Tips for a Day Out in the Tulip Fields

A day out in the tulip fields is the best way to enjoy your visit to the Netherlands in spring. When you have friends coming over, a company outing, family visiting, head towards the Keukenhof and you soon feel your smile growing by the sight of the multicoloured tulip fields....And don't forget the scent of the hyacinth fields. It's all one dreamlike package. Here are some tips to get the most out of your daytrip Amsterdam - Keukenhof.

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Cow-outside-first-time-veritasvisit cow dance koeiendans

Cows going outside for first time

In different areas throughout the Netherlands there are cows going outside for first time in 2020. Mid-March a farmer in Flevoland was the first to let out his dairy cows in the green pastures. Living in The Hague and being a big fan of the dairy and cheese farms in Leiden area, I searched for a chance to see the cow dance in my neighbourhood.

Cow Dance

Cowdance, in Dutch called koeiendans is the frolic jumping, twirling and running of cows let out in the meadows for the first time in spring. I saw the cows going outside for the first time at different dairy & cheese farms in Hague/ Delft / Leiden area in previous years.  Boerderij de Vierhuizen is one of my favourites. It's an amazing farm with calfs, lambs and there's a lovely atmosphere.

Dry land, fresh grass

I've had quite some conversations with the farmers on when it's the right time to let the cows dance. Cows can't dance when the soil is still soggy, cows can't eat grass when grass hasn't grown yet. If the farmer lets his cows out to early, they trip in the soggy soil and will need to get back into the barn again as there is no grass yet. It's actually quite animal unfriendly to let them out too early. You will surely enjoy the cow dance more if you wait a bit.

Cows going outside first time in spring the Netherlands Verita's Visit on tour
A little race going on between cows going outside first time in 2019.
frolic cows in spring dance Verita's visit bike ride
April is generally the best month to let the cows out. The grass has then grown high enough and the land is not that soggy anymore
Sometimes it's just great showing your excitement, even when all other cows have finished jumping around.
Sometimes it's just great showing your excitement, even when all other cows have finished jumping around.
Be a Dutch cow in spring workshop Verita's Visit
Just really getting connected with the ground & the fresh grass

 

Life gets back to normal. Here's a poor lonesome cow on a long long way from home.
Life gets back to normal. Here's a poor lonesome cow a long long way from home.

This beautiful video by Midvliet TV was made in and around the cheese farm. In the spotlight the cheese farmer, the happy cows and....me :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFDHeivB8yk

 

Cow Alert

Land van Wijk en Wouden, in Leiden area gives you the opportunity to register for a 'cow alert'. This way you receive the latest updates on when and on which dairy and cheese farms in the area between Leiden and Zoetermeer you can see the the cows going outside for first time in 2021.

Vockestaert, in Delft area also has a cow alert. They publish the dates you can see the cow dance on their FB page.

Do you want to know more about the cheese that  is made out of the milk given by a cow that has eaten fresh grass again after a long time? If you want to find out, just get in touch. 

 


You might also like:

Leiden cheese & dairy cycling route

The Hague windmill & local food route

2.5 hour tour Leiden lakes plus visit windmill

 

 


Cycling tour Haarlem Keukenhof verita's visit fietstocht

Amsterdam Keukenhof Alternative Day Program

You planned a spring holiday in the Netherlands. Everything packed: sunglasses, travel guide, tank tops. You made a little plan: visit Keukenhof, see a bit of Amsterdam, maybe an authentic Dutch village, something like Volendam or no, make it Zaanse Schans.  Great! You're good to go. Then your plane touches ground in Amsterdam Airport, you get out and....uff, it's terribly cold!  And...it's raining!  Well, here's an alternative day program that will still get you to Keukenhof.

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The Staphorster Bike & the Dutch Dressguard

How I saw a picture of women cycling in folk costume and went to Staphorst in search of a bike showing the cultural diversity in the Netherlands

Like many curious travellers/ entrepreneurs I love absorbing a good deal of information. Information that I can later pass on to you, my dear participant and reader. In a few weeks I am to give my festive workshop about Dutch traditions and celebrations again. To prepare myself I take out this book called Typisch Nederlands: tradities en trends in Nederland . On page 36 a black-and-white picture of three women on bicycles catches my attention. The middle one is casually dressed, whereas the two women on her side are in full folk costumes.  In the caption, freely translated, it reads:

 

Picture taken from the book 'Typisch Nederland: tradities en trends'
Picture taken from the book 'Typisch Nederlands: tradities en trends in Nederland'

In a small country like the Netherlands there's a large regional cultural diversity. Even the manufacturer of an everyday object such as the bicycle has to take this in account. A version of the classical lady's bike with holes in the mudgear/ fender to attach the handmade coloured 'cyclenets' (dress guards) existed for a long time in Staphorst.

