Category Archives: netherlands

Visit Amsterdam for canals, culture, chocolate and cheese

Brouwerij’t IJ, Amsterdam – seek it out!

Nicknamed the “Venice of the North”  Amsterdam has romantic, clean canals that are perfect for touring by boat or just sitting at any of the many cafes and watching the people and boats go by. A visit to Amsterdam from now or until October has an added bonus, the nearby Floriade Expo. Floriade is a horticultural extravaganza with something for everyone that only happens every 10 years. This year’s theme involves going green and countries from around the world showcase new technology and what they are doing to maintain an ecological balance. There’s more information here — Floriade 2022. Interested in Amsterdam? Travel advisors at GetAway Travel  can help plan your trip and make sure you don’t miss a visit to those locations and events you’ve been dreaming about. 

 Clean, friendly and diverse 

  Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and it’s pretty impressive for a lot of reasons. It has an amazing place in artistic history, there’s its elaborate canal system, strangely attractive narrow homes with gabled facades and museums that literally will appeal to everyone on earth. 

Its 84 square miles are crammed with art, history and cultural attractions.  

It’s a peaceful place with 170 distinctive nationalities co-existing in one place which makes it one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world.  

It’s a city that is big on cycling with bike paths everywhere. With 58% of city residents either biking or walking to work, the paths are needed. Amsterdam has been dubbed one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. 

It is also famous for its cleanliness from its actual appearance to its eco-friendly status. It ranks fifth in the world when it comes to being environmentally friendly. 

 Canals, tulips and culture 

 Four 17th century canals wind their way around the center city of Amsterdam. Take a boat tour to enjoy the buildings from Amsterdam’s Golden Age. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or, sit at any of the wonderful cafes around the canals and watch the world and the fascinating tourists and city residents walk by. 

The city is all things tulip from late March through April. The Tulip Festival runs through April and if you aren’t there during prime tulip time, visit the Tulip Museum. You can buy bulbs at the world’s only floating flower market in Amsterdam. Look for bulbs that are large and firm to make sure you get blooms when you get home. 


Let’s talk museums. The Stedeliijk Museum has artwork dating from the 1800s to the present including pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Matisse and De Kooning to name a few. Temporary exhibits change, but there are 90,000 pieces in the permanent collection. 

The most popular and prominent museum in the Netherlands is the Rijksmuseum. There are 80 galleries in the museum featuring masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh, but the galleries hold something for everyone from vintage swords to dollhouses to ship models. There is a Michelin-star restaurant on site. The Anne Frank house as well as the Holocaust Museum offer powerful and poignant experiences. 

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Van Gogh museum has 200 of his paintings, about 1500 of his drawings which encompasses the largest collection of Van Gogh art in the world. There are also pieces by his contemporaries including Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec. 

Culture can be fine, too. There’s the House of Boys which is a museum dedicated to jenever or Dutch gin. Explore all aspects of this spirit and perhaps you’d also like to take a tour of the Heineken Experience. This historic brewery closed in 1988, but you can go through the brewery, get some family history, see the stables and see Heineken commercials from all over the world. 

Heineken Brewery – Amsterdam

Horse stalls at Heineken, Amsterdam

Then there’s Micropia, a museum dedicated to micro organisms. Impress your friends at the next party with your knowledge as you learn hundreds of fascinating facts in this interactive museum. For more on the museums, see our next blog post! 

 Other attractions and food! 

 Vondelpark is the city’s most popular green space with areas to walk, cycle and picnic. Enjoy the manicured lawns as well as the ponds, paths, cafes, playgrounds, an open air theatre and an outdoor art gallery with more than 69 sculptures including a Picasso. De Oude Kerk (Old Church) is Amsterdam’s oldest building. It is a backdrop for new art exhibits, but it also contains the city’s oldest bell, four organs, spectacular stained glass windows, gilded ceilings and brocaded pillars. 

Oldest pancake house in Amsterdam

ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo is Europe’s oldest with more than 900 animals species as well as a planetarium and aquarium. The Royal Palace, which is sometimes closed for royal events so plan ahead, has fabulous marble work including a floor of inlaid marble depicting maps of the world. Albert Cuypmarket is the city’s largest and busiest market with more than 260 stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables but also flowers, herbs, clothes and home goods with great prices! 

