|Nieuwe Kerk, Delft|
Culture and Society
- The Dutch language pronounces every letter in a word.
- Love of symmetry - many windows display pairs of vases, candles, etc.
- There are few public holidays, but (depending on your job) it is not uncommon to take a month vacation.
- Healthcare is reasonably priced.
- Recycling is thorough and fairly convenient.
- On birthdays, instead of wishing the birthday boy/girl a happy birthday, people congratulate their family (for putting up with them for another year???)
Buildings and Homes
- Old is older (i.e. the "New" church in Delft dates back to 1393).
- Brick is the construction material of choice, with many brick buildings and roads.
- Windows are rarely screened, and most swivel or swing open rather than slide.
- Beds don't typically include a flat sheet on top, just a comforter with changeable covers. It is also not unusual to find two twin mattresses shoved together rather than one large mattress.
- Canister vacuums are more common than uprights.
- There is no water fluoridation.
- They like clean toilets - I remember to bring a few coins with me in case I need to use a toilet with an attendant. You pay .20-.50 cents to the attendant who cleans between each use.
- Speaking of luxury, there is no 1-ply toilet paper, but feel free to indulge in 2, 3 or 4-ply.
- Dutch toilets drain in the front of the bowl, with an "examination shelf" in the back.
- The toilet room is also where the birthday calendar is mounted. It provides both reading material and a reminder to send grandma a card.
- Many shopping areas are closed on Sundays.
- Most stores close around 5PM the rest of the week.
- You should bring your own shopping bag to buy groceries, and expect to bag them yourself.
- Spices are cheap; even saffron and vanilla can be acquired for just a few euros. Same with flowers.
- Some basic things like baking soda are harder to find and can be quite pricey.
- But they have the best selection of bread toppings you will find anywhere, and whole shops devoted to cheese.
- Sales tax is 21%.
- Credit cards are rarely used; instead, bank cards are a common method of payment. They have done away with the magnetic strip and signatures and replaced that with a chip and PIN (which can cause problems for unprepared tourists!) There are no checks, but you can transfer money electronically.
- Grocery carts are usually returned to the proper place after use - you must deposit a coin to use a cart, and you get the coin back once the cart is returned.
|Good beer is never far|
- You can buy really good bread from any store.
- Many restaurants do not offer free water.
- Cutting with your fork is not done.
- Tipping your waiter is not expected; they are paid at least minimum wage.
- The doggy bag is uncommon.
- Good wine for good price - we commonly buy a certain type of port here for a very reasonable price. We were surprised to stumble across the same port in a grocery back in the U.S. priced at $100.
- This is not the place for mixed drinks...but they appreciate a good beer.
- You can walk your beer outside for a little fresh air in front of the pub.
- Beer is available in many places, including movie theaters.
- Bikes rule the Netherlands! There is an extensive road system just for bikes. The lack of hills makes riding easy. Most riders do not wear a helmet. Even school children make their commute on bicycle and there are no school buses.
- One card can be used for public transportation all over the country.
- Cars are compact with pick-ups and SUVs less common.
- Manual transmissions are favored over automatics.
|Bikes and Bricks!|
- Most obviously, they use the metric system.
- Calendar week starts on Monday.
- Date format is day-month-year.
- 24 hour clock.