Monthly Archives: August 2014

Discovering Dutch Culture: 3 Unmissable Historical Attractions in the Netherlands

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Occupying a particularly historical corner of Western Europe, the Netherlands holds its fair share of historic treasures within its compact borders. From the times of the Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages and countless wars to the present, this country has many sites waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler.

With farmland that has been tended to for close to 2,000 years, historic districts that have either survived bombardment in the wars of the 20th century or have been lovingly restored, and a people that values their existence, there are places here that you shouldn’t miss in the Netherlands on your next Euro trip.

Even if you only have a few days in this tiny Low Country, these three historical attractions in the Netherlands will have you coming away from this place feeling like you did it justice on your first visit. Let’s explore them together!

Tour the classic windmills of Kinderdijk

If there’s one icon that people inevitably associate with the Netherlands, it’s the windmill, and we’re not talking about the modern variety that generates renewable energy. Our minds instead take us back to the days where their wooden precursors provided the necessary energy to pump water out of the surrounding land, as the nearby river and high water table had caused problems with soaking wet fields in prior centuries.

One of the windmills in the Kinderdijk area, recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance to the history of the Netherlands, can be viewed from the inside (Museummolen), and rest can be viewed from their exteriors via a leisurely bike ride through the pancake-flat countryside that dominates much of the area.

Visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

The worst wars in the history of humanity raged through much of the first half of the 20th century, and in Europe, the Netherlands was in the middle of it all. The nation fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, and suffered on a much larger scale than neighboring nations when it came to the horror of the Holocaust, as it lost 75% of its Jewish population. Anne Frank and her family were among those targeted, but they managed to hide from the Gestapo for most of the war thanks to their sympathetic neighbors. They hid them in a series of hidden rooms at the rear of a canal house in the middle of Amsterdam, which concealed them for two years until an anonymous tipster blew their cover.

Thanks to the popularity of Anne Frank’s diary that has found amidst the strewn remains of their former hiding spot, this space eventually became the Anne Frank Museum, which expands more on her and families’ lives, and has exhibits that tell the story of other persecuted peoples around the world.

Walk the medieval streets of Utrecht

Founded as a fort by the Roman Empire in 47 AD, Utrecht has a lengthy history that tells its story visually via the copious quantities of medieval era buildings found within its city limits. The Dom Tower, built in the 13th century, is the tallest church steeple in the nation, with the view from its 112 metre high perch being nothing short of breathtaking. On the other end of the scale, one of the world’s first houses built in the modernist style (Rietveld Schroder House, built in 1924) can be seen here, a fact which speaks to the diversity of structures in this vibrant Dutch city.

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Rhine River Cruise Tips

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rhine_yupIf you’re thinking about experiencing the Rhine this year, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most beautiful stretches of water in Europe. From the picturesque vineyards and castles to the sleepy towns that bask on the shoreline, the Rhine Gorge is known for its tranquillity, so check out our top highlights below to ensure you have a holiday of a lifetime on your Europe river cruise! Read the rest of this entry

Living The Good Life In The Okanagan Valley: A Guide

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As the summer season north of the border moves towards its climax, the sense of urgency to enjoy its finest summer getaways while the weather is favourable is rising. One of these choice destinations is British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a semi-arid valley where a series of lakes left over from the last Ice Age are the centrepiece.

The cities, towns and rural regions between are home to a variety of top-shelf experiences, from some of the best wineries in Canada to houseboating expeditions that will allow you enjoy some of the best swimming in Western Canada in a very lively manner.

So that you might plan a journey that doesn’t cause you to accidentally miss out on something that you are passionate about, we will cover the primary centres of this region from north to south, listing the highlights that can only elevate your trip from great to extraordinary by doing them.

Vernon

If you are an avid golfer, then you will be pleased to know that the vaunted Predator Ridge Golf Course can be found here. Ranked as the #1 course in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun, it boasts killer views of the valley and lakes below, as it is situated high in the benchlands above. If you’d rather play on the water, Kalamalka Lake is an ideal place to do so, as water skiing is a popular activity of this luminous glacial body of water.

Kelowna

The biggest centre of the Valley by far, Kelowna offers the best urban attractions of any city in the Okanagan Valley. A large selection of fine restaurants await, both in the downtown core, and in the many wineries found just outside city limits. Tasting tours can be done to these vineyards, found to the north and the south, an activity that will leave you positively tipsy at its conclusion.

Those looking for a wildly fun multi-day trip can rent a houseboat in town, taking to the waters with several days worth of booze and food with your friends. The real value of this experience is hooking up with fellow houseboaters to have epic parties out in the middle of one of Canada’s most spectacular lakes – whether it is 3 pm in the afternoon, or 2 am at night.

Osoyoos

If merely visiting a winery isn’t enough for you, why not stay at one? This can be done at the Burrowing Owl Estate near the desert town of Osoyoos, where 140 acres of wine grapes ensures that the good stuff just keeps on flowing. Orchards that produce fruit other than grapes sell their produce and baked goods by the roadside here as well, and if you always wanted to try your hand at sailing, lessons can be taken in town on Osoyoos Lake.