Amsterdam has food vending machines every where and you can get kroket which are crispy filled pockets of goodness containing lamb, beef or ragout fillings. Gouda is the “king of Dutch cheeses” and you can find it everywhere as well as Edam cheese. There are stroopwafels which are crispy, round syrup filled waffles, cream-filled chocolate profiteroles (a sort of round eclair), patatje oorlog a fast-food dish of French fries covered in mayonnaise, raw onions and a spicy peanut sauce and some of the best artisanal chocolate in all of Europe. 

cheese shop – Amsterdam

 Intrigued? Ready to visit? GetAway Travel is ready to plan your memory-loaded experience. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Floriade goes green in a BIG way

Whether you are tip-toeing through the tulips or buying bulbs by the bushel, the Netherlands is the place to go for flowers and more. The country sells 3/4 of the world’s flower bulbs, is No. 1 in greenhouse horticulture and it’s the leading global exporter of cut flowers. 

Now imagine all that and more, much more — and you’ll have some idea of what Floriade Expo 2022 is like. 

Every 10 years, the world, yes — the world, celebrates all things flora and fauna with a fabulous international horticulture exhibition that runs from April to October. This year’s festival is in Almere which is a stone’s throw from Amsterdam. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel are ready to help plan your trip to Holland and this epic exhibition. 

 Floriade started in 1960 

 Every 10 years, Floriade is held in the flower trading capital of Europe. The pandemic delayed the 2020 exhibition until 2022, but countries continued to work on their show contributions and attendees this year will see some spectacular exhibitions that benefitted from two extra years of work. 

The show has been held in Amsterdam and the Hague among other locations, but this year’s location, Almere, is fitting considering the theme. The main expo theme is “Growing Green Cities,” and the reason why it fits the area, is because Almere was reclaimed from the sea. 

Once the expo ends in October, the expo site will be renamed Hortus, which means “garden” in Latin. The nearly 150-acre site will be turned into a residential neighborhood with 300 eco homes and the pavilions that countries built for their exhibitions will be used by the neighborhood. 

The site has its own electric train system to take visitors around and it also has its own aerial cable system.  

 It’s not just a giant flower show 

 The more than 3,000 trees, shrubs, creepers, perennials, flower bulbs and hydrophytes have been chose for their special qualities on how they can contribute to greener urban spaces, biodiversity, air purification, food production and city climate management. They fit the four sub-themes of: Greening the city, Feeding the city, Healthying the city and Energizing the city. 

The 40 participating countries built their own pavilions and landscapes as a way to house their exhibits as well as showcase their horticultural technology in a controlled environment. 

The individual countries demonstrate new technologies, future products, solutions for making urban life more “green,” different food supplies and horticulture that helps with energy use or savings and how “green” products will help keep you, cities and the climate healthy. 

There are competitions that run throughout the six-month Floriade expo. They are set up to replicate how plants would change through the seasons because the controlled environments will have “seasonal” changes! The competitions range from “crop plants” to house plants, patio plants, bonsai and exotics such as orchids. Some have compared the competitions at Floriade to the Olympics of horticulture. 

If you are interested in plants, climate change, technology, urban planning and the environment, Floriade is your opportunity to totally “geek” out with others who have those same interests. 

During the expo run, there is live entertainment from jazz bands to orchestras. And you won’t go hungry. There are food trucks, food stalls, fast food restaurants, sit-down restaurants with seasonal fare and, yes — plant-based meals. 

 A sample of the countries participating and their exhibits 

 The Netherlands, as you might expect, has the largest exhibit area with a hypermodern greenhouse where you can trace the life of a plant from a seed to your table, if you wish. But there are flowers, roses, trees, shrubs, and dozens of exhibits of sustainable gardening and living.

Taste edible flowers in Belgium’s expo area, see a Chinese bamboo garden and experience Chinese landscape architecture in that country’s pavilion. China has the largest international garden with peonies, hibiscus and chrysanthemums. And their garden has cultural exhibits including calligraphy and fine art. Cyprus’s pavilion shows how a barren landscape can become a park and France and Germany’s exhibition halls showcase modern horticulture. At the German pavilion, you can get a “smart” bracelet which lets you participate in interactive exhibits. India’s exhibit area helps you explore the spiritual aspects of the garden experience and Thailand’s area has a huge garden with water lilies, curcuma and ornamental plants as well as a children’s playground amongst a vegetable and herb garden. Explore the connection between garden, farmland, forest and city in the Japanese pavilion and the Qatar and United Arab Emirates pavilions display plants that can thrive under their countries’ extreme conditions. 

