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An Update from Audrey: Where to Go This Summer in The Netherlands

By Audrey Mezas

A Very Dutch Summer

We’re all used to freely choosing where to go and what to do during our summer vacation, but what does that mean for us this summer? The “new normal” now means having to do your homework ahead of time and find out what is possible, which locations are not overcrowded, and which are clean and safe. I want to share some of my favorite places in the Netherlands with you, some of which may fit your wishlist. 

Please call a location ahead of time to make sure that all health precautions have been taken care of, as prescribed by the Dutch government. Prime Minister Rutte has requested that we please try to book our vacations outside of the Dutch school vacations, if possible, which means in late August and/or in September of this year. He also advises that you check your travel insurance to ensure you are covered just in case changes are made by the government before your departure.

Please regularly consult these links to stay up to date.

Unique and wonderful places to stay

Dutchen holiday homes in luxury parks

Dutchen’s website has made many of my friends very happy. They offer more than 100 luxury vacation villas for you to choose from, located all over the Netherlands. There are options in every size, ranging from single occupancy to 20 people.

Hoogenweerth Castle

There are ten beautifully designed suites, located next to the beautiful Hoogenweerth Castle in Maastricht on the bank of the river Maas. A beautiful grand terrace sits on the riverbank and provides a fantastic view.

Treehouse in Drenthe (Dutch site)

This is one of the hidden treasures in The Netherlands – an amazing treehouse for a maximum of six persons on 29 acres in the middle of Drenthe! It is located next to the tiny village of Anderen, which has only 250 inhabitants. On the same piece of land, a small vacation cabin for two persons is also available to rent. The kids can ride the little ponies and enjoy nature. Total relaxation while enjoying many trails in the countryside.

B&B ’t Poorthuys

This beautiful B&B, built in 1530, is located in the heart of Middelburg in the province of Zeeland. The B&B has eight rooms and several spacious suites. There are bikes available for rent, and amazing city tours can be taken, either on foot or by boat.

Book a houseboat

BookaHouseboat has houseboats for rent in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, several cities in Europe, and even in Canada and the United States. There’s nothing more special than opening the windows of your houseboat and being right on the water.

Oesterdam Resort

This holiday park is in Tholen, in the province of Zeeland. The vacation villas are located right on the water, with a Marina Beach Club, a restaurant, boat and canoe rental and much more. They call it “Ibiza in the Netherlands”.

Landal GreenParks

The Landal Group has been around for many years. I have personally stayed at many of their parks, which range from beach houses in Zeeland to unique private villas in Friesland with a private boat in front of your vacation home. Landal even has a food delivery service that delivers your groceries to your vacation  home upon arrival. Boat rental, bowling, bike rental, and plenty of activities for kids and family members of all ages are readily available.

The Oostwegel Collection

If you’re looking for luxury, then let me tell you that the Oostwegel Collection of luxurious hotels, villas, residences and restaurants in the Netherlands is something you should not miss. Whether it’s celebrating a special anniversary or getting away and spoiling yourself, you’ll have difficulty choosing from these extraordinary locations and experiences.

Windmill Cottage

If you haven’t stayed in the Windmill Cottage, then you have missed an authentic Dutch experience. The cottage is located next to the Vrouwgeest windmill, which was built in 1797 in Alphen aan de Rijn and is only 30 minutes from Amsterdam. Your family of four will be able to enjoy the cows in the countryside, go hiking and/or biking, and explore the quaint villages nearby.

I’m looking forward to hearing if any of these beautiful and fun parts of the Netherlands have made your eyes twinkle enough for you to book a vacation there. Maybe you’ll even send me an old-fashioned postcard!

Have a wonderful, fun and safe summer!

Audrey

Audrey Mezas is the AWCA Club Liaison and is owner of a niche relocation company called Expat in Amsterdam®.

Brandenburg Gate at night

Member Travel Tips: Berlin

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

Brandenburg Gate at night

This month's destination is Berlin!

Lodging:

  • Soho House, Das Stue
  • Hotel Bristol Berlin. Great hotel and good service. *(we were lucky to have been upgraded to the presidential suite and annexes). Breakfast in their grand café is busy but good, and the terrace is like a Parisian terrace, perfect for late afternoon drinks in the sun.

Restaurants:

  • Ristorante Nuovo Mario in Charlottenburg am Kurfürstendamm. White tablecloths, fresh vegetable decorations, great wines, best food, good authentic Italian service.
  • Sets. Breakfast & brunch, healthy and other options
  • Big Bascha. Best & most affordable Lebanese food. Cash only. Outside terrace, free tea.

