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Holland in January

Holland tour from Eindhoven to Rotterdam, The Hague, North Mard, Amstelmeer, Giethoorn, Amsterdam, and Utrecht.

In December 2019 Federica and I decided to visit Holland, renting a car on the spot due to the number of days off we had left from work. Therefore, having six days available, we plan a tour that includes the most famous places and the most beautiful cities. It was easy because Holland isn't a vast territory and doesn't have difficult roads. The name Netherlands is in fact due to the lack of hilly or mountainous territory and to its exposure a few meters below sea level. We will then explain the birth of windmills and this geographical peculiarity below.

First stop: Unesco Werelderfgoed Kinderdijk and Rotterdam

Rotterdam and the windmills

With the Ryanair flight, we landed in Eindhoven, it was the cheapest airport we had found but it is not far from the various cities. We leave the airport and go to the Avis offices to pick up our car, a small brand new Peugeot 208 that will prove to be perfect for the city and for traveling. We didn't need who knows what car because, as already mentioned, Holland is easy to visit given the geographical simplicity it offers.

We get behind the wheel of the car and set the navigator for our first stop, the valley of the windmills. Unfortunately, the day was gray and occasionally light and thin rain fell, but the scenery was still beautiful. The Kinderdijk Mills is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Dutch excellence in water management and the creation of polders (areas first submerged by the sea, then reclaimed by dams and channels). The mills were built in the 1700s within a water management system to avoid flooding, distributed in opposite rows along the canals. These 19 mills were used to transport excess water to the river and to keep the low ground dry.


We immediately notice the perfection of the roads, typical of the Nordic countries and the regular and non-confusing traffic. We are curious about the mopeds that go on the cycle paths here. We take care to respect the road limits and after about an hour and a half and 120km, we reach our hotel in the evening.

Leaving the luggage in the room, we entered the city to see some points of interest, since the next day we should have left for the second destination. This city surprises us more than expected - or perhaps because the city is always more beautiful in the evening - and we easily reach the center. Faith has been there on one of her previous trips and remembers an attraction if you can call it that with crooked houses on a marina, which are the so-called cubic houses (kubuswoningen), also called paalwoningen ("dwellings supported by posts"/"stilt houses") or boomwoningen ("tree houses"). These are a particular and unique architectural project of the seventies thanks to the imagination and ingenuity of the architect Dutch Piet Blom, characterized by houses or buildings in inverted cube shape. To visit them, you have to go to the area of the old port called Blaak.

After visiting this truly strange complex, we stroll around the city visiting various districts, the old port, the most central part of the shopping, and the Markthal or the covered market where you can eat under a huge modern vault colored with drawings of fruit and vegetables.

Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe (11th in the world) Its location near the great delta of the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt earned it the name of "Gateway to Europe".

Trivia from the internet: Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and several smaller cities in the western part of the country are expanding towards each other to the point that the whole area is sometimes referred to as a single metropolis known as Randstad".

Second stage: The Hague and the North Sea

The Capital and De Pier

The next morning from Rotterdam we leave for The Hague, the capital, but only for a quick visit because we are passing through. Our real stop was the North Sea. We take the A13 road which leads us straight to the capital of the Netherlands.

The city appears to have little traffic, very elegant and full of history. We stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, take some photos, and get something to eat. It is not a suggested destination but if you are passing by we advise you to drop by. Let's see the entrance to the Palace Noordeinde, the historic center with the ancient streets Molenstraat and Oude Molstraat which still retain a particular and winding aspect, and the area of Zeeheldenkwartier nice neighborhood with historic buildings of international institutions (see also the headquarters where they had signed some important international treaties but we don't remember the name).

After eating something around, we get back in the car to finally get to the North Sea. We skirt the promenade and stop by chance near the sea near this place which we later discover is called De Pier.

The first thing we see is a huge platform that extends over the sea and we are amazed by the length of the jetty the height of the Ferris wheel and the concrete construction. This Ferris wheel was the first to be built on the sea in Europe, in 2016. The jetty that extends over the sea and leads to the wheel is covered and inside there is a sea of shops, restaurants, breweries, and more.

We parked not far from this imposing structure and to get there we walked in the sun along the shoreline, whipped by the cold wind but addicted to this place which for us was °strange° but beautiful!

The shoreline was huge and it will certainly be a very touristic place in the summer given the presence of hotels, restaurants, shops and much more. If we count the amount of people who can come from the capital, Amsterdam and surrounding cities to spend the summer by the sea, we understand that this place has to offer a lot.

The other side of the coin, if we want to point it out, is that the view of this gigantic structure is true that it is suitable for the most unbridled entertainment, but we who like nature feel a little annoyance to see °defaced° this natural maritime beauty.

We continue our walk looking at the shells and the sea and we arrive at the entrance of the structure, supported by colored posts. We went in and took a walk around the shops that were open but in winter we didn't find many people inside. Arrived at the end of the bridge we admired the Ferris wheel and took the spiral stairs around the structure to finally discover that from the highest point you could bungee jump!! So much for the fun that this place offers!

From the top of the structure we are hit by the icy wind that was incessant that day and we take pictures of the surrounding landscape: the sea on one side and the hills on the other...beautiful!

Unfortunately, the photos that have survived of this holiday are few and many have been lost, but if you want to get an idea of this place, visit the to also discover the various activities you can do if you want to spend a few days here in the summer, don't you will certainly be disappointed.

Nearby you can also visit the dunes of Nationaal Park Hollandse Duinen.

Third stage: Mills of Amsterdam

Dam between the two seas and Zaansche Mill

Spend about a couple of hours at De Pier, we take the car and head towards Amsterdam which is about 65km away. Let's go and visit the beautiful open-air museum of Zaansche Mill: where you can understand the industrial life of the time between houses, mills, reproductions of the clog, cheese, and other activities. Don't miss it!

To reach Amsterdam, however, we decided to go around wide and cross the bridge, which is not a bridge, called Afsluitdijk which connects Den Oever to Zurich. This road (in Dutch °dam) was blocked between 1927 and 1933 to protect the Dutch from the force of the sea (remember when I said that Holland remains under the sea level?) In this engineering masterpiece, the two water levels are different on each side.

From Wiki: This dam closes the Zuiderzee, an ancient gulf of the North Sea, and transforms it into an expanse of freshwater called Jsselmeer. In addition to its hydraulic function, it also hosts the motorway ( A7 - E22) which connects the province of North Holland at Friesland. This is not on top of the dam, to limit the effects of the wind on vehicles so that the Wadden Sea located on its north side is not visible from the street; however, an observation post was built in the center of the structure, which offered an overview of the two bodies of water and where we took souvenir photos.

Fun fact: in the middle of Afsluitdijk is the hamlet of Breezanddijk, consisting of a single house, with a unique four-digit postal code (8766).

Fourth stage: Giethoorn, the fairytale village

Discovering a fairy-tale, peaceful, little Venice

We arrive in this famous Dutch village late in the evening, of course it's winter and the sun goes down early so we visit this picturesque village in the dark (a must try, maybe after visiting it during the day too). We park the car just outside, because the village is pedestrianized and surrounded by small canals and small boats..the canals freeze over in winter and the inhabitants skate on them!

Giethoorn is located near the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, a former area swampy.

A bit of history and curiosities: "The locality was founded at the beginning of the XIII century from the sect of Flagellants, who fled persecution. The original name, Geitenhoorn ("goat's horn") referred to the numerous horns of wild goat found in the peat bogs of the area, which are also represented in the emblem of the village.

Giethoorn achieved popularity especially after 1958, when it was shot there by filmmaker Bert Haanstra in the film Fanfare.

The only way to visit Giethoorn is as anticipated, on foot or by bicycle. In the evening, in winter, it is spectacular. The lights of the thatched houses, the flowers in the English garden, and the lack of traffic and people make you feel like in a parallel universe, you are so immersed in the visual beauty of every corner of this place that you begin to fantasize with the mind.

This stop is a must if you visit Holland. It's a dream place and we envy the lucky inhabitants who cross their private bridges and enter their fairy houses every evening after work.

Fifth stage: Amsterdam

Bike, Van Gogh Museum, Red Lights, Coffee shop, Beer

We get there late in the evening from Giethoorn..after so many years, we are finally in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam presents itself as colorful and lively, a pity for the bad weather that has almost always followed us. Walks along the canals leave ample room for imagination and at every corner, there are bicycles, bicycles everywhere!

In Amsterdam the houses have a particularity: they are narrow and seem crooked!

Why tight? In the past, the state required the payment of a tax depending on the width of the house, so the inhabitants of Amsterdam began to build narrow houses, developed in height. The removals were quite difficult and a hoist with a pulley was fixed on the roofs, to lift the objects. The narrowest house in Amsterdam is located in Singel Street at no. 7 and is only 101 centimeters wide.

Why crooked? The city has serious foundation problems and the buildings in Amsterdam must be as light as possible because they rest on unstable and marshy ground. The ancient houses were built on wooden poles which have become less and less robust over time and with humidity. They also have their hips tied to each other to maintain greater balance.

Among the museums to see Anne Frank's House, the Rijksmuseum, and the unmissable Van Gogh Museum. Near the Van Gogh Museum is the folk flower market Bloemenmarkt.

From the historic center, you can also take the ferry to pass the canal and see the view of the city from the STRAAT museum.

If during the day you dedicate yourself to history, in the evening Amsterdam lights up with lights and voices. The Red Light district is characterized by red lights, sex shops, entertainment establishments, and the famous showcase prostitutes who choose their patrons (and discard most of them). Another peculiarity of the city is the coffee shops, where you can try the space cake (we tried it and made us laugh heartily on the tube) and various types of cannabis. The coffee shop is beautiful as a location: Original Dampkring Coffeeshop.

Amsterdam has a long tradition of master brewers, there is a dedicated museum and you can also go and try the Heineken experience.

Sixth and final stage: Utrecht

Old Town, Utrecht Cathedral, Pandhof Garden

Our last stop before getting back on the plane is Utrecht, with its beautiful medieval old town. We pass in front of the City Castel Oudaen, a historic building from the 1200s built with bricks, today one of the Utrecht hotels most famous. We see the Utrecht Cathedral and its wonderful Pandhof Garden, considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the Netherlands. Inside the cloister, the garden is divided into many small squares of land with different herbs and plants.


In total, with all expenses included, we spent 700€ each for 6 days.

Must places:

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, cubic houses Rotterdam, Giethoorn, Kinderdijk, Zaanse Schans

Itinerary on the map:



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