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7 posts • Page 1 of 1
Visiting the Netherlands
I was invited to attend Anime 2011 in Almelo, in eastern part of Netherlands (Overijssel). My friends booked me at a hotel in Hengelo (short bus ride away from Almelo), home to Piet Blomâ€™s Kasbah houses. Unfortunately, I couldnâ€™t figure out how to visit Kasbah by bus, so I decided that Iâ€™d visit the Kubuswoningen in Rotterdam later. Compared to my tiny hotel room in Paris, the Van der Valk Hotel Hengeloâ€™s rooms were huge and luxurious, with large bathroom and its own patio. The breakfast buffet was comparable to Las Vegas, with a variety of juices and smoothies. The Dutch have one heck of a sweet tooth, theyâ€™d eat toast with spread plus chocolate sprinkles on top, then add cocoa powder to their milk.
Coming from Paris, walking around Almelo was a cultural shock. The people there were tall, I saw some girls on bicycles that were well above 180 cm (6â€™). Compared to Parisians, Dutch girls here were taller, bigger, friendlier, and wear less clothing. They say the French girls dress for comfort and Dutch girls would rather suffer in high heels to look sexy. Walking around the town square, you see people sitting at cafÃ© tables chatting with people sitting at other tables. I think the French are skinny because they eat less and walk more, and the Dutch are genetically one of the tallest people in the world, plus they eat a lot and you can see some fat people. Watch out for drunken Dutch folks on bicycles, I almost got ran over by one. There are also many elderly people on electric wheelchair scooters, be careful walking in front of them!
Having been in the Anime hobby for 20+ years, Iâ€™m like a fish in water at an anime convention. But Almelo really takes the cake in levels of friendliness. I was at the convention for 3 days, and every day when I went to eat the lunch buffet, someone would invite me to sit with them, or ask to join at my table. Unfortunately this is not true in other parts of Netherlands â€“ more on that later. On my first day there having dinner, a girl from a local Manga studio saw me sitting by myself, and came over to ask if Iâ€™d join her table. I was kinda bummed that my friends were busy running the convention and couldnâ€™t join me for dinner, but being invited by girls was much better. The next day, I had 2 girls join me at my table, and the day after, a whole Dutch family visiting from elsewhere. They told me that in Netherlands, Almelo is well known for its open & friendly people. Afterwards the daughter and her friend joined me to wait in line for a show. Both of the girls were 15 years old and 175cm tall. If they didnâ€™t tell me Iâ€™d have assumed that they were at least 19.
On the day prior, I meet a couple of girls and took them to the hotel bar, after ordering beer they told me that they were underage (!). So I had to go back to the bartender and ask for appelaere. The bartender got pissed off at me for bringing underage girls to his bar. I had to ask one of the girls to go to the bar and order, which she didnâ€™t want to do earlier because she said guys would hit on her. As soon as she walked up to the bar, 3 guys jumped up and tried to go chat her up, LoL. After that I learned to be more cautious and ask â€œso how old are you?â€� first. ;p The highlight of the convention was a live concert by Aural Vampire, I got front row center seats!
I was hoping to meet up with a friend from Belgium (so I can go visit Belgium and bug him later!) but, unfortunately he couldnâ€™t make it. My friends from Rotterdam and Denmark were there but they were busy. We found some time to get together and go have mojito ice cream (with real liqueur). There was a farmerâ€™s market at the city square on weekend and I got to sample a lot of different foods. After interacting with the Dutch here, I concluded that they were a lot more open and blunt than the French. Some of the Dutch guys I talked to were openly nationalistic and detested Turkish immigrants. When I asked about Asians some claim that they were part Asian from the Dutch East India company days. So Iâ€™m looking at these tall white Dutch people with blue eyes telling me that theyâ€™re part Javanese from their grandparentâ€™s side. Umâ€¦ OK, I mean, Kevin Costner says heâ€™s part Cherokee. The Dutch boys also like to bash the French as short men who canâ€™t fight. IMO the French are just arrogant, and the Dutch culture is as flat as Hollandâ€™s terrain. The Dutch are embarrassed with Amsterdam, versus the French look up to Paris. They say in Netherlands that Rotterdam is where people go to work and pay taxes, the Hague is where politicians go to do no work and spend tax dollars, and Amsterdam is where you shovel money down a dark pit.
