I am a Pediatric dentist from India, currently a resident of the Netherlands. Apart from designing a healthy smile, I dream to chase every amazing corner of the world and pen down the experiences I have as an expat. I am grateful to TMH to generate a platform where one can turn insights into words and be useful to people in some way or the other
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. The Covid havoc seemed to have ruined most of our lives, but as the vaccinations started to roll out, we can be hopeful to get some air to invigorate ourselves. Holding oneself behind the doors due to Covid restrictions in the Netherlands not only testifies endurance but indeed develops an obvious coveted desire to plan a perfect day trip. Once the lockdown is lifted, slowly and steadily we could try to fight the boredom by wandering through the unexplored suburbs of the Netherlands. Few months back, one of my friends suggested a beautiful village named Schoorl, the Netherlands. And we turned the wheels to the countryside in the Dutch province of North Holland- known as “Schorel” ages ago, now named Schoorl.
We reserved a sunny day of winters to trail chiefly through the sand dunes and embrace the turbulence on the beach. One day trip worked really well for us as we left around 9:30 and reached at 10: 20 (59 km far from our place, Amstelveen). And I would recommend it as a wonderful destination to plan a perfect day tour to get going in summers again. Before I begin my travel anywhere across the globe, I never miss carrying my face-mask, hand sanitiser and of course the snacks. Well, a long drive is in itself a boon to people working from home. For me, just the soulful music coupled with a comfort drive alongside the couple of friends add zest to the mood. Let’s find out everything we spotted enroute Schoorl, known for many enthralling campsites.
After parking, we marched straight away towards the Skatepark Burgemeester Haspelslaan. The great sand dune surely demanded quite a pack of energy to climb over to continue a short hiking segment. Seemed like real fun for kids who carry toy buckets and shovels to build mini structures by putting all the damp sand particles together. Crossing through the woods, we respited for a while on arrival to the partly frozen lake in the Schoorlse Duinen.
The vicinity was picturesque and worth recording pictures. After a great forest walk, we decided to stuff our tiny tummies with the pre-cooked lunch (eating and cooking being one of the peculiar traits of all Indians). Do not forget to take the backpack of picnic sheets, snacks and water bottles.
Following the same track forward for a few more minutes, we ended at a huge public parking near the beach. Well, boys took another reverse path to bring back the cars to beach parking. Local tourists bring their horses and mountain bikes for enjoying an enthralling ride by the sides of the north sea views.
Duration of hike- 70 min
Distance- 3.8 Km
I would call it a hidden gem since this beach is not much commercialised and kept as natural as possible. The eternal landscape cuddling the curling waves of the beach, leaving behind the clear foam at your footsteps is worth enchanting. Believe me or not, I felt like having wind beneath my wings the moment I reached Strand Camperduin.
Sunset was still a couple of hours away, so we kept hanging around. As the daylight started fading, we had a beautiful glimpse of the nightfall. The glazing golden colors shining through the beach water was spectacular. On our way, number of restaurants and cafes were opened for take away( as per the guidelines for Covid-19). There are much more activities offered around the village, but due to certain constraints, we could not avail a few of them, nevertheless it ended to be a perfect day trip.
Whenever you wish to escape the crowd, plan your itinerary to Schoorl for sure. No ways that you regret it. Summers and autumn is the best time to explore this majestic village. I wish everyone a very happy and a healthy year ahead. Hope we all get the chance to enjoy summers 2021!
Note: If going by a car, set the navigation address at Heereweg 62, Schoorl.
Well said: ‘Life is short. Smile when you still have teeth’. And, if you don’t have them, do not worry! The dentist can rebuild your smile and confidence back again. So, now you can say, though life is short, yet we can make it happier, healthier and grand.
