Yes, it has nipped me in the bud. I didn’t do enough research on the place so i was quite taken by surprise by many things.
I’ve finally visited the place where one of my favourite novels, “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green was set in. To be honest, I didn’t travel all the way to the Van Houten House or tried to find (amongst hundreds of benches) the specific bench that Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace sat on, or the Restaurant they dined in (way too expensive!). I even foolishly thought the Bones Park was in Vondel Park, and walked the entire length of the Park only to find out that it’s actually in Chicago. Silly me!
Anyway, if you’re going to the Netherlands… Here are some good to know tips so that you don’t get pulverised by the differences they have there (especially if you’re from Asian countries).
- Tulips are their national flowers.
- The Dutch love them so much they even made tulip shaped umbrellas and hats. They’re extremely adorable! If you’re bringing your sweetheart there, buy a bunch of tulips to give it to her as a sweet gesture and softly whisper to her what your green-coloured tulips mean… each colour has a different meaning.
- The people have steel bladders. Don’t count on public toilets to abound.
- Could this lack of public facility have come from the idea, “Go Dutch!” You’re on your own while I am on mine. These precious public commodities are scarce. However, if you’re in desperate need of relieving yourself while outside, a cafe along the street should most likely have a toilet – though that comes with a price (buy their wares, get their receipt for the toilet code). A mall toilet would cost you a heftier amount. Pee before you leave the house. Drink minimally! Think camel.
- It’s a country overrun by artists!
- I mean, from the Vincent Van Gogh museum to Anne Frank’s House to the Rijksmuseum, there are hundreds (i daresay) of art houses everywhere you turn! I even visited a bakery museum. They take a lot of pride in their art history and culture, and the richness of that spirit prevails very strongly there. Personally, I thought both Anne Frank and Rembrandt House were very intimate and interesting, and they’re easily my favourites. If you’re a sucker for storytelling – these two mini museums will be like exploring a story in-real-life! The only setback in this gorgeous art-country is the pricing of the museum’s entry tickets :(
- There’s a zoo in the city
- The Artis Royal Zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. It also contains an aquarium (utterly awe-full) and a planetarium (which shows were conducted in Dutch). When I visited the place, there were pumpkin patches at every turn, beautiful statues, neatly trimmed hedges and golden autumn leaves hanging wistfully on branches of huge trees. What a wonder.
- The Dutch are quite good in English
- Some of them have the accents of Germans or Americans when they spoke English to me. Don’t talk to your friend about them in English if it isn’t anything good. They can understand what you’re saying!
- Cheeses are one of their specialties
- If you visit Amsterdam, you had better prepare yourself for a steady diet of cheese and diary goodness! I enjoyed the smoked cheese tubes (goat cheeses are the healthiest, followed by sheep then cow) but they come at a high price! Edam City, a lovely city along the fringes of Amsterdam’s city centre, is actually the birthplace for the world-famous Edam cheese! Dutch Cheese, or the brand Old Amsterdam Cheese are one of a kind.
- Their “coffee shops”
- Space mushrooms and high pies. Brownies with bombs! If you have no idea what i’m talking about, you need to google these terms. The City is awash with these shops. The expression get high is taken very literally here.