What Giethoorn has in common with Hong Kong, Tokyo, Moscow and London
It was our last week in the Netherlands, at least for now, and were happy to put Amsterdam firmly in our rear view mirror and find a little more to love about this country. We headed just a couple of hours further east into the province of Overjissel and found ourselves in the idyllic town of Giethoorn. Also a well traveled location but the perfect antidote to the tourist hell of the capital.
Giethoorn has a few distinguishing features that make it an unusual little town. The main one is that there are no cars in the center, you can only get around by boat. This leads to it’s nickname as the “Venice of The Netherlands” but it is absolutely nothing like Venice in reality. Instead there are gorgeous thatched cottages, lots of little wooden bridges and immaculate gardens. During the day it was filled with tourists, but by early evening the bus tours depart and you are left with one amazingly pretty place.
The other, more unusual, fact about the town is that in 2015 Giethoorn won a competition to be the wildcard location in the 80th Anniversary World Monopoly Edition. The campaign apparently went viral in China (from where a lot of tourists visit Giethoorn) and so this town of 2,600 inhabitants is now on the board alongside London, Moscow, Tokyo, Mexico City and other world city superstars.
We camped a short walk from the center in the fantastic Camperplaats Bodelaeke. There are a few choices to camp in the area but, for some reason, this was the emptiest which was odd because it was by far the prettiest. So far we are really liking these camperplaats style places because they are non-reservable. As long as you arrive early enough in the day you can usually get a spot. They are self-service so no language issues and they take credit cards so we can reduce our ATM trips.
Giethoorn is the star attraction in the region but actually the whole area is quite lovely. We took a gorgeous cycle ride through the Weerribben-Wieden National Park. We passed through lovely towns and villages including Jonen which is separated from local roads by a little ferry. The other towns in the areas were just a pretty. We stopped for a toastie and a beer in lovely Belt-Schutsloot. We loved the area so much we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from our waterside spot. We extended our stay to most of the week before moving on.
Before we left The Netherlands we made one final stop in the pretty town of Bourtagne, just a few miles from the German border. Another unusual place, this small village is actually a star fort built in the 16th century. The town is cute and again the surrounding area is pretty and, like all of The Netherlands, great for cycling.
We have really enjoyed our three weeks getting to know The Netherlands better. Seriously, we could imagine living here someday. We love the friendly, liberal-minded people, the relaxed way of life, the modern clean design aesthetic and the endless cycling. If only it was located a thousand kilometers south with better weather it might be a perfect home base. But given that the country isn’t moving anytime soon, we’ll say tot ziens! Netherlands, until next time. It’s been fun.