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.
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.
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.
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.
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.