There are several good possibilities to have a nice walk in our country. Never mind how small the piece of forest is there is bound to be a marked walk through it. Most of these paths are marked with colored poles and are roundtrips, which means you will get back to the place you started.
But there are also some great long distance walks in our country, the most famous being the Pieterpad. The Pieterpad is over 460 kilometer and leads from Pieterburen in Groningen Province to the Pietersberg in Limburg.
Yes you can ski in The Netherlands! Not everything is flat here. The indoor wintersport town has 3 ski slopes with 8 lifts, restaurants, shops, and even ski school! Great experience, but don't expect the slopes to be to high.
See more info at here
Equipment: Everything can be rented at the snowword, even clothes!
At Poldersport de Kwakel one can do a Poldersurvival. It means getting across the water in many different ways.
If you have a group of minimum 10 people you can have a great afternoon, start with lunch or end with dinner.
The ways to cross the water are, amongst others, a ropeway, a swing, a boat, a bridge...
We did this with the collegues of Gonnie and their partners. It was a lot of fun and we changed the goal into 10 different ways to get into the muddy water, instead of over it.
Equipment: All you need is old clothing and a pair of dry clothes for afterwards.
Prices are: 40 Euro per person for a canoetrip and the survival followed by a bbq dinner. Over 40 persons and you get 2 Euro reduction.
The program starts at 13:30 and ends at 21:00.
Close to our home you will find the Nieuwkoopse Plassen. It is a nature lovers paradise. The lake was originally formed when the people won turf here. They dug so deep the groundwater came to the surface. Villages became isolated and the waters threathened life here. Windmills were placed and many polders were milled dry. The Nieuwkoopse Plassen remained and are now a nature reservation area.
You can rent a canoe and discover its beauty.
More info and pics at our Nieuwkoop page.
picture by Dannie (= irisbe) may 2003
Did I mention this at my Transport tip already? I guess I did, but never mind. The best way to see as much as possible of a smaller part of the country is by bicycle. You can rent one at many railway stations, to name just the most obvious option. You'll pay about 6 or 7 euros a day. Unlike cars, bicycles are easy to park (be sure to use the lock though), won't get stuck in a traffic jam and can even take you to places you otherwise wouldn't be allowed to go. They don't use petrol either. Do buy a good bicycling map of the area, unless you don't mind getting lost or have no particular place to go, which can be fun too. You'll find seperate bicycle tracks all over the country, which makes it a safe way of travelling too. As most of the country is totally flat you can come a long way without spending too much of your energy. The major exception is the southern part of the province of Limburg. The steep climbs that you have to take there makes bicycling a true sport.
Not to skip swimming as the number one sport with water, I hop on over to waterskiing now. This is possible on many places, but especially popular on the lakes around the Flevopolders and along the North-Holland IJsselmeercoast ... as well as on the many lakes in Friesland and it's coast.
Well, where ther's water and there's wind, there can be sailing. One on three Dutch families have a boat. One on five have a sailingboat varieting from a small 'til seagoing yaughts. Sailing is done by old and young and can be learned also in one of the few hundred sailingschools in The Netherlands. Especially Friesland's lakes and coastal places offer great possibilities to learn this watersport. And then have a holiday of a few weeks, seeing the little North-West European country the best way possible: from the water, while sailing a boat.
In a country that is so rich with water, watersports cannot be left aside. Canals, rivers and many lakes offer great opportunities for everything in connection with water. Windsurfing might be called a national sport as The netherlands are also quite (in)famous for it's steady winds (what would the windmills be without it). Along the North Sea coast, but especially on lakes like the ones around the New Lands of the Flevopolders, there are ideal locations to experience this great watersport. Many places along these lakes offer renting surfboards and sails.
Equipment: Bring your own surfboard and sail, or rent one locally.
I enjoy this game immensely. It's fun, a real family and friends game and can turn out to be a hard fought competition.
In The Netherlands, the game Sjoelen came about probably in the 19th century. Thirty disks are aimed down a six foot table. You have to try to get them through four arches numbered 1 to 4 at the other end. However, you have to attempt to get an even number of disks through each arch because each set of disks in all four compartments scores much more.
It's a family game!
