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29 things to do in Drenthe province

If you’re not from around here, you’ve probably never heard of Drenthe, a province in the east of the Netherlands. When I decided to make a list of things to do in Drenthe, I was surprised at how many there are. Some are a bit odd or obscure, but those are the places I like…

39 things to do in Groningen province

Tourists to the Netherlands visit, for the most part, Amsterdam. They might take a side trip to Keukenhof (tulips galore) or Zaanse Schans (windmills in picturesque quantity) or the Hague. I live on the other side of the country, in a province called Groningen, whose biggest city (about 200,000 people) is also called Groningen. That means…

Castle De Haar: An extravagant vision of the medieval

Castle de Haar is one of the most fanciful castles I’ve ever seen, if you discount Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland. It’s got a moat, a formal garden, towers and turrets galore. Stunningly ornate, especially inside, it’s a medieval princess’s dream. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them and…

Muiderslot Castle

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Amsterdam Museums

When you were little, did you ever draw a picture of a castle? If you were like me, the castle in your picture was square, with a tower in each corner, crenellations along the walls and a drawbridge to an arched gateway in front. I’ve been to a lot of castles in my travels, but…

An outstanding art museum in the Hague: Mauritshuis

My initial interest in visiting Mauritshuis, an art museum in the Hague (Den Haag), had to do with one single painting: Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, painted in about 1665. But this outstanding little Den Haag museum has many more gems of Golden Age painting. A disclosure: This is a sponsored post:…

A self-guided Rotterdam walking tour: Architecture and art

Rotterdam is famous for its post-war architecture, mostly because a World War II bombing in 1940 destroyed much of the city. Yet it didn’t just rebuild and settle in; it is still constantly changing, expanding and reinventing whole neighborhoods. On a recent visit, I took a tour of a few new buildings, but I also…

De Rotterdam Architecture Tour

Very little of Rotterdam survived World War II. While this means it is not the place to see the Netherlands you expect – charming streets along canals, 16th century merchants’ homes, or picturesque windmills – it is the place to see post-war architecture. This is why I signed up for a tour with De Rotterdam…

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…

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