DATE: April, 29 — May, 2, 2007
WAS EXPLORED: Amsterdam, the Hague, Delft, Keukenhof
PREHISTORY: After graduation, my university friend continued his studies at one of Amsterdam universities. I can’t say I took advantage of it immediately because at that moment I was inexperienced tourist and afraid of travelling abroad. But Oleh felt quite lonely there and persuaded me to come.
It was my first-time experience of a self-planned journey and it was rather smoothly except of the process of obtaining private visa. It required an original written invitation from the host person in the Netherlands legalized by the municipality, 3 visits to Netherland embassy and Visa Center, and
interrogation interview. I floundered in my statements but with a cocksure look. So, finally I had gotten fucking visa, however with the comment that they don’t like my story.
WHAT I LIKED MOST
- Spring garden of Keukenhof (black tulips particularly).
- Flamingo and mandarin duck (as a reminder about my childhood with yellow atlas).
- Bicycle culture.
- Ideally flat sceneries.
- The ferry across the Amstel river.
- Cities-on-the-water which I gazed for the first time. Later there will be Saint-Petersburg (Russia), Annecy (France), Vilkovo (Ukraine).
- Comfortable trains.
- Everything for well-being: stations with self-service machines, night transport with minute-accurate schedule.
- The sunsets over the North Sea.
WHAT I DISLIKED MOST
- In general comparing to Ukraine and Kyiv particularly it was unusual that it was difficult to find where to dine in the holiday. The local entrepreneurs value their personal time and interests more than profits.
- Red-light district.
- Coffee shops naturally. In the one we visited there was a choice between marijuana and hashish and the method of use as well (bong or cigarette).
We were smoking gasper sticks.
- Public transport is around the clock and on a clear timetable.
- No indoor advertising in the subway trains.
- Disabled people are very active socially. At first I wondered why there were so many of them and then realized that just everything’s adapted for them: handrails, elevators, paths, showers at hotels etc. so they don’t stay at home.
- There was clean and tidy everywhere. Even in the distant gazebo on the beach. No apple cores, no husks of sunflower seeds, no bottles or plastic bags.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES
- For the first time I had tasted the beer which was worth to be called delicious.
- All-wooden clogs (klompen) in various versions (fobs, magnets, decorative shoes).
AS IT TURNED OUT
- Delft was a location of shooting Girl with a Pearl Earring.
- The Dutch are hot guys. While I was wandering along the North Sea in a warm sweater and a jacket they did jogging on the beach only in T-shirts.