Equipment: The most famous manufacturers of Sjoelbak boards are Homas and Schilte, both of whom mass-produce the game in continental Europe. Dutch toyshops will sell them.
This is a tradition sportsgame popular in the region of Twente.
Two teams of 6 players each.
The equipment is a wooden ball made of very dry wood with a center of lead and the size of approximately a tennisball.
Every player throws the ball two or three times in turn and the team that has covered the longest distance this way, has won.
Equipment: A similar game played in north Germany is bosseln.
See my Riepe page for a lot more pictures and info!
I think I was the fittest I have ever been during my 9 month stay in Holland. Having no car we cycled everywhere; to work, to the pub, to friends. It wasn't even that hard going. Holland is just so flat. The biggest "hill" I ever came across was where the road rose up the side of the dijk and down into the holiday village that we first stayed in.
Cycle paths abound in Holland. Sometimes they even take a more direct route than the roads by cutting across country. Car drivers are extremely respectful of the cyclist. I was told that this is due to heavy fines imposed on drivers that don't respect cyclists rights. Any driver involved in an accident with a cyclist is assumed to be in the wrong ( apparently).
If you plan to take young kids cycling, Holland would be a good place to start. Dutch families go out in bike convoys. One time I saw a Dad with two older kids in front, one small child beside him on a tricycle (with a long handle so Dad could help to steer her ) and Dad was also walking the dog; quite a feat, but not an unusual sight in Holland.
Equipment: All equipment, including the bikes, can be bought or hired at reasonable prices in Holland. There are bike shops in every town and most villages, or there will be a local resident "expert" who fixes bikes for a sideline and can probably help you with any repairs/queries.
Even in summer a light macIntosh is useful for short showers. In winter gloves, hat and water proofs are advisable.
The skûtsjes race captivates all of Friesland every year. Anyone who has any feel for sailing will follow the race between old freight ships.
Skûtsjesilen is synonymous for racing with old freight ships. These were flatboats that were built around 1900 to transport peat, manure and other freight from farm to farm. These flatboats had to sail in undeep canals. That’s why the boats were long and flat.
During the race a skipper could earn a few cents more by taking out all the furniture from the boat. There would be races when freight transport was low and the farmers would have other things to do than arrange a freight for a skipper.
Pubowners with a commercial mind would organise these races during yearmarkets. The prizes would be given in the pubs and of course the winner would have to buy rounds.
Skûtsjesilen and the appearance of the motor even leads to the loss of many skûtsjes.But luckily there are still people that want to keep the tradition. Towards the end of the Second World War, the skûtsje-fanatics start organising races again. Now, nearly 60 years later, the sport is as alive as ever.
( text from website translated by me, photo also from website)
Equipment: To see more of this major sailing event, go to the Friesland page and travelogue of VT member carolineraat:
A skutsje is a typical antique Frisian frightship, often very beautiful. You can make one- or more-day trips on the beautiful lakes of Friesland.
I made several TRAVELOGUES with lots of photos of the ship and the environment on this type of sports, that you can see in my Friesland page.
The Pieterpad is in total ca. 490 km. long and and is described in 27 day walks.
It goes from Pieterburen (province Friesland in the north) to the St. Pietersberg (St. Peter's mountain) in Maastricht in the south.
The Pieterpad is so well known that many people think that it is centuries old. A pelgrimage route maybe or a commercial route. Not so.
Between 1975 and 1981 two elderly ladies walked and described this path. Their names: Toos Goorhuis-Tjalsma en Bertje Jens.
Equipment: You need the two Pieterpad guides that can be bought at all Tourist Offices (VVV) along the route and in specialised (travel) bookstores.
Unfortunately the only information I can find on the net is in Dutch. The path is well described, so are the accomodation and sightseeing tips on the websites mentioned below.
Cycle paths are abundant in this country. Safe, broad, well marked and with their own traffic lights.
As for race-cycling: we have some pretty famous Dutch cyclists! If one remembers Zoetemelk from the past or Van den Bogaard more recent and many many more!
Equipment: At larger train stations you can hire a bicycle. Or go to the tourist office and ask where they are rented out.
It's a great way to explore the countryside and cheap and quick in larger cities.
There are special cycling maps for Netherlands and Belgium. Ask at the tourist office or go to a bookstore.
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