team event boat race Gouda Holland Verita's Visit

Team building event in Gouda area

The 7th of June was going to be the day.  The team building event in Gouda area. I was going to meet a group of 17 people from an international company at their office in Bodegraven for a bike- & boat tour with game elements. And then it started to rain. Windspeed 6. The long predicted storm happened on the day I was most looking forward to. Emma, who managed the event from client's side, emailed me the day before and suggested to move  this team building event to the 20th of June. For this event we quickly made other arrangements.

team event boat race Gouda Holland Verita's VisitBrewing a company outing

It was great to organise two team building events in Gouda area for the same international company. I was in close contact with Emma and kept communicating with the other organisations. The bike- and boat tour was a dream event and even when everything had to be changed lastminute for the event on the 7th my heart was beating faster.  I have so many ideas and at the moment I have the change to use my creativity and get a green light I just let myself go. Emma suggested a brewery tour for the 7th, which I had in mind as well. After that she thought a city walk through Gouda would be nice as the rain would clear in the late afternoon/ early evening. So, very lastminute I made the arrangements and they had a fun and informative company outing.

Video made by participant

Building a team in the Dutch Wetlands

Then the 20th of June came. Together with Lisette, the event planner and jack-of-all-trade at Watersnip, I had planned out the team building activity on the water. The 33 participants of the international company would be doing a rowing competition and if they had some sailing experience do some sailing game as well. The teams had all be given colourful shirts by my client and soon showed their practical, social and/ or leadership skills. As images speak a thousand words, here is a selection of the pictures I took of the team building event in Gouda area.

Dear participants, dear Lisette, Emma & Kellie, thank you all for this colourful day!


Easter tulip celebration in the Keukenhof area

The blooming spring flowers make the Keukenhof area fantastic to explore between March and May. There are many special events in that period and the Easter tulip celebration is fabulous. The region of tulips, daffodils & hyacinths transforms into one big spring flower festival. Pack your easter eggs, fill your bottles with eggnog, get out of Amsterdam for a daytrip and discover the Keukenhof area with these tips.

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Top places to see heather in the Netherlands

 Sometimes I get so excited, I’m near to obsessed. The last weeks I’ve been checking different websites, social media almost every hour to see the updates. Updates of what, you might ask. Well, you know how in winter some Dutch are glued to the weather forecast hoping for the Eleven Cities Tour to happen? And you also know how in spring some Dutch and many tourists check sites like bloemenradar to see if and where the tulips in Holland are blooming? Well, then you should also know about the spectacular sight Dutch nature offers in August.

National phenomenon in August in the Dutch national park near Amsterdam
National phenomenon in August in the Dutch national park near Amsterdam

When is the best time to see heather in bloom?

These days I can just check on sites like Staatsbosbeheer or Natuurmonumenten if and where the heather is blooming. People living in the different Dutch regions where the heather flowers can be enjoyed now compete with each other to get the best pictures of the purple fields. A few years ago I still had to go and search the best places for heather myself. There even were years in which I went to one particular spot to find out the heather beetle had already eaten all the beautiful flowers, a day later I would go to another place to discover the heather was already gone. This year, seeing the pictures on the websites mentioned above it is an exceptional good year for the heather. One piece of advice: if you want to see the heather fields, go now. They only bloom a couple of weeks.

heather dunes Schoorle duinen national park Holland-veritasvisit
Schoorlse duinen one of my top places to see heather in the Netherlands

Top places to see heather in the netherlands

Three of my top places to see heather in the Netherlands this year are:

De Posbank, Gelderland. A beautiful hilly area with fantastic view points over the purple heather fields. I’ve cycled this area in Veluwezoom so many times, I can almost dream it. You can even spot deers and of course many sheep J It’s amazing!

Schoorlse Duinen, Noord-Holland. This is where I went to this year. With the whiteness of the dunes, the fantastic blue skies and the purple fields it is truly breathtaking. In Schoorl itself is a beautiful dune right in the middle of the town, which you really should visit. Around it there are several bars and restaurants and just around the corner is a Pinoccio where you can get a delicious ice-cream.

Dwingelerveld, Drenthe. This Dutch province is known for its dolmens, the prehistoric burial chambers. The cycle route through this area is diverse and quite surprising. You find different types of landscapes and these dolmens are scattered through the beautiful scenery of purple heather flowers.

Cycling through the Dutch dune landcape filled with heather
Cycling through the Dutch dune landcape filled with heather

Cycle routes and walking trails through nature parks the Netherlands

In this blog I have, as a true cycle fan, said I cycled these areas. There are of course also many walking trails through these nature parks in the Netherlands.  The most beautiful walking trails are explained on https://www.natuurmonumenten.nl/routes/de-mooiste-routes-over-de-heide

Walking trail through dunes & heather fields
Walking trail through dunes & heather fields

I do wish you a marvellous time in the midst of nature and heather. Please share your pictures of the purple field of heather in the comments or on facebook . In case you need any help in finding the best route, where to rent a bike or accommodation, you know where to find me.