 GetAway Travel can plan your trip to the Netherlands for your Floriade experience and we can also help you extend your trip to Amsterdam.

Many of our River Cruise partners have new itineraries that include a visit to Floriade – please call for details.

We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: 

Virtual Visit Week – Tuesday is for Amsterdam

We hope you enjoyed our day at the Uffizi in Florence, but it’s now time to move on.  We’re going to head about 860 miles (1380 kilometers) northwest to the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is known for its extensive canals, impressive architecture and more than 1500 bridges.   In Amsterdam, we’re going to stop at 2 iconic locations – the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House.  

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Canal District was dug in the 17th century to attract wealthy home owners and is still quite a posh neighborhood.  Amsterdam prospered during this time and became one of the world’s great cities.  A global trading network and overseas possessions made it the center of shipping in Europe and the worlds leading financial center.

Our first stop in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum – the national museum of The Netherlands.

Continue reading

Even if you don’t own a garden

Tom Thumb, Green Thumb all I know is I’m all thumbs when it comes to gardening.  In my house I have exactly 2 plants…that are still alive.  I’ve been told it is impossible to kill a Christmas cactus…well I’ve just completed losing #4.  Out back I have a “garden” and I use that term very loosely since we refer to it as the weed bed.  So, I’d be the last person in the world you’d expect to want to visit the famous Keukenhof gardens in Holland.  Yet somehow it was on my bucket list – go figure!

So, this spring we set off with a few great friends to visit the Netherlands (okay so we got the men to go because we included Belgium and you all know how good their beer is) and on the itinerary was a visit to the famous Keukenhof gardens.  Keukenhof gardens is open only mid-March to Mid-May and our trip was timed right for the tulips to be in bloom.  We had to decide, full day or half day visit….OMG, we did the full day and still did not see everything so if you are even in that quandary….go full day for sure.

Miles and miles of tulips (well 32 hectares to be exact), every shape and color you can imagine.  Throw in some daffodils and hyacinth and you have a color mania of flowers.  But it’s not all just flowers, there are activities in the park like boat rides, cycle paths, fun signs and wooden shoes to put your face and feet into for that ultimate photo op.  Definitely climb the windmill to get a bird’s eye view of the vast tulip gardens.  If you are taking the kids, then be sure to download the treasure hunt before you go.

Ah yes, a full day at Keukenhof gardens will inspire you…I promise.  How do I know this you ask….well I left the gardens that day 300 or so tulip bulbs heavier (or shall I say $300 or so lighter since the tulips were to be shipped to the US in the fall).  Yes, me the ultimate weed bed owner left the proud owner of lots of tulip bulbs without one single plan for what I’d do with them.

They arrived this fall and I am happy to say they are all planted into a brand new flower garden…now we just wait till spring.  I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime, put Keukenhof gardens on your bucket list, you won’t be sorry.  It was beautiful!

New Group GetAway Just Added – but you must act soon

Have you ever taken a European river cruise?  Have you ever cruised with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises?


Our customers love to cruise on Uniworld.  In fact it has one of the highest rates for repeat trips amongst all the suppliers we use.


You may very well ask why that is.  Well for starters, the standards of accommodations, food and service are extremely high.  The ships have very tasteful interiors and yes they are all different, with each being as unique as your voyage.   Typical cruise lengths are 8 – 15 days and everything is included, making for carefree and truly effortless travel.   Included are: scheduled airport transfers, all dining on board, unlimited beverages (including many premium spirits), personalized shore excursions, fitness center, Wi-Fi, on-board entertainment and all gratuities.

kinderdijk-windmillsOK – is this a commercial?  Yes it pretty much is and here is why.  We currently have some very special amazing prices on select Uniworld Cruises including our group cruise in April 2017 from Amsterdam to Antwerp.  This “Tulips and Windmills” cruise is scheduled to coincide perfectly with a visit to the famous Keukenhof gardens which has over 7 million bulbs in bloom each spring.  Additionally we will visit the windmills of Kinderdijk, the picture perfect villages of Veere, Hoorn and Enkhuizen, and the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges and Antwerp.  So much to see and so much to do but you need to act fast.  Why?  Because our amazing special pricing only lasts until October 11.  Give us a call at 262.538.2140 to reserve your spot with our group.

For additional details on the ship and the trip you may also want to visit our web page.