Netherlands Travel Guide
In last week’s post about easy day trips from St. Maarten, we mentioned a tiny, volcanic island called Saba (pronounced Say-Bah) as one such opportunity, located just 26-miles off shore and accessible via a 12-minute flight or a 90-minute boat ride.
We’re typically skeptical of PR slogans, yet now that we’re here, we can’t help but agree that Saba is indeed still unspoiled in every sense of the word. It also has interesting accolades to go along with that authenticity, including the shortest commercial runway in the world and some of the most well-preserved soft coral in the Caribbean.
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The Dutch are good at many thingsmaking cheese and growing tulips would be traditional examples, but a much more modern one is their ability to provide a good lay.
Wait a second. We’re not talking about Amsterdam’s infamous red light district; shift focus across the city to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and the KLM aircraft buzzing around it, where passengers are now enjoying a good lay…all the way back in lie-flat seats. It’s here you’ll find the current palette for Dutch talent, in the features and service of KLM’s brand new World Business Class.
Where once buying a Business Class ticket on KLM meant reclining just enough for a comfortable nap, it’s now all about the lie-flat bed and a proper snooze. In fact, some 70% of business class used to be awake for the full, hot breakfast before arrival; the new seats mean more sleeping in, however, and the uptake on breakfast is down to 20%. We’re living proof of this; we drooled in deep sleep and awoke to the farmland of Holland, with only enough time before landing to scarf down a cinnamon roll.
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We have all had a terrible meal on a flight before. In fact, we have shown you some of the sadder trays slid in front of us. With this new series of amazing airline meals, we can revel in the airline culinary delights and give kudos to the airlines that got it right.
The months of October and November are very special in KLM World Business Class on intercontinental flights from Amsterdam. It's now that, for the past four years, the airline has celebrated the "From Holland Festival," a time of hyper-local onboard offerings to highlight Dutch heritage and specialties.
It's thanks to this festival that, on our KLM flight from Amsterdam to JFK last week, we ate the best beef entree we've ever had on a plane. It was tender, flavorful and not gray! It's no wonder, too, since the "braised beef accompanied by potato mousseline with onions, carrots, green asparagus and mushrooms" is a dish by Onno Kokmeijer, Executive Chef of Ciel Bleu restaurant (with two Michelin stars!) at The Hotel Okura Amsterdam.
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Just because the leaves are falling doesn't mean it's time to write Northern Europe off the itinerary. On the contrary, for it's in the colder months that the colder cities unveil their cultural treasures with special museum exhibits, such as the one debuting tomorrow at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Hague, Netherlands.
Running from October 12, 2013 through February 2, 2014, The Chanel Legend is an exhibition on Coco Chanel's most iconic designs and a retrospective of "little black dress" designs. While the focus is primarily on the rise of the House of Chanel in the early half of the 20th century, there's also reflection on Karl Lagerfeld's modern-day build of the brand into the 21st century to become what is it now: a legend.
A few more details, straight from the museum:
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In the midst of the bustle of travel, it's all too easy to overlook the details. We're talking about special touches others have stressed over just so you can enjoy a unique experience, whether you know it or not. Every so often we'll highlight The Little Things like this, so now you will know.
The Little Thing: Business Class passengers on KLM are given collectible miniature Delft blue houses.
It used to be that taking an international flight meant receiving gifts of complimentary playing cards, stationery (for composing all those mid-flight telegrams), and other niceties to pass the time. These days, even passengers paying top dollar to fly in First Class are lucky to enjoy a minimal amenity kit and an extra flute of champagne. One exception is KLM, who continue a 60+ year tradition of handing out special ceramic mini Delft houses to their Business Class passengers.
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We’re here to remind you that just because the weather is starting to get a little cooler, it doesn’t at all mean that fun trips to Europe have to wait. That’s especially the case for Amsterdam, as a new tourism video has us yearning for a visit in any season.
Their latest ad lets travelers know that everything hip is from Holland, and it looks like the whole thing was shot with liberal application of instagram filters. From bicycles and townhouses to "quirky hipster stuff"—their words not ours—the city has it all.
