PJ Netherlands Cover

Most people restrict their experience of The Netherlands to the Red Light District of De Wallen and the Coffee Shops offering anything but coffee. They stay in the Capital, Amsterdam, for a day or two, enjoy the wild side the city has to offer and leave. Netherlands is a way lot more than that and this photo journey will take you through the alternative but marvellous outlook that a trip through the Netherlands should provide anyone.

The country brings to life an ARTIST’S WILD DREAM because:

  • One Witnesses 8 Centuries of Architectural Beauty and Diversity across the Country –

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The Netherlands has an insanely rich architectural legacy and every corner of this tiny country is equally compelling. Whether it be the religious centre of the country – Utrecht, modern architecture and only city in the country with a skyline – Rotterdam, the judicial capital of the World – Den Haag, the university town of Maastricht or the country’s world famous capital Amsterdam which is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous cities in the world. The country can boast of a long and rich history and the architectural style you will discover include influences dating back from the Renaissance, Baroque and Roman eras.

A tilted house in Amsterdam from the Dutch Golden Age
A tilted house in Amsterdam from the Dutch Golden Age

Walk through the historic city centre in Amsterdam and you will find numerous tilted houses, which are centuries old. The people in the Capital like to preserve things as uniquely as possible, which reflects clearly in the way even these private houses have been preserved. Take some time out to explore the alleys and experience what cannot ever be found in guide books.

Old City Gate, Maastricht
Old City Gate, Maastricht

Move to a few smaller town to witness Roman Ruins. Here is one of the oldest city gates in The Netherlands. Built in the town of Maastricht in the medieval age as a part of the first city wall, this heritage is a more than half a dozen centuries old and still stands proud and strong.

Apart from the ancient architecture, the destruction caused during WWII has also resulted in the creation of a lot of modern architecture especially in Rotterdam which was completely destroyed during the War.

Imagine the architectural legacy ranging back some 800 years to the really modern style, and the charm of Dutch Canals some of which even date back to the Dutch Golden Age (17th Century), all wrapped up in this tiny nation. An ARCHITECT’S WILD DREAM BROUGHT TO LIFE, TRULY!

  • The Photographers dream of capturing the Tulip Fields, Windmills, Alleys & Streets, Monuments and Fantasy Life through their lens once in their life –

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The natural beauty, gorgeous long stretches of farms and tulip fields and windmills right beside them, the sunsets with the color as you see above, the visuals that flawless streets and century old buildings around the canals create, a vibrant yet slow street life, the local way of wearing a suit and tie and then ride a bicycle to work, many historic monuments and museums, the renowned red light district of De Wallen  ….. these are the settings any photographer craves for.

Clockwise: Amsterdam, Beach walk at Den Haag, A Judicial Builiding at Den Haag and Amsterdam Noord.
Clockwise: Amsterdam, Beach walk at Den Haag, A Judicial Builiding at Den Haag and Amsterdam Noord.

Take a bad camera along and you will still end up with some of the most beautiful pictures you’ll ever see. A PHOTOGRAPHER’s DREAM COMING TRUE

  • The Microbreweries and a perennial Beer Culture in the area make it the Brewmaster’s Favorite Destination –

The Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam
The Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam

Yes, brewing is not just a science; it is an art and has an associated culture. Anyone who loves beer would agree that a Brewmaster is an artist and every place has its culture of beer. This region around Amsterdam is inarguably the beer centre of Europe and probably of the world as well. This is the area where one can find the best beers in the world, Belgian, German and Dutch. A few hour’s drive from Amsterdam and we can explore the rich legacy and art of beer making of at least a few dozen large as well as microbreweries. People are very passionate about the beer from their own region and every brewery has a unique recipe and a history.

Heineken who are also the brewers of Amstel (usually the top choice in Netherlands) and the world’s third largest brewery are also based in Amsterdam.  Take One Bar in Maastricht is one of my super favourites. They specialise in microbreweries of the region and have more than 100 brands available. All you have to do is tell Peter (the owner) your taste and mood and he’ll bring out the best option. His choice is always spot on. They are closed on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s as they tour the region extensively then, to ensure their supplies are always fresh.

 THIS COUNTRY IS NOT JUST A BREWMASTER’S BUT ALSO THE BEER LOVER’S FAVORITE DESTINATION.

