Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category


Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, and the largest in the Western Norway region. Bergen is also the administrative center of Hardoland country. In the year of 2000 Bergen earned the title of European Capital of Culture along with 8 other cities in this region. As of latest measurement the city has a population of 265 thousand people.

The city of Bergen is located far west in Norway and is sheltered from the North Sea by a small number of islands. It’s situated along the latitude 60 degrees north with Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Saint Petersburg and Anchorage. The city is one of the most hilly and mountain rich in Norway, it’s city center is surrounded by several mountains and peaks known as “Seven Mountains”. As it’s visible from anywhere in the city it’s adding true character to Bergen. The city is also part of the UNESCO list of cultural places, and has preservation spot as a World Heritage City. Further more the city is spread over several areas, all of them are completely safe for tourists and locals.

Bergen is an interesting travel destination with a number of sightseeing in and around the city, however it shows that most tourists find the laid-back ambiance, cultural landscapes and architecture more compelling that the regular sights and prefer spending time in the many cafe’s, taking a stroll in city center or the spacious parks, enjoy a concert or take a hike through the mountains. On hot summer days, it’s advised to enjoy the northern sunset from downtown Bergen. Although Bergen alone is enjoyable there’s some sightseeing’s to fill up open hours including Bergen Art Museum, The fish market (Fisketorget), Fløibanen, The West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, 18th century St. Jørgen’s Hospital, Bergen Aquarium, Statsraad Lehmkuhl, St. Mary’s Church, Bergenhus fortress and Bryggen. All by all Bergen is considered as one of the top travel destinations in Norway, not only by it’s locals but also elsewhere in Norway.

Americans do not need a visa for a visit of three months or less. In special cases, multiple entry visas may be given within a span of 6-12 months. Extensions on visas may be granted in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Proof of enough money to cover travel and accommodation costs may be required at the border.


Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Valkenburg is town in the municipality Valkenburg aan de Geul, in the province Limburg. It includes the hamlets Emmaberg and Heek. Valkenburg has a high tourist character. The construction of the railway Valkenburg / Aachen in 1853 with a station in Valkenburg provided a good accessibility of the town. The old station is still in use. In 1885 was established in Valkenburg the first VVV of the Netherlands, to provide tourists of better information. There is something for everyone in Valkenburg, there is beautiful nature, caves and mines, amusement parks and cycling events and of course there are bars, hotels and restaurants.

Valkenburg is both nationally and internationally known as great location for cycling events. The World Cup was held four times, in 1938, 1948, 1979 and 1998., and in 1992 and 2006 an stage of the Tour de France arrived in Valkenburg. There are several country championships and arrivals in overnight rates and since 2003 the finish of the Amstel Gold race is on the top of the Cauberg.

The subterranean marl pits, as the Gemeentegrot and the Fluweelengrot, which are mined in Roman times, are beautiful to visit. In the Gemeentegrot you can see the natural conditions long before our era, by fossils and shell layers. There is also a fascinating overview of various art forms and lives of countless generations of people. You will find murals and plaques showing you the past

The Fluweelengrot is the oldest cave in South Limburg, it is a marlstone quarry excavation. The cave is a permanent naturally 12 degrees Celsius year-round. It has many secrets, like impressive wall murals, inscriptions, strange sculptures in the soft marlstone walls and a romantic chapel dating from the French period under Napoleon (18th century).

In the Second World War, during the German occupation, the cave served as a hideout for the people of Valkenburg and for the American troops. All these events have left their mark on this place, which we can still see today.

In the coal mine there is a atmospheric cinema underground. There you can see a unique film from the State Mines (DSM) from the mid sixties. This movie gives you a good picture of all facets of mining. After the film you can go along whit a former miner in the world of coal mining. Experience the hard, but impressive world of the miners, a journey past the machines, which were used for coal winning.

At Valkenburg there is fun for everyone. Amusements park De Valkenier is a family park, with a Dino World, the Lunar rocket, indoor Dwarves Play Land, a Little horses circuit and a Old-timer circuit. There are Bumper cars and Minicars a Roller-coaster and Fun-Sidings and a lot more.

Het Sprookjesbos is a theme park that is intended primarily for children, but walking around in the wonderful Fairy Tale Forest, even adult will have also fun, while watching one of the many beautifully depicted stories. They are all there, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Little Red Riding Hood.

