Categorized | Holland, Travel Europe

Travel Holland: Tom of Active Backpacker

Travel Holland

Well get your clogs on and have a read of today’s TraveLinkSites interview with none other than Tom of Active Backpacker. We’re big fans of this chaps blog which merrily follows his travels through Asia and Europe.  Read on for all things Holland (and a lot of cheese…)

1. Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Holland?

Hi! I’m Tom and I run (and my girlfriend Trudy helps a lot with the photos).

I’ve been enjoying backpacking on and off since I was 18 and went on a 10 month trip through Europe and Asia after I finished high school in Australia. I’m currently living in Rotterdam in The Netherlands and using that as a base for backpacking Europe and of course to experience Holland as an live-in expat instead of just someone who is passing through.

2. What made you choose this country and what were your first impressions?

My mother is Dutch (although she immigrated to Australia with her parents when she was five) so I have family roots here and had an Oma and Opa growing up (grandparents). My girlfriend’s father is also Dutch and went to Australia in a similar situation.

We also wanted to do something different to what so many other Australians do (which is move to London or the UK in general). Holland just seemed perfect all of a sudden, their English is great but they’ve still really get their own thing going on when it comes to culture and lifestyle, so we just thought, “Let’s do it!”.

Travel Holland

3. How much money can someone travel around Holland for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?

Hostels are generally your standard Western European prices of 15 – 30 Euros for a night in a dorm room – so if you’re used to those sorts of prices Holland is no more or less expensive then other Western European countries when it comes to cheap travel accommodation.

Rail transport is also pretty pricey here, especially for tourists just passing through. It’s possible to get discounts when you live here, but that option is sneakily not available for travellers.

As for things that are cheap, all the dairy products are a steal! If you love cheese, milk, eggs and yoghurt Holland will keep you coming back for more. Lucky I’m not lactose intolerant as I probably eat way too much cheese at the moment.

Fruit and vegetables are also super cheap at the markets if you buy what is currently in season. I always compare prices to Australia though (which is absurdly expensive when it comes to groceries…and everything else for that matter!).

4. What is the local cuisine like? Did you find yourself trying new things or pining for the familiars of home?

Yes! As I indicated above I love the amazing selection of cheeses here at the local Rotterdam markets. The choices are almost overwhelming with a type of cheese for every occasion. My favourite style of cheese is ‘Extra Belegen’. It has a nice strong flavour (compared to young cheese for example) but is not too overpowering so it’s great to eat on sandwiches and great on pasta.

And the beer is superb as well (although let’s be honest, the best stuff is always from Belgium). I’m not really pining for anything back home food-wise. There is a huge variety of multicultural cuisine available here, especially Italian and Indonesian which are both delicious.

5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Holland and why?

If you find yourself here in winter, then hope you’re lucky enough to experience the canals freezing over. It’s great fun, as you can go ice skating through Dutch villages (and in Amsterdam city too) whilst speakers playing Dutch music are blaring and people are enjoying Heineken and hot pea soup in large tents on the ice.

Travel Holland

It’s also worth being here for Queen’s Day if you’re here at the end of April (30th) – the whole country explodes into an orange extravaganza and the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven are one big party.

6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?

My favourite thing about living here and travelling Holland would have to be the fact that you can ride a bicycle literally EVERYWHERE. That’s so awesome, especially compared to Australia where motorists hate bicyclists with an almost unprecedented passion. It’s so common place here and most of the time you have your own dedicated bicycle path so you’re not even on the road with cars.

It’s great being able to go out to the pub for a few drinks and then ride home again without having to get a taxi or walk.

My least favourite thing would have to be the weather. I’m used to a lot more sunny and warmer days and sometimes ‘weather depression’ (come on, it’s a real thing) can really get you down.

7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?

I like to blog about everything when it comes to backpacking (with a real focus on Europe at the moment), but for Holland specifically I’m really trying to highlight things that I think other backpackers and travellers would enjoy if they were to visit. I’ve done some huge posts on things to do in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and I really try to talk from experience and offer personal recommendations. 

Travel Holland

8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Holland without?

My bicycle of course! And a Dutch bank card haha, Holland is a real pain for using international cards especially for train tickets and the like (which we found so strange as they are so international in everything else!).

9. What kind of response have you had to your blogs about Holland? What post had the most interest?

I get a lot of interest from the new Dutch friends we have made in Rotterdam. I think they like seeing how I view Holland as an expat and someone who has not grown up here. I did a huge post on moving to The Netherlands as well that generated some interest, and I hope that’s been helpful to future expats who are planning to live here for a while!

Also a post I did about a Feyenoord game (the Rotterdam football club) got a link from a Feyenoord fan site. Again, I think they thought it was nice to get a different perspective on their beloved team.

Travel Holland

10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone told you before you started travelling in Holland what would it be?

There are so many little quirks and intricacies that you pick up when you live in another country. If you are planning to travel and stay in Holland for a few weeks or more I would recommend getting an OV-chipkaart. Just load it with some funds and you can use it to travel literally everywhere in The Netherlands without buying paper tickets all the time.

Also, get yourself your very own bicycle so you can ride around and enjoy the sights! Get one cheap from which is the Dutch equivalent of EBay, and then just sell it again when you are done.

That’s all from me, thanks for reading!

Thanks to Tom for another fab interview.

Follow his time in Holland and more over on Active Backpacker and check him out on Twitter too.

If you would like to be interviewed contact us.

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