A cup of coffee in one hand, cellphone in the other with the special ‘Dutch public transport app’ installed and a bag over my shoulder… I’m being a ‘domestic tourist’ today: I’m traveling in my own country.
From the crowded Randstad (the most urbanized, western part of the Netherlands) to the quieter Zeeland on the southwestern coast.
I’ve just boarded a crowded train. I thankfully managed to find a seat, I opened my laptop and got annoyed immediately: internet doesn’t work. The only reason I take an expensive Dutch train is because then at least I can do some work during my 2.5 hour journey.
Ok, that’s not true, I don’t even own a car anymore so I have no other option but to take the train…
And then I smile, relax and realize I’m just as bad as any other Westerner: complaining about ‘First World problems’…
Around me, on the train, I can hear at least four different languages.
I love people-watching and listening in on conversations (don’t we all?) and I’m disappointed I can’t understand a word of what the people around me in those foreign languages are saying. But I enjoy it anyway: The Netherlands’ interesting mix of people taking the train, often on a daily basis. From students to businessmen, expats, tourists, retirees and sometimes entire families.
As my journey continues and we slowly leave the core of the Randstad, stopping at train station after train station, I see the people around me changing. I hear more and more Dutch and see fewer non-white faces. From crowded it goes to quiet until eventually, it feels like I’m the only person left on the train.
At the same time when I look out of the window I see fewer houses by the minute and more green, more farms, scattered wind turbines, and some cows, horses, and sheep. Too bad this is not the time of year to see the beautiful tulip fields the Netherlands is so famous for.
Also Read: Is It the Netherlands or Holland?
It’s nice to look at my own country as a tourist for once
It’s quite a pretty country, especially when the sun is shining. Besides that, life here is relatively easy.
We all complain about not having enough money, prices going up, men making more money than women and more such things. But compare any of those things to the rest of the world and you’ll see the Netherlands isn’t doing too badly.
Maybe I’ve finally discovered how being an outsider is a good thing: all the traveling I’ve done has made it easier for me to look at the Netherlands in a more objective and more appreciative way. I now take time to enjoy the scenery, look at historical buildings I normally used to rush past and observe Dutch people as if I’m observing a foreign culture.
This extremely flat country, multi-cultural country, well-organized country…
Even though I choose not to live here most of the time, it will always be my home country. I’m proud to be Dutch and happy to be able to explore parts of this country every time I’m here.
Maybe we should all look at our own country as a tourist more often to appreciate its beauty, its positive aspects and perhaps even discover sides to our home country we had never seen before…
If You Are Traveling to the Netherlands, Also Read:
- 10 Of The Best Annual Events in Amsterdam
- Tips From a Local For Visiting Amsterdam
- The Hague: Worth a Visit or Not?
- What to See & Do in Eindhoven
- Zeeland in Pictures
What is a Domestic Tourist?
A domestic tourist is a tourist who travels in their own country.
A growing trend here is a ‘staycation‘, which is a vacation spent in the same region as were the tourist lives.