Enjoy!

Got distracted by a branch of acorns
Got distracted by a branch of acorns

 

 


The Hague Horse Drawn Carriage Ride in a Day Tour

The kids were exhausted. On the way back to their hotel in The Hague they just fell asleep. It didn't seem to matter that they were doing something unusual. The The Hague horse drawn carriage ride, the cherry on the cake of the whole tour, passed unnoticed. Did we do too much on this one day tour The Hague area?

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The Village Feeling of a Dutch City

Village feeling in Dutch city Woerden, Utrecht region. Copyright: Woerden Marketing
Village feeling in Dutch city Woerden, Utrecht region. Copyright: Woerden Marketing

If you are still looking for a great summer destination I have a tip for you. Make a city trip in the Netherlands! Now, I know that many of you will be surprised that I give this suggestion given the fact that I absolutely adore the Dutch countryside, nature and . Well, I have to tell you a secret.

A non-touristy Dutch city in Utrecht Region

Many cities in the Netherlands are actually quite small. Take Woerden, a Dutch city in Utrecht region I recently discovered myself. It has around 52.000 inhabitants and it still has this village feeling. Visit this place on a Saturday, when the local farmers & cheese market takes place and you'll still be able to walk around without being crushed by groups of tourists. It really is a perfect example of village feeling  of a Dutch city.

polders surrounding woerden Dutch nature

Starting point of Dutch countryside adventures

Woerden is also the capital of what we call the Green Heart, a nature area in the middle of the main cities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. That means Woerden is surrounded by nature. The typical Dutch landscapes of polders with the black-and-white cows are just around the corner. Go on a bike ride or a walk and you'll be amazed by the setting of the peaceful villages located near the river Rhine with their small cottages and homey feel. Best thing is that Woerden is also a short trainride away from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Gouda.  Should you miss the big city life.

 

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Warehouse cheese Gouda Verita's Visit Holland kaaspakhuis

Here They Take Dutch Cheese Tasting To Another Level

There are doors on each floor and in the gable roof there's a little kink.  Architectural experts would call this a mansard roof. The house is similar to many other houses in Woerden and in the region. To be honest, if you wouldn’t know what is in there you wouldn’t even enter the street it is in. Fortunately I did know what the building was and still is used for, although I could not have imagined what I was about to see.

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Behind the Scenes of the Flower Parade

It was a sunny Tuesday evening. There were waves of wind rolling through the feverish red tulip fields. All the tulips seemed to point their heads in the same direction: that of the big hall at the end of the lane.

This blogpost was written in 2016 and updated in January 2021. The next offline Flower parade will hopefully be in 2022.

There were chills running down my spine of pure excitement. In less than an hour I would walk into that hall and dive behind the scenes of the flower parade only to come out again three days later. I had a hunch, an idea, of the amazing creations I would find there, but wasn't prepared for the things I would see.

 

A new home in keukenhof area

Last years I've been going through the area around Keukenhof by bike and each year I discovered new places, hidden treasures. I've never been in this hall or behind the scenes of the Flower Parade in the Keukenhof area. As soon as I enter the building, my jaw drops and my eyes open wide. Spread throughout the hall are enormous objects made out of the kind of foam you want to pinch your finger in to see if it is as fluffy as it looks like.

All kinds of building constructions are made around it so the volunteers are able to reach the higher parts easier. There are crates full of hyacinths, orchids, daffodils and tulips and boxes full of staples are waiting to be used.  Above all there are volunteers walking around everywhere and there is music and a place to sit and have a drink. Even though this hall is huge, all these things add up to a relaxed atmosphere and give a very homey feeling.

Due to Covid19 the Flower Parade will happen online in 2021. We hope to again go behind the scenes of the flower parade from Wednesday 14 April till Friday 16 April 2022. Want to join her on a cycle tour or just for a visit behind the scenes?   Contact  Verita's Visit Holland for more information.

Who is the flower parade winner?

But, don't let appearances fool you. There's a lot to be done. While I'm touring my English, Dutch and Russian (?!)- speaking groups around and tell them about the history and the making of this 69th edition of the 2016 Flower Parade Bollenstreek, there is a competition going on. All the floats and flower arrangements and decorations have to be done before Friday morning. The volunteers, all from different associations and clubs in the area, work day and night to finish their project. Every part of the float has to be perfect. Because besides fun, every team also hopes to win the first prize. So, the teams are definitely under pressure. It can be sensed in the air, especially Thursday evening, when the deadline comes closer.

Shower for the flowers of the parade

On Friday everything is done.  All construction is gone, everything is cleaned and the last preparations for the Flower Parade are being made. The air is literaly being cleared, as fire men spray the floats with water to freshen up the flowers. Hopefully all the flowers keep their fresh look for the next few days. That very evening the floats pass through Noordwijkerhout.  On Saturday morning they leave Noordwijk and the Flower Parade finishes in Haarlem. All the floats can be admired one last time in the city center of Haarlem on Sunday.