At the head of the Cauberg there is a spa, the Thermae 2000 , where you can relax in the tropical heat of the thermal baths or even doze during an massage. In the Holland Casino you can play Roulette, Black Jack or slot machines. It is also an evening entertainment with fun, excitement and unique atmosphere, good food and entertainment. There is also a cable car in Valkenburg which takes you to the watchtower for a beautiful view. In winter there are several Christmas markets, even in the caves.


Sunday, March 28th, 2010

The city Ordino is the most northerly parish in the Principality of Andorra, located between the capital Andorra La Vella and France. Other nearby settlements include El Serrat, Ansalonga, Sornàs, La Cortinada, Llorts, Segudet, and Arans. With a population of 4 thousand people as of latest measurement its one of the smallest cities in the country though it covers the largest area within the country.

The town of Ordino lies on the foot slopes of the Casamanya, a 8980 ft. tall mountain. As Ordino’s exact geographic location is in the center of Andorra it gives a spectacular panoramic view on several nearby cities as Andorra La Vella and Arinsal. The most important reason for Ordino to have tourists returning every October since 1983 is the International Narciso Yepes Festival which is a series of classical music concerts. The festival was once started by the guitarist Narciso Yepes, and later named after him. Ordino has a lot of small and narrow street with local bars and pubs, drinks are rather low prices, the town isn’t use to much tourists and hasn’t adjust yet to these standards.

The parish area of Ordino borders not only with France, but also other parishes of La Massana, Canillo, and Encamp. Each has its own unique kind and factors, when looking to travel outside Ordino it’s recommended to visit any of these settlements, to be amazed by the locals and their daily habits. In the extreme northwest at the height of 8612 ft. lies the ski resort Vallnord Ordino-Arcalis.

American and European citizens can enter Andorra after showing their valid passport and a return ticket to immigration. If the duration of your stay does not exceed 90 days, there’s no requirement for any type of visa. In general the city of Ordino has a low crime rate.


Monday, March 8th, 2010

Zierikzee is a small city in the municipality Schouwen-Duiveland in the province Zeeland. The city has a population of more than 10 thousand of people. At the end of the Middle Ages Zierikzee was an important city for the province and surroundings. It was damaged by the catastrophic flood of 1953 but helped by the English town of Hatfield. Since 1971 the city has a protected city view. It is connected to the Oosterschelde by a long canal.

The city of Zierikzee was probably founded around 976. Some farmers and fishermen started a settlement alongside a creek that ended up in the Gouwe. This was an important navigation connection between Vlaanderen, Holland and Zeeland. The city rights of Zierikzee were confirmed and extended in 1248. In 1304 the city won a battle with the Flemish army. The city was to the east and west extended after World War II.

Zierikzee is known for its monuments. Some of the walls, churches, towers and mills were founded in the 15th century. The most famous monument is the Sint-Lievensmonstertoren, a tower that is also called The Fat Tower. The city has a beautiful city hall that was built in the 16th century and rebuilt between 1772 and 1779. This building is somewhat similar to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Other beautiful sightseeing sights are the mills De Hoop and Den Haas, the Nobelpoort, the Noordhavenpoort and the Zuidhavenpoort. You could also visit the Maritime Museum, the 14th century old house called De Haene or the Gravensteen of the 16th century.

Travelers to Zierikzee need a valid passport and visa. American citizens are allowed to stay up to 90 days without the use of a visa. The best time to visit the city is during daytime summer from July till August.


Friday, February 26th, 2010

Kaatsheuvel is a village in the province Noord-Brabant, located in the south of the Netherlands. The village lies north of the larger city Tilburg and belongs to the municipality Loon op Zand. The village also is close to municipalities Waalwijk and Drunen and it is close to the larger cities ‘s Hertogenbosch to the north and Breda to the west.

The name Kaatsheuvel consists of two words: Kaats and Heuvel. It is not completely sure where the name comes from. The word Heuvel means hill. The word Kaats could come from St. Catharina or ‘kaatsen’, a popular Dutch game. It is however more likely that the name of the village is a deterioration from the word Ketshoeve, the name of a former guest house.

For a long time the people of Kaatsheuvel lived from the shoe industry. The circumstances for producing shoes were ideal thanks to the oak barks and the many stream-lets. Most households even had their own small shoe factory. The village thrived mainly on the shoe industry before the mayor in the 1950s decided to attract other industries to its village. That resulted in the build of theme park The Efteling on 31st May 1952, the largest theme park in the Netherlands. The tourist industry soon replaced the importance of the shoe industry.