Your mouth reflects your awareness about healthy eating and cleaning habits. Remember my friends that you are working everyday hard to eat deliciously good food and relish every bit of your meals. And all this is made possible by your teeth and supporting structures of the oral cavity. Is it not your duty to provide a simple careful concern to keep them bacteria free? Save your pennies by consulting a dentist at an early stage when prevention could be possible or else you may end up draining your pockets paying for expensive dental treatments later. So, call your dentist and arrange your first dental visit before it hurts too much.
Try to control the number of harmful microbes in your mouth by brushing twice a day, flossing or using interdental brushes. Because increased oral bacterial load might push microbes to your digestive or respiratory tract if not taken an active care of. Also let me tell you that your baby’s milk teeth are as important as the permanent ones. It’s a misnomer that they will fall out soon so need not to be worry about. If milk teeth are ignored then how can you expect the permanent teeth to be perfect? They will either pop out of place or may have malformed enamel( white or brown spots on successor teeth). Be a proactive parent, don’t be among ones who bring their kid when they notice an oral swelling or pus discharge.
If you experience sleepless night due to agonizing toothache in the Netherlands, try to reach out to the registered dentists (called ‘tandart/ tandartsen’ in Dutch) as soon as possible. Dutch dentists(KNMT affiliated) are experts not only in sense of work expertise, but also in delivering an atmosphere of ease and comfort in communication and understanding their patient’s health. Moreover, standard dental hygiene and sterilization protocols are adopted strictly in every practice for your safety. Find out how to schedule a first dental visit.
First time visit to Dentist?
You can look for the dentist that is accessible from your home or work and book an appointment on call or online by sharing a few details for registration like name, date of birth, address and BSN number(citizen service number). Tandarts.nlallows you to find the best dentist based on your search requirements by distance, specializations or review ratings of patients. Searching for a dentist by zip code also makes it easy to access a nearby practice. For the first appointment, a dental practice books you as an ‘intake’ during which they examine your mouth and make digital diagnostic x- rays/ pictures( bite wings). Then, discuss the necessary treatments and their cost with their patients.
What do you need to carry while going to a dentist?
Carry your insurance card and a valid identity proof (just in case if asked for) when walking to the practice for the first time. On arrival, you are requested to fill a consent form and medical history. And now during Covid-19, dental staff asks you to wear a mouth/nose mask and lets you rinse your mouth with 1% Hydrogen peroxide for 1 minute. Find out how safe is it to visit a dentist during the pandemic. Usually the practices forward you the invoice letter by post within 2 weeks and you get definite period of time to make necessary payments.
A compulsory basic health insurance(basisverzekering) does not cover a few treatments and dental costs so you can choose optional supplemental insurance plans(aanvullende verzekering) as per your requirements. The dental insurance packages usually cover 100% reimbursement of your dental costs up to 250 euros yearly for consultations(controle), fillings, Extraction of teeth( extractie), Anesthetics(Anesthetica), dental surgeries(tandheelkundige ingrepen), pictures and cleanings(Mondhygeine) and 75% for other dental treatment. The good news is for children under 18 years whose general dental treatment costs are covered under Dutch basic health insurance and there is no deductible(www.zorgwijzer.nl). The allowances for children and young adults below 18 years of age include:
Gum treatments(tandvlees behandeling)
Fillings or restorations( Vullingen)
Treatment of jaw disorders(Behandeling van kaakaandoeningen) except implants( implantaten)
However orthodontics, crowns and bridges, implants, partial dentures and external bleaching for children are not covered by the basic insurance. Most expats opt international health insurance companies like Allianz Care and Cigna Global that provide dental coverage as well. Orthodontic treatment (teeth alignment using braces or aligners) lasts for 2-3 years and may cost upto 2k-3k euros, so it’s advisable to take additional insurance to claim reimbursement.Out of almost 60 insurance companies, Achmea is one of the most distinguished market leader with around 5 million insurance parties. It is an umbrella organization with many insurance companies like Zilveren Kruis(mostly chosen by expats).
