Weird places to spend the night in the Netherlands

Weird places to spend the night in the Netherlands

Normal hotels can be soooo boring. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Netherlands that offers something beyond mere conventionality, why not try one of these unusual lodgings? Crane Hotel Faralda - Amsterdam It’s become one of the country’s most famous and downright bizarre hotels, but it’s also among the most expensive. A single night at Crane Hotel Faralda will run you upwards of €795. It’s hard to dismiss the view up there though, and the experience is truly one of a kind. Owner Edwin Kornmann Rudi spent several years converting this 50 metre-tall harbour crane at the NDSM shipyard into a three room hotel. You won’t find a reception desk or a gym, but there is a hot tub on the roof, and you’ll get to wake up next to a taxidermied peacock if you book the ‘Free Spirit’ room. The hotel definitely caters to a youthful crowd with money to burn. If you’ve got a few hundred extra euros lying around, the staff can also arrange for a private helicopter to pick you up at Schiphol and/or the opportunity to bungee jump off the edge of the crane. De Havenkraan van Harlingen - Harlingen Here’s the Netherlands’ other crane hotel. It doesn’t offer epic views of Amsterdam, but the owners will let you fiddle with the controls. If you get bored with one vista, you can push a few buttons, and the hotel will spin in another direction. You’ll also have the entire place to yourself since there’s only one room, which occupies the former machine and control rooms. If the crane is already booked, there’s two other unconventional lodgings nearby. You can have the time of your life in a lifeboat-turned-hotel or light it up instead over in a former lighthouse. Vliegtuigsuite Teuge - Teuge Even if you can’t typically sleep on planes, you’ll probably be able to at this strange hotel in Teuge. It’s housed inside a Ilyushin 18 airliner with an interesting history. Originally built in 1960, it was once owned by the East German government who used it to fly around various officials. It later served as a commercial aircraft for Interflug, an airline company. You and/or a guest will get the entire plane to yourself, which has been converted into an impressive hotel suite. A terrace, an infrared sauna, three televisions, and a kitchenette are among the features in addition to the original cockpit. You won’t be able to fly this thing, but you can always pose for a few selfies in the pilot’s seat and pretend you’re a double agent on a secret mission behind the Iron Curtain. If you’d like to earn your wings for real, the staff are willing to arrange flying lessons or merely a sightseeing flight at the conveniently located small airport next door. Hotel De Vrouwe van Stavoren - Stavoren Wine casks can be converted into surprisingly comfortable hotel rooms. Who knew? The proprietors of this unique hotel in Stavoren, for starters. Several of its rooms feature casks that serve as small bedrooms and living rooms. Along with a restaurant, there’s also more conventional rooms on the property if you don’t think the concept sounds like a barrel of laughs. CityHub - Amsterdam and Rotterdam If you haven’t heard of capsule hotels, they continue to be an oasis for many ‘salarymen’ over in Tokyo when they miss the last train home. Now the opportunity to spend a night in one of these pint-sized hotel rooms has arrived in the Netherlands. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, capsule hotels typically consist of a series of what might be best described as human-sized cat carriers all piled on top of one another. There’s just enough room inside of one for a single person to sleep (or at least attempt to sleep). Capsule hotels are not an ideal place to spend the night, but they’ll do in a pinch. If this sounds appealing, you can give it a go at CityHub in Amsterdam and/or Rotterdam. While their bathrooms are communal, the capsules themselves (which the staff call ‘hubs’) are downright roomy in comparison to the ones you’ll typically find in Japan. They feature double beds, enough space to stand up, app-controlled mood lighting, and even a small rack to hang clothing on. They can even accommodate two people, although it’s a bit of a tight squeeze. Prices from around €120 a night. Cube House Rotterdam - Rotterdam If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sleep in one of the country’s most instantly recognisable landmarks, look no further. You can book a few nights in one of Rotterdam’s Kubuswoningen (AKA ‘The Cube Houses’). Much like your average Airbnb, there’s a kitchen, a terrace, and it can sleep up to four guests. Just be careful while you walk around, especially if you find yourself stumbling to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s very easy to bonk your head on the house’s tilted walls and windows. If you don’t have a need for an entire cube-shaped house, there’s also a hostel located in the complex.  Euromast Hotel Suites - Rotterdam You can also stay in another one of Rotterdam’s most iconic buildings. ‘Heaven’ and ‘Stars’ are the names of the two suites high atop the Euromast that both sit 100 metres over the sidewalks below. They’re perched above the tower’s brasserie and next to the viewing platforms. ‘Heaven’ overlooks the city’s port, the largest on the continent, while the smaller ‘Stars’ offers views of the city’s skyline. Waking up with your head in the clouds isn’t cheap, though. Both suites run € 395 a night according to the website, but breakfast and a bottle of Champagne are included. Straw-Hotel - Oldehove Even the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t want to huff and puff and blow down the gorgeous straw igloos at this unusual hotel located at the Hayema Heerd campsite outside of Groningen. Sure enough, both the igloos and the beds inside them are made out of straw. The latter might sound uncomfortable, but they actually mold to the sleeper’s body and are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Along with the three igloos, which feature glass domes at the top to enable star-gazing, there’s also the ‘Straw Castle.’ Housed inside a renovated barn, it can sleep up to six guests. Inntel Hotels Amsterdam - Zaandam While the name claims it’s located in Amsterdam, this somewhat strange hotel can actually be found north of the city in Zaandam. Some have declared it an architectural wonder while others consider it a huge eyesore. The facade is comprised of 70 traditional Dutch houses all stacked on top of one another. While the exterior makes the hotel look like something straight out of an animated Miyazaki film, what’s inside is also pretty unique. Many of the rooms feature large, wall-to-ceiling historical photos or unusual furnishings and other decor. The Founders Suite up on the twelfth floor even has its own private sauna. Hotel Not Hotel - Amsterdam The other hotels on this list feature a single concept, but not this ambitious one in Amsterdam. Each room has a unique theme with its own back-story dreamed up by designers from the Eindhoven Design Academy. You can read all about them on Hotel Not Hotel’s official website. Along with spending the night in a Volkswagen van or a tram carriage, you can also reserve ‘Secret Bookcase XL,’ which is located behind, you guessed it, a bookcase. It’s just one of at least four hidden rooms on the property. Another room was allegedly inspired by an elderly couple who once lived in the building. The husband is a chronic snorer, so it’s been split into two rooms with separate entrances (there’s no two-for-one price, however. Separate bookings are required for each one). But Hotel Not Hotel’s most unusual room might also qualify as the most unusual hotel room in the entire country. ‘Crisis Free Zone’ is housed inside a small chapel covered in wood carvings inspired by Transylvanian folklore. As the website notes, these mystical carvings are capable of warding off vampires, ghosts, and bankers. If all of this isn’t whimsical enough for you, the hotel also has a bar named for the American actor Kevin Bacon.  More >


Dutch destinations: a weekend exploring the former island of Walcheren

Dutch destinations: a weekend exploring the former island of Walcheren

Walcheren was once an island but a dam, several bridges and a lot of reclaimed land have put paid to that. Today, it is at the heart of Zeeland, with beaches, pretty villages to visit and plenty of things to see and do, whatever your age. Beaches seem to be a key part of so many of DutchNews.nl's destination guides - hardly surprising when you consider the length of the coastline, and how easy it is to get to from most of the country. Walcheren includes the resort of Zoutelande, immortalised by Zeeland band Blof, as well as Westkappelle, Domburg and Oostkapelle - all places where many a Dutch family has spend a holiday. What do do Visit the Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg The island's capital, Middelburg can feel like stepping back in time, particularly if you are there on a quiet Sunday. The heart of the town is dominated by the former abbey complex, part of which dates back to the 15th century. The abbey is now home to the Zeeuws Museum which is a mixture of art and local history and well worth a visit. From there you can wander through quiet streets of pretty stone houses and enjoy lunch on one of the cafe terraces on the grand Markt, overlooked by its very impressive town hall. Explore Veere Veere used to be open to the sea and its wealth stems from its position as a major port in the wool trade with Scotland back in the 15th century. The enormous church which dominates the surrounding countryside is testament to its monied past. The Schotse Huizen museum on the waterfront is well worth a visit and is twinned with the Veere museum now housed in the wonderfully Gothic town hall. Veere is also a good spot to watch the boats go by. You can pick up a 3.3 kilometre explorers' walk of the village at either museum. See Vlissingen in a flash Vlissingen is home both Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter, scourge of the English, and to a busy port. Vlissingen is also an example of how to ruin a perfectly good waterfront and can be easily avoided, unless it is pouring with rain and you want to take the kids to the Arsenaal adventure playground, which describes itself as the biggest pirate park in the Netherlands. Go to the beach You cannot go to Zeeland without spending time on the beach and taking in lunch or a pre-dinner drink at one of the wooden beach pavilions spread along the coast. Avoid the beaches close to the big resorts and you may well have the sea all to yourself. The sun sets in the west so you may be lucky and get a fabulous sunset as well. Ride a horse, rent a bike or go on a walk Zeeland is flat so cycling is easy and because of its popularity with Dutch tourists, there are plenty of places to stop off and eat or have a coffee on the way, and plenty of places to rent a bike. There are also lots of signposted walks, including one which goes along the coast. If you are a horsey person, there are plenty of stables where you can 'borrow' a horse and follow the 19 kilometre Walcheren horse route, which takes in a good chunk of beach. Where to eat Unlike some parts of the Netherlands, where there is a paucity of places to eat, Zeeland is bubbling with cafes and restaurants, a number of which have Michelin recommendations. Local delicacies include Zeeuwse mussels, lobster and oysters. Where to stay We stayed at Hof aan Zee in the dunes at Dishoek, which is a small apartment complex in an old farmhouse on the edge of the dunes. The accommodation is basic but clean and functional but you don't need to cook because the restaurant attached to the apartments is great. Breakfast was served at the table - do we hate buffet breakfasts - and dinner in the evening was local fresh food with a Scandinavian twist. We also recommend the Auberge De Campveerse Toren in Veere – built into part of the town walls. Veere can get very busy in the summer so be warned, but the hotel is atmospheric and romantic with a good restaurant. How to get there Vlissingen and Middelburg both have train stations if you want to use public transport but a car would be useful if you want to really explore the region, particularly outside the high season. Anything else When the sun comes out, Zeeland gets busy, so be warned.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Eurovision Is Worse Than Brexit Edition – Week 20

DutchNews podcast – The Eurovision Is Worse Than Brexit Edition – Week 20

Plenty of sea changes in this week's podcast as Mark Rutte takes the fight to Thierry Baudet, Sybrand Buma becomes the second coalition party leader to abandon ship in mid-term and Amsterdam's mayor decides not to impose a booze ban on the city's canals. The Hague opts out of the cabinet's plan for legalised cannabis cultivation, there's a poignant edge to Ajax's title celebrations and the food safety board warns people about the dangers of eating filet americain. In our discussion we ask if anyone does, or should, care about next week's European elections. If you'd like to back us on Patreon please follow this link – we'll give you a shout-out and let you ask the podcast team a question. Ophef of the week: Rutte challenges Baudet to TV debate Top story Netherlands suspends military training mission in Iraq News Enschede's mayor brands attack on Syrian refugee family a 'disgrace' Amsterdam's mayor calls alcohol ban on boats 'undesirable' The Hague passes on regulated marijuana trials Regional bus drivers join train drivers in strike for better pensions Filet American should be pre-frozen, says safety board Sport Formula One returns to the Netherlands after 35 years in the garage Ajax pay tribute to Appie Nouri after securing 34th Eredivisie title Discussion: European elections European election leaders are mostly unknown to voters 60,000 EU nationals register to vote, but how many did not know? Pro-Nexit Forum and VVD running neck and neck in Euro poll 'My favourite Dutch thing is the 35% off section at Albert Heijn' Who is Frans Timmermans and what does he stand for? (euronews)  More >


Dutch destinations: The Wadden Sea island of Terschelling

Dutch destinations: The Wadden Sea island of Terschelling

If you want to get away from it all for a few days, the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling is easy to get to, offers great empty beaches and has enough to keep you busy even if you hit a wet weekend. Terschelling and Texel are the most touristy of the Wadden islands, yet both are very different. Texel is bigger and less dominated by holidaymakers. Terschelling is more an elongated sand dune and tourism is clearly its main source of income. Terschelling can trace its history back to 850, when a small church was built on a sand hill hill near Seerip or Strip in the far south west of the island. It has always been orientated towards the sea and among Terschelling's famous sons and daughters is seafarer Willem Barendz, who survived the winter marooned on the Artic ice in 1597. The island's other main claim to fame is that it is one of two Wadden islands where cranberries grow. You will find a great deal of cranberry-related items - from chutney to cordial - for sale on the island. Things to do Walk or cycle around the island Terschelling does not have many roads - just a main drag and side roads shooting off to the sea - but there are several guided walking routes ranging from 4.5 to 11 kilometres. If cycling is more your thing, if you can manage 45 kilometres, you will have seen pretty well all the island has to offer. Visit the shipwreck museum The wrakkenmuseum (shipwreck museum) is housed in an old farmhouse in Halfweg and contains an unbelievable collection of things found on the island's beaches or brought up from some of the dozens of wrecks in Terschelling's treacherous waters. From dozens of pink 'my little ponies' washed ashore in the recent MSC Zoe container disaster to Bohemian glass from the wreck of the Kursk, the walls and ceilings of the farmhouse are stuffed with objects, all arranged in different collections. There is a large outdoor play area built from driftwood and other finds for the kids to race around. If you like 'things' and appreciate hidden bits of history, it is well worth a visit. Check out the bunkers The bunker museum centres on the Tiger radar base - one of dozens of Nazi radar bases which covered Europe during WWII and which, in this case, formed part of the Atlantic Wall. The seven hectare complex has 100 bunkers, several of which are open to all visitors. You visit more if you go on a guided tour. It is an extraordinary place under the pine trees but our visit was somewhat marred by the dubious comments made by one of the volunteers, who told us there were no Jews on the island in the war period because there was no money to be earned. Take in some culture Terschelling is well known for the yearly Oerol Festival in the third week of June - during which the island becomes one big theatre, with performances all over the island. Book somewhere to stay well in advance if you plan to visit during Oerol. Learn more about the history The 't Behouden Huis museum - named after the wooden hut built on Nova Zembla by Willem Barendz and his crew - is a small, but fascinating museum which covers the history of the island.  In particular, it focuses on the ransacking of the island by the English in 1666. If you have a museum card, you can use it here. Where to stay Terschelling feels more touristy than the other Wadden islands and it has an awful lot of caravan parks and holiday home complexes. We stayed in a new holiday cottage on a small park in Midsland which was well located and well equipped but extremely deceptively photographed and way too small for four adults. If you want to get away from it all, look for a house in the dunes with a view over the vast open spaces. Beware, there are very few options for eating out in the dune villages outside the high season. Where to eat West Terschelling is the main centre of entertainment and you have a fair amount of seafood and hamburger places to chose from plus a couple of more upmarket restaurants. Storm is family-friendly and although we did not eat there, we were convinced it would have been worth it by the reviews. Grand cafe Zeezicht is light and bright with an decent menu, open fire and a view over the ferry terminal so you can make sure you don't miss the boat home. Midsland has a wide choice of hamburger and steak type eateries, but if you are looking for fairly smart and fairly expensive, 't Golfje on the way to the beach comes highly recommended. It was fully booked during our visit and we ended up in the nearby De Drie Grapen which had a warm and welcoming interior and a menu that seems to be stuck in the 1970s. Alas, they were out of prawn cocktail. How to get there By ferry from Harlingen - you have a choice of a high-speed ferry without room for cars or a longer journey with car - or from the neighbouring island of Vlieland if you are island hopping. If you love cycling and don't mind biking into the wind, you can manage without a car and there are frequent bus services on the island as well. If you are travelling with elderly people, a car is to be recommended. If you decide to leave yours in Harlingen to avoid the ferry ticket (the long-term car park costs €7 a day) You can rent an electric one on the island via the Wattcar app and there are also lots of taxis. Anything else? If you hate holiday crowds, avoid the high season and if you hate theatre performances, avoid the third week in June when the Oerol festival takes over the island.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Swedish Men Are Better Edition – Week 19

