Verita's Visit City Game Leiden corporate challenge culture internationaal teamuitje

Challenge Leiden local festival 3 October 2020

Mark your calendar! On Saturday 3 October 2020 the Leiden Ontzet challenge takes place for the second time. Registration with your own team of 3/4 people is possible. In this group outing you and your team follow a trail through the historical centre of Leiden. At different historical locations there's an assignment. Enjoy the Leiden local festival, get social with a local and become the hero of the challenge.

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Traveling to The Hague - tips to get to the highlights

The best thing about traveling to The Hague is the sights you see enroute. Starting your journey from Amsterdam you see the typical Dutch landscape passing by. You can take the car or even cycle. The best way to go to The Hague though is by train. Here's why.

The Hague ICC bike tour Peace & Justice fietstocht vrede & recht Den Haag
Criminal Court The Hague bike parked

The Hague is one of the top destinations in the Netherlands. Dive into the culture, history and nature on a daytrip to the city by the sea. Or stay over for a day or two. Celebrate the Dutch traditions and get social with a local. From spotting the royal family during King's Day or Prince's Day to visiting the Peace Palace or International Criminal Court on the International Day of Peace, all year through there are festivals and events for you to enjoy.

Amsterdam public transportDriving to The Hague

Traveling to The Hague by car from Amsterdam or Amsterdam airport Schiphol is doable. Let's say you are staying near Amsterdam Museumplein and want to get to The Hague city centre, Houses of Parliament.  In my opinion driving in the city centre of Amsterdam is a real hassle and I wouldn't recommend it, public transport in Amsterdam is easy and comfortable. The bike is a good alternative for the car as you have less parking problems. It's easy to get around by bike, but quite stressful. Look out for pedestrians, other cyclists and public transport.  Pay extra attention near tramway tracks!

Finding a relaxed route cycling in AmsterdamOk, so you've found your way to Amsterdam Zuid by car. There you take the highway A4. If you follow this road, you will be in The Hague within 1 hour. The highway is often crammed though, traffic jams outside peak hours are not unusual. Check ANWB, the Royal Dutch Touring Club for updated traffic info or use Google Maps.

3 windmill tour Leiden 3 molentjes route fiets Verita's VisitTip for when you are coming to the Netherlands in spring: take a slight detour to the A44 for some fantastic tulip fields. 

Staying on the A4? Look on your left side when you pass Leiden. You see a 3 mill cascade - 3 molengang in Dutch- . This area near Leiden is one of my favorite. It's one of the best examples of Dutch countryside: full of windmills and cheese farms. 

Duinenfietstocht Amsterdam Den Haag North Sea coastal bike tour Verita's VisitNorth Sea Cycling Route to The Hague

Traveling to The Hague by bike sounds wonderful, especially when your an avid cyclist like me. I would definitely take multiple days to enjoy the bike ride to the fullest. The shortest cycling route from Amsterdam city centre to The Hague is about 60 km (37 miles) so technically you could reach the Houses of Parliament in one day. Then again, you are probably on vacation, so I would recommend taking a longer cycling route. Getting out of the Dutch capital is never easy and the first part of the route is not very exciting. Just keep pedalling. Head to Haarlem, a beautiful city with lovely historical centre and stay there for the night. The following day cycle through the dunes towards Zandvoort and just follow the coastline. The cycling route is part of the long distance cycling network, the LF1 North Sea route . You'll reach The Hague's beach resort Scheveningen. This is where you could find me guiding a bike tour!

tulip fields in between Amsterdam & Leiden tour groepsreis Verita's Visit
tulip fields in between Amsterdam & Leiden

Traveling to The Hague by train

Now I know many of you are on a Europe trip and have very short time to visit the Netherlands. You definitely want to visit Amsterdam and you might still have a few hours to see another city in Holland. Well, I could give you many tips on cities to visit, but let's focus on traveling to The Hague for now. From Amsterdam or Amsterdam airport Schiphol there is a direct connection by train to The Hague Hollands Spoor (HS station).  It's easy, stressfree and comfortable. You don't need to book ahead and can get out of the train whenever you want. When you take the train from Amsterdam it will stop at great places such as Haarlem and Leiden. Do visit these cities if you have time! Take the intercity Amsterdam Centraal in spring and you'll be able to see the gorgeous flower fields between these two cities.

