Monday, August 30, 2010

Practice your painting skills at Royal Delft

When scanning the souvenir shops in Amsterdam or the airport to bring something home which is typicallly Dutch you will see a lot "Delft blue" souvenirs. Delft Blue is original earthenware in this typical blue colour. Its factory is located in Delft, a city which can easily be reached from Amsterdam by car or train. Most of the souvenirs found anywhere in the country are replicates but you can find the real deal in Delft at Royal Delft. It can be easily combined in a day trip when visiting Delft and maybe even Den Haag (The Hague). But also a quick visit to Royal Delft is something which can easily be done as Delft is just 1 hour from Amsterdam.

The Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles / Royal Delft is the only remaining factory of the 32 earthenware factories that were established in Delft in the 17th century. Although it is not exactly sure when the first factories started to operate, we do know that already in the second half of the 16th century there were factories in Amsterdam, Haarlem and Middelburg which produced multicoloured (or polychrome) earthenware.

A visit to Royal Delft includes:
• Painting demonstration, the company museum with antique Delft Blue pieces, and the production process in the factory. The tour takes about thirty minutes.
• The showroom has a comprehensive collection of hand-painted Delft Blue by Royal Delft, as well as an extensive selection of Dutch earthenware and souvenirs.
• During the high season you can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat in the Brasserie.

When visiting individual you can take an audio tour which is available daily in Dutch, English, German, French, Japanese, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Guided tours must be booked in advance. (Groups <20 people price on request) And what about attending a workshop where you can show your painting skills creating your own Delft Blue earthenware? These are great souvenirs and gifts. Note that the painted products are not ready to be taken home immediately as they must first be fired. The products can be collected or sent after approximately ten working days.

Have a look at the website of Royal Delft:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Amsterdam Boutique Apartments

A stylish apartment located in the souterrain of an authentic, monumental canal house in the centre of Amsterdam. This doesn't sound as an apartment for rent at all, but it is. This is one of the places to stay you wish you can find and book when planning your trip.

The apartment is spacious and luxury and the modern oriental accents provide the finishing touch. I just love the bathroom with jacuzzi with mood lights and the beautiful picture on the wall. It's zen in the city. A perfect place to unwind after an exciting day, or night, in vibrant Amsterdam.

The location could not have been better right behind the Spui and near many places of interest such as Leidse square, Rembrandt square, Dam square, flower market, the museum area and the main shopping streets. When staying here you have Amsterdam literally on your doorstep. And not to forget the Singel canal with it's authentic canal houses.

When staying here you can enjoy the luxury of a 5 star hotel in your "own" apartment. The owner thought about everything from a PC with internet access to a very complete kitchenette with an espresso machine and from in house private yoga classes to in house massage service.

Interested after reading this? Visit their website:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sail 2010

From August 19 to 23 the 8th edition of SAIL will take place in Amsterdam. SAIL is one of the largest maritime festivals in the world. The theme of SAIL 2010 is "a nautical encounter between the past, present and future".

The Sail-in and Sail-out parade will be spectacular with hundreds of ships from around the world. The impressive fleet, which includes modern ships, naval ships and historical replicas, will enter and leave Amsterdam together with the tall ships in front.

During SAIL 2010 the Amsterdam IJ harbour will host a variety of activities, performances and exhibitions for young and old. You can step onboard and explore most of the tall ships for free or take a guided tour, enjoy musical and dance performances on stage or visit the nautical market. Children can take sailing lessons or explore the ING Pirate Island. See match races between some of the best Dutch sailors or watch the demonstrations by the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and the Royal Netherlans Navy. And if this is all not enough there will be a fantastic closing ceremony with fireworks on the water every day at 22.00 hrs.

SAIL 2010 is a celebration for everyone. Even if you are not a boat lover or watersports enthusiast SAIL is definately a highlight which you should not miss out if you are in Amsterdam.

