3 amazing Christmas Events in Holland

Just a few nights until Christmas Eve and I really feel the anticipation everywhere. During the last days I saw many beautifully decorated Christmas trees, delicious treats and cool gift ideas from all over the world. Since Dutch people always do things a little different than the rest of the world, we also have a different Christmas tradition.

The Christmas Man
Unlike in the US for instance, Christmas in Holland is not about Santa Claus and reindeer. In fact, we already celebrated ‘Sinterklaas’ (St. Nicholas Day) on December 5. This is the day where Dutch children get most excited about and where they receive the big presents. However, Santa Claus has found a way to edge into Dutch Christmas as Kerstman (The Christmas Man). Of course, kids are only too happy to accept two gift-giving old men.

Cosy atmosphere
Most of all, Christmas in Holland is about the ambiance. People buy Christmas trees and decorate them with Christmas wreath cookies, glass balls and white candles. The main square of every city has its own brightly lit Christmas tree and in the bigger cities there are lots of cool activities. Here some examples:

Blog Holland Christmas

Maastricht is a great place to enjoy ‘the good life’ at any time of the year but it’s even more magical during the holiday season. During this period, several Christmas markets themed “Magical Maastricht” are held throughout the city.

Blog Holland Amsterdam Light

During the Amsterdam Light Festival in December, the best light artists from Holland and abroad light up the city’s canals with their work. Every night you can see the beautiful works along the Amstel river or the old canals in the city centre.

Blog Holland Zwolle Ice

This winter will see Zwolle’s city centre dominated by the Grimm brothers and their famous fairytales. Dozens of Dutch and international ice artists will be creating ice sculptures on the Rodetorenplein square, showing off their personal interpretation of the Grimm tales.

What will you do on Christmas?
Will you celebrate it traditionally with friends and family? Or do you have an alternative way to spend the holidays? I’d love to hear about it.

Cooling down in Zeeland

I feel very sad when I think about it, but my holiday is coming to an end. It’s time to take a plane back to Holland again. I have travelled through Europe so long, that I’m starting to miss the good, old Dutch cheese and bitterballen. Luckily, I have still some days left to settle in my homecountry again and recover from all my exciting adventures. I spend these days in Zeeland, a province in the southwest of Holland.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Texel

Exploring the nature of the coast

The beaches of Zeeland host many beautiful nature reserves. National Park Oosterschelde, for instance, is the biggest reserve in Holland and famous for its rich sea life. One evening I joined a field trip along the wadden sea. I’m lucky to have a guide, who seems to know everything about the plants and animals that live here. He shows us porpoises, seals, squids and various kinds of birds. If you are interested in nature I can only recommend such a trip for you.

Blog Holland Holiday Texel Kite Surfen

Riding the waves

The beaches in Zeeland provide all opportunities for water sports. Have you ever tried kite surfing? I have taken some lessons this week and I love it. The kite surf school at the Brouwersdam has very experienced instructors, who take care that you don’t drown under your kite. It’s really difficult in the beginning. I spend more time in the water than on my board. But I’m sure that it can be very much fun if you keep practicing.

Last chance to relax

After all these exciting kite surf lessons I feel a strong urge for a wellness day. Luckily, Zeeland has enough facilities where you can pamper yourself until you are soft and weak as pudding. I spend the last day of my holiday in a big sauna park near the Brouwersdam and I only move to walk from the steam sauna to the steep bath and back to my sunbed. When I feel like having sweat all the stress out of my body I get a massage from a very skilled and friendly employee. I wish I could stay a little longer…

Bye, bye holiday

The trip is over and I have to go back to the office. Of course, I’m a little sad but I’m also looking forward to IMEX America and EIBTM, when I meet you all to tell you more about my holiday. See you there?

England: ghost stories and lots of rocks

After a week in Scandinavia it’s time to visit the last station of my Europe trip. I’m flying to the UK. I was very impressed by London, when I came here for the UK Meetings Show but I did not have enough time to see all the great attractions. That’s why I made a quick stop there before I’m going to explore other parts of the country.

Blog Holland Holiday London

Creepy in London

One of the attractions I missed last time was the Tower of London. Many people from London advised me to book a guided tour at night, since the dark provides a great atmosphere. So I wait until 9.30 PM before I approach the Yeoman Warder, who opens the gate for the guests. The whole place is dark and moody and our guide does a great job. He tells us many creepy stories about the history of this place that send shivers down my spine. He also points out the room where the two princes, sons of King Edward IV, were murdered. I’m still shaking when the tour ends. Quickly, I jump into a pub to get a calming drink before the doors close.

