Mention the word Holland, and just about everyone will shout out about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. The folks visiting the coffee shops, might give a different answer. There's more to the Netherlands, its other name, than just this--if you're willing to take the time to get to know her.
The country itself borders both Belgium and Germany, and lies along the North Sea Coast. This is one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands, since you'll find five Wadden Islands full of sandy beaches, and ferries to shuttle you over. One of the best activities is mudflat hiking.
It's simple enough, just wait for the tide to roll out--and walk. It's best to take a guide with you who knows the tide table if you're not familiar with them.
Dotting the Holland landscape are the famous windmills, used to help with keeping the country from being flooded since much of the land is actually below sea level.
The capital city of Amsterdam isn't known for its windmills, but more for its liberal activities. The Red Light District isn't a family affair, best left to the adults walking along doorways filled with scantily clad women. This isn't the only adult entertainment, as there are all sorts of other "shops" for the open-minded.
Some minds, however, are focused only on Amsterdam's coffee shops. Best put this way--if you want coffee go to a cafe. If you want to smoke marijuana, go to a coffee shop. Most of whom don't allow cigarette smoking, but hash and pot are OK.
Ponder that as you head to Amsterdam's Flower Auction, a center more than 10 million square feet of the sweetest smelling buds on the planet. You gotta get up early, it's best to be there by 7am.
You can sleep in later if you're going to one of the Netherlands' Cheese Markets. All sorts of dairy delights are waiting for you. And if you want more flowers, the tulips at the Keukenhof Garden (all four million of them) await.
No matter what, no trip to Amsterdam should be without a stop to the Anne Frank House. A solemn reminder of Amsterdam's history.
On the lighter side, food is another great experience in Holland. Try the stamppot, made with smoked sausage and mashed potatoes--it's like a Dutch version of Bangers and Mash. Flemish Fries are a good snack, and usually served with mayo. And don't freak out wondering what a kip is, it's just chicken.
Wash your lunch down with a good Dutch beer. Perhaps you already have--Amstel or Heineken are two of the biggest and best brews around.
You can get Amstel just about anywhere in the world, but the blue/white Delft is best bought here. So are the wooden shoes that the Dutch are famous for; and you'll also find some beautiful crystal and glass pieces.
Getting around the Netherlands to all these wonderful places is easy. Excellent trains run from Schipol Airport to the City Center where you can catch all sorts of TRAMS and buses to just about everywhere.
For as many people visit the capital, it's an exceptionally quiet city--mostly because so many folks ride bikes, so less traffic noise to contend with. All you need is a passport or Euro Union ID Card. And with no major health concerns or risks, you're pretty much good to go.
Now, who knows where the best coffee shop is?
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