Holland The Bicycle Paradise
The bicycle is clearly one of the identity traits of the Netherlands, as are their canals, windmills and tulips. The flat terrain, with hardly any slopes, and the fabulous infrastructure available for this ecological means of transport, makes it the ideal land for cyclotourism. Following is our selection of four itineraries for discovering Holland from a healthier perspective, both in terms of environment and fitness.
Route Through Amsterdam
A comfortable, entertaining way of touring the Dutch capital is by emulating most of its inhabitants and pedalling through it on two wheels. Riding comfortably along the city’s streets poses no problems, as Amsterdam is fully cycle-aware and caters specifically for bicycles. You should, however, be mindful of the rules governing the use of cycle lanes and cycling areas; otherwise, you are more than likely to be on the receiving end of a reprimand.
In addition to getting about the historic centre in search of landmarks, we recommend you head for Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest), where you can indulge in nature to the full. Located four kilometres from the centre, this huge park acts as the city’s green lung and leisure area. Take note!
The best way to enjoy spring in Holland is by pedalling through the countryside carpeted in tulips. The most spectacular sightseeing period is in April and May, when the tulips come into flower. This route, which starts and ends in Amsterdam, will bring you into contact with nature in all its splendour. It runs for 305 kilometres and lasts 8 days, taking you to such towns as Gouda, known for its cheese; Delft, famous for its blue ceramic; Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt, and Haarlem, where you should make a point of visiting the museum dedicated to the painter, Franz Hals. The highlight of this itinerary is Keukenhof. This huge park, regarded as one of the most beautiful in Europe, is located between the towns of Leiden and Haarlem.
Another iconic landmark of the Netherlands are its windmills, which also have their own bicycle route. The point of departure and arrival is Bunnik, located next to Utrecht, and the itinerary involves covering 200 kilometres in six days. The high point of this trip isKinderdijk,a polder situated at the confluence of the rivers Lek and Noordt which is drained by a system of 19 windmills built around the year 1740. The route will also take you past Dordrecht, one of the oldest cities in Holland, and Gokum, set amid some fantastic scenery.
North Sea Route
The North Sea coast has some beautiful spots that make a cycling getaway well worth your while. To see it in all its splendour, we propose an itinerary of under 50 kilometres, running from The Hague to Zandvoort, which affords some beautiful sea views and takes you past lovely beaches.
You can obtain maps of these and many other routes, with details of each itinerary, from the Dutch Tourist Board. Book your Vueling here and venture through the Netherlands on their star means of transport – the bicycle.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
Soaking up Spring in Holland
Like clogs, windmills and bicycles, the tulip as a symbol is intimately linked to one’s image of Holland. This bulb, which originated in Anatolia and the Middle East, reached Europe in the 16th century and was met with marked admiration, particularly in the Low Countries. There, just one century later, it sparked a phenomenon that came to be known as “tulip mania”. As a result, the flower became a veritable cult object, fetching exorbitant prices and eventually being listed on the stock exchange. This ended up triggering the first recorded economic bubble in history, on account of the speculation that emerged around this product.
Nowadays, tulips inundate the Dutch countryside each spring, turning it into a genuine explosion of colour. It is well worth a getaway to the Netherlands just to contemplate it. For those eager to savour this priceless flower to the full, we have put together a selection of places you can’t fail to include on your must-see list.
Keukenhof, a Park With Over 7 Million Flower Bulbs
Keukenhof is located in Lisse, between Amsterdam and The Hague, in the heart of what is known as the “Bulb Region”. Here you will encounter an amazing 7 million plus flower bulbs, the sight of which is overpowering. This is a must-visit site for flower lovers and nature devotees in general. But, Keukenhof is not celebrated just for its huge number of flowers, but also for its landscape design, featuring lakes, fountains, walkways and windmills, making up a surprisingly heady ensemble. The only drawback is that this marvellous garden is only open to the public at the time of the tulip blossom; that is, from mid-March to the end of May and, owing to the large crowds that flock here, it is advisable to book well in advance.
