This is going to be a post about debunking myths and upholding truths about the Netherlands and the Dutch people. First of all, some might say, after some confusion "Oh! The Netherlands! You mean HOLLAND!" Actually, North Holland and South Holland are the only two provinces out of twelve in the Netherlands that make up what used to be Holland. The national language is Dutch, which the Dutch call "Nederlandse" but "Dutch" sounds more like Deutsch" which is the German term for "German". Now that we've got that cleared up, let me debunk a few myths:
1. The dutch do not wear wooden clogs. They sell them so that tourists can buy them, not so they can make a fashion statement. Although, I did buy a pair of plush clogs to use as slippers... you caught me!
2. It is not common for the locals don't smoke weed. You would look like a huge foreigner if you were to frequent the coffeeshops.
3. The Red Light District is not a dangerous place. Prostitution is legalized in Amsterdam, and because of that it is very regulated and those regulations are highly enforced. The only reason there would be any danger is because it is a TOURIST area. Again, just like the coffeeshops, the Red Light District tends to collect foreigners who are likely to be targets of pick pocketing and theft, which is always a concern in a big city.
Some Truths are:
1. A bike is like an extra set of legs here. Men and women make the most out of their bikes, and if they have a family, it is not uncommon to see a Mother or Father with children strapped to the front and back of the bike, or have a special bucket in the front to fit many more children. These are usually kids younger than 6 or 7 because children start biking at a very early age here.
2. The Dutch love their stroopwaffles, drops (licorice), and vlaamse frites. Stroopwaffles are the best when you put one on top of your mug to let the caramel syrup inside melt a little bit. Drops are good for the throat when it's sore. And, the best place to get fries with mayo is Manneken Pis, also the name of a famous statue of a boy peeing in Brussels.
3. The Dutch are very direct. They are friendly and if you go to a brown café you will most likely strike up a conversation with a very nice stranger. To an American, they might think the Dutch are blunt, but not in a mean way.
I hope you liked my short introduction to Dutch myths and truths. I will be going to Brussels this weekend, so I will talk about that and other places I've gone in the Netherlands next time. Goedemiddag!