DutchNews podcast – The Swedish Men Are Better Edition – Week 19

The podcast returns from a two-week break to commiserate with Ajax fans over their shock exit from the Champions League, catch up with Forum voor Democratie's fruitless search for a senate leader and find out why the tourist board has started telling visitors to get out of Amsterdam. We also bring you the latest on the arrest of a suspected serial killer and why organic labelling is less wholesome than it sounds. In our discussion we take a deep dive into the statistics that show the Dutch spend more than their European peers on mortgages and healthcare but less on holidays. Ophef of the week: Yellow vests slated for refusing to shake Rutte's hand (video) Top story Baudet's mentor turns down post of Senate leader for FvD News Triple murder suspect described as 'intelligent but somber' young man Hundreds of organic labelled food products fail to comply with rules Harassment and academic sabotage found to be rife at Dutch universities Dutch tourist board pledges to manage influx of visitors better Sport Commiserations for Ajax as one minute of agony ends 10 months of joy A dream delivered, and another dashed, in one unforgettable moment (NYT) Discussion: Europe Day It's Europe Day, so how does the Netherlands measure up? The Netherlands by European measures (CBS, Dutch)  More >


Blowin’ in the wind: traditional windmills you can visit in the Netherlands

Blowin’ in the wind: traditional windmills you can visit in the Netherlands

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when most people think of the Netherlands? If this were a question on a game show, windmills would probably be the number one answer. If you’ve never experienced the joys of climbing to the top of one of these ubiquitous structures, or merely drinking a biertje beside one, here’s a few that you can visit (and, in some cases, even spend the night in).  Zaanse Schans - Zaandam Okay, let’s get the most obvious ones out of the way first. What’s it like to actually visit the country’s best known windmills? In a word: crowded, especially during the summer months. Visitors and residents alike are daunted by the mobs that pour out of tour buses like clockwork every day between April and October to clog up the small community’s picturesque lanes, museums, windmills and, yes, no less than six gift shops. If you’re unwilling to put up with conditions comparable to Disney World, plan your visit for the off-season. It’s a trek worth making at least once. Zaanse Schans’ museums will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about windmills. Just please be mindful of the locals who’d rather not have anymore people tromping across their yards in search of the perfect Instagram selfie. Kinderdijk - Molenwaard Kinderdijk is the *other* incredibly popular place to snap photos of windmills in the Netherlands. Many might go so far as to call it a tourist trap, and local cyclists have all but declared war on the thousands of visitors who head down there every year. If you go, there’s a good chance you will receive the bike bell dinging of a lifetime from one of them as you march along the village’s shared paths. That said, its 19 windmills are so photogenic and treasured they’ve been on the UNESCO World Heritage site list since 1997. They were originally constructed to help prevent flooding in the surrounding area. Some of them are private, but there are a few you can explore that feature informational displays about what it’s like to live and work in them. If you go, keep an eye out for the floating cradle, which serves as a monument to the Dutch legend that allegedly inspired ‘The Cat and the Cradle’.  De Valk - Leiden If you’d like to climb around in a windmill but not deal with crowds, with the possible exception of a local school group, head to Leiden to visit De Valk. The 29 metre tall mill replaced a smaller one in 1743, and it’s proudly overlooked the city ever since. De Valk was converted into a museum in 1966 and received an extensive restoration this past winter. You can visit the living spaces on the lower floors, which feature original furniture and decor, along with a viewing deck. De Valk has also been in regular operation since the early ‘00s and the sails can often be seen spinning when the weather’s behaving. Be sure to wear a sturdy pair of shoes if you’re determined to make it up each thin staircase (they’re more like ladders, really) that lead to the viewing deck. De Gooyer - Amsterdam Exploring windmills might not be your thing. If you’d rather merely gaze up at one while enjoying an adult beverage, look no further than De Gooyer. Also known as De Funenmolen, it’s Amsterdam’s tallest windmill. It’s also conveniently located beside a former bathhouse that’s currently home to a taproom operated by Brouwerij t’ IJ, a beloved local craft brewery. Contrary to popular belief, De Gooyer isn’t open to the public or owned by the brewery, although the windmill does appear in some of its promotional materials. Nevertheless, it’s great to look at while sitting on the terrace next door with an IPA and a wooden board layered thick with osseworst and cheese. De Arkduif - Bodegraven This 17th century windmill was once used to grind grain and also has ties to a craft brewery. It’s served as the home of Brouwerij de Molen since the mid ‘00s. The property was later expanded to include a taproom, a cafe, and a bottle shop. Tours are offered most Saturdays and you can visit both the windmill and the company’s new-ish brewhouse down the street. As for its name, which means ‘The Ark’s dove’ in English, that’s only been around since 1956. The windmill’s owner at the time held a contest and selected it from a list of suggestions. As the brewery’s website notes, much like the dove, it remains a ‘bringer of peace and happiness.’ Molen de Otter - Amsterdam This picturesque 17th century windmill is off the beaten path and usually isn’t open to the public, but it’s worth pausing to take a photo of it if you’re ever in the area. You can find it along the Kostverlorenvaart, and it’s the last of the 49 windmills that once populated the area in what is said to be the world's first industrial estate. De Otter is also the oldest paltrokmolen in the country. The name comes from the paltrok, an old-fashioned men’s jacket. Supposedly back in the day, people thought these windmills resembled a person wearing one. De Otter was restored in 1994 and its warehouse still sits beside it. The windmill is also operational but, sadly, newer buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood usually prevent it from catching enough wind for its sails to spin. Tours are offered on occasion, and you can find out more information about them by visiting De Otter’s Facebook page. Molen de Walvisch - Schiedam In the 18th century, Schiedam’s jenever industry was booming. It required new windmills to grind all the grain it needed to keep its distilleries running. There was just one problem: Schiedam wasn’t very breezy. The community eventually constructed 20 very tall windmills capable of catching the wind. Now only five of the originals remain, and Molen de Walvisch is the one that’s currently home to a museum all about the city’s windmills and still thriving distilleries. Along with touring the former living quarters, you can also view a 180 degree audiovisual projection on the first floor.  Molen de Adriaan - Haarlem This windmill sits along one of Haarlem’s most picturesque canals. It was built in the 1770s and was used to grind bark, tobacco, and other materials in the years that followed. In 1932, a devastating fire reduced it to little more than rubble and ash, but the locals started a fund-raising effort mere days later to get it rebuilt. The project eventually took 70 years to complete and the restored Molen de Adriaan opened its doors in 2002. It now houses a museum and the first floor is available to rent for various events. If you’ve been dreaming of getting hitched in a windmill, here’s your opportunity. De Noordmolen - Schiedam Schiedam is also home to De Noordmolen, the tallest traditional windmill in the world. At one time, it was a grain mill considered vital enough to warrant the installation of a diesel engine to keep it operating on days when there wasn’t enough wind. It was decommissioned in 1937 and much of it was deconstructed, leaving little more than a stumpy shell behind. Even worse, the Nazis used what remained as a watch tower during World War 2. Thankfully, it was restored to its former glory in the 1960s and 70s. Nowadays, De Noordmolen serves as a restaurant and bar. Molen Rijn en Lek - Wijk bij Duurstede You can bike right through the middle of this unusual windmill in the town of Wijk bij Duurstede. It was constructed over a town gate called the Leuterpoort in 1659 by a very determined gentleman named Anthony van Eyndhoven. He managed to overcome both the logistics of getting it built and the protests of his neighbours, who were convinced the smell of all the bark being processed in the mill would drive them crazy. He eventually bought their house to get rid of them. Molen Rijn en Lek was rescued from demolition in the 1920s by a local group committed to the preservation of old windmills. It’s now open to visitors on Sunday afternoons or by appointment. De Verrekijker - Bergharen Finally, here’s the first of two windmills you can rent if you’ve ever wanted to sleep and/or ‘Netflix and chill’ in one. De Verrekijker was built in 1904 and was converted into a holiday rental in the 1960s. It has six bedrooms and can accommodate 12 people. You may actually want to invite 11 of your closest friends along because the rates aren’t cheap. However, it’s just a short walk from the village of Bergharen and the surrounding region is great for biking and hiking. If it is too pricey, there’s also another windmill you can rent in Onderdendam. May 11 and 12 is National Windmill Day, when hundreds of mills will be open to the public nationwide. Find out more Further reading: 10 things you should know about Dutch windmills  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Infected Tulip and Painted Zwerfkei Edition – Week 17

DutchNews podcast – The Infected Tulip and Painted Zwerfkei Edition – Week 17

This week on the podcast we try to piece together the debris after an explosive week for Forum voor Democratie, find out why so many MPs claim to live in Limburg and catch up with the campaign to ban a homophobic American Holocaust denier from Amsterdam. There's also news of the neck-and-neck Eredivisie title race and some mysterious vandalism on Texel. In our discussion we give you the lowdown on this year's King's Day festivities in Amersfoort. Ophef of the week: PVV's Dion Graus accused of using mother's Limburg home to claim travel allowance Earn yourself a free shout-out by backing the DutchNews podcast on Patreon here. Thanks to this week's new patrons Jacob Zwiers, William, Zoltán Peczöli and Kelly Merks. Contact Kelly at @flaneurie on Twitter if you'd like to spend a week in charge of the @WeAreXpats account. Top story Forum voor Democratie soap opera as Henk Otten claims 'character assassination' News Foreign minister under pressure to ban American hate preacher and Holocaust denier MPs call for fewer night flights or outright ban at Schiphol airport Vandals pour paint over ancient boulders on Texel Easter weekend brings traffic jams to Keukenhof and Kinderdijk Sport PSV cruise to win in Tilburg to stay neck-and-neck with Ajax in Eredivisie race Eredivisie matches postponed for Ajax's crucial Champions League tie Discussion: King's Day 2019 Guide to King's Day 2019 (Dutch) Easter Monday was the hottest on record but King's Day is set to be wet Information for King's Day visitors to Amersfoort (Dutch) Weeronline weather forecast for King's Day (Dutch) NS King's Day rail timetable Free bus travel in Utrecht province on King's Day (in de buurt, Dutch)  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Long Live King Trouby Edition – Week 16

DutchNews podcast – The Long Live King Trouby Edition – Week 16

As the country gears up for the Easter weekend, the podcast team checks on the progress of the fledgling provincial governments and asks if fears that the housing market is overheating are well grounded. We also look at Ajax's rejuvenation in Europe, what sank Amsterdam's last floating flower business and how one of the country's most decorated soldiers poured home-made fertiliser all over his reputation. And with a week to go to King's Day, we ask why young people are turning their backs on the monarchy. Want to support the DutchNews podcast and keep our stocks of dog food and stroopwafels healthy? Click here to become a Patreon backer Top story Nationalist FvD in talks to form administrations in two provinces News Confidence in housing market drops to lowest level in over four years Number of people killed on Dutch roads rose by 11% last year Amsterdam's last 'floating florist' claims tourists have made business wilt Decorated soldier accused of head-butting policeman who booked him for urinating outdoors Sport Ajax knock out Italian giants Juventus to reach Champions League semi-finals Discussion: Is the monarchy fit for the 21st century? Sharp fall in support for monarchy among young people From Kings Day to lions, lemurs and lino: 12 great things to do in April Travelling to Amersfoort for King's Day? Check NS's website for the special timetable  More >


Dutch destinations: 14 suggestions for that perfect spring break

Dutch destinations: 14 suggestions for that perfect spring break

With the weather turning warmer, what better thing to do with your weekend than go on a spring break? Since last year, DutchNews.nl has carried a monthly travel feature in which we give you the lowdown on a Dutch destination. Here's a round up to inspire you to see more of the Netherlands. Enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek Explore Leiden without the tourist hustle Deventer is an under-rated gem Explore Utrecht from high up and from way down Get a taste of the south in Venlo Enjoy art and cream pastries in Den Bosch Go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside There’s more to Delft than blue and white china Explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen Go north to Leeuwarden Exploring the shores of Ameland Take the train for a weekend in Rotterdam Getting windblown in winter on Texel Mooch around in Maastricht Would you like us to visit a particular destination and find out more? Email your suggestions to editor@dutchnews.nl  More >


