The constitutional monarchy of the Netherlands is divided into 12 official provinces (4 regional divisions). Beginning in Amsterdam during our trip to Northwestern Europe, we explored three of the provinces of West Netherlands—North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht—and then traveled through Breda in North Brabant of South Netherlands on our way to Belgium.
Where in the World?
The Netherlands is located in Northwestern Europe along the North Sea. From Amsterdam, most of the country can be accessed by train within a couple of hours.
Much of the Netherlands is navigable using alternative modes of transportation—train, tram, boat, ferry, bicycle, foot—that commonly eliminate the need for a car. We utilized efficient, convenient and well-operated Dutch trains to travel between cities, and trams within each city. However, most of our time traversing cities and villages was spent on foot, which allowed us to take in the scenery.
As if caught in time, storybook postcard photos come to life. Ubiquitous bicycles cross picturesque canals; antique windmills dot ever-present waterways; colorful tulips cover fields in spring. As we looked further, beyond its well-preserved history, we were struck by the Dutch progressive modernity. Known for its traditional characteristics, the Netherlands is also known for tolerance and innovation.
Cultural note: although often used interchangeably, “Holland” is a historic region along the North Sea, now divided (into North and South) to create two of the provinces within the larger, more diverse country of “the Netherlands.” Whereas, “Dutch” refers to all things and people from this country.