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.

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!

Italy: exploring ancient culture

Spain was amazing but unfortunately I have a busy holiday schedule on my trip. There are so many things I still want to see before I return to Holland. Thus, I’m heading further south towards Italy. When you only have a few days to spend in a country, it’s always hard to make a choice. But for Italy this turned out extremely difficult. After all, Italy is home to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. Finally I made a decision. Here it is.

blog Holland Holiday Italy Venice

Crossing foreign canals in Venice

I have always been curious about the so-called City of Water. Could the canals of Venice really be more beautiful than the canal districts of Amsterdam or Utrecht? I needed proof and that’s why I made a short stop in Venice. While looking around from my seat in a small romantic gondola, I have to admit that Venice is quite charming. The view is stunning, especially in the evening when the beautiful buildings along the Grand canal shine their lights on the water. However, I prefer the rustic sphere of Dutch canals.

Blog Holland Italy Pisa

Philosophizing about the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Maybe it’s because of my nationality but I like crazy buildings. This made the Leaning Tower of Pisa a must-see attraction for me. I was lucky to have a very good guide who could tell some interesting stories about this tower. Apparently the tower was built as part of a church in the 12th century. Although intended to stand vertically, the tower began leaning to the southeast due to a poorly laid foundation. The architect was clever enough to vanish from the history books. Neither he nor his offspring would probably have gotten another job.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Rome

Dreaming in Rome

After I had so much fun at the amphitheater in France, I also wanted to see the big original in Rome. I must say that I was deeply impressed. The Colosseum was capable of holding 50,000 spectators, which is nearly as much as the capacity of football stadium Amsterdam ArenA. I spend some time lying in the sun and dreaming about gladiator and lion fights.

Blog Holland Holiday Italy Positano

Relaxing in Positano

Finally I received a great tip from one of my Twitter followers: the Amalfi Coast. Since I was in the mood for relaxing I decided to stay a while at the beautiful beaches of Positano Village for eating gelati and sunbathing. For one day I was lazy, ,simply enjoying the beautiful landscape at the coast and the crystal clear water of the sea. I also planned a visit to ancient Pompeii which is only two hours away from Positano. The ancient city, which was hit by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is really magnificient. What fascinated me most is that many of the buildings have been left in tact and most structures show a strong resemblance with modern architecture such as schools, bars and homes.

Plan my visit to your country

I had a nice time in Italy. Next station is Germany. Furthermore I will travel to Denmark, 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!

France: hidden secrets off the beaten track

After exploring Belgium I continue my holiday Europe trip and head south towards France. It was really hard to make a choice with so many architectural and cultural attractions. Certainly I’m expected to have a look at the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame Cathedral. Well, I took just a quick photo of the Eiffel Tower to prove that I really went to Paris. But as a real Dutchman I prefer to do things a little different and decided to explore the big cities off the beaten track.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Parijs

Secret places in Paris

Paris has a lot of beautiful street markets but Rue Mouffetard resembles the old, romantic Paris with cobbled streets where housewives and chefs shop for the day’s ingredients. Farmers come to the city from all over and sell their produce on different stalls. The delicious smell of roasted chicken makes me hungry. After lunch I decide to visit La Pagode, a historic movie house that is designed in the traditional Japanese style. A friendly employee shows me around and we enjoy a cup of tea in the beautiful garden. On my way back home I pass a Gallo-Roman amphitheatre in the Latin Quarter called Arènes de Lutèce. A friendly old lady told me that it once hosted gladiatorial combat, and used to seat 15,000 people. Together we stand in the centre and imagine the crowds cheering at us.

130721 Blog Holland Vacation France Paris

Relaxing in Nice

After leaving the impressive but crowded capital I’m in the mood for more peaceful surroundings. Nice, with all it’s cosy villages and cafés is perfect for this. There is plenty of inexpensive public transport but I prefer walking and cycling along the cobblestone roads and coastal path. One morning I find myself in the medieval village of Èze where I admire the beautiful church and the amazing view from the hilltops. From there, a zigzag rocky path leads me down to Eze-Bord-de-Mer where I take the train back to Nice. I spend the rest of the day in Parc Phoenix, a beautiful park full of wildlife, gardens and fountains.