Cost of dental treatments
Although the dental clinics in The Netherlands are privatized, the prices of dental services are regulated by government or Dutch Health Authority (NZa/De Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit) , so you cannot expect any negotiation, as the cost of each procedure is pre-defined and reasonably fixed( though sound justifiably too overpriced for expats). For comparing the rates you can visit dental rates 2020. The plan for costs of dental services changes once yearly as of 2020 came into effect on 1st January and will expire on 1st January 2021.
List of emergency dental clinics in the Netherlands
Not all dental clinics provide 24/7 services but few of them enlisted here provide round’ O clock treatment hours.
If you are not satisfied with any of the dental services or you develop a sense of doubt on treatment, budget, bill or the dentist, you can simply send your query to TIP( Dental information point) or even file a complaint if needed. Questions about the reimbursement can only be enquired from your health insurers.
Unlike Dutch nationals, expats might not visit oral health practices too often for routine dental care as the treatment costs sound sky high, unless insured. However, if someone suffers an intense pain in tooth or gums, then you are not left with a choice but to consult a dentist. And now with the Corona virus into the bargain, everyone across the globe is so skeptical about visiting general/dental care centers. During the time when the active Corona cases are increasing daily in the Netherlands, staying cautious is the safety mantra. Well, considering the fact that dentist needs to work in an intimate contact with the patient and in an aerosol generating environment which could be a possible threat, it’s quite obvious to enter a state of dilemma of whether to visit the dentist or not. Not to worry friends, if it’s urgent don’t hesitate to run to the nearest dental practice. I have seen Dutch natives and many expats from everywhere across the world actively making their appointments for simple dental procedures like scaling and polishing(mondhygiene) and a routine check- up(controle) or follow- ups. Though it may seem strange to us but we need to get over the fear of nosocomial infections. All we need to do is follow theCorona Guidelinessincerely anywhere we go. In fact, I would say that it is more safe in a dental atmosphere than in a grocery shop or supermarkets. Have you heard of any Corona case transmission through a dental practice? I guess, no. Isn’t it commendable that despite a close contact work and a high- risk category, dental staff makes sure that the highest level of disinfection protocols are being followed at every cost. As the health safety is of utmost importance, the Dutch Dental Associations(ANT, KNMT) have come up already with strict guidelines to make sure that the preventive measures against corona are effectively put into action to keep up the good standards of hygiene for both the clients and employees. So you need not to be anxious while going out for a dental treatment, it is completely safe. Find out how safe is it to visit a dentist during the Corona pandemic.
Corona safety measures taken in a dental practice
A general telephonic enquiry about the Corona/flu symptoms and travel history is made thoroughly by the dental staff before scheduling any appointment.
Patients are requested to arrive 5 minutes before the appointment. If they arrive too early and no seat is available, they need to wait outside/car.
Use of special door posters with corona measures for better understanding and awareness are pasted.
Waiting rooms are arranged such that 1.5m distance is maintained between the patients if more than one arrives at the same time.A demarcation line is drawn to ensure safe distance during conversation between a dentist and patient.
Patients are advised to come alone as much as possible
Everyone entering the practice (oral care professionals, patients or others) need to wash their hands with soap and water or disinfectant(hand alcohol) and are not allowed to touch unnecessarily mobile phones, door handles or any stuff around. .
Hand shakes are avoided.
1% hydrogen peroxide is used to rinse the patient’s mouth for 1minute prior to any aerosols treatment procedure to decrease the bacterial pressure. Rubber dam use is mandatory.
Every dental equipment or materials used are disinfected with 80% alcohol or sterilized using an autoclave after each use. Disposable cleaning stuff is brought in use as much as possible.
Dental staff use hand gloves, nose and mouth mask, water proof face shields for protection.
Door handles, card transaction machine, wash basins, chairs and tables are cleaned from time to time daily.
What if you are infected with the Coronavirus but need urgent dental care?
If you are corona positive and suffer toothache or any severe dental related problem that needs urgent care, you can receive a referral from the dentist to visit the CAM (Corona Centre for Acute Dental Care). Also dentists might not accept clients over the age of 65 to maintain safety as they are a risk category. A special department for that is established in the hospital, if elderly are in need for dental treatment.