 

A bicycle that was adjusted to the local needs! Of course I wanted to see this bike with my own eyes, but first I was curious which manufacturer made this Staphorster bike. Google being a good friend, I searched for 'Staphorster fiets' and 'Staphorster variant', 'Staphorst model' in combination with the words 'origin', 'history'.  What I found was lots of information on the dress guards. Those dress guards...well, they are works of art.

 

How to Prevent clothes from getting into your bike's wheel

Cycling in Staphorst is and has always been done on a black omafiets or granny's bike.  It was easy for the women with their long skirts to get on the bike thanks to the step-through frame. The only problem was that their skirts got ruined because they kept getting into the spokes. Inventive as the women were they found a solution to this: dress guards. If you see dress guards on a bicycle nowadays they're usually made of plastic. The Staphorster women made and still make their dress guards themselves. They crochet different creations in all colours and patterns. If you know a bit of Dutch you can find an original pattern here.  Is your Dutch not that good and still want to get an idea on how to crochet your own dress guard? Find an English crochet pattern here. For the non-crochetters: you can also order them on Simeli.

How the crochetted dress guard led me to Staphorst

An employee at Velorama, the bicycle museum in Nijmegen, told me that a local dealer would make little holes in the omafiets to attach these crochetted creations. Blue-red ones were for daily use, green-black ones for mourning periods.

After all this reading about the Staphorster bike I still hadn't found what I was looking for: the manufacturer of this version of the classical lady's bike. So, it was time to visit Staphorst, the small town in Overijssel where time has stood still. The town with the low straw-roofed farmhouses with traditional green doors and green wooden window shutters. The town where women still ride their black omafiets in traditional folk costume.

The typical granny's bike -omafiets- with Staphorster dress guards - fietsnetten-.
The traditional granny's bike -omafiets- with Staphorster dress guards - fietsnetten-.

What happened when I finally saw a lady in traditional costume on a  staphorster bike

When I came in Staphorst, I could only see fast cycling kids wearing the latest fashion. We then stopped at a cycle shop where the most beautiful example of the Staphorster fiets stood waiting to be repaired. I asked the shop owner the manufacturer's name, but he didn't know and wondered if there had ever been a manufacturer specialised in the Staphorster bike. He said there was still a high demand in Staphorst for the mud gears with holes in them and he now ordered them especially for the Staphorster women. A little while after our conversation a women passed by. In folk costume. On a black omafiets with crochetted dress guards. I was too surprised to even think about taking a picture...

Did you go to Staphorst and managed to take a picture of a Staphorster lady in folk costume riding her bike? Please share it here, I would love to see it!

 

 


7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands Verita's Visit King's Day

My 7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands

A fresh start of spring in Holland. Outside it's still rather cold and...where's the sun?  When it comes to the temperature spring really has to warm up, but nature is ready for it. Just take a look outside and see the new born lambs curiously looking at the young tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The start of the season brings excitement, some people even get a bit stressed when they see spring has come. Here are my 7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands.

Note: In case the Corona measures still apply, please use this post as a source of information for a future trip.

Tip 1: Easter on the Beach

Easter is one of these spring events in the Netherlands I wouldn't want to miss out on. There are lots of activities being organised. When I'm not on a bike showing you and your friends how amazing the Dutch countryside is, I enjoy my Easter brunch on the beach. The real tourist season starts in the Easter weekend. Weeks before Easter the beach is inspected and levelled. The beach boulevards are full of trucks offloading material. Right after the beach is prepared, the beach restaurant owners can set up their restaurants. In the Netherlands cafes and restaurants can only be found on the beach between March and October. This means that every year before Easter the owners have to set up their beach restaurants again. Just to be able to welcome me & you for an Easter brunch. Isn't that great?