Activities:

  • Hop on Hop Off Bus
  • Fat Tire Bike Tour
  • The East Side Gallery of the Wall
  • The Story of Berlin Bunker
  • The Sanssouci gardens and palace (Potsdam)
  • The Stasi Museum
  • The Tiergarten is beautiful and a great way to spend some time outdoors. The Rose Garden is lovely.

Other Tips:

  • Book the Berlin Reichstag and Dome the moment you know your dates.
  • Use the public transportation.
    • Seconded! Use the subway and public transportation, you’ll see more. (Taxi’s are cheap.)
  • Skip the Checkpoint Charlie Museum
  • Always pay in local currency (when offered the choice to choose your own with card), stores otherwise have the ultimate freedom to apply their own (higher) exchange rates.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

Next month we'll be sharing tips for Rotterdam! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: London

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

photo of London Bridge

This month's destination is London!

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." — Samuel Johnson

You can find so many lists of recommendations for what to see and do in London — the options are endless, and the information can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips from your fellow members on how to make the most of your next visit. Cheers!

Lodging:

  • The Montague on the Gardens - a very nice hotel, great for special occasions. It's right by the British Museum. https://www.montaguehotel.com
  • Harlingford Hotel - Also by the British Museum, but less expensive/fewer stars. Perfectly pleasant. http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/
  • The Grosvenor Hotel - nice place, good breakfast buffet, *very* close to the Hamilton theater 🙂 https://www.guoman.com/en/london/the-grosvenor.html
  • Hotel Cafe Royal - sounds like a cafe but it was a beautiful hotel and it's a sister hotel to the Conservatorium. Very beautiful and has a spa. There is a famous tea room with a traditional English tea.
  • Chesterfield Mayfair - Very convenient location walking distance to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Eye and the South Bank.

Restaurants:

  • You can't go wrong with any of Ottolenghi's restaurants. I've been to two: The Notting Hill location is quite small so great for takeaway salads and pastries, but the Islington location is more suitable for dinner.
  • Borough Market has endless stands and restaurants.
  • Vegan/vegetarian friendly list I've put together: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZHXoGo9dRB94n3FlOEbwSUtKkACkBSPp&usp=sharing
  • We particularly love Tibbit's, which is a buffet style, vegan/vegetarian restaurant with excellent food and drinks. It's open all day, so if you're hangry at a weird time, they will probably be able to feed you! https://www.tibits.co.uk/en/
  • Cocotte https://www.mycocotte.uk
  • https://www.cevichefamily.com/andina/andina-notting-hill 
  • There are several locations, but we went here: https://bananatree.co.uk/maida-vale/
  • Have brunch on a Sunday morning and then walk around the organic open air market: https://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/marylebonew1/
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a favorite pub of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain
  • Afternoon Tea at the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens
  • balabaya.co.uk is tucked away near Southwark Station, worth seeking out. Ottelenghi influence.
  • Arabica Bar & Kitchen in Borough Market. +442030115151 Middle Eastern, baklava to die for!
  • Tapas Mariterra, family run and authentic. 14 Gambia St. SE1 0XS +442079287628 Don’t be put off by the cafe appearance.
  • www.oystershed.co.uk on the Thames bang in the financial city.
  • Hawksmoor - turns out there are a few of these restaurants but don't worry, it's not a chain atmosphere. Food was delicious. Go for the steak -which sometimes in the Netherlands, good steak is hard to find. The mac n cheese and a yorkshire pudding. Also the caesar salad - haven't had a good one since California but this one was remarkable!
  • Eat authentic Chinese food at Lin’s, 134 Southwark St SE10SW, it looks like a cafe but is always filled with Asian business people looking for a taste of home.

Activities:

  • Hamilton!!!!
  • London Eye is great, as long as the weather is decent so you can appreciate the view.
  • Tower of London is quite interesting.
  • The Roman Temple of Mithras is an archaeological site made into a tiny, free museum.
  • Hampstead Heath park has beautiful walking paths and a great view of the city.
  • The ceremony of the keys: You need to book well in advance: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/#gs.bl8scu
  • Visit bookstores: Daunt's https://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/
  • Artsy movies: https://www.everymancinema.com/ or https://www.picturehouses.com/cinemas
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, look at what is on for the special exhibits.
  • Tate Modern
  • While in the neighborhood of the above places visit the Tate Modern, walk along the river and see the Globe. Maybe you’ll even find the original location of the original one that was moved! Walk across the Millennium Bridge and admire the art painted on discarded chewing gum on the floor.
  • Portobello Road Saturday flea market and wandering through the Notting Hill neighborhood
  • Spitalfields Market in East London
  • Shopping at the food and home sections of Fortnum & Mason
  • Explore Lower Marsh, just outside Waterloo Station. Weekdays lunchtime lots of food stalls.Small Independent shops.
  • Seek out The Arches, Isabella Street. South Bank. SE1 8DD, a few restaurants tucked away. Nice Turkish food at Ev. Also a Thai restaurant here. Very hidden.
  • Take a tour via uk.funzing.com called Southwark’s Saucy Secrets and discover where ladies of ill repute are buried plus lots more!
  • If you watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you will see something from any vantage point but you will not see the guards, except for the tops of their heads unless you are up close at the gate of Buckingham Palace. We could only see the top of the guards' fuzzy hats from where we were standing.
  • Windsor Castle
  • Westminster Abbey - book in advance
  • Kensington Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Afternoon Tea At Fortnum and Mason
  • Churchill’s War Rooms