 

Till next year. A new edition , a new episode of behind the scenes of the flower parade.

A big thanks to all the volunteers for having given me the opportunity to enjoy and become not just a tulip maniac and a Keukenhof area fan, but also a Flower Parade (over)enthusiast.

Keukenhof kissing couple-veritasvisit
The first prize in the Flower Parade Bollenstreek 2016: Keukenhof with the Delft blue kissing couple, the clog and the tulip vase

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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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On a Bike to a Greenhouse in South Holland

 

The Day I cycled to a Greenhouse in the Westland with a Finnish Family

An orchid grown in Holland-veritasvisitOn an early Spring day when the air had still a fresh touch and the sun was just warming up for her a grand entrance a Finnish family, two OV-bikes and an amazing road bike were waiting for me in front of the City Hall in Delft. Yvonne, the daughter had contacted me a few days before. She was looking for a cycle tour through the Dutch countryside and asked me if it was possible to combine it with a visit to a greenhouse. Her parents were now about to retire, she added, but had a farm in countryside in South Finland. After many pleasant conversations by phone we agreed to make a bike ride to an orchid grower in the Westland.

How a Polder taught me about Swedish-speaking fins

As our cycle tour mainly goes through Dutch polders I’m just about to explain what they are when Yvonne’s mother says it’s the same word in Swedish. Now, I’m not really surprised about the word polder existing in other languages, what I am surprised of is that she talks about the Swedish word and not the Finnish word, as you would presume. Later on, Yvonne explain that her mother tongue is Swedish. Apparently there are around 25.000 people in the Asland islands and 265.000 people in the rest of ( West & South) Finland who are actually Swedish-Fins and have Swedish as they’re mother tongue. Wikipedia says they are descendants from the migrants who moved to Finland during its occupation by Sweden between the 13th and 19th century. It’s an interesting fact that I would never have known about if I wouldn’t have met this family.

Where greenhouses were born

We enter the Westland through the old gate of the  long gone summer residence Sion. There's this idea that the residence's  flower and vegetables gardens were the reason for the region's inhabitants to start the horticulture in this area.  At this very moment a new district is being built on the spot where the summer residence used to be. The project is called Rijswijk Buiten and is meant to recreate the atmosphere of an estate with one main house in the centre, huge farmers houses, courtyard dwellings and a courtyard with lush gardens.

A Mill, a Polder and A story about a Dike

Through the Dutch polder on a bike to a greenhouse
Through the Dutch polder on a bike to a greenhouse

We follow the canal and cycle below the water (this you do have to experience yourself) to the place where the typical Dutch polders, its dikes and mill are a delight for the eyes. This is where you can see how water was managed with mills in the old days and how it is done now with modern electrical pumping engines. While cycling on the dike you get a good view on the different water levels.

Water is everywhere in the town called Wateringen. Although the town was built on a dike to protect it against the water and the many floodings in the Middle Ages, the name for the town is taken from an important family who had built a castle here in the 13th century.

 

How to reach a Dutch greenhouse by bike

Once we cross a viaduct a large greenhouse comes to sight. Van Laak Orchids actually has two huge greenhouses in the same block covering in total 125,000 m2. You can imagine it’s almost a full cycle tour just to get to the entrance.

What DUtch Herring and Finnish Potatoes have in common

Yvonne tells me a bit about her parent’s greenhouse. It was for domestic use and much smaller than this one. They grew potatoes. The new potatoe, sold from the end of April, is nice and sweet and have a very soft skin. It’s very small, you could compare it with a Dutch krieltje They’re very expensive, but Fins look forward to them the whole year and are willing to pay large sums of money. These new potatoes taste best with just a knob of butter, a pinch of salt or some dille. When I hear this story I immediately thought about the new herring in Holland.

When a florist met a orchid grower

Listening to the personal story of Mariëlle van Laak on an exclusive tour through a orchid greenhouse in Holland
Listening to the personal story of Mariëlle ter Laak on an exclusive tour through a orchid greenhouse in Holland

Mariëlle, an enthusiastic florist, married one of the Ter Laak brothers and shortly after opened a  shop inside the orchid greenhouse. The shop is for private sales and a huge success. Mariëlle can't wait to tell us  the story behind the growing of orchids. She takes us to an elevated platform where we have a great view of the orchids in its last stages.  Yvonne and her parents are very much interested and their questions show their experience in the field of nursery and farming. Mariëlle is happy to answer all questions and while making a short tour explains the intensive 2 year long  process of how a small cutting in Taiwan or Bleiswijk becomes a beautiful grown orchid beaming in your living room.

Want to Bike to a Greenhouse?

It’s a fascinating story and one that you could hear, see, feel as well. Just read all the options,  check the calendar for the next Westland greenhouse cycle tour,  or contact me directly to find out about customized tours.

A view into a orchid greenhouse
Come have a look inside a orchid greenhouse

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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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