Thinking of renting a Dutch holiday cottage: here’s what you should know

Thinking of renting a Dutch holiday cottage: here’s what you should know

The Netherlands is stuffed full of places where you can rent a cottage for a few days to get away with friends and family. Center Parcs is, after all, a Dutch invention. But there are a few things you should be aware of before you get too excited. It looks so great on the website - that May holiday bargain cottage for four, which will cost you just €319 for three nights. But, as we at DutchNews.nl have all discovered to our cost, there are some things you may find out the hard way when renting a Dutch holiday home. The price That bargain price of €319 may not all it seems. You may notice the little asterisk or the small print which point out that this price does not include compulsory additional costs. If you are booking through a holiday company you will probably be asked to pay reservation costs - adding between €20 and €30 to the invoice. Then will come taxes and possibly a deposit. Tourist taxes are upwards of €3 or €4 per person a night. But there is more. What about the exact location? Center Parcs, for example, will charge you an extra €33 to pick your location - so you can decide if you want the view of the lake or to be next to the car park. Then there is the question of the bed linen. How many of us have failed to notice we have to ask for bed linen in advance and pay an extra €7 or €8 for the privilege of not bringing our own sheets on holiday? You may well find that the sheets you have ordered are just placed on your bed and you will have to make it up anyway. You will also be asked to pay extra if you can't be bothered to bring your own towels. It might be worth doing so if you like more than a postage stamp to dry yourself on. And then, you may find added on to your bill the dreaded eindschoonmaak, the end cleaning, which will cost you upwards of €60. This may be presented as optional - which means they will expect you to scrub the bathroom and get the burnt bits off the cooker if you decide not to pay. Even if there is no extra charge (and there usually is) you will still be asked to strip the beds (even if you used their sheets) and leave your cottage bezemschoon (broom clean). What you need to bring Apart from your bed linen, towels and drying up cloths, there are a number of things you will need to bring with you. If you are renting from a private owner it is probably worth asking if there are basics like washing up liquid and salt and pepper in the kitchen. Often you will find the house stripped of everything.... right down to any extra loo rolls. And don't think you are being nice by leaving the salt, pepper and washing up liquid you ended up buying for the next person. It will be taken away by the person who does the eindschoonmaak to add to the enormous collection of half-empty pots and bottles they have in their garage. Coffee filters, a sharp knife or two, dishwasher tablets and a washing up brush should also be on your list of essentials. Unpleasant surprises We have stayed in holiday cottages which you have to clean before you start your holiday because they are so dirty (presumably left that way by people who decided to do it themselves rather than pay for the eindschoonmaak). We once rented a house in Friesland and decided it was being illegally rented out by the neighbours after the owner died and no-one had noticed. It had not been updated since the pre-war years - which is great if you like yellow lino on the floor and ancient moth-ridden quilts on your bed. We have also been surprised by the half bottle of wine left in the fridge which was only half full. Also, beware of the one bedroom cottage that sleeps four. The sofa in the sitting room/ kitchen is the other bed. How to find your holiday cottage If you've got small children who need entertaining, the big holiday parks like Center Parcs and Landel Green Parks have swimming polls and other stuff laid on. There are also loads of Dutch websites which rent out on behalf of private landlords as well as well as the Airbnbs of this world. Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch forestry commission rents out holiday houses - often really in the middle of nowhere. Not cheap Natuurhuisje.nl specialises in rural lettings and gives all in prices Strandhuisjes.nl focuses on beach huts Bellavilla is a bit more upmarket and the prices are all inclusive We've always had good results using the local tourist office - the VVV. They are happy to give you personal advice if you have specific needs and know their localities and their landlords.  More >


Dutch destinations: Go south and mooch around in Maastricht

Dutch destinations: Go south and mooch around in Maastricht

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, and it elegantly combines classic architecture with modern twists. Here you’ll find a vibrant bookstore and coffee bar in a centuries-old cathedral, electrifying boutiques located along cobblestone lanes, and what some say is the best bar in the country.  As one of the country’s most gorgeous (and strategically located) cities, it should come as no surprise that various empires have tried to seize Maastricht over the years. No one can quite agree on its exact origins. Celts lived in the area at least as far back as the 5th century BC, and the Romans showed up about 600 years later to build a bridge over the Meuse River that now runs through the centre of the city. Servatius, Maastricht’s patron saint, is said to have died there in 384 AD, and a stone church was built over his grave in the 6th century. It was gradually expanded and redeveloped into the majestic Basilica of Saint Servatius that’s still located in the Vrijthof, a square in the city centre. Maastricht played a vital role in the Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, and its location made it quite coveted between the 16th and 18th centuries. Despite its fortifications, some of which are still standing, Maastricht was invaded by the Dutch, the Spanish, and by the French no less than three times during this era. Maastricht was also the first Dutch city to be liberated by the Allies during World War II. It hosted a series of councils roughly a half-century later that led to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way toward the establishment of the European Union and the Euro. A series of development projects in recent years have rejuvenated several sections of the city, helping to make it one of the region’s most important economic and cultural centres. Five things to do Find out what’s just below Saint Peter’s Mount Saint Peter’s Mount is home to an 18th century fortress, but what lies below it is also an important historical site in its own right. Local miners began collecting the limestone within the mount for building materials a millennium ago. Their toil resulted in over 80 km of caves that were used by the locals as a refuge during various conflicts. The caves served as the hiding place of Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch during World War II as well. Daily tours now lead visitors under a huge dome and down a Gothic hallway while pausing at murals left on the walls by various inhabitants over the years. Don’t forget to bring a coat, temperatures in the caves hover around 10 C. And be warned, only a very limited number of tickets are available at the Grotten Zonneberg entrance, so you should buy your ticket at the tourist office in town. There are also a couple of signposted walks you can follow which take you in to the heart of the Limburg countryside. Visit the ‘book church’ Located in what is now Maastricht’s main shopping district, Dominicanenkerk is over 700 years old, and it boasts lovely interior arches and frescos. Unimpressed, Napoleon used it to store equipment and military personnel while invading the region in the 1790s. Along with serving as a house of worship, the church has been used as a warehouse, an archive, a printing house, and even a place to store bikes. It was converted into one of Europe’s most unique bookstores following a restoration project in the mid 2000s. Go for a stroll Overlooking Amsterdam, Maastricht is home to the most rijksmonumenten (national historical sites) in the country, around 1,660 at last count, which helps make it one of the nation’s best cities to simply walk around in. There are several towers along with a portion of a city wall built in the 13th and 14th centuries that are worth a few snapshots, especially if you’ve got someone with you who’s willing to pose in front of the cannons out front. There’s also the still somewhat intimidating Helpoort (‘Hell’s Gate’) that was built around 1230 and is the oldest city gate in the country. If old military fortifications aren’t your thing, there are plenty of churches, squares, canals, and neighbourhoods filled with other classic architecture. The Jekerkwartier is just one of the latter, and it’s home to several of the city university’s facilities as well. Explore several centuries of art Maastricht’s Bonnefantenmuseum houses about eight centuries worth of art within one of the city’s most recognisable buildings (just look for the spaceship-shaped cupola). Along with masterpieces by Van Dyck, Rubens, and Brueghel, there’s an impressive collection of modern works. Reach great heights At a little over 322 metres tall, the Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands. Many other countries might consider this merely an average hill, but it’s also home to Drielandenpunt, a three country-point where the borders of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands meet. Its lookout towers offer great views of the surrounding region and, oddly enough, a nearby labyrinth which is the largest in the country. The location itself is a bit of a tourist trap and can get very overloaded with visitors from all three countries, so avoid weekends if you can. Eat & Drink What exactly is a Limburgse vlaai? Well, it’s not quite a pie and it’s not quite a pastry, but it’s definitely delicious. It’s also pretty much the region’s official dessert. You may have tried one already from the supermarket, but to experience the real deal, one must order it in a proper Limburg cafe or bakery. Many places around Maastricht serve vlaai, and which one has the best is a topic that’s probably been debated for decades among the locals. Further complicating things, there’s at least 30 different varieties. De Bisschopsmolen currently has no less than nine on the menu at their bakery and cafe. If you’d like to try your hand at making your own, they also host vlaai workshops. For lunch, try TiramiSu for a quick Italian sandwich on the go. They also have vegetarian and vegan items. Livin’ Room is an adorable cafe specialising in organic food with hip furniture and decor that’s great for breakfast or lunch. There’s also Petit Cafe Moriaan, a cute lunch spot that claims to be the smallest in the Netherlands. KAFETHÉA is a trendy coffee joint and vegan bakery that’s popular among university students and has a bar made out of old books that’s destined to wind up on Instagram countless times. If you have a hankering for a total gut bomb, head to With Love Burrito. Their menu is a wonder to behold and their homemade hot sauces have names like Spark’s Horse Killer and Devil’s Perm. If you’re feeling particularly brave, or are simply incredibly hungry, try the Jesus Burrito. It contains every type of meat they’ve got in the kitchen, as well as scrambled eggs. Those searching for a much more refined experience will find it at Restaurant Chateau Neercanne. It offers an elegant menu of French dishes and seafood along with outstanding views of both its baroque gardens and the Jekerdal Valley. The chateau’s stables have been converted into a more low-key cafe called Restaurant l'Auberge that’s a nice spot for lunch or a coffee with a pastry. It also hosts much more fancy dinners that have earned it a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. If you head out there, be sure to check out the wine cellar. For drinks, try Mr. Smith, a somewhat mysterious cocktail bar located in a former cellar. Maastricht is also home to In de Karkol, voted the Netherlands’ best bar in 2016. The wood-panelled bar has friendly staff, great atmosphere, and a large painting on one wall emblazoned with a slug that explains its name and overall mantra, which serve as a testament to the virtues of taking it easy and enjoying the good things in life. Where to stay  Kruisherenhotel is the only five star hotel in the region. It’s housed in a 15th century monastery along the Kommelplein and each one of its 60 guest rooms features unique art and decor. Teaching Hotel Château Bethlehem dates back to the 13th century and is operated by hospitality students. There’s also Designhotel Maastricht that’s located a short walk from the train station. How to get there  Driving down to Maastricht from Amsterdam usually takes a little over two hours. The train journey from Amsterdam Centraal can run between 2.5 and 3 hours. When to visit As with any other city, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Even a stormy day in the dead of winter can be a great time to visit Maastricht if you’re content with sticking to the cafes and museums. Spring and summer are obviously better times to stroll along the river or check out the city’s classic architecture. If Carnaval isn’t your cup of lager, you might want to skip visiting Maastricht during its annual hootenanny, which attracts big crowds. The city and surrounding region also host music and cultural events throughout the year. You can learn more about them here.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Belgium is Cancelled Edition – Week 10

DutchNews podcast – The Belgium is Cancelled Edition – Week 10

Plenty of ground to cover in this week's podcast, from Ajax's swashbuckling conquest of Madrid to Wopke Hoekstra's peacemaking mission to Paris and a setback for Albert Heijn in Belgium. Dutch ministers call for short-haul flights to Brussels to be scrapped, IS fighter Yago Riedijk is told he'll have to find his own way back to Arnhem and Willem Holleeder's long career as the Netherlands' most notorious gangster may be running out of road. In our discussion we look at the latest moves to return works of art taken during the colonial era to their countries of origin. Top story: Willem Holleeder trial Public prosecutor demands life sentence for Willem Holleeder Feature: The hottest ticket in town is a seat at the Holleeder trial News Economic growth forecast cut to 1.5% for this year Housing market shows signs of cooling down Jihadi Yago Riedijk 'will not be allowed to bring his family to the Netherlands' France and Netherlands make up in wake of Air France-KLM shares raid Dutch MPs call for flights to Brussels to be phased out Belgium shoots down Albert Heijn's 'buy 1 get 2 free offer' Sport Ajax dump Real Madrid out of the Champions League in sensational style Patrick Roest retains world allround speed skating title Nadine Visser crowns successful European Indoor Championships with gold (Runners World, Dutch) Discussion: Should Dutch museums give back stolen colonial art? Dutch museums willing to return stolen art to former colonies The counter for returning stolen art has been opened (Trouw, Dutch) Rijksmuseum investigates source of colonial collection (Volkskrant, Dutch) Benin Bronzes: Why western museums should hold on to their treasures (Guardian) France's return of African artefacts sets tricky precedent (New York Times)  More >


