The Netherlands: Introduction | Topography | Facts and Figures | Polders and Dykes | The Dutch National Anthem | Dutch - the Language | Dutch Pronunciation | Dutch Grammar | Handy Dutch Phrases | The Dutch | Transportation in the Netherlands
The Dutch are, generally speaking, a happy-go-lucky liberal nation. It seems that patriotism is grown into their bones and insulting the Netherlands is not advisable. Otherwise they are a very tolerant and helpful people.
Tourists should have no problems finding their way in the Netherlands. Most Dutch speak English, German and French, and they are very helpful - at times maybe a little too helpful. Asking the way will inevitably lead to a discussion about where you come from, your family tree and especially what you think of the Netherlands. At this point lie if you have to, but do not say that you don't like the Netherlands. That could easily add an extra hour onto your conversation.
The Netherlands has traditionally been a densely populated country, so don't be surprised if you see houses that are the width of a door. You will notice inside a strange reverse rule: the smaller the house, the more furniture, plants and ornaments will be contained within it.
Traditionally the toilet is the smallest room in the house. And when the Dutch say small they mean small. Usually the only way of getting the door open is by standing on the toilet seat.
Applying the above rule means that the toilet has the most furniture of the whole house. A toilet is not a toilet without two plants, a birthday calendar on the door, reading material, an empty can of air freshener and a corny sign requesting the lifting of the seat.
The toilet itself has two major features that are different from the rest of the world. The one is so obvious no one can miss it, the other is infamous for its impossibility to find. Inside the bowl of the toilet the Dutch have installed a little platform. Originally this was to stop splashes occurring. The only reason the Dutch keep it now is that it has become irreplacible in discovering if you are sick.
The other discerning feature is the flush. A famous dutch game is find-the-flusher. Any dutch toilet can have a variety of flushers:
- a button on the pipe leading to the cistern
- a button on the top of the cistern
- a button somewhere else on the cistern (back, front, sides)
- a lever at the side or front
- a chain, rope or string (hanging anywhere)
- a foot pedal
- the pipe leading down from the cistern, which needs to be pulled downwards
A Dutchman or Dutchwoman would try to create a sfeer – or 'ambience' – in any room. This is invariably done by the addition of plants. Any room will have a variety of plants, ranging from simple to the most exotic rain-forest affair. The big drawback to the amount of plants is the fact that it is impossible to enter the room. Many a tourist have thought they'd been dropped in Madagascar instead of Amsterdam.
The prized possession of any Dutchy is a bike. This can range from a 21-speed racing affair to a rusty third-generation bike. Every Dutch person has one (or more) and goes everywhere on it. This means that you can never walk on the pavement due to the thousands of bikes that are chained to poles, gates, hedges and each other. As you will notice, the older the bike the bigger the chain.
The Netherlands is a very liberal country and this is most noticeable in the way kids are brought up. The typical Dutch parent's way of looking at it is, give them the freedom to do what they want. This usually leads to the fact that many Dutch children are little brats. That children are free to do what they want is most obvious in the fact that parents aren't allowed to use punishments like spanking, hitting, shouting or even kindly explaining that it is not good manners to kick people in the shins.
But that's true of most countries...
The Dutch currency is a gulden. The symbol is a ƒ. There are 100 cent in a gulden. Strangely enough there are no plural forms for gulden and cent.
This is all quite straightforward. But it is the strange coins and notes that the Dutch have that can drive you mad. Even worse is the names that they have for the money. The 5 cent piece to the 5 gulden piece are all coins. From there on they are all notes.
|1 gulden||gulden or piek|
|2.5 gulden||rijksdaalder, riks or knaak|
|25 gulden||geeltje or vijfentwintigje|
When going shopping, the cashier will always ask for a small coin to make your life difficult. They will always call it by its name and if you don't have it, will also give you a look to kill.
With the coming of the Euro on 1 January 2002, Dutch money became obsolete.