It should be noted that people at Anime/Manga conventions are into Asian culture, so you'd find a larger number of AM/WF couples. Several Dutch girls I meet all had PRC boyfriends, one even had a sister who has moved to Beijing. Elsewhere in Netherlands this is not the norm, and the typical WM/AF couple you'd find on the streets of Amsterdam would be Dutch guy with his Indonesian wife. I'd also note that Almelo is not Amsterdam and the culture of a smaller Eastern Netherlands town is different from a city to the west. In Almelo and Hengelo the girls would open doors for me, and smile at me from across the table. Elsewhere that does not happen.
Unfortunately, I was stupid and didnâ€™t take my Dutch friends advice to avoid Amsterdam. How to describe this city? Gritty without the charm? Built during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) and forgot to do maintenance work for the last 300+ years? People in Almelo said the tap water in Almelo was clean and good to drink, but Amsterdamâ€™s tap water is recycled drainage waste water. The air in Amsterdam was bad and the canals were drainage ditches with dirty looking water and trash. If I have to think of something good to say about the city, no dog poop in the streets, the light rail is above-ground and new/clean, and the couple museums were fairly nice. Youâ€™d find many Argentinean steak houses offering all you can eat ribs for 10-16 EUR, watch out for the 9,95 EUR specials where they hit you up for 5 EUR for water.
The red light district of Amsterdam is a complete dump, flanked by Chinatown on one side and coffee houses where people go to get high on the other. I walked by some sex tourists talking to the prostitutes and it was kinda funny listening in on guys trying to negotiate for lower rate. I saw one guy come out and I asked him how was it, and he said the b*tch was a liar, she claimed that she was Dutch but in fact she was Russian, and instead of 50 EUR as agreed, she made him pay an additional 50 EUR to take off her cloths. I overheard another sex tourist asking a girl if heâ€™d get a refund if he didnâ€™t ejaculate, and the girl said no because 40% of her customers â€œcouldnâ€™t do itâ€� and she canâ€™t refund 40% of her customers. LoL. What a sh*thole. It was a bit surreal to see people take their kids to walk through the red light district, and the tourist girls walking on the streets were far better looking than the prostitutes.
I didnâ€™t take any photos of the girls there because itâ€™s not allowed. One German tourist walked around with a camcorder and the girls shut their curtains and one came out to scream at them to shut off the camera. The tourist was dumb and argued back that they were prostitutes and what do they care. That was definitely the wrong thing to say and, very soon a lot of mean looking people started coming out of nowhere. I decided that it was a good time to make a quick exit, and as I scurried away, I saw 2 Dutch cops arrive on bicycles.
Unlike Almelo, the residents of Amsterdam are far less friendly, and wonâ€™t help you find directions unless you ask. As Iâ€™ve said before the Dutch are far more direct and blunt than the French. In France if you need to use the toilet, you can walk into any cafÃ© and ask to use it, itâ€™s OK and theyâ€™re polite about it. In Amsterdam theyâ€™d look annoyed and say you should buy something. Also, in France you can order something at a cafÃ© and sit there for hours. In Amsterdam they want you to drink up and get the f*ck out. Itâ€™s a good city for sex tourists and gay/lesbian bars, but other than a few good museums, itâ€™s not worth your time. I did very much enjoy visiting the Van Gough museum and seeing De Nachtwacht by Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum. When I saw the painting, the first thing I said was â€œholy sh*t did he paint this thing from a 20 foot ladder?â€�. I felt sorry for this poor painting that was chopped up and vandalized several times by knife and acid. I hope that some day the museum would restore this painting to its original format (restoring the parts that were cut off).
