One of the biggest headaches travelers face when flying is the dreaded layover.
When I was in the Navy, I frequently flew out of Norfolk and, for some reason, I always had a layover in Pittsburg or Cleveland. LONG layovers! Not much to do for those hours of waiting. Drove me bonkers!
Since I also flew overseas fairly often, I soon learned to take advantage of those long layovers by heading out to explore the city where I landed. One of my absolute favorite layover adventures was when I was enroute to Bahrain: a “Layover Escape” that included a Canal Cruise and Walking Tour through the city. What an amazing experience!
The sightseeing cruise allowed us to experience traditional Dutch culture