Dutch destinations: Deventer is an under-rated gem

Dutch destinations: Deventer is an under-rated gem

Best known for its annual Dickens festival during the winter holiday season, Deventer is a picturesque city located east of Apeldoorn with a rich literary history. Here you’ll find gorgeous architecture, great cafes, and a very old kettle with a blood-soaked past. Deventer’s history goes all the way back to the Dark Ages, and it’s one of the country’s oldest communities. Historians theorise that it was likely founded by the English missionary Lebuinus in the mid 8th century. He constructed a wooden church in the area that was later destroyed by the Saxons. Over a hundred years later, the fledgling village known as Deventer was hit by another major setback. This time, it was burnt to the ground by rampaging Vikings. It was quickly rebuilt, this time with a protective wall that was steadily improved during the centuries that followed. The city served as one of Europe’s most important centres for publishing in the 15th century after Richard Paffraet brought a printing press to town along with his partner Jacob van Breda. Folks came from all around to get a look at their first printed book in 1477, and Deventer was later nicknamed Drukkersstad (Printing City). The Industrial Age turned the city into a key centre of production and Deventer became known for its factories, which cranked out everything from bicycles to beds. It was hit hard by World War II, during which bombings decimated its port and industrial district. Deventer’s city centre and classic architecture was largely spared though. As a result, it stood in for Arnhem during a 1977 film production of A Bridge Too Far. Now, in the year 2019, locals and travellers alike enjoy its lovely downtown area, which is filled with unique eateries, shops, museums, and more. Things to do Enjoy a real Toy Story You can get an up close look at over a century’s worth of classic toys at the kid-friendly Speelgoedmuseum Deventer. Located inside two warehouses that date back to the medieval era, the museum features everything from dolls' houses and mechanical elephants on bicycles to antique toy cars and rockets. Fans of train sets will enjoy the large display in the museum’s Train Hall that includes a track that goes through tunnels, past miniature houses and winds its way around a mountain landscape. Bookworms unite! Print may indeed be dead for many modern readers, but Deventer’s history as a mecca for printing presses and bookshops goes all the way back to the 15th century. It’s still home to several of the Netherlands’ largest publishing companies along with several literary festivals throughout the year, one of which is Europe's largest annual book fair. The 30th edition of Deventer Boeken is set for 4 August, 2019 and will once again feature thousands of books in 878 stalls that stretch over 6 kilometres. The fair is so large that the organisers publish an annual guide every July to help visitors navigate the sprawl. The city also has several shops that specialise in rare 1st editions and/or the latest page-turners. Praamstra Boekhandel is definitely a must-stop if you’re the sort of person who’d rather give up reading altogether than buy a Kindle. It’s one of the nation’s oldest bookstores, and it first opened its doors in 1893. Deventer’s city centre also offers a variety of other unique shops and cafes, many of them in buildings that date back to the 16th century. Go on a trip through time Hanseatic Museum De Leeuw is a small museum located in a storefront that dates back to 1645. It houses a variety of unique kitchen items so you can browse centuries-old coffee grinders and candy containers. The real draw though is the sweet shop in the back. It features a restored interior from an old bakery in Nijmegen along with over 200 varieties of traditional Dutch candy. There’s also a small dining area that serves coffee, tea, and cake. The proprietors have an on-site bed and breakfast as well with nine rooms and a family apartment that’s available for larger groups. If you’d prefer to take a trip even further back in time, Visit a stone house Deventer is also home to the Buveburcht, the country’s oldest stone house and its oldest continually inhabited home. Located on the Sandrasteeg, one of its walls dates back to the 10th century and the rest isn’t much younger. The house is still privately owned and not open to the public but the exterior is worth a quick stop. Get a glimpse at a truly cruel kettle The Brink is a large public square in the centre of Deventer that’s home to Museum de Waag. The former weighing house was built in the 16th century and now contains exhibits devoted to the city’s industrial and trading history in addition to paintings and archaeological artifacts unearthed in the surrounding region. The museum also has a large copper kettle on display out front that’s over 500 years old. According to local lore, it was used in public executions during the Middle Ages. Counterfeiting was a big problem back then and convicted forgers were allegedly boiled alive in the kettle. Unimpressed, several of Napoleon’s troops used it for target practice in the early 1800s. The bullet holes are still visible. Dig into Dickens There are many Dickens festivals that you can attend all around Europe, but Deventer is home to one of the largest. The annual Dickens Festijn is held for only a single weekend every December, and it manages to attract roughly 125,000 attendees. Yes, you read that right, 125,000. Some 900 local volunteers dress up in elaborate costumes to transport the mobs into the 19th century and play the parts of chimney sweeps, street urchins, bawdy ‘ladies of the night’, Ebenezer Scrooge, and even Queen Victoria. Many of them have even been participating every year for decades. If you go, just watch out for the gentlemen who blast through the crowds on unwieldy but period-authentic bicycles. The city’s small museum devoted to the famed British author is also open year round but only on Saturdays. Eat and drink If you only eat one thing in Deventer, it should be a Deventer Koek. These honey cakes are one of the city’s most cherished traditions. The recipe dates back to at least the 16th century, and its specifics remain a closely guarded secret. You can buy one, or several, of the cakes at the Deventer Koekwinkel. If you’re looking for something more savoury, try out Fooddock. Housed inside a former salt warehouse, it was the first food hall to open in the eastern part of the country. There you can dig into a variety of sustainable and locally produced items. It’s a great spot if you’re in the mood for variety, or a quick lunch or dinner. Check out Restaurant El Popo, a Mexican cafe along the Brink, if you enjoy vibrant dining experiences that can become downright raucous. It caters to a young crowd with a healthy appetite for its extensive cocktail menu. Chez Antoinette is a quieter and more romantic cafe with a Portuguese/French menu. Mr. & Mr. Espressobar is a great place to pause for a midday cappuccino or an Americano. De Hip is a good spot for drinks and live music after dark or a beer out on the terrace when the weather is behaving. Bierencafe De Heks is a downright magical beer bar with a lengthy list of imports and domestic brews. It’s beloved by locals and visitors alike. Just look for the witch on her broomstick attached to the wall over the tables out front. Where to stay Hotel Gaia is located outside of the city on a gorgeous 19th century estate. It has two eateries, a spacious outdoor terrace with a great view of the surrounding countryside, and several cycling and walking routes. Grand Boutique Hotel House Vermeer sits in a 19th century house. It’s one of the country’s smallest four star hotels and has 11 rooms along with an on-site restaurant and lounge. There’s also the more modern Postillion Hotel Deventer. How to get there A train journey to Deventer from Amsterdam Centraal takes between an hour and ninety minutes. Getting there by car from the city typically lasts about as long. When to visit Deventer can be a madhouse during both the Dickens Festival in December and the book fair in the summer. Deventer Op Stelten, an annual outdoor theatre festival in July, can also get chaotic and attract over 100,000 attendees. If you aren’t big on crowds, try one of the city’s smaller festivals (here’s a link to Deventer’s events calendar for 2019) or visit during a quieter time of the year.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Tweede Derde Vierde Kamer Mint Edition – Week 5

DutchNews podcast – The Tweede Derde Vierde Kamer Mint Edition – Week 5

It's a high-stakes edition of the podcast as political parties are banned from receiving foreign donations, the government sees an €8 million Rubens painting go west and cyclists face €95 fines for using mobile phones. In sport, physiotherapists' goldmine Robin van Persie leaves Ajax's €75 million man chasing shadows in the Klassieker, while FC Utrecht call time on Dick Advocaat's lucrative career. And we discuss whether the deal to grant amnesty for more child refugees to settle means Mark Rutte's cabinet will be allowed to stay in the Binnenhof. Ophef of the week: Viewers cry foul as quiz show sets music questions in 'sport' round Poll identifies Sonja and Sander as the most average Dutch people Top Story Government bans political donations from outside EU News Climate debate cancelled as leaders protest Dijkhoff no-show Mauritshuis to check authenticity of two of its Rembrandts Sale of Rubens drawing brings in €8m for Dutch princess Cyclists face €95 fines from July for texting on the go Efteling theme park to update characters at centre of racism row Sport Van Persie shines as Feyenoord beat Ajax 6-2 in Klassieker Discussion: Child refugees and coalition tensions Cabinet tensions rise ahead of debate on child refugee amnesty Coalition agrees deal to extend children's amnesty before abolishing it 96-day rolling church service in The Hague to protect Armenian refugees ends  More >


Make the most of the Dutch countryside – a few winter walks

Make the most of the Dutch countryside – a few winter walks

The Dutch are keen on walking and the countryside is riddled with signposted walks to encourage you to get out and about. Here's a few suggestions to help you walk off the effect of all that festive food. De Rijp - 7 to 22 km The pretty village of De Rijp in Noord Holland is famous as a place to go boating, but it also offers several walks past tiny villages and, outside the breeding season, across fields into the big wide open. Pick up a map at the VVV in the heart of the village. De Rijp has plenty of choice for lunch at the end or start of your walk. Website Zwanenwater - 4.5 km In Noord-Holland province close to the Callantsoog seaside village, Zwanenwater is a small nature reserve. The walk takes you through birch woods and over dunes around the edge of the lake, with a stop-off at a bird hide. In the spring, the grass is full of purple orchids. Website De Zilk - 9.4 km There are lots of signposted walks in the dunes west of Amsterdam but this is our favourite. It's not as busy as the others but that may be due to the lack of a cafe. The walk (follow the blue route) takes you through woods, past the gliding club and across high dunes with great views (a perfect spot for a picnic). Excellent for spotting deer. Website Oostvaardersplassen - 1-7 km This nature reserve on the 'new' province of Flevoland is the home of a pair of breeding sea eagles - so if its bird life you are after, this is the place to be. You'll also spot deer and wild ponies. Website Lage Vuursche - 2-4 km There are lots of walks to suit all tastes through the heaths and woodlands near Hilversum that make up Lage Vuursche. Set your route planner for Drakenstein where most of them start. Dogs welcome on many walks. Website Round Marken - 6 km Marken was once an island but is now connected to the mainland by a road over a dyke. Park as soon as you cross the water and hit the dyke path heading east. You'll pass typical houses with great wooden constructions in the water which keep the ice at bay during big freezes and a light house with an inviting little beach in summer. Lots of bird life for bird watchers. The route conveniently hits the village itself about 3/4 round, so its a good point to stop of for a break. Best avoided in strong winds. Website St Pietersberg, Maastricht - 10 km If you visit the marl mines on the outskirts of Maastricht, build in time to take in a walk across the Netherlands' highest hills. The 10 km (red) route takes in spectacular views over the quarry, winds through woods and past old mine entrances, and dips into Belgium. It ends with a bit of a boring walk back to Maastricht up the river. Website Oisterwijk - 9.4 km This is a charming walk through woods and past little lakes left by peat extraction between Den Bosch and Tilburg. Pick up the route (follow the blue arrows) at the Oisterwijkse Bossen en Vennen nature centre. The cafe is a good option for lunch but can be somewhat overwhelmingly full of children if you are after a quieter time. There is another stop off cafe around half way. Website Oppad, near Hilversum - 9.3 km The Oppad is an old path followed for hundreds of years by churchgoers across the fields and past the peat workings between Kortenhoef and ‘s-Graveland. Pick up the path next to the church and you will find yourself striding out into the fields. Just keep going in a straight line. Rich in wildlife, you might even be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher. Website Lange Afstands Wandelpaden (100 km +) If you are very keen walkers, the Netherlands also has its share of long-distance footpaths or LAWs. Like the grand randonnee in France, they use red and white stripes on signs to indicate which way to go so you may well come across them while out on the shorter strolls listed above. The Netherlands has 35 LAWS, which have to be over 100 km to qualify. Website  More >


Dutch Destinations: explore Utrecht from high up and from way down

Dutch Destinations: explore Utrecht from high up and from way down

DutchNews.nl destinations: Utrecht  Located on the eastern edge of the Randstad, Utrecht is a picturesque city full of history and culture - if you avoid the hideous concrete area around the main railway station - that is. From the top of Dom Tower all the way down to its iconic canals, there’s no shortage of cafes, museums, and other attractions to keep you busy for a weekend trip or an entire lifetime. Human activity in and around Utrecht dates all the way back to the Stone Age, but the area remained almost entirely untamed until the Romans showed up to build a fortress named Traiectum around 50 AD. It helped mark their empire’s northernmost border...until it was burnt to the ground during a revolt a few decades later. Then it was later rebuilt bigger and stronger to house roughly 500 soldiers. Traiectum actually had to be rebuilt three more times before it was finally raided by invading Franks sometime in the 3rd century. The Romans skedaddled and the area remained pretty quiet for the next 400 years until a missionary named Willibrord arrived to build a church in what remained of the old fortress in the 7th century. Now dubbed Utrecht, the fledgling settlement gradually became an important stronghold for the Roman Catholic Church in the centuries that followed. Henry V granted Utrecht city rights in 1122, and its sunken canals, which feature werfkelders, storage cellars with buildings and streets built over them, really began to take shape. Since then, Utrecht has endured conflicts and invasions while retaining much of its classic architecture within its historic city centre, some of which was originally built in the Middle Ages. The city now serves as a thriving cultural and economic centre, and is home to the country’s largest university along with the iconic Dom Tower. Five things to do Dive into the underground Utrecht’s been around a long time and, at DOMUnder, you can explore the past 2,000 years of its history. The attraction takes visitors underneath the cobblestones of Dom Square where they can go on an archaeological journey, and take a close look at Roman ruins and other wonders while wielding an ‘interactive flashlight’. DOMUnder also features an impressive short animated film that vividly reveals the destructive might of a tornado that literally ripped the cathedral apart back in 1674. Hang out with Nijntje The Dutch call her Nijntje but non-natives might know her by Miffy, her international name. Over the past several decades, the bunny has become a worldwide marketing phenomenon rivalled only by the likes of Hello Kitty. Created by Utrecht native Dick Bruna, Nijntje now has an entire museum devoted to her in the city. Needless to say, it’s a perfect place to take the kids on a rainy day. Bruna fans can also explore the artist’s studio at the Centraal Museum across the street. It was transported to a space on one of its upper floors in 2015. Also keep an eye out for the electronic Nijntje crosswalk signs over on the St Jacobsstraat. Storm the tower Dom Tower has been standing proud over the streets of Utrecht since 1382. Rising to a height of 368 feet, it’s the highest church tower in the country. Visitors can climb the 465 steps to the top during tours that are offered daily. The tower is currently undergoing restoration, a project set to continue through 2022. Don’t let the scaffolding deter you, its galleries, belfry, and other features are still open to the public. Go shopping Utrecht’s train station is home to Hoog Catharijne, a shopping mall that often perplexes out-of-towners who inevitably wind up wandering through it in desperate search of an exit and is best avoided. The nearby city centre, however, is also filled with tons of unique businesses that sell everything from fashion to board games. If you’re in search of the latter, Subcultures is one of best places to go in the entire country. Along with a huge selection, the shop also has an area devoted to LARP costumes and supplies, in addition to its own escape room. Rock out, or just nod your head to the beat, at TivoliVredenburg The TivoliVredenburg opened its doors in 2014, and it’s one of the most unique music and cultural venues in the Netherlands. It contains five halls each with specific acoustics designed for a specific genre. There’s also a cafe and a stage for amateur acts downstairs. At TivoliVredenburg, you can enjoy performances by just about every type of music act imaginable, from local jazz combos to international rock bands. Just be sure to pack an extra dose of patience if you attend a show on a busy night when aggravating bottlenecks are a regular occurrence on the upper floors. Eat & Drink Utrecht is currently home to not one but several American fast food chains that have recently set up shop in the Netherlands. But if you like American food of discernible higher quality, aim for American Steakhouse Broadway. Housed inside a medieval wharf cellar in the heart of Utrecht, it’s been serving tasty ribs, steaks, and other meat-heavy dishes for over 25 years. Stadskasteel Oudaen, located inside a former castle commissioned by a wealthy family back in the 13th century, is a great place to go for a meal along with a locally-brewed beer. At Syr, an ambitious, crowd-funded cafe staffed by refugees, you can try traditional Syrian dishes with a European twist. The Winkel van Sinkel dominates a large chunk of the Oudegracht and diners flock to the grand cafe for lunch, dinner, and cocktails. The peculiar Lebowski’s, a bar and grill named for ‘The Dude’ himself from The Big Lebowski, is a great place to hang out on a quiet afternoon, especially if you enjoy sitting in the shadow of a taxidermied giraffe. It’s often completely swamped by students from the local university after dark, though. If you’re searching for an cool place to get a cup of coffee, try Village Coffee. It can be found in Utrecht’s university district but they also have a sister cafe over in the Science Park. The original location is a beloved hangout among the city’s students and ‘creatives’, and you’ll likely be served by a barista who looks like he plays bass in a metal band. Try ‘The Unit’ if you really need a jolt of caffeine. It could, quite possibly, be the strongest coffee drink available in Western Europe. It’s one of the reasons why Village Coffee often puts pictures of skeletons on their t-shirts and bags of fresh-roasted beans. Where to stay Grand Hotel Karel V was originally built as a monastery in the 14th century. Since then, everyone from medieval knights and emperors to tourists and weary business travellers have sought refuge within its walls. The property also contains a gorgeous, 10,000 square metre interior garden. Mother Goose Hotel also dates back to same era and now occupies the former Ubica buildings. These have housed, at one time or another, a private residence and a mattress factory. Mary K Hotel, located inside a canal house, contains ten rooms each with a unique theme and design by a Utrecht-based artist. For a totally different experience, there are several campgrounds located along Utrecht’s outskirts. Tussen Hemel en Aarde (which means ‘Campsite Between Heaven and Earth’ in English), offers cosy cabins in addition to spots for RVs and tents. How to get there Utrecht is one of the most easily accessible cities in the Netherlands. In addition to being home to the country’s largest (and busiest) train station, Utrecht Centraal, it’s about a 45 minute drive down the A2 from Amsterdam. If, for whatever reason, you wanted to walk there from Dam Square, Google Maps says it would take you between 8 and 8.5 hours. A journey by train from Schiphol Airport, meanwhile, usually lasts around 30 minutes. When to visit Pretty much any time is a great time to visit Utrecht. The city also hosts a series of vibrant music and cultural events throughout the year. SPRING Utrecht is a ten-day festival devoted to the performing arts. The Utrecht Early Music Festival takes place at the end of every summer and is a celebration of medieval, renaissance, and baroque classical music. Every November, Le Guess Who? attracts fans of eclectic and often boundary-defying musical performers.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The George Soros Eye Shadow Palettes Edition – Week 49

