Marken: loop walk to the lighthouse
Till 1957 the small fishing village of Marken was an island in the IJsselmeer (the former Zuiderzee). From that moment on it was connected by the mainland of the Province of Noord-Holland by a dike. The village is situated rather close to Amsterdam and part of the municipality of Waterland. About 2.000 people are living on the peninsula. Marken (together with Volendam) is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the Netherlands; it has its own charm with the quaint green colored wooden houses on poles and the very colorful traditional costumes.
Especially during the holidays it can be rather overcrowded in the narrow streets between the car park and the harbour. To avoid the crowds and to explore the ‘other part’ of the peninsula I can recommend making a loop walk to the lighthouse. We made it in December on a sunny winter day and it was amazing: just a couple of other people, a little bit of ice on the ditches, lots of geese in the polder, fresh air, cows and sheep around and a kink of sea breeze.
The lighthouse is called ‘Het Paard van Marken' (Horse of Marken), due to its shape. It is located on the most eastern point of the ‘island’ on a small peninsula. Nowadays it can not be visited by public. The lighthouse is still in use. There is no lighthouse-keeper on site, but the house does have residents.
From the car park we took the ‘Oosterpad’ straight to the lighthouse. It also possible to take a longer walk along to ‘Rozewerf’ (one of the small villages of Marken built on a man made hill to protect the houses for the sea) and further along the dike. We went back – anti clockwise – along the dike to Marken; once in the village walk to the tower of the church and a couple of minutes later you will reach the harbour for a well-earned drink or lunch.
This walk takes about 1 hour; the longer one about 30 minutes more.
(for a map of Marken see: http://www.plattegronden.nl/marken)Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Schagen – very typical Dutch bike trip
Staying in spring (late April) for a couple of days in Schagen, we decided to make a bike trip through the bulb fields in this part of the Netherlands. In the Top of North Holland (Kop van Noord-Holland) they are proud having the world’s largest area of blooming bulb fields. It is less well known as the so called Bollenstreek (nearby the Keukenhof), which means it is less touristy and much more authentic.
We did this trip on April 22 and were very lucky with the weather: blue skies and almost no wind. We passed a couple of nice quaint villages like Schagerbrug and ‘t Zand (with its typical ‘vlotbrug’ / floated bridge), but most of the time we were biking through the flat Dutch countryside with vast fields of blooming colorful tulips and hyacinths. But we saw also grazing cows, sheep, ditches and canals, farmhouses and a lot of water birds.
Callantsoog, with a church dating back to the 16th century, is a nice place for a stop for a drink or lunch. Just south of the village lies the ‘Zwanenwater’, a wildlife sanctuary in the dunes. You even could stay for a while on the beach.
Of course you can bike around and find the way by yourself, but we used the easy ‘Knooppuntenroute’ (numbered intersections) along the numbers:
45 (Schagen) > 35 > 44 > 32 > 79 > 31 > 26 (Callantsoog) > 84 > 13 > 81 > 34 and from there we followed the ANWB signs for Schagen. See for this (or another) itinerary: http://www.fietsersbond.net/fietsrouteplanner/fietsroutes-noordholland/knooppunten/
The trip is about 30 km’s long and will take 2 hours of biking.
We rented our bikes from our hotel in Schagen; in town is also a bike shop with rental bikes Westenenk Profile Tweewielers. You also could start this trip in Callantsoog, where you can rent a bike from Harry's Tweewielers.
(On the website below you may find more info about the tulips in the area.)Related to:
Texel – made for biking
The island of Texel seems to be made for bike trips (as many parts of the Netherlands). It is as flat as a pancake, although there are some ‘hilly’ parts with the dunes and an area called ‘De Hooge Berg’ (the High Mountain) southeast of Den Burg. Texel has more than 135 km’s bike paths and many of the country roads are very quiet and another option for a bike trip. The whole island isn’t too big and you always find a café for a rest and a drink.
We made a lovely trip with Den Burg as a starting point and heading to the small village of Den Hoorn through polder scenery with typical farmhouses and with lots and lots of crocus flowers along the road. Den Hoorn is ‘famous’ for its white church, dating back to 1425 (open in summer on Thursdays from 2.00 to 4.00 pm). After visiting the viewing point on top of Loodmansduin - with great views of the dunes and the polders - we biked through the dunes and the pine forests of ‘De Dennen’ to the beach at ‘Westerslag’.
Along dune valleys, heathland and meadows we reached our last (coffee)stop in the village of De Koog, before going back to our hotel in Den Burg.
This bike trip was about 30 km’s long and we made it in an easy pace in an afternoon, exploring both parts of Texel: the dunes and the polders. Visit the Tourist Information Centre and asked for cycling routes on the island or just buy a map and make your own choice.
