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Ceramic cats in a cabinet at the Cat Cabinet, Amsterdam

The Cat Cabinet: another quirky Amsterdam museum

This entry is part 16 of 19 in the series Amsterdam Museums

The founder of the Cat Cabinet, Bob Meijer, named his cat John Pierpont Morgan. Why name him after a 19th century American financier? I don’t know. Born in 1966, J.P. Morgan received a special gift from Meijer every five years. On his fifth birthday, it was a portrait by Ansel Sanberg. On his tenth, his present was a…

The Houseboat Museum in Amsterdam

The Houseboat Museum in Amsterdam

This entry is part 7 of 19 in the series Amsterdam Museums

If you’ve ever wandered the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal rings of Amsterdam, you’ve noticed the many houseboats moored along the canals. Have you ever wondered what they’re like on the inside? What’s it like to live in a houseboat? The Houseboat Museum gives a glimpse of that life: a very quick glimpse, given how small…

Klooster Ter Apel in the Netherlands

Ter Apel Cloister

The village of Ter Apel has been in the news a lot lately. A huge refugee center there is the first home for hundreds of Syrians, Eritreans, Afghans and others seeking safety and a new life in the Netherlands. Ter Apel’s claim to fame, though, if you can call it famous, is a medieval cloister…

e Zoeker windmill as seen from Het Jonge Schaap windmill in Zaanse Schans

Being a tourist at Zaanse Schans

Frequent travelers often express a certain disdain for places that are “touristy,” meaning crowded with tourists: San Marco’s square in Venice, for example, or the Tower of London, or the Forbidden City in Beijing. Many of us avoid such places, preferring the more off-the-beaten-track destinations. Tourist destinations, though, are popular for a reason. San Marco’s…

Colorful bulb gardens at Keukenhof, in the Netherlands

Visiting Dutch Gardens

When you think of the Netherlands and gardens and flowers, what comes immediately to mind? I assume your answer is “tulips.” Tulips are cultivated here in huge quantity and they or the bulbs are exported all over the world. Keukenhof and Giethoorn One of the biggest attractions for tourists in the Netherlands is Keukenhof, a tulip…

Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam Central train station sightseeing

If you find yourself with a few hours to kill at Amsterdam Central train station, there’s plenty to do right nearby. First of all, if you have shopping bags or luggage with you, don’t schlep them with you. Inside Amsterdam Central, on the right side of the building if you are looking at it from…

The Sex Museum's entrance is a storefront on busy Damrak.

The Sex Museum in Amsterdam: the cure for insomnia

This entry is part 14 of 19 in the series Amsterdam Museums

The first thing you see on entering the Sex Museum in Amsterdam is a life size statue of Priapus, the Greek god of fertility, and he’s … well, let’s say he’s pretty turned on. Review of the Sex Museum, Amsterdam The rest of the museum goes downhill from there. Unfortunately, if I want to keep this…

Eenrum church in Groningen province

Churches of Groningen province (part 1)

When I first arrived in the Netherlands back in 1997, one of the first bits of sightseeing I did, besides exploring my new hometown of Groningen itself, was to go on a driving tour of village churches in Groningen province. The idea came from my favorite guidebook: the Michelin green guide to the Netherlands. The…

This view looks out of the entrance gate to Bourtange. The earthen embankments on either side are the walls of the fortress.

Bourtange: a Living Fortress

I recently wrote about Fraeylemaborg as one of the local off-the-beaten-path sights I like to show overseas visitors. The other sight that’s high on my list is the fortress village of Bourtange. History of Bourtange Did you know that much of what is now the Netherlands was once ruled by Spain? The “Eighty Years’ War” (1566-1648)…

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