More important than Christmas: How the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas

Ever heard of Sinterklaas? No? In the Netherlands, children spend the whole month of November looking forward to this big day, setting shoes filled with carrots by the door and watching the Sinterklaas news on TV every evening. In this blog you can find out all about this Dutch festival, which keeps the whole county in suspense for weeks, and why Dutch children look forward to it more than Christmas. 1. Who or what is Sinterklaas? Sinterklaas, also called Sint for short, is the Dutch version of St Nicholas: a…


Cultural tours for curious travellers

This story has a long version and a short one. The long one deserves a whole separate post, and be sure, it’s coming! In the meantime, here’s the short one. Once upon a time, there was a river cruise company that offered boat and bike tours. And that’s what they are really called – Boat Bike Tours. Their customers love cruising the Dutch rivers from one port to another, cycling through the country’s scenic landmarks, and they keep coming back for more. So when Boat Bike Tours realised that there…


River Cruising through Belgium and the Netherlands – a travel report by Liisa

“River cruising is a great alternative to touring the world on huge ocean vessels. Small ships carrying only 20 to 40 passengers offer a more authentic, individual travel experience. Cruising along inland waterways you only travel short distances a day and dock frequently to learn about the country. What you will see is small-scale sights, medieval towns and open countryside. And a lot of waterways. River cruising is a truly relaxing way of travel, and today you can do it in luxury, on a floating hotel. I got a chance…


Livin’ la vida culture!

Before we kick off this blog, let’s make one thing clear. Did we just..? Yes, we did. We referenced a Ricky Martin song to describe our Wealth of Culture tour. No, it’s not really about naked dancing in the rain, but there are so many reasons to get excited about,  the jingle just keeps coming up.  Reason No. 1: For nine days we take care of everything but charging your camera batteries. We all know it. The pressure to super-load your holiday with all the sights and experiences possible.…


To barge or cruise?

There’s no denying the excitement, wonder and appeal of river cruise ships. Longer than a football field and able to carry up to 400 passengers, river cruise ships come with amenities that include sun deck whirlpools, gyms and libraries. With an abundance of staff, 5-star chefs and itineraries that include some of the best sights Europe has to offer, surely river cruise ships would win over their smaller, humbler cousins, luxury barges? It all comes down to personal preference. River cruise ships appeal to a completely different holidaymaker than luxury…


Local is lekker!

“Lekker” is a very handy word in Dutch. Most of the time it means “delicious”, but you can apply it to more than just food. Vacations, fun pastimes and many other things can also be described as “lekker”… including exploring local culture on one of our cruises! Holland and beyond It’s worth mentioning that our Holland Culture Tour doesn’t take place just within Holland. You might be surprised to learn that – officially – the name “Holland” refers to the Dutch provinces of North and South Holland, home to Amsterdam,…


Celebrating 75 Years of Freedom

This year, three quarters of a century after the end of WWII, Europe is celebrating 75 years of freedom. Commemorative events began on June 6 in Normandy, France, on the famous beaches where the Allies landed in 1944. In the Netherlands, Dutch memorial events commenced on August 31 at Terneuzen, Zeeland, where the Battle of the Scheldt took place in October and November 1944. 75 years of freedom in the Netherlands Throughout the end of 2019 and well into 2020 there will be Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and celebrations of freedom…


Three Should Be Dutch Masters

“The Dutch Masters” refers to the Dutch painters of the Dutch Golden Age, which roughly spans the 17th century, in other words, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Hendrick Terbrugghen, Willem Kalf, Rachel Ruysch, Pieter Claesz and Jacob Isaacksz Van Ruisdael. The influence these masters had on not just European art, but indeed, art from all over the world is undeniable. Rembrandt’s mastery of light and shadow, Hal’s customary loose brushwork, the endearing chaos of Steen’s work, the dark, spirited portrayal of the human psyche through nature that was van…


3 “must-cycle” routes in Amsterdam

If you had to translate Amsterdam’s “fietscultuur” (bicycle culture) into numbers, it tells a fascinating story. Amsterdam has over 881,000 bicycles that Amsterdammers use to cycle over 2 million kms every day! The total length of cycle paths and bike lanes in Amsterdam is 767km (which is the distance from Amsterdam to Salzburg, on the border of Austria) and 58% of the population older than 12 cycles daily. There can be absolutely no doubt: Amsterdam is the world’s biking capital. However, as history buffs and bike enthusiasts will tell you,…


True Blue: A brief history of Delft’s finest export

When people think of Dutch culture, they invariably conjure images of majestic windmills, sunlit canals, the works of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, fields of tulips, millions of bicycles and, of course, Delft Blue pottery. Though Delft Blue pottery had its heyday between 1640 and 1740, the Dutch began making pottery of the tin-glazed variety as early as 1570. Though it’s often confused with porcelain, Delftware is actually made from a blend of three different clays, one from Delft, one from Tournai and one from the Rhineland. Interestingly, it was actually the Chinese that inspired…