When small town boys visit the canal parade

When small town boys visit the canal parade they get hyperactive and super excited. Maybe it is the surrounding. The story about Vermeer and his secret marriage. All of a sudden they fall silent and look serious. Not for long though.

Windmill on Delft bike tour molen fietstocht Verita's Visit

Secret marriage in Delft countryside

We’ve just walked through the chapel and the group’s laughter and chitchats turn into a respectful awe. Now the three men sit opposite of me, hands supporting their heads, eyes looking straight at me. I tell them the story of protestant Vermeer and his marriage with the catholic Maria. Catholicism was forbidden in those days so they had to get married in secret in this village not far from Delft.

 

Back home in Dutch farmland

The handsome small town boys know how it feels to hide your true self and sigh. “North of New York is where I grew up, but it wasn’t like NY at all. Just farmlands. Nobody travels, everyone stays in their comfort zone.”, one says. He almost jumped up and down on the bike when we started the tour. Now he looks at the others and finds comfort in their expressions.

When Fields of Dreams meets the Big Apple

“Do you know the movie Fields of Dreams?, that’s where I’m from”. The guy who’s talking is quite the opposite of his friend. He took his time to take in the scenery while cycling. You can see he thinks before he speaks and right now he has a stern look on his face. A mix between melancholy and pride. He’s clearly goal driven: “When I was young I told my mother I wanted to live on Sesame Street. Now I live one block away from it”.   They moved from small countryside villages to the Big Apple. Dreaming of a good job, meeting like-minded people and being accepted for who they are. They succeeded and are proud of themselves. So they should be.

Delft countryside flower parade bike tour fietstocht natuur Varend corso Verita's Visit

Birthday celebration in and out of Amsterdam

These three beautiful men celebrate a birthday in Amsterdam. At their arrival they stumbled upon the first Pride parties. They’re all excited for this afternoon, when these small town boys visit the Canal Parade. An endless flow of questions runs through the air:

“Will the Canal Parade be like the one in New York , celebrated in different districts? Will it be as big?”

Juicy stories and good food in Vermeer's wedding town

They left big city Amsterdam and Pride to wonder through the countryside near Delft with me. Even if they would have liked to be at the Canal Parade the whole day, they don’t show it. Their attention is on me and that makes me feel real special. When one of them gets a flat tire, we’re all sad. I promise them beer and good local food. Their laughter and juicy stories can be heard from far away. Somehow, with some effort, we make it back to Vermeer’s wedding place. In my favorite restaurant we savor local delicacies and good beer. More stories, more questions follow. They miss their train back to Amsterdam. And the next one. And the next one. Then they decide to really make a move. Ready for Pride Amsterdam!

local food tasting gastronomy tour Delft gastronomische tour reis Verita's VisitWhen small town boys visit the canal parade

When the small town boys visit the Canal Parade, they make a trip in Delft to visit the farmlands. I’m happy they did.


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Gouda team event Dutch culture &  diversity


Gouda challenge corporate event

The city has become my second home. In the last months I’ve been here every week to dive into Dutch culture and diversity. I’ve found fun activities to add to the Gouda challenge corporate event. Today it’s time to make the final arrangements before the grand finale Mid-June.

Cheese boys, cart &  market Gouda tour groep reis Verita's Visit
Cheese boys, cart & market Gouda

Follow the Gouda cheese carts

I can hear the horses’ hooves on the cobblestones. The rhythm is similar to the beating of my heart. “Where is the Gouda cheese market?” A German couple asks me below the cheese guirlands in the shopping street. “The wheels of Gouda cheese are delivered to the market by horse and cart’, I say knowingly. “Follow the carts and you’ll get there”. There’s a tension in my voice. I need to be at the Gouda cheese market and I’m late.

