Before I made all those travel preparations, all I knew about Holland is that it is famous for tulips and windmills. Actually, those are the main reason why I included Holland on our Europe travel list (unfortunately, tulips were not available during summer so we’re not able to visit tulip farms). After having this memorable encounter of the Dutch culture, Holland proves that there’s more than just being known for tulips and windmills. There are a lot more to see and a lot more to experience in this wonderful country.
Holland is famous for it’s excellent cheese and considered to be the largest cheese exporter in the world. This is not surprising for the country is rich in fertile and green pasteur that’s perfect for raising dairy cows. We were lucky to visit a Cheese House in Amsterdam which offers different variety of cheese (goat cheese, smoked cheese, herb cheese, etc.)
Every Dutch owns a bicycle, regardless of status. It is also said that bikes are twice the number of cars in Holland. You will notice in every road, there are bike paths and bicycle racks, and also bicycle parks. When we had our Canal Cruise, we passed by the fietsflat or known as the bicycle building where more than 3000 bikes are parked. Amazing indeed!
We had our canal cruise in Amsterdam and it was absolutely amazing! Holland is famous for it’s beautiful canals, it is even added to the list of Unesco World Heritage in August 2010.
Tulips are always associated with Holland as they are beautifully grown in this rich and fertile land. We were just unfortunate for not being able to visit a tulip farm because of the season. We just visited the Flower Market in Amsterdam which sells a lot of tulip bulbs. There were also flowers on sale, but no tulips.
Windmills are also one of the popular Dutch icons and there are over a thousand windmills in Holland. We visited the windmills at Zaans Schans and they are absolutely stunning. They are being used for drainage, milling oils, paints, spices, etc.
6. Clogs (Wooden Shoes)
It was interesting thing to attend and watch the clog-making demo at Zaans Schanse. These wooden shoes are manually crafted by creative hands of the artisans. It was also explained to us that some were being produced by machines to make the work easier. Clogs are still being worn in some rural areas in Holland.
7. Arts (Rembrandt & van Gogh)
Famous Dutch painters such as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Vincent Willem van Gogh were one of those nation’s pride when it comes to arts.
Amsterdam has been considered as the City of Diamonds. For years, it is known for diamond trades and diamond cuts. Actually the popular diamond cut which was developed there, called the “Amsterdam cut”, is now known worldwide. I’ve taken some photos of the diamond factories in Amsterdam and in Zaans Schanse but we did not go on a tour.
9. Beer (Heineken)
Well, who doesn’t know Heineken?
10. Coffee Shops
There are approximately 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam (you know I’m not talking about caffeinated drinks). Dutch has a special tolerance when it comes to soft drugs (as hard drugs are not allowed there). Five grams of cannabis or marijuana is the maximum allowed quantity for a person (except for minors) to possess, otherwise you will be jailed. And also 5 plants of cannabis is the maximum allowed to grow at home. We did not go to any coffee shop, but we were surprised to see some cannabis seeds being sold at the flower shop.
11. Red Light District
So aside from soft drugs being tolerated in Holland, Prostitution is also legal. This country has adopted a modern and liberated approach on its citizens, understanding that these things (sex and drugs) are part of being human, instead of implementing a strict law against these things.