Weird things in the Netherlands: what could surprise foreigners?

Weird things in the Netherlands: what could surprise foreigners?

Living abroad or walking through unknown cities and countries as a tourist, everyone dreams . While abroad, foreigners are faced with many new customs, traditions and rules. Not an exception and the Netherlands, which has its own subtleties of life, which sometimes surprise and shock.

Surprising things in the Netherlands

In stores in the Netherlands it is difficult for foreigners to find sugar. Local manufacturers pack it in packs that look more like juice or milk cartons. Mineral water is packaged in the same way. This saves nature from plastic.

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Surprising things in the Netherlands

There is a national Book Day in the kingdom , a holiday quite widely celebrated by the Dutch. One of the sponsors of the holiday is the company that owns the railroad, so on this day all tickets for passengers are free.

The country has a special emergency service for seals. Seals have to be rescued quite often, and ambulances and doctors are used for this purpose. In addition to physical assistance, harbor seals also receive psychological help, because it would be hard for them to return to the wild.

Many apartments and houses have special red boxes located on the walls. Inside there are fireproof blankets that can be used to quickly cover fires.

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Surprising things in the Netherlands

In winter, when the country’s canals and rivers freeze over, the local authorities check the ice and start a marathon for skaters . This tradition is over a hundred years old, the total length of such a marathon is almost 200 kilometers. You will have to run almost eleven cities, it is not for everyone.

All toilets in the Netherlands, located in the buildings – are paid. For a trip to the restroom will have to pay even in the mall and bar. However, some establishments, after paying for the toilet will give you a special coupon to get a discount on the purchase of goods.

All children in the Netherlands know how to swim . This is a compulsory course for toddlers, at the age of five, everyone must pass the exam and swim about a hundred meters in their clothes. If a child could not pass the exam and did not get a certificate, then it will not be accepted in school .

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Surprising things in the Netherlands

Police officers have developed an interesting scheme to find violators . The car is fixed at the entrance and exit of the highway, and the average speed is calculated by time. If you drive too fast, you will definitely receive a fine.

The country’s government is very concerned about the environment . All trains run on electricity generated by wind turbines. In ten years, the national government wants to completely eliminate the use of gasoline and diesel cars, giving preference to electric cars.

Many parking lots near restaurants, bars and shopping centers have special devices where you can measure blood alcohol levels. This is used by all Dutch people, because after drinking alcohol it is better not to get caught by the police with unacceptable standards.

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Surprising things in the Netherlands

The Dutch smoke a lot, annually inhabitants of the country smoke about 6 billion cigarettes. It is not janitors who keep the streets and yards clean but specially trained crows. The birds help to collect cigarette butts, for which they get food.

Law enforcement officers in the Netherlands are surprisingly friendly to everyone. It is not surprising that police officers joke and play with children in the street, they can even help to change a tire on a car or even fix a bicycle.

Cities in the kingdom have special areas for walking pets . Here the animals can go to the toilet, and there are special garbage cans, bags and scoops nearby. By the way, if the pet goes to the toilet in other place, the owner faces a penalty, about the violation of necessarily someone will report, attaching a photo and video.

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Surprising things in the Netherlands

Free toilets for people are right on the streets. This is quite strange and not every tourist is ready to use an open stall in the middle of a busy street with a mass of pedestrians.

The Dutch never use curtains, especially if it is not a sleeping area. It is believed that locals have nothing to hide from prying eyes. Foreigners should be aware of this point, plus special services wash windows, and this can be very scary to the uninformed person in the room.

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The Dutch love the color orange. It is the symbol of the monarchy, it is surprising that the flag of the kingdom has a completely different shade. On the birthday of the King, the whole country is decorated in orange, and residents are sure to wear at least one piece of this color.

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Hi! My name is Pasha and I have been to many countries around the world, but most often I have traveled to the land of tulips, windmills and desperate cyclists. If you are discovering the Netherlands for the first time, it is not easy to find even sugar or water in the local stores. But almost everyone speaks English fluently and will help you in any situation. You will be greeted in the morning by strangers at the streetcar stop and your neighbors, who you see for the first time, may pay you a compliment by saying that you look great, even if you just went outside to throw out the trash. I chatted with my Dutch friends and found out what they like best about their country, and also discovered a few things common to locals that even shocked me a bit.

1. A book instead of a train pass

During National Book Day, co-sponsored by the Dutch railroads, all reading passengers are given free travel on the trains.

2. Police who teach you to be vigilant

The Dutch police are very responsive and kind, they will easily play snowballs with your kids, help fix your bike, show tourists the way, and teach you how to lock your car. As I was told by the inhabitants of a small Dutch town, they and their neighbors are not used to locking their cars, so the local police sometimes check whether your vehicle is open, and if your car was not locked, the police will leave a note for you on the seat, so that next time you do not forget to lock your car.

