The Netherlands, March 2010

Traveling on business with some pleasure mixed in offered a chance to take in some of the offerings of the Netherlands that I have either never seen or have not been back to in many years. Here are a few of the notable items from the trip…


Take a canal tour. I guess if you do research you might find a difference between all of the offerings but hopping on any one will still give you an incredible overview of the city from the unique perspective of traveling almost under it. Due to the omnipresent nature of the canal system you get a chance to touch on almost every important landmark you might wish to visit while spending time there.

Not having enough time left before the NEMO museum closed (for a visit there to make sense) we decided to take a tour of the Amsterdam which is currently docked next door to the NEMO. How 203 crew, 127 soldiers, and 5 passengers could ever fit on the ship, never mind be fed by the extremely small cooking area we saw, is amazing. If you have the time to take a self paced walk through it is an interesting detour from the surrounding area.

The Red Light District is a must see if you are in the city. There is nothing more visible than you would see on a beach in the summer so it is relatively safe from that perspective and more dependent on your personal views of the subject especially if you are traveling with family. What I find amazing is that extensive tours are available. One must learn a lot about the entire subject on a tour that lasts for two hours and does not, obviously, partake in the service!

Walking the The Red Light District

I am not, but if you are into cannabis you can of course find it here in all forms. Yes, it is available in the coffee shops more surprisingly you see it in candy, drinks, and even in seed packages amongst the floating flower market. Even more interesting was seeing bags of mushrooms with bar graphs depicting the types and magnitudes of the different mental effects they would produce. With all of this available you would think you would see more people acting strange on the streets but from my perspective you would have better luck finding people doing odd things in New York or Los Angeles.

A Typical Shop View

On the more serious side the Anne Frank house is a must visit. Order tickets on the internet to avoid the long queues and take in a journey back in time as you visit the rooms she hid in with her family and was later joined by the van Pels family. I was amazed by the amount of information and photos from her life and struggle that have survived. The ultimate horror was fact that she passed away in the concentration camp only one month before its liberation not even knowing her father was still alive.

The Anne Frank House

Madame Tussauds is worth a visit. Though there are a few of the figures that look a little waxy most have eyes that stare into your soul as if they were real. I was surprised by the openness of the exhibits and the encouragement in some areas to pose with the figures for photos. There is one scary diversion that the faint at heart can bypass. While it does not seem to fit into the overall theme of the museum it is still a fun detour none the less.

George W. Bush

Yes, a bit on the cheesy side but with that said still worth a visit is the Heineken Experience. See the historic brew room, become a virtual bottle of beer, and learn as much as you would ever want to know about the history of the brew.

The Historic Brew Room

Finally, if you are looking for a fabulous place to eat check out Casa di David for an amazing Italian meal.

Casa di David


It is a must see if you can make there for as it is said on their website:

For almost 60 years Madurodam has been the smallest city in the Netherlands. Canals, gabled houses and all kinds of other typical Dutch scenes: the miniature city offers you the highlights of the Netherlands on a scale 1:25.



The Netherlands is famous for its windmills. Today there are still more than 1.000 mills. Nowhere in the world you will find as many windmills as near (the Dutch village) Kinderdijk. Around 1740 no less than 19 sturdy mills were built here. They have been well preserved to the present day.

Pumping water to reclaim land and manage what has already been reclaimed is what built most of the Netherlands. Learn about how this was done in the days long before modern forms of power by visiting a windmill.



Okay, so if you do not speak Dutch, or at least know someone who can be a tour guide, this one might be also a stretch… Tagged as the strangest zoo in the Netherlands on their web site Dierenpark De Oliemeulen is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of animals including birds, monkeys, spiders, and especially a wide variety of reptiles. You even have a chance to touch a snake and hold a while listening to one of the several talks about the animals at the zoo.

Holding the Tarantula


For years I have been familiar with the amazingly detailed blue and white delftware. In visiting the De Porceleyne Fles factory, founded in 1635, it was fascinating to learn a little bit more about the history and also understand why the original pieces are so expensive. With only a handful of master artists under the roof all of the designs they create are hand drawn onto the raw works that are turned into what we see as the final product through various layers of process and of course a lot of heat. If you are in town, take a tour, buy a piece from the source, and if you want – learn how to create a tile of your own.

De Porceleyne Fles

Okay, unless you are traveling with a large group, and make plans ahead of time, Stadsherberg de Mol is not a place you are going to get to from a walking tour. With that said, however, it is worth a note simply because it was a lot of fun and, at least for someone writing and living in the US, a very unique experience. What is it? For those familiar with Medieval Times there is some cross over with the time period, having dinner, and eating with your hands, but that is where the similarities end. Here you sit down to a meal where you are entertained by people playing a couple of parts from the period including slight of hand, music, fortunate telling, and so on. If that was not enough add being dressed for the times and playing period games in competition with the rest of the people in the room. It all makes for a welcome detour well away from present day done in a welcoming atmosphere that even made this non-Dutch speaker comfortable.

Medieval Games at Stadsherberg de Mol