Monday, 15 August 2011

2011 Vacation in the Netherlands: Delft and Volendam

For various reasons we have decided to spend our 2011 vacation here in our own home country. Most importantly: we just spent five whole weeks away from home and for some reason it is not that appealing to go away again. So, Holland it is and we start off by visiting two of the most touristy places: Delft and Volendam. Now Delft is our neighboring city and literally a short bike ride away. So what to do here? Something we haven't done before: visit the Nieuwe and Oude Kerk which are steeped in Dutch history. In a rain-drenched Delft this is a good thing to do, anyway!

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) is important, as it is the final resting place for most of our kings and queens of old, whose line began with William of Orange who was buried here after being assassinated in 1584. His grave monument is an impressive piece of sculpture and contains some very interesting symbolism. The Old Church is very much the heart of Delft and rumour has it that already in the 11th century there was a church building here. Various famous historical people are buried here: our maritime heroes Maarten Tromp, Michiel de Ruyter and Piet Heyn, the father of microbiology Anthony van Leeuwenhoek also rests here as well as Delft's most famous son: painter Johannes Vermeer.

Volendam may be the Netherlands' second biggest tourist attraction, and to be honest, it has a certain 'tourist trap' quality to it. But get yourself a self-guided walking tour, some really nice weather and a pair of open eyes and you really have a great time here. Of course, the harbour area ("Fisherman's Wharf")  with all the souvenir shops and restaurants is a must see, but behind all that is a quaint, charming and quiet little village, with a great sense of identity which, incidentally, is well-known throughout the Netherlands. The walk takes you to some breathtaking scenic views of the Ijsselmeer, and also to one of my personal highlights, the well-maintained and beautiful little cemetary, with its very personal and touching memorials. There is also some very nice food available along the harbour with a view to die for. And to top it all off, at the end of the tour there is the Volendam museum with its collection of traditional dress, very attractively displayed in wonderfully atmospheric and nostalgic settings. Not to be missed is also the "Cigar Band house" contains a set of murals, entirely made from 7 million cigar bands. We really enjoyed our stay!


Next: National Park De Hoge Veluwe and then an exploration of our country within a country: Fryslân!


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