Visitor information
19 to 23 August 2010, IJ Harbour, Amsterdam
website: SAIL 2010
SAIL YouTube channel: YouTube SailAmsterdam2010
SAIL photos on Flickr: Flickr SAIL photos

Dutch newspaper: Telegraaf .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rembrandt breakfast

July the 15th it is 404 years ago that Rembrandt van Rijn, the most famous painter of the Golden Age, was born. The Rijksmuseum celebrates his birthday every year with a breakfast and you are invited.

The breakfast is for free. Herring with white bread is being served. There are free guided and audio tours and a lottery is organized. Also the children can have fun in the garden of the museum as activities are organized for them. And of course you can taste the big birthday cake.

Thursday July 15, 2010 - 07.00 - 09.00 in the garden of the museum.
Address: Jan Luijkenstraat 1, Amsterdam

The breakfast is organized every year. You can check the museum website for more information: Rijksmuseum

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Worldheritage Kinderdijk windmills

Last weekend I had the chance to visit the Worldheritage site Kinderdijk, worldfamous for its windmills in the Dutch landscape. We had friends visiting from Singapore and Abu Dhabi  and seeing windmills was on the top of their list to do when in the Netherlands. I proposed to visit Kinderdijk as there is no other place in the world where there are so many windmills as near this Dutch village.

In the Netherlands there are still about 1000 windmills of which 19 can be found near Kinderdijk. These are well preserved and one windmill is open as a little museum. The mills are located in the Alblasserwaard polders which are located below sea level. The mills drain the excess water from the polders to be sluiced into the river Lek. Nowadays power driven pumps are used to do this job including one of the largest water screw pumping stations in Western Europe.

With the mills also the area is preserved. When arriving in the area you come from a highway and enter an area of villages and industrial areas. My first thought was "how can the mills be in this area?". Because I know from pictures it looks like they are in a very isolated area. But then you drive next to the river and have some really nice houses on the other side. When looking between the houses we got a first glance of the windmills. The houses are built on the dyke, so the area behind is lower in the polders, with the windmills spread here and there. And indeed, it looks isolated although villages and even industrial areas are nearby.

The area is really beautiful. Quiet and green with a lot of water and all these windmills in the horizon. You may rent a bike or just go for a walk to explore the area. The windmill that can be visited is furnished with some typical dutch furniture such as the lamp and tablecloths. You will find some information on how people used to live in the windmill. Further you can go upstairs and peek your head above the stairs in the top of the mill to see the powerful construction.

If you have time you can take a 30 minute boat trip in the area to come nearer to the windmills without too much of walking. Another option which is nice if you have time is to take the boat in Rotterdam to Kinderdijk. You will then have about 1 hour to explore Kinderdijk before the boat will go back to Rotterdam. After enjoying the views of Kinderdijk you will then enjoy the view of the Rotterdam skyline.

Overall I liked the view of the windmills in the green area the most. Together with the possibility to see one mill from inside and a nice souvenir shop and restaurant this makes Kinderdijk a worthy half day trip when coming from Amsterdam.

Visitor information:
For more information visit the website
Kinderdijk is about 1 hr by car from Amsterdam.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liberty Park: "War belongs in a museum"

"War belongs in a museum" is the motto of the Dutch National War and Resistance Museum. We should have learnt enough from history and make sure it will never happen again. But still "freedom cannot be taken for granted". A powerful message from Liberty Park in Overloon.

In Liberty Park you can visit the National War and Resistance Museum and the Marshall Museum. The park offers peace, space and freedom to think about the efforts that had to be made for liberty.

It is this place in Overloon, where the biggest tank battle of Dutch history took place. After the war the museum is established on the battlefield on the same soil where the infantry fought man to man. The guns, tanks and other vehicles that were abandoned and left behind were brought together in this park. '

For many years the collection was kept outdoors but for better preservation of all artefacts everything is relocated indoors. Now also our future generations will be able to see with their own eyes how the battle of Overloon was fought.

