Travel to The Netherlands and Belgium – Amateur Traveler Episode 98 Transcript

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Travel to The Netherlands and Belgium – Episode 98 Transcript

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Daniel: Well, Dutch beers are like Heineken and you know there are a couple of others

Chris: Right. Those I know.

Daniel: The funny thing about Delft is that you can do it all in one afternoon and you’re fine and you actually haven’t missed anything. There’s the main plaza with the New Kerk, the new church, which is still like 1400’s. Which is where the House of Orange now holds its burials because, I don’t recall the year, but at the time there was a war with Spain and the burial grounds of the House of Orange Nassau were in Spanish hands so they couldn’t bury their dead over there so they

Chris: This would have been, I believe, the War of Spanish Succession.

Daniel: Yeah, thank you. What else? There’s the Old Kerk, the old church which is a few streets away and is very interesting because the tower of the church is actually leaning. If you look at it from one of the canals, you sort of look and say that tower is going to fall. It’s not. But they have to be very careful. It has a gigantic bell inside. It’s a nine-ton bell that it can only ring on very special occasions because the vibrations of it could actually topple the tower down. So normally, you just hear upon the hour, a little hammered ding, and that’s it because anything stronger than that on a regular basis and you know, there goes the church literally. There’s the delftware, the Royal Delftware factory. We actually didn’t get to go to it but it is just a couple of minutes south of town and you can actually get there either walking or just taking one of the little, there’s a canal boat that takes you down to the factory. But when you’re in the center, in the main plaza, you certainly can find a lot of stores selling delftware pottery and if you’re going to be there, as I said on my show, something that I didn’t do. One of the best souvenirs that you can buy because it is something that you can only find over there is a tulip bulb holder and they’re very funny because they’re flower pots that look like hearts because they have four or five little holes for to put the tulips in and they kind of look like ventricles which is kind of weird. We were wondering why the people have delftware pottery of a heart until we saw one with actual tulips inside and then we felt like an idiot. I think that’s pretty much it. Again, you can literally just walk around town and just get a feel for the town. There’s little houses where it says Vermeer lived here or Vermeer had his inn over here and things like that. There are plagues all around town to tell you little factual details. Again, it’s one of these places where you can go see the churches, see the delftware pottery and then just walk around and take it all in because walking around town is what really makes a visit to these little towns.

Chris: So one question for you. You said that before you went you did all your homework and as you went to the various places, all those various cities, what did you think the guidebooks recommended that you didn’t think was really worth the time? Things that they overhyped.

Daniel: You know to be honest, even though we actually got to spend a few days on each of our locations, we were sort of on a schedule because we had four different locations in 10 days, which is still a pretty speedy trip so we focused on the bigger attractions so to speak. The places that we did visit, the guidebooks were spot on. Any place that the guidebook kind of vacillated on, we decided to skip it or we just kind of walked by it and that was it.

There were a couple of surprises. One of the things that we actually were surprised that the book said was going to be cool and we actually found that it to be really, really cool was we took a day trip out of Amsterdam and we took a train up to this little town of Hoorn, it is about 15 minutes north of Amsterdam. And there were boarded a steam train and that took us for about half hour or 45 minutes up through the Dutch countryside and up into the town of Medemblik in the north and it was really amazing. We were there in late June so we were certainly after the flowers had been picked from the fields but there were a few patches here and there that told us that if we had been there in you know late March, April or even early May while the flowers are in full bloom, this would have been an overwhelming experience. You get to see this explosion of colors, flowers really love the Dutch soil. It is just amazing. And just going to the countryside and seeing people just on their bikes waving you goodbye and in a steam train it was even cooler.

We got to the town of Medemblik and we got to one of the dykes so we got to see one of the actual modern dykes of the Netherlands. We got to see some of the modern windmills up in business. We actually got to walk very near to an old windmill that is still in the town. From there we took a boat that took us in the IJsselmeer, which is one of the inner seas of the Netherlands, and it was another hour or so south and that dropped us in the town of Enkhuizen. Where they have a living history museum and this is the place that basically recreates the Netherlands, as it was in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The houses and buildings have been moved from other locations in the Netherlands to this museum park so they could be preserved and they have them set up as they would have been in the little villages. You can actually walk inside most of them and see the paraphernalia of daily life for the Dutch people of the late 19th century including there was actually a very interesting surprise for us. There was a house that belonged to a combination Jewish Ritual Slaughter and kind of like hometown Rabbi for a town you know outside of the main city that actually spoke a lot about the prevalence of the Jewish population of the Netherlands throughout the whole country before WWII and before it was pretty much exterminated in the country itself. That was quite interesting for us. We also saw one of the windmills that they have there, which is small but is very cute which always counts with windmills. We got to eat smoked herring, which is kind of weird, but they love it. It is a very interesting place because you actually get to see buildings in their natural setting. I mean they’ve been moved around but they’ve been reassembled, as they would have been in their little towns all over the Netherlands. It was a very nice surprise. It was actually one of the places that the book said, “Yeah it’s nice but you might just want to skip it and get back to Amsterdam” and we said well we paid for it so we might as well enjoy it. And we were certainly very glad that we got in there and we walked around and got to see this bit of history on site. And then we got back to Amsterdam. So that was actually a very nice surprise for us.

Chris: Interesting. Do you have any more information for people who would be looking for the same kind of self-guided tour? Where did you find that through?

Daniel: We got our package tour. Do you mind if I actually say the name of the company?

Chris: No, not at all.

Daniel: It was Gate1travel. We found it in some papers that we got in the mail or something like that. It was in a magazine or something like that and that is how we got to do it. It is actually the first time that we have taken any kind of tour, prepackaged or anything. We actually always put together our trips ourselves. We have all the books. We have the videos and the DVD’s and we certainly know how to use Google on the Internet so we just put together itineraries ourselves. This actually like I said was the first time that we took any kind of deal like that and we took it because it was actually a very good package for the price.

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

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