Looking for an escape from the piss-bucket city of Amsterdam, I made my way out to Keukenhof, the tulip garden of Europe. The Dutch have a long history with growing tulips, in Amsterdam thereâ€™s a flower market where you can buy tulips in a can. They also had Venus fly trap and marijuana in a can, just open and add water to grow, hehehe. Keukenhof is some distance away from Amsterdam and you can tell by the much cleaner air and water. I noticed a larger number of PRC nationals and tourists in Amsterdam compared to Paris. At Keukenhof there were several PRC tour groups. In Amsterdam youâ€™d find many PRC nationals working in the supermarkets and walking around the train station and the street. However most of the WM/AF couples I saw in Amsterdam were Dutch & Indonesian.
Keukenhof is a 32 hector flower garden thatâ€™s open for about 2 or 3 months every year. During its annual season they go through 700,000 tulips. Gardeners constantly â€œrefreshâ€� the gardens with fresh tulips to maintain its appearance. To get here youâ€™d take the train to the airport station, then buy a combo bus + entrance ticket there. Or, from Amsterdam you can pay 40-50 EUR and board a tourist bus from there. The gardens are very pretty and I took a lot of photos, enjoy!
Rotterdam & some comparisons
Rotterdam is like the financial capital of Netherlands. You see brand new tall office buildings; the city looks like itâ€™s under constant construction. Right out of the train station, if you make a right turn, youâ€™re in Chinatown. Most of the shops are run by old-time Cantonese speaking immigrants, with dim sum restaurants (3-4 EUR per dim sum dish!). I picked up a local Chinese newspaper, and as I walked into local stores, the Dutch storekeepers would greet me with simple Chinese words (â€œnihao!â€�). I guess the ethnic Chinese population there is significant.
Compared to Amsterdam, Rotterdam is clean and modern; because the city was bombed flat in WW2 and they had to rebuild it. If I were to visit Netherlands again, Iâ€™d stay in Rotterdam and only take the train to Amsterdam to visit museums for 1 day. Unfortunately, the people in Rotterdam were still not as friendly as those in Almelo (but better than those in Amsterdam). I also noticed that people in the western cities were far more mixed genetically and shorter in height, versus the eastern towns were more genetically pure Dutch with taller people.
In Paris they have a lot of problems with dog poop and many parks have â€œno dogsâ€™ signs. In Netherlands the owners pick up after the dogs, and the Dutch have a better â€œgreen thumbâ€� than Parisians. The Parisians just plant grass and some trees, versus the Dutch go all out with their plants. Customer service in France is better, Dutch waiters need to be reminded several times before theyâ€™d bring you water. Also, Iâ€™m not sure why but the Dutch just canâ€™t seem to clean their tableware well. Plates in Netherlands are often not clean with small bits of food stuck on it. However, in Rotterdam I think customer service and restaurants are more professional and itâ€™s less of a problem.
Would I visit the Netherlands again? Maybe, but definitely skip Amsterdam. If youâ€™re looking for a place with friendly people and tall beautiful women, go to East Netherlands and avoid the cities to the West.
Last edited by momopi on May 16th, 2011, 6:34 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Anime 2011 in Almelo:
https://picasaweb.google.com/momopi/Ani ... otelAlmelo#
Very interesting to read about your experiences and look at your photos.
I've always heard the Dutch were direct but I was surprised to learn of how rude they can be. Did you line-up to see the small Anne Frank Museum along one of the canals when you were in Amsterdam? Going upstairs to the attic can elicit a surprising emotional response if you've read or reviewed her diary recently. Also, walking in some of the malls in areas of Holland filled with young and pure blooded Dutch people can suddenly make you feel very short, especially if you are used to Asia. Its a humbling experience, lol. A hundred years ago, Dutch were significantly shorter on average than Americans too. What happened?
Paris probably attracts more tourists each year than any other city on the planet. I know the museums are great and the architecture is amazing (much centrally planned and designed). But other than that, don't you think the city is generally over-rated? I mean Europe has so many compelling options. Its pretty gritty underneath (as you so aptly described) and the violence from the suburbs sometimes spills into the city proper. Given that its considered by some as a sort of fashion capital, the local women you tend to see walking around often disappoint IMO. Certain Italian cities do a much better job of living-up to the European fashion and aesthetic stereotype.
