Tag Archive: Netherlands



We’ve been lucky with our walking tours and day trips in ALL my travels. Out of Amsterdam, we booked trips to Delft and The Hague. Because they’re near each other, we thought we’d book a combination day tour. Typical of me to prep and read up on the city or town attractions, dripping with excitement over the sites to see. Unfortunately, we had the worst tour guide ever. Lazy, inattentive and with absolutely no regard for making the tour worthwhile for the client visitors. We breezed through many of the sites riding the tourist coach, getting off only 3x in places where we were given an hour or so to roam — unguided — on our own. πŸ™„ Had we known, we could have just hopped on a train, skipped a few sites and DIY’d it. We could have covered more, lingered longer AND saved ourselves the frustrations.

The Royal Delft Factory and Museum was our first stop. A young lady from Royal Delft welcomed and escorted us through the factory and museum. The highlight was watching this lady artist do her stuff in this earthenware factory that’s been around since the 17th century. It was a good and educational tour, but no thanks to our Tour Guide. By the time we were done, this tour guide who must not be named was waiting, a tad dazed and reeking of alcohol. We were seated up front and I could smell him. His spiel by this time is slurred, and we had to strain to understand what he was saying. Still, we were excited that we are now headed for the city square of Delft — the birthplace of Jan Vermeer and the former royal seat of the House of Orange. Much to see right within this square. There is the 13th century City Hall, rebuilt in the 17th century in the Renaissance style. Then there’s the gothic New Church right across the square from the City Hall which is by no means “new”, dating back to the 15th century. Now the royal mausoleum of the family of William I of Orange, the Church has a tower one can climb up to for a panoramic view of the entire Delft. Between these 2 historical landmarks are quaint shops and cafes. Perfect for people watching if one has the time.

I must say this Tour Guide Who must not be named should have taken the time to guide us around this Square. But no, he simply instructed us to go explore on our own and to meet him back in the parking area where the bus would be waiting in an hour. He could at least have guided us the first 15 minutes before leaving us to explore more on our own. After all, he stayed right within the square, claiming a table and drinking more beer. Oh well. From the square, we rounded up a corner and chanced upon a lively Saturday Market which could have interested the others in our group. But no, this mister is far too busy downing bottles of beer. 🍺🍻🍺

If you think that’s bad enough, let me tell you about the last segment of the tour. We hardly saw The Hague except for an hour we were forced to waste in Madurodam, a miniature theme park which featured scale models of famous landmarks in The Netherlands. I’m sorry but this hardly excited me. I am willing to concede it’s a matter of personal preference but seriously, I would have preferred more time spent in The Hague’s more interesting and historical spots. Instead, we had a 5-minute stop at the Peace Palace and a “drive through” the many embassies in this city. Yes, a drive through of the embassies. I was hoping to see the iconic Protestant Church, International Court of Justice, the Maurithuis which houses Jan Vermeer’s “The Girl With the Pearl Earrings”, and other celebrated works of Rembrandt and other notable Dutch masters. Zilch.

Did I even manage to take photos of The Hague? Just one. And this was taken from a moving bus. So frustrated. But I’d stop ranting at this point. We’ve been lucky with our other plans. Can’t win them all.


Back in 1986, I visited a couple of fishing villages near Amsterdam. I thought then how sooo Dutch these fishing villages were. Cheese, herring, clogs, and more cheese. It was an unforgettable experience especially for someone traveling solo. No digital camera. No credit card. No ATM or debit card. And just one jacket. I came to Holland for the tulips and windmills. I found them but my fondest memories were those spent in Volendam and Marken, eating herring and cheese. 😜

Fishing Villages Near Amsterdam

Heaven!

I tried to relive that 1986 episode by revisiting these 2 villages. Those cheese wheels still leave me salivating and I was in heaven tasting all kinds of Dutch cheeses in this shop where the staff offers cubes and cubes and slices of aged cheese. By the time I was lined up to pay for my purchases, I’ve had a good sampling of them cheeses. Dipped in mustard, honey or herbed oil, this tasting left us buying more. Someone is happy πŸ’•

Volendam Cheese Shop

Fishing Village of Volendam

There is also the excitement over the prospect of an herring lunch in Volendam. Kibbeling fish and chips plus a bottle of the local beer completes the deal. My love affair with pickled herring began in 1986 and still burns strong this 2019. I craved for it daily since this day trip to Volendam. I heard that snacking on one herring sandwich a day won’t hurt and is actually good for one’s health. Naaaah…… I made that up. πŸ˜‚

(But we need our omega -3, right?)

Herring and Robust Beer for Lunch

A Cheese Shop in Volendam

Marken is just a 30-minute ferry ride away from Volendam. Separated from the mainland after a storm in the 13th century, then reconnected in 1957, it managed to preserve its many local traditions. Like Volendam, seafood delicacies abound and you’re never short on choices. A clog making workshop still exists and draws in many tourists. It’s not a chore to circle the “island” if one has the time. The stilt houses may look more modern than traditional now, but I still find these colourful wooden houses quite charming. Lovely day trip and it’s so near from the capital!

Fishing Villages Near Amsterdam

Fishing Villages Near Amsterdam


Say that again….. Giethorn or Giethoorn. Either way, you pronounce the “o” or “oo” like a single “o” as in horn. But roll your “r” and have an imaginary “e” between r and n. Got it? Oh, never mind. North of Amsterdam is this water village popularly called “Venice of the North”. Don’t ask me why but I do think Giethoorn’s beauty is so different from Venice and it won’t be fair to compare the two. With its centuries-old thatched-roof houses lining the canals, its charm can be appreciated from a boat or by walking its many footpaths and bicycle paths. It is worth the 2-hour trip from the capital, for sure.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

There is a Museum and art galleries and curio shops abound. Plus you’d love the quaint coffee shops, aromatic cheese shops and dining areas where we partook of a delectable steak and some fish with chips and garden salad. Fortified with a good meal, we had the energy to walk around the village, crossing many tiny bridges and even checking out the gelato bars. All that time, the waterways were filled with boats, some manned/rowed by tourists who likely held an oar for the first time in their lives. I have to give credit to the professional boat men who never lost their cool while watching them amateurs navigate the canals, bumping left side, right side and rowing in a circle!

The Village Of Giethoorn

I’m told the waterways aren’t that deep. Was actually thinking how many bikes (and bikers) may have lost their balance and dropped/slid to the waters. I’m also curious how the residents can put up with a village teeming with boatfuls of visitors, some too curious nosy to actually step on a private garden just for one damn instagram shot. We went on a weekday and can just imagine the crowds and the noise on weekends in this car-Free village lying in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. I can’t even imagine how crowded those tiny, narrow 170 bridges could be while punters carrying nosy and noisy tourists pass under.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

Most tourists who rode the boats took time to walk around the water village, the church, cheese shops and ice cream bars. The narrow bridges make for “friendly encounters” especially when you cross paths many times. I’ve also met many dogs πŸ• who seem to enjoy seeing the colourful boats plying the canals. By the 3rd time you cross paths with someone, you’ve grown “close” . πŸ˜‚ If I were to head back here, I’d likely go much earlier in the morning or much later in the afternoon when the crowds have gone or haven’t arrived. It must be quite an idyllic experience to take one of those small boats called punters or to simply walk around crossing as many of the 170 wooden bridges connecting the tiny islands. Yes, that’s what I’d do. Nonetheless, it is still a wonderful experience. Let me just say I can do with less noise.

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn

Village of Giethoorn