From Andrew Harper
Thanks to its seafaring and colonial past, Holland is now a vibrant cultural melting pot. Most visitors will spend a few days in Amsterdam, strolling along canals lined with merchant houses and admiring the Vermeers in the Rijksmuseum. Outside of the city, the country abounds with castles, cobblestoned villages, lighthouses and flower farms. Many tourists visit the Netherlands just to witness the astonishing views over the bulb fields. The season begins in March with crocuses, followed by daffodils and yellow narcissi. Hyacinths and tulips bloom from April to mid-May. Aalsmeer, close to Amsterdam, is the home of the world’s biggest flower auction. The spectacular Bollenstreek Flower Parade is held at the end of April every year.
CLIMATE: Expect mild winters and cool summers with showers. Spring (tulip time) is the most beautiful season.
TIME: Six hours ahead of New York (EST).
CURRENCY: Euro (€). Fluctuating rate valued at €1.30 = US$1.00 as of October 2012.
U.S. EMBASSY: The Hague, Tel. (70) 310-2209. There is also a consulate in Amsterdam, Tel. (20) 575-5309.
DIRECT DIAL CODES: To phone hotels and restaurants in Holland, dial 011 (international access) + 31 (Netherlands code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passport (valid for three months beyond end of stay). Visit www.travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, www.cdc.gov
GENERAL INFORMATION: Visit www.holland.com before your trip.