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Solo Spring Trip: Netherlands + Germany (+ more?)

Travel Forums Europe Solo Spring Trip: Netherlands + Germany (+ more?)

1. Posted by -Matt- (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

Hey folks, I'm in the early stages of planning a solo trip for spring. At the moment my budget is around £1500 but by the time I leave it could be much closer to £3000 (as long as there's plenty of overtime in work that is). The length of my trip depends entirely on how long my money lasts as I plan on quitting my job before I leave (so no need to rush back if I don't want to).

Ideally I'd like to see as much of The Netherlands and Germany as I can on this budget, (possibly finding a little work along the way to top up funds). Saying that, I don't want to just limit myself to these two countries so am open to suggestions on other routes/destinations.

I don't see the point in planning a detailed itinerary because I'd never stick to it, plus, as we all know, being impulsive is a lot more fun.

I'll probably be doing most of my travel by train and staying in budget hostels/hotels. I don't need luxury.

My initial plan is to fly from Cardiff to Schiphol, then get a train to Utrecht, then... who knows...

The only place in The Netherlands I've been is Amsterdam. The prices the last time I went seem to have doubled compared to what they were a few years back. Does this apply to the whole of The Netherlands or just Amsterdam as it's most popular with tourists? Either way I'll probably avoid it completely on this trip as I've visited most of the museums and the like on previous trips.

There appear to be a few knowledgable Dutch and German posters on here so any info/tips/suggestions on possible routes/destinations would be very much appreciated. Any advice from others who have travelled around these countries would also be greatly appreciated.

I aim to see the 'real' side of the countries I visit (if that makes sense?) so would like to avoid a lot of the 'tourist traps' and see what's really on offer.

Any help anyone could offer would be great as this is my first big solo trip (only travelled for a week on my own before).

One more thing, how easy would it be to find work? Maybe just a bit of bar work or kitchen work to top up my funds a little? Bearing in mind I only know a little German, and a few very basic bits and pieces of Dutch but am currently working on improving both. I also aim to learn a lot more about both languages as I travel. What better way to learn than to be immersed in it, right?

Thanks in advance. Matt.

P.S. Happy New Year!!

2. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1384 posts) 7y

It seems that you have most of your plan already, so there is not a lot to add.

In the Netherlands you will be OK in finding work. Most of the people there speak English, and are not that troubled by having an English speaking person at the workplace. If you are from the UK, it means that you can work without much trouble. (you probably need to pay taxes, and have a dutch insurance, which are rather costly), but an employment agency like Start, Randstad, Vedior can help you out there. If you use one of these it is probably that they want you to work a couple of weeks for them.

I don't know easy it is to get a job in Germany, so I can't really comment on that, but it is a fact that there are not too many Germans talking English. (Youth yes, but older persons are unlikely to speak English.)

As Amsterdam is all you have seen of the Netherlands, than there is a lot to discover, but as you don't want to see the touristic places, it a bit hard to tell you where you need to go. I like the city of Groningen a lot. There are a lot of students there, so nightlife is pretty good there. If you want to travel without a plan, I would say take a regional bus from one of the trainstations, and just get out in a place that you like. Walk around, if you like it stay, if you don't get back to the busstop, and continue to another place. If however you stop in small places, it might be difficult to get a place to sleep (or at least a place, that doesn't eat in to your budget.)

3. Posted by -Matt- (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

Thanks for your reply Herr Bert. My plans have changed a bit after having a chat with some friends over the weekend. A few of us are going to go to Germany around September time now I think so I'll probably just stick to exploring the Netherlands on my spring trip. I can relax a little more and travel at a much slower place now, plus save some € on travel costs as I won't be travelling such long distances

Regarding not wanting to see the touristy places, I could have probably explained it a little better. I guess I still want to see the sights on offer, they're popular for a reason right hahah. I just don't want to spend my whole trip going from attraction to attraction surrounded by tourists and missing out on what the country really has to offer. I also want to avoid the stag/hen party mafia They seemed to be everywhere when I was last in Amsterdam. At times I could have sworn I was in my local city centre on a friday night. No wonder us Brits get such a bad name. Hope that makes a little more sense.

4. Posted by mathijs123 (Budding Member 7 posts) 7y

Hi there Matt,

As an insider maybe i can be of some help. I think the best way of seeing the "real" Holland is not just staying in the western provinces and the big citys over there. The western provinces, or what we call "de randstad" is totally different then the rest of the country.
In the west you got places like Den Haag with Scheveningen what is absolutely a mustsee.
Rotterdam is also one of the big cities; I don't know rotterdam that well but it's also a special city to see for a few days.