The Efteling is the absolute main attraction of Kaatsheuvel. You can easily spend a whole day here. It is fun for everyone, young and old. It can be pretty busy during summertime since there are a lot of tourists that visit the park. During the winter the park is transformed into a real wonderland winter theme. In Kaatsheuvel you can also see the mill The Eendragt and the corn-mill The Couwenbergh. This last mill was restored in 1995 and is now home to a restaurant.

The area of Kaatsheuvel is popular for hiking and bicycling trips. Travelers to the village need a valid passport and visa. American citizens are allowed to stay up to 90 days without the use of a visa. The best time to visit the village is during daytime summer from July till August. You can also visit the village during winter for enjoying the Winter Theme of The Efteling.


Friday, February 26th, 2010

Hilvarenbeek is a municipality in the south of the Netherlands near the Belgium border. It is located in the province Noord-Brabant and it lies south of the larger city Tilburg. The municipality includes the six villages Hilvarenbeek, Baarschot, Biest-Houtakker, Diessen, Esbeek and Haghorst. Every village has its own impressive church. When entering Hilvarenbeek you will see the tower of the Petrus church. The municipality has a population of around 15 thousand people.

Hilvarenbeek is surrounded by nature. There are young and old forests everywhere. The area is perfect for bicycling and walking. There are plenty of recreation routes that you can follow. The protected Vrijthof has a 300-year-old lime tree and many cozy terraces. The biggest attraction of Hilvarenbeek however is safari park the Beekse Bergen. This park consists of a safari park with African, Asian, European and Australian wildlife, an amusement park and camping opportunities. There are also museums and historical monuments for anyone that likes culture. Or enjoy different theater and music groups.

Hilvarenbeek offers plenty of accommodations through bungalow parks, campsites, camping farms, group accommodations and hotels. The municipality is also close to the Efteling, the Autotron and the Kempen.

Travelers to Hilvarenbeek need a valid passport and visa. American citizens are allowed to stay up to 90 days without the use of a visa. The best time to visit the village is during daytime summer from July till August.


Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Scheveningen is a seaside resort and it is a district of Den Haag, in the province Zuid Holland, Netherlands. Scheveningen is best known for his wide sandy beach and the refreshing sea air. But it has also unique attractions, beautiful museums and numerous events. Scheveningen has a lot to offer, you can, for example sailing, surfing, fishing or diving. Along the beach there are up against seventy-five beach pavilions, each with their own atmosphere and character, like:

Strandclub Wij, described the past four years as “The best spot of Scheveningen” and “the best beach club in the Netherlands. Steakhouse Peukie a stylish beach club, with good food, fine wines, cocktails, and lively festivals. The Beach Restaurant Waterreus whit his beautiful view of the North Sea and the Pier of Scheveningen.

The Pier is around 1900 in conjunction with the Kurhaus designed, a bridge from the Kurhaus terrace across the boulevard, to the main entrance of the octagonal platform. It was 380 meter long walk. In 1991 the Pier was taken over by the Van der Valk group, for the symbolic sum of 1 guilder. The Pier became the attraction of seaside resort of Scheveningen. Now the Pier also has a covered area and diverse range of restaurants, casino, cafe, leisure shopping, children entertainment and events. Visiting the Pier is free and dogs are allowed.

The historic Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen is an impressive building. The history of the Kurhaus Hotel begins in 1818, when Jacob Pronk founds a wooden bathhouse, which by his success soon develops into a real hotel. already in 1885 it became the Kurhaus Hotel. Holland Casino allows you to combine relaxing and tension. There are Roulette, Punto Banco, Poker and Black Jack Tables. There is also a bar and a restaurant.

In the Fortis Circus Theater are concerts, cabaret and family shows. In the past 15 years attracted legendary musicals as The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Elizabeth, Aida and The Lion King millions of visitors. In one of the busiest tourist centers of the Netherlands lies the Museum Beelden Aan Zee. It is built around the old Pavilion ‘de Witte’, a quiet place with images of man, large, small, bronze, stone, sad and happy images.

Sealife-Center on the Boulevard displays in more than forty-five aquariums the amazing underwater world. From the North you can see the mackerel and herring, but also various types of rays and sharks. You can walk through the underwater tunnel and just above your head you see the sharks, turtles and schools of fish swim. In Amazonia you see a real tropical forest with a spectacular waterfall.

