It was great to be back in the Netherlands for a good amount of days. For Aviya it was the first time back in a year and half, and so we decided to go on some day trips together with my parents.
Being a tourist in your own country means you see things from a different point of view. We asked Aviya what she wanted to see, and she came up with a few ideas:
A place we never visited was the Zaanse Schans. The reason why we never went was because of tourism, the Zaanse Schans normally attracts over a million visitors each year. These places are filled with bus loads of tourists that all wander quickly through it before going back on the bus to see the next stop.
However, due to a certain pandemic it isn’t as touristy these days, meaning it was a very easy day at the Zaanse Schans. It is as Dutch as you can imagine with wooden houses, mills, barns and canals and fields surrounding this great place.
The Zaanse Schans is a great spot to visit, and we really enjoyed it. By doing a boat tour past all the windmills, you gained some nice history about this part of the country, the different windmills and their purpose.
Next to the windmills there are various museums, shops and old houses to explore. It was a great day out, and I would recommend going (before mass tourism returns).
With the holidays in the Netherlands over, Burgers Zoo in Arnhem was a very quiet and nice day out. The zoo is bigger than we thought it would be, and it’s very nicely set up. You walk a certain route to see all the animals in their nice looking enclosures.
Next to having the different enclosures outside, Burgers Zoo offered several big eco-displays that emulate unique nature reserves as naturally as possible. On several occasions this means the animals can walk around in freedom in between the hundreds of plants.
For example, you have the mangrove where you can find Caribbean manatees swimming in a large pond surrounded by a lot of plants and trees that were filled with amazing butterflies.
Personally one of my favourite parts to walk around was the ocean section filled with amazing coral, colourful fish and sharks! Then you got a safari section where you can see zebras, giraffes, gnus and other African animals walking around.
The big variety of animals in this zoo was incredible, and we were able to spend almost a full day in this park.
As mentioned earlier, tourism isn’t as big as it once was, so Giethoorn is an amazing spot to visit now. Giethoorn has been nicknamed the Venice of the Netherlands, because of its many waterways and bridges.
This famous and idealistic town has no streets, so if you live there, you need a boat to get to your house. Once you get here, you rent a boat and sail across the village and part of the Weerribben Nature Reserve. It is a beautiful part of the country, and it is just fun to look at all the different houses that you can find along the small canals.
What made this trip to Giethoorn so great was the almost no crowds. We could walk wherever we wanted and apart from one section on the canals, there were barely any boats out. On a busy summer day, it would have been less fun to go. Also, we had perfect weather, with sun and a nice temperature. We had a great time visiting this pretty village!
Shopping and cities
A trip isn’t complete without some shopping. Throughout our trip we went to several cities to enjoy the atmosphere, shop or feel at home as one of them is kind of my home city. As all the tourists stay in Amsterdam, you will find barely any foreigners in the other cities this time of year, which is also one of the reasons I never really enjoyed Amsterdam. It is just a normal city being overhyped by tourists.
I would highly recommend going to cities like Kampen, Zwolle and Deventer. They have a lot of the buildings you will see in Amsterdam, but then in a (much) smaller version and more focussed on where the Dutch people go. Most of the cities have the same type of shops as you would find in Amsterdam. So if you want a less touristy experience and more Dutch feel of a city, go to places like Utrecht or Deventer.
Next to that you have Batavia Stad in Lelystad which offers a big outdoor shopping centre filled with all the big brands. Shopaholics can spend several hours here as well.