Category Archives: Netherlands

Netherlands

What It’s Like To Go To The Netherlands Now

I honestly hadn’t even thought about going on a proper holiday this year. I’m reading about bloggers losing their identity because they can’t board a plane, wear a fluffy bathrobe or cross a border. I didn’t feel any of that, so I guess it may be the final wake up call to consider changing Teawashere to a homebody blog.

Netherlands declared itself ‘open’ during the 2020 Eurovision Special. I only went at the end of August and although this was mainly a family visit I did do some touristy things and ventured to some hotels, so I thought I’d share what it was like visiting and staying in the Netherlands in these crazy times.

Make sure to check your country’s current guidelines on visiting the Netherlands before heading out.

St Pancras Eurostar

Getting the Eurostar to the Netherlands
The Eurostar was a hit-and-miss really. One way it was busy and stressful, and they even put people from different households across each other in a four-seater! The staff was not walking back and forth so you couldn’t get your seat changed. Eurostar automatically changes your seats at the moment, so I recommend checking where you sit before boarding. On the way back there were literally 5 people per carriage and everything went smoothly, so it really depends if you travel on a busy day.

Using public transport
You have to wear a mask on public transport and almost everyone did. When they were not wearing it (correctly) I’ve seen drivers and train conductors reminding people to wear their masks the right way. Mind you this was the local bus in the countryside, and I didn’t spot any while in the big cities. I also saw the buses getting a quick clean at the station, and even if it’s not a deep clean, I guess every little bit helps.

Eating out
In NL, you can sit and eat inside, something I hadn’t done yet in the UK. At all places you either have to scan a QR code and answer questions and at others you have to fill in a card¬† gives you a sense of safety. Once you’ve completed that you get walked to a table and then you can order as usual. Going in for the first time was nerve wracking, but once the food was there it was back to normal for a bit and I eventually got used to it.

Going to a supermarket
The times I’ve been to the supermarket in the UK I’ve worn a mask, mainly because at my local ones you can’t really social distance without someone breathing down your neck. Now in the Netherlands, every person has to take a cart (or basket in smaller supermarkets). In theory this sounds good, but in practice it was messy and people still did breath down my neck. Perhaps because people are used to it or knew their way round and felt more comfortable up close. Every supermarket had a station with gel and paper towels. I did go to one place that had a stand where your hands and your cart got a proper disinfection sprayed on you.

Playing tourist
Just like everywhere else, there was a decline in tourists, something I saw when visiting Rotterdam, for example. The last time I visited the Market Hall and Cubic Houses during August it was packed, now it was mainly locals and some Germans, but nowhere near as busy. It was nice to have the space for yourself, but it also didn’t feel right in a way. As usual, there was hand gel and screens for staff at some of the tourist sites I visited.

buffet breakfast is not dead yet

Staying in an accommodation
Staying in a small bed and breakfast hotel outside the big city didn’t feel any different to normal, except when they asked to disinfect your hands and whether you had any symptoms. But as there was enough space nothing felt different. The only thing that was different was that breakfast was table service only. You filled in what you wanted the day before and it then got brought to your table.

The big city hotel chain experience was a bit more in your face. There were plastic screens at the front desk, hand gel stations everywhere, clean pens to fill in the corona form, but you did get your key card as usual. The lifts were also restricted to two people with floor stickers showing where to stand. There was no housekeeping if you stayed more than one day (though you could request it). Also, you might want to know that buffet breakfast isn’t dead! To avoid overcrowding they just ask you for a time slot, there was a one way system in place and more things were wrapped individually.

Netherlands

Beyond Amsterdam: 6 Must Visit Cities in the Netherlands

You might be surprised to know that there are actually other cities in the Netherlands aside from Amsterdam. Who’d have guessed?! So when you’ve had enough of the canals, the red light district and special ‘cafes’, try going a bit further afield. And since the country is so tiny you can easily take a day trip to many of the cities via the technological wonder of the train. Today I am sharing why you should visit a few of my favourite cities and some recommendations on what do and see.

Where Should I Go? Groningen

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 2 hours 18 mins by train

Tell me more – I went to college in Groningen, so it’s kind of my city and I always try to encourage people to go to the far North and see why I love the place so much. It’s a lively university town so there is always something going on for us youngsters (I’m still young right??!). Groningen is a bit like Amsterdam, quite hip, easy to walk around and young, but without the zombie hoards of tourists.

And? Climb the Martini Tower for stunning view of the city, have a robot serve you drink at Mr Mofongo and get a hipsterlicious bite at de Uurwerker.

Where should I go? Rotterdam

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 41 mins by train

Tell me more – Rotterdam used to look much like Amsterdam, but it was completely levelled by the Germans near the start of World War II (May, 1940 to be exact) – so now it’s the place to go to see and snap wide avenues filled with eye-popping modern architecture – I’m talking to you ‘De Rotterdam’.

And? The reason everyone heads to Rotterdam these days is the Market Hall – where food market heaven on earth is situated in a surreal horseshoe/arch mash-up. Also get your culture hat on a check out some art at Bojimans van Beuningen Museum and don’t forget to see the infamous Cubic houses which look like a game of Tetris which went terribly wrong.

Where Should I Go? – Haarlem

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 11 minutes by train

Tell Me More – I have a special place in my heart for Haarlem so I might be biased, but it has one of the most beautiful city centres in the Netherlands and visiting the city feels a lot like stepping back in time without the horrible diseases, smells and bad fashion.

And? Check out a gig at Patronaat, head to the Dollhuys Museum or have fries at Friethoes – they are my favourite fries in the Netherlands and I have a tried a lot (and got hips to prove it).

Where Should I Go? The Hague

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 41 minutes by train

Tell me more – The Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands, but don’t let that put you off. If the weather is nice, skip the Hague and take a tram to the city’s seaside resort area of Scheveningen. There you can enjoy the beach, the miniature city of Madurodam and the see the impressive palatial style Kurhaus Hotel.

And? – If the weather is bad go to the Hague proper and see the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting (it’s not Scar Jo sadly) at the Mauritshuis Museum, go to the M.C. Escher exhibition at de Paleis and if you are interested in law and politics, put on your thinking cap and go to one of the international tribunals.

Where Should I Go? Utrecht

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 26 mins by train

Tell me more – Just like Groningen, Utrecht is a student city and there is always something going on and new places opening every week. One of my best friends lived here and I spend a lot Friday’s and Saturday’s dancing at Tivoli and trying to get rid of my hangover at the Village.

And? – have a burger at my favourite drool-worthy Dutch burger joint: Meneer Smaakers, go to a 90s or Zeroes Heroes party at Tivoli or have a fine brew at the Village.

Where Should I Go? Maastricht

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 2 hours 30 mins by train

Tell me more – It is located in the far South and is actually so non Dutch that it makes you wonder how it ended up in the Dutch borders. Maastricht has a Burgundian vibe, a beautiful old city centre with historical buildings, old walls and little alleys that whisper ‘explore me’.

And? Visit the Dominica Bookshop which is located in an old church and looks like something out of Harry Potter, stay at design Hotel Townhouse and go to Coffee Lovers for what I like to call heart-attack-in-a-cup.

Have you been to any of these cities? What did you think, and do you have any more NL city suggestions?