Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press
Our first home when we moved to South Holland 26 years ago was in Holland Park, Spalding.
We lived in a Dutch-inspired-three storey house in Delft Court and the streets around us had a definite Netherlands vibe: Van Gogh Drive, Amsterdam Gardens and Amstel Close.
Yet despite our family travels to European countries over recent years, we have never gone to Holland. Maybe, being surrounded by big skies and bulb fields at home, it felt a little like taking coals to Newcastle?
I have now put that right. In our first emptynester trip abroad since our son left home, Dougie and I recently jetted off to Amsterdam for a blogger press trip arranged by KLM.
In another first for us, we flew from Humberside Airport. What a revelation! It was such an easy journey early in the morning via Coningsby, Horncastle and Caistor. Humberside is very tiny but surprisingly swish inside. Their Aviator bar and lounge were chic and civilised, car parking was just outside the door and the whole process of getting travellers on a plane was stress-free.
KLM have three daily flights to Schiphol, Amsterdam from Humberside and the flight time is less than an hour. I only wish more airlines used this little gem of an airport. I am now wondering if I should change how we choose holidays and start picking destinations which can be reached from there. Verona and Jersey are looking good.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city and has so much to offer for a short break. It’s easy to get around on foot but we used the ‘I amsterdam City Card’ which, as well as providing free access to many attractions also included free transport so we could hop on a tram when feeling weary. Those seeking a culture fix will find plenty in the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum whereas Anne Frank’s House is a place for contemplation and reflection (though I would advise prebooking as the queues are very lengthy).
It’s a city of contrasts. Just off the main busy streets, hidden behind a large wooden door, you will find Begijnhof, an elegant collection of houses surrounding a central green, founded in the 14th century for members of a lay sisterhood, the Beguines. And yet, not far away, is the Red Light District where the offerings aren’t hidden at all. Everyone who comes to Amsterdam will probably go on a canal cruise. Take a tip from me, don’t choose a wet day as the boat’s windows will be shut, they will steam up and you will see very little. That said, the canals are definitely worth exploring as quiet, extraordinarily pretty streets can be found everywhere in the city. Try the Jordaan neighbourhood if you are looking for houses with character and vintage shops. And cheese shops are everywhere.
In two days we didn’t get the chance to see all that Amsterdam has to offer so I think we will be nipping back to Humberside in the not too distant future for another dose of Dutch hospitality.
l You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com