Late September through November is a lovely time to form any excuse to hop over for a long weekend over in Europe. Perhaps this is that excuse.
[Photo / Video: visitholland]
[Photo / Video: visitholland]
Take a break from checking out the tulips if you’re heading to Amsterdam this month, as it’s finally time for one of the city’s most famous museums to reopen to both travelers and locals. It’s been under the knife for around ten years—at a cost of nearly $500 million–so we’ll assume all the upgrades and updates are totally worth it. That being said, if the Rijksmuseum wasn’t on your Netherlands itinerary before, it certainly should be now.
Not surprisingly the museum is home to all kinds of Dutch masterpieces, and they now all look better than ever in their recently refreshed home. Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch is probably one of the museum’s most famous pieces, and it’s one of few paintings to hold onto its original spot in the museum. Sounds like a lot of the other paintings and pieces have been shuffled around to new spots during the Rijksmuseum renovation, as they have been displayed alongside related items—like furniture and ceramics as well.
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When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
Hundreds and thousands. Nonpareils. Jimmies. Sprinkles.
Whatever you call them at home, these little, decorative bits of colored sugar go under the name of Hagelslag in the Netherlands. It's not a pretty word, but surprisingly Hagelslag makes for a delicious breakfast sprinkled over buttered toast. For the full how-to on this, check out our earlier explanation of the dish. For now, let's just focus on the sprinkles themselves and the fact that they are an awesome souvenir of a visit to Amsterdam.
Who knew that Amsterdam had such a sleek first-class lounge at its Centraal rail station? If you’re carrying an international first-class ticket on the NS Hispeed, Thalys, ICE International, Eurostar or TGV trains, you’re granted access into this little hotbed of red to while away the time before you board.
The lounge has some amusements including international papers and magazine, TV screens tuned to the news, and sockets to plug in your laptop, along with free WiFi. You can also rent a meeting room if need be.
The décor is predominantly Holland flag-red (yes, we did make that up but that really is the color) with some dark wood and grey thrown in as well. There's a variety of seating options for plopping yourself down, too: sofas, tables and chairs, or a bar area.
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We’ve been squished, squeezed, and smooshed into all kinds of economy seats during our long haul travels, so when a new business class product comes along we get pretty darn excited. It’s not just because it makes flying for long periods of time that much better, but it gives us something to dream about when we’re crammed into the coach cabin.
This week it’s KLM revealing some big news, as they’re planning a revamp of their World Business Class seating options. These days it seems like everybody and their moms want lie-flat seats, so KLM has decided to get in on the fun as well.
Can a museum take on the mammoth task of finding a city’s genetic code? Well, the Amsterdam Museum has done just that by launching its Amsterdam DNA permanent installation in 2012. It’s an interesting exhibit, yes, but on top of that, it’s really kind of cool.
The Museum has traced the city’s history over the past 1,000 years and figured out what has made the city tick over all that time of development – the good, the bad, and the ugly. What they’ve come up with is this: the city has four genetic markers that gauge its progression through time. The first is its indomitable spirit of enterprise, secondly tolerance and freedom of thought, then civic virtue, and, finally, creativity.
When you first head up to the ticket counter, you are given your own personal DNA code (which looks like a QR code). With it, you scan your code to start films in your own language, activate your personal DNA analysis, and make and view online after the fact your civic-guard photo.
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If you want to get away for a bit from the hordes of cyclists in the main tourist areas of Amsterdam, a ferry ride across the river IJ can do just that. The city’s Noord (North) neighborhood is the oldest and largest in Amsterdam, yet you don’t hear much about it. We think that’s going to change.
Formerly a shipping and industrial area, it’s becoming the cultural and creative center of Amsterdam with its mix of canal cottage villages, parks, architectural mix and the recently-opened EYE Film Institute. New condos are starting to appear on the waterfront and yet, if you’re looking for some early work of Rem Koolhaus, that’s here too.