The Netherlands is a popular place to travel to for many reasons, it boasts beautiful cities and countryside with a fascinating culture and traditions that capture the minds of many. However, many do not venture beyond Amsterdam on their travels, and miss what the rest of the country has to offer. I travelled to The Netherlands in July 2023 arriving in Amsterdam before spending two weeks travelling the country visiting Friesland, Groningen and Voldendam. The following is an account of my travels and observations I made during them.
Leaving a wet, windy and relatively small airport in Ireland only to find myself in the huge and sweltering Schiphol was a shock to the system. The day I arrived in Amsterdam was the last day of sun I would see over the next two weeks, and it was glorious. I was able to see the city in its full majesty—its parks were brimming with life with people playing football and music. If you know anything about Amsterdam, you do not need to be told that cyclists are everywhere, but nevertheless it was still a marvel watching bikes zip past me at breakneck speeds. Amsterdam is a beautiful bohemian city, with its leafy tree lined streets where roots and cobbles compete for dominance over the pavement, and where people seem so busy and full of life. I sat that night wishing that I didn’t have to leave the next morning.
Two photos of the capital Amsterdam. The first one pictures one of the city's beautiful canals, while the second shows a busy street with some trees and a church called Vondelkerk in the background.
Full quality photos here
I woke up early after a sleepless night due to the heat, which as an Irishman will forever be my downfall, and got the bus back to Schiphol to pick up the rental car and head into the north. I was on the road a few hours later after taking an embarrassing amount of time to psyche myself up to drive on the other side of the road for three hours (I only had one annoyed airport taxi driver shout at me for this). I was off to the very northern edge of the country in the province of Groningen, to stay in a small cabin on the edge of a wildlife park. I found it fascinating driving through Flevoland, one of the largest land reclamation projects in Dutch history, marvelling at the sheer flat expanse of the Dutch countryside—it is one thing to look at it in a picture but another to see it in person. I arrived later that afternoon feeling extremely worn out. The cabin was beautiful, situated on a lakefront, and I felt like I was in heaven. The heat in Amsterdam gave way to rain in Groningen but I did not care.
I rented a bike from the park and set out to explore the area. I cycled up to the North Sea coast to see if I could spot seals, which was recommended to me by a local person in the supermarket of the nearest village, Lauwersoog. The park boasted one of Europe's best dark sky areas, with incredible views of the night sky and an amazing opportunity to visit the observatory there. The people in this part of the country were incredibly reserved and quiet, they kept to themselves and had little time for visitors. This being the Netherlands, my broken Dutch was no match for their near perfect English, which was hammered home throughout the trip. I spent a week in Groningen before moving south again once more.
I arrived in Voldendam, a bustling maritime town in North Holland on the shores of Lake IJssel. Voldendam is incredibly beautiful, it looks like it came straight from a postcard—the town’s impressive marina boasts beautiful old sailing ships and even a galleon which I saw sail out into the lake. In its bars, packed with people young and old conversing over beautiful craft beer and seafood, I found myself thinking of how much I had loved my time in this strange but wonderful little place. I also found out that eel is delicious.
There was a storm on my last night in the country, and near where I was staying in the town, trees were uprooted and I had a sleepless night hearing slates falling off roofs as well as a constant howling noise. But I made it back to Schiphol and one delayed flight later was back home again.
One of my favourite parts of the entire trip was the cycling, which I'm aware is a cliche, but coming from poorly served rural Ireland where we are all incredibly car dependant it was incredibly liberating to be able to cycle wherever I needed to go, even in the rural far north of the country there were two cycling lanes adjacent to the main roads. The Dutch countryside took me off guard—I knew it would be flat but I was not prepared for how immaculate and man made it felt. This was at times a drawback as much as it was a positive aspect, since I missed the rugged nature of the landscape back home. Nevertheless, I thought that the old and beautiful red brick farmhouses dotted in the great expanse of fields were gorgeous.
I loved my two week visit to The Netherlands, it is possibly one of the most interesting places I have been to. I would urge anyone going to venture beyond Amsterdam and see all that this delightful corner of the world has to offer!
By the residents of TWP!
Editor's Note: Welcome to the latest spotlight article featuring the beautiful seventeen-syllable poems written weekly by the denizens of the West! I hope that you enjoy the creativity brought to the region by all TWPers who take their time to craft these poems, and if you like this article, feel free to check the previous highlights too. Stop by our message board on Tuesdays to write haiku, and you might be featured in the future too!