Old Dutch crafts in Gouda

I’ve heard about the Gouda Cheese Awards through one of my new contacts. For the Gouda challenge corporate event I was looking for pretty specific things. Of course, Holland cheese & stroopwafels would be included. I also wanted to add some lesser known Gouda products to the team-building game. An internet search gave me a whole spectrum of options and I got real enthusiastic. Then I dove in deeper and found out that men and women still practicing old Dutch crafts in Gouda are hard to find. Either retired or deceased. With my focus so much on all things Gouda I swiped through my social media and there it was: the post of the Erasmus artwork.

Erasmus & Frau Antje

My new contact Ginetta happened to organise many activities around Erasmus and the Dutch crafts practiced in his days. She gave me loads of new leads. “I live for Gouda”, was her reaction when I thanked her for all the information. “You should come to the Gouda Cheese Awards. Frau Antje, the well known cheese girl, will be there together with a Dutch tv person. “

Copyright Sandra Zeilstra/ AD

Holland Cheese Valley by bike

So I came. Mainly because I wanted to meet my new contact. Things went slightly different. Very lastminute I became the tour guide for a bike ride with bloggers, journalists and travel writers on a presstrip to the Holland Cheese Valley. But that’s a different story altogether.

Gouda city challenge corporate event

I didn’t manage to meet Ginetta. Nor did I get to go to any of the other meetings I had planned today. All the preparations for the Gouda city challenge corporate event have been made though. I’ve got a chance to do the special cheese tasting and oh, it is such an unique experience! Sweet, soft, salty and grainy. I’m so excited for the Gouda team building event! Let the city game begin!

Gouda cheese tasting corporate company outing bedrijfsuitje kaasproeverij Verita's Visit


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team-outing-by-bike-Leiden-windmill-Veritas-Visit-Holland

Tip for pre-meeting activity Leiden

Her whole person beams with confidence. She's to-the-point, has a great sense of responsibility and a hands-on mentality. She aims for the stars and...is new to the team. So she organises a team outing. Thé tip for a pre-meeting activity Leiden.

team-outing-by-bike-Leiden-windmill-Veritas-Visit-HollandMeeting your colleagues in real life

"Have you met each other before?" It's my favorite question when I greet a group for a teambuilding event or company outing. For me, the question is to open up conversation, get everyone talking to each other. From the group interaction I already know the answer. One of my participants was spot on when she said: "We know each other's voice".

Idea for pre-meeting activity Leiden

The power woman of this company  planned a 1-day meeting to get to know her team.  With the European headquarter in Leiden, she invited everyone to come over to the city of Rembrandt.  And she booked a bike tour as pre-meeting activity Leiden. That, I think, is a perfect idea.

Typical Dutch activity Leiden

Whether it is before a 1-day meeting or weeklong conference, an active outing is a good starting point to get to know your team. Most of the time Dutch colleagues love to do something typical Dutch like a workshop cheese making or Delft blue painting. Cycling is one on the most popular corporate outings for international companies. And a bike tour has  certain advantages.

Natural communication during team event

By doing something active the focus is on the activity itself. Communication happens more naturally. Sometimes networking feels forced. During the team activity it's mostly just small talk. The more intense conversations are kept for later.

teambuilding pre activity meeting business Verita's VisitDuring a typical Dutch cycling tour there's lot's to talk about. At least, when you're in the countryside. Although infrastructure in the Dutch cities is nice, passing busses, cyclists and pedestrians crisscrossing, might cause stress. The focus is not on the activity anymore. The only thing which is on your mind is how you'll get through this alive. Survival mode, that is. So, tip for pre-meeting activity in Leiden: go for a bike tour in the Leiden surroundings. Visit a windmill, pass by the lakes, have a drink at a castle. Talk to your colleagues from all around the world about everything you see and how that is different or the same from home.

Kasteel Castle tour Leiden groep reis Verita's Visit

What a bike ride tells about team spirit

The very very best of a bike tour as pre-meeting activity in Leiden is that you're in it together. Not everyone is born on a bicycle. The way you respond to the cycling skills of your colleague, says a lot about you as a team. Do you motivate her/ him? Do you leave him/ her behind, cycling all by him/herself or do you adjust your speed? Go for a bike ride and find out about your team's spirit!

