In Amsterdam with Daan van de Kamp
The Netherlands, often referred to as Holland, is unique in many ways making it a fun and intriguing country to visit. Our On Location partner, Daan van de Kamp, is on hand with local knowledge to enhance your visit. Daan and his team specialize in custom tours and a range of hospitality services. Contact us so we can work with Daan on the best land arrangements for your vacation in magnificent Holland.
Daan van de Kamp
Photo: Daan van de Kamp
Beautiful, Friendly and Safe
"Consider visiting Holland if you would like to see a beautiful country with friendly people, where English is widely spoken and it is safe and easy to travel around. This is a small country - from west to east is just a 90-minute drive; north to south, only 3.5 hours. Neighbouring countries are Germany to the east and Belgium to the south."
"The Netherlands is the official name while outsiders often refer to it as Holland. In fact there are only two provinces with Holland in their name - North-Holland and South-Holland in the Western part of the country."
"Holland is well known for its flowers, windmills, bicycles, clogs, beer, cheese and art by the Dutch masters. Interesting facts which make this country unique:
- There are 1,048 windmills, 108 watermills and 4,400 km of navigable rivers, canals and lakes.
- Most of the country is either below sea level or less than a meter above sea level so there are many engineering marvels relating to this around the country.
- When you arrive at Schiphol Airport, you are four meters below sea level.
- There are twice as many bikes as there are cars and no less than 29,000 km of cycle paths.
- There are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Holland."
"Both private transport and public transport are easy to use. All the main cities in Holland are reachable by train, bus, and cab. Nevertheless for a real in-depth experience we suggest you take private transport and an experienced guide to show you around our lovely country."
Holland's iconic windmills.
Photo: Netherlands Board of Tourism
"Best known for its canals and canal houses, you need several days to discover Amsterdam before heading to the rest of the country. These are the places I recommend you see on your visit to this city:
- Anne Frank Museum, visit the house where the family lived during the Second World War and see her diary.
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Nightwatch by Rembrandt
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam - The Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, both by van Gogh
- Canal tour by salon boat and city tour by bike through Amsterdam
- Flower Market in the city centre
- The Jordaan Quarters, with typical Amsterdam houses, little boutiques and restaurants.
- The Wester Church
Photo: Rotterdam Marketing
"The western part is the most developed and is called the Randstad, the agglomeration of the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Every city has its own specialty:
- Zaanse Schans and Fishermen Villages of Marken/Edam/Volendam are known for local customs, costumes and Dutch cuisine.
- The Hague, situated at the Dutch beachside, is where our government sits and our Royal family resides. The International Court of Justice (at the Peace Palace) and the International Criminal Court are also situated in The Hague.
- Utrecht, in the middle of the country, has a rich religious history and many churches.
- Rotterdam is the largest harbour in Europe and one of the busiest in the world, a modern city, bombed by the Nazi's in World War II.
- Maastricht is the largest city in the south. It is the oldest city in the country, known as a culinary capital and home of the TEFAF Antiques Exhibition.
- De Keukenhof at Lisse, the World's Biggest Flower Shop (between mid March and mid May).
- Madurodam, Miniature city in The Hague.
- DeltaWorks in the province of Zeeland, the largest manmade dike in the world.
- Groningen, in the north has a beautiful modern art museum as well as islands with beautiful deserted beaches."
Scheveningen Beach at The Hague.
Photo: The Hague Marketing
"These are just some of my personal favourite things to see and do. They give you a good idea of the diversity of experiences you can have on a visit here:
- Time at the beach of The Hague, having a drink in mid-summer at one of the beach clubs.
- The canals in Amsterdam during Queens Day celebrations (30th of April, National Holiday)
- The little boat service at Meuse River in Rotterdam which goes to the Hotel New York.
- Visiting The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague to see Vermeer's painting, The Girl with a Pearl Earring* and many other wonderful art works.
- Visiting Chateau Neercanne, a Michelin star restaurant in Maastricht with a view of the wineries.
- In April and May visiting the Keukenhof flower garden.
- Seeing a modern ballet at Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague.
- Visiting the flea market at the NDSM warf at northern bank of the River IJ in Amsterdam.
- Visiting the Miffy Museum in Utrecht at Dick Bruna House. (Dick Bruna created the rabbit Miffy and his stories have been translated into 40 languages worldwide.)"
Special Interests and Unique Sleeps
"Art, antiques, modern dance, flowers, cycling and sailing are some of the special interests which are easy and worthwhile to pursue in Holland. Some unique places to stay overnight are:
- Sleeping at The Euromast, the space needle of Rotterdam
- Staying overnight on the famous steam ship, the ss Rotterdam, a former liner built in Rotterdam and now permanently docked in Rotterdam harbour as a hotel and convention centre
- Bed & breakfast at a country estate
- Sleeping at a luxury apartment/hotel room alongside the canals"
"The Dutch don't have a specific cuisine. You can find a regular meal of potatoes, vegetables and meat just as easily as a proper Indian, Chinese, Surinam, Turkish, Italian or Mediterranean meal. We simply like everything!"
"Breakfast and lunch are simple meals of bread, fruit and dairy products. Supper is usually a warm meal between 6 and 7 p.m. Keep in mind that most kitchens in restaurants tend to close between 9 and 10 p.m."
"These are some of the typical Dutch dishes you must try while you are here:
- Poffertjes: A kind of mini pancakes, but thicker and sweeter. Often served with sugar and butter. This dish is especially popular with children.
- Bitterballen: The best snack when sitting on a terrace with a drink. Small fried balls of beef ragout.
- Haring: The most popular fish in Holland is herring. Eat it on a bun with onions or pickles, or choose to do it the original way and have a bite while holding the fish in the air by its tail.
- Liquorice: Dutch liquorice is available both sweet and salty and in a wide range of shapes and flavors. Nowhere in the world do they eat as much liquorice as in the Netherlands.
- Hagelslag: Chocolate sprinkles on a sandwich, enjoyed by young and old."
Thanks to Daan for providing this entertaining and informative account of what to see and do on your vacation in Holland.
* Note that Vermeer's painting, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, will be on an international tour from mid-June through 2013.
By Susan Milne