DutchNews podcast – The George Soros Eye Shadow Palettes Edition – Week 49

As a round-the-clock deportation-busting church service draws the attention of the world's media, Amsterdam calls time on the giant letters outside the Rijksmuseum, Dick Advocaat causes some ophef when he gets a time out in the referee's room and Emile Ratelband is told he can't turn the clock back on his passport. We also discuss why the Marrakesh pact to control migration has sparked a heated debate both in the Tweede Kamer and internationally. Ophef of the week: Intratuin's packaged pine cones create needle on Twitter TOP STORY Non-stop church service stops government deporting Armenian family NEWS Government aims to cut number of road deaths to zero by 2030 Shell to link executive bonuses to carbon emissions targets Giant Iamsterdam letters removed from city's Museumplein Emile Ratelband loses fight to cut 20 years from his age SPORT Oranje draw Germany in European Championship qualifiers DISCUSSION: Marrakech migration pact Dutch Parliament set to back international migration pact – with reservations Belgian prime minister pledges to respect the will of parliament on trip to Marrakech (VRT) Right-wing leaders turn backs on Marrrakech agreement on managed migration  More >


Dutch destinations: enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek

Dutch destinations: enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek

Most famous for its Sneek Week, a week long sailing competition and festival, the Frisian city of Sneek (Snits in West Frisian) has plenty to offer during the other 51 weeks of the year. Molly Quell goes north (again) to check out to eat more suikerbrood and see what the city has to offer. The area around Sneek has been inhabited since Roman times and received its city right in 1456, joining the other 10 Frisian cities that make up the Friese elf steden or Frisian eleven cities. They may be more famous for the ice skating race, the Elfstedentocht. Or if your preference is for unfrozen water, Sneek Week. The city itself is the only of the Frisian cities to be walled, an expensive and difficult project due to the surrounding geography. Today, all that remains of the undertaking is one picturesque bridge which has become the symbol of the city. Sneek is now home to around 30,000 people and both C&A and Tonnema (a sweets factory known for its brand of King mints) were founded here.   Wander about town The city itself is lovely and offers your typical canals and cute canal houses. The city centre isn’t large so start your trip by wandering around. You will want to check out the Waterpoort, which is the remaining part of the original city wall as well as the symbol of the city. Then you can visit the fountain, installed as part of the European Capital of Culture, which Leeuwarden/Friesland is in 2018. Other notable architectural features include the Stadhuis, built with a Rococo facade in the 15h century, and the Martini church, whose bells were confiscated by the Germans during World War II. Take in some history and culture Sneek offers two museums, the Fries Scheepvaart Museum and the Nationaal Modelspoor Museum. Both accept the museum card and both are in the city centre. The former ostensibly focuses on the shipping, though it also includes exhibitions about the history of Sneek and the Elfstedentocht. If land based transportation is more to your liking, then the miniature train museum offers a lot of exactly what the name suggests. Both museums are kid-friendly and small enough to negotiate on the same day. Drink some Weduwe Joustra Beerenburg, an herb-infused gin, was created in Sneek and used to be popular with sailors. It was brewed originally at Weduwe Joustra which is now a liquor store and museum. There you can find plenty of versions of this local spirit for sale, as well as take a tour of the museum which, of course, is followed by a tasting. The building is one of the oldest in the city, dating from 1484. Take a boat tour The city is famous for its water and offers plenty of options for boat tours. You can see the city from a whole different angle and, if you choose a small enough vessel, even travel under the Waterpoort. Where to eat De Walrus is one of the more famous cafes in the city, with a beautiful terrace when the weather is nice and good sandwiches year round. The cafe offers both lunch and dinner as well as high tea and high wine. If you want a slightly more adventurous menu, Stadscafe Dubbels is a trendy spot with an interesting menu configuration: everything is the same price and you order two dishes. The portions aren’t large, so in total you end up with a good and varied meal. Friesland is famous for its suikerbrood and Sneek offers some of the best. Try it at Bakkerij De Haan, which also counts oranjekoek and vanillestafjes among its specialities. It’s famous enough that you can even purchase a miniature of the building for your Christmas village. If all that food has you thirsty, find your way to Bier Cafe 3B. They have 25 beers on tap and 200 bottles, including many local brews from the city and the surrounding area. It also offers from finger food, in case you need to balance out the beer. Where to stay If you don’t want to stray too far from the beer, you can try Logement 3B. Located directly next to Bier Cafe 3B, it’s a funky and modern hotel located in the city centre. Run by a family, it’s walking distance to the train station if you choose to come by public transport and as it’s connected to the bar, so plenty of good beer options. For a more traditional hotel option, there is the Hotel Stadsherberg Sneek. The building was built in 1845 and reopened as a hotel in 2014. It overlooks the water and is located about 30 meters from the Waterpoort. There’s a cafe on the premises should you get hungry. How to get there Sneek is small and easily walkable. You don’t need a car for the weekend and you can get there by train. Trains run regularly to Leeuwarden and Stavoren. However, if you go by car, you can see the Wooden Bridges, which were built to resemble old ships using sustainable wood.  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: get a taste of the south in Venlo

DutchNews.nl destinations: get a taste of the south in Venlo

Venlo's strategic position on the river Maas, right on the border of Germany and the Netherlands, has made it a travellers' and merchants' crossroads since Roman times, and a central point in the final battles of WW2. Esther O'Toole has been checking out this very southern Dutch town. The urban regeneration after the war has allowed Venlo to grow into a bustling city today with a strong local culture and sense of place. And despite the wartime damage, it managed to preserve many historical buildings, like the imposing 'stadshuis' on the main square that dates from the end of the 1500s, and overlooks many welcoming cafe terraces in the summer. The city itself now has nearly 40,000 residents, with a similar number in the greater Venlo area since neighbouring Blerick and Tegelen were incorporated into the council region after the war. Currently, the city's most famous son is notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the town has brought forth many a politician over the years, alongside singers, poets, footballers and philosophers. Things to do There are a few good museums in Venlo. The biggest, with a good range of activities for young and old, is the Limburgs Museum. Here you can take a deep dive into the cultural history of the borderland region from neanderthal times to the present day. The High Tech Romans interactive exhibition is on until January 2019. For something on a more intimate scale you could also try the beautiful Jean Laudy Museum Chapel - housed in a former orphanage chapel, the museum showcases the fine art of one of the city's most well-known portrait painters. For small adventurous types, all sorts of things to climb on and get into can be found at Playpark Little Switzerland*, an amusement park just to the south of the city, including (according to the Guinness Book of Records) Europe's highest swing and longest tubular-slide. It's large, affordable and they have special Halloween activities on all through October! So, for all those Halloween fanatics who think Sint Maarten just doesn't cut the spooky autumnal mustard - this could be just the thing. Open till the end of the first week of November. Want to make the most of the late autumn sunshine? Then head out of town to the south-east and, just across the border, you enter Het Brachter Wald. An area of natural, wooded, beauty that crosses between Holland and Germany. It is shut off to cars and perfect for a long walk, bike or horse ride. If you want to stick closer to town, then you can also try a nice long stroll along the river in the some 70 hectares of walking and biking terrain between Venlo and Velden. Theatre and music Alongside the touring Dutch theatre shows, de Maaspoort has a good range of musical acts for non-native speakers including regular appearances by the South-Dutch Philharmonic. This large, modern theatre, right in the centre of town, was completely renovated in 2013 and offers bars, restaurants and even overnight stays via the Theaterhotel If you're after something a little more contemporary you can head over to Poppodium Grenswerk* on the Peperstraat where, in addition to their workshops and regular dance parties, they have a lively performance scene with blues, jazz and rock acts. You´ll get visiting international artists such as US Blues/Rock icon Popa Chubby, popular Dutch radio stars like Nielson and er… the odd Rage Against the Machine tribute act. Eating Out There are plenty of options for dining, to suit all budgets. If you're making the most of the city shopping centre, then take a quick break at Beej Benders*, a boutique restaurant where all the produce is purchased directly from local farmers/producers. After eating you can buy ingredients in their grocery shop to take away and replicate your lunch at home. In-house pizza and sushi are some of their specialities. Looking for a craft beer and accompanying bite, then try De Klep*; in local dialect a so-called Preuf and Praotlokaal (taste and talk bar). You will definitely hear more of the local dialect around you while you sample some of their more than 100 beers. If however, you're looking to escape the bustle for a bit, or if you want to go upmarket, then you could try the Michelin star Hotel and Restaurant-Brasserie Valuas. Right on the riverside, just between the city and a nature reserve it´s a high-end, family run place with a lovely sunny terrace over the water; and, they too specialise in regional ingredients Where to Stay In addition to the two hotels already mentioned, the Maashof, Hotels & Suites just across the river in Blerick offers a range of different kinds of rooms, including family rooms; and you can book trips to amusement park Toverland (Sevenum) as part of your stay. For reasonable, comfortable and well-looked after b&b you could try Het Venloosplekje which has some modern twin rooms, also in the town centre; or the considerable offering on Airbnb if you like staying with locals. How to get there Venlo lies just off the A73 motorway, which runs south from Nijmegen to Maastricht. It's about an hour's drive from either of these. By rail: it is on the line from Nijmegen to Maastricht, and the stop-train in either direction also takes about an hour. When to visit The famous German beer festival, Oktoberfest (which usually runs in Munich from around 22nd Sept - 7th October turning the city into a mecca for lovers of beer and Bavarian hats) also means many spin-off events in the south of both Germany and the Netherlands. Between October 19 and 21 there is a massive Oktoberfest party in nearby Arcen for instance, and in Venlo itself there is a big, Oktoberfest, pub-crawl on October 20. If you are a craft beer enthusiast with a loud singing voice it may be for you, if not… you have been warned!  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: enjoy art and cream pastries in Den Bosch

DutchNews.nl destinations: enjoy art and cream pastries in Den Bosch

Whether you call it Den Bosch or s-Hertogenbosch, the capital of North Brabant is a great place to spend a weekend. Its museums and quirky cafes are truly one of a kind. Here’s Brandon Hartley’s rundown on just a few of the city’s attractions. s-Hertogenbosch means ‘The Duke’s Forest’ in English but learning how to properly pronounce it if that’s your native language could take hours or longer. This is why many people opt to use ‘Den Bosch’, the city’s colloquial and much less tongue-twisty nickname. Once upon a time, Duke Henry I of Brabant and his family owned a large estate in the area. When he was still in his 20s, he decided that a nearby marsh with a few dunes would be a positively fantastic place to start building a city. He established Den Bosch in the late 12th century but it was allegedly all part of a scheme to protect his family’s land holdings from encroachment. The duke envisioned the city as an impenetrable fortress but his efforts all came to naught when soldiers from the nearby regions of Gelre and Holland stormed in and raided the place in 1203. Much of the fledgling city was destroyed. Amazingly enough, Den Bosch bounced back and later became the home of Hieronymus Bosch, the legendary artist. His vivid and often nightmarish depictions of the Christian afterlife may or may not have been inspired by a devastating fire that tore through the city in 1463. In the centuries that followed, Den Bosch endured wars and sieges from the French, the Spanish, and the Prussians, earning itself the nickname ‘Marsh Dragon’ along the way due to the marshes that surrounded the city’s ramparts. Nowadays, Den Bosch is known for its music and theatrical festivals in addition to being one of the wildest places in the Netherlands to head for Carnival. The annual event attracts thousands of attendees as the city is briefly renamed ‘Oeteldonk’ for three straight days of drinking, singing, and merriment galore. Things to do Journey to hell and back Den Bosch is home to several museums but this one is definitely the strangest. Housed inside an old church, the Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre is devoted to the life and works of Hieronymus Bosch. It contains life-sized reproductions of many works from his oeuvre along with sculptures of a few of the weirdest inhabitants from his often downright hellish paintings. Along with a recreation of his workshop in the basement, visitors can ride a glass elevator to the top of the church for stunning views of the city. There’s also an astronomical clock that features some grim depictions of Judgement Day. Check out the Van Goghs If Bosch’s paintings are just too dang creepy for your tastes, there’s also the Noordbrabants Museum. It’s devoted to the art, culture, and history of Noord-Brabant. Vincent van Gogh was born in the province and the museum currently houses several of the artist’s paintings. It’s also home to artifacts from the region’s Roman period along with art collections that date from the 16th century all the way to the modern era. Wander the streets Den Bosch wasn’t heavily damaged during World War 2, which means much of its architecture dates back centuries. One of the best ways to explore the city is by following this pedestrian route through its historic centre. The route features seven statues, arguably the most famous of which honours Dieske, a young boy who reportedly loved urinating in Den Bosch’s canals back in the 15th century. One night while answering nature’s call, he noticed enemy troops on the move. He quickly notified the city’s guards and became a hero in the process. Heaven’s hotline If you’re in the mood for more statues, you’ll find over 96 of them on the exterior of the Sint-Janskathedraal, the city’s famous gothic cathedral. During an extensive restoration project that was completed in the early ‘10s, over two dozen new angels were added, one of which has a modern twist. She can be spotted dressed in blue jeans and holding a cell phone that, as the story goes, allows her to make calls to heaven. At one point, there was a phone number that allowed visitors to contact the angel and leave messages for her. On a far more somber note, the elaborate interior of the cathedral also features an intense stained glass window that depicts the apocalypse and includes a panel showing the September 11th attack on New York City. Explore the sands of the ‘Sahara’ If the weather’s behaving and you’re looking for an outdoorsy adventure, consider a trek out to Loonse en Drunense Duinen. This national park, which is nicknamed the ‘Brabant Sahara’, was established in 2002 and is located about 19 km outside of the city. The ever-changing landscape is perpetually being shaped by the wind and it’s an interesting place to roam while on foot, bike, or horseback. Where to eat Den Bosch’s Bossche bollen have become world famous and, if you enjoy pastries, digging into one is considered something of a prerequisite if it’s your first trip to the city. Roughly the size of a tennis ball, the chocolate-covered puffballs are stuffed full of whipped cream and go great with a cup of coffee. You can find them pretty much all over the place but Banketbakkerij Jan de Groot often winds up on various 'best of' lists. Salon De Roosekrans, which dates back to 1794, is a great cafe that also serves Bossche bollen along with various lunch items and a selection of cookies and chocolates. Drab is a cool cafe to stop for a flat white or a more traditional cup of joe and they use beans from the acclaimed Blommers micro-roastery in Nijmegen. It’s also a great place to people watch at the window-side table (which is held up by ropes attached to the wall). For lunch, visitors often rave about Visch, a seafood market with a few tables that offers simple and freshly-made meals. Nom Nom is an adorable cafe with a more relaxed vibe and both lunch and dinner menus. The San Juan Cantina is where to go if you enjoy Latin American cuisine. 7evenden Hemel also typically receives top marks from lovers of seafood and meat dishes. If you’ll be up and about for breakfast, Buurt is one of the best spots to head in town. It’s a vibrant neighbourhood cafe with a few unique items on the menu. Their ontbijt pizza (breakfast pizza) comes covered in créme fraiche, bacon, fried eggs, cheese, and spring onions. They also serve American-style pancakes and worstenbroodje (sausage bread), a local favourite. If you can’t make it over there in time for breakfast, Buurt has lunch and dinner menus as well. Where to stay For a truly heavenly experience, book a night or two at De Soete Moeder. It offers comfortable rooms that recall its holier days as a monastery. Each room has retained its original details right down to the home stoups. Their restaurant also serves unique regional dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients that can be hard to find outside of Noord-Brabant. The always dependable Golden Tulip chain has a hotel in Den Bosch but, for a more unique experience, you could also try CubaCasa. This bed and breakfast has furnishings and decor that recreate the vibe and zest of the Caribbean island in the 1950s. There’s also an on-site sauna. How to get there Getting to Den Bosch is fairly easy. By car from Amsterdam, it’s around a 75 minute drive down the A2. Getting to Den Bosch by train from the country’s larger cities also isn’t too terribly daunting. Anything else? Carnival is a very big deal in Den Bosch. The annual festival is filled with local traditions and renaming the city for three days is just one of them. If you like to party, you can do worse than celebrate here. But if not, avoid the the weekend before the start of Lent.  More >


