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Literary accounts of the Netherlands usually mention the country’s famous painters Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeyen, and describe it as the symbol of flowers, cheese, canals, ancient buildings, mills and wooden shoes.

While avoiding these stereotypes is hardly a possibility, the Netherlands are, first and foremost, a democratic, liberal-minded, economically and culturally well-developed European state.

Most cities here, including the cosy Rotterdam, the slightly old-fashioned Hague, the artistic Leiden, the ancient Utrecht, and the subtle Delft, are characterised by their formidable talent of making people fall in love with them. And let’s not even start on Amsterdam – sometimes called the Venice of the North – with its countless canals and bridges.

Spring is a Flower Paradise

The Netherlands are especially popular with gardeners, florists, landscape designers and dendrologists. They usually come in spring, when the country hosts the world’s largest flower shows and fairs, and the famous flower parades. The marvellous Keukenhof Park, situated in the city of Lisse, comes in full bloom at around the same time. It’s the most beautiful spring park in the world. March to late May, millions of different types of tulips, daffodils, saffrons, hyacinths, toffees, lilacs and sakuras come into bloom, while roses, azaleas, tailflowers and gerberas blossom a little later.

Since the park has a big admirer in the Dutch royal family, part of its display is situated in hothouses named after the family’s members. In honour of the princes and kings, only unique local flowers are displayed here.

On April 27th, the country celebrates the King’s Day. City streets are decorated in orange flags, flowers and balloons, people wear orange clothes (orange is the royal colour), and the streets host many concerts, plays and parades.

Summer is the Time for Travelling in Camper Vans

The Dutch like to spend their summers in campsites more than any other European nation. Slowly, their experience is also being adopted by visiting foreigners. One of the reasons for this is the wide selection of differently-priced campsites. The country’s industry is producing special equipment both for camper vans and campsites non-stop. In most campsites, one can rent comfortable summer houses, built for different numbers of people. We would advise you book a place in advance, though, as they vanish fairly quickly.

Autumn is the Time for Visiting Museums and Cafés

The best time to visit the country’s museums and art galleries is in autumn, when there are no crowds of students and no long queues at ticket offices. The country is known for its rich art collections, historic relics, artefacts of everyday life and architectural landmarks.

Once the soul is fed, one begins to feel an irresistible urge to sit down in a cosy Dutch café and enjoy some national dishes and the famed Dutch beer, of which there are hundreds of different types. By the way, the best places to try traditional dishes are the so-called “brown” cafés with darkly-coloured interior walls and wooden facades, decorated with ceramics.

The Dutch cuisine is strongly influenced by foreign cookery. The people of this maritime nation used to bring all kinds of recipes from a number of foreign countries. For instance, Indonesian dishes, which are highly popular here, reach us from the colonial times.

Traditional Dutch cuisine is dominated by fish, seafood, meat and vegetables. Service here, however, is fairly slow – waiters are often rather distracted, orders come in late and are often mixed up. This peculiarity is best looked at philosophically – just relax and enjoy.

Beer enthusiasts recommend guests visit Jopenkerk’s pub, situated in… a former church. Here you can order rare types of lager and dark beer. Just make sure you book a table in advance, as the pub is usually jam-packed on Fridays.

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