Tell me about vacationing in the Netherlands

Right, so my mother-in-law is turning 75 this year. All power to her.

Originally Lady Chance and her brother wanted to take her on a cruise through the Caribbean. Big family thing…M-i-L, us and the kids, B-i-L etc. Whoopie.

Except, of course, for the fact that she’s been on cruises before and didn’t enjoy them. Kind of a non-starter thing.

So, since her maiden name is Vanderkraan (I know I’m missing some capital letters in there) and she’s from an area of Iowa heavily settled by Dutch immigrants AND she’s told us over the years that she’s always wanted to go we figured a trip there would be called for. This has, shockingly, met with her approval (she’s normally fairly tight-lipped). So now we have to plan and execute a trip for 6 or 7 (if the B-i-L current LTR becomes affianced over the next year).

But it’s proving more complicated than anticipated.

What we have:

  1. Travel in April 2007.
  2. Trippees: 1 F Age 75, 1 M Age 34 (possibly including F Age indeterminate but approx 30 or so), and my family (1 M and F age 40, 1 kid age 6 1 kid age 2).
  3. Budgeted not truly limited but not runaway expensive.
  4. M-i-L with a fondness for package trips with planned events and such.

It sounds like it should be so easy. But we’re finding trouble with some that will allow the number of people or disallow the kid or hotels that won’t allow a family to stay in one room and so forth.

So help me, Seymour! Can anyone bring specialized knowledge of the European vacation zone to the table? What about any insider stuff from the Dutch Dopers? I know you’re out there?

Share some love!

Since nothing’s more than an hour or so train ride away, you can pretty much stay anywhere you want and be able to go see whatever you want.

Amsterdam is fun for the younger set, maybe not so much for the older, though you never know. I’ve been there 3 times and like it a lot. If you decide to stay there, stay in the Jordaan (sp?) or maybe out past Leidseplein near the museums. The central district can be a bit tacky, though not any worse than, say, Gatlinburg (except for the hookers and coffee shops).

Haarlem is about a 15 minute train ride away from Amsterdam and is a smaller, quieter, yet lively enough place. Dutch dopers can probably fill you in on other nice towns to stay in near enough to Amsterdam to do things there.

April might be late for the bulbfields, but I’ll bet there’s other cool flowers being grown then.

I’m sure Maastrict will come along extolling the charms of Maastrict, as well.

You rang? :slight_smile:

An Arkey is right, you can make daytrips to any part of Holland from anywhere else in the country. So there’s really no need to stay in Amsterdam, just because that’s the one city all tourists go to and all package deals will go to.

If you’re a family travelling, how about renting a cottage (" vakantiehuisje") like the ones from Center Parks and have that as a base for a whole week? Considerably cheaper then staying in a hotel with that many people. Of you do prefer a hotel, the type to look for is “familie hotel”

Instead of just going with the few package deals offered by American agencies to American tourists, you might want to organize the trip with the help of an Dutch travel agency. All of them speak English, so you could just e-mail the Amsterdam VVV (tourist office) to get some starting ideas. Gettign to the Netherlands is the easy part; flying out here from the USA is easy and needn’t be expensive.

Look into travel guides like this one to get an idea about the possibilities.

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but are you sure you want to go to the Netherlands?
A friend of mine from South Africa was spending some time in the Netherlands and asked me to convince her to stay in the Netherlands.
I couldn’t think of any reason why.
The weather is mostly bad, everything is very expensive, there isn’t much to do, the landscape is just flat and boring, nature is almost non-existant.
The only good thing we have is the legal prostitution and marihuana.

I would suggest landing in the Netherlands, maybe spend a day or 2, 3 there and then go somewhere more interesting.

Well from a US perspective I think all that REALLY OLD STUFF would be a bit of an attraction. As well as all the old bits in Amsterdam, Maastricht and the surrounding area is quite picturesque, and there are plenty of other interesting European bits to see within relatively easy distance (such as Cologne cathedral).

In terms of history, landscape, nature, buildings, etc. there are other parts of Europe that have the Netherlands beat (Italy, Scandinavia, the Alps, etc. etc.) but it’s still a good place to visit. And compared to Iowa… :eek:

Where is the Chance MIL resident now, by the way? What is her experience of small crowded areas?