En Route Through Bollenstreek, The Bulb Region
The area known as the Bulb Region (Bollenstreek, in Dutch) is another destination you should make a point of visiting in spring. Situated 30 kilometres south-west of Amsterdam, between Haarlem and Leiden, the area is characterised by the presence of clayey earth which, in conjunction with the prevailing maritime climate, makes for perfect tulip-growing conditions, in addition to other bulbs, notably crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths. The time of year to come here is in April, when the tulips reach their maximum splendour. Touring this land by car or bicycle is a veritable delight on the eyes, as you come across field after field of myriad tulips in all shapes and colours – an astonishing sight for any visitor to behold. Organised tours from Amsterdam ply a fairly comprehensive circuit through the towns in Bollenstreek.
If you are eager to know the history and all the ins and outs of this popular, highly prized bulb, make a point of visiting Amsterdam’s Tulip Museum before you leave Holland. Located in the Jordaan district, hard by the Anne Frank house museum, it is an essential resource for learning the thrilling history of this priceless flower.
Book your Vueling to Amsterdam and gear up to savour spring in Holland.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Photos by Robert Lyle Boltonmore info
100 Years of De Stijl Holland in Red, Yellow and Blue
De Stijl,one of the major avant-garde movements of the 20th century, is celebrating its anniversary. No less than a hundred years have passed since Theo van Doesburg published the first issue of the magazine, De Stijl,after which this unique movement would eventually be named. Conceptualising art as all-embracing, dominated by geometry and the use of primary colours, the artists Piet Mondrian, Bart van der Leck, Gerrit Rietveld, Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, Vilmos Huszár, Cornelis van Eesteren, Antony Kok and Theo van Doesburg were instrumental in changing the course of the visual arts. As the cradle of this art style, Holland is gearing up to celebrate this event on a grand scale, with exhibitions, special itineraries, reviews and tributes to contemporary artists.
First Stop – The Hague
A first, essential stopover for this celebration is The Hague, just over a half-an-hour’s train ride from Amsterdam. There you can visit the Gemeentemuseum, which has the world’s largest collection of Mondrian’s works, boasting over 300 exhibits. To mark the centenary of De Stijl, they have organised Mondrian to Dutch Design. 100 years of De Stijl, an annual cycle comprising three exhibitions revolving around the figure of Mondrian and the De Stijl movement.
While you’re in The Hague, be sure to visit the City Hall, designed by architect Richard Meier, the walls of which are used as a huge canvas for displaying Mondrian’s popular grids, filled in with the most emblematic colours of the De Stijl – yellow, blue and red.
Celebrating De Stijl Architecture in Utrecht
Utrecht houses one of the leading icons of the De Stijl movement, the Rietveld Schröder House. Regarded as Rietveld’s crowning achievement and built in 1924, its design adheres to the movement’s tenets, dominated by planes and lines to form flexible spaces. This was highly innovative at the time and the house also features a generous dose of primary colours in its decoration. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is part of Utrecht’s Centraal Museum collection. Incidentally, the latter is hosting an exhibition, lasting until 11 June, entitled Rietveld’s Masterpiece; Long live De Stijl! dedicated to Rietveld’s career, as well as his links to other artists in the movement such as Bart van der Leck, Theo van Doesburg and Willem van Leusden.
Leiden and Drachten – Spotlighting Theo van Doesburg, the Founder of De Stijl
Another two stopovers on our centenary route of the De Stijl are Leiden and Drachten. Leiden was where Theo van Doesburg published his first issue of the magazine, De Stijl, leading to the birth of the new movement. Here, from 2 June to 27 September, you can visit the exhibition, Open-Air Museum de Lakenhal, featuring a prototype of “Maison d’Artiste”, the work of Theo van Doesburg and Cor van Eesteren.
In Drachten, one of the houses in the so-called Parrot District, designed by Theo van Doesburg, will be open to the public during the second half of 2017.
In addition to visiting The Hague, where, as mentioned earlier, one of the largest collections of the artist is on display, those wishing to find out more about one of the leading figures of the De Stijl movement should also see Mondrian’s house of birth, located in Amersfoort, as well as head for Winterswijk, where Mondrian lived from the age of 8 to 20, which also features what is known as the Villa Mondrian.
Book your Vueling to Amsterdam and join in the celebration of the centenary of the De Stijl.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
Seven destinations for travelling alone
You can travel with friends, as a couple, with the family... yes, we know that it's nice to share experiences, but those of us who love travelling recommend that everyone should travel alone at least once in a lifetime! Why? You can get around without having to wait for anyone, make your own decisions and choices, get away from it all... In short, you will be your sole companion. Which are the best places for this? Here is a list of destinations for travelling alone.more info