For the rest you where right about Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a little country on itself, where even I feel like a foreigner, and because you've already been there, I wouldnt stay there.
Maybe you could also try places like Haarlem and Alkmaar, places that are famous for its cheesemarkets.
Also try some pitoresk towns in the east like zwolle,deventer or arnhem. I don't know what you really want to see, but if you can give me some info of what you like to see, maybe then I can help a little bit better.

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Regarding Germany: when you are going with your friends, you'll need to focus on one area too. September sounds like you are headed for the Octoberfest in Munich (if yes, book accomodation now!). In this case you'll be seeing Southern Germany, which is as different from Northern Germany as Scotland is from England. Consider adding North-Western Germany to your spring trip, Cologne, Bremen or Aachen.

The Netherlands are also great for a cycling trip, ie instead of getting around by train you take your bicycle and cycle from village to village. You get to see much more of the country than from the window of a train or a car. If you are reasonably fit you can cover up to 500 kms in 10 days. Can be worth a thought.

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 7, 2009, at 12:20 PM by t_maia ]

6. Posted by ringo6981 (Budding Member 48 posts) 7y

Check out Eindhoven,
I don't know what it is about the place but I just loved it. The people are friendly and the town has a great feel about it. It is one of the few places i have visited that i have thought i could live here long term (most places i love but just couldnt see myself living there instead of australia).
That said one persons experience of a town can be quite different to anothers, one of the main reasons I probably enjoyed it was because i spent a great deal of my time hanging with the locals...I always find you enjoy a place more if you hang out with the people who grew up there.

7. Posted by -Matt- (Budding Member 6 posts) 7y

Thanks for all the replies. Much appreciated...

I've done a little more research and planning and so far I've got: Amsterdam -> Haarlem -> Leiden -> Utrecht -> Rotterdam -> Den Bosch -> Eindhoven -> Maastricht (+ wherever I come across on the way).. Although I feel I may be neglecting the most of the northern half of the country :( Maybe I should head north first then go back south? Any ideas/suggestions?

With regards to what I'm after: I suppose I'm looking for a balance of different kinds of places.. eg. decent(ish) nightlife, a variety of music (clubs+live), picturesque views, some history, a few museums (I don't want to spend my whole trip going from museum to museum though), places I'll meet other travellers and places where I can just relax with the locals..... I guess this is still rather vague but I really don't know what else I'm after hahah

Now, a few questions:

How practical is the above? Any other suggested routes or places to see along the way? Are the places I've listed easily accessible by rail?

Is there still lots of poetry painted on the walls of Leiden? Read about this a few days ago and sounds like it could make for some good photos. Is there much to see/visit there?

Same goes for Den Bosch really.. Much to see and do? How's the nightlife?

I guess from Maastricht I may as well head into Germany? Budget permitting of course - so I'm still open to suggestions for Germany too as they may come in handy..

One last thing.. How busy is late March/April likely to be? I shouldn't need to book accommodation in advance, should I? I don't really want to be too tied down with dates so I can stay longer in places I like but if it needs to be done then so be it...

t_maia: We're not going in September for Oktoberfest surprisingly, even though I'd love too.. We're probably just going to head to Berlin for a long weekend as none of us have been before and are quite interested in checking it out as we've heard great things about some of the clubs..

Thanks in advance again for any suggestions you can throw my way and apologies for all the questions.

Matt

8. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

If you are set on Maastricht, check out Aachen.

Aachen is one of the oldest cities in Germany, some of its buildings are over 1000 years old. It is a beautiful city with lots of history.

http://www.aachen.de/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aachen
http://wikitravel.org/en/Aachen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Aachen

9. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member 1342 posts) 7y

Quoting -Matt-

I've done a little more research and planning and so far I've got: Amsterdam -> Haarlem -> Leiden -> Utrecht -> Rotterdam -> Den Bosch -> Eindhoven -> Maastricht (+ wherever I come across on the way).. Although I feel I may be neglecting the most of the northern half of the country :( Maybe I should head north first then go back south? Any ideas/suggestions?

I visited all these places (except Maastricht cuz I had no time) and you will have no problem getting around. The rail system is good and efficient and should not take you too long to get from one place to another.

Delft is good for a day trip, quaint little place. Den Haag, as mathijs123 mentioned, is also nice - other than Scheveningen, the Peace Palace, International Court of Justice and a couple of International Tribunals are all there.

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