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From Delft

Tandem Bike tour Delft Countryside

I had to meet him. The bike tour Delft countryside was already confirmed and I knew I was going to take my participants in the direction of Maasland, where he, Roel van Buuren had his farm Landlust. I met him at the International City Podium, just before he did his elevator pitch. He was so easy going, the date was fixed in no time.

There we were. The inspiring mother with her Dutch looking, daughter. Both amazingly fit. I had thought the bike ride would take much longer, but we were at farm Landlust within 45 minutes. Roel showed us his Jersey cows, told us everything about his biological farm and offered us some fresh, unpasteurised milk. It tasted amazing. We were amazed by the work Roel did all by himself and left completely impressed by his story.

Any idea what this is?

 

In the next farm we did a photo hunt game, tried a very cool swing on the playground, petted some animals and enjoyed an ice-cream made of fresh farmers’ milk  on the terrace.

 

The bike ride continued through the polders, along canals until we came at this special hand operated bike ferry. We pulled and we pushed – actually the strong mother did all the work- and we managed to cross the water. With my arm muscles aching from the work I didn’t do we sat down on a boat terrace overlooking the wetland. Our bellies filled with beer & bitterballen ( & sprite) we headed back to Delft.

 

 

Holland Greenhouse Festival Kom in de Kas

It takes place the first weekend of April.  Some call it the ‘get into the greenhouse’ event. Although it takes place in different areas of the Netherlands,  I love visiting the Holland greenhouses of the Westland. The Westland is not only a bike ride away from The Hague or Delft, it is also the cradle of the horticulture in the Netherlands. Here’s what the region has in store – or better, in the greenhouse- for you.

 

In Dutch the event is called Kom in de kas. In English I would call it Holland greenhouse festival. It’s more than a visit to a Dutch greenhouse, it’s a celebration which is great fun for all ages. The different bands playing enroute of this Holland greenhouse festival get you into the festive mood, you can taste paprika smoothies or radishes with chocolate or just relax in the sun with a cup of coffee & cake, children can participate in all kind of fun activities and of course you can buy your favourite flowers, fruit & vegetables at a stand located at the end of the Holland greenhouse festival.

Greenhouses in the Netherlands open their doors for visitors only one time per year. The reason is that  young, growing plants are vulnerable and easily infected by diseases, which is why hygiene in the greenhouses is extremely important and visitors are often not allowed inside or can only visit when they follow strict hygiene rules.

So, it’s quite a unique opportunity to visit a greenhouse and see how fruit, vegetable & flowers are grown. A colleague once called Westland the all year round Keukenhof and it’s true. You’ll be amazed by all the different types of flowers grown in the Westland, also known as Glass City.  You can see all the fantastic greenhouse innovations and developments, ask the growers all your questions about the plants that are being grown and many greenhouses put (Dutch) signs which explain all about the horticulture.

The Kom in de Kas ( get into the greenhouse) event takes place on Saturday 1 April from 10 AM – 5 PM  & Sunday 2 April 2017 from 10 AM – 4 PM.  The Holland greenhouse festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so it’s extra special!  In Westland the focus is at Honselersdijk/ Naaldwijk where 10 greenhouses open their doors. There are lovely cycle routes from The Hague & Delft to Wateringen and visitors are advised to come by bike. Really don’t feel like cycling? There are free busses at the flowerauction Royal FloraHolland bringing you to the walking zone. More info (in Dutch) in this online flyer.

 

Can’t make it on Saturday 1 April or Sunday 2 April 2017?  Send an e-mail to veritasvisit(@)gmail.com for more information on Verita’s Visit’s (bike) tours & events to the Holland greenhouses.

Impression of Delft Vermeer Challenge

The bullet holes in the wall were not the reason why I visited the Museum Prinsenhof last July. In my heart, I keep a special place for Delft, the city where I was born. One of my wishes was to create a challenge, a treasure hunt in Delft. But, Delft has no festival based on a historical event or full of traditions. What could I do? Then came the request.

Rowena had organised a group bike tour through the Delft nature with Verita’s Visit and enjoyed herself. After that she approached me and asked if I could create a city challenge in Delft. I was thrilled with the request. My dream of creating a treasure hunt in Delft came true.

At the end it wasn’t difficult to come up with a theme. The exact location of the masterpiece The little street by Delft painter Johannes Vermeer had just been discovered and Museum Prinsenhof  Delft had managed to borrow the painting from the Rijksmuseum. From 25 March until 17 July Prinsenhof dedicated a full exhibition on this painting of Vermeer and its location in Delft. The news spread like wildfire and local businesses, churches and other museums joined in by offering special Vermeer products and deals. Delft was under the spell of Vermeer.

Assignment: become a Vermeer character. Photo by: Barbara van Gelder
Assignment: become a Vermeer character. Photo by: Barbara van Gelder

I had always wanted to work with Barbara van Gelder, owner of the studio Something Extra. In her studio you can become Vermeer or one of his characters. Dressed in 17th century costumes and some nice accessories added to the scene she will immortalize you in a portrait. Barbara has many ideas and is always enthusiastic. When I told her about the Delft Vermeer Challenge, she immediately came up with questions and assignments.

In the last weekend of the exhibition the participants of the challenge gathered at Something Extra where they were served a cup of tea ( in Delftware cups). Rowena whispered in my ear: “Are we getting our portrait made here?”.  I smiled and said : “Who knows..”

In the Delft Vermeer Challenge the teams followed a route past different locations important to Vermeer. Through questions and creative assignments they could find out about his life, his family, the technique he used. One of my favourite assignments was in the Vlamingstraat, the location of The Little Street.  This is where Vermeer’s aunt lived. She sold intestines. The assignment was to make a video while tasting this 17th century delicacy. The looks on the faces of the participants! It was fantastic….I don’t know if they ever found out that what they ate was kokosbrood  a typical Dutch spread made out of cocos. Well, in Verita’s Visit’s tours and events things never are what they look like 😉

The Delft Vermeer Challenge finished at Something Extra where, how could it be otherwise, the assignment was to become a Vermeer character, pick the right costume and get your portrait taken.