Thanks for the info, all! Keep it coming if there’s more.

M-i-L is currently resident in Lancaster, PA and a longtime resident of Washington, DC, St. Louis, and the Twin Cities after being raised in rural Iowa in the thirties. So I don’t truly anticipate any issue with her and crowding.

It should be fun. And if we’re there long enough I wouldn’t mind getting to Cologne and such if it’s feasible.

The older cities (like Delft) are the most interesting places. Amsterdam has a lot to see-museums and restaurants. Don’t let the rainy weather put you off-just carry a good umbrella and wear good waterproof shoes. The Rijksmuseum is very good, and should you happen uponn a sunny warm day, go to the beach-Dutch women are very attractive. I agree though, large parts of the netherlands are not too interesting. The excellent public transport means you can go anywhere (almost). and, steer clear of american-style hotels 9they are very expensive). if you stay in the smaller hotels, you can do very well. of course, if you must have a BIG bedroom, staick with holiday inns/Golden Tulips, etc.
The Nehterlands is very interesting, and everybody speaks english-you won’t get lost. And, try 'riistaafel"-it is indonesian-style food; very good!

You going to want to go to that zoo where the bears and the monkeys are allowed to fight each other.

Well, if you are coming to Colonge, you might as well visit my hometown Maastricht I’d be happy to give you and the family a tour of the city!

A quote from the linked thread:
Maastricht is located at the southernest point of the Netherlands. It’s a comfy 2,5 hour train-ride from Amsterdam (and from main Dutch airport Schiphol); five hours by high-speed-train from Paris; one hour’s flight from London, directly to Maastricht-Aachen airport; and less then a two hour’s drive from the lovely and ancient Belgian cities Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Ghent and Brughes.
The drive from Maastricht to the German cities of Aachen and Colonge (Koln) is a 90 minute drive and is connected to Maastricht by excellent and super easy public transport.

I can highly recommend combining a visit to Maastricht with visiting any of these cities. Americans are always surprised at how small the distances are between the main European cities. Jonathan Chance, your MIL’s maiden name Vanderkraan sounds, to me, more Flemish then Dutch. So she might be interested in visiting Belgium as well.

I plan to be in the Netherlands on June 11 of this year. My original plan was to stay in Amsterdam and find a pub to watch the game. I’m also a fan of the Van Gogh museum and want to have a look at the Rijksmuseum… should I also consider another town?

That depends if you want to see Amsterdam or The Netherlands. if you have less then three days, I’d say stick with just Amsterdam. Do a search for “Amsterdam” on the SDMB for some good recommendations.

Jonathan Chance, if you can plan your trip, I’d suggest May or June instead of April. April can be chilly here and walking outdoors in chilly Dutch weather just isn’t any fun. Remember, Holland’s on the same latitude as Seattle, we just have a much more temperate climate. Our Spring lasts an entire season, which is kinda cool when you’re from a continental climate.

Here are a few attractions fit for the whole family, from kids to grandparents:
Holland in miniature, Madurodam, The bulb-garden the Keukenhof; Just walking around in Amsterdam, Delft or Maastricht; taking a canal-boat ride in Amsterdam; the (smallish) zoo Artis in Amsterdam and the pretty zoo “Burgers” in Arnhem. The Eftelingis like Disneyland, yet very different, focusing on fairytales instead of Disney-characters.

We have little nature in the Netherlands, that’s true. The attraction lies more in the carefully gardened landscapes everywhere. Every square inch of the Netherlands is used, so that 15 million people can live together in a country the size of Massachusetts; yet the result is like a pretty garden interspersed with cities.

Yes, I’m flying into Schipol for the World Cup and thought it would be fun to watch the Oranje somewhere in country. I might pop back into the country for another day or two, though. I’ve been to Amsterdam before, though, so I don’t mind to see another area at some point.

Maastricht is a great city. I loved it. Love Amsterdam too. I hate to say it (I have family there), but you can skip Rotterdam.

Take a trip to Belgium (Brugge!).

Be careful of the salty licorice. It can be an acquired taste (I love it personally).