From heather fields to eagles – seven Dutch national parks to visit

From heather fields to eagles – seven Dutch national parks to visit

The first national parks in the Netherlands were established in the 1930s and they now cover over 130,000 hectares nationwide. Esther O'Toole takes you on a tour through seven of the Netherlands' natural treasure troves. If you have been led to believe that the natural landscapes of the Netherlands are flat, grey, largely rainy and agricultural then you have been mistaken. There are hills, dunes, forests and a beautiful coastline to explore; where you may encounter, wildlife as diverse as wild boar, beavers, seals, birds of prey and even… flamingos Most National Parks in Holland are now looked after by the Dutch forestry commission (Staatsbosbeheer) and their regional partners. As well as preserving the integrity of each area's unique character and maintaining a healthy environment for indigenous species, they also operate a great outreach programme, such as guided night-time walks with the forester. You can even stay on or very close to many of the 20 parks across the country. Choose from 22 small-scale nature campsites (with just the basic facilities like toilets, showers, bins and a fire hut) and associated B&Bs or small holiday homes. Best of all are the 'pole sites' - designated areas within which 'wild' camping is still allowed for adventurous and environmentally minded folks. Find them by GPS. 1 Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht) A high point in the middle of the country, this naturally undulating landscape gets its name from the glacial ridge at its centre. The hills range from the Gooimeer near Huizen down to the Grebbeberg by Rhenen. Founded in 2003 and extended in 2013, the park now covers 10,000 hectares of dunes, heath, forests, grasslands and floodplains. Loved by hikers and bikers for obvious reasons; but you can also join the forester to look for rare butterflies, learn about the edible plants of the area, or take an evening walk to spot one of the 100 bird species resident here - the rare, night-swallow. 2 Alde Feanen (Friesland) One of the youngest National Parks, Alde Feanen in Friesland is also a Natura 2000 European Special Area of Conservation. Formed in 2006 it covers 25 square kilometres of morass, meadow, peat bog, forest and waters including the Princenhof lake area. The park is popular with white storks who are making a resurgence, in part thanks to the work of the stork breeding station at It Ebertsheim. You can visit there or head to the park´s information centre in Earnewâld to hire boats to explore, take a drive on a tractor, or play in a haystack and find details of walks (with hired kit like magnifying glasses, tree measure, and pond nets for the kids). They also have a small agricultural museum here. 3 Veluwezoom (Gelderland) The oldest National Park in the country, Veluwezoom was set up in 1930. It sits on the southern edge of the Veluwe and takes up 50 square kilometres of (by Dutch standards) high country: the highest point in the park, is a full 110 metres above sea level! You can see highland cattle, badgers, and red deer here; and if you're lucky a wild boar, or rare pine-marten. Veluwezoom is one of a number of parks managed by the Dutch natural heritage conservation group Natuurmonumenten who, under the name Oerrr, provide fun, educational materials and events around the country. All of which are aimed at getting children familiar with, and out into, the wonders of nature for just €1.25 a month. 4 Drents-Friese Wold (Drenthe/Friesland) A mix of woods, sands and morass greet you in this 61 square kilometre park which crosses the border between the provinces of Drenthe and Friesland, home to unusual plants like bog-rosemary and diverse fauna including newts, lizards and snakes. You can also spot megalithic tombs, or hunebedden. 5 Maasduinen (Limburg) Some 4,200 hectares of heath and forest run along the German border here. You can keep walking for miles and straight from one country into the other, surrounded on all sides by banks of glorious, purple bell-heather. Alternatively, pick up the PieterPad, the longest continual walking route in the Netherlands which passes through here, between Pieterburen, in the province of Groningen, down to Sint Pietersberg near Maastricht. Watch out for the highland cattle, large goats and sheep employed to manage the moors! De Biesbosch (Zuid-Holland) Near Dordrecht lies this haven for water lovers - you can boat or canoe through its network of rivers and creeks, and moor up at the little islands dotted about. Locals say beware of getting stuck on the sandbanks though, or you may be there overnight! You would, however, be surrounded by the stillness of the willow forests and be able to watch kingfishers, sea eagles and possibly beaver in one of the last areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in north western Europe De Weerribben-Wieden (Overijssel) Another one best enjoyed by water, perhaps a canoe or a 'fluisterboot' (literally whisper boat) you can lose yourself in the maze of reed-bordered waterways while looking for the local residents: otters. Don't worry about getting lost though as you will soon find your way back to the Kalenbergergracht, the main artery running through the park. There are gorgeous little villages nearby, such as Giethoorn - which has become very popular indeed with coachloads of tourists. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, try Blokzijl or Vollenhove with their pretty town centres.  More >


Blogwatching: Cycling through Limburg history (and a message to the countess)

Blogwatching: Cycling through Limburg history (and a message to the countess)

Welcome to Waking Up on the Roof, where Kim Stokes share stories, thoughts and photos from her bicontinental life, her travels throughout Europe and Canada, and her road-trips in Electric-Blue, her trusty VW van. About two years ago I invested in a bike with battery power. Very un-Dutch, I know, but we live in a very un-Dutch part of the Netherlands. A hilly part. And since I bought that bike (and Arthur followed suit), we’ve been spending an increasing amount of time discovering our surroundings on two wheels. The Dutch make sightseeing by bike super easy. All over the Netherlands, maps and markers called Fietsknooppunten, (translated, bicycle junctions), route cyclists through the most scenic landscapes that an area can offer, but beware! It’s easy to be lured far afield by the beauty. Just yesterday afternoon Arthur looked up from his scores and called in my direction. Hey! Is it time for a glass of chilled chardonnay at Kasteel Schaloen? Twist my arm. Castle Schaloen is about 10 kilometres away as the bird flies, perfect for a short break by battery-bike. We peddled through pretty villages and forested laneways to arrive in the lush Geul Valley where several castles and manor-farms still stand after hundreds of years. We followed the meandering river, to a courtyard terrace where we sat sipping in the shadow of the fairy-tale fortress.  Motivated by the sunshine (and the wine), we chose a different path back home, and arrived at sunset, some 40 kilometres and five hours after opting for our 'short break'. Landscape Our European home is in Zuid-Limburg, that little tail of the Netherlands that sticks down between Belgium and Germany. The landscape here is so different from the rest of the country that even the Dutch come down here in full holiday mode to walk, cycle, and sit on sunny terraces. South Limburg has an international feel, and there’s good reason; the borders here, formed just 180 years ago, are a new development compared to the castles, farmhouses and half-timbered villages flanking fields and filling valleys. Cycling through the rolling hills, it’s easy to flow across borders, and hardly know you’ve left one country for another. When we moved into this neighbourhood over a decade ago, Arthur’s son loved to play this game with our Canadian company; Will you go for a little bike ride with me? He’d ask innocently enough. Who wouldn’t say yes to a 12-year-old Dutch boy using his best English? Off they’d peddle through our village, past the Janssenmolen, a windmill built in 1870, around stately Kasteel Doenrade, the oldest castle sight in Limburg dating from 1117, and down a country-lane to the village of Hillensberg, where a few minutes after leaving home he would stop, turn to them and announce with delight. Haha! We are in Germany!! I’m a history buff. It’s not that I know so much about history, but rather, that I am astounded by it. The concept that the castle in my village (yes, I do have a castle in my village) has foundations from 1310, a tower from 1609, and has been owned by the same family since 1779 has me peddling past the front gate several times a week. At the edge of the driveway, I get off my bike and gawk at the setting, doing my best to imagine the golden-age of grand houses. I ponder who has peered out those stately windows over the hundreds of years past. I never tire of the idea that this chateau has stood as the centre pillar to village life for generations. Okay, I’ll even admit to something of an obsession with my local castle. I’m reasonably sure I could recite to you the lineage of the counts and countesses who have called Kasteel Amstenrade home for 700 years. The 11-hectare English gardens are open daily for the public to enjoy, but the castle is privately owned, and I’ve never been inside. Bygone era More than 100 castles from a bygone era remain in Limburg. Some are open to the public as boutique hotels, restaurants, or museums, but most are still privately owned. So, it will come as no surprise, that my favourite day of the year is Open Monumentendag. In order to keep the interest of the people whose tax dollars go to the upkeep of thousands of Dutch historical monuments, once a year a select few castles, and manor-farmhouses throw open their doors for the public. When I’m in residence in Limburg during Open Monument Day, I’ll be peddling along in search of open doors where I can take my gawking inside, and for a few short minutes, be the face looking out. (Dear Countess de Marchant et d'Ansembourg of Kasteel Amstenrade, I live just up the road and I would be available for tea at your convenience.) This blog was first published on Waking Up on the Roof.  Every month we feature a blog post from one of our favourite bloggers. Interested? See if your blog meets the criteria to be included on the site.  More >


The 10 quirkiest locations to eat dinner in Amsterdam

The 10 quirkiest locations to eat dinner in Amsterdam

The Dutch have a long history of turning old buildings into something else. Think of the Kruisherenkerk (church) in Maastricht that is now a hotel. Or the old tram depot in Amsterdam that’s now the Foodhallen. So it’s no surprise that there are some weird and wonderful places to eat dinner in Amsterdam and its environs… Here are 10 of the quirkiest, for next time you feel like dinner with a difference: 1 Revolving office block: Moon When the old Shell building across the IJ River was transformed into the A’DAM Tower, restaurant Moon was one of the first new inhabitants to open. Any why? Because of the spectacular view diners are treated to from 360 degrees of revolving glass. Given that the restaurant is on the 19th floor, and the full rotation takes 90 minutes (just about long enough for a proper meal), it’s definitely a dining experience worth saving up for. And the food isn’t bad either: Chefs Jaimie van Heije and Tommy den Hartog have dreamt up a fine dining menu that presents classic dishes 'remixed' with international flavours. Dinner will set you back a pretty penny, but you’re paying for the view as much as the meal. https://restaurantmoon.nl/ 2 An island fortress: Pampus Forteiland Pampus is only accessible by boat – which is logical given that it’s a tiny island in the middle of the IJmeer that was built between 1887 and 1895 to defend Amsterdam against invaders. And while it’s no longer being used as a defence fort, the building itself remains largely unchanged save for what goes on inside it. Nowadays, you can take tours, attend festivals, and even get married there. But more importantly, you can reserve the Zomerlicht (summer light) experience during the warm months or the Winterlicht (winter light) experience during the cold months – both of which are culinary adventures in their own right. Either way, you’ll board an atmospheric boat in IJburg, and the rest of your evening will be taken care of for you – expect seasonal, local Dutch produce in a magical setting. https://www.pampus.nl/ 3 A moving train: Dinner Train Doing what it says on the tin, the Dinner Train is a restaurant housed in a train that runs from Amsterdam Centraal via Haarlem and Leiden to The Hague, and then back again via Gouda and Woerden. The entire experience takes around three hours, including a four-course dinner with wine. Although the food isn’t incredible, the kitchen does a decent job given the train’s obvious limitations, and freely flowing wine is certainly a plus. Whatever the time of year, you’ll look out over Holland’s fields and villages – although I’d imagine that it’s particularly spectacular in spring when the flowers are in full bloom between Haarlem and Leiden. http://dinnertrain.eu/ 4 A television studio on stilts: REM Eiland From the waters of the Houthavens, TV Nordzee broadcast to thousands of Dutch viewers for just a few months back in 1964. When the TV station was shut down by the government, the broadcasting station – essentially a platform built on stilts – fell into disuse until it was reborn as a restaurant several years ago. Nowadays, you can eat a modern European menu of meat, fish and vegetarian options while gazing out over the industrial terrain of the Houthavens (which is itself now being revived as a gentrified area to live and work). The terrace on the top deck is particularly sought after on sunny days – so long as you have a head for heights. https://www.remeiland.com/ 5 Water pumping station: Café-Restaurant Amsterdam When a city is four metres below sea level, water management is of paramount importance. So it’s no surprise that since the 1900s, the Westerpark area has had its own water pumping machine, water tower and engine room. While these have evolved in the intervening years, the disused engine room was converted into a café and restaurant in 1996. Unfortunately it seems they couldn’t think of a more creative name for it, but at least you know what you’re getting with Café-Restaurant Amsterdam. Nowadays, they serve a simple but well executed menu of sandwiches at lunchtime and classics like steak-frites or mussels at dinnertime. It’s also known for its child-friendliness. http://www.caferestaurantamsterdam.nl/ 6 An island: Vuurtoreneiland Yup, another island (that’s what happens when a city is built on water). This time, a lighthouse island originally built over three centuries ago and holding various functions since then. Now, you can take a boat from the Veemkade to the island just off Durgerdam for a Dutch fine dining experience that varies according to season. In summer, you eat in a giant greenhouse from which you can see the nature around you and (hopefully) the sunset. In winter, you eat in the converted fort – think open-hearth fireplaces, romantic candles and sheepskin rugs. As the island has no electricity or running water, food is cooked using old-school wood and fire, while cutlery and glasses aren’t changed between courses to save on water usage. And the menu has a clear local, seasonal message that’s heavy in vegetables and sustainable protein throughout its six courses. An intimate dining experience that’s well worth the waiting list. http://vuurtoreneiland.nl/ 7 The ground floor of a multi-storey car park: Waterkant Underneath a multi-storey carpark, Waterkant is now the place to be on sunny days in Amsterdam thanks to its expansive terrace stretching along the Singelgracht (the canal between Nassaukade and Marnixstraat, not to be confused with the Singel itself). Waterkant’s menu has much to offer in the realm of snacks and beers, but the focus of the main meals is Surinamese. Be sure to try one of their roti rolls (filled flatbread), gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce), or bakkeljauw (salt cod) – preferably washed down a Parbo beer. https://waterkantamsterdam.nl/ 8 A greenhouse: De Kas Housed in an enormous greenhouse and surrounded by plentiful gardens in the Frankendael Park is restaurant De Kas – a long-loved favourite in Amsterdam. The chefs pluck much of their menu from the greenhouse and gardens themselves, and what isn’t grown in their own backyard comes from nearby farms. So this dining experience is about as local as you can get. Dishes are small but you’ll eat five or six of them at dinnertime, and they change daily depending on what’s available. Expect Mediterranean flavours, impeccable service, and beautiful surroundings. https://www.restaurantdekas.nl/ 9 A ferry: Pont 13 Anyone who’s spent even just a day in Amsterdam will have noticed the public ferries that trek back and forth across the IJ River at various points. While most of these are for pedestrians and two-wheelers only, there are a couple of small car ferries – and what happens when one of these reaches the end of its ferrying life? It gets turned into a restaurant, naturally! Pont 13, just down the pier from REM Eiland, was one such ferry that’s now permanently moored for its guests. The dinner menu is simple – featuring a selection of antipasti to start, simple grilled fish and meal for main, and a few signature desserts (don’t miss the cheesecake!). It’s also an excellent option for group dining and large events. https://www.pont13.nl/ 10  A railway bridge: Wolf Atelier Housed on an industrial railway bridge from the 1920s that rotated to let boats pass through the Westerdok, Wolf Atelier may no longer move physically but it certainly buzzes with atmosphere. Chef Michael Wolf’s innovative cuisine has earned him a great reputation among the city’s gastronomes, and diners can choose from fixed chef’s menus as well as a la carte dishes. In fact, the bridge saw a few iterations of restaurants before its current version – but Amsterdammers are hoping this one’s here to stay. https://www.wolfatelier.nl/ Vicky Hampton blogs about the capital’s eateries on AmsterdamFoodie.nl – for more dining recommendations, download the Amsterdam Foodie’s Restaurant Guide.  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside

