Literally meaning 'The Low Countries,' almost half of the Netherlands once lay under water. On the delta of three major rivers - the Rhine, Maas and Scheldt - the country owes its existence to the conquest of water through astonishing feats of hydraulic engineering. From the 16th century windmills were used not just to keep the land dry but also to drain entire inland lakes.
With around half of the country still at or below sea level, the fertile, pancake-flat stretches of land known as polders are bisected by a network of drainage ditches and canals which control the water table beneath huge open skies – while miles of protective dunes protect the long coastline to the west and north. But the Netherlands is just as remarkable in many other ways. One of the most urbanised and densely populated nations on earth, almost 17 million people (on average the tallest in the world) live in an area little more than half the size of Scotland. The towns and villages of the country's twelve provinces are often picture-perfect places of gabled townhouses, pretty canals and church spires - each one often a profoundly separate place with its own distinct identity.
There’s perhaps nowhere else in the world where you can hear so many different accents, even dialects, in such a small area. In spring and summer the world famous bulbfields turn into huge, bold vistas of colour. Originating not from the Netherlands but Turkey, tulips continue to grow extremely well on Dutch soil and have almost become part of the national identity.
What an amazing holiday. Our tour guide Bernie couldn’t have been more helpful, such a knowledgable guy. Hotels were good, daily coach travel was excellent. We crammed so much in, both in Moscow & St Petersburg. Thoroughly recom...
Just returned yesterday from a fabulous break in Krakow. Everything was perfect. A special thanks to our tour guide Karolina who was outstanding. Her aim was to ensure everyone had a great time and she certainly did that. Thanks a...