Great sci-fi? easy.
the scythe trilogy is great
you should go read it
Another great one
The SCP foundation
lots of great stories
The Expanse series
Books about a molecule
Show was a blast too
The Mars trilogy
In order: Red Mars, Green Mars
Then lastly Blue Mars
Part of Commonwealth Saga
Spaceships are for nerds
PR Lightspeed Rescue
Space travel, treecats,
War and politics exist
In the Honorverse
Red infiltrates Golds
Houses battle, Howlers win
Check out Red Rising
I would be remiss
To leave out time traveling
Done by the Doctor
If "The spice must flow"
and "Fear is the mind-killer",
then you’re reading Dune.
Baby steps forward
Cautiously into new year
Papercuts and Skittles
We're just happy
Past the last 10 messages
Formerly lost space
Bhang Bhang Duc
White for the Anglo-Saxons
Red for the Cymry.
Great Northern Wyrm Lord
Great Smaug the Magnificent
Bane of Middle Earth
Good morning to all
in TWP! It's
my birthday today!
The West Pacific
Is a very nice region
To spawn or stay at
On every Tuesday
We all share our own haikus
On the R-M-B
By Giovanniland, Card Czar of the West
After a retrospective article in the last edition of the Card Club's contests throughout 2023, it's time for another article related to trading cards! This time I'm continuing my series of collection spotlights, where I choose various collectors from the West and feature interesting collections that they've made! Collections consist of cards centered around a specific theme and encompass a wide array of types and sizes within the card universe, and many of these collections undoubtedly merit recognition. For those unfamiliar, I oversee the Collection Collection v2 thread on the NationStates forums, where I regularly assess collections for potential inclusion.
Currently, the cards community has seen over a year of Season 3 now, with plenty of time for people to develop interesting card displays. Although not as active as in the start of the season, in my opinion the community is healthy and has seen many innovations recently, especially in the field of scripts, which also helps in the making of collections. Meanwhile, TWP's regional cards community continues active after the successful implementation of a monthly contest schedule during 2022, seeing dozens of great collections across the many contests that have been hosted—however I won't focus on contest entries in this article because I already did that last month. As usual, I start by commenting about some of my own collections and then choose other people to highlight, though they are listed in no particular order.
In the previous edition I mentioned that my collection of all The West Pacific Season 3 cards had been nearly finished, with only one card remaining that had recently been found. Just days after the article was published, the nation sold the card and then I completed the collection, being the first to complete a game-created region collection for Season 3, and still the only person to have complete collections for all three seasons. Furthermore, I also beat my record from Season 2 about the time to complete it, then it took over a year and 4 months but for the current season it was complete in only seven months, less than half of the Season 2 record! The Season 3 TWP collection is my favorite, not only because of that but also because it has the region's first legendaries too, namely Giovanniland, The Holy Principality of Saint Mark, and Laudesia.
Moving on to other collections, last year I decided to consolidate all my collections in one nation, now that the deck capacity change allowed it. Therefore themes such as Brazilian flags and other Brazilian cards are now found in my main nation, same with the Chess and 1984 collections too. Another highlight is the Wreath flags collection that is almost at the five thousand cards milestone, although a significant part of the increase is not due to myself but rather Dr Hooves, who has generously gifted hundreds of cards featuring wreaths by now, for which I am very thankful. Last but not least, the main new project of mine is called Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, a display of over four hundred cards about the theme of Ancient Rome.
The first page of the Wreath Flags collection, including several legendary cards.
For Apexiala's third appearance in the TWP Card Collection Spotlight, there are many of their collections to talk about that I haven't mentioned before! In the past editions I mentioned their vast collections that are featured in the Collection Collection Thread, so it's also a good idea to give the smaller ones some love as well, after all Apex is a prolific collector that knows how to make great collections. Starting with their main nation, some of their newer card collections include a very adorable display of Plushies, and over one hundred Cars. There's also other interesting themes such as Planets & Galaxies, and a few complete or near-complete collections like commended & condemned and animated nations of Season 2.
Apex's many collection puppets are also worth the mention! For example, in Apexiala Diplomatic Relations there are collections dedicated to each continent of the world and also cities, and Apexiala Department of Defense has a similar theme, featuring collections about the army, airforce, navy and many more. By far my favorites are the Apexiala Gallery of Art and Apexiala Cultural Heritage due to the incredible variety and volume of cards that they have about their respective theme. The former's Portraits collection numbers over a thousand cards, and I also like the many artwork collections divided into art categories; while for the cultural heritage nation I'll choose to mention the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and Ancient Civilizations collections due to my interest in the theme.
Furthermore, they also have nations dedicated to one single collection! The expansive Apexiala Wildlife Reserve and Apexiala Nature Reserve are prime examples of that, housing hundreds of cards featuring real life animals and nature. Another notable nation is Element115, the user's original account from a decade ago, which has now revived and is home to the collection called "A mind without purpose will walk in dark place", dedicated to cards with black flags. Last but not least there's the puppet of Selfies and its funny collection named "Be weird. Be goofy. Be silly. Be you", it's one of my favorites and very accurately depicts the theme.
