Netherlands and Belgium – Things I Noticed
Things I Noticed – Netherlands and Belgium
Today is our last full day in Belgium. It was a struggle getting to our beautiful hotel in Brussels yesterday as road construction has plagued the downtown core. The ONLY accessible way to reach our hotel was to drive down a one-way street against the traffic – the WRONG way. Of course as we got to the end of the street where our hotel sits there were 3 police standing there looking at us. I guess they were considering giving our coach driver a ticket BUT they finally admitted he had no choice but to travel down the road the way he did. That experience will be another chapter in my long-overdue book….
Today I have a full tour day planned for my passengers. I have changed things around a bit to accommodate the one-way road issue. We are starting the day with a walking tour and will eventually meet up with our coach in an area where the driver can legally pick us up.
Tonight instead of using our coach for transportation to dinner taxis have been arranged.
The sun is beaming, the sky is blue – not a cloud to be seen but carrying an umbrella is a must in both Belgium and the Netherlands.
Here are a few things that I noticed during our travels –
Surprisingly even though they are neighbours there are major differences between the 2 countries (just like Canada and the United States)
Dutch are very outgoing – love a party – are very talkative – friendly – you can peak into their homes and they almost seem to welcome it – no curtains – are very open – English is widely spoken
Belgiums are much more private – much harder to have a conversation with them – hedges often hide their homes – English is spoken but not as fluent as in the Netherlands
Dutch homes are often very similar in style
Belgiums don’t want homes that look like their neighbours
A minimalist home interior is the norm in both countries
If you buy a historic home you must abide to a number of regulations – especially when doing exterior renovations
Legally in Belgium store owners can only offer sales before Christmas and in July – this is to make the marketplace fair for everyone – good luck finding a “deal” any other time of the year
Always pack an umbrella because it rains over 200 days a year in both countries
Belgium Chocolate production is regulated by the government – manufacturers must use a high percentage of cocoa so their chocolate remains some of the best in the World
The Belgium Chocolate Line by Dominique Persoone has created the most unique chocolate offerings – all hand made – flavours include bacon, fried onion, curry, gin and tonic – there is even a Rolling Stones chocolate – they also manufacture chocolate powder that you sniff for a different high? Only two locations in Brugge and Antwerpen – extremely popular with the Asians who will gladly pay the top dollar
After a few samplings I feel that Belgium has the best fries – their potatoes are a little salty due to their soil which absorbs salt from the North Sea – they fry the potatoes twice – the most popular topping is mayonnaise and I also prefer Belgiums as its a little sour tasting instead of sweet like the Netherlands
I give the best “chef culinary” frites award to – Frites Atelier Amsterdam – just 4 locations – Chef Sergio Herman’s locations frite toppings are all homemade – what a difference that makes
The Belgiums are more religious and are mainly Catholic – On Easter Sunday I walked into a massive Presbyterian church in the Netherlands while Easter Sunday service was going on and sadly I counted only 18 people in the congregation
Both countries have Red Light districts but in Belgium it doesn’t appear as open as in the Netherlands
Both countries love their coffee
The Dutch enjoy pancakes and the Belgiums line up to buy waffles
In comparison to home prices – Shopping is overall more expensive in both countries
Unlike similar size towns at home the Downtown cores in both the Netherlands and Holland are vibrant – nice to see
A Canadian debit card is accepted almost everywhere
Business men in both countries dress more formal than we do in North America
The Dutch are some of the tallest people in the World but I had trouble finding size 12 shoes in both countries?
Like at home Spring is late arriving in both these countries – Belgium is little farther ahead (many trees are in bud)