Vermeer tour Delft holiday

Sleeping in Delft during Pentecost

Early Saturday morning. A couple of students wake you up by loudly ringing their bicycle bells right in front of your door. This way sleeping in Delft during Pentecost is impossible!  With the sanddust stil in your eyes, you look outside. The group carries big crates of Dutch doughnut look-a-likes. Your curiosity is sparked & you decide to follow them.

Whitsun sleepy head

In West Holland the Saturday before Whit Sunday is known as Luilak. It was an exciting day for young people. They rose early morning to make noise, shake up the city and wake up those who were sleeping long and being lazy – the so called ‘luilakken’. It was the time to say goodbye to winter, clean the house and welcome spring. There was no room for lazy people.

Morning Delft countryside tour Verita's Visit
Early morning view over Delft church from countryside

Sleeping in Delft for the holidays

In the 19th century this was still a decent festivity, if you came to work late, you had to buy your colleagues some drinks. That was it. Like any celebration, Luilak took on a different form as time went by. Just like New Year’s Day nowadays, the youngsters started disbehaving. Riots & vandalism became a common sight on the Saturday morning before Whit Sunday. There was no way to get any rest in any of the cities where the celebration. Government & municipalities looked for solutions, created their own parades and bonfires.  Sleeping in Delft during Pentecost became a challenge and while a group of Delftians lay awake at night an idea emerged.

Delft tour start historical centre Verita's Visit daytrip
No youngsters waking you up in Delft anymore

Food is the solution to sleeping well in Delft

For centuries bakeries made a special treat for Pentecost: de luilakkenbol, a sweet bun similar to a Dutch doughnut. This group of Delftians came up with the idea to create a parade for the youngsters. At the end a full load of luilakbollen would be thrown on top of them. It became a huge success and it was the start of an annual Delft festival called the Delft Bun Saturday or Delftse bollenzaterdag.

Nowadays Luilak is not celebrated any more. Its means sleeping in Delft during Pentecost is relaxed and quiet. The luilakbol is not sold by Delft bakers. But, you can make them yourself, they're similar to the English scone.

Vermeer tour Delft holiday
Pouring the milk like Vermeer's maid in Delft

Recipe for Pentecost luilakbol

  • 40 grams of yeast
  • 500 grams of flour ( of which 2/3 wheat flour and 1/3 rye flour)
  • 250 grams of milk
  • 10 grams of salt
  • 20 grams of brown sugar
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 300 grams of raisins
  • 100 grams of currants
  • tea spoon of cinnamon
My homemade luilakbol. Will you show me yours?

Step by step making of Delft bun

Mix the yeast with 4 spoons of lukewarm milk. Take the flour and mix it with the salt and sugar. Then make a little whole in the middle of the flour. Pour the melted butter in the yeast mix and add this to the flour. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Cover with a clean cloth and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

Wash the raisins and currants and make sure they're dry. Then add them to the risen dough with the cinnamon. Knead and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Set the oven on 240°C.  Out of the dough, make buns of about 60 grams. Put them on a well-buttered baking tray, cut each bun on 4 sides.  Leave to rise for another 15 minutes. Then brush them with egg and bake them for 15 minutes.  Eat them with butter and syrup (or jam).


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Sources of inspiration:

https://www.bakkersinbedrijf.nl/recept_artikelen/recept-luilakbollen

https://www.maxvandaag.nl/sessies/themas/terug-naar-toen/luilak-het-uitstervende-kwajongensfeest/

https://www.beleven.org/feest/luilak

 

 

 


Delft & Gouda light festival: December in Holland

The Delft & Gouda light festival are two charming December events in Holland. They take place in the historical city centre and put their own unique local culture in the spotlight.

Gouda activities group Verita's Visit groepsactiviteiten winter

The night is dark. Darker than usual. All lights in the city have been dimmed. The Dutch usually stay inside in the cold December months, but tonight everyone is out on the street. Do like the locals, follow your nose. The scent of glühwein, hot chocolate and oliebollen - Dutch doughnuts-  fills the air. It leads you straight to the main square where a choir is singing and a huge Christmas tree is waiting to be lit.

