Category Archives: Travels

Zaanse Schans

This day was spent on the train to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills in a town outside of Amsterdam.

With its traditional houses, windmills, warehouses and workshops, the historic village of Zaanse Schans offers a preserved glimpse of what it was like to live in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Beghinhof, Secret Garden in an Enclosed Courtyard

Downtown Amsterdam contains a secret garden with a circle of townhomes called the Beghinhof, which is an enclosed courtyard dating from the early 14th century.  The ancient, restored wooden house, “Houten Huys”, 34 Begijnhof, dates from about the early 1400s, and is the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam.  It provided modest homes for the Beguines – a group of unmarried religious women who lived together in a close community, doing charity work in the City.







Canal Houses Turned Museums

Then, exploring Canal Houses-turned-Museums to experience a look into the Dutch life to see what historical inputs they offered.

There was a Dutch Costume Museum, Klederdracht Museum on the Herengracht Canal, which I really liked.  The Vollendam dress that my Mother has was in the Museum. 

Just  down the canal street was the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, a double-fronted town house that was built in 1867, towards the end of Amsterdam’s Golden Age.  The family of Willet-Holthuysen lived here from 1861 to 1895; the home gives an idea of the lifestyle at the time.

On the Keizergracht Canal can be seen the Museum Van Loon, a magnificent private residence built in 1672 by the architect Adriaen Dortsman.  It is the traditional Dutch canal house with the garden and the coach house behind.  The Van Loon family were active merchants, one of the founders of the Dutch Far East Company – V.O.C.

Grandfather Jacobus van Gerve’s Stuyvesantstraat Buildings

First stop was to take the tram down to my Grandfather Jacob van Gerve’s buildings he built in the 1930s, finding them located between 2 canals.  Two blocks of brick apartment buildings on either side, with some of the buildings’ fronts being refurbished.  It turns out that my Grandfather’s buildings are considered historic buildings so that they follow protocols per historic preservation regulations.  It was gratifying to see that, not only were the buildings there, but were being refurbished to have a new life, and were considered historical landmarks.  He was a Commercial Real Estate Developer in the Netherlands, building a Wild Waves-type Water park, office buildings, and apartment buildings.


Amsterdam in October 2016

Arriving at the Hotel on the Singel Canal early in the morning in Amsterdam, I would be out exploring the City of Amsterdam while my room was being readied.  I wound up being given a room on the top floor with an attic ceiling in the tallest gable of the roof!


amsterdamThis year, I was in town for the King’s Day Celebration; it is quite festive and very intense!  The newly renovated van Gogh Museum was fantastic; the different types of styles that van Gogh used to painted in and with was amazing. A short walk to the flower market on the Singel Canal to see the variety of flowers; it used to be fresh flowers but now is pretty much all flower bulbs.  The Dylan Hotel is located on the Keizersgracht Canal in Central Amsterdam and is very picturesque.

The Hague – van Blankenburgstraat

the-hagueHome of Rietje van Brakel, my great aunt, and her husband, Jan van Goor, built by his father.  I was able to meet and get to know the nice family that bought the House from my Great Uncle, Jan van Goor.  When I was a girl living in Paris, we spent many good times in the House with family.  My Father was assistant Air Attache at the American Embassy in Paris; I attended the Lycee de L’OTAN for the children of the NATO Generals and Embassy Officials.  Later, when living in Brussels, we visited back and forth between The Hague and Brussels.  This trip, I stayed in the town of Kijkduin on the beach of the North Sea in the hotel where my parents and I stayed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kinderdijk’s Windmills

One day was spent at Kinderdijk, seeing the beautiful windmills while walking the length of the canals.


Twenty-three kilometers east of Rotterdam on the River Noord is the village of Kinderdijk (translated – the “children’s dyke”). Kinderdijk took its name from a local legend of a cradle being stranded nearby during the St. Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421. These days it is one of the most-visited, and photographed, area in the Netherlands due to the nineteen 18th century windmills (build between 1722-1761), designed as water pumps, that still dot the landscape. They are all designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the country). The windmills are celebrated during “Mill Days” when the sails are set in motion.