witte bloesem -veritasvisit
Beautiful blossom of fruit trees in spring


Tip 2: Blossoming Fruit Trees, Asparagus and Bike Races

Another part of the food sector depends on good weather. Every year the fruit and vegetable farmers anxiously wait for the results of the season. Apple-, cherry-, peartrees are not only useful for their fruits, but also for their blossom. Walking trails take you through picturesque fields full of fresh, scented flowers. But, besides walking there is another option. Known all over the world, a typical Dutch activity is cycling. As spring is also the start of the cycling season, many regions in the Netherlands offer arrangements, excursions or routes for the cyclist. Cycling routes go through areas full of blossoming trees, or later in the season through fields of fruit, where farmers give you the opportunity to pick your own fruit or make an arrangement so you can take a picknickbasket and have a picknick in the garden.

Strawberries and cherries in Holland-veritasvisit
Strawberries and cherries are sold in spring in Holland

Next to the fruit farmers I mentioned the vegetable farmers. Which vegetable am I talking about? The asparagus! Strawberries, the delicious fruit of the season are often linked with the "white gold". Asparagus are mainly cultivated in the region Limburg, the region in the south of the Netherlands. Here they can also prepare these tasty vegetables in many different ways and a meal doesn't even have to cost much. And, while you're at it, try some of the Limburgian wine ( yes, Limburg also cultivates its own grapes).

For the cycling fanatics, it is also the season in which bike races start. Limburg, with its Dutch mountains is also the ideal place for bike races such as the Amstel Gold Race. It is nice to see the cyclist pass by, with the thousand of spectator standing at the sidelines yelling and admiring. Of course,  right after the race you can create your own track and set a new record.

Amazing tulips Keukenhof-veritasvisit
Keukenhof displays a beautiful range of tulips from mid March till mid May

Tip 3: Keukenhof and Flower Parade

When you think of spring in Holland, you think of mesmerizing tulip fields, enchanting daffodil fields and hyacinth fields filling the air with their spring perfume.  Keukenhof is a must see when you are in the Netherlands around Easter. The park is dedicated to the tulip and other spring flowers.  It is a beautiful park where you even get to shoot some good pictures of all that the Netherlands has to offer: a field of tulips in front of a windmill where a girl dressed in Dutch folklore clothes  sells cheese.

A very popular spring festival is the flower parade, in Dutch we call it Bloemencorso. These parades are in the bulb flower region, that means in the area of Leiden, Lisse en Haarlem. It's a great parade to see the beautiful spring flowers and the creativity of the locals, who work on the floats for months.

Both Keukenhof and the Flower Parade are big attractions and they welcome thousands of visitors from every part of the world. If you don't want to be in a traffic jam of tourist buses for hours or are curious about the many other festivals & activities in the area, just take a look at Flower Festival Lisse for some original ideas. Cycling through the spring flower fields is -of course- one of my favourite ways to pass time and I would definitely recommend you to add it to your visit to the Netherlands in spring.

Gouda cheese market group tour groepsreis Verita's Visit

Tip 4: Cheese Markets

Enough about flowers, let's talk about cheese. The cheese market season also starts in April. It's one of those spectacular spring events in the Netherlands that is not to be missed when you come and visit. There are markets in Gouda, Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn and Woerden. Cheese farmers and traders meet on the market square to negotiate the price of the cheese, Dutch cheese girls offer tastings of different cheeses and there are many special activities. It's a great outing for the whole family.

Flea Market King's Day-veritasvisit
A flea market on King's Day. These can be found everywhere, but those in the smaller districts of cities or in villages are the best.

To see where and how the Dutch -Gouda- cheese is made, I would really recommend you to add a visit to a cheese farm and a historical cheese warehouse.

Tip 5: King's Day

King's day is on the 27th of April and Dutch love to celebrate this on the streets. Amsterdam is an orange heaven and should be visited on this dat, but be aware: on the 27th itself everything is fully packed, trains are full, roads are full, streets in Amsterdam are full. If you really want to be in Amsterdam on the 27th go to the city a couple of days before and make sure you have your accomodation booked long before, because Amsterdam will be crowded.

I have been in Amsterdam once on King's Day and I have to say I didn't really like it. To get there it takes a lot of patience and walking around in the city is a real pain: it's just too busy for my liking. I prefer other cities such as Utrecht or The Hague, where every neighbourhood has their own flea market and you can play old Dutch games. Nevertheless, if you want to have an authentic King's Day experience try celebrating it in a small city or even a village. It's much easier to get connected with the locals and the celebration is much more intense as it's much smaller and intimate.