DutchNews.nl destinations: go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside

Looking for good weather, green woods and excellent beer? Head to the Dutch countryside for a summer break. Esther O’Toole takes you south to the small towns of Overloon and Venray, on the Brabant/N. Limburg border. There is plenty of history down this neck of the woods. The St Peter ad Vincula church in Venray has a large collection of medieval wood sculpture and the area in and around Venray and Overloon saw heavy fighting during WW2, as it lies right next to the river Maas, by the German border. Now an area rich in natural tourist attractions it is popular with the Dutch for holidaying at home Things to do Overloon If you’re after outdoor activities, whether mountain biking, hiking, swimming or fishing then this is a great area for all of the above. Explore the Overloonse Duinen by bike or on foot, or head to t’Schaartven, a pretty, well-maintained swimming lake with amenities; there you can also climb up the ‘uitkijktoren’ for panoramic views. Museum Park, Overloon: In the woods of Overloon, once the frontline in WW2 where one of the biggest tank battles of the war took place, there is now a park. Here you will find the acclaimed War Museum (Oorlogsmuseum Overloon) with interesting, interactive exhibitions for international visitors as well as Dutch speakers, and an array of original war-time vehicles. During the summer months, you will also find family-friendly Open Air Theatre there. It has gained a very good reputation since its inception and, though most shows are Dutch language, you can enjoy a lovely summer’s evening in their secluded amphitheatre, in its shady woodland setting. This year they kick off the season with The Little Mermaid Zoo Parc Overloon is pretty well known down south. It’s a welcoming, open air park with large enclosures, excellent educational materials and is a good size - big enough to fill a whole day, not so big that you have to rush to see everything or have to skip parts. They have a wide variety of animals, 71 species in total including: red pandas, black-footed penguins, and big cats (cheetahs, lions and this year white tigers). Pretty affordable as wildlife parks go: prices start at €13.50 p.p when bought online, and the food on offer is good quality too. Venray Escape Room - These seem to have caught on up and down the country. Venray is no exception, if the weather is less clement, then head to their escape room which has three unique themes: Noah’s Ark; Forest Mystery and Mayan Temple. There’s options for both children and adults… but you’ve got only 60 minutes to get out! In search of unusual experiences or fun for the grown-ups instead? Then why not be daring and try a visit to Altocumulus Ballooning, who have regular balloon flights from Venray. If you’re scared of flying, stay grounded by soaking at the thermal spa in nearby Arcen or head to Venray’s beloved Oda Park; an open air art and sculpture park where you can enjoy the exhibitions and follow a workshop. Eat & Drink If you haven’t stuffed yourself on sundaes at Overloon’s international prize-winning ice cream parlour, Clevers, then there are really cosy, welcoming independent bars and restaurants up the road in neighbouring Venray.  Not open long but already an established favourite with locals and visitors alike is De Goesting. A haven for artisanal beer-lovers, it has over 300 different varieties, without the big city markup, and on Monday nights they now have live music. Alternatively, there is Het Klokkenluiden up the road, which is a cafe as well as beer specialist, and has a lovely, little terrace on the Grote Markt. For proper dining try BRL, or the Beejekurf in Venray for great food in a chic and relaxing atmosphere. Or Brasserie Anno 54 for something a bit more casual on the terrace, or with a set menu. You’ll find great ingredients in use lots of local produce in use at all of these places, as well as at the new restaurant in Overloon, De Boompjes, where local and seasonal produce is at the heart of their kitchen. Where to stay If you're tired of the industrial size campsites of the Med, or working to a budget, then like the Dutch you too can try something ‘gezellige’ closer to home. In the vicinity of Overloon there are plenty of laid-back options for staying in beautiful countryside, without the crowds or the massive drive. Small, often family run, well maintained campsites such as the Ullingsebergen would be a good start. This dog-free site in St Anthonis has large pitches, small playgrounds, some good organised activities for children and a pool. Other well-equipped, small scale sites in the area include: D’n Twist, who provide camping spots, B&B, group accommodations and cute little camping huts all in one place; and Bosrijk de Kuluut, which offers a small number of deluxe holiday homes, near to the golf course and village centre - if you’re looking for a bit more luxury. How to get there Overloon and Venray are both just off the A73 between Nijmegen and Venlo. If you’re coming by train, get a connection from either of those cities to Venray, it will only take an extra 35 minutes from Nijmegen and 15 from Venlo. From Venray, Overloon is easily reached by bus (the bus station is right next to the train station) or by bike. When to visit The schools break up earlier in the south of the country, so from the beginning of July the areas around Overloon and Venray are in full on holiday mode!  Alternatively, if you like things quieter, head over at the end of August; the weather is at its peak but the normal school schedule, both Dutch and German, has resumed.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Groundhog Ophef Edition – Week 28

DutchNews podcast – The Groundhog Ophef Edition – Week 28

With the summer break looming, we decided to pick out our favourite examples of 'ophef' - those tornados of outrage that blow up on social media only to be forgotten within 24 hours - from the year so far. It was also a week in which Mark Rutte got caught up in another Trump whirlwind at Nato, Frisian water engineers proved to be more useful than Elon Musk, the king faced a possible fine for flying drones in his back garden and a Dutchwoman reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the first time in 40 years. Top story Rutte pledges to raise Nato budget contribution as Trump raises stakes News Junior finance minister presses ahead with plans to restrict 30% tax rule Dutch water engineers on standby to rescue boys trapped in Thailand caves Anne Frank's family may have been denied US visa by bureaucratic failure Island of Schiermonnikoog tells visitors to leave their drones at home Sport Kiki Bertens' run at Wimbledon ends at quarter-final stage  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: there’s more to Delft than blue and white china

DutchNews.nl destinations: there’s more to Delft than blue and white china

Best known for its pottery, the city of Delft offers plenty of quaint streets to wander through and some delicious places to eat. Molly Quell lives there and tells you why you should visit. Delft's reputation is one of polar opposites. It’s picturesque, quaint and adorable, but it also boasts the oldest and largest university of technology in the Netherlands and the largest start-up incubator in Europe. You can’t walk through the city centre without bumping into houses from 1500 and multiple PhDs. With a population of just over 100,000, Delft teeters between being a city, like its close neighbours The Hague and Rotterdam, and a village. You’ll bump into your boss, your friend and the dentist's assistant in Albert Heijn, but you can always get home from a late night in Amsterdam with the night train. With its rich and interesting history, Delft's beautiful cityscape offers plenty to look at as you wander. But there’s also an active nightlife, interesting museums and lots of good beer. Five great things to do Take a boat tour To get an overview of the city, start off with a boat tour. Unlike the impersonal tours in Amsterdam, the only boat company in the city employs local students as guides, which can mean you pick up some interesting tidbits about the city. The tour passes through most of the old city centre and even takes you on a jaunt out onto the Schie. You can find the Rondvaart Delft on the Koornmarkt; tickets costs €8.50 for adults and €4 for children. The tours operate every day from April to October. Walk Once you have familiarised yourself with the layout of the city and taken in some of the basic history during the boat tour, disembark for a stroll. Delft received its city charter in 1246 and was mostly untouched during World War II, leaving the centre as quaint as a Vermeer streetscape. Speaking of which, checking out the location of The Little Street is a good first stop on your tour. Take a picture in front of the Delft Blue Heart and move on to the Markt Square, where you can see both the New Church and the old city hall. Other highlights include the Oostpoortbrug, the last remaining city gate; the still functioning windmill; and the statue of Hugo Grotius. Climb the Nieuwe Kerk The Nieuwe Kerk, built between 1396 and 1496, is the final resting place of the royal family. You can walk through the church itself and, if you can screw up the courage, climb the 376 steps to the top of the tower. On a clear day you can see both Rotterdam and The Hague. The new church is the newer of the two large churches in Delft, the other obviously being the Oude Kerk - that's the church with the leaning tower. The tower is closed to visitors are not permitted to climb that tower, but you can go inside and see where Johannes Vermeer is buried. Tickets for both churches and the tower cost €8 for adults and less for children, depending on their age. Visit the Prinsenhof The next stop is the Prinsenhof Museum, where William of Orange was assassinated. Yes, you can still see what they tell you is the bullet hole in the wall. The museum also has a collection of Delft Blue pottery with a good explanation of its history. For a more in-depth view and to see craftsmen hand painting the pottery, head over to Royal Delft. After a tour of the museum, take a stroll in the garden, which was formerly the garden back in the days when the building was used as a convent. Then venture across the courtyard to the Shop van Kouwenhoven, an old-fashioned candy store. Drink beer You might think the whole craft beer thing has taken over, but the number of breweries is nowhere close to its 15th-century peak, when Delft had some 200 beer producers. These days, there's an extensive choice of beer cafes. De Klomp is the older cafe in the city, and, though it specialises in the most famous Dutch drink, jenever, it also offers a wide selection of craft beers. Other options include the Doerak, the Klooster, Proeflokaal or Locus Publicus. If you’re looking for something to take back home with you, check out Flink Gegist, which has one of the largest selections of beer in the country. If you’re looking to combine your drinking with something a bit more educational, Bierhistorie Delft offers tours explaining the history of the industry in the city. Where to eat Delft has a pretty good selection of restaurants, so long as you stay away from the tourist spots on the Markt Square. For an inexpensive dinner, Malee, a Thai restaurant, serves a delicious prix fixe menu, while De Beierd has a daily menu option ranging from around €8.00 to €18.00, with generally Dutch cuisine plus the occasional Indonesian dish. Stick to the daily menu there, it’s better than the regular menu. For a more formal meal pop into Cafe Einstein, just outside the city centre, which offers an Italian-inspired menu, or De Pelicaan with its Mediterranean menu. Both are delicious. Try the fish at the former and the meat at the latter. If you really want to treat yourself, Le Vieux Jean is a French restaurant in the shadow of the Oude Kerk with an amazing French menu and a fabulous wine list. For lunch or a coffee, Kek is a local favourite. It’s also a great place to get a gift for someone back home.  Michel’s, a French bakery is another top tip. Delft even has its own cat cafe, the Kattenkop Cafe, which has some very sunny outside seating if the weather is nice. Where to stay At the Hotel de Emauspoort you can have your pick of any number of themed rooms, such as the Johannes Vermeer, the William of Orange. For an even more unusual experience you can stay in one of the hotel’s two caravans. There are also more conventional rooms, all of which are cosy and come with breakfast included. An alternative is the Hotel Grand Canal, which, as you can guess from the name is located directly on a canal (though Hotel de Emauspoort is located on a canal as well.) The rooms are a bit more modern and spacious. How to get there Parking in Delft may not be quite as bad as the city centre of Amsterdam, but it is not easy. The city has a number of parking garages on the outskirts, which are your best bet if you’re going to drive. However, now that the renovation of the train station is finished, the most convenient way to reach the city is by train and on foot.  More >


So you think you know the Netherlands? Here are 13 Dutch ‘streken’

So you think you know the Netherlands? Here are 13 Dutch ‘streken’

