Traveling in the Netherlands Beyond Amsterdam


Traveling around the Netherlands, I found a number of delightful towns with historic centers that evoke the days of Henry Hudson. Delft, Haarlem, Leiden, and Hoorn were my favorites. The vast majority of visitors to the Netherlands see only Amsterdam. While these other towns are all variations on the same theme, the small historic Dutch cities outside of Amsterdam are important to consider–and all are well within an hour by train.


Hoorn has a salty allure, even though the salt is gone now that the Zuiderzee has been dammed and turned into a big freshwater lake. Still, Hoorn’s harbor evokes a time when Dutch vessels dominated much of the seagoing economy.



The Dutch Golden Age, the 16th and 17th centuries, was a time when people went to apparently ridiculous lengths to show off their wealth. What was a simple collar became not just a ruff, but a super-duper ruff. This woman’s husband must have been a very successful merchant.



Seeing these Dutch masters plotting with their globe and their greedy aspirations, I found myself singing, “We are the world…”



The Dutch enjoy getting drunk on their vacation boats. And just as you can’t drink and drive a car, in the Netherlands you can’t drink and sail a boat. The Dutch police enjoy zooming in on their police jet skis to crash the party. I’m sure just the presence of this trailer with a pair of these zippy machines served as a sobering reminder to yachters enjoying a break in the Hoorn harbor.