Just curious: Do you have an idea who takes the lead in supporting the non-daily cyclists if you were to go on a cycling outing with your international team?

 


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Where is the best windmill in The Hague - Delft?

Woosh woosh woosh. The typical Dutch flat land is great for cycling except for when there's wind. And there always is wind. Always. So, it took me some time to get here, but here I am. On the dike, next to the best windmill in The Hague - Delft. And I have to say: this giant typical Dutch icon is making a terrible noise.

Delft windmill molen fietstocht gids bike tour Verita's VisitPeek inside a Dutch windmill

There are several opportunities per year to visit a Dutch windmill and have a look inside. Most popular are the industrial windmills in Zaanse Schans, near Amsterdam and the polder windmills in Unesco heritage site Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam.  If you want to meet more locals and get a more authentic experience keep your eyes open for a National Heritage Day or a National Windmill  Day. In my humble opinion the regional windmill days are even better. Take the Westland windmill day for instance. It is your chance to live the life of a miller in the best windmill in The Hague - Delft.

flour windmill Delft bike tour molentocht fiets groepsuitje Verita's VisitSmell Dutch delicacies at Delft windmill

She's a tough lady. No matter how the landscape around her changes, Windmill de Roos in Delft stands tall.  She's been here for ages. Not at exactly the same spot, she has been moved a few metres to the left, a few metres to the right when new roads or new railway tracks were created. And now, after the construction of the underground railway, she's earned her spot along a wide cycling path.  For your great view on the city, go here. At least, that's what they say. I am afraid of heights and the steep stairs will garantee I stay with both feet on the ground. When my participants climb up to the windmill's deck I  follow the flour dust to the small shop. As I wander past the rye flour, the mixes for cakes and crumbles I can almost smell the delicious fragrances of fresh made bread and pastries. The mix for the Dutch gingerbread cookies, which they sell in winter really makes my mouth water.

Holland's best kept secrets

The best kept secrets from Holland are best kept secrets because they are either hidden from view or not that easy to reach. For the next best windmill The Hague - Delft area, leave the car at the parking and hop on a bike. One of the reasons why we cycle so much in the Netherlands is that we get everywhere. Even to the places that are not on Google Maps.

 

Cycle below the water

From the one and only flour windmill in Delft it is a 15 minutes bike ride to the Schaapweimolen. You could follow the route of the Westland floating flower parade. Essentialy that means you follow the water. Best part is where you go through a small cycling tunnel. The experience is over in the blink of an eye, so make sure you blink slowly. While you cycle in the deep dark tunnel, take a look at your right. At the deepest point you cycle below the water!

Best windmill The Hague -Delft for water management

The water level in this area is all managed by the electric pumping station you see when your eyes get used to the light again. Up you go, swirling on the bridge to cross the canal. Don't swirl to fast now. Take a moment to look out on the canal. You'll immediately see the Schaapweimolen. A few metres before are the remains of another windmill. Can you picture a row of windmills here, pumping the water from the polder land into the canal?

Meet the miller

When you visit the Schaapweimolen take your time. Many visitors take a few pictures from the outside and have a quick look inside during one of the open windmill days. If you take your time, you'll meet the miller. From the tiny window of the miller's house Wim has a good view on everyone passing by. Wim is 80 years old and quite a character.  When I ask him if he still puts the sails on the blades himself, I know I've made a mistake. He looks at me as if I just asked him if windmills can walk. Having worked at windmills for most of his life, putting the sails is like eating a sandwich with cheese. Wim is a man of little words. He'll take you inside the miller's house, where grandgrandparents would just feel at home. There are images of windmills everywhere. And, you can take a look outside of that tiny window. "Say hi to Rob" is what Wim mumbles when I tell him we're off to the Groeneveldsemolen.