Blog holland Holiday England Stonehenge

Fascinating Stonehenge

After a rough night I make my way to Avebury because I want to visit one of the most popular World Heritage Sites in the world. Stonehenge was produced by a culture that left no written records about it, so this place is still a big mystery to experts. Nobody knows how all the heavy stones were brought here and for which purpose. I’m not allowed to enter the stone circle but there is a path leading around the formation. I’m deeply fascinated by this place and I invent various stories about its history.

MrHolland_Vakantie_UK_LakeDistrict

Walking Lake District

Finally, I go to Cumbria, the north west of England, where the Lake District lies. The countrie’s largest National Park is a feast for the eyes. It has crystal clear lakes and the mountains are beautifully carved by erosion. To me it seems like the perfect place to walk off all the extra food I had during the last weeks. It feels good to climb the rocky paths and the view on the lakes is fantastic. But even here in this peaceful heights you meet other Dutch tourists… and I even know them! Do you remember my friend Donald from IMEX in Frankfurt or the UK Meetings Show? He is on holiday together with his brother. After a little chitchat we make a date for the pub tonight and I continue my walk.

Bye, bye holiday

I really had a great time in the UK but my holiday clock is ticking and it’s time to go back to Holland. Luckily, I still have some days off before I have to return to my desk. I will use them to acclimatize in Holland and sort my holiday pictures.

Norway: outdoor action

After exploring the attraction of Denmark I go further through the calm but friendly north and pay a visit to Norway. In terms of population, Norway is the smallest of the three northern countries. Anyway, all of them have fewer inhabitants than Holland. In terms of size however, they are huge. From Oslo to Kirkenes in the Norwegian Arctic is about the same distance as from Oslo to Rome. In between, there are many beautiful places to discover. Here is what I have seen.

Blog Holland Holiday Norway Oslo

Climbing in Oslo

The Norwegian capital offers so many outdoor activitties that you can try something new every day. Oslo Summer Park owns one of the largest climbing parks in Scandinavia and I’m in the right mood to play a little Tarzan today. An instructor from the park teaches me some climbing rules and techniques before I get my equipment and enter the park. I start with the easiest of the nine different rope courses. In the beginning I feel clumsy and when I’m ten meters over the ground I also get a little nervous. But after practicing a while I find myself swining through the trees like the king of the forest.

Blog Holland Holiday Norway Sun

The sun always shines in the north

For the remaining part of my holiday in Norway I stay on Lofoton Islands, an archipelago in the upper north. This is one of the places where you can see the midnight sun. So far north, the sun does not set for more than two months and turns the sky and the water into a soft reddish-yellow. I can’t wait to go swimming with this light, even though the water is really cold here. Almost as cold as with New Year Dive in Holland, I guess. I also play one or two rounds of golf and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while searching for my ball.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Noorwegen

Have you ever seen the Norwegian fjords? They are incedibly beautiful. On my last day in Norway I want to go kayaking. Yesterday, I met two English tourists in the pub, who came to Lofoton islands with their kayak and plan to paddle further north. They were really excited about their trip and assured me that it would be the best way to explore the fanatstic Norwegian nature. Unfortunately I neither have the time nor the skills for a long kayak trip but maybe I can paddle a bit between the islands.

Plan my visit to your country

I had a great time in Norway but now it is time to move on to my next and last station. For a few days I will stay in the UK. Do you know some must-see attractions or secret places I should visit? Please share them with me.

Denmark: diving into history and fairy tales

After some great days in Germany my trip is taking me further north to Denmark. I’m especially curious about the capital but I also got some secret tips from the Danish tourism board. Just like the Netherlands, Denmark is not a very big country, so you get around easily. What are we waiting for?

