Holland: the best place to start traveling in Europe

Student Ambassador Shucheesmita from the International Institute of Social Studies explains how easy it is to travel around Holland and, subsequently, Europe.

Posted by Shusheesmita Simonti - Student Ambassador - International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University at Aug 06, 2018 10:43 AM
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One of the images that captured my attention while I started applying for my Masters degree in the Netherlands was that of colorful tulips. I was mesmerized by the colors, so much so that I had printed some pictures of tulip gardens and windmills and pasted them on my study desk. After arriving here however, I found out that the pictures that I was impressed by are of Keukenhof and that I would have to wait until April to go there. Nonetheless, I visited Zaanse Schans soon after my arrival in September 2017 and for me, it was like a view out of a fairytale! The beauty of the place was mesmerizing. And soon I discovered, to my surprise and joy, that this country had a lot more beautiful places I never read about, in any of the travel blogs I followed. 

Holland has many beautiful places, apart from Amsterdam!

Before I arrived here, I only knew about the Hague- as it is famously known as the city of peace and justice and Amsterdam of course! In South Asian movies, particularly Bollywood movies, I have seen Amsterdam through the eyes of the lead characters many a times and my joy knew no bounds when I finally saw Amsterdam with my own eyes! And I am yet to explore more of Amsterdam. This is one city that never ceases to amaze me.

Shusheesmita - Amsterdam

There are so many places to explore and enjoy- Giethoorn, Maastricht, Groningen, Texel- and a lot more. And every place has its unique charm and beauty! Sometimes, surprises awaited me in villages, in remote corners of Holland. For example, I would like to tell the story of my visit to Baarle Nassau and Baarle Hertog- as given the region I hail from, this little village made me so thoughtful and inspired.

The amusing Baarle Nassau & Baarle Hertog

I hail from Bangladesh. In South Asia, border represents division. Borders are protected, with security personnel armed with rifles keeping a watch all the time. To go from one country to another is not really easy all the time. Often it is a hassle, with extremely tiring processes on both sides of the border, with hours of paperwork involved. For me, borders were places of anxiety forever, given that I studied in India before coming here and I always preferred to avoid traveling by road because often I traveled alone and I did not like to go through these hassles. I once went to Wagah border, the famous Indo-Pak border. I am not sure if I could have ever obtained visa to cross the border and visit Pakistan. To sum it up, borders were never fluid. And this is something I discovered in these twin villages. I accidentally stumbled upon an article on these twin villages and decided to go and explore them myself in a day or two.

And just as the article suggested, it was indeed confusing. I walked across the village and often I was not sure where I was- whether I was in Holland or in Belgium. I had lunch in a small eatery where I asked someone if I was in Belgium, or in Holland. And I had an amusing conversation with the woman at the counter. She told me that the front doors of a house often determine if it is in Holland or in Belgium as many buildings are built across these two countries.

Shusheesmita - Baarle 

I kept walking back and forth across two countries, could I ever do it so easily elsewhere? I wonder. This is something I cannot imagine in my part of the world and this day trip left me amused and thoughtful. I am planning to go to the three country border soon and take a long walk across them! I wish someday we could have a border free South Asia and stories of security guards with rifles become history.

Belgium is not so far!

 Another perk of living and studying in Holland is that it is so easy to escape to its neighboring country Belgium. Just board a bus/train and in few hours you are in Belgium! I was so amused to learn this and I have visited Belgium twice. And every time, the journeys were so smooth. All I had to do was to book a ticket! And from the Hague, where I live, it took me only about 3 hours I think to reach Brussels! And then , from Brussels, Paris is not so far! And then from Paris, you can head to any other country you wish to, as long as you have the permit!

Shusheesmita - Belgium

So, Holland can be a good starting point if you want to travel across Europe. But before you set off for other countries, I would recommend that explore Holland first. Happy traveling!

Posted by Shusheesmita Simonti - Student Ambassador - International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University at Aug 06, 2018 10:43 AM
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