A screenshot of Apexiala's Ancient Civilization collection.
Featured for the first time in the previous spotlight, Montrandec has now returned to NationStates after a break and is once more active in trading cards! They have decent progress on their rarity collections, like the Season 2 legendaries, Season 3 legendaries, and Season 3 epics. There's also other interesting collections, for example the New Year-themed one that they submitted for last month's contest and is described in this newspaper's Card Club Update, and of course the growing self-referential display of cards with the top 1% badge for International Artwork which I linked in the previous article. Also worth the mention is their new Delegates of the West collection, to which I contributed some cards, and I hope to see it completed soon so we get another complete collection of our region's leaders!
Fotisdia is best known for being very present and very successful in the Card Club's contests, having topped last year's leaderboard with three wins, two second places and two third places. There's several contest collections that you can see in their nation, but here I'll focus on some others. I like their All Rhodes Lead to Greece and Aphrodite's Rock 'n Roll collections, the former for Greek flags and the latter for Cypriot flags. There's also their very interesting Greece collection that focuses on other aspects of the country such as history, culture, places and notable people! That's not all, though, since they also have other collections worth mentioning like The West and Best Pacific for cards of our region, and a Genshin Impact display, their second-largest collection.
PR Lightspeed Rescue / Dr Hooves
This edition is PR Lightspeed Rescue's first appearance in this series of articles, however that is their TWP resident nation and they're better known to the cards community as Dr Hooves. Here in the West, Dr Hooves has participated in a few of the Card Club's monthly contests and even won last December's one with the X-Mas Tree collection in their nation Ice Make, also home to the Snowflakes display. Another such puppet is Lumity, which contains the Crikey collection they submitted for the last TWPride Card Contest, in turn part of the larger The Owl House collection.
In the Collection Collection Thread one can see the extent and impressiveness of Dr Hooves' collections. They are one of the most accomplished rarity collectors, with their nearly complete House of Blues display of Season 1 rares, a complete set of Season 2 legendaries, and most notably the amazing collection called "It ain't easy being green" that houses every single Season 3 Uncommon, for a total of 48,650 which makes it the largest complete collection ever. As for their other themes included there, some examples are the Aquarium display of marine life and the Project Car & Other Land Vehicles collection, both above a thousand cards. Dr Hooves also created a few interesting collections dedicated to objects, for example balloons, seats, and umbrellas.
Dr Hooves' display of cards featuring balloons.
It's now time for another new addition to the spotlight! Tropical Isles is ranked nineteenth in the region for deck value, and their largest collection is called Domestic Cards, featuring nearly two thousand copies of their main nation and puppets' cards. The Resources collection is the second-largest, and although some may think it's just the famous and sought-after set of cards whose names all start with "Resource", Tropical Isles goes beyond that and includes many other cards that also picture natural or man-made resources. Then there's the self-explanatory collections of aesthetically pleasing cards and ex-nations, both over a hundred cards, and the Military collection that features mainly naval equipment. Last but not least, the player has also made collections for the British and US flags.
Another new appearance this time around is Podium! You can still see many contest entries there—Podium participated in several events and even won one, the N-Day & Z-Day card contest—besides some other collections that I'll talk about here. For example, Easter Egg Holders is one of their larger collection and contains over 200 cards, a creative idea and one I haven't seen pursued by any large scale card farmer to my knowledge. On the other extreme to the easter egg badges are the cards with no badges at all, and Podium also has a collection for that, named Zero-Badge Cards. Of course, there's also some other card displays that are the staples of many decks, like their TWP and self collections.
For this edition of the spotlight I'll focus on two of Mediobogdum's collections, since other ones have already been covered in the previous appearances of 2020, 2021 and 2023. The first is their Season 3 legendaries collection that has nearly all the cards needed, with only seven cards remaining! It fits nicely together with Medio's complete collections of Season 2 legendaries also in his main nation, and Season 3 epics in his Honor Guard puppet. The second collection is one very topical for West Pacifican culture and has been created in honor of Darkesia. Called "A Chocolate Salute to Darkesia", this chocolatey display currently features forty-five cards and various types of chocolate or other products based on it! There's also the card of Darkesia herself, and that of Darkipedia which is a reference to the regional roleplay.
A Chocolate Salute to Darkesia, by Medio.
