Lee and Sachi -
Have not checked your site for a while- and enoyed seeing your adventures from Darjeeling to Lofoten Islands and more. Thanks for sharing! Some places I have enjoyed in my travels back in the day.
We get to Holland very year or so as my wife Eugenie is Dutch, and so here are a few of our favorites -
-Groningen, relaxed and bohemian university town in the north of the country. Let me know if you'd like the name of a friend there who'd enjoy being a guide. (i am at email@example.com)
-Friesland - province in the NW - small fishing villages amidst lakes and farms - wonderful place to rent a sailboat and explore. Boat camping very easy there. Try town of Sneek.
-Biking! anywhere and everywhere! you can rent bikes at most train stations and return them to another station - so - for example - take train to Hoorn, have coffee and enjoye the stunning small town, then ride to Enkhuizen, explore the outdoor Zuiderzee Museum, and drop bikes at station and return. it is such a pleasure to bike out in the countryside. I'd recommend a train/bike trip to the Kruller-Muller Museum - great countryside, great art. Will take a whole day to/fro - - http://www.kmm.nl/index_flash.html
-Amsterdam? I'd visit - but not spend a lot of time there - I find it (especially tourist areas) too grungy, depressing. Boat ride tour is a worthwhile way to get a view of town. Also fun - if still open - Rembrandt exhibit at the "Buers", old stock exchange - wonderful pictures (reproductions) and stories.
- Medium sized market towns - Delft, Gouda, have sights aplenty, are quiet, pleasant for a day trip. If in Goude - visit the "Wag" on the main square which is for tourist info and museum about Goude - worth visiting. Ask for Mr. or Mrs. Ballering - my in-laws - who work there two days aweek... email if if going!
- Rotterdam - very different feeling town - modern, stylish architecture and a thriving port - got a lot of life to it.
Speaking of costs - you will find the Netherlands a little pricey - probably 10% more than germany, and 20% more than E. germany. I'd recommend Leipzig in the east, if you have time - glorious historic city starting to recover.... and relatively economical. Let me know if going there - have some american friends who are residents.
My wife and I have been through the Netherlands twice. If you're in the vicinity of Amsterdam, check out the windmills at Zaanse Schanse, just northwest of the city. Its easily accessibly by train and you can see a few working windmills. Check out the mustard grinding windmill, we bought a bottle and wish we had purchased more! Southeast of Amsterdam is Utrecht, a much smaller and slower town than Amsterdam, still built on canals. Spend a day there wandering around. If its market day, you can pick up cheaps eats such as local cheeses, bread, pastries, etc.
In the southern end of Holland, squished between Belgium and Germany is Maastricht, a small college town spanning the Maas river. We spent a day there enjoying the friendly atmosphere while trying some local food and drink. Maastricht is very laid back and a great place to stop if you're in Koln (Cologne), Germany which is just across the border.