The cross-infection protocols in the Netherlands are always amongst the most strict in Europe.
It was a thoughtful journey of two couples, me and my husband, and a companionable pair who were actively waiting for the signals to turn green for traveling within the European Countries during the Corona outbreak worldwide. Another important concern was to follow the Guidelines and the necessary tips before booking a summer trip. Following a few informational links, it was clear that Germany falls under code yellow and we need to strictly trail around with certain measures such as using mouth and nose masks at public places ( WC, Petrol stations, public transport), using hand sanitizers and staying 1.5-meter distance away from others.
Since we were free from any flu symptoms, it was time to scroll the bucket list and plan a thorough itinerary crossing across the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Southern Bavaria and the radiant romantic road, Germany. It was end of July when we fastened the seat belts to navigate through the fascinating lakes, mountains, castles and fanciful towns while exploring the countryside bordering Austria – Germany. Ultimately the most awaited road trip to 350 km long romantic route in southern Germany began in the early morning for a 10 hour’s drive from Amsterdam to the first place of our stay in Gästehaus Heiss Sonnbichl 3, 6633 Biberwier, Austria completing the enthralling journey of about 850km.
Day 1 – Fussen town, Neuschwanstein, Eibsee lake
With an exciting smile on our faces, we turned on the car wheels towards the medieval city center of the Fussen town that embraced the southern end of the romantic road. We could feel a leisurely and captivating ambiance around the shops, open restaurants, cafes, museums, and unique frescoes. The Neuschwanstein, the fairy tale castle was in the vicinity(5 min drive), so we booked a horse cart service(€4 per person) in the downtown that seemed to be packed with souvenirs, resorts, parking, bus station, a huge crowd of tourists and a far-sighted view of the castle. You can also book a guided tour to get inside the castle to appreciate the typical historic creation but to avoid hassle standing in an unending queue for tickets, we chose to take an exterior view of the castle which was spectacular and quite a primitive simulation of a castle from Disney classic. The spare time was dedicated to the upcoming natural wonder, the gorgeous Eibsee lake, Grainau. The simple hike along the turquoise-colored, translucent natural waters washing through the foot of Zugspitze mountain was literally mesmerizing. It was simply soothing to have a fascinating landscape view while strolling around the enticing alpine lake of South Bavaria.
Day 2 – Hiking trail to Alpspitze
Keeping in mind the weather forecast (sunny, 27-31°C), we checked out for an interesting hike(level- moderate) to Northern limestone Alps, Alpspitze, 2,628 m. It was just a 45 min drive to the base Hammerbasch village and a 10 min walk to the Alpspitzbahn cable car up the mountain( ticket cost – €17.50 per person). We were welcomed by the AlpspiX viewing metal mesh- platform, restaurants, and seating deck after an enthralled ascent through the lush green valley. Few hours of sightseeing, photography, and refreshments, it was time to march downhill 8.5 km along the Höllentalangerhütte to continue towards Höllentalklamm Gorge and back to Hammersbach. The trek began in the scorching sun and ended up walking through the river streams, waterfalls, tunnels and caverns. The melting glaciers dropping and roaring of the boulders was a phenomenal epitome of pristine nature, adventure, and romance in cold tumbling showers in a hot humid summer.