Also, don't you just hate the Euro? Except for Germany, I think every country which adopted it has become a lot more expensive for the smaller things over the last ten years; especially the Latin countries. But Switzerland which has retained its own currency is even worse. Hotels have always been outrageously priced - several hundred Euros per night minimum for centrally located boutique hotels in Paris. Today, the Euro and the remaining western European currencies make the US dollar seem more like the US Peso.
My experience in A-Dam isn't quite as negative as yours. The RDL (Red Light District) is sort of seedy but what did you expect, gleaming streets of gold? It is what it is, at least for now, you can still have sex there for a reasonable price if the local girls aren't giving it up to you. In general RDL is a rip but has its fan base/user base, some locals, lots of Brits and some Germans too.
I didn't partake there, service is questionable at best. There are other options around town for that sort of thing.
I don't drink but I did take the Heineken tour and that was fun for what it is. I drank Pepsi, that's what they offer non-drinkers.
The rest of the touristy stuff is just touristy stuff, I had fun it was okay and yes you can get steak and eggs for a price that rivals Las Vegas and the quality is just as good. The Dutch Princess is Argentinian actually, maybe their getting an influx of Argeys?
Great report with pictures and thank you for sharing.
One question though and I'm always unsure in these types of things. So Comic Book, Anime woman f**k??? There is always a few cute ones it just seems they aren't interested though.
Maybe I'm reading that wrong?
Unfortunately I didn't make it to the Anne Frank museum, I was busy plotting my escape to Rotterdam. Some small museums in Amsterdam have weird hours, i.e. De Kattenkabinet opens 10am-2pm. I wanted to visit FOAM but opted to go to Keukenhof instead. I was in Amsterdam for 4 days and spent half that time outside of the city. The place just smells bad and, you're absolutely correct -- Amsterdam is overrated. I'm 6' tall and my first GF in college was a 5'10" blonde, so being in East Netherlands was like dÃ©jÃ vu for me.
When I was departing Almelo for Amsterdam, the ticket machine would only accept chip card or cash in coins, no bills and no change (!). I only had 10 EUR in my chip card and the ticket was 18,50 EUR. I asked for change and almost everybody around me started digging into their pockets. That's Almelo where people are actually nice to you (the girls there even open & hold doors for me). Elsewhere in Netherlands people can be quite rude. On that same train, I was in the compartment with a women and 2 guys, and while chatting with them I found out that the 2 guys were D&D/MMORPG players returning from LARP (live action role-play) session with their swords in the large backpacks. Being nerds we got along great and chatted up a storm. Then the as*hole conductor came and saw the girl had her shoe touching the seat next to mine, and spoke to her in Dutch. I didn't understand what he said but he immediately pissed everyone off. After he left I was told that he spoke to her in a very rude and demeaning way. That's Dutch rudeness. BUT, the trains in Netherlands are very nice and clean, versus the ones in Paris were a complete dump.
Since the dollar has fallen against the Euro, it's now cheap for the Dutch to come visit the US. On the KLM flight back, the plane was packed with Dutch tourists coming to Los Angels to go on a shopping spree. They tell me the cloths in Holland is overpriced and sucks in quality, after washing it in the washer a few times they start to fade. So they come to US with empty suitcases and fill them up with purchases at American outlet malls on the way back. I told them that some cloths should be dry cleaned and not dumped into the washer, or at least put on gentle cycle, or simply hand wash. I told them that my local dry cleaner charges $1.25 USD per shirt and they were shocked speechless at how cheap it was. In Holland a crappy shirt will cost you 30 Euros.