local food  Verita's Visit gastronomy tour Delft region

Coffee stop on windmill route

There's more wind now, but nothing can stop me to get to my final destination, definitely on my list of  best windmill in The Hague - Delft . I've never been to the Groeneveldsemolen,  although it has a big attraction on me. I passed by when a thunderstorm was about to hit The Hague area. It looked like Jekyll and Hyde, its white side overtaken by its dark side. The cycling route from Schaapweimolen to this polder windmill leads past the tiniest village in this region: 't Woudt. It's always busy and gezellig at Koffiehuis de Hooiberg, thé place for a coffee break.

windnill The Hague Delft tour groep reis uitje event  Verita's Visit Den Haag Delft

Highspeed windmill scale models

Back on the pedals, cross the bridge and then take a right. Rob, the miller and other volunteers organise many activities for all ages on the open windmill days. Rob is so busy, I don't get a chance to talk to him today. A kid leads me to the small scale models of different windmills in the polder land. He opens each model and shows the mechanism. At a model of a flour windmill he scoops up some of the grain here, some of the flour there. "See, feel, touch' he yells through the sound of the turning blades.  The blades, wow, the blades of these models. They  turn in a high speed.  It's nothing compared to the Groeneveldsemolen itself.

Whoosh whoosh and krikkriek

The blades of this giant Dutch icon turn at a terrifying speed.  The doors of the windmill open a view into the wheel. Krikkriek. It rattles as the water runs through. The water gushes out and foam splashes everywhere. It goes without saying that I'm spellbound by the rhytms this windmill makes. Is this the best windmill The Hague - Delft?

Visit the The Hague - Delft windmills

Visit these and other windmills during National windmill Day in May or on the regional windmill day . Or, book a personalised bike tour with visit windmill. We start in The Hague, Delft or an amazing location in Westland - more than greenhouses!-

 


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summer best time combine visit attractions Keukenhof

Windmill tour Keukenhof area

The flower and tulip fields make a great day trip to the Amsterdam flower strip in spring and summer. In these seasons and in the rest of the year there are plenty of other sights to visit as well. Today's traveltip: a windmill tour Keukenhof area.

 

Windmill tour Keukenhof area spring fall summer molen rondleiding Bollenstreek teambuilding Verita's VisitA new miller for Holland heritage

A new face. Robert stands tall next to the even taller windmill. The passionate Jan, who still lives in this amazing Dutch icon, steps out of his house. He'll give us the windmill tour Keukenhof area while Robert, the new miller, shows us how to handle the sails, the blades and the wheels of this historical monument.

Dutch icon in polder landscape

This windmill is beautifully located. On top of a dike, it looks out on the canal on one side. On the other the polders - the green meadows which lay much lower than the canal. In between the polders are ditches. This mill is called a polder drainage windmill. An enormous screw under the house pumps the water of the ditches in the canal. The obvious question: does Jan not hear the mechanism when it's operating?

Jan's answer: "You get used to it. The windmill's monotonous sound is actually quite calming"

Windmill flower region molen bezoek teambuilding Verita's Visit

Windmill tour Keukenhof area

The Golden Age comes to life when you see the blades of this 17th century typical Dutch icon turning. It's quite close by  the worldfamous tulip garden and participants often request a windmill tour Keukenhof area when they book the tulip field bike tour.

Windmill bike tour fietstocht Keukenhof omgeving area teambuilding Verita's Visit

It is also possible to organise a visit by bike or boat to this windmill in fall or winter. Or add it to the Holland beach and summer flower bike tour.

 


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Private tour Dutch greenhouse with family & friends

It's your mother's birthday. She's got green fingers, owns a plant nursery in the UK for over 35 years now. So what do you gift her? A private tour Dutch greenhouse in the area below The Hague! Read more


How to take your kids on bike ride in Holland?

You're on vacation and the one thing on your list is to explore Holland by bike.  There is just one question: how to take your kids on bike ride? Indeed, the question is not can I, because there always is an option. The question is how do you want to cycle in the Netherlands with your kids?

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What if it rains on bike tour Verita's Visit als het regent op fietstocht

What if it rains on the day of your bike tour Holland?