Bike route royal the Hague koninklijk den haag route fiets Verita's VisitWithin 1 hour you reach The Hague Hollands Spoor station. From here take a tram or rent a bicycle to get to The Hague beach 'Scheveningen'. The tram will stop at city centre Hague . You can also go for a 10 minutes walk to the highlights of the historical city centre: Houses of Parliament, museum Mauritshuis, royal palace Noordeinde, Lange Voorhout.

 

Enjoy your journey!


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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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Typical Gouda in stained glass windows

There’s a lady with a white bun. Find her. She knows everything about the Gouda windows. I enter the St John church in search of typical Gouda in stained glass windows.

make your own Gouda church  Verita's Visit workshop kerk bouwenGroup activity in the longest church of Netherlands

It’s Wednesday morning. A few rays of sunlight found their way through the clouds and now shine on the red-white shutters of the Gouda city hall. While I spot a LEGO version of the church, a woman with white trousers and red jacket swirls her small group of tourists through the alley. I follow them to their, no, our destination.  As the group swarms into the St John, I stop at the counter.

Teambuilding typical Gouda in the stained glass windows

I make myself tall as the longest windows in the church (20m)  and say: “I’m organising a team building event on Dutch culture ánd diversity and want to include the stained-glass stories of the St John church. Can you tell me what the most typical Gouda in the stained glass windows is?”

Erasmus in Gouda

“How Gouda is presented, you mean”, the man behind the desk replies, while you see how he’s trying to formulate the perfect answer. The man clearly likes to think along: “John the baptist is the patron saint of the city Gouda. All through the city you see the colors red and white. Red for his suffering and white for purity. You can find the city’s coat of arms – red and white- in several of the Gouda windows. The glasses in the choir tell the story of John the Baptist’s life.”

 

The man puts his thumb and indicative finger on his chin and thinks out loud, nodding towards the most modern glass. “Of course this stained glass window is quite abstract, but it is representing the beliefs of Erasmus. The humanist was born in Gouda, his father was a priest in this church. If you really want to know what is typical Gouda in the Gouda glasses, look for the lady with the white bun. She’s a guide and can tell you all you want to know about the windows.

 Verita's Visit Leiden Gouda group tour groepsuitje
Leidens Ontzet - Relief of Leiden depicted in stained glass Gouda church

Gouda Glasses and Leiden team event

Every time I visit the St John, I run to one stained-glass window. That has to do with my passion for the Leidens Ontzet and the team event on Dutch culture I once organised in the city of Leiden.  The creation of this customised teambuilding activity has priority now. I enter the church and I immediately see ms Kraal, the lady with the white bun. She’s passionately explaining the story of one of the Gouda windows to a couple of visitors. The scene is so intimate I fear to intrude and break the serene atmosphere. My excitement to find the answer to my quest is far bigger though and in a stutter I begin my question:

“The man behind the counter told me you know everything about these stained glasses. What is typical Gouda in the stained glass windows?”

The Night Watch of the St John church

Ms Kraal looks over her glasses at me. “There nothing typical Gouda in the stained glass windows”, she replies. “But,” as she goes on after seeing my disappointment. “Many of the Gouda glasses have a connection with the biblical humanism, the teaching  of Erasmus. And Erasmus was an important figure for Gouda and for the Netherlands.” For her, window 15 is the Night watch of the St John church. She places her hand on an imaginary hand: “John the Baptist doesn’t baptise Jesus in the traditional way…”

 Verita's Visit Gouda Erasmus cultuur groepsuitje lokaal group tour event culture

I try to listen to her, but find myself to eager to run to the stained glass window and see for myself. I say my thankyous and goodbyes and Ms Kraal gives me one more tip: window 7. This is not your ordinary presentation of the Last Supper. This is a real conversation. The focus is not on the dinner or the characters, but on the lively interaction between the characters. Ow, I’m excited to see for myself!

