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South Holland is a coastal province in the Netherlands. It the most densely populated province of the country with more than 3,5 million people living here, mainly in big or midsized cities like The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden and Delft. It is home to one of the two mainports in the Netherlands, the international port of Rotterdam (the other one is Schiphol international airport). The province of South Holland has existed since 1840 when the larger province Holland was split up into a northern and southern part.
Apart from the urban landscapes, there are other more peaceful landscapes to find as well, like a long coastline covered with dunes, and there are polders, rivers and lakes to find as well. Part of South Holland is called the Green Hart, which is in between the four major cities (The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam) and offers a quiet alternative for city residents to recreate. Unfortunately, this green hart is getting smaller and smaller and several highways run through it. The most southern parts of the province is quiet as well and several lakes and islands make up for a good holiday, as it is comparable to the province of Zeeland with which it shares borders. Especially Goeree-Overvlakke is very peaceful and quiet.
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The Keukenhof gardens are the world's largest flower garden and if you are visiting the Netherlands between late March and mid-May and enjoy flowers, then this is an attraction you won't want to miss. Around 7 million bulbs are planted on an area of some 32 hectares. The gardens are located near the town of Lisse in South Holland. Although the history of the gardens goes back several hundred years, its current incarnation goes back to 1949 when it was set up to provide a place for Dutch flower growers to showcase their blooms to the world.
If you are only in the Netherlands for a few days and aren't sure whether to visit the countryside, other cities, islands or anything else, a visit to
Madurodam will enable you to see it all in one day! Madurodam is the Netherlands on a 1:25 scale. You can enjoy most major cities and important buildings in the country by visiting this park in The Hague. For detailed information about prices, getting there and things to see, visit the Madurodam website.
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A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout consists of 19 windmills, built in 1740. If you want to appreciate the windmills, it is best to go on foot or better; rent a bicycle and take a ride along all of the windmills. Sometimes, it is possible to visit one inside. For more detailed information visit the Kinderdijk website.
On every 3rd tuesday in September the Queen reads out her Speech of the throne (Troonrede) in the Ridderzaal. The speech itself is a dry piece of information written by politicians and not that interesting for visitors. What is interesting is the rituals surrounding the day. At 13.00h the Queen gets into the Golden Coach, that will take her through the streets of The Hague to the Ridderzaal. Along the route many people gather to grasp a glimpse of the Queen and the other members of the royal family. The route starts at the Palace Noordeinde and the goes to the Lange Voorhout and the Korte Vijverberg to the Binnenhof. It's only a short route and it takes about 15 minutes in total. After the speech, the Queen heads back to the palace, where she will appear on the balcony to say goodbye.
On the last Sunday of June, the biggest music festival in the Netherlands takes place in the Zuiderpark in The Hague. On several stages in the park several bands are playing from young and local talents to big names of the international music business. On a good day it is possible that 350.000 to 400.000 people come to visit the festival. The line-up every year consist of a mix of Dutch bands and International bands, with a good mix of genres, so that everybody can find a band he or she likes. Besides the music, there are markets and of course food and drink stalls. If you plan to visit and you need to get out of The Hague by public transport, have some patience as the transport is somewhat overloaded, especially when the weather is good. And the best part of the festival is, that the entrance is for free.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
Als South Holland has at least some influence of the sea, this means that summers are slightly cooler and winters slightly milder on average compared with most other parts of the Netherlands.
Rotterdam has a small airport called Rotterdam The Hague Airport, formerly Zestienhoven. It's mostly used by Transavia, Correndon and VLM airlines. The first two are specialised in holiday destinations, and the last services a lot of the smaller airports in the Netherlands and Begium, and connects from Rotterdam to for example London City Airport, Manchester Airport, the Isle of Man, Hamburg Airport and Jersey. Skywork Airlines has a weekly flight to Bern in Switzerland (winter only).
As Rotterdamand The Hague are centrally located in the most populated part of the country, there are good connections with many major cities, like Utrecht, Amsterdam and Breda. Most cities are within a one hour travel distance. Check the National Railways website for trainschedules to and from cities like Rotterdam and The Hague.
There are many highways leading to and from the province. The most important one is the A4 from Schiphol southwards. Other highways are the A12 from The Hague to Utrecht and the A15 from the Rotterdam area to Nijmegen in the east of the Netherlands. Note that parking in central parts of the bigger cities can be expensive, mostly around 3 or 4 euros an hour on the street, less in parking garages.
There are possibilities to travel by sea straight to South Holland, for example from Hull in the United Kingdom to Hoek van Holland, provided by Stenaline.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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