A few years ago, I took a trip with EF College Break. We went on a crazy tour through ten countries. To be fair, the Netherlands was not of that much interest to me—I was much more interested in places like London or Paris that I had seen in my favorite movies and TV shows. However, I was signed up a bike tour of the countryside right outside of Amsterdam and after stepping off the train with my fellow travelers, I found myself falling in love with the scenery there.
The bike tour included a number of different things to see. Along with green landscapes and slowly whirling windmills, there were also goats and cows, tulips, and shops to explore. Because the terrain is so flat in that area, the bike ride was extremely relaxing, and I enjoyed chatting with my fellow bikers as we rode on paths and stopped to see some of the sights.
Old windmills acted as giants as we wove through the farms. One of my favorite stops we made was to a wooden shoe factory, where a local family still employed techniques to make the classic wooden shoes you would expect from Holland. There were shoes of all sizes and for all genders—they were originally meant to keep feet dry during wet seasons on farms. Now, they are mostly bought by tourists, though some of the farming families around that area swore that these shoes were still the best option.
Though the shoes were incredibly interesting, I was looking to fill my stomach with what I perceived the Netherlands are most famous for—its cheese. I rushed over to the giant wheels of cheese where it had been curating for months (and in some cases, years). I was able to sample a number of different kinds (and may have gone back for seconds). Even today, that cheesy moment still rings true as the best part of the bike tour.
For me, this bike tour showed me the real reason to visit Holland. The gorgeous countryside coupled with delicious food and friendly people changed my view on what the country had to offer. (Guess what? More than pot and a red light district.) It also encouraged me to step outside of the city in order to truly see a country and its people. Going a bit out of the way usually means that you have a chance to step back in time and see a place for what it really is.