Besides the battle of Overloon during the liberation of the south of the Netherlands you will also experience the occupation and persecution as well as the resistance and D-Day. You are invited to think about war and oppression. How far are you allowed to go when the issue concerns keeping, and if need to be, winning back freedom?

National War and Resistance Museum
Here the history of Second World War is being presented. Here you will see the story of more than fifty million who lost their lives. But you will also see how the oppressed population managed to cope with restrictions and shortages in a resourceful way. There is attention for the resistance and persecution and of course to the liberation with special attention to the battle of Overloon.
Marshall Museum
More than 150 historical vehicles, vessels and aircrafts provide an excellent view of the military efforts during the Second World War. There are also layouts which provide a picture of the invasion in Normandy on D-Day, the battle of Arnhem and the battle of the Ardennes. The materials which are being displayed are in top condition and look as new after being made roadworthy again.

What happened in Overloon?
In September 1944, Montgomery devised the Market Garden attack plan. The combination of airborne landings at Arnhem and clearing a narrow corridor through the southern Netherlands was supposed to facilitate the further advance to Berlin. The plan was only half successful. The allied troops wanted to widen and reinforce their corridor. However, the German opponent tried to cut the Allies off. They came to blows on 30 September near Overloon. German Panther tanks and American Sherman tanks fired upon each other continuously. About a week later, British troops joined the battle as well. Eventually, it took almost three weeks before Overloon, and Venray further south, were liberated. The Battle at Overloon is known as the heaviest tank battle ever on Dutch soil. In the museum you will still find several vehicles from that battle, such as a German Panther tank, and British and American tanks and guns.

Visitor information

The museum is open all year round, except on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 31 December and New Year’s Day.

Opening hours

Monday – Friday: 10:00-17:00
Weekend and holidays: 11:00-17:00
It is recommended that you allow 3-4 hours for your visit.

Liberty Park

Museumpark 1

5825 AM Overloon

The Netherlands
tel: + 31 - 478 - 641250

Overloon (Noord-Brabant) is approx. 150 km from Amsterdam which is about 1:45 by car from Amsterdam.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dutch East Indiaman The Amsterdam

The Dutch East Indiaman The Amsterdam is a replica of an 18th century VOC ship. These ships were used for sailing to the Far East. They were sailing up to 8 months to get to Far East and the return was 1 month less. From 1602 to 1795 East Indiaman made 4800 voyages of which less than 4% (192) was lost at sea.

In 1749 The Amsterdam sailed up the North Sea but during a storm the rudder snapped and the master decided to beach the brand-new ship at the south coast of England trying to save the people, cargo and vessel. Unfortunately the East Indiaman sank into the mud. The wreck of the original East Indiaman provided archeologists with valuable information about the construction of VOC ships, their cargoes and life on board.

Almost 200 years later after the demise of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie construction of a new ship started. During construction the original East Indiaman was largely copied but there are also some differences as a result of modern standards. The hull and the decks are now made of tropical wood instead of oak and there enough space between the decks to stand up straight. Also the spars are glued and the ladders are replaced by stairs. The Amsterdam was constructed by more than 400 volunteers and was berthed at the Maritime Museum in 1991.

The 'Amsterdam' statistics
Keel length: 42,5 m
Length from stem to stem: 48,0 m
Beam: 11,5 m
Draught: 5,5 m
Height from keel to mast top: 56,0 m
Displacement: 1100 tons
Guns (original): 42
Guns (replica): 16

Visitor information

East Indiaman Amsterdam is moored at science center NEMO
Oosterdok 2
1011 VX Amsterdam
Tel. +31 (0)20 5232 222
Entrance 5 EUR pp

The East Indiaman Amsterdam is opened from Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Also opened on Mondays during school holidays and in June, July and August
Closed on Christmas (December 25) New Year's Day and Queen's Day (April 30)

Visit the website for more information: