Litouwen

Malaysia

Malta

Mexico

Monaco

Nicaragua

New-Zealand

Norwegian

Austria

Panama

Paraguay

Polan d

Portugal

San Marino

Singapore

Slovenia

Slovakia

Spain

Czech Republic

Uruguay

Vatican

Venezuela

Great Britain

USA

Iceland

Sweden

Switzerland

Carnet

Not required in Europe.

Riding Information

Road Conditions

Almost all roads are in good condition. There are no "toll-road" and Motorcycle's are equal to cars. They drive on the right side of the road. Highway's always have (at least) two separate lane's for both direction's but usually there are four.

Maximum speeds on motorway's varies from 100 to 120 and on other road's 80 Km/h. In town's it is 50, but 60 is usually excepted. Speed-check's are frequent and driving more then 5 Km to fast results in a nasty fine (30 euro for the first 10 Km/h) Foreigners usually have to pay on the spot. There are NO bribes and police is always polite, correct and helpful.

In and near towns you can find "speed bumps" but usually they are marked in advance.

During rain the white striping on the road can be very slippery.

On highways there is a yellow emergency phone every 1.5 Km. You can also use it for engine-problems.

Petrol / Gasoline

Benzine / Gasoline price's are high at 1 euro/ litre (approx. US$.90) but availability is very good (at least every 30 Km) and quality is high. (octane 95 and 98 are regular available).

Bike stuff

In most larger city's you'll find one or more bike-repair shop's. Since the bikers have a real community-sense they will do there best to help you. When you stand still along the highway, don't be surprised when the first passing biker stops to ask if you need assistance. Keep in mind however that bike-shop's are there to make money and thus are expensive. They won't try to hassle you and usually try to give you a good price.

Bike's are common in Holland from 50 cc up to 1600 cc, from 40 Km/hour "moppets" to 320 Km/h rocket's. Parts that need to be ordered usually don't take more that 2 or 3 day's. Tyre's are also available in so called "tyre-centre's" witch are a bit cheaper than repair shop's

Drive with your head-lights on. It is not obligated, but highly recommended. In some European country's it's obligated and in Luxembourg the fine is extremely high!

Sleeping

Almost everywhere you can find a camp-site (called "camping"), just follow the road signs. Prices vary with the facilities but for around 10 euro a night it's much cheaper then a hotel witch starts at 40 euro a night. Camping in the wild is not permitted, but you can ask a farmer for permission. A standard camping has toilet's and warm shower's.

When you're off the bike

Safety Alerts

Holland is a relatively safe country, but if you wander around the dark alley's of a major city in the middle of the night... you might get robbed or abused. If you don't go looking for trouble, it won't come looking for you.

The National (even international in Europe) emergency-phone number is 112. It's free of charge from every payphone and even on mobile GSM net's. In Holland almost everyone can speak English.

Although bicycle-theft is almost a national pride, you bike will be reasonably safe. Lock it and remove your luggage for the night. Don't leave it overnight in an area with bars and stuff, drunk people might damage it.

Bicycle in front of painted wall in Amsterdam

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General Information

Geography

Holland is flat. The highest hill is about 300 meters. Half of it lie's below sea-level. It's mostly farm and forest land. It's neighbour's are Germany (east) and Belgium (south). On the west there is the "north-sea" and in the north the "wadden-sea"

It's a small country, 300 Km from north to south and 200 Km from east to west.

It has a few (about 10) large city's, Amsterdam has 750.000 inhabitants and is by far the largest. The rest are medium and small city's and villages.

Weather / climate

There are 4 seasons which are moderate since Holland has a sea-climate.

Winter from December to February with temperature's around 0 Celsius and maybe some snow.

Spring starts in March and lasts to may. The weather changes from day to day bringing Storms with hale and rain and warm sunny day's. Average temperature is around 10 Celsius

Kay Forwood in front of a field of the famous Netherlands tulips

Summer in June, July and August with some warm (30 C) day's but also some rain. Average temperature will be from 20 to 25 Celsius.

Autumn starts in September and lasts until November. It's getting colder and colder with lots of rain.

Government

There is a queen, but power is in the parliament, which is chosen by the people every 4 years.

Economy

Economy is stable. No one needs to be "poor". Facilities are good.

Since January 2002 Europe has the same currency, the euro which is about US$ 0,88 or 0,61 British pound.

Communications

GSM phone's operate at 900 and 1800 mhz. There are pay-phone's everywhere and a phone-card can be bought at gas-station's, drugstore's, Tourist-office's and many more.

Culture

Holland is a land of many cultures. Especially in Amsterdam (the capital) you will see an incredible collection of different people and just sitting on a banch or a terrace, looking at the people, is a good waste of time.

In view of this, there are no dress-codes or "things you should know" Most people also speak English and are friendly but "mind their own business".

The original Dutch culture is to be found in places like "Zaanse Schans" (20 Km north of Amsterdam) and the "Open Aire Museum" (in Arnhem) where you will find original scene's of Dutch history and architecture. Much more then "windmills" and "wooden shoes."

Also there are numerous places you can visit that still hold the old Dutch feeling. Volendam, Enkhuizen, Alkmaar, Utrecht, Urk and Middelburg are a few, but also in the south-east (Limburg) you'll find villages where time isn't in a hurry.

For a view on the "East Indies Company" you can visit old (1600-1700) ships that have sailed around the world in Amsterdam and Lelystad.

Travel Diaries/Stories:

Grant & Susan Johnson's RTW trip - 1996.

Peter and Kay Forwood's RTW trip on a Harley Davidson - 1998.

Miscellaneous:

Sources for books and maps

In Holland you can get good map's at almost every gas-station, the VVV (tourist office) and the ANWB (automotive-club). In most city's you'll find a city-map on the side of the road when you enter the city.

Links to contact info - e.g. consulates, embassies

BOB - the Foreign Affairs Orange Book, lists almost all Netherlands embassies and consulates in the world.

Official Site of the Netherlands Board of Tourism. Lots of useful stuff and a good search engine to allow you to search for accommodation, including campgrounds, things to do, transportation, general info and practical info. The site also has city guides.

From this link you can also see the site in Español , Italiano , Francais , Deutsch and a slew of other languages.

Lonely Planet's website includes Facts for the Traveler, When to Go, Events, Money & Costs, Attractions, Off the Beaten Track, Activities, History, Culture, Environment, Getting There & Away, Getting Around, and Further Reading. They note under Health Risks: 'Cholesterol and spinning out, man', no doubt referring to the Netherlands' liberal laws on personal consumption of soft drugs.



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