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On our first trip to The Netherlands we noticed just how incredibly different our neighbor to the northwest is from Germany!

Driving: Traveling by car in “The Nederlande” is quite different from Germany, and more resembles what you would see in a US populated area. Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe of those over a million people, and it shows with the towns and cities closely packed together in the busy areas. There are many more traffic lights and less traffic circles than Germany. People drive crazy in Holland, as in passing on the right, never using turn signals, and swerving in and out of lanes. We noticed the Dutch using their window washers while driving, something the Germans rarely do. The speed limits are also very regulated – 130km is the max but we rarely saw that, it was usually 120 or even 100 on the freeways. The German autobahn typically has no speed limit, and much better driving, go figure! The license plates are orange in Holland, where they are white in Germany, on and on…

Language: English is spoken my many as a second language in both countries, but more so in Holland. Not once did we run across someone who did not speak English. As for Dutch, it has the strangest letter combinations I have ever seen, and hard sounding consonants that sound like clearing of the throat. German has that also but less than Dutch. Knowing enough German to get by, it felt strange knowing little about the interesting Dutch language. Some words are common with german, or very similar. Days of the week are an example (Sonntag vs Zondag).

People: The Dutch are the tallest people on the world, and being 6’5″ myself it was very nice having a hotel room to not have to duck in! I’m fact, I did not duck once the entire trip. We noticed how tall and also how fit the people of holland looked. Perhaps it is all the exercise, namely bicycling. There are bike paths EVERYWHERE, seemingly every street has a brick-red path on both sides. Some traffic lights even have their own little bike signal. These two girls were casually riding by giggling about us tourists taking pictures of the flower fields.

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Bike riding near the flower fields

The country is very flat and thus conducive for biking, in fact 50% of Holland is less than 1 meter above sea level. Germany has their fair share of biking also, but they are no match for the orange Niederlanders. The people were all very friendly in Holland, as we had heard. Our baby Indi did not have quite the influence she has in Germany however, where the typically reserved personalities will light up and approach you out of know where. Maybe they do this in Holland too, we just didn’t see it.

The Internet: Finding good wifi in Germany is like trying to find shade in the desert, it is a difficult endeavor and one to surely get you heated. In Holland, our experience was much easier. Our hotel had not one but TWO strong wi-fi networks. We were like little kids in a candy store updating our apps, watching the Nationals baseball game and Masters highlights, and downloading kids shows on iTunes. We also found free wi-fi at two restaurants we visited, shocking. Come on Germany, get with the 21st century!

Scenery: Holland is abundant with water, dunes, beaches, fields, windmills, and of course flowers, and all are a beautiful sight. We visited Amsterdam and I was amazed at how different a city it is because of the canal system. While all of this about holland was lovely, it also reminded am a bit of Florida but with a cooler climate – flat with lots of water.

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Flat Flower Fields

Germany, on the other hand, is more like the US with its diverse landscapes and regions such as River valleys such as the Rhine and the Mosel, mountains such as the Alps and Black Forest, and lowlands to the north. It is a dynamic transition as you drive from the Hünsruck mountains around Koblenz, past Cologne, where the landscape totally flattens out all the way to the coast.

All in all, we quite enjoyed the very different experience in the Niederlande! Where else can you get pictures like this??

Tulips in Keukenhof

Happiest of babies in the Flower Fields!

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