Humanism in thought bubbles & speech balloons

While the orgue plays a tune I recognise, but can not put a name on, I sit in front of window 15. 10 minutes, half an hour. I listen to the audioguide and see what Ms Kraal explained. John the Baptist doesn’t look at Jesus and baptises him. He looks up and listens to God. His words come down in a ray of light that runs down to the holy ghost. It’s the dove that represents him.

Gouda group activity uitje vrienden familie bedrijf  Verita's Visit

I’ve fallen in love with window 16 before as that does have a typical Dutch  element: the landscape. The brothers Crabeth, who made this glass and 14 & 15 which together form a tryptich, used the countryside around Gouda for the landscape. Now that I see the full story of these 3 glasses, I know I have found the answer to my quest. I’ve found typical Gouda in the stained glass windows ánd typical Dutch elements. Now I only need to think of a creative assignment to include this in the team building event on Dutch culture and diversity....


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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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Birthday tour Leiden - stroopwafel and windmill

If you want to celebrate, go to Leiden. The Dutch city in between The Hague and Amsterdam is easily reachable by public transport and o so gezellig. Search the city for a warm syrup waffle and then hop on your bike and head to the lake area for a view of the windmills. That's what we did in the birthday tour Leiden.

 

birthday custom made tour Leiden gepersonaliseerd reis Verita's VisitRembrandt City on a Saturday

If you have just a few days to spend in the Netherlands, go to Leiden. It's a student town with lots of history, nice terraces near the water and great nature areas in the near surroundings. Visit the city of Rembrandt on a Saturday and you'll experience how the locals celebrate the Dutch way of life. The market, although busy, is thé place to dive into the happy & friendly atmosphere.

Stroopwafel Baking Birthday Tour Leiden

This is where I took my participants. It is my goal to make your visit to the Netherlands a great experience and when there is something to celebrate I try to arrange a surprise activity. The birthday tour Leiden customised for this Irish family of 4 sisters and their mother would take 3 hours. Before we started the bike ride through the Dutch countryside I took the birthday girl plus family to the stroopwafel stand. Here Ton runs his stall every Saturday for the last 15 years. He explained how the stroopwafel is baked and then it was our turn. Bake the waffle, cut it in half while it's still warm ( very warm!!). Now you put the caramel in between and put the two halves together. Yummie stroopwafel is ready to eat!

stroopwafel bak workshop Leiden omgeving area teambuilding Verita's VisitWindmill: Cherry on the Dutch Birthday Cake

On an adventurous, crowded route we found our way to the city's borders. In most of the Dutch cities, the singel or canal surrounding the city has always functioned as a border. So at the singel the birthday tour Leiden really started.

We cycled under sea level, along canals to the last remaining polder. The view was exceptional. Green grassed meadows mostly surrounded by lakes, rivers and ditches and as a cherry on the birthday cake: a windmill. We admired the water management system and then picked a spot for this picture.

private family birthday Leiden Verita's Visit verjaardag op maat gemaakt


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Family Holland cheese making & windmill Leiden

A Mexican family with a passion for cheese made several stops on their Euro trip. After their workshop of parmigiano cheese making in Italy they came to the Netherlands. I took them for a workshop fresh Holland cheese making and windmill visit in Leiden area. A tasty experience!

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Rembrandt cultural activity Leiden cultureel uitje Verita's Visit

3 Creative outings in Leiden conference city

Time might seem scarce when you’re in Leiden for a summit or meeting.  You still want to see the highlights, discover the city’s secrets. You can do that in less than 3 hours with these 3 creative outings in Leiden conference city!