When is the December Delft & Gouda light festival?

Lichtjesavond, Dutch for Evening of Lights, is the Delft December light festival. It takes place on Tuesday 10 December 2019 and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  The Gouda light festival is 3 days later, on Friday 13 December. It’s called Kaarsjesavond, Dutch for Candle Night. 

Are Delft Evening of Lights and Gouda Candle Night the same?

 These two December events in the province South Holland are very much alike.

  • The Christmas tree lighting ceremony starts at 7 PM on the main square and is the main attraction of the Delft & Gouda light festival.
  • All churches in the historical city centre open their doors to the public and have special activities.
  • There are stands selling artisanal products and very typical Dutch food and drinks.  Besides the Dutch doughnuts- oliebollen- , the pea soup – erwtensoep- is also very popular
  • Choirs pop up on every corner. Dressed in Dickens’ costumes or santa’s costume the choirs from the region bring the top Christmas pop and classic songs.
  • There are different routes through the city centre to enjoy the light festival.

Which December event in South Holland to visit

Should you visit both when these two Dutch December festivals are so similar? Yes, do add it to your list of Holland light festival visits! There are some details which make Lichtjesavond in Delft differ in feel and looks from Kaarsjesavond in Gouda

The main differences of the Delft & Gouda light festival are:

  • the routes
  • the locations of the markets
  • how the cities use their traditions.

Choose a light route

For the first time in the history of the Delft Evening of Lights festival you can choose between a couple of routes. They lead from the market square to the different festive hubs and pass various historical streets full of music, food and local products.

Tip: take the route along the oldest street of Delft, the Oude Delft. The canal is very picturesque: all buildings are lit by colored flood lights and light guirlandes hang over the water. Do stop by the Maria Jessekerk, a small, cosy church.

The Gouda Candle Night has used routes before. Gouda works with themed routes, which is great! You can choose to go arty or historical. 

Go christmas market hopping

Gouda’s December event offers a lot more activities inside monumental buildings and churches. Unlike Delft, the festive markets are mostly inside. 

Tip:  visit the St Jan church for free, gaze at the huge stained glass windows and stroll through the covered market where locals sell their artisanal products.

Uitjes winter Verita's Visit family corporate events Gouda

Dutch traditions in the spotlight

Delft 2019 was a celebration of the Golden Age, Delft Blue & Vermeer. This theme will also come up in the Lichtjesavond on the 2nd Tuesday of December. Check the website for all activities, performances and routes.

The Christmas tree on the main square of Gouda is a gift. The city’s Norwegian sister town sends a tree to Gouda every year and has done so the last 60 years.

The lights in the tree itself are not real candles anymore. Gouda, city of candles does like to keep the tradition of lighting candles on this special evening - hence the name Candle Night-. Just before the lighting of the tree, the city’s electric lights are turned off. In Gouda’s City Hall and in some of the houses on the market square, real candles are lit. 

A last tip: For me, the lighting of the tree is not the highlight. I love the atmosphere, the activities. Like any other festival, these two Dutch December events are great opportunities to get #socialwithalocal. Do ask, do sing along, do join the celebration. The Delft & Gouda light festival program already start at 4 PM. Around 6 PM the atmosphere in both cities is best. If you do decide to join the lighting ceremony on the market square, make sure you’re there at 6:30 PM or earlier.

For more info on the light festivals'program:

Delft Lichtjesavond

Gouda Kaarsjesavond

 


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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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Half day team event Hague area

Pack your bags! You’re going on a trip to the Netherlands. The grand finale: a half day team event Hague area with your work team. After a couple of days of trainings and workshops in the company’s Dutch headquarter you and your international colleagues head out for adventure!

boating Gouda event teambuilding Verita's Visit bootrace
Boat race corporate event Gouda area

Relaxing or active half day team event around The Hague

The global organisation you work for has given you carte blanche for a half day team event The Hague. It’s up to you and your team to decide if you want to do an active event or something relaxing. It could be a workshop Delft blue painting or a boat race on the Leiden lakes.