Blog Holland Denmark Den Gamble By

Reviving the past in Den Gamble By

Den Gamble By is a small town in the north of Denmark, which is famous for its Old Town Museum. When you enter the open air museum you feel transferred to an old Danish market town, as it looked in times of the famous author Hans Christian Andersen. There are historical houses, streets, alleys, yards, gardens and workshops. I learn that the oldest buildings date from 1550 to 1900. But it’s not only a dead town. There are people living here just like in the old times. They  cook, chop wood and serve customers in the various shops. A girl at the well greets me and asks me to help her fetch the water and a beautiful maid smiles at me. When I check my watch for the first time a realize with surprise that I have spent at least 4 hours here.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Denemarken

The art and food of Copenhagen

As you may have noticed in my earlier posts, I’m crazy about good food. That’s why I’m very glad that my dear friend Viona gave me the tip to visit Torvehallerne, a real mecca for food lovers. I don’t know where to begin. There are about 60 stalls, full of fresh fish and meat, crispy bread, sweet cupcakes and delicious vegetables from all around the world. I made a serious attempt to try all the offered food, but soon I realize that I have to give up. My belly hurts and it’s time to walk the food off.

In the afternoon I visit Statens Museum for Kunst. It is Denmark’s largest art gallery and exhibits Danish and international works of art from the past seven centuries. I visit the exhibition Flowers and World Views, which contains flower paintings from the last two centuries and also some strange blooms, I have never seen before.

130804 Blog Holland Holiday Denmark Copenhagen

Finally, I’m can’t wait to see the statue of the Little Mermaid, the fairy take character Hans Christian Andersen wrote about. It is a sad story a bout a 15-year old mermaid that saves a prince from drowning and falls in love with him. Since she wants to be with him so badly, she sells her voice to the sea witch in exchange for human legs. In the end, she does not get the legs but is transformed into deadly, cold sea foam instead.  A tale that moved the world.

Plan my visit to your country

I had a nice time in Denmark. Now I will travel to Norway and the UK. Can you recommend any great places in these countries I should definitely visit? Please share your secret tip with me!

Germany: Schnitzel, Schoki and Currywurst

Spain and Italy were great but I feel that I’m getting lazy with so many beautiful beaches around here. Besides, my Dutch skin is not used to so much sunshine and instead of getting tanned, I have sunburn on my nose. Time to head north again and visit another neighbour of Holland. Let’s go to Germany!

Blog Holland Holiday Germany Schnitzel Weissbier

Munich

Some friends of mine who have been to Germany before were absolutely excited about the German food. That’s great because I’m starving when I arrive at Munich Airport. I take the train to the city centre were I find a busy but cosy looking café, or Wirtshaus, how they call it in Bavaria. While I wait for the waitress, a group of people in funny clothes passes. The men wear leather trousers with braces and the women dresses with scoop necklaces. Seems to be a Bavarian tradition. The waitress appears and I order a glass of Weissbier and a Schnitzel. I wonder if that will be enough to fill my rumbling stomach but it turns out that the Germans are very generous in quantities. I was unable to finish my Schnitzel but I felt as stuffed as a Christmas goose. Time to walk my meal of with a stroll. A short walk brings me to the river Isar. From the Maximilian Bridge I have a wonderful of the Angel of Peace Memorial.

130731 Blog Holland Holiday Germany Cologne

Cologne

When I arrive in Cologne I the subtle feeling that I enter a different world. While Munich seems very traditional and classical, Cologne has more the charms of a metropolis. At least there are no leather trousers and scoop neck dresses anymore. I start my tour at the famous Cologne Cathedral, one of the largest churches in Europe. Since I need to train of all the Weissbier and Schnitzel from Munich I decide to climb all the stairs to the top. It’s a heartpounding job, but I’m rewarded with a great view of the city. But after the exhausting ascent I’m hungry again and I already have an idea where I want to eat today. I combine the lunch with education and make my way to the Chocolate Museum. While I learn everything about the history of chocolate and how it’s produced from the bean I take a regular mouthful from the chocolate fountain. My sweet tooth likes that!

MrHolland_Vakantie_Germany

Berlin

When you arrive in Berlin you immediately feel the 700 years of history this city is radiating. It’s night and I’m standing at the Brandenburg Gate, which has been a symbol of peace, war victory and terror and since 1989 it stands for the reunification of West and East Germany. I made an intensive tour through the city, but it would require a book to tell you about everything I have learned. I end my trip through Berlin with a long shopping tour on the Kurfürstendamm, the biggest shopping avenue of Berlin. By the way, the Germans know some great snacks. Have you ever eaten Currywurst? It’s a sliced sausage with curry sauce. Looks a bit strange but it’s really delicious.

Plan my visit to your country

I had a nice time in Germany. Next station is Denmark. Furthermore I will travel through the north and visit Finland, Sweden, Norway and the UK. Can you recommend any great places in these countries I should definitely visit? Please share your secret tip with me!