The Netherlands (Lonely Planet Guide)
The Netherlands (Lonely Planet Guide), 2nd ed.
Jeremy Gray and Reuben Acciano
(Lonely Planet Publications, Oakland (CA): 2004)
READ: March-April 2005
Yes, everyone and their brother uses Lonely Planet guides. But there's a good reason. I am a big fan. For the most part, they are well laid-out, have easy-to-use maps, and give you good starting points for restaurants, accommodations, etc. I think the problem arises when people fail to look outside their Lonely Planet. Or when - and it happens - a restaurant or hotel gets complacent about its appearance in the Lonely Planet and lets its quality slip. But I see guidebooks as a great way to start. They are a great way to get you started in a new country, a way to figure out the key first things to see and do. But you must also let serendipity guide you, at least some of the time.
The Netherlands Lonely Planet guide provides a very good introduction to the Netherlands and Dutch culture. I read this, of course, in anticipation of our trip to Amsterdam in May. At the time, this meant I read all of the introductory material, including cycling trips around the Netherlands, as well as the lengthy entry on Amsterdam itself and the shorter (but still quite detailed) entries on Den Haag (The Hague), Rotterdam and Maastricht, all of which we planned to go to but never made it, since there is so much to do in Amsterdam itself.
The trip was, of course, more enjoyable than the book, but that certainly isn't a reflection on the quality of this book - I wouldn't leave home without it.