Road trip in the Netherlands 

Road trip in the Netherlands 

Rob and I love a good road trip; we’ve got some really lovely drives under our belt, and seen some great places on our journeys by car. We decided to take a long weekend in the Netherlands, and seeing as how we got a hire car for free with our Avios, we decided to see more of the country than simply going to Amsterdam. 

We began and ended our trip in Amsterdam, with a day or two in the city either side of a drive up to Den Helder, which is in the north of the Netherlands.

 canal amsterdam babyfoote 

The first day we arrived, I balanced my new phone on a bridge, making a steady surface to take a photo from, and watched as it slipped down, down, into a canal. The lights stayed on as it sank into the water, just so I could see it disappear. So, that was the end of that! I guess it was fortunate that it was right at the beginning and not near the end, and therefore not full of not-yet-backed-up photos! 

While in Amsterdam we stayed at the 4 star Art Hotel, in Spaarndammerdijk, which wasn’t too far a walk from the centre, though wasn’t exactly within spitting distance of the main sights of Amsterdam!  

 grey line amsterdam Naturally, we went on a boat tour, which is one of the best ways to see some of the Dutch architecture with the very narrow, very tall, buildings either side of the canals.

One of the things I really like about Amsterdam is that it has a huge number of very fascinating museums. I’ve visited (and loved) the Tropenmuseum, the Rijksmuseum, and Anne Frank House before, so this time we went to the National Maritime Museum, which is a bit out of the way but worth it! I like the history of the Dutch East India company – Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC, and it was great to see some of the exhibits there. Also, if you look for them, you can see links to the shipping business that built up the country’s fortune all around the city. 

Thuystvreest amsterdam 

After a good night’s sleep in our hotel we jumped in the Ford KA hire car and headed up to Den Helder, to meet our friends. I did all the driving in the Netherlands and it was easy. It was my first time driving a car with manual gearbox while driving on the wrong side of the road (having previously only driven on the right in the States in automatic cars) but I didn’t attempt any gear changes with the door handle!

Den Helder is a small town, but it boasts the largest Japanese garden with running water in the Netherlands. 
botanic garden den helder japanese 

There are some hot houses and a little garden to wander around, but don’t think its impressive accolade means you’ll spend much longer than an hour at the Botanic garden – Oranjerie.

The town has strong shipping links, and there is a submarine in the Marinemuseum. Our friends had never visited before, despite living in the town, having a father who worked on the submarine, and being in the Dutch navy.

  

The museum was very interesting, with many models and artefacts to see inside, and steam and sail boats outside. For me, though, the amazing thing was the submarine. You can go inside and see the cramped spaces men worked in. How anyone remembered what all the dials and pipes are for, I’ll never know. And, worse, how do they share a bed on shifts?! 

  

A trip to the Netherlands isn’t complete without seeing a Dijk, though I guess Peter wasn’t home because I didn’t see him with his thumb in it.den helder dijk babyfoote  

This is the rather gorgeous Lange Jaap, which we visited after stopping for apple cake and coffee in a beach front cafe. It’s an active lighthouse, we didn’t go up – I’m not sure if you can.

lange jaap den helder  

We headed back to Amsterdam via the fascinating open air museum Zaanse Schans. It’s full of windmills, barns and shops, some of which date back to the 18th century, and which have been moved here since 1961 from around the Netherlands. It’s a free museum, though you have to pay for some attractions, and you’ll definitely part with some money in the shops! 

 zaanse schans windmills lake 

We really enjoyed the demonstration of Dutch clogs being made, and yes, we bought some, and it’s rather amusing to see James trudge about the living room in size 40 wooden clogs!       

There was definitely a peaceful air about the museum, even though it’s popular and busy. If you remember my post about Berlin, you may recall I have a rather convincing German accent. It turns out both Rob and I can say alstublieft (please) and dank u wel (thanks a lot) with a good Durch twang, so we were often engaged in a burst of Dutch as we wandered around Zaanse Schans, though fortunately not with any embarrassing results as in Berlin. 

