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:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Typical Dutch Stuff

When searching the internet I found this very nice website.

If you are dying for some Typical Dutch Stuff, check it out:

They provide a range of typical Dutch products and it will all be delivered at your doorstep in any place of the world. Of course you can order Dutch food and drinks, but also souvenirs and gifts, entertainment products and even bikes. And more surprisingly, you can even order frozen Dutch products such as bitterballen, kroketten and frikandellen or cooled Dutch products such Dutch desserts.  

If you can't wait untill you get here in the Netherlands, or you are just back from the Netherlands and really want to have some Dutch products, then this site is what you are looking for.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Wadden Sea officially Worldheritage

Last week I wrote about the Unesco Worldheritage sites in the Netherlands. Since yesterday the Wadden Sea is officially appointed as a Worldheritage site too. This is the first nature site of Worldheritage in the Netherlands.

The Wadden Sea is a truly unique habitat in the world. There is no other place in the world with such a dynamic landscape which is so wide and with so much variety as a result of the changing tides. The landscape changes daily. An extensive system of channels and gullies are interspersed with tight sandbanks. You will find mussel beds, nutritious slikwad, vast salt marshes, beaches and dunes but also here and there some waving sea grass. This variation of landscapes is what makes the Wadden Sea a unique habitat. The Wadden Sea is a vital stopover for millions of birds during their trek and more than 10,000 rare plant and animal species find a home here.

"The Wadden Sea (Dutch: Waddenzee, German: Wattenmeer, Low German: Wattensee, Danish: Vadehavet, West Frisian: Waadsee) is an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea. It lies between the coast of northwestern continental Europe and the range of Frisian Islands, forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity.

The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder in the Netherlands in the southwest, past the great river estuaries of Germany to its northern boundary at Skallingen north of Esbjerg in Denmark along a total length of some 500 km and a total area of about 10,000 km².

The islands in the Wadden Sea are called the Wadden Islands or Frisian Islands, named after the Frisians. However, on the westernmost Dutch island, Texel, the Frisian language has not been spoken for centuries. The Danish Wadden Sea Islands have never been inhabited by Frisians. The outlying German island of Heligoland, although ethnically one of the Frisian Islands, is not situated in the Wadden Sea." (Wikipedia)
The best and most spectacular way to explore this beautiful habitat is mudflat hiking (Dutch: Wadlopen). Although mudflat hiking is not dangerous you should only explore the habitat with an experienced guide on your side. They use a detailed tide table to be able to use a period of low water to walk on the watershed of the mudflats. The guide will bring a first aid kit, communication gear (satellite) and a long stick so he can feel how deep a gully is. The guide will explain about the Wadden Sea tides, the musselbanks, birds, seals, little living stuff in the sand and you can even taste some fresh sea grass.

When walking there you experience nature at its best. You have beautiful wide views, feel the sea breeze and if you are lucky you will see seals resting on the sand. Be prepared to cross some gullies through the water. The water will come at your waist or slightly above and you feel your legs being sucked into the mud. You feel the mud even above your knees. Because of the mud it is important to wear shoes which you cannot loss easily in the mud. The Converse All Stars type shoes are best for mudflat hiking. You can buy similar shoes for about 10 Euro when you go for the hike. Watch out you don't slip in the mud! But definately one of your group will do so as it's very slippery from time to time.
If you want to go by daytrip from Amsterdam I suggest you go to Pieterburen. It is a 1,5 hr drive to Pieterburen, you can spend the day there mudflat hiking, visite the seal rehabilitation and research centre and then relax with nice dinner before you go back to Amsterdam.

This is the website for mudflat hiking, which is in Dutch only:

If you want more information you can contact them on number 0031 (0) 595-528 558 or via email

Seal rehabilitation and research centre:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Taste some Reypenaar cheese

When walking in Amsterdam, enjoying the views of the canals and houses, I found this nice cheese shop from Reypenaar. Their cheese is really delicious. We brought it once to our friends in Malaysia and they loved it too. In the shop you can taste the cheese before buying it. They have these small cheese guillotines which you can use to cut some cheese for tasting. When you buy the cheese it is all packed for travel. So it will be no problem to bring it back home, even if you live on the other side of the world.

