|Subject: Re: Belgium, Nederlands etc.|
I've been to the Netherlands several times. My most recent trip was in November 2004. I have never rented a car because it is so easy to get around by train and bus. Where are you thinking of visiting in the Netherlands?
There has been many changes since I first visited in 1990. The most recent change has been to automate the purchase of train tickets. All of the train stations now have machines where you can purchase train tickets either with coin (no bills) or with a debit card associated with Maestro (master card). My debit card (through Washington Mutual) unfortunately did not work so I had to go to a ticket agent to purchase a ticket.
There is a .50 cent additional charge to purchase your tickets through an agent. Also at smaller stations, there will only be automated ticket machines. The machines always have an option for multiple languages including English so they are very easy to use. I recommend checking out the Dutch rail site which has a great on-line schedule and information - http://www.ns.nl
I've also used the buses. They are also very easy to use if you have a strippenkaart. The travel is by zones. If you have a card, just enter the bus at the front and tell the driver where you want to go. He will stamp the strippenkaart with the appropriate number of zones. He can also sell you a ticket if you need.
A good overview of transportation in the Netherlands is at: http://tinyurl.com/92psg
Also feel free to ask any questions you have on the Netherlands.
It is a great country to visit.
Cheers! Marta in Washington State