Not at all new here on Epic, but very much a novice in mountainbiking. Done a lot of reading, but can't get a clear picture: whether to look at hardtail bikes or full suspension ones.
I'm looking for real allround use, both in the 'back yard' here in Holland (hardly any hills; mostly though the woods and on the heath). Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the terrain (all pics are googled, I don't know the guy on the bike):
As you can see: no real reason for anything else than a hardtail in terms of bumps, jumps or rocks to be worried about. We simply don't have those here. It's all relatively smooth hard-pack, to use a snow-analogy. Oh, even if this looks like potential high speed terrain - I'm not that speedy at all (looking for a forgiving, playful ride, although I probably won't be making flips, kicks or any other Redbull-like moves any time soon).
The thing is: I also want to go biking in the Alps, Pyrenees, Vosges, Ardennes, all the beautiful places Europe has to offer. And there they do have some real vertical, chairlifts, real rocks and descends. And for that purpose, would I be looking at something else, or would a hardtail still be fine?
I'm worried about my knees mostly, and my budget too.
So, what would you guys be looking at and why? Any relevance in the HT v Fully debate in terms of handling? Feel free to use ski gear and snow-type analogies (is there a rocker analogy, perhaps?).