Some years ago I organised a Dutch nodermeet. It was meant for Dutch noders only, and as there are not too many of those to begin with, and some of them prefer to stay anonymous, there were only four of us at the meet and one of them was actually a Brit living in Belgium. It wasn't really a great success, you know?
Since then, I've come to see that my first vision was much too limited, and that's why I'm trying again! This time the meet will be open to any noder, no matter where they're from, as long as they're willing to travel to the Netherlands. So if you need an excuse to come to Europe, you Americans, or to cross the Channel, you britnoders, or to find out how flat a country can really be, you people from anywhere else: here it is! You are all invited, I would love to meet you and show you around.
So where and when will it be?
The date will be the weekend of 14-16 September 2007, which gives you all more than half a year to prepare.
To simplify matters for myself, the meet will be in Delft
, where I live. Apart from being convenient, Delft is also a very nice place to visit (it's much like a smaller cuter Amsterdam
) and it can be reached easily by train. Delft lies halfway between The Hague
, about an hour by train from Amsterdam and Schiphol
From Rotterdam, The Hague
or Amsterdam, you can take the train to almost anywhere else in Europe. From Rotterdam to Antwerp
is an hour, Brussels
two hours, Paris
takes about three hours with the Thalys
can be reached in three and a half hours, to give a few examples. So you might even use the meet as a starting or end point of a longer holiday...
How will I get there?
The cheapest option is to come by bus. Eurolines buses go to Rotterdam or Amsterdam from many destinations in Europe (including Britain), several times a week. From there you can take a train.
For travellers from Europe another option is the international train, which can take longer than flying but at least you get to walk around and you can bring along as many fluids as you like. Train travel can be more expensive than a cheap flight, though.
And finally you can take a plane to Amsterdam (Schiphol) or to Rotterdam. Rotterdam airport is small and doesn't have its own train station like Schiphol, so you'd need to go to Rotterdam Central station first, but from there Delft is only 15 minutes by train.
And where can I stay?
Unfortunately, finding a cheap place to sleep in Delft is not all that easy. The cheapest option would be to go local and stay with your hostess.
I have a guest room with one bed and some room on the floor, so I can house three people, or four if two of them like each other enough to not mind sharing the bed (it's about 1.20 m wide, so rather large for one and rather small for two). First come is first served. My housemate Yoben has kindly offered his sleeping room as well. One or two more places are available! All places at my house occupied now. For those as don't fit into the guest room anymore, there are a few other choices.
Delft has plenty of hotels. The cheapest option will cost you about 50 Euros a night (that's 60 dollars of 30 pounds, abouts). If you want to stay in a hotel, /msg me for tips, because some hotels are nicer than others. There are a few bed and breakfast places that will cost a bit less than a hotel, but not by much.
Then, there is the camping site. It is situated just outside Delft and can be reached by bus in about twenty minutes. You could bring a tent (this might not be advisable depending on the weather), or alternatively, hire one of the chalets or hiker's huts there. Or the ecological bungalow! If more people want to do this, you could perhaps share and split the costs. The camping site can be found online at http://www.delftsehout.nl/uk/index.html
Finally, in Rotterdam and The Hague there are a few hostels. Rotterdam has one right next to the central station and two or three in the city centre. Both Rotterdam and The Hague are a 15 minutes' train journey from Delft and during the weekend trains go throughout the night.
But I don't speak Dutch!
Well, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Most of the Dutch speak at least a few words of English, many of them more than a few, and they will be only too happy to show them off. You'll be fine.
But aren't the Netherlands really scary, with all them drugs and prostitution and so on?
(I don't know, does anybody really think this?) If you've led a really sheltered life, some things in the Netherlands might shock you. Like the coffee shops, that actually sell marijuana, and the red light districts (Amsterdam has the largest, but something similar can be found in many cities. Utrecht has a red light houseboat district!). If you keep your wits about you, the Netherlands are very safe. The largest dangers are being robbed by pickpockets and being run over by a bicycle. So as long as you don't count your money in the middle of the street in Amsterdam and you keep an eye out for the bikes that can come from any direction at any moment (I'm kidding only slightly here), you won't run into trouble. Oh, and DON'T try to take any of the stuff you bought in one of those coffee shops home. Bad idea.
What will we do?
I've come up with a blueprint for a program, that can be changed at will if people express preference for other stuff to do. But so far, my idea is this:
Friday 14 september: Arrival of noders. Welcome dinner in Delft, followed by drinks somewhere.
Saturday 15 september: sightseeing tour of Delft. Perhaps partly on a canal boat? Possibilities include: climbing the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk, visiting the graves of William of Orange and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, visiting a Delftware factory, the technical museum, renting of bicycles and doing a tour of the countryside, shopping for cheese and wooden shoes...
In the evening: dinner at sloebertje's, including a tour of the communal living project she lives in. After that, discover Delft's night life.
Sunday 16 september: visit to either Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, depending on what people prefer.
Amsterdam is most famous, of course. Everybody knows about Amsterdam, right? Capital of the Netherlands, city of Rembrandt. Amsterdam is a beautiful city with lots to do. We can visit the red light district, take a walk along the old center with its canals and small streets, go shopping, take a historic tour, take a ride on a canal boat, visit the Rijksmuseum or van Gogh museum or Anne Frank huis.
Rotterdam is the Dutch city most like an American city. It was bombed in WWII and thus lacks an old center. (If you sport a German accent, DO NOT ask a local where the old city center is! Really, bad idea.) It makes up for this lack with lots of modern architecture, the world's oldest car-less shopping area and some very cool museums. We could also take a boat from Rotterdam to Kinderdijk where you will find a large collection of typical Dutch windmills.
The Hague is home to the Dutch government and the International Criminal Court. It's somewhat posher than Amsterdam, but with fewer canals. The Hague has the government buildings, a cool old prison you can visit, the Mauritshuis museum with paintings by Vermeer, a seaside boulevard, an Escher museum and an underground tram stop! Fascinating, no?
Let me know where you would like to go. Also on Sunday: farewell dinner, tearful goodbyes.
Sound good? Wanna come?
If you're thinking of coming, but you have questions (about how to get here, places to stay, or anything else), please do not hesitate to /msg me.
Yes, I'll be there!
What? Are you out of your mind? No way I'm coming to that weird country to meet some crazy strangers!