Delft blue workshop teambuilding Verita's Visit familie vriendenConnecting with your global team

Due to time differences it’s not easy to get your team members from US, UK, Europe and South Africa together in a meeting to discuss the subject of the trainings in the Dutch headquarter or the content of the company outing on the last day. So, emails go back and forth and you manage to set up a call  with some of the colleagues who have been in the team for a while now.

Local event inspired food tasting teambuilding Verita's Visit inspiratie proeverij lokaal festival

Dutch culture activities in cities around the Hague

These hardcore team-building event participants have quite some suggestions.  One of  them reminds you: “We’ve done a canal cruise in Leiden a few years ago and a cooking workshop in The Hague”. “The activity should definitely something fun. I don’t mind traveling outside of The Hague, see a different city” another colleague writes in a email. After a while yet another colleague adds:

“Indeed! See a bit of the area, would love it if we could incorporate some Dutch culture. Food would be great too.” 

King's Day local event  Verita's Visit Koningsdag activiteit family friends company

Fun group activity on Dutch food

Food does give an extra dimension to a group activity, you think. After having gathered all suggestions, you have an idea of what kind of half day team event Hague area could look like. After the trainings and workshops you don’t want to have to think too much. So, it should be a fun and relaxing outing. It should not take too long either. Some kind of tour in a historical city not far from The Hague to absorb the Dutch culture and maybe add something food-related.  Could you combine it with a local festival or typical Dutch event that already takes place?


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Story Dutch Kissing Boy and Girl

Just like Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring the Dutch kissing boy and girl traveled the world, mainly in the shape of Delft blue souvenirs. Those who know them as the porcelain figurines link them to Delft. But were they originally from Delft?  A story of the kissing couple from Holland for Valentine's Day. Or any other day.

Share a Kiss and Become Famous

The Dutch are down-to-earth people and from what I've seen not overly romantic. We love a good Dutch tradition. On Valentine's Day we gift our loved ones a box of chocolate, red roses and complete it with a kiss. Simple as that. And simple is best. Look at the kissing couple, let's call them Val & Tine. Two figurines who have become the most romantic icon of the Netherlands. It's one of the most bought Holland souvenirs. And sharing a tender kiss in traditional Dutch folk costumes was all it took to become famous.

 

Boy Kisses Girl Goes Diverse

The tradition shows a Dutch kissing boy and girl, farmers, both in authentic folklore costume. Sometimes with tulips in hand and a windmill in the back. Typical Dutch representation. Some years ago, other versions appeared that demonstrated the diversity in the Netherlands. Small Delft blue statues of Dutch boy kissing Dutch girl and Dutch girl kissing Dutch girl. Then came the project To Kiss or Not To Kiss . The kissing couple became a multicultural souvenir, with figurines from Chinese, Surinamese and Arabic origin.

Multicultural kissing couples in Holland. Copyright: TKONTK

Origin of Kissing Dutch Boy and Girl

There is little information about the origin of the traditional kissing couple. Some say this picture of Jan & Grietje was the inspiration for the figurines. The kissing kids picture was taken in Volendam, North Holland around 1920.  I immediately checked the clothing with that of the Delft blue statues. What a disappointment! Even the clothes of the Dutch kissing boy and girl differ per souvenir.

 

Delft Blue Farmer's Couple

In an article by Dutch News Delft city archaeologist Steven Jongma says figurines of  the Dutch farmer's couple dating from mid 18th century have been found. Unlike Grietje & Jan they're not kissing though. The kissing part was added much later.  Delft ceramics was invented in the 16th century as a cheaper version of the Chinese porcelain, Delft painters thought people only liked Chinese flowers, birds and scenes. At one point in time though, there was a painter who dared to create a typical Dutch scene. Mid 17th century the tiles with tulips, crockery with Dutch landscapes and little statues of farmer's couples with their authentic Holland dresses became more popular. Till present time people from all over the world  love and cherish the Delft blue figurines of the Dutch kissing boy and girl.