  • There is even a Museum of Street Art and Sculptures are around every corner–

An Iron Sculpture and a Giant Table and Chair Statue in Amsterdam
An Iron Sculpture and a Giant Table and Chair Statue in Amsterdam

Wander the streets and observe very interesting structures blending in so well with the surroundings. Street art, statues and sculptures have always been a very important form of expression across the world, but they go way beyond expression in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam in particular, injecting life and unique flavours into the experience a traveller obtains of this marvellous country.

Sculptures in Amsterdam and Maastricht
Sculptures in Amsterdam and Maastricht

One can spend weeks just going around these interesting structures depicting War, Achievement, Festivals, Personalities etc and are a testament to the way life has always been in the country. Sculptures brought to life and history depicted in all at once. NETHERLANDS IS DEFINITELY A SCULPTURAL PARADISE SHOWCASING LIFE AND EXPRESSION.

  • The Country is as Decorated and Life as Flamboyant  as a Poet’s Imagination –

Boat’s, Bicycles, Bridges, Canals and Old Houses in Amsterdam
Boat’s, Bicycles, Bridges, Canals and Old Houses in Amsterdam

So romantic, so dramatic and so euphoric. So much freedom and so much sin, so much beauty and so much love. More than a hundred canals and more than a thousand bridges, a museum for anything one can imagine – Sex, cats, houseboats or smoking pipes. This is a country where common people live just next to the brothels, the Prime Minister commutes on a bicycle, the only “mountain” is smaller than a hillock, traffic rules are biased in favour of cyclists and pedestrians and it is legal to smoke and cultivate cannabis at your home. EVERY SINGLE ASPECT IS AS EXAGGERATED AS A POET’S UNRESTRAINED IMAGINATION.

  • The Most Regular Sights in a few towns are as Exotic as a Painter’s Vivid Work –

Vrijthof Square, Maastricht
Vrijthof Square, Maastricht

Some of the pictures are so surreal; they don’t even look like photographs but like paintings. It gets really very difficult to describe how I felt when I walked across that street in Maastricht. The mind isn’t really in a position to absorb what the eyes have just captured because it is just too much to believe. This town of Maastricht is not the most famous destination for international tourists in Netherlands but I rate it very highly in my ‘hidden gems’ list. Elite European tourists can easily be sighted because Maastricht can boast of the most premium shopping streets in the Netherlands. Backpackers are a rare find here.

Saint Servatius Bridge on the river Meuse in Maastricht
Saint Servatius Bridge on the river Meuse in Maastricht

The moment you think things can’t possibly get any better when you’re at the Vrijthof Square, you land on this pedestrian bridge while casually roaming around the town. The Saint Servatius Bridge on the river Meuse in Maastricht is the oldest bridge in Netherlands, built by the Romans between 1280 and 1298, a whopping 700 +years old, renovated just a few times since then. Maastricht is one of the most ancient towns in Europe; the old town squares in the bigger cities are the most famous landmarks, Maastricht is one massive old town square perfect for exploring on foot. A PAINTER’S VIVID WORK OF ART BROUGHT TO LIFE.

  • To be a part of The ‘Carnavals’ in The Netherlands must necessarily be on the list of every person who loves Music, Dance, Performances and Costumes –

The Locals rehearsing for The Carnaval in Maastricht
The Locals rehearsing for The Carnaval in Maastricht

The Carnaval, as the Dutch call it, is a 3-day fiesta that is celebrated in the southern provinces of the country. It starts on a Sunday exactly six weeks before Easter Sunday and is therefore also the first spring festival of each New Year, symbolising the passage of winters and arrival of summers.

 The people are supposed to suspend the social norms of behaviour for these 3 days under the camouflage of masks and costumes. The costumes should ideally mock or be sarcastic or silly or convey a message or criticise yourself or an individual or even the larger society/community.  The locals markets and businesses are closed during the Carnaval and the majority of the streets are closed to traffic. The town’s name is changed for 3 days and The Mayor hands over the symbolic keys of the city and transfers his powers to The Prince of Carnaval for the whole duration of the fest. The Prince leads the people into the festivities of the Carnaval.

The locals get together in groups to form brass bands, which go around the town playing music, dancing on streets and visiting bars; the streets end up being jam packed. The Dutch love to gather, drink a lot of beer and act wild during the Carnaval. And because it is not celebrated in bigger cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, Carnaval is not really famous with the tourists which therefore make it a perfect, original and “uncommercialized” Dutch event to be a part of. Maastricht, Eindhoven and Tilburg are the towns to look out for if you would like to experience the craziest time of your life.

PJ Holland 7