IT’s Reader Roundup: The Sequel
Last week we shared a number of tips inspired by "Insiders Amsterdam" with you. This week we continue the series with our readers’ favorite things to do in and around the Dutch capital.
Brigid Hayes, of Ottawa, Ontario, visited Amsterdam in July of this year: "We visited the Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum), which explores the moral quandaries faced by the Dutch during the German occupation and paints a complex and moving picture of the choices people made. All written commentary is in both Dutch and English. Included as well is a section on the Japanese occupation of Dutch Indonesia and the colony’s fight for independence from the Netherlands after World War II. The museum complemented the Anne Frank House museum, offering a taste of what was happening in the city outside the house.
Dayton L. Robinson, from Mukilteo, Washington, shares a great way to see today’s Amsterdam in action: "I suggest rowing a boat down the canals. Years ago, I stayed in a hotel that had a dock with some rowboats tied up to it. I asked the concierge if I could rent one, and he said renting was not necessary, I could just go downstairs and pick up a pair of oars. I started at about 10 a.m. and planned to continue turning left at each opportunity, figuring I wouldn’t get lost using that strategy. At one point, I was rowing up one of the main rivers with quite a bit of boat traffic. The larger boats had to wait for the road bridges to open, so I would catch up with them at each bridge. By noon I had rowed off my tourist map and was ‘charting new territory’ but was still confident my strategy wouldn’t fail me. As a last resort, I figured I would turn around at 3 p.m. and row back in the opposite direction if I hadn’t found the hotel by then. At about 2:30 I turned into a canal that had a dead end and became concerned that all was not well. By good fortune there was a houseboat tied up, and I decided to ask for directions. The folks onboard didn’t speak English, but I was able to communicate that I needed a map, and they immediately brought one out. I saw that I was on the right canal for the hotel, had it not been a dead end. The remainder of the journey was short and uneventful."
Others wrote to tell us of top out-of-town excursions. Judy Griswold has visited Amsterdam four times and writes: "If you visit the Netherlands, you should see a windmill. The village of Sloten has a real working windmill. To reach it, take tram line 2 to Sloten from Centraal Station and then walk for ten minutes."
Rene, of Amherst, Massachusetts, visited Amsterdam in 1997 and shared a favorite field trip: "We really enjoyed our day trip to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo. It hosts more than 250 drawings and paintings by van Gogh and works by modern artists. There’s an outdoor sculpture garden, the Beeldenpark, next to the museum, and both are located within the lovely De Hoge Veluwe National Park, which we explored on free borrowed bikes. The hour-long train ride offered views of the countryside."
Kathy Snyder recently returned from a trip with her husband to the northern Netherlands and offers the following recommendations: "Groningen is a busy university town with some lovely buildings and lots of activity. The little village of Pieterburen invites discovery, and you’ll want to visit the ‘Martha’s Vineyard of the Netherlands,’ the island of Schiermonnikoog, a beautiful slip of sand with farms, almost no cars, tons of bikes and lovely beaches. In nearby Friesland province, Harlingen and Sneek are also great places to spend time."
Molly Shannon, now of Austin, Texas, suggests a visit to her former hometown: "Take a 30-minute train ride to The Hague, seat of the Dutch government. A nice walk from the train station you’ll find the Gevangenpoort, a beautiful small building dating to around 1370, when it served as one of the gatehouses in the walls that gave The Hague its name (originally Gravenhage, meaning ‘the count’s wall’). A half-century later Gevangenpoort was transformed into a prison. Guided tours explain that sentencing did not include a prison term at the time. You spent time in prison before trial, and would undergo not so gentle ‘persuasion’ to confess. The medieval torture instruments that were part of this inquisition drive home the point that every nation has a barbaric past. Also notable are the floors in this building, which include planks so long, wide, and thick they have lasted through the centuries. Clearly, the old landscape painters such as Ruisdael did not exaggerate the romantic forested beauty of Holland at the time."
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