Delft blue tour Verita's Visit Delft blauw activiteit
Delft blue figurines: Farmer's couple, Photo taken at Royal Delft

 

What do you think is the story of the Dutch kissing boy and girl? Let us know! Extra points for when you add a  creative kissing couple picture ;) 

 

 


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fietstocht Delft blauw

Family Bike Tour Delft Countryside

It was a warm and sunny Friday afternoon. I was waiting for my participants at Delft station. We would do a family bike tour Delft and surroundings. I looked at the big digital clock on the busplatform. They were late.

From Europe trip to daytrip Delft

The family of four was on a Europe trip and was staying in Amsterdam for five days. Dad wanted to make a daytrip to Delft, where he had studied when he was young.  Back then he mostly stayed in Delft so he thought it would be a nice idea to explore the surroundings of Delft a bit. Besides, they had already been in the city for some time so a day outdoors would be nice. Mum and dad were quite looking forward to doing something which was relaxing and active at the same time. Their girls were excited, it was one big adventure for them.

"Sorry we're late, I was just amazed by the interior of Delft station. So much has changed here in Delft!"

The family bike tour Delft went downhill

"Sorry we're late, I was just amazed by the interior of Delft station. So much has changed here in Delft!" Dad said with a broad smile on his face. While he was still taking in all the changes, we walked over to the bikes. It took a while to get started; the girls felt a bit uncomfortable on bikes which were not their own. As soon as they were used to them and got a good cycling speed we were flying! Especially downhill.  We get to that later ;)

hand operated bridge tour Delft Verita's Visit ophaalbrug
Family watching hand operated bridge

 

Holland bridges & windmills

We reached Schipluiden right in time to see the draw bridge being opened. Manually. The whole family was impressed and even I have to say I was quite surprised that this bridge is still drawn manually. Mum quickly slipped into a shop selling only local products. Her interest inspired me to show the big greenhouse behind restaurant Indigo.  Everything produced here is used in their dishes.

We went through the Schipluiden village. Through the 'ohs' and the 'ahs' I could make out the family bike tour Delft & surroundings was a success. Mum was clearly enjoying the houses, the water and the girls happily pointed out all the flowers and young  birds. When we reached the river Gaag I told them the story of the flour mill De Korpershoek. The train bridge once used for transporting fruit & vegetable is now part of the cycle route. The 10-year old threw her legs in the air when she went downhill. This train bridge is a big hit!

 

Family time bike tour Delft playground stop Verita's Visit familie uitje

 

I promised the girls a farmers' ice-cream which they rapidly finished. When mum saw the special swing on the playground she gets the whole family together. That swing is quite an attraction every time I have a family on tour in Delft.

DIY bike ferry Delft Verita's Visit

The famous Delft bike ferry

We continued out family bike tour Delft area with polders on one side, the water on the other.  When we reached my favourite bike ferry the girls look a tad bit scared. "Do we have to cross with that, mum?", they ask.  Dad took the lead, giving the wheel with the chain a good swing. We jumped onto the ferry and mum, dad and the girls had a good exercise bringing us across. - I always take the pictures of the whole activity which in itself needs a lot of concentration :P -

After drinks & bites on the terrace boats with view on the wetlands & sailing boats at restaurant Vlietzicht it was time to head back and end our family bike tour Delft.


What the family said:

We had such a nice time with you. Thank you for a fun day!


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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 2016 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.

City game Vermeer Delft painting science. 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 a special place  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 a special place where, how could it be otherwise, the assignment was to become a Vermeer character, pick the right costume and get your portrait taken. Love to show you this unique place in Delft!


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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. 

 


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