Blog Holland Vacation France Nice

Views of Marseille

Well, even if I wanted to stay away from popular tourist attractions, I could not resist this one. The chapel Notre Dame de la Garde is the highest point of Marseille and offers a most impressive view over the city. You go up there by bus but the walk on the green hill path definitely has its charme. The architecture of the Romanesque-Byzantine basilica from the 13th century is breath-taking. Marseille has the biggest port of France and therefore there is almost no restaurant where they don’t serve fresh fish. I’m going to enjoy a cup of the famous Bouillabaisse soup before I have to leave.

Blog Meet Mr Holland Vacation France Paris

Plan my visit to your country

I had a nice time in France. Next station is Spain. Furthermore I will travel to Italy, Germany, Denmark, 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!

Belgium: discovering the country of the neighbours

I have arrived at the first station of my holiday Europe trip. Although Belgium is so close to Holland – just about an hour with the Fyra train – I have to confess that I have not been there that often yet. Time to check out some must-see destinations in the neighbouring country. Here is what I have seen and done so far.

Vacation Belgium Brussels

Party in Antwerp

After one night in Antwerp I understand why the Belgians call it the ‘capital of cool’. I discovered that many squares in Antwerp house nothing else but pubs and bars just like in Amsterdam. Accidentially I found myself in Bierhuis Kulminator trying to taste all their 600 different beers. My conclusion: Belgian beer is delicious but also much stronger than the Dutch brands. To find some distraction from my hangover I’m visiting Rubens House, which hosts the greates art collection of the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens.

130717 Blog Holland Vacation Belgium Bruges

Walking through Bruges

Another hit on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. What I like most about Bruges is that the city centre is completely closed off to cars so that you can easily explore it on foot, by boat along the canals or by a horse-drawn carriage. Bruges is a cosy, small city full of folkore, lace boutiques and especially chocolate shops. Have you ever tried Belgian chocolate? It’s almost as delicious as our Dutch cheese.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Brussels

Sight-seeing in Brussels

The Belgian capital is quickly gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s must-see destinations. It is the home of the European Union, NATO and hundreds of international organizations. I almost can’t decide where to start with so many great attractions. Finally I start my tour at the Grand Place, a historic square and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was buil in the 13th century and is still lined by beautiful guild houses. From Grand Place it is just a short walk to many other attractions. I was especially curious about the Manneken Pis since many friends talked very enthused about it. The cute bronze statue of a little boy relieving himself made me smile. Belgian humor…

Plan my visit to your country

I had a nice time in Belgium. Next station is France. Furthermore I will travel to Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, 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!

My vacation report: National Park De Hoge Veluwe

I really had a great time at the UK Meetings Show in London and, earlier this year, at IMEX in Frankfurt. However, after so many exciting days I need a little break. Besides, during the trade shows I met many interesting people who told me about their home countries. This inspired me to take a small trip through Europe. Certainly, I will keep you you up to date with a travel report, including my best holiday pictures.

MrHolland_Vakantie_Veluwe

Vacation warm up

My suitcase is packed and the tickets are booked. Right now I’m chilling at the Drontermeer Beach at National Park De Hoge Veluwe. The Veluwe belongs to Holland’s biggest nature reserves. The park is an ancient man-made landscape that consists of natural and cultivated woodland and parkland.

So much to see and do

The Veluwe is famous for its varied wildlife, including deer and wild boar, and plant species that are native to a heath and drift sand landscape. I took a long walk through the forests today. Tomorrow I would like to rent a bicycle or a canoe to explore the many rivers and lakes. However, it would cost me weeks to see everything.

Blog Holland Holiday Hoge Veluwe

Ancient cities and culture

I’m also planning to visit some of the ancient cities and castles in The Veluwe. Some of them are more than 500 years old! Of course I will also pay a visit to the Kröller-Müller Museum with its sculpture garden and the largest privately owned Van Gogh collection.

Hidden Secret

By the way, I have also discovered a new Hidden Secret I would like to share with you. The Engelenburg Castle in Brummen is a great meeting venue with romantic flair. I could really feel the history in this building and it brought me some fresh ideas.

Blog Holland Holiday Hoge Veluwe

Plan my visit to your country

During my Europe trip I will visit the following countries: Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, 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!