The historic ripening process of the Reypenaer cheeses is unique in the Netherlands. In the 100-year-old warehouse on the Oude Rijn river in Woerden, the Reypenaer cheeses are matured in an entirely natural way. Over time, this process leads to the distinctive and complex taste with its exceptional aroma that characterises these artisan cheeses.

If you think a visit to the shop only is not enough, you can visit the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms which are near the shop. You can personally test and evaluate the flavour, the aroma and the qualities of the Reypenaer cheeses, all under the guidance of an expert cheese taster.

Each cheese tasting session lasts approximately one hour, and caters for a maximum of 20 people per tasting. Tasting workshops take place every Wednesday to Sunday throughout the day from 11.00 to 17.00.

The basic introductory workshop costs €7.50 per person. There is also an Advanced Tasting (with wine) at €10.00 per person and a Connoisseur Tasting (with wine and port) costing €12.50 per person. They also cater for private groups, corporate events and private parties for groups of up to 20 people.

Can't wait untill you're in Amsterdam? They have an online shop where you can order your favourite cheese to get it delivered at home:

Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms - Singel 182, Amsterdam.
tel: +31 (20) 3206333 email:
Tasting centre for some of the finest Dutch cheeses.

Opening Hours: From Sunday and Monday 12.00 to 18.00 and Wednesday to Saturday 10.00 to 18.00 

How to get there by Public Transport: From Amsterdam Central Station with Tramline 1,2,5,13 or 17 or Bus 142, 144 or 170. Get out at stop Dam/Raadhuisstraat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Muiderslot castle

Have you ever wondered how a real castle looks from the inside? How the age of chivalry was like? About knights? Then the Muiderslot castle is the place to go! The Muiderslot castle is mighty and impressive with its 4 towers, massive walls and entrance bridge. The Golden Age comes alive when you wander through the castle. The room from the Lord of the land, Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581-1647), also referred to as P.C. Hooft, looks like he can walk in any time. It is completely furnished in 17th century style. Also other rooms are furnished in the same style.

Outside the castle you will find nice gardens where you can go for a walk to view the castle from there. From April to October there is even a falconer at the castle with demonstrations with birds of prey. The big owl with orange eyes is huge. But there is also small cute owl which you may hold on your hand. When you are at the castle it is definately worth visiting the falconer who is very friendly and will tell you everything about birds of prey.

In the castle there are not only furnished rooms to visit, there are also other parts of the castle which can be explored. There is a spacious courtyard with a small souvenir shop, restaurant and nice terrace to relax. The towers can be explored and even a dungeon. There is an exposition about knights and a lot of information is provided at the different places in the castle.

Explanation of the name Muiden and Muiderslot
The Muiderslot, built in 1280, is located in Muiden, a little town south-east of Amsterdam. The name Muiden is derived from the Old German word mui, meaning mouth. Muiden is situated at the mouth of the river Vecht, which flows into the IJmeer, what used to be the Zuiderzee (Southsea).

Count Floris V built the castle in 1280 to take control of the trade route to Utrecht. He built a chain over the mouth of the river Vecht so all traders were forced to pay toll to pass. In 1296 count Floris V was imprisoned in his own castle by Geeraerdt van Velsen, because he ordered the execution of Van Velsen's brother on false charges. Floris V managed to escape from the castle but was killed while fleeing. It is not clear what exactly happened in the 70 years after his dead. One story is that it was abandoned and the other story tells that is was demolished on behalf of the bishop of Utrecht and then rebuilt by the Duke of Bavaria (also Count of Holland).

The northeast wing was built in 1386. With this wing the castle looked more or less as it looks now.

In 1433 the castle falls in the hands of the "Burgundian house" (Bourgondische Huis). The keeper of the castle, Lodewijk van Montfoort, had ornaments added to the Muiderslot.

Some 30 years later the Burgundian ruler Karel de Stoute stays in the castle occasionally, but after his death in 1477, the city of Amsterdam takes on the role of keeper of he castle.

At the end of the 15th century the city of Amsterdam decides to build a moat around the castle.

Later on, the drost (lord of the land) of Muiden, also the bailiff of het Gooi (the region surrounding the castle) becomes a permanent resident of the castle.

