- In the Netherlands, you can visit windmills, gaze at the De Nachtwacht, or take a boat ride on a canal. These are enjoyable activities, yet while doing them you are most likely going to be in the midst of a crowd of tourists, like yourself, and not around the bona fide burghers that make up this singular and compact country. Getting to know and understand a country is what makes travel a transformative experience. Countries, like people, have a past that was crucial in shaping the present. The more you learn about what went before, the more you will understand. If you understand, you can appreciate. So with that in mind, I have provided a context---usually historical---for these hidden gems. It is a starting point for your own adventure. An author of many impressive travel books, Pico Iyer wrote that all travel writing is like a love letter. That is certainly true in this case: I love the fields of flowers, the tumultuous North Sea, the cobblestone paths and roads, and the respect shown to the past that make the Netherlands a thoroughly lovely land. It is my hope that after reading this particular love letter, you will be inspired to do some traveling of your own.