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Netherlands Bed and Breakfast Inns

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Travel Bytes

(Travel Bytes are local area descriptions provided by people who live in the area or have travelled through it. These comments are provided as is so please excuse the odd spelling or gramatical error.

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The Netherlands is a small monarchy in the Northwest of Europe, between the North Sea, Belgium and Germany, known for much more than cheese, windmills, tulips.

Its recorded history starts with the Roman invasion halfway the first century A.D. but it had its heydays in the 17th century when it disputed hegemony of the Seven Seas with the English and the Spanish empires. In that period New York, parts of India, a series of forts along the African Coast and the Colonies in Indonesia formed part of the vast Dutch Empire.

Though most historic town centers in The Netherlands date back to the Dark Ages, most building was done in era of oversea expansion and in the nineteenth century when the country finally took the industrial revolution seriously. In Amsterdam, Leiden or Utrecht you can see the big 17th century mansions once owned by the commanders of the Dutch fleet and those of the rich merchants who financed the wars with their overseas gains. They were the Dutch elite by lack of real aristocracy. The preferred small items of great value stashed away in their mansions over baroque palaces. Though the Dutch never were really extravagant and did not have a real court like there were in Germany, France and Spain, they were very proud of themselves. This can still be seen in the countless portrait paintings they commissioned. They also were the patrons of the famous Dutch painters like Rembrandt, Van Hals or Vermeer.

Apart from the glory days of the 17th century there is much in the Netherlands to attract the present day visitor. Visitors will find a very open, relaxed and international atmosphere, some great museums with both modern art and historical chef-d'oeuvres. Due to the bombardment that levelled the city and the reckless renovations that followed Rotterdam is the only real modern town of The Netherlands (not to mention, the largest seaport in the world), not counting boring suburbs like Lelystad or Almere. Especially compared to mega cities like New York, London, Paris or even Cologne, the Dutch cities are all somewhat provincial and lacking the great gesture. Nonetheless places like Den Bosch ('s Hertogenbosch) and Arnhem are also certainly worth a visit, with the latter being close to the national park 'Hoge Veluwe'.

Maastricht is the most important city of the South. The atmosphere is quite different from the North. The town is pretty and is a good base for exploring the countryside as well as making daytrips to Aachen and Liege.

Because of its size and flatness The Netherlands is a great country to explore by bicycle. Public transport is another good option because parking is problematic in most town centers. Trains and buses provide excellent transport in the entire country, though in the eastern part it sometimes pays off to rent a car.

Finally, the young mainly visit The Netherlands for two characteristics:  the permissive attitude towards sex (prostitution is legal) and drugs (possession of small quantities of softdrugs for personal use is legal, and marihuana - in small quantities for personal use - is for sale legally in 'coffee shops' throughout the country). This, however, does not mean harddrugs are tolerated - nor is illegal prostitution. Both examples of leniency were instituted to better control these problems. The result is less crime and better working conditions for legal prositutes - a recipe slowly being picked up by the rest of the world. The Dutch always try to stay one step ahead though, and for several years now gay couples have been allowed to marry legally and properly, like any couple.

But Almere is one of the fastest growing not counting boring suburbs of the Netherlands and therefore worth a visit!

Featured Listing
Harborside House
Marblehead, Massachusetts, United States
Handsome 1850 home in the historic district overlooks Marblehead Harbor. Enjoy water views from the fireplaced parlor, the period dining room, and from the summer breakfast porch. Home-baked breads... [more]