Timings for the hike- 3.5 hours descent
Day 3 – Konigssee Lake, Obersee lake, Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden
Just an hour’s drive and a quick walk-through attractive shops displaying vintage clothing, antique crystals, and sparkling stones on each side of the road, we reached the Boat dock for purchasing tickets. The quiet electric ferry rides you gently through the serene beauty of the majestic lake and emerald fjords cuddled in the arms of gigantic alpine alps. It was a feeling of lying peacefully in the lap of mother nature when we encountered Christlieger Island, numerous boathouses, and the Falcon Stone memorial across the poised lake. Another impressive part that drew our attention was when the boat’s captain told about the world’s famous echo chamber and demonstrated it by playing trumpet. We could actually hear the reverberating sounds played by the man. We got off the boat at the first stop, the Church of Saint Bartholomä, spent some time traversing the grounds and hopped back again into the final ferry boat that landed us to Salet where you can take nature’s call in restrooms and relax under restaurant huts. It took a 10-minute walk from the ferry dock to reach the secluded crystal- clear lake, the Obersee. What an awestruck moment for each one of us to witness such an incredible and heavenly piece of earth, the drizzling raindrops, and fog draped mountains added to the theatrical scenery. We dedicated 5 hours completely to the place taking pictures and swimming in the lukewarm waters(15°) in Obersee. We headed back and eventually decided to visit St. Sebastian church in Ramsau village. Again a picturesque place with a riverside church and a spellbound bridge in front of the ReiterAlpe Mountain range.
Round trip ferry cost- Adults- 16.90€ per person, the boat is every 15-30 min on the stops till 6:00 pm.
Useful Tips: Double-check the time for the last boat to depart from the Salet.
Day 4 – Romantische strasse, Dinkelsbuhl
After checking out from Airbnb in the morning, our new day began with the rocking music beats in the car that was rushing through the green and golden terrains, vineyards and sunflower fields towards the theme route, the Romantic towns of Germany. The first destination was Augsburg, which is famous for the history of Fuggers, a rich family of bankers or merchants who built Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social settlement. Keeping a close look at the maps, the next stop probably was romantic Strasse and medieval towns of Dinkelsbuhl, a free monarchical city with unusual yet magnificent street plans that were never actually planned but grown organically. Spending our day around the magnificently colored structures, cathedrals, lofty gates, and endless green fields along the romantic road of Germany, we then headed to the next place to stay in Marktbergel, Germany. After an amazing dinner, we chose to go out for a pleasant night walk around the homestay.
Tip: You can appreciate the colors of the street houses more during the dusky twilight.
Day 5 – Plonlein, Rothenburg ob de tauber
With a nostalgic feeling, we packed our bags again and followed the route towards our home in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Luckily, our desire to hold another trace of memories from Rothenburg ob de Tauber decelerated the car in Plonlein which was known for the yellow, tilted timber-frame house at the entrance with a fountain. The place was so rich and charming, that wherever we stood for pictures, it seemed like a photography spot. This place itself led to a historic double road bridge, the tauber bridge with two rows of arches and apple trees on its way. And with this, it was time to bid adieu to Romantic road at Wurzburg. We were carrying bundles of ever cherishing memories of magical landscapes and tons of fun we had during our stay.
You must have noticed that most of our stay was booked in Austria while the main trip destinations were mostly in Germany so that we could experience and cherish Austria’s countryside way of living as well.Here, I have some helpful tips for curious travelers.
Essential backpack items:
Identity card: Passport/ Residence permit
10-12 face and nose masks or scarf
Trekking poles/ sticks
Sun protection lotion
Medicines- Paracetamol, pain relief gel or spray, band-aids
Do not forget to carry your valid driver’s license, fuel card, vehicle RC card. Also make sure you have easy access to GPS or navigation apps (Google Maps, Waze).
Before entering the Austria motorways border, buy and display a toll vignette(sticker) at any major border crossings into Austria or at larger petrol stations (cost is € 9,40 for 10 days) or get digital vignette online to avoid a toll fine of €120.
You can also rent a car at genuine rates from Goldcar.
Wear Lightweight hiking shoes and don’t miss grabbing trekking poles/ sticks, water bottles, sun protection lotion, energy bars or drinks.
Use of ‘Splitwise app’ to keep the record and distribute the expenses amongst the group of friends. Save your planned itinerary and a list of important stuff on ‘keep notes’ mobile app.
What we missed?
Swimming in a natural bathing city of Salzburg in river Taugl, near Kuchl town due to heavy rainfall.
Mittenwald village amidst the alpine peaks and painted cottages.