Other Tips:

  • Bring good walking shoes! The tube is great, but so is soaking in the sights.
  • The CityMapper app (which is great for getting around Amsterdam!) includes London and works very well
  • If you can, avoid Heathrow. It's huge and a huge pain.
    • Second this! City and Gatwick are much smaller and easier to fly in/out.
  • You can now use your PIN pass/smart card for public transportation instead of buying and topping up an OYSTER card.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

When Tulip Talk returns in September, we'll be sharing tips for Berlin! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: Maastricht

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Maastricht!

Maastricht is about as far as you can get while still in the Netherlands -- and it feels completely different than Amsterdam. Instead of canals there are man-made caves and even hills. You'll hear more French and German. And there are cute restaurants everywhere you turn. It's the perfect weekend getaway.

Lodging:

  • Kruisherenhotel - 3 recommendations, including one from Rhonda Jimenez. One member said, "We stayed a couple of nights at the Kruisherenhotel in Maastricht and loved it. It is an old monastery which has been converted to a hotel and inside is a mixture of the old architecture with modern elements. It is extremely convenient (very short walk) to the shopping area and Vrijthof. Best of all, they are pet friendly. They charge a pet fee, but they give you a bed, dog bowls and a chew toy! The restaurant was amazing, as well all of the staff there. They really bent over backwards for all our requests."
  • Le Home apartment (available on Booking.com) - Rhonda Jimenez says it's "located close to station in a beautiful townhouse. We stayed with 4 people. It does have a circular staircase up to the bathroom. Walking distance to the old city center."
  • Mabi - "a cool boutique hotel" got two votes
  • Château St. Gerlach - "beautiful!"
  • This Airbnb was beautiful -- very comfortable, and the hosts were really kind and thoughtful.

Restaurants:

  • Harry's
  • Cafe Sjiek (Be prepared for a lengthy wait!)
  • Restaurant 55
  • Vino & Friends
  • Kruisherenhotel for lunch and dinner
  • Au Coin des Bons Enfants - one member "had an unforgettable dinner" there!
  • The best gelato is at Candiero on Koestraat.
  • The best fries are at Frituur Reitz on the Markt -- worth the wait.
  • Pinky's waffles are a very popular (and delicious) snack.
  • Lunch, drinks or (early) dinner at Petit Cafe Moriaan -- the smallest restaurant in Maastricht.
  • Koestraat is an adorable street packed with restaurants and outside tables. You probably can't go wrong with any of them!
  • Try the local specialty, vlaii, at Bisschopsmolen (or any other bakery).
  • For a really special dinner, try Restaurant Le Bon Vivant.

Activities:

  • Drink coffee and visit the bookstore in the old Dominican church.
  • Shopping at the boutiques in Wyck ("little Paris"), followed by an outdoor lunch on one of the terraces there.
  • Shopping in the center: Platielstraat, St. Amorsplein, Minckelersstraat & Stokstraat area.
  • Cocktails at Mr. Smith, an underground speakeasy in the Rechtstraat.
  • Take a boat tour on the Maas River.
  • Try the "excellent" free walking tour: https://citysightsmaastricht.com/ "We met in front of oldest church. It was led by a young man who was very personable and funny. We loved it!"
  • Touring the North caves at Sint-Pietersberg is fascinating! There are English 1-hour tours daily -- book ahead and be sure to bring a jacket. The recreational area is really pretty, and you can also follow hiking routes at the Dutch version of a mountain (really a plateau between rivers).
  • Maastricht also has a Christmas market: Magical Maastricht.

Other Tips:

  • "Bike ride! Bike ride to Belgium! Bike ride to wineries! Yes! Wineries. I love Maastricht. Hills bring me a fresh perspective on The NL. Need hills!"
  • "You can also do a half day trip to Liege. Practice your French :)"
  • Or, a day trip to Aachen.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of London! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.