Now King's Day doesn't start on the 27th of April, but the evening before. On the 26th in the late afternoon I would suggest you to go to The Hague to celebrate the Life I Live festival. Bands are playing everywhere, special theatre shows are organised and there are lots of things to do and see. It is one of the few nights this very special atmosphere can be sensed in The Hague, people are just having fun and there's a common vibe everyone can feel.

Tip 6: Liberation Day

Shortly after King's Day Day the Dutch commemorate the people who died in World War II, during peace operations or in war situations. The day after, the 5th of May it is Liberation Day, the day that we celebrate the end of World War II and think about the meaning of freedom. For this we have special Liberation Festivals in different cities in the Netherlands, where bands and known Dutch artists perform. This website gives you more information about who is performing where and what other activities are planned.

Tip 7: Museumweekend

Spring in the Netherlands means being outdoors. But, if the weather is bad, you can always enjoy the musea. In april Dutch musea organise special activities in a weekend that is cleverly called Museumweekend. Entrance in the musea is for free or you pay very little.

Verita's Visit Special spring Events in the Netherlands

 


What's the name of Keukenhof area?

Ask anyone where the Keukenhof area is located and they tell you it's close to Amsterdam (35km to be precise). Some will tell you Keukenhof flower garden is situated between Leiden and Haarlem and others can even tell you the name of the town: Lisse. Only few will give you the name of Keukenhof area. That's a pity, because it's where the story of tulips and bulb flowers starts.

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Visit to Gouda Cheese Farm

Golden Glow Gouda Cheese-veritasvisit
Golden Glow over Gouda City

The Gouda city hall lights up in a golden glow. The few rays of sunlight passing the city hall direct all attention to the negotiation game of the cheese farmer and the buyer on this Thursday’s Gouda cheese market.  After the deal has been sealed the farmer approaches me and asks:

Would you like to try out different cheeses and make your own cheese in a cheese farm”?

There's a little spark inside me and I nodd my head. He makes a phone call, arranges a bike and….Read more


Remembrance Day Bevrijdingsdag HerdenkingDen Haag

Peaceful place in The Hague to remember- Waalsdorpervlakte

Remembrance Day Bevrijdingsdag HerdenkingDen Haag

At Peace in a Quiet Place in the Netherlands

It's May holiday. Today I just want to get away from the city a bit, visit nature and enjoy the silence there. There's a special reason I'm looking for a quiet place in Holland today...

it's Remembrance Day. Throughout the Netherlands memorial services and silent marches take place to commemorate those who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII, but also in wars and peacekeeping missions after 1945.

Haag natuur vrede tocht Hague nature cycling guide Verita's Visit Holland

Freedom to enjoy nature

On this day, the 4th of May,  I take my bike and cycle to the Waalsdorpervlakte, to just sit in the sand with nothing around me but birds and trees. This is the most peaceful place in The Hague for me. I lay down and look up into the clouded sky and I realise how fortunate I am to have the liberty to just be here and enjoy the Dutch nature. Freedom seems such a common thing, untill you stop for a moment to think about what you have.

Quiet place Hague-veritasvisit

Nature around The Hague

Waalsdorpervlakte is a beautiful natural area, near the Nordsea coastline & the dunes. It's  a peaceful place in The Hague. It's also an important historical marker: many Dutch resistance fighters were executed here. It is one of the mayor locations in Holland where a memorial service is held. A big bell will ring. Except for this year, 2021. A small ceremony without public attendance will happen. The Dutch people are requested to stay at home and watch the ceremony online.

Two minutes of silence

When the clock strikes 8, the Netherland observes two minutes of silence, to remember and honour those who died for our freedom.


 

Visit the  website of the tourist office The Hague for more information on the memorial service at Waalsdorpervlakte.

This is a list of all memorial services in The Hague in 2019 (in Dutch)

For more information on the Dutch Rememberance Day and Liberation Day on the 5th of May, go to 4en5mei.nl

The Netherlands is celebrating 75 years of Freedom in the Netherlands in 2020. For all activities go to Tweedewereldoorlog.nl.

These websites are in Dutch. If you are interested in a specific activity, do let me know, I do my best to find more information.

If you would like to visit Waalsdorpervlakte and surroundings with Verita's Visit, contact me for a personalised tour.