The ‘Nether’ visited locations in the Netherlands

Last year we set our very own Captain Wido, of the MPS Lady Anne, a task and that task was to come up with his very own river cruise itinerary for the 2019 season – encompassing some of his favourite places in his home country; the Netherlands.

Although not easy, he fully exceeded our expectations and provided us with one of our most scenic – and most popular holidays to date.

Our Heart of Holland & Keukenhof Gardens river cruise set sails next month and if you were lucky enough to get a place on board this year – we’re here to give you a little more info on what’s in store for you. If you didn’t manage to get on board but fancy it after reading our blog, don’t worry, as our 2020 dates are now available to book. 

The Captain

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First, we thought we’d give you a bit of background about the man himself, the one and only, Captain Wido.

Wido Arts has been the owner and captain of the MPS Lady Anne for 18 years but his love of sailing started at the tender age of 15 – when he first attended nautical school, and since his first clamber aboard a ship, he hasn’t looked back.

By the time he was 20, he was the first officer of the Lady Anne and within just two years, he had become the captain.

However, being the young and ambitious character that he was (and still is) Wido decided to part ways with the Lady Anne, to move on in search of pastures new – eventually landing a job with a Swiss company.

But his heart still lay with the Lady Anne, so when he was offered ownership of the vessel at 30 years old, he jumped at the chance.

Still sailing the waters of some of Europe’s most spectacular rivers to this day, Wido, his wife Jana and their baby son Damion, along with their dedicated crew, spend their days providing spectacular holidays that see their many guests returning year after year.

But enough about Wido, what about his spectacular cruise? Here are just some of the highlights:

Medemblik

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A small city to the North of Amsterdam, Medemblik is located on the shores of lake Ijsselmeer and is home to less than 10,000 inhabitants.

Unknown to many, it is actually one of the most scenic places in the whole of the Netherlands.

Pretty yachts glisten as they stand docked in the city’s three harbours, surrounded by centuries old buildings complete with ornate architecture.

Given city rights in 1289, Medemblik was originally a fishing town, until it was invaded by Floris V Count of Holland in 1282.

Floris V then set about reinventing Medemblik, constructing monuments, murals and the Radboud castle – which is what ultimately saw the small town given city rights.

Medemblik has come a long way since then and after surviving many battles, it is now a perfect place to enjoy a day trip.

Cycle around lake Ijsselmeer, discover the history or why not treat yourself to a trip to the Bakery Museum – the most delicious museum in the whole country and be sure to try the geuulde koek, a yummy almond cookie dough!

Keukenhof

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Also known as the gardens of Europe, Keukenhof Gardens, situated in Lissie, is one of the most famous parks in the whole world.

After months of hard work carried out by the gardeners each year, when it gets to spring seven million flowers burst into life and the 32 hectares of park are transformed into a sea of colour, as various themed gardens span over the four pavilions.

But, Keukenhof  hasn’t always been a huge tourist attraction, oh no.

Keukenhof – meaning kitchen, began its life as a simple kitchen garden for Jacqueline, the Countess of Hainaut’s castle but now each March through to May it is filled with hundreds of thousands of guests, travelling to witness its beautiful blooms.

It really is a marvel to behold and certainly should be on everyone’s bucket list!

Gouda

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The ‘cheese town’ of Gouda is famous for its delicious round wheels of creamy goodness, but that’s not all this Dutch destination has to offer.

Gouda ranks amongst the oldest cities in the Netherlands and so it’s no surprise that it houses some truly stunning architecture.

Founded by the Van Der Goude family, from which the city, and thus the cheese, gains it’s name – the marshland town developed an awful lot between the years 1223 and 1225, with a fortified castle, canal and harbour being developed by the family.

Its history makes it the perfect place to enjoy a bike ride – or a stroll  – as you leisurely wander the towns pretty streets, taking in the many sights.

Wido would recommend paying a visit to the city hall built in 15th century and the de Roode Leeuw – The Red Lion, which is the city’s only working windmill and still produces flour to this day!

We’re also informed by Captain Wido that each week between April and August, Gouda houses an old school cheese market – sellers don traditional dress and bring wheels of cheesy delights on old fashioned wooden carts – our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

Urk 

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A sleepy fishing village located in centre of the country, it’s no surprise Captain Wido added Urk onto his list of must visit destinations in the Netherlands.

This quaint, centuries-old village has a winding labyrinth of ancient alleyways, known locally as ginkies to discover, which will unveil the unique history of the village.

When visiting Urk you’ll find it hard to believe that this well connected location was once actually an island – in fact, it was so cut off that locals actually adapted their own language, as well as their own version of the national dress.

And, it wasn’t until 1939 that a dike was created to the mainland, that Urk lost its island status.

Not a typical tourist destination, you’ll not have to worry about the hustle and bustle as you wander the streets and take in the beautifully decorated houses and the famous sights such as the lighthouse and fishing museum.

It’s also good to know that all restaurants in the city are reasonably priced and the food served is excellent!

If you’re visiting you’ve got to try the locally sourced seafood – trust us when we say, you will not be disappointed.

So, if you’d like to join Wido on a tour of his home country, we’re pleased to tell you that our 2020 dates are now available to book and to all those travelling this year – we hope you have the most amazing time! 

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