A guest post
Arriving at Schipol, you can take a taxi to The Hague (around € 45) or for the budget conscious traveler, you can take the train (€ 7.90) to go to the Hague. Within The Hague, transport seems to consist of many, many cyclists, trams and cars. There are two bikes per Dutch person in the Netherlands, but despite knowing that the Dutch use bikes as the main way of getting around within the towns, it’s still a surprise to see all the people cycling to work, to the pubs, to the stores and pretty much everywhere.
When crossing roads, keep an eye out for the bike lane, the tram lane, AND the car lane. And you might want to obey the traffic lights as well, as the pedestrians also wait for the pedestrian crossing light to turn green before crossing, even in the absence of incoming cars. When being driven within The Hague, you might decry all the “wasted” driving lanes that are taken up by the bicycle lanes, but there is no overlapping from drivers into the bike lanes as the cyclists also seem to have significant cycling rights.
For accommodation in The Hague, there are a range of hotels to choose from. The Ibis hotel, part of a European chain is a pretty safe bet (€99 before tax), and is an environmentally friendly hotel, no frills hotel. Prepare for sticker shock for meals though as breakfast goes for €15.
You can get around even if you speak no Dutch, as almost everyone in the service and retail industry speaks English. Window-shop in the Noordeinde area which has really high-end shops located near the Noordeinde Palace. Make sure you soak in the old architecture while you’re there (Google says the Palace was built in the 16th century). The real shopping takes place in Grote Marktstraat where many retail electronics, clothing, shoes, bath & body retails chains have stores, and there are plenty of small shops that sell the distinctive blue and white Delft pottery.
To get the full tourist experience, take a day trip to Amsterdam which has great shopping and tourist attractions. The Van Gogh Museum and the Rijk Museum are must sees. For sightseeing and shopping, a good place to start is Dam Square where shops are flanked by waterways, and with tourists attractions like Madame Tussauds. Many of the international chains have retail stores in this area. Amsterdam isn’t, of course, Amsterdam without a visit to the Red Light District, so if you can, try and see that as well.
Biggest surprise about Holland? That the dikes aren’t brick walls that prevent the sea from flooding the country. They’re more miles and miles of mounds of earth. Oh, and this boy? He never existed as part of Dutch history. It’s an American children’s story!
More on the works of Vincent Van Gogh at Artsy.