A Vermeer-like sky greets locals and visitors of Delft. A few cotton clouds float in an otherwise blue sky.  Still, weather in the Netherlands is unpredictable. What if it rains on the day of your bike tour Holland?

 

Cycling in the rain Netherlands
Bad weather, beautiful bike ride Netherlands

The Dutch weather is fine

In Dutch there’s a saying: Geen vuiltje aan de lucht. Literally this means there’s not a dirt spot in the sky. And there wasn’t. When I opened the curtains this morning it was just another summer day in the Netherlands. A bit of wind, but nothing the German group couldn’t handle. The leader of the pack, a friendly lady, had messaged me: “We’re members of a bowling club. Every other year we pick a city and do some activities there. Bike tours are often part of our weekend trip.”

The Dutch and their weather apps

I always check the weather forecast. Weather in the Netherlands can be unpredictable. It can be so unpredictable that the forecast changes every minute. Which is why the Dutch like their weather apps. Buienradar, Buienalarm, weeronline. Try them, they’re quite addictive! A couple of days before the tour I message my participants with the latest weather updates. In case the weather prediction is really bad I offer to reschedule the tour or give a –partly-  refund.

Cycling in the rain in the Netherlands

If a light drizzle is predicted or rain is altered with sun the cycling tour will happen. Cycling in the rain in the Netherlands is a whole experience and can actually be nice! I’ve even had two participants who insisted on doing the cycling tour even though it was pouring. They had booked a tulip field bike tour and I have to say: it was amazing! There were hardly any people on the road and we could take great pictures of tulips covered in rain drops.

No such thing as bad weather

 Another time I had warned my participants for rain showers. They came dressed in fantastic waterproof outfits and said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. We stopped in cafés and typical Dutch farms every time the rain became too much and actually enjoyed the sun everytime it found its way to the clouds.

Best season to cycle in Holland

What if it rains on the day of your bike tour in Holland? The German lady and I, we hadn’t talked about it. It hadn’t even crossed my mind. Summer weather in the Netherlands usually is ok. The wind plays a huge part in the other seasons, but summer is quiet, weather is good. Most of the time the wind, rain, storm is on holiday in summer.  Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Like today.

best restaurant shelter rain Netherlands
Waiting for the rain to stop in a restaurant

Restaurant shelter from the rain

The wind got stronger in the afternoon. All the fluffy clouds gathered and turned into one massive rain cloud. It started to rain. First a light drizzle, then harder and harder. Our rain ponchos couldn’t keep us dry anymore. Which is why we stopped at my favorite restaurant. It was nice and warm inside. I ordered the lovely local snacks for the whole group. While we enjoyed some bites and drinks, I told the group the stories about the area I had wanted to tell enroute. We had lovely conversations until the rain stopped. Quickly we got back on our bicycles and head back to the city centre.

Being outdoors in the Dutch countryside

Despite the Dutch weather everyone was happy. “Thank you for this bike tour”, the group leader said, “we are glad to have seen something from the Dutch countryside. Else we would just have been in a café in the city centre, close to our hotel. Next time we contact you again!”

What if it rains on the day of your bike tour in Holland?

So, what if it rains on the day of your bike tour in Holland? Then we discuss the options. Reschedule? Cancel? Or just go through with it?  Just to let you know: wherever we go, there's always a great place to stop for shelter, coffee or local beer ;)


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The swallow's summer weather prediction

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Group tour Leiden local food countryside

Red and yellow. I get a craving for blushing apples and earthy nuts when I cycle through the forest of fall colors. Program of the day: a group tour Leiden local food. Let's taste that great combination of salty cheese and sweet/ sour apple!

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The Day I Ate Local Food in Leiden Countryside

The day I ate local food in Leiden countryside was a day I went cycling with two American girls who were delighted by everything they saw. At least, I think so, as they said ‘how delightful’ all the time. It was the open landscape, I guess, or maybe the tour at the Leiden cheese farm or meeting the miller in the typical Dutch village.

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