I seem to have more things popping up in my thoughts the more i stayed in the Netherlands. At this moment while writing this, i am already back in France, sitting in the comfort of my home. The thoughts came and and so i decided to do a part 2. If you haven’t checked out my 1st diary on Netherlands, you can read it here.
- Credit Cards NOT always be accepted here
What do you mean??
This is actually the first shock i had. 3 trips ago, during my first time in Rotterdam and the first time in the Netherlands actually, i walked into a handphone shop wanting to buy local sim card. It cost about 10 euros. I did not have enough cash on me and thought my French credit card would suffice. Lo and behold, the owner said his machine doesn’t accept credit card, only debit card. So i whipped out my debit card from Singapore and it’s not accepted as well. I was left thinking, it’s only 10 euros!! I asked for directions to a nearby ATM to withdraw some money so i could get this sim card but i never found the ATM he mentioned. In fact, i’m little surprised that in Rotterdam , ATMs are not that commonly distributed as compared to other cities i’ve been.
The Netherlands is not a big fan on purchasing things on credit. Debit cards with the Maestro sign is preferred and some shops or little cafes will only use this card.
The biggest chain of supermarket in Netherlands, Albert Hejin will only accept this debit card and no other cards. So the morale of story, is always to keep some cash stashed somewhere around you. Whenever you actually see an ATM, you should just withdraw some cash, they will come in handy.
Most restaurants are able to accept credit cards though, that’s the saving grace.
You might be wondering what’s so difficult keeping cash on us? Well, it’s not always safe in France so i tend not to hold on to too much cash on me. Having said that, i haven’t met any nasty issues in France.
2. Station- less bike sharing system
I know this is not really that surprising, but i really love the idea of station-less bike sharing! Cycling is a big thing in The Netherlands as you know. There are many rental companies you could approach to rent a bike for a day etc. However if you are like me, who is kind of staying here for a few days and would like to get from places to places without worrying about daily charges, you might want to consider oBike.
You can find these yellow bicycles anywhere in the city. That’s because unlike the usual stations, where you need to locate a particular bike station, and put in a card/pin to rent a shared bike, and return the bike to another station, this station-less system allows you to pick up any oBike bicycles and basically park them anywhere. It is as simple as it is, and this as easy as how the website puts it:
How to use it
Download the oBike app, use it to locate the nearest oBike, scan the QR code to unlock the bike and drive away!
Interestingly, Singapore also now have the a station-less system called OBIKE ( is the similarity in name a coincidence? Do they belong to the same company??) which started in Jan 17, which i have yet to explore as i haven’t been back since last Oct.
Did you spot the oBikes in this photo??
3. Pharmacy is not the same as drug store
I know in some countries, a pharmacy is not the same as a chemist/drug store. Such seems to be the case in The Netherlands.
Everyone has some preference what they like to visit when traveling, some love to visit churches, or museums during their trips, but for me, i love to visit pharmacies. Yeah i know i’m weird but also because i tend to fall sick often when traveling.
During this trip, I asked the hotel staff, where is the nearest pharmacy and without a bat of her eyes, she told me where to go. When i got there, the pharmacy was nearly empty with 2 rows of products in there and a counter, and an old man waiting for his number to be called.
I took a number, and waited for my turn, which was amazingly quick. I told the pharmacist my story, that my bf probably has gastroenteritis and described the symptoms and hope he can advice what medication we need.
It turns out that the pharmacy can only dispense drugs with prescription from the doctor.
And to see a doctor, we have to be registered with a doctor ( just like in France, for residents) and not only that, we also have to be registered with a pharmacy. Not only we are not residents, we obviously have not seen any doctor. He was nice enough to provide me a clinic nearby who sees tourists. We didn’t end up going to the clinic. But i did call another pharmacy just to confirm if they have stuffs like probiotics. She said i could go to the drug store because pharmacies will not have it. I was not sure, what she meant by the drug store, she responded with some names in Dutch.
Stuffs like the panadol, and for digestion, or flu we can still get it in the supermarkets or…the drug stores. So it’s not that bad but other usual over the counter drugs that i expect to be over the counter, they are not really over the counter in The Netherlands.
Also for the first time in the Netherlands, i felt a little (just a tiny little bit) frustrated. I must say everything is so convenient and easy in the Netherlands so this was a little surprising. Calling the pharmacies and doctor clinic were met with Dutch automated operator, and it was not easy to maneuver around but eventually i did get to speak to a real human and fortunately everyone in this country seems to really speak English, so i still manage to get things done. So..there, just a tiny little frustration, no big deal!
I learnt that day, that i appreciate France’s Pharmacies. They have EVERYTHING and more than what you can ever imagine. It’s like a medical paradise i tell you. If you are ever in France, do check out the pharmacies! You won’t miss them anyway, there’s one every 5 steps away.
4. Bring your own 3D glasses for 3D movies!!
We didn’t have any 3D glasses so we had to buy from the cinema. That’s cool, however we are not sure what to do with the glasses anymore. The chances of us watching even a movie in France is so low, what more another 3D movie. In fact, we forgot our glasses for the 2nd 3D movie that we had to buy another set!! So now we have 4 of them at home. I guess i’m still used to having 3D glasses provided by the cinema and then we just have to return them at the end of the show. Maybe not as hygienic, but i’m sure the cinemas sterilize them after each movie. Right? hmm…
5. Food is not their forte
Really? This again? I know i’ve already mentioned this in my previous post. But i guess i’m so affected by this that i just have to mention it again!
I’ve had a few undesirable meals, that didn’t even make it to be termed decent, which is really sad. Because i think Netherlands have such a strong interior decorating talent, restaurants look really nice and cosmopolitan however i just can’t bring myself to try some restaurants again for the 2nd time.
Although i must say, the Asian cuisine is really good and pretty authentic. I had enjoyed my Asian food galore each time i’m in the Netherlands. Try the Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian cuisine! I don’t think they will disappoint you.