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Boat Bike Tours: A review of “Hansa Highlights”

One of the first people I met on my recent week-long trip with Boat Bike Tours was a retired Canadian man named Peter, who told me right off the bat that this was his third tour with the company. I took that as a good sign. Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in that I…

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…

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)…

somewhere on my commute between Groningen and Leeuwarden after a dusting of snow

The Beauty of a Dutch Commute

A couple of times a week, I commute to my part-time job in Leeuwarden, in Friesland province. Sometimes I drive, but as much as possible, I like to take the train. I start by bicycling to the train station in the center of Groningen, parking the bike and boarding the train. The train trip takes about 35…

Zwarte Piet as portrayed on wrapping paper.

Zwarte Piet Updated

It’s that time of year again: Sinterklaas is approaching, along with Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). I wrote about this two years ago and then again last year, so I thought I’d add a short update today. Changes in Zwarte Piet The Zwarte Piet debate continues. Or rather, a vocal minority condemns it as racist while…

How Americans see the Dutch

(Nederlands vertaling beneden) When I posted about how the Dutch see the Americans, it wasn’t particularly complimentary, so I promised to write the opposite post: how the Americans see the Dutch. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them and spend money, I will receive a small percentage of what…

Watching the World Cup … and enjoying it!

The Dutch are absolutely fanatical about football (soccer, for American readers), and perhaps even more fanatical about supporting their national football team. You can always identify the Dutch people in the stadium: a small sea of orange (the royal family of the Netherlands is the House of Orange); their faces painted, often in red, white…

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