Paris is going to be expensive because they draw huge numbers of tourists from everywhere. But if you go to the Opera district, you can find hotels for 60 EUR per might. Any decent sized hotel room will cost you over 100 EUR/night though. My short 2 week trip to Europe was about $3,600 USD including airfare, and I didn't splurge either. On the way back I only bought some inexpensive Dutch cakes and gifts:
I was in the Anime/Manga hobby for 20 years, and back in the 1990s to early 2000's I dated several girls from the hobby circle (in Los Angeles). I'm now 39 years old and it'd be inappropriate for me to hit on 15-16 year old girls in Netherlands.
Personally, I found that the numerous British tourist girls in Amsterdam were easier to chat with than the local Dutch girls. But your experience may vary. It's easy to play dumb tourist and start a conversation, but if the local girl has some interest in you, you probably wouldn't pass her "how long are you staying" test unless if you're there on long-term work assignment.
p.s. if you guys ever wonder what happens to the coins that tourists toss into water fountains in Netherlands:
Likely why I don't toss coins...
At least in some areas of America they donate the coins toss in by well-wishers.
Yeah I don't expect you to hit up teenie boppers at a Anime convention, though there are some adults at least the Anime Expo in LA.
In Western Europe, the only place being a short term tourist likely still works in your favor is UK and Germany. Germany especially for Black Men (African-Americans) and especially need Military bases. You're results will vary away from those areas but not impossible. UK women because they tend to drink quite a bit.
Anyway glad you had a decent time. I'm just not impressed with the French women I find online, I don't think its a case like Sweden or Norway where the local talent is better than the woman you find online.
A few photos from Rotterdam:
Caesar's Palace rip-off. There are many casinos in the cities, adding to the overall seedy vibe. At least in Rotterdam it seems a bit less seedy. In larger hotels you'd find slot machines too.
The Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses) of Rotterdam. You can actually stay in these, some units have been converted to a hostel:
http://www.archdaily.com/32157/rotterda ... ay-hostel/
The Kabouter Buttplug. It's supposed to be a gnome holding up a xmas tree, but we all know what the sculptor was thinking.
The museums in Netherlands are smaller than those in France, but charge just as much. However prices at the museum cafeteria/restaurants was actually reasonable, versus those in France were way overpriced. The French like their meat raw and their seafood well done, versus the Dutch like their meats well done or well processed (ham/sausage/etc), and their seafood raw or salted/pickled. The Dutch also ate more "french fries" than the French. On street corners you'd find shops selling french fries as a cheap snack. There are also small restaurants that have walls filled with vending machines (with coquettes inside), and a counter that sold fried chicken.
I purchased Rick Steve's book on Paris and wish I had read it front to back before my trip. He also has many podcasts on itunes and videos on YT:
My Dutch friends thinks there's a big problem with Turkish immigrants moving to Holland to pop babies and mooch off the system, with many young Turkish men who don't work and just hang around street corners causing trouble. However, at the same time I think some of the Turkish immigrants are the most hard-working, running sandwich shops that open 24/7. In the US it's the Asian immigrants who run low-priced restaurants and stores that open late. In Paris and Netherlands, Asian restaurants were generally more upscale and expensive. Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam were quite pricy (16 EUR for a dish? OMG!) Coming back to the US, the price difference was like a reverse culture shock. My friend who picked me up at the airport took me to eat in Cerritos, and the Chinese restaurant's lunch special starts at $4.50 USD (3 Euros) including the dish, soup, unlimited refills on container of rice, hot tea, iced tap water. In Europe I'd pay 10 EUR ($15 USD) for a dish with a small scoop of rice. Everything (extra rice, tea, water) was extra charge.
From the Western European's perspective, we're the inexpensive country to visit and do business:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/com ... 0894.story
I've always thought the Dutch baked a lot of cookies (a stereotype?), based on all the "Dutch bakeries" that used to be around in 1980s. But I didn't see a lot of cookies when I was there. Instead, the stores sold a lot of Belgium style waffles, and thin waffle snacks. Even on KLM flights you get stroopwafels snacks. Small baked meat or fruit pies are also popular. I shopped at a few supermarkets and the prices seems to be cheaper than Paris. You'd also find a larger variety of fruits and fruit juices in Dutch supermarkets. I suspect the French are more interested in fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and "in season".