Will Be in the Netherlands For a Few Days
Hi all! I have a great opportunity to be in the Netherlands for a few days. Mostly in Amsterdam, but also a few villages.
First, I’m going to test some people’s claim that if you try to speak Dutch, they’ll always reply in English. My Dutch friends say this is not the case, but many on these forums adamantly say it happens.
I’m also going to attempt to order food, maybe get a haircut, and ask where something is in Dutch. I hope I don’t get confused looks haha.
I’d love to hear your experiences if you’ve been to the Netherlands, or if you have any advice. :)
Nice to hear! Veel succes met je gloednieuwe Nederlandse vaardigheden uitproberen in Nederland! Ik hoop dat je het naar je zin gaat hebben.
The whole thing about Dutch people replying in English when you speak Dutch to them is really an Amsterdam-only thing. I'm a native speaker and believe me: even native Dutch speakers have to deal with being adressed in English in Amsterdam by Dutch speakers. It's crazy! It's not really that bad in other parts of the country. If your Dutch is comprehensible enough (aka: as long as your pronuncation is decent) most people will certainly reply in Dutch.
If you don't mind me asking: what places are you planning to visit besides Amsterdam? Are you planning to visit the North? East? South? as well as the West or are you restricting yourself to just a few places? Also, depending on your interests, I can recommend some places to visit.
Now, for advices:
The first and most important one: Don't ever walk on the bicycle paths! Bicycle paths are like red highways for bicycles. You wouldn't walk in the middle of a highway as that's dangerous. It's basically the same for cycling paths- and lanes. By walking in the middle of a bicycle path you are endangering both yourself and the cyclists, so don't do it.
The second: Perhaps you've already been able to spot this advice above, but don't just restrict yourself to Holland and all the tourist traps inside. Holland is just two provinces, the Netherlands consists of twelve, so do check them out. As the Netherlands is not a very big country you can visit quite a few in a very short amount of time. Also: the captial of Fryslân/Friesland/Frisia; Leeuwarden/Ljouwert has been declared the European Capital of Culture of 2018. Sounds like a nice day trip, no?
The third: if you're planning on travelling by train a lot in one day (which I absolutely recommend you do: it's called 'treinen' and it's basically when you buy a day-ticket and just go wherever you want, whenever you want, often just searching out nice train routes for an entire day) you should check 'treinreiziger' (or other sites) to see where you can get cheap tickets. A regular non-discounted day-ticket can cost you 50+ euros, while with a bit of luck you can find tickets for less than 20 euros in certain shops, although with those you'll have to avoid 'de spits' (peak hours).
https://goedkooptreinkaartje.com/ Another site where you can find cheap train tickets
Another tip I have concerning public transport, is that from certain Train-stations in the Netherlands, it's very easy and cheap (especially on weekends) to get into Belgium. It's possible (and not too expensive) to travel to any Belgian Train station from Maastricht or Roosendaal, as you can get a special 'Maastricht/Roosendaal Biljet' from the Belgian Railways (NMBS) that's quite affordable (especially on weekends. No seriously, if you want to go to Belgium for one or two days, go on the weekend. It's so cheap). Just as an example: a two-way weekend ticket Maastricht-Liége (Palais) costs just 8,40! For comparison: a one-way trip Amsterdam Centraal-Utrecht Centraal is 7,60 (second class, no discounts).
Alright, I think that's enough for now. Feel free to ask if you want to know more about specific subjects (must-see's, public transport, culture, etc.)
My advice would be to try these :
If it is not insanely hot, like it is now, add snert to that list.
(The colder the weather is, the better you will enjoy snert)
 ...and careful with the bitterballen, those things can burn your mouth. The deep-fried cheese snacks are even worse (temperature wise, they taste great).
I often see tourists miss their stop because they don't realize you have to push a button for the tram doors to open, so keep that in mind I guess haha. Re: food, I'm sure you already know but there are tons of food stalls at the Albert Cuyp market; my personal favourite is the poffertjes stall about halfway through but you can't go wrong with Dutch snacks, imo.
