THE OFFICIAL EUROVISION FAN NETWORK OF AUSTRALIA

TIP TOEIN’ THROUGH THE TULIPS with MAYKE: Survival

Now that you know how to get from A to B in the Netherlands, it’s time to get some other practical tips. So in this post I’ll tell you how to stay connected with other OGAE Australia members and where to get your daily supplies.

STAYING CONNECTED

Just like here in Australia, there are several mobile providers in the Netherlands. The best option for a short stay is to buy a prepaid sim card. You can top these cards up via your mobile or by buying vouchers in supermarkets and other shops.

Good news for people who are planning to travel around Europe: In 2017, a European Union (EU) law came into force to abolish roaming charges for people using mobile phones abroad. These rules mean that citizens travelling within the EU will be able to call, text and browse the internet on mobile devices at the same price they pay at home. In other words, you’ll only have to buy one sim card for your entire stay (as long as you stay in a EU country). I’m not quite sure what effect Brexit will have on this, after it comes into effect.

I was going to compare several providers but while doing this I came across quite a good option from KPN (the Dutch equivalent of Telstra). You can buy a KPN prepaid sim card and then use your prepaid money to buy an ‘Unlimited Online Prepaid’ bundle for €8.99. This bundle will give you 30 min/texts and unlimited MBs (128 Kbit/s download en 64 Kbit/s upload speed). You can activate this bundle by dialling *143# when the KPN prepaid sim card is in your phone or by using their app.

I’ll definitely be getting one of them for my stay 🙂

ESSENTIAL SHOPPING

This section will give you an overview of some of the most common shops and supermarket chains in Holland. Hopefully this will help you find whatever you need during your stay.

Supermarkets

  • Albert Heijn
  • Aldi
  • Coop
  • Dirk
  • Jumbo
  • Lidl
  • Plus

Department stores

  • Hema - this shop is similar to Kmart, Target and BigW. They always say that if you can’t find an item at Hema, you’ll struggle to find it anywhere.
  • Bijenkorf - this chain can only be found in the big cities and is more upmarket like Myer and David Jones.

Chemists

  • DA
  • Etos
  • Kruidvat

PUBLIC TOILETS

Why on earth do I need to write about public toilets? Well I’m not very proud of this but in Holland you have to pay for using public toilets. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at a train station, in a department store, service station or even a bar. Most of the time you’re expected to pay for your toilet visit.

There are different ways of collecting money. Sometimes you have to insert coins to open a door or gate, but very often you see a little white porcelain plate on a table with coins on it. Sometimes a toilet lady or sir will sit next to the plate to make sure you pay up. You’re usually expected to pay upon leaving the toilet facilities, but when it’s busy the toilet lady/sir might ask you to pay up front.

You would think that having to pay ensures you a pleasant and clean toilet experience. I’m deeply sorry and have to admit that the toilets are usually so gross that you'll want to leave as soon as you enter.

If you want to save money, there is an option mainly aimed at men (the rest of us have 4 month to practice peeing while standing up!). There are free public urinals in some of the main cities. You can’t miss them because you can usually smell them from 10 streets away, so I’m not sure how wise this option is.

Another way to avoid paying for you toilet is to go “wildplassen” as we call it. It literally means “wild peeing” and is just peeing in public in a place that’s not meant for it. I wouldn’t advice this as you can get a €140 fine if you get caught. That’s 280-700 paid toilet visits (based on an average of €0.25-€0.50 per visit).