The Netherlands (known sometimes as Holland) is a small country in Western Europe. A founding member of the European Union, the country is generally very progressive about social issues. Both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, the Netherlands is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, reflecting its high quality of life.
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is known for its many beautiful canals, but that’s only the starting point of this great city. It’s also full of history and great food as well as world-class museums and gorgeous open spaces like Vondelpark—there are so many things to do in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a bit infamous for its legalization of marijuana and prostitution, but those are only a small part of what the city offers (and are easy to avoid if one wishes to). The country’s second-largest city, Rotterdam, was hit hard during World War II but makes up for its lack of historic buildings with new, unique architecture, a great culinary scene, and lots of nightlife. The Markthal and Witte de With Street are particular favorites.
There’s just something about windmills. Graceful, serene, evoking thoughts of another time, watching the sails spin is like watching the waves in the ocean. You can’t go to the Netherlands without glimpsing just a few.
The first thing you see in Gouda isn’t a surprise—it’s cheese. It hangs above the streets and floats in the canals. And, Thursday mornings, it’s neatly stacked in the middle of the town square for the Gouda Cheese Market.
It’s five minutes until 3:00 in the afternoon and already there’s a line of 20 people snaking outside the dark green door. You would think someone was giving away money. But it’s just a normal Sunday in Amsterdam outside a bar that’s been here for over 300 years.