Amsterdam – The Northern Tour
I find organised coach tours an interesting mix of pros and cons.
- You can’t get lost and if you’re late in returning to the coach, you’ll not go unnoticed because of the scarf or abaya.
- You may get curious glances, but once you start talking, people become friendly quickly. I made friends with two lovely american ladies who had just come from touring Venice.
- Expensive, but some include free admissions to attractions, highlight key areas in a short span of time.
- In crowded cities with parking issues – esp in Amsterdam where everyone takes the bikes you’d be crazy to take a car.
The first tour I took of north Netherlands included a working traditional windmill (which are a dying breed), which milled flour which is still currently used and was definitely mixed with rat/mice droppings – I’ll have to block this thought through the rest of my trip if I don’t want to end up in hospital due to malnutrition, on the other hand I could be poisoned with rat droppings – but no one seems to have raised it – so I guess they’re “ok”. Needless to say I won’t be buying flour from Amsterdam, not that I needed to anyhow =). On the other hand, my husband really loved the croissants in his morning breakfast for some reason. If the restaurant has a cat – that is a good sign!
- Dike which is keeping most of Netherlands from going under.
- Steam train – Which I had in my bucket list.
- A visit to small towns and villages like Hoorne.
Unlike UK where many shops source chicken which is usually halal, here we mostly saw Doner and got sick of it quickly. It’s texture is unappetizing- reformed meat with lamb chicken, and maybe even horse and donkey meat. Lunch was in a small village where we had 1.5 hours to roam around and get to know the culture, found a doner shop here too – they’re everywhere. One of the most common thing i saw people eating were fried chips which are a national food of some sorts.
When we got back, we took a free ferry across the river to the northern side – the only place we could find a 2* hotel borderline hygiene at £90/night – it was a muslim area as there was an Anatolian restaurant and a mosque. Free Wifi was a God-send to plan the next few days.
Things to note:
- You’ll see lots of Muslims, people in headscarf’s, and abaya. You won’t feel out of place.
- Holland is used synonymously with The Netherlands, but Holland is actually a part of Netherlands.
- The people are Dutch as is the language. Denmark and Germany (Deutschland) are completely separate things. Deutsch and Dutch are different words – something I only realised recently.
- The English spoken by most people I encountered was very clear and eloquent – no need for a translation guide.