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Muiderslot Castle (a.k.a. Amsterdam Castle)

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

What to do in 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. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on…

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…

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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