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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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Leiden cheese and dairy cycling route

Millions of visitors head to Gouda to taste the Holland cheese. That’s a shame, because in Leiden area you can find some real tasty farmer cheeses. Today we cycle the Leiden cheese and dairy route. It takes us to a family farm where they make cheese from cow ánd goat. In the Netherlands this is quite unique.

Where to rent a kids bike in Leiden?

The bike ride starts at Leiden Centraal train station where you can rent an OV- fiets, a regular bike or electric bike. Do you have small children? Unfortunately they do not rent out kids bikes or child seats at the train station. The nearest bike rental shop which rents out children’s bicycles is 3.5km away. I usually ask them to deliver them to the train station or ask my participants to come to the cycle rental shop.

These Swedes taught me a saying: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing"

Leiden water & the Roman canal

Leiden has 28km of water ways. For me, one of the most impressive canals is the Rijn-Schiekanaal, which starts in Rotterdam and leads all the way to Leiden. Some say Roman general Corbulo dug a canal at exactly the same place in the 1st century AC.

Polder & café

Cycle towards this canal and cross it. You should now be in front of the Park Cronesteyn. This is a beautiful polder park, meaning it’s a piece of reclaimed land. The Leiden municipality has created different zones in which you can see the different essential elements of the park: water, marsh land and forest. Many walking- and cycling paths run through the park and you’ll see that they’ll all lead to my favorite bio local café in Leiden area: De Tuin van de Smid, a polderoasis.

After you’ve eaten the delicious home made apple pie, it’s hard to get back on the bicycle. Do try, because there’s so much more too see (and taste).

From dairy farm to church

familie fietstocht gids leiden kaas & lekkernijen
Polder path in Leiden countryside

Cross the big bridge over the A4 and head towards Zoeterwoude Dorp. From here you'll spot the Leiden cheese and dairy farms.  You could now follow the Noordbuurtse & Zuidbuurtseweg. It’s more fun though to take one of the cycle paths that run through the polders. You’ll cycle past small canals, between meadows full of grazing cows, horses and sheep. In the past, these paths were created for farmers to quickly get to church. They are also referred to as ‘kerkpaden’ (church paths).

One of these very small and challenging paths leads to a windmill. You’ll have a view on the Heineken brewery as well. You’re now in Weipoort. Weipoort is Leiden cheese heaven.

Butter and Leiden cheese

When Gouda made name as Cheese City, Leiden was known for the production of butter. Of the skimmed milk that was left after making butter, they made cheese. This is why the original Leiden cheese does not contain as much fat as Gouda cheese, but is a much lighter cheese ( 20+ fatt)

The taste of Leiden cheese is also much more subtle, which is why Leiden cheese farmers add herbs to create a richer taste.

melk fietstocht dairy & cheese tasting tour Leiden area omgeving
A glass of fresh milk
Farmers cheese in one hand, glass of milk in the other

Local Leiden cheese and dairy farm shops

On the Weipoortseweg you’ll find several Leiden cheese farmers. Most of them have started making full fat Gouda cheeses and in their local cheese shops sell both Leiden as well as Gouda cheese. At most of the farms you can also buy other dairy products and local products such as eggs or juices.

familie rondleiding kaasboerderij fietstocht Verita's Visit bike cheese farm guided tour family
Tour with the Leiden cheese maker

The Leiden family- run farm

Our last stop of today is located near the Zoetermeer lake Noord Aa. This is a complete family friendly farm where you can pet and feed goats, pigs, cows and other farm animal. They do guided tours and cheese making workshops as well. A great stop to have lunch or swap the bicycle for a canoe.

Leiden cheese tour Verita's Visit kaasboerderij uitje

Bye bye cow! A kiss to you!

 

 

To get back to Leiden, either take the Zuidbuurtseweg or go a bit more west and find the Rijn Schiekanaal.


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