You can bring your own bike or just rent one at your accommodation or in one of the many bike rental shops on the island. Also possible as a daytrip from the mainland: just park your car in Den Helder, take the ferry, rent a bike at the ferry harbour and enjoy the special feeling of being on the island of Texel.Related to:
Laren - a different way of shopping
Laren is a small village in the area ‘Gooi’, about 30 km’s from Amsterdam and has about 11.500 inhabitants. Its history goes back 8.000 years. Many historic farmhouses in Laren remind of the traditional building techniques former inhabitants introduced. The village has been built around a small wading place, where the cattle (mainly sheep) of the local farmers came for drenching. This pool is called ’Coeswaerde’ and with the fountain in the middle, it is still the place where the local people meet on important days.
In these days the area ‘Gooi’ is one of the wealthiest in the Netherlands, housing business men from Amsterdam, TV and radio celebrities and expats. Despite the village is rather small, it has an excellent shopping centre. Not the nowadays common big store chains, but many smaller brand stores mixed with local ones. You will find all kind of fashion and shoe shops, next to gift, book and craft shops. Laren has also a couple of art- and antique galleries. But there is also still place for a flower stall on the Brink, the central square with the ‘Coeswaerde’.
Of course Laren offers a couple of café’s and restaurants for your cup of tea/coffee or for a lunch after or during your shopping trip.Add to your Trip Planner
By command from our leader, we are to form a triangular attack position... drive the human invaders from our beautiful and scenic home... and retake this place in the name of NatureHood!
Uhhh... remember guys... a triangular attack! No, not that way... THIS WAY! Oh well... ATTACK to the REAR! Watch out for that kid with the sling-shot!Add to your Trip Planner
Sea of Red
It was truly amazing to a young man from Hickory, North Carolina who before only viewed hay fields, wheat fields, corn fields, and pastures to see the stunning beauty of a flat land in such a vivid array of color! One field might be red, the next yellow, the next one orange with purple in between! A feast for the eyes!Add to your Trip Planner
A Lovely Park in Holland... Don't ask me where...
I'm not sure why most of my pictures were taken on cloudy days... do you suppose there is some greater meaning for this? I wonder... Hmmm...
Still, this was a very beautiful, well-designed and well-kept park... simply stunning even under grey skies!Add to your Trip Planner
Visit the many parks! Spectacular Scenery!
The greatest impression of Europe has always been the supreme dedication to creating lovely public "green" areas... There seems to be a greater appreciation and connection with nature as I remember it. Perhaps it is because there seems to be more leisure time to enjoy nature as opposed to the USA. Many workers in European countries have 6 to 8 weeks of vacation (holidays) per year and I feel lucky to have my measly 2 weeks here! Still, the Europeans seem truly dedicated to nature and enjoy a simple walk in the park or in the forest... I can't say that of Americans in general... we're far too busy!
This is an example of a lovely park in Holland.Add to your Trip Planner
We made it to the Dam! To our surprise the Dam is all under water and you see a road that looks like it goes on forever out on the water. In the photo you have the Ijsselmeer on the left and the Waddenzee on the right.
The Afsluitdijk (Closure-Dike) was built to block off the Zuiderzee in order to prevent constant flooding and ravaging on the land. This slowly created fresh water on the other side now known as the Ijsselmeer.
The Dike took more than half a century; plans drawn up in 1891, first closure of the Zuiderzee in 1920 and the official opening of the Closure-Dike in 1933.
The road capacity of the Dike no longer being adequate for the traffic, the road was made into a motorway (A7) in 1976.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Sculpture of a stone worker to on the Waddenzee side of the pedestrian bridge.
It was very windy on the bridge and even though it was a clear sunny day, when you are in the middle (between Noord-Holland and Friesland), you are surrounded by water and it gets misty and hard to see the boats, fishing nets and windmills out on the water. If you have binoculars they come in handy here. There are paying viewers if you don't have any.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
The Afsluitdijk road to Friesland is 30 km.
There is a lookout tower in Breezanddijk where you can stop, take pictures, eat and rest a little. There is a pedestrian bridge where you can see both sides of the motorway.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
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Noord Holland is really flat!
The landscape in this polder region of Noord Holland behind the Hondbossche Zeewering is expansive and unique. The North Sea is kept at bay by this dyke and all the land in this picture is below sea level.Related to:
Bergen, or better: Bergen-Binnen, is a village near Alkmaar. It has been an artists' village since the 19th century. Many artists had themselves built new houses in the 1920's, in Amsterdam School style. Some of these are really amazing. At the heart of the village is the old church. As the picture shows it used to be much bigger. Only a small part remains, which is now used for concerts, the rest is a picturesque ruin.Add to your Trip Planner
not far from den Haag
Although a bit windy this place I consider very pleasant indeed.. ;-)
But I can't remember the name of it. It's not far from the capitol of Holland, and it's said that during the WW2 the name of this place was given to people suspected of being German LOL. It's supposed to be difficult to pronounce for them due to some "h" sounds. Of course, for us Poles nothing can be difficult LOL Have you ever heard Polish spoken? ;-) (question for those who are not Polish)Related to:
Rotterdam - the viewpoint tower
Rotterdam it is a completely modern city. It was all damaged in the WW2 and the citizens decided not to rebuild it. They built a completely different city instead in the same location. All the buildings look very fresh and modern.. The oldest I could estimate maybe 20 years...Related to:
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