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Winterwelvaart, with the boats all lit up at night.

WinterWelVaart: Groningen’s Christmas Market

The Christmas markets in Germany are famous for their craft stalls, gluwein and generally Christmassy atmosphere. I’ve gone to several in past years; the one in Oldenburg is only about an hour away from my home here in Groningen. Though they’re much less well-known, Dutch cities, including Groningen, also run Christmas markets. WinterWelVaart Groningen’s is…

The entrance to the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam

Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution: a review

This entry is part 12 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

What I expected on visiting Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution was a presentation that titillates and that presents prostitution as a happy profession with practitioners who choose to become prostitutes. Note: I’ve updated this post with some comments from a “part time excort whore” who commented on this post on Twitter. See below. I expected that…

a few bottles from the collection of antique medicines containing cannabis and other drugs

Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum Amsterdam

This entry is part 20 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

It’s not surprising that Amsterdam is home to a museum of Hash, Marijuana and Hemp, given its generally tolerant policy toward soft drugs. You’d think, given the somewhat subversive subject, that it would be entertaining to visit. It wasn’t. The main part of the museum (hash and marijuana) The main part of the museum inhabits…

museum of bags and purses

The Museum of Bags and Purses Amsterdam

This entry is part 8 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

For the sake of full transparency and before I describe my impressions of Tassenmuseum Hendrikje, the Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam, I need to explain my relationship to handbags. I know some people are really into handbags. They have huge collections of handbags, preferably designer, and they coordinate their bag with whatever they’re wearing…

a plastinate

Body Worlds Amsterdam: Museum or freak show?

This entry is part 14 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

Warning: If you’re squeamish, you might want to click away…but please share this post before you go! Body Worlds: The Happiness Project exhibit in Amsterdam is described on its webpage as telling: the amazing story of our own body and the impact of happiness on our health. More than 200 anatomical specimens of real human bodies…

view of Groningen train station, with the Starbucks in the left wing

The most beautiful Starbucks?

You know how sometimes you get so used to what you see every day that you stop noticing it? I’ve walked by the Starbucks in the Groningen central train station hundreds of times in the course of commuting to and from my job up in Leeuwarden. I just didn’t pay much attention to it until…

view of Hooge der A with ships

Groningen walking tour

Groningen is the perfect place for an off-the-beaten-track weekend escape. Home to a world-class university, its young population makes it dynamic and hip, yet its small size keeps it friendly and relaxed. This walking tour could last from two hours, if you just stroll, to all day, if you take your time and stop to see…

detail from Rembrandt's studio

Museum Het Rembrandthuis and Rembrandt’s life

This entry is part 6 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

You could easily be forgiven if, at first, you just walk by the Museum Het Rembrandthuis. You might notice that it’s pretty, but so are so many houses in Amsterdam. On a less-charming street than the other small museums I’ve visited lately in Amsterdam, Rembrandt lived here and taught a handful of pupils until bankruptcy forced him…

Van Loon Museum: a restored Golden Age house

This entry is part 5 of 21 in the series Amsterdam Museums

After the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder museum and The Museum of the Canals, our last stop was the van Loon Museum, a restored Golden Age canal house. This is what I’d been expecting when we visited the Museum of the Canals: rooms that give an impression of how wealthy residents of Amsterdam’s Golden Age lived…