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3. SEAL ambulance

There is an ambulance for seals, where they are not only treated, but also given psychological support before they are released back into the wild. In schools, children are taught what to do if they find crippled animals on the beach. If a child calls a special rescue service, veterinarians will quickly arrive and help the defenseless animal, taking it to a rehabilitation center.

4. Your windows are cleaned by the employees of the local housing and communal services.

The Dutch are not used to curtaining windows, especially in the living room, which is the heart of the home. Locals believe they have nothing to hide from prying eyes. But when I stayed overnight at a friend’s house, I was frightened when early in the morning people with helmets and rags suddenly appeared outside the window (which was the sixth floor) and started cleaning our windows. As my friends explained to me, they were employees of the local housing and utilities committee. About once a month they clean the windows from the outside of the building, although it was a very ordinary panel apartment building in the suburbs of Amsterdam.

5. Unexpected finds in apartments

And also here very often for some reason in the bathrooms (not in the kitchen) you can find these red boxes. They contain fireproof blankets with which you can cover a small hearth of fire.

6. Toilet areas for dogs

There are separate areas for the dogs where they can do their little or big things, and there will always be a trashcan and a bag with a scoop nearby for the owner to clean up after their pet right away. If your dog decides to mark the territory in the wrong place, you will face a fine of several dozen euros. And don’t worry, your neighbors will turn you in to the police and take photos of you and your dog at the moment of the offense.

7: Swimming test for all children

Because of the large number of rivers and canals and the possibility of flooding, almost everyone in the Netherlands must know how to swim. At the age of 5, children must pass a swimming test and be able to swim at least 100 meters, even with their clothes on, as well as several meters and under water. The child has to get a special swimming certificate, without which he will not be accepted to school.

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8. Care for the environment

All trains in the Netherlands since 2017 use electricity, which was obtained from wind turbines, making this public transport of the country the greenest in terms of the environment. By 2030, the Dutch government plans to ban the sale of cars with gasoline or diesel engines so that residents in the country will travel primarily by electric cars.

9. Crows instead of wipers

Every year about 6 billion cigarette butts are thrown out on the streets in the Netherlands. So a company wants to train crows who will collect cigarette butts in a special garbage can in exchange for food.

10. Humor of road workers

As I was told in confidence by local drivers, the Dutch policemen have invented an interesting way to control the speed of motorists. A special system registers when you entered the highway, and then calculates the average speed, and if it is more than allowed, you immediately get a fine by mail. Also, if the road is being repaired and you have to take a detour route, every couple of kilometers you’ll see faces like this. The less kilometers left to the detour, the wider will be the smile on these original road signs.

11. safe driving

In parking lots, especially near shopping malls or places where various entertainment venues are located, you can see these devices that will measure your blood alcohol level to warn you not to drive.

12. Paid toilets even in clubs.

Paid toilets are everywhere, even in shopping malls, nightclubs, and bars. And at gas stations after visiting the restroom you may be given a coupon for a discount on automotive products, commensurate with the cost of a visit to the toilet (usually 50 eurocents).

But such free open toilets for men can be seen in the middle of the pedestrian streets of any major city.

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13. The three X’s are not what you think.

Amsterdam’s coat of arms depicts three crosses, but they have nothing to do with adult films or anything like that, as tourists sometimes think when they first visit the “red light district” and see XXX on many buildings and in shop windows. In fact, these are the three crosses of St. Andrew, which signify the city’s three virtues: valor, toughness and mercy.

14. The national color orange.

Although the flag of the country consists of red, white and blue, the national color is considered orange, which is the symbol of the monarchy in this country. On the King’s birthday, April 27, the Dutch dress in all orange, take to the streets and have fun.

15. Skating ultramarathon on rivers and canals

When all the canals and rivers are frozen, then a special local city commission measures the thickness of the ice and officially allows all residents to skate. And for more than 100 years with the onset of cold weather there is a skating ultramarathon for a distance of about 200 km, which takes place on the rivers, canals and ponds of Friesland through 11 cities.

16. School traditions

There is now a rather new and very unusual tradition in the Netherlands. On a flagpole near the house they hang a student’s school backpack to celebrate the successful completion of exams and the beginning of vacations.

17. Communication through the mills

At the tour, the caretaker of an old windmill told me that in the past a miller and his family could communicate practically all news (birth, death, marriage) without leaving their home, but only by setting the wings of the mill in a certain way to convey this or that message to their friends and relatives.

Bonus: how hard it is to find sugar in stores

I tried for an hour to find sugar in a regular Dutch store, and I still don’t understand why it’s packaged as if it were milk or some kind of juice. By the way, regular drinking water here is also poured into such cardboard boxes, more environmentally friendly compared to the usual plastic bottles.

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