In 1609 Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, (1581-1647), son of the mayor of Amsterdam, is appointed to take over the sheriff and bailiff duties for the Gooi region. P.C. Hooft is one of the most important writers of the 17th century, and also a poet and historian. The Amsterdam 'upper-class' regularly visits the castle. In the 19th century, P.C. Hooft's circle of friends is given the name Muiderkring. The most important artists, musicians, and scientists of the so called Golden Century (17th century) were part of his network of friends. Amongst them were Bredero, Huygens en Vondel. P.C. Hooft also worked on the castle, extending the garden and orchard, while putting a defense system into place.

In 1672 the French invaded the country. The defense system around the castle is fortified, sacrificing the gardens around the castle.

In 1795, when the Batavian Republic was established, all government employees lost their job, including the keeper of the Muiderslot castle. The castle is then transformed to a state prison, and later also used as barracks, and ammunition depot.

In 1824, the Department of War had the building cleared and transfered ownership to the Domeinen, a government institution. The new owner, Domeinen fails to find a use for the neglected Muiderslot castle. Not surprisingly, a year later in 1825 the castle is put up for sale, with the purpose of being demolished.

This was met with resistance of the locals who regarded the Muiderslot castle as an important national monument. Ultimately it was King William I who intervened and prevented the sale of the castle.
In 1878 the castle's ownership is transfered to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, more specifically, the Art and Sciences Department.

There were plans to turn it into the national historical museum, but these plans were not carried out. Instead the Muiderslot castle becomes a museum, or maybe even a memorial for the most important resident the castle ever had, P.C. Hooft.
In 1895, after enough money was gathered, the architect Berden reconstructed the castle to what he thought to be its original medieval state. Paintings were placed in the castle, depicting the castle's history in the 17th century and portraits of the Muiderkring members.
In 1954, a second restoration phase takes place. It turned out that Berden's restoration (in 1895) didn't correspond with the castle's state in the 17th century. On initiative of castle keeper Ton Koot this second restoration takes place to finally restore the castle to its original state in medieval times, with a nice collection of arms, armour and paintings.

In 2003 the Muiderslot castle celebrated its 125th year as a museum.

More information
The information on the history from the Muiderslot comes from the website
You may also find information on the website from the Muiderslot castle although this website is in dutch:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Worldheritage days 19-20 June 2010

Since the early 1990s the Netherlands has been actively involved in the 1972 World Heritage Convention. The Dutch Lower House ratified the convention in 1992 upon which the Netherlands submitted a Tentative List.

The Dutch Tentative List centres on four topics: The Netherlands – Land of Water, the Republic in the 17th century, the Modern Movement, and Archaeology. The first World Heritage site in the Netherlands was designated in 1995. There are now six World Heritage sites in the Netherlands and one in the Netherlands Antilles.

When visiting the World Heritage sites during the World Heritage weekend you will see that special programs and activities are being organized. It is an excellent opportunity to explore the Dutch World Heritage sites.

For some general information on the Dutch World Heritage sites please go to

Or go to the individual sites:


The Defence line of Amsterdam

The mill network of Kinderdijk


The Beemster

Rietveld-Schröder house

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The coast

The Dutch coast is probably not the first thing you plan for your visit to Holland. Having the North Sea in the west and the Wadden Sea in the north the Dutch coast is about 340 km long and has beautiful wide beaches. The dunes which protect the low lands from the water are beautiful nature reserves with countless trails and paths for walking and cycling. The Dutch coast is the perfect place to unwind after a few days in exciting Amsterdam.

There is a variety of recreational activities which you can do such as walking, swimming, sailing, kayaking, (kite) surfing, beach volleyball , building sand castles or simply relax. Even during fall and winter it can be busy at the Dutch beaches with people going for a walk. At summer time the beaches can be crowded, especially when temperatures rise above 25 degrees it looks like everyone found their way to the beach. But then still it’s a fantastic place to relax and to enjoy the Dutch beach life.

Most places at the beach have nice restaurants and bars at the beach where you can enjoy a drink at the terrace and order some food while watching the sunset. Some places are really worth a visit as they have a real “holiday” atmosphere with nice shops and entertainment. At many places beach parties are being organized during the summer period.