The Netherlands has plenty of well defined provinces, towns, cities and regions. But there is also such a thing as a streek, an area whose borders are very often much more difficult to pinpoint. Here’s a list. Achterhoek Many people only have a vague idea about the Achterhoek (literally back corner) except that its main export was a band called Normaal whose performances usually ended in total mayhem. It lies at the eastern end of the province of Gelderland, with Germany to the south and east, but its borders are fluid and local spats are rife. So ‘that bit in the corner of Gelderland’ it remains. Refoband The Bijbelgordel, or Refoband, is the Dutch Bible belt. It roughly cuts a swathe across the centre of the Netherlands, beginning in Overijssel and ending in Zeeland. It is defined by the voters of the fundamentalist Protestant political party SGP, the party which believes women should not vote and the Netherlands should be governed by the word of God. Randstad The Randstad! At least here we know exactly where we are, don't we? The Randstad includes the Netherlands' four biggest cities, Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam and all the towns and villages in between. The cities have started promoting themselves abroad as the Holland Metropole, to further complicate the issue. Kop van Noord-Holland The Kop van Noord-Holland, or simply the Kop (head) is conveniently bordered by water on three sides: the North Sea to the west, the Wadden Sea to the north and the IJsselmeer to the east. The Wadden island of Texel, more like a bump on the Kop, is also part of the area. The local authority boundaries have been redrawn and the area now consists of Texel, Den Helder, Schagen and Hollands Kroon or Holland’s Crown (which sounds historical but is actually a newly invented name). Westland For many Dutch people Westland, in the province of Zuid-Holland, is synonymous with the city of glass, as it is home to the Netherlands’ vast array of greenhouses. Fly over the Netherlands at night and that orange glow is Westland. But it is actually a combination of the municipalities of Westland and Midden-Delfland, plus Hoek van Holland, Monster and Loosduinen. Westland itself forms part of another streek called Delfland. Well, it's somewhere near The Hague anyway. Veenkolonieën The Veenkolonieën or peat colonies refer to the communities that sprung up in the peat cutting areas – the most important of which are in the eastern parts of Groningen and Drenthe and an area called the Peel, on the border of Noord-Brabant and Limburg. The turf that came out of these areas was instrumental in turning the 17th century into the Golden Age by allowing the Dutch Republic to produce its own energy. The Veenkolonieën later became famous for their workhouses, where antisocial families were sent to be reformed. Duin and Bollenstreek The Duin and Bollenstreek, or dune and bulb region, takes in the Zuid-Holland municipalities of Katwijk, Noordwijk, Noordwijkerhout, Lisse, Hillegom and Teylingen. Lisse rings a bell with most people because it's the home of the Keukenhof, with its world-renowned flower shows. If you come in spring you won't be able to miss the endless fields of brightly coloured blooms, especially if you're stuck in the traffic jams that build up around Lisse in the flower season. Kleistreek De Kleistreek is named after its soil: clay. It’s in the province of Friesland and refers to a band of sea clay on the coast to the west and north of Leeuwarden. It’s mostly used for agriculture and tourism. The expression ‘Uit de klei getrokken’ or ‘formed from clay’ refers to people from rural areas, implying that they are sturdy, no-nonsense types. Twente Most people have some idea about where to locate this very picturesque corner of the Netherlands. It is the easterly bit of the province of Overijssel that backs onto the border with Germany. The Tukkers, as the inhabitants of Twente are called, are famous for their dry wit, their university, their football club, based in Enschede, and their dialect, which is part of Dutch Low Saxon, an officially recognised streektaal. Groene Hart You'll have heard of this one: it's the patches of green in between the cities of the Randstad (see above) that property developers and local councils are always itching to get their hands on. The Green Heart is protected against too many encroachments by law, but local councils strapped for homes are constantly trying to see how far they can push the boundaries. A famous Dutch poet once said that what is left of nature in this country is a strip of woodland the size of a newspaper, and that was in 1945. Heuvelland Meaning 'hilly land', you can't go far wrong with this one: it is in the province of Limburg, the only area of the Netherlands with any hills to speak of. Heuvelland in Limburg is not to be confused with Heuvelland in Belgium, which is just over the border. In order not to confuse the two the Dutch version also goes by the name of Limburgs Heuvelland. We could also mention the Utrechtse Heuvelrug – the ridge of low sand dunes near Utrecht – to further confuse the issue. Streek Last but not least is a streek which is actually called the Streek, in the province of Noord-Holland. The Streek is the epitome of a streek because it is the most ill-defined of them all. It started out as an area east of Hoorn in the late Middle Ages, then took in the area between Hoorn and Enkhuizen and now encompasses the villages of Blokker, Westwoud, Hoogkarspel, Lutjebroek, Grootebroek and Bovenkarspel. Poor old Lutjebroek, has become synonymous in colloquial Dutch with 'any insignificant speck on the map'. A bonus streek: HollandCity HollandCity is really a streek but in the other sense of the word, ie a bit of a prank which is being played on unwary tourists. It is, simply, a marketing trick to try to lure tourists away from Amsterdam and into other parts of the country. The HollandCity strategy basically involves promoting the Netherlands as a single metropolis with lots of districts, such as Lake District Friesland and Design District Eindhoven. Bona fide streken such as Twente, the Groene Hart and the Bollenstreek don't get a look in.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Did You Spill My Coffee Edition – Week 23

DutchNews podcast – The Did You Spill My Coffee Edition – Week 23

This week's podcast asks if Amsterdam can hold back the rampant spread of tourism in the age of Airbnb and stag weekends. We also look back at a week in which Mark Rutte's handiness with a mop broke the internet, universities once again asked if English is taking over on campus, AD's fishy judging panels kicked up a stink and two fallen giants of world football went through the motions in Turin. Ophef of the week Frosty reception for Leidschendam ice-cream salesman's 'healthy option' AD scraps 'taste tests' in row over alleged bias and vitriol Top story Rutte to meet Trump at White House in July – reports Prime minister goes viral after cleaning up own mess \   News Minister says English at Dutch universities 'must not compromise standards' Deal struck on teachers' pay but strikes will still go ahead Dogs and cars top list of neighbourhood nuisances Sport Netherlands and Italy play out 1-1 draw in battle of World Cup absentees (FourFourTwo) Dumoulin will be on start line for Tour de France Ajax 'rejects offer from AS Roma for Justin Kluivert' Discussion: Too many tourists spoil the capital Amsterdam faces radical measures to reverse 'theme park-isation' Tourism sees fastest growth in 10 years (CBS) Tourism in Netherlands increases by 40% in 15 years (2015) Economic benefits of tourism in Amsterdam are overrated, say experts Tourists spent nearly €40 billion in Italy last year (The Local Italy) Madrid brings in Airbnb restrictions to curb mass tourism (CNN)  More >


Dutchnews.nl destinations:  explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen

Dutchnews.nl destinations: explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen

Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, started life as a Roman military encampment in the 1st century BC. Esther O'Toole spent a weekend exploring. Despite its location on the Waal river, Nijmegen is not the prettiest of Dutch cities - much of it was bombed in World War II and planners in the 1960s and 70s helped finish the job. So, although the charming main square retains a sense of history and the centre is welcoming to visitors, if you are after long strolls through medieval streets you will be largely disappointed. However history buffs, whether young or old or favouring ancient or modern periods, will have lots to explore. Politically Nijmegen is a progressive stronghold in the Netherlands, so much so that it’s sometimes referred to as Havana on the Waal. Its liberalism is tangible in the laid-back, terrace culture that has developed over time; a strong vibe of intellectual curiosity in the events scene, which has lots of ties to the student life of the Radboud University; and the great independent shopping scene. If you've had enough of the city itself, nature lovers can hike, cycle and join the forester for tours of the many surrounding national parks and forests: check out The Ooijpolder-De Vlietburg nature reserve, the Overasseltse and Hatertse fens and,half an hour south, the Maasduinen National Park. Things to do Experience war For visitors whose countries didn’t experience occupation in World War II, the Dutch wartime experience is a revelation of practicalities that you may not have been taught in high school back home. For surprising exhibitions and workshops, in espionage skills or radiography, head to the beautiful grounds of Nijmegen’s Liberation Museum. They have a large permanent collection and also a series of special events throughout the year. Or, head over to the Radboud University's newly opened Escape Room. A unique educational experience for groups, it uses the wartime stories of then rector Bernard Hermesdorf (who shut the campus rather than work with the Germans) and Jozef van Hövell (leader of the student resistance) to give visitors an experiential understanding of life under occupation. If you’re particularly interested in this period of history, you may also want to go a little further south to the War Museum at Overloon too. Experience blindness Another curious museum to see, or in fact not see, is the muZIEem. A unique place dedicated to sight, muZIEM offers you the chance to actually experience for yourself what it is to be blind. They provide tours in English as well as Dutch which are guaranteed to be eye-opening. Go dancing If you’re looking for nightlife the legendary Doornroosje is still going strong. A breeding ground for youth culture since 1968, the venue has expanded in recent years but still has the intimate feel that first made it popular. They have independent indie gigs, dance nights and more. Shop If you want a range of shops and activities all in one place, you could head to the Honigcomplex. The old industrial building is full of independent traders and concept stores. Or try Hezelstraat. It’s a little gem, the oldest shopping street in the entire country! Full of gorgeous independent shops and cafes. You can find anything here; art from around the world, herbs and spices, artisanal cheese, vinyl records - you name it! Stargaze If you should visit in the winter months, head to the Huygens building at the Radboud University, which now houses the biggest telescope in The Netherlands. In the winter months (up to the end of March) they host regular star watching nights. With the telescope’s exceptionally large lens, on a clear night, you may be able to see planets or other galaxies with your own eyes and it’s free! Where to eat After you have shopped yourself silly on Hezelstraat you can rest up at The Yoghurt Barn. No it’s not just yoghurt - though their range of yoghurt-related treats is truly exceptional! They have super quality coffee, uber-healthy lunches and brunches, high tea and even picnics (available to order). Catering or hiring their food truck for your event is also possible. Burger lovers rejoice! Restaurant Wally’s has everything covered for you. It’s local! It’s sustainable! It’s beefy, or veggy or occasionally wild goose! Very child friendly and yet trendy too, Wally’s near the river is a great spot for a late lunch or long dinner. Open 15.00 - 22.00. Ice cream parlours are popular throughout this sunny, summertime city; whichever part of town you’re in you shouldn’t be too far away from a good gelato. Try Vincenzo, Ghiani, or Spinnato which also does good Italian meals. If cocktails are your thing then you will get as far as Cafe Demain and go no further. Every sort of cocktail imaginable can be shaken or stirred for you here, you can learn to do it yourself with their regular workshops, compete with the best in the land in one of their cocktail mixing contests, and do all of this while listening to great live music. Where to stay Prikkels and Blue are hotels located bang in the middle of town, with gorgeous details in the rooms and restaurants full of local produce. If you want to have your own space though, try and get a spot at luxuriant little B&B, Le Charme. They have two very comfortable apartments and both are perfectly situated to enjoy all of Nijmegen’s city-centre charms, or use as a base for exploring the region at large. How to get there Nijmegen is a central train hub for this part of the country, so there are direct trains to Amsterdam, Utrecht and other major cities. By car it is about an hour and a half from Amsterdam, and is connected by the A15, A50, and A73 to other parts of the country. If you’re prepared to do some long distance trekking you could even arrive on foot! The Pieterpad, the longest uninterrupted walking route in The Netherlands (498 km) also passes through the woods outside of town. When to visit Recently Nijmegen has branded itself as The Summer Capital of Holland, and with good reason. There are masses of things to do all throughout the summer months. The city boasts a wide range of summer festivals between July and September including Festival De Oversteek (The Crossing), on the river island of Veur Lent, which offers a rich and eclectic mix of music, literature, theatre and kids stuff. However, unless you are a fan of enormous crowds, avoid the second week of July, when the Nijmegen Vierdaagse, or four-day march, takes place.  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: go north to Leeuwarden

DutchNews.nl destinations: go north to Leeuwarden

It's the capital of Friesland, in which case its name is spelt Ljouwert . The elfstedentocht starts and finishes here. It’s home to Mata Hari and Escher and the 2018 European Capital of Culture. Molly Quell has been checking out Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden is north. Like any well-integrated person in the Netherlands, I consider any place more than 20 kilometres far. So the two hour train trip (from Amsterdam) seems like an eternity. But the trek was worth it to spend a weekend in this small city in Friesland with unexpectedly great cocktails and really interesting museums. Things to do People having been living in the region continously since the 10th century and Leeuwarden was granted city status in 1435. As such, it boasts a tremendous amount of history, as well as 617 national monuments. Walk Leeuwarden is a walkable city, so set out for a walking tour of the city centre. Visitors should start with the Blokhuispoort, a former prison. You can head inside to check out the prison cells turned artist spaces or just take a good Instagram picture. Then head over to the Kanselarij, a former hospital; the neo-gothic Sint-Bonifatiuskerk and end at de Waag, the former weigh station. Visit the Princessehof National Ceramics Museum This former palace was built in 1693 and occupied by Marie Louise, dowager Princess of Orange, who acquired a large ceramic collection during her life. Upon her death, the palace was split into three houses and, in 1898, MC Escher was born in the middle house. The houses were recombined in 1917 and turned into a museum. The permanent collection contains a variety of ceramic objects from around the world including a large assortment of Frisian pottery and a tempting gift shop. Check out the Fries Museum The museum's permanent collection brings you the history of the region through art, pottery, costumes and domesticity - check out the 'mother of all Hinderlooper rooms' for full-on Dutch tiles, chintz and hand-painted furniture. There's also a cinema, which regularly shows art house films. The museum accepts the national museum card but if you don't have one, you can get a discount on both tickets if you purchase a package for the ceramics museum as well. Climb the Oldehove.  After heaving yourself up the 183 steps, there's a nice view of the city from the top of Leeuwarden's own leaning tower. The 40 metre high medieval church tower was supposed to be 120 metres in the original planning, but started to sag and was never finished. The locals will remind you that it leans further than the Tower of Pisa and there’s even a saying about it: 'A'k de Oldehove niet siën ken, dan foël ik my onwennich' or 'If I don’t see the Oudehove, I’m uncomfortable' - meaning real locals don’t want to stay away for too long. Get in some cultural events Leeuwarden is the 2018 European City of Culture and has a packed programme of events. The blockbusters include exhibitions about MC Escher at the Fries Museum; a play involving 100 Frisian horses called De Stormruiter; French street theatre company Royal de Luxe which performs with 15-metre tall marionettes and the tall Ships Races Harlingen 2018. Welcome To The Village, a musical festival, takes place from July 19 - 22 while the Northern Film Festival takes places from November 5 - 9. Where To Eat Leeuwarden has a surprising number of very good restaurants. You can find a really nice bite at Sjoddy, a wine bar which also offers chorizo bitterballen and oysters. For a more substantial meal, try Eindeloos, which offers a prix fixe menu using seasonal ingredients. The fixed menu concept is popular in the city, as another highly regarded restaurant, By Us, offers the same concept. Skip the tearoom at the Princessehof museum and head around the corner to Barrevoets for a sandwich or a smoothie. And if you want a stroll before your meal, walk outside the city center to Wannee, which also offers a substantial and inexpensive breakfast. Where to stay The former post office has been converted into a hotel and restaurant, now known as the Post-Plaza Hotel & Grand Café. The hotel is lovely and includes a variety of room types, including some designed for parents. The hotel also offers spa services and has an excellent restaurant and bar, which will make you a tasty gin and tonic, among others. The aforementioned Wannee is attached to the Stenden Hotel which is located a bit outside the city center, but offers luxurious rooms. For something less expensive, ‘t Anker is an efficient and centrally located option. How to get there Leeuwarden itself is small and walkable, so go by train. You get to admire the countryside on the way.  More >