On the boulevard there is a fun train, that makes a tour Scheveningen from Monday to Sunday. The starting point is the Pier. The route goes along the port and the village and takes about 35 minutes. There are also music festivals, cultural activities and sporting events in Scheveningen. Like the International Fireworks Festival with breathtaking fireworks.

Beekse Bergen

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The Beekse Bergen is located in Hilvarenbeek in the province Noord Brabant. It has been built from three components: a safari park, a fun park and a campsite. It is the biggest wildlife park in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The park is open all year.

In Safari park the Beekse Bergen you can enjoy the African wilderness. Go on an adventure with roaring lions, running zebras and curious giraffes. There are 1.500 animals, all in their natural environment. There are rhinos, cheetahs and chimpanzees and Calimero, the biggest elephant of Europe also lives here.

Experience a safari in the summer with the sunset or experience the safari in the winter when the animals behave quite differently. Beekse Bergen Safari Park you can explore four different ways: walking , with the safari bus, the safari boat or by your own car. The safari options are to combine. The bus, boat and walking come together in the back from the park near Congo restaurant , where you can change. On the tour by bus and boat rangers tell interesting facts. And there are useful maps indicate which animals you encounter during the various safari tours. The animals are all a strict diet. Therefore it is not permitted to feed the animals. This is to prevent animals falling ill.

Beekse Bergen Safari Park also organizes special ranger camps. When the last visitors have left the park, guests are treated to an African braai meal with exciting African stories. Then follows a walk through the twilight. So the guests discover how the lions, giraffes and zebras behave at night. After a good night sleep in the tent camp, the guests will be awakened by the roaring lions and the sounds of the elephants, then there is a farm-fresh breakfast. Even before the park opens the doors, takes an experienced ranger his guests along for a ride past the awakening animals.

Speelland Beekse Bergen is a fun park for children with a lot of attractions, safe swimming water and white sandy beaches. Next to the large playground in Speelland Beekse Bergen you can enjoy playing on and around the swings, trampolines, mini-golf and balls mountain. You can enjoy activities such as go-karts, water bikes and bouncy castle or roller–skating and tennis, and you can also hire boats and bikes. There are water slides and the Aqua shuttle, which launches you from a great height. It is a fantastic experience trying a ride with the Wave rider, it is a carousel in the water and you can determine your own speed.

This part of the park will be closed during the winter.

The Campsite is a most unusual park connected with the fun park and the safari park. The park also offers delightful nature trails and a lakeside beach that’s ideal for swimming or sunbathing. At the end of the day, you can always relax and talk about the day’s adventures in the terrace bar, or over a quiet dinner in the park’s own restaurant. It is a unique holiday experience, you will be awakened by the roar of lions and have free access to the amusement and safari park.


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The Efteling is the largest theme park in The Netherlands and has received over 100 million visitors. In 1992 Efteling received the IAAPA Applause Award for Best Amusement Park in the World. Efteling is located in the town of Kaatsheuvel, in the municipality of Loon op Zand. The Efteling opened in 1952 and it is one of the oldest theme parks in the world.

The Fairy Tale Forest, designed by the famous Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck, was home to some ten different fairy tales, all of them brought to life using ingenious movements and lighting and sound effects designed by the Dutch film maker Peter Reijnders. In over fifty years the park has evolved from a nature park with playground and a Fairy Tale Forest, into a full-size theme park. It is twice as large as the original. Nowadays, Efteling appeals to both young and old with its cultural, romantic and nostalgic themes and its variety of amusement rides.

There are many attractions in the Efteling, here’s a few described.

The House of the Five Senses is the impressive main entrance. The 52- meter high wooden construction has the largest reed roof (48437 square feet/ 4500 square meters) in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The five peaks of the roof symbolize the Five senses, which stand for experiencing the Efteling. Besides the entrance, customer service, a souvenir shop and a toilet group are located in the building.

The Pagode has been taking off from the Efteling since 1987. This flying temple of Thai design, slowly revolves while it is up in the air. The temple extends up to 45 meters above the ground and has a diameter of 16 meters. You can see it rise above the trees when you are on your way to the Efteling and when you are approaching the park. Even if you are afraid of heights, you shouldn’t miss this spectacular view . As you sit down on one of the long benches, the Pagode calmly and very gradually takes you up and the temple twists full circle. The Efteling looks incredible from up there!

