05-1992 & 12-1999
The Netherlands, which I’ve visited twice, is a small country with a big reputation for liberalism. It’s a land of bikes, blazing flower fields, mills and very few hills. That was the impression I got. While Amsterdam tops in any traveller’s itinerary, the landscape around the busy capital still makes it up for any visit. A side trip to Volendam and the man-made dams that turn the land below sea level into cultivated fields is really a must-see. Amsterdam itself can be a trip of its own. The downtown area, still kept in great condition despite the massive tourism, is a gem. The famous red lights district and the coffee shops come alive at night and a walk through them is well worth the trouble. The city canals are kept clean and a pleasant boat ride through them is a great start for the day. The Amsterdammers are really helpful and kind. Nothing is too shocking for this city that has managed to find the balance between the most extreme fetishes.
Other places worth stopping by are Rotterdam, a modern port city, Hague, the justice capital of the world and of course all the small villages in between that add to the perfect image of this small country. The endless, flat landscape can be seen as a cyclist’s nirvana.
While you try your best to find untouched spaces and solitude, you’ll discover a hard-fought-for land with proud people that have made the most of their country by their own hands.