Giethoorn and Kampen for a short holiday

An ideal area for a couple of days’ holiday, for us beginning on May 1st, in the northern corner of the province Overijssel.

Giethoorn is a lovely little village built almost on water as the whole neighbourhood lies low among lakes and networks of channels among them. The overall impression is somewhat damaged by the fact that somehow the place has become known as the Dutch Venice so most of the inhabitants turned to serve the tourism industry. This is what awaits the visitor just off the car park.P1120687To the right you can imagine the row of restaurants and stalls of the lots of guides offering to hire out legions of small boats and barges for larger groups of tourists. But one has to cut the crowds out of the pictures (if at all possible) to see what the village should actually look like as habitation.P1120690In fact there are so many tourists that it is quite impossible to avoid them any further. Miraculously, the place has become rather well-known among the Chinese so the density of Chinese people almost matches that in popular large Chinese restaurants anywhere around the Netherlands. Notices about hiring the boats and restaurant menus are in Dutch and Chinese, not in English though the odd Italian restaurant also appears as befits a mini-Venice. But quite unlike in Venice, almost all houses have thatch roofs.P1120703P1120702P1120697P1120696The Brazilian giant rhubarb is also prevalent in the village, I’d like to see it fully grown later – it must be a spectacle.P1120706P1120712P1120718P1120738Then, when hiring boats, some people really become dangerous – beware if you are with kids.P1120743P1120746The boats for hire are battery-operated slow boats and can be taken for one or two or three hours or even more, for which tourists get a description of the route possible for that length of time. It is by hiring for at least two hours that people can get out into the nearby lake and explore nature on a sunny day.P1120756P1120764P1120763P1120768P1120773P1120774At one point there is a look-out tower. The view from there is a nice eye-opener about the area.P1120776Those intent on avoiding the crowds can opt for the area called Dwarsgracht just across the road from Giethoorn. We chose a different area with kids though.

The nearby Kempen is a completely different cup of tea. On the way there the traveller gets in among some wonderful fields of tulips.P1120779The town lies at the mouth of the river IJssel, near where it flows into the IJsselmeer. Surprisingly, it is a former Hansa town with beautiful architecture, complete with a number of bigger sailing ships moored on the quay.P1120780P1120781P1120786P1120792(Broederport)P1120795P1120797P1120798P1120799P1120800P1120804P1120806P1120807P1120809P1120810P1120812P1120816P1120819P1120822P1120823P1120824P1120825P1120826P1120828(Memorial to the Schrokkers, fishermen who were re-housed to Kampen when the island Schokland in the Zuidersee was evacuated)P1120831(No bikes here!)P1120829(the smallest house – in the Netherlands? here in Kampen for sure)P1120833

by Z.J.S. and P.S.

Walk around Leiden

Leiden is one of the most famous cities in the Netherlands, partly due to its university, which is by far the oldest in the country (University of Leiden),

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partly due to its outstanding position in the country around the beginning of the development of modern Netherlands, partly as the birth city of the most notable Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn

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The city, originally built at the meeting of the Old Rhein and the New Rhein near the see, is today not among the largest ones in the country, but, with its numerous canals and the original river branches, it inevitably reminds one of Amsterdam on a smaller scale and a very pleasant atmosphere:

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No wonder one can see, besides hordes of cyclers in the streets, a lot of rowing parties on the waters of the city.

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Hortus Botanicus, established in 1590, is the oldest botanical garden still in existence in the Netherlands.

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The largest church in town, Hooglandse Kerk, formely called Sint Pancraskerk, almost became a cathedral in the 16th century. The size would make it understandable.

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but we can’t really see the full size from anywhere. However, it is interesting inside due to two objects: an ancient clock worked through huge ropes working on enormous cogwheels by weights on the wall

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and the “English Organ”, one built in England but taken to pieces and still being built in this church

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Back to the “streets” …

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As in Amsterdam, restaurants and cafes are sometimes crammed full of people even during the day

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just as “rondvarten” are popular

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Interestingly enough, the neighbourhood of the railways station is highly reminiscent of the same area in the HagueP1110174

Apart from this, however I look at it, it is an interesting and beautiful city with an old atmosphere worth visiting just outside of Amsterdam.

by P.S.