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  • Writer's pictureRachel Velthuisen

Family Reunion in the Netherlands

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

My husband's parents are originally from the Netherlands. He has extended family there which we planned to take our kids to meet for the first time back in April 2020...that didn't happen! We finally got to take them earlier this year and explore one of our favorite countries. What a wonderful time!


Amsterdam

We had a few days to explore Amsterdam. From Centraal Station, we walked down Damrak Straat and landed at the Dutch Pancake Masters for lunch. We then walked along Klaaverstraat to window shop before ending at the Dam Square. We had tickets to tour the Konninklijk Paleis - very beautiful. Loved all the marble sculptures. One day, we started off with pannekoeken and poffertjes near the Bloemenmarkt to check out the floating flower stalls. We walked by the Munttoren tower which was a gate to a medieval wall (at least lower half was, rest was destroyed by a fire in 1618 and rebuilt with the clock added). We explored the Museum Willet-Holthuysen which is one of the canal ring row houses. We thought given the younger age of our kids, they'd enjoy that more than walking around the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh museums (although we went by both in the Museum Quarter). We got kroketten and broodje met hagelslag at Eestalon Vam Dobben near Rembrandtplein (one of the squares). One of our favorite sites was the Oude Kerk, the city's oldest church, with ornate wooden carvings and a magnificent organ. We spent time in Ledseplein for cappuccinos and chocomelk and walked by the Stadsschouwburg (international theater). We took a canal cruise which was a nice break to take in the sites and learn more about the city. We had dinner one night near the Museum Quarter at Vandam and walked through the Vondelpark where we saw rose-ring parakeets - we had no idea there are wild parakeets there that look like they should be in Belize but there are about 4,000 of them now. Through the Nieuwmarkt, we saw the Waag, a medieval weigh house that embodies Amsterdam's enduring heritage.

Keukenhoff Gardens and Noordwijk

Our visit to Keukenhof Gardens was a breathtaking immersion into a vibrant tapestry of colors and fragrances. Nestled in the heart of the Netherlands, Keukenhof is renowned as the world's largest flower garden. As we strolled through meticulously manicured landscapes, we were greeted by a mesmerizing display of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths in an array of hues. The intricate flowerbed designs and themed gardens showcased the artistry of horticulture. Following Keukenhof, we drove to Noordwijk to see the Noordzee and have lunch along the water.

Leiden

We explored the historical tapestry of Leiden and its iconic landmarks. We took our kids to go in their first windmill (molen), De Valk, a commanding windmill, offers sweeping views of Leiden. We walked around Leiden by the Hoogstraat area where canals meet with many shops and cafes around it. The Waag was nearby which is a centuries-old weigh house that echoes Leiden's mercantile past. We walked by Het Stadhuis, an ornate City Hall, and Pieterskerk, a majestic church. We also explored De Burcht, a 12th century medieval fortress, for panoramic views of the city.

Zaanse Schaan

Nestled along the banks of the Zaan River, Zaanse Schans is a living testament to Dutch heritage and craftsmanship. We toured two old windmills, De Kat where powdered paint is milled and Het Jonge Schaap which is a saw mill - we got to see them pulling up the log and the saw getting ready to cut it. We also saw klompen (clogs) being made at Klompenmarkt, tasted Dutch cheeses at Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm, and made hot chocolate by grinding cocoa at Blik op de Zaan. There was plenty of activities and cultural charm for travelers to enjoy, even on the cold and windy day that we were there.

Delft

We were in Delft on Good Friday so we weren't able to go in the Nieuwe Kerk or the Stadhuis because of special events but we enjoyed the square, lunch and cappuccinos. We did get to go into the Vermeer Centrum Museum (Delft was his home town and center of his painting) - a museum with a lot about his life and paintings with life-size copies for each. We also did a tour of the official Royal Delft Factory where they handmake the Delft Blauw pottery (the blue and white pottery associated with the Netherlands; the official Royal Delft Blauw pottery has their symbol and the artists initials on the bottom, unlike the mass produced items). Fascinating factory to visit! One of our favorite stops.


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