Last but not least, I'll open an exception to what I said earlier about contests, since Foressul has participated regularly since the middle of the last year and deserves a place in the spotlight, this being their first time here. Their best result is second place, achieved twice in the two last months of the year—first in the Fall Card Contest with the Fall in the forest collection and then in the Tree Decoration Card Contest with the display named Christmas. I especially liked the former, since their entry makes a connection between their forest-themed nation name and flag and brings it to the realm of card collecting, in order to focus on the natural aspect of trees and leaves during autumn. A similar theme can also be seen in the Sunny collection for the TWP Summer Card Contest, and more clearly in the Forests in Foressul display, where they depicted their own nation for the TWPatria Contest.
And that concludes this article! I suggest exploring all the collections I've referenced here if you haven't already, as well as any other collections curated by members of TWP that I might not have covered. If you're interested in starting your own collection and need assistance, don't hesitate to join our regional Discord server and inquire at #twp-card-central, the go-to hub for all TWP card collectors. Thank you for reading, and keep an eye out for future card-related articles.
By Overthinkers, Delegate of the West
Wow, we’re already onto our fifth month of CityGuessr! In this article, we’ll be giving you the answers and results from last month's CityGuessr, a brief recap of the current CityGuessr leaderboard and this month’s challenge. This time it's hosted by me, Sekiya, and I've not only taken the photos but also added a banner for our game.
This game is a take on the known game GeoGuessr, where players are given a view of a place and have to guess its location in the world, and use Google Maps to move around and try to catch some hints. In the adapted version of the newspaper there is no such possibility, of course, hence the fact we're restricting the scope of the game to cities and calling it CityGuessr.
Last month, a total of three West Pacificans participated in the fourth edition of CityGuessr, which had two photos taken by Giovanniland of a city in the Americas! The rankings are presented below, with the nation name, their guess, how far it was from the actual city, and the points received.
Corbeil – Montevideo, Uruguay – 1431.03 km away – 3 points
Sekiya – Salvador, Brazil – 4023.13 km away – 2 points
Montrandec – Panama City, Panama – 4745.20 km away – 1 point
Viña del Mar, Chile!
The first picture was a stone monument dedicated to Italian revolutionary and republican, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who visited the city in the mid-eighteenth century, in one of his ship voyages. The text in the inscription tells that one century before the monument was erected, therefore in 1851, he anchored his ship on the beach of Viña del Mar. Later on, Garibaldi played a huge part in the unification of Italy in 1861.
The second picture is the coastal Castillo Wulff, which currently serves as the city’s heritage center. The castle dates back to 1906, when it was built for the Wulff family by orders of Gustavo Wulff, a prominent German trader.
Therefore Corbeil strengthens their hold of the first place, rising to 9 points, while Nas Crustium stays in second place with 6 points. As no one got it right this time, there aren't any recipients of the challenge coin designed by Fujai, but maybe there will be next time! Correctly guess the city of this edition and you'll receive the coin below, which you can display in signatures, trophy cases or other places you'd like.
Furthermore, if you're interested in helping out with CityGuessr by submitting photos, feel very welcome to! Currently we're looking for photos of Asia, in order to keep the sequence of two months for each continent before switching, but other photos are also appreciated. Upload them to Imgur or another image-hosting service of your choice and then telegram the links to The West Pacific Master Dispatch!
Now let's get onto this month's challenge—for those new to the game, here are the rules from the first edition written by Tam Dao!
CityGuessr, as the name suggests, will ask you to guess which city of the world the photos are showing, both photos always referring to the same city. We will keep the scope of the game to cities only, as we don't have the luxury of moving around to check for clues. We will also provide a single clue of the continent where the city is located.
Starting from this edition, the answer submission process is a little different. To make it a bit easier to send in your answer, use the submission link here! Keeping in mind that you only have one guess and changing it later is not allowed.
Furthermore, to add a bit of competition to the game, we will rank all guesses based on how close they are to the correct answer. The top 3 answers will be given points: 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, and 1 point for 3rd. The highest scorer will gain the bragging right of being the CityGuessr Champion of the Month, and the top scorer across 12 editions of the game will be crowned CityGuessr Grand Champion.
And remember, no using outside resources to figure it out, otherwise it wouldn't be a guess!
This month, we’re heading to the other side of the globe to a completely new continent not yet seen on CityGuessr before! It's Asia!
The Western Post Staff - Delegate: Overthinkers - Editors: Fujai and Giovanniland - Staff: Ageros, Bran Astor, Hertfordshire and Jammbo, Occidius, Podium, Sekiya, Teralyon, The Holy Principality of Saint Mark, Zhiznovsk, and YOU
All your chocolate belongs to Darkesia
The Western Post is brought to you by The West Pacific Cultural Trust, The West Pacific News Group, and readers like you. Thank you.