After spending a little more than half a day here, we left to head back to Amsterdam, just in time for the city to warm up at night time, but not before spotting this amazing double rainbow! . 
 double rainbow railway station amsterdam 
   
How great would it be to have a fairground in the middle of Newcastle? I guess there isn’t room, but it would be nice to smell roasted almonds as you do your late night shopping around Eldon Square!

And I like that there are so many swans gracefully swimming about in the middle of the madness in the red light district.  

I really love Amsterdam. I’ve been a few times and enjoyed it for different reasons each time. It was great to go on a road trip and see more of the country, including the windmills and clogs! 

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19 Comments

  1. June 29, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    I enjoyed reading this I’ve been wanting to go to The Netherlands for years although I’ve never considered road tripping around the Netherlands thats something to think about. I had a slight hearth attack when you said your phone went for a swim its a big fear of mine losing my phone in water, how are you so calm about it ? I loved the photos of the rainbow and swans.

    • June 29, 2015 / 1:28 pm

      I was gutted, but there’s no way of getting it back, so why spend time worrying about it?! Like I said, better for it to have happened at the beginning of the trip than at the end, if it had to happen at all!

  2. pottymouthedmummy
    June 29, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    Oh no your phone!!! I’m really intrigued by Amsterdam. I had always avoided it because of a lot of things its famous for but I think there is a lot else to be enjoyed too!

    • June 29, 2015 / 12:41 pm

      A lot of the things it’s famous for are very easily avoided. It’s worth a trip if you find something at the right price 🙂

  3. June 29, 2015 / 3:39 pm

    Luckily your phone mishap was at the start of your trip, not towards the end. I remembered many years ago in Venice I saw a girl from our tour group stepped into the gondola and she accidentally dropped her digital camera in the canal, and Venice was our last stop before leaving Italy for good! Anyway, beautiful pictures you have here of Netherlands 🙂

    Cheers,
    Kat.

    • June 29, 2015 / 3:42 pm

      Oh goodness 🙁
      Rob actually offered to take someone’s photo at the end of a bus tour around Cairo. We were at the pyramids, he lined them up in a great shot… And then tripped over some little stones. He dropped their camera in the process and it wouldn’t turn on at all. I hope they were able to get their photos off an sd card!

  4. June 29, 2015 / 5:09 pm

    I can imagine everyone who reads this will be thinking what a disaster your phone loss was! It sounds like you weren’t too upset though and you could still take other photos so not too bad. We went to Zaanse Schans a couple of years ago and my photos are almost identical to yours. #Mondayescapes

    • June 29, 2015 / 6:35 pm

      I’ve had time to reflect I think! At the time I was gutted, and there is a photo of me taken immediately afterward and it’s a right picture!

  5. June 29, 2015 / 8:22 pm

    I’m actually off to Amsterdam shortly, so interesting to see what you got up to – I love the idea of a longer road trip too though (but not this time). And you are much more sanguine about losing your phone than I would be! (which is probably the much better attitude) #mondayescapes

    • July 14, 2015 / 9:48 pm

      Hope you have a great time in Amsterdam, and that you see more of the Netherlands in the future.

  6. July 1, 2015 / 11:23 am

    Ohh noo, I’m so sorry about your phone!!! You are right, it’s better that it happened in the beginning of the trip 😀
    Beautiful photos by the way! I need to head to Amsterdam again sometime, this city is stunning, and so are the cities nearby.

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    • July 14, 2015 / 9:47 pm

      I need to see more of the country sometime. I think another road trip, though this time with the boys, may be in order!!

  7. July 2, 2015 / 7:23 am

    Oh no, your poor phone, just as well it was at the start of the trip I guess! I haven’t visited Amsterdam before, but would love to visit. Your road trip looked great, I definitely would have to go and see the countryside if we were staying there! I’m fascinated by how they manage to keep the water out. 🙂 x

    • July 14, 2015 / 9:46 pm

      It’s a beautiful country, though I know i’ve only seen a small slice. I’ve visited Amsterdam many times, it was great to go further a field for a change!

    • July 14, 2015 / 9:44 pm

      I think I linked too late to count!

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