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pakhuis klompen Windmill fiets lighthouse
Here is Holland
ISBN 978-9059721418 - 492 pages


Beyond Tulips: Holland for the Discerning Traveler

Planning your spring trip to Holland? If so, chances are that tulips will feature in your travel plans, will they not? The world-famous Keukenhof tulip and bulb extravaganza that takes place from late March to mid-May is sure to attract your attention and some highly worthwhile time. Don’t miss it. Ditto for Amsterdam – that one-of-a-kind city with a reputation to howl. 

As you plan your trip, however, be mindful of two important things: Amsterdam can indeed howl, but there’s so much more to see and do there than its free-will reputation might lead you to believe. Dig deep, and check out both its world-renowned museums and sites such as the Anne Frank House, as well as those sites hidden to the average eye, e.g. the Amstelkring Museum, better known as ‘Our Lord in the Attic’ (a clandestine Catholic church), and the Begijnhof, a hidden, verdant oasis in the very heart of Amsterdam. Then expand your sights beyond Amsterdam and the bulb fields, and set aside some time to explore the ‘outer reaches’ of Holland. There’s so much to see.

Take, for example, a planetarium from the 1700s that is still operating in the northeastern province of Friesland, in the oh-so-Dutch town of Franeker. (If you fancy staying in a luxuriously converted lighthouse, nearby Harlingen is another possible destination, but way-in-advance booking is necessary for this experience, as well as a healthy wad of euros.) And while you’re in Friesland, you might want to pass by the birthplace of the accused and executed spy, Mata Hari, in her native town of Leeuwarden, also renowned as being the first and last leg of the 11-cities ice-skating tour-de-force, the ‘Elfstedentocht’, that takes place only when the canals freeze enough to support this famous race.

To the east of Friesland is Groningen, home to the very hip Groninger Museum (directly across from the train station) with architecture that protrudes out over the canal in this university town that rarely sleeps. Inside you will discover some deconstructivist architecture, which means that all architectural traditions have been rejected; therefore, a glass window becomes a floor, and a wall becomes a ceiling.

About 20 minutes to the north (in Westeremden) is the home and gallery of famed Dutch still-life and still-living artist, Henk Helmantel, whose stunning home and working studio/gallery definitely warrant a visit.

Also, in the northern province of Drenthe, are the fascinating remains of ancient dolmans, or ‘hunebedden’, prehistoric tomb formations of stones that are in fact older than Stonehenge in England. The Hunebed Center in Borger is a fascinating place to take children to learn about these phenomenal sites.

If you happen to be in Holland in February, you can venture down to the southern provinces of Limburg and Brabant for carnival time, with the requisite parades, balls and parties that one would expect.

These are just a few of the many sites and events throughout Holland. To check what’s happening around the time of your trip, get yourself a copy of the brand-new edition of Here’s Holland – “simply the best all-in-one-guide to travel and life in Holland” – by clicking on the Here’s Holland button on this site, or by visiting .  This must-have guidebook written by Sheila Gazaleh-Weevers, a long-time resident of Holland, includes a comprehensive calendar of events for the entire year – in addition to highly detailed, province-to-province suggestions, directions and opening times for a wealth of interesting places throughout Holland (including all the ones mentioned here). You’ll also learn about the Dutch culture and what to expect on your visit.

Convinced that there’s more to see than tulips? Then be sure to allow enough time to journey on ‘the road less traveled.’ Holland is a very small country that you can travel across in only four hours. Tiptoe through those tulips, experience Amsterdam, and then hit the road!
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