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Getting Around

Travel to Holland

Ryan Air and Easy Jet both fly to Holland so no matter where you fly from in Europe it might be cheaper to fly via the UK.

You can get to Holland by train or bus from anywhere in Europe but it’s not all that cheap.

Hitchhiking is okay in Holland and if you come up through Germany where hitching is good from petrol stations then you should make good time.

Driving

Holland is the most densely populated country in the Europe. Only city-states such as Monaco or the Vatican city exceed its population density. Such demographics have consequences, both positive and negative.

Driving in Holland can easily become a very frustrating experience. Despite its well-organized and well-maintained network of roads and freeways, Holland suffers from drastic congestion and daily traffic jams. Add in the high price of gas, the abusive road taxes and the high cost of insurance, and you’ll see why having a car isn’t considered such an attractive option.

Bikes and Junkies

Instead many Dutch rely on their bikes and the extensive Dutch public transport network. Trains, buses, trams and subways can take you virtually anywhere you want to go, unless you have your heart set on visiting a pig farm or a tulip-filled greenhouse.

There is no dishonor affiliated with the use of public transport. It isn’t a sign of poverty and even successful businessmen catch trams and trains on a regular basis. Some will even take their foldable bikes on the train and ride the last stretch of road to their work place. There are plenty of Adults in their 50’s who have never owned a car. They simply rent one when they want to go on holidays, long weekends or when they move house.

If and when the weather allows it cycling is by far the best way to get around Dutch cities. Dutch cities are flat and small so there is no need to be in particularly good shape or to have a racing bike. Bike rentals are available in all Dutch cities especially in Amsterdam where they compete in numbers with coffee-shops.

For longer stays buying a bike from a junky might be the cheapest alternative. An easy rule of thumb applies to the purchase of a bike: spend more on the lock then the bike. Junkies in Amsterdam tend to ask more then junkies in other cities. Bargaining and pointing out defects on the bike is the way to go.

Junkies roam around town selling their stolen bikes at night. Although some junkies with workaholic tendencies or a higher tolerance for crack and smack also work during the days.

This shouldn’t be a big deal there are virtually no stories of anyone getting harassed or attacked during one of these transactions. Dutch junkies are usually rather peaceful and speak enough English to conduct their business with tourists. Some of them can even hold a decent conversation.

Trains and Trams

Students in Holland often have an OV card. This card allows them to travel free of charge anywhere in the country. There is one catch though, they must choose between a weekend or a week card. A week cardholder will still benefit from 40% discount during the weekend and the other way around fro a weekend cardholder.

Many Dutch commuters buy a yearly Korting card, literally discount card, and are thereby, entitled to a 60% discount on all train fares. You might wonder why is this of any importance to someone visiting the country. It’s all very simple, someone with an OV or Korting card can take three people with him on a train and all three will benefit from the 60% discounts. When money is scarce this is a good way to travel and meet people at the same time.

One time tickets can be bought in all buses and trams, and must be purchased before entering the metro. There are different fares according to the distance traveled. These distances are measured in “zones,” conductors will know how many zones are needed for a particular destination but many commuters systematically say one zone.

The ticket system for the metro and trams gets pretty complicated and many travelers just choose to trust to the gods and get on without a ticket. The conductors can get pretty mean if they catch you though.

Damien Leze