Panda Droom was officially opened by Prince Bernhard in 2002. This attraction was created in close cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund. Panda Droom was a gift to the visitors to the park to mark the Efteling’s 50th anniversary. The 3D film Panda is an unforgettable experience, it shows you just how beautiful nature really is. You can feel the wind and the spray from the ocean, so real.

The Vogel Rok landed in the Efteling in 1998. This indoor roller-coaster rides in the dark and moves at a speed of 65 km/h. The ride takes 1.41 minutes from start to finish. In Carnival Festival figures from all over the world will take you on an exciting journey to explore their countries, their national dress and to find out how they make music. You’ll get a taste of China, France, England, Alaska, Mexico and so on. You pas 15 different countries and 270 different dolls at a speed of 1.8 km/h. The ride is 240 meters long and takes 8 minutes.

Besides the amusement park is also the theater, the four-star Efteling Hotel, build in 1992, with fairy tale rooms, the 18-hole golf course and the new holiday park with bungalows.

De Efteling
Europalaan 1 5171 KW


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Bergeijk is the main village in the municipality Bergeijk. The other connected villages are Luyksgestel, Riethoven and Westerhoven. Bergeijk is located in the province Noord Brabant, the area is also known as the Kempen. The village of Bergeijk has 18 thousand citizens. It has an total area of 39 square miles of which over a quarter forest and nature. Originally it was an agricultural town, but today tourism and recreation has taken a significant place. Bergeijk characterized by the beautiful surroundings and sociability.

At the edge of Bergeijk is a campsite known as: Camping de Paal. Camping de Paal was crowned in 2009 as best European children camp and was named best Eurotopcamping of Europe for 2010. It has a subtropical indoor water playground and there is also a heated outdoor pool. There is a playground called the: Biebelebontse Paalbergen, a wide dune landscape of 323 thousand square foot sand dunes and water. Around the camp are playgrounds and areas for sports and games. There are also a petting zoo, a theater and much more.

There are also a number of interesting buildings and artworks in Bergeijk. One of the most famous is the factory building of Weverij de Ploeg, built in 1957 designed by Gerrit Rietveld. It is a building with lots of glass, what was important to assess the color of weaving Ploeg Fabrics, but whatever the employee gave a sense of working outside in a park. To the west you will see the beautiful backdrop effect of the diagonally placed walls with shed roofs. The factory closed in 2007, but the building is a national monument. The building is surrounded by the Ploegpark, that was designed by the garden architect Mien Ruys, there are very special trees. This park features a clock on a pillar and in the village there is a bus shelter, also designed by Gerrit Rietveld.

In Bergeijk is also a windmill, which since the 15th century stands on a burial mound. It is a mill with a 3 meter high wheel, which moves the grindstone. The mill is newly restored and runs almost every Saturday. In front of the mill you’ll see a statue, De Kempense Haan, made by Toon Slegers.

In the center you can see an old church, named Hofkerk or Sint-Petrus’Bandenkerk which is over an thousand years old. A gothic cruciform church with no tower, but with a small cross tower. The big tower collapsed in 1650 and was never rebuilt, instead was made a bell tower in 1669, called Luihuis. In the Luihuis hangs a bell from 1367, which was cast by Jacobus van Helmond About 35 years ago the church became a national monument, and it was restored. The bronze artwork in front of the church, image with the three musicians , named ‘t Hermenieke van Bergeijk, symbolizes the harmony between the parts Bergeijk village ‘t Hof / ‘t Loo and Weebosch.

Then there are the Old Town Hall, from 1923 and the Doctor House, with brick motifs, from 1893. The oldest house of Bergeijk, Het Teutenhuis, of 1722 that belonged to the Teuten, was once a farm. Previously it was also an inn, but now you find there the VVV office.

In Bergeijk is also a cultural center, named De Kattendans, a bronze artwork in front of it, also called Kattendans, is based on folktales, the cats were at night, to dance the burial mounds. There is still much more to see in Bergeijk, as Eicha the museum, the fish ponds, the flow fields, beautiful nature like De Maai, Cartierheide, De keersop etc. Of course Bergeijk also has restaurants, cafes, snack bars, hotels and shops to enjoy local Dutch cuisine.