My best advice is to not get discouraged by confused looks or a native Dutch-speaker switching to English. Just keep speaking in Dutch! People were very friendly and patient towards me, despite my sometimes embarrassing efforts!
Edit: Also, yeah, don't forget to press the button on transportation and if you get a transit card, DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT. omg I got charged so much money for this.
I' m going to the Netherlands in this September, and could you explain more about your tip " Don't forget to check out" because I could not imagine the situation. Is it when I take the bus and travel to a specific place, I need to press some button on the bus so the driver will get noticed and stop at the bus stop to let me go off right? If I forget to press, they will skip and I will be charged for more money?
Hope to hear from you.
Bedankt en Goedendag!
Dutch public transport has an oyster card-like system, you need to check in by scanning your travel card when getting on public transport and check out when getting off - if you don't check out, you might be charged. If that happens though, you can apply to get your money back online, though that's a big hassle so not recommended haha.
Aside from a stop button on buses and trams, trams have a green button next to the doors which you need to press to open them. You won't be charged/fined if you don't, but you might miss your stop, thus you have to pay for the extra distance.
Hope that I don't let myself get involved in this hassle. Haha! Thank you for your explanation. I appreciate that.
Do not stay too long in Amsterdam. It's crowded and very touristic; if you want to test out your Dutch, just stay away from Amsterdam's city centre, because a lot of shop assistants and waiters do not even speak Dutch themselves.
You might want to consider visiting cities like Den Bosch ('s Hertogenbosch), Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden and the like. They are often less crowded and have the same typical Dutch things, if not more authentic than in Amsterdam.
Our public transport uses a pass, the OV-chipkaart on which you can store credit. Check that link for some useful information.
It is a small country with short travel distances and despite the many complaints by Dutch people who haven't tried public transport abroad, it is actually quite good.
I don't know what your interests are, but if you're able to visit a few smaller towns besides Amsterdam, I'd recommend visiting Alkmaar, a really nice, historic town famous for its open-air cheese market. It's only 44 km (about 28 miles) north of Amsterdam, and easy to get to by train. https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/more-destinations/alkmaar.htm.
good luck...the dutch like to show-off their language skills
after 40 years my dutch is near perfect but my friends still answer in me in english
first they complain that vreende don't learn their taal then they answer me in engels..!
Have fun and goodluck in Amsterdam!
And about you saying that when you say something in Dutch to someone, they will reply back in English. This is as stated in the other comments, something that mostly only happens in Amsterdam. I am a native Dutch speaker and everytime when i visit Amsterdam (I live in a small village in Gelderland) and i ask/say something to a waiter at a restaurant, they will reply English because they are either not Dutch themselfs or they are used to replying in English because of the tourists.
As i stated earlier, i'm a native Dutch speaker, and if you have any questions about the culture, habits, food, or the language, you can always ask me!
I've lived in Amsterdam all my life and never had shopkeepers/waiters talk to me in English haha; I guess it depends where you go.
If people reply to you in English, ask them to talk Dutch to you because you are trying to learn it. "Kan je nederlands tegen me praten, want ik probeer het te leren." (Can you talk dutch to me, because I try to learn it.)
Most people will reply in Dutch when you ask them to. And you can always ask if they can repeat it in English if you didn't understand them. Or ask them to talk more slowly.
My advice for traveling by railways in the Netherlands is downloading the NS Reisplanner Xtra, official app of Dutch railways. You can see all the departures from a given station there, plan trips, see travel time, schedule reminders for departures and even see how crowded the train for a given period usually is! It helped me lots when I went to NL for an exchange. It can be in both Dutch and English. Also, another tip from experience: whenever you want to enter a train station in NL, you need to check in your card at those metro-like doors -- except at Schipol Airport Station, that is! There you can enter without checking because there are no doors, but you still need to scan your card by leaning it against a scanning pole if you want to take a train legally.
Some other stations do that as well, mostly smaller ones. There are also some which have the check out posts for train and metro at the same spot (Amstelstation for example). Be careful you check out at the right one; id you got there by train but check out at a metro post, you're charged €20ish. NS Reisplanner is good for trains, but for general public transport 9292 is better imo; it's owned by gvb so more up to date with delays.