This year, the Netherlands plays host to the horticultural spectacular, Floriade 2012. This stunning event only takes place once every 10 years, and the historic city of Venlo in the province of Limburg has been chosen as the location for 2012. This flower-lovers’ Eden shows that there is more variety to the Netherlands’ horticulture than the multicoloured tulips that we usually associate with the Low Countries. Five “worlds”, each with its own unique theme and connected by wooded areas, have been lovingly created by a combination of Dutch home-grown talent and international exhibitors. Each “world” has, as well as its own horticultural theme and innovative gardens, a restaurant offering distinctive cuisine and exhibits designed to stimulate and educate about the natural world and our place in it.
Floriade’s gardens truly put the culture in horticulture with exhibitions from nearby Germany and Scandinavia as well as distant Indonesia. Refresh your senses in the Feel Good Garden, get eco-inspired in the Step-by-Step Sustainability Garden or simply unwind in the Avenue of Garden Culture. There is even a green amphitheatre with live performances of music, dance and theatre from around the world on the theme of “Limburg in the World and the World in Limburg”.
However Floriade isn’t just about gardens; you may also wish to treat your taste-buds to some delicious cuisine. The Restaurant Relax & Heal offers a variety of Far Eastern dishes (as well as revitalising mint tea), Restaurant Green Engine serves a mixture of light salad dishes and hearty soups and Restaurant Education & Innovation focuses on seasonal local produce from Limburg and further afield in the Netherlands.
Take a journey of discovery into the heart of Amsterdam and immerse yourself in the delights of Dutch culture. You will find a wealth of museums and art galleries, eclectic shopping and authentic cafes.
The best way to experience the city, including seeing its classic windmills and traditional gabled houses set alongside the canals that divide up the capital, is either on foot or by canal boat. There are also plenty of places to hire bikes, and clearly marked cycle lanes stitch the city together. Amsterdam’s more unusual structures include Singel 7 and Oude Hoogstraat 22, the world’s narrowest house and Europe’s smallest house respectively. Both are well-known despite their diminutive sizes and contrast greatly to the wonderfully opulent showrooms of Amsterdam’s world-renowned diamond businesses.
If you are looking for a souvenir and one of Amsterdam’s glittering rocks or an original Van Gogh is a little out of your price range, why not instead hunt for the perfect souvenir in the shopping heaven of Kalverstraat where you will also find Amsterdam’s Historisch Museum. Alternatively, as the city is host to several breweries and liqueur manufacturers such as The IJ Brewery, Brewery de Prael and Lucas Bols, you could buy a bottle or two to take home. As the Dutch would say, “Proost!”
Dutch Countryside Tour
The magnificent area of Dutch countryside a few kilometres north of Amsterdam is marked by windmills, polders, dykes and ditches, and is dotted with towns and villages which proudly hold on to the customs and traditional images for which the Netherlands is so famous.
This comprehensive tour begins with a visit to a cheese farm and a clog-making factory followed by a visit to Zaanse Schans: a town of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture, where you will have the opportunity to visit a windmill° (one of six in the town!). Sometimes people think Zaanse Schans is an open-air museum, but actually it is simply a town full of extraordinarily well-preserved architecture and traditions.
The tour continues to Edam, from where the well-known round cheeses have been sent to all corners of the world. Its distinctive taste is due to the quality of the pastureland, bathed by the salty sea breeze, which is grazed by the cows who provide the milk.
Finally our tour visits the old fishermen’s villages of Volendam and Marken, situated along the former Zuiderzee. Volendam is a well-known tourist location for seeing traditional Dutch dress, for which the town is famous. The older inhabitants are still proud to wear the traditional clothing, and on Sundays and holidays you may even see the women wearing the famous winged lace cap prevalent in so many illustrations of Dutch costume. Volendam’s bustling harbour is still a major attraction, though these days pleasure craft jostle for space with old fishing boats, and it is from here that you will take a short boat trip to Marken. The village of Marken was separated from the mainland after a storm surge in the 13th century, and for several hundred years the community was isolated and made its living from fishing. The village’s most distinctive feature is its architecture – many of the houses were built on stilts or mounds to protect them from the regular floods which affected the island. This quaint village is sure to steal your heart!
Please note: details of this Dutch Countryside Tour were correct at the time of placing this break online. The tour order and content may be subject to change due to local conditions, and Omega Holidays reserves the right to make such changes if necessary.
This tour is organised and operated by Omega Holidays plc ABTA V4782 ATOL 6081