The windmills of Kinderdijk are a UNESCO World Heritage siteImageTarod/Wikimedia Commons
Things I Didn't Know About HollandText Ambica Gulati
Holland is a country where tulips reign, windmills go round and round and bicycling is common; it is a place where nature smiles and people laugh. That is why it’s on my wish list! But there is much more than that to this beautiful land in the heart of Europe—for example, polders and paintings, food and footwear.... Let us take a quick look at some of its attractions.

KOREAN REVELATIONS

She smiled and said, “I am Korean, brought up by Dutch parents.” She had come all the way from Holland to find her biological family in South Korea and to know why she had been given up for adoption. A journalist, she lived a good life in Amsterdam, but the quest to find the womb from where one has come always creates turmoil. She started talking about Amsterdam, her home now. And out popped some interesting facts about a country little known to most Indians. (My Korean friend stayed on in South Korea, even as we all retuned to our homelands. But she gave me a new wish list!)

PEDAL TO TRAVEL

People bicycle around. For an affluent Indian, this is an unthinkable activity but it’s common in Holland. The country boasts of many bicycling tours and you can opt

  A fietsstraat (bike street), where bicycles are the main form of transport and cars are considered guests
IMAGE John Tarantino/Wikimedia Commons

for a short or long duration ride around the countryside or cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, Alkmaar, The Hague, Delft, Dordrecht and Haarlem.

WINDMILLS: NOT JUST PRETTY

Long coastal dunes prevent the lowland from sinking into the sea. There is a polder (tract of lowland reclaimed from the sea) landscape lying below sea level behind the dunes. The lowest point is a polder near Rotterdam, about seven meters below sea level. Continuous drainage is necessary to keep Holland from flooding, and windmills were used to accomplish this. Now they are icons of this land!

APPETISERS

As would be the case for a country which has roots in farming and fishing, Holland’s cuisine is simple. But cheese is the mainstay here. And what surprised me was that the Dutch like to eat cheese on a biscuit with their cup of tea or coffee. Fish is part of street food, and is a dish to savour and an experience to remember.

Edam is a small Dutch semi hard cheese
IMAGE Yvwv/Wikimedia Commons

CLOGS: TOUGH AND DAINTY

Holland’s famous clogs are made of wood and have been employed traditionally as protective footwear in agriculture, factories and mines. They are also used in tap dancing.

Try your size, choose your colour

And then, of course, there are Vincent Van Gogh artworks to see, ride in the tram, enjoy the architecture and the ambience, drink lots of beer and have fun!

Bulb Fields (1883), Vincent Van Gogh's first garden painting