WHY does only one Briton in twenty-five bound for ‘abroad’ go to Holland, while many times that number visit adjacent countries? Have the windmills, bulbs, clogs and costumes been overplayed? It seems very odd, since you can get a return ticket between London and Amsterdam for as little as 8 gns and Dutch hotels are anything but expensive. Room with private bath and a gargantuan breakfast in a first-class hotel for a mere 30s. is surely an attractive price.
But what can you do in Holland, people ask. Well, the country does not have the relaxed and relaxing atmosphere of the Mediterranean and is therefore not ideal for those who want to indulge the British holiday habit of doing nothing. If however, you enjoy wandering round lovely towns, both ancient and very new, and getting to know something of the life of a nation that is at the same time very similar to and very different from the British, with all the normal enjoyments of new scenery, new food and so on, you certainly ought to try Holland.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam make excellent centres, as do smaller towns like Haarlem or Hilversum. Amsterdam will have 2000 additional hotel beds available this summer. But if you are taking youngish children I would recommend one of the seaside towns. Scheveningen, part of The Hague, is the largest and best equipped. It has miles of sands—almost empty a bare half mile beyond the city boundary—a delightful modern pier, with a baby-park manned by qualified attendants, slot-machines, dodgems, restaurants, shops, special fishing-decks and much else. Hotels range from the massive and luxurious Kurhaus on the sea-front to the more modest but excellent Splendid two minutes away and the charmingly decorated Paulowna (meals not provided) in the heart of the town.
This is my own idea of the ‘musts’ for a first visit to Holland: a day in Rotterdam, on foot, touring the harbour by launch and having a meal or coffee in the Euromast restaurant, high above the town; a day at the Boymans Museum; a day (or week or month) walking round Amsterdam and making the absolutely imperative boat-trip through the canals; a day in Amsterdam’s two great art galleries, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum; a day visiting the Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery and the Open-Air Museum of country life, both just outside Arnhem, itself a beautiful town; a day touring the vast reclamation works around what was once the Zuyder Zee; and a final day seeing Holland old and ultra-modern in the towns of Naarden, Bussum and Hilversum.
Wherever you stay the local Tourist Office (V.V.V.—ask anyone for the `vay-vay-vaybureau’: almost every one speaks English, anyway) will give you all the extra information and on-the-spot help you can possibly need. So will the Netherlands National Tourist Office, 38 Hyde Park Gate, London, S.W.7. I can also recommend the following books.
Guidebooks: Blue Guide (Benn); Fodor’s Guide to Holland (not well written but sound); Baedeker’ s Autoguide to Benelux.
Semi-guides: Your Holiday in Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland (Gordon Cooper: Redman); Fortnight in Holland (L. Bransby: Percival Marshall).
Narratives: Dutch Holiday (S.P.B. and Gillian Mais: Redman); Small Boat Through Holland (Roger Pilkington: Faber).
Picture-books: This is Holland (Oorthuys and Kelk) and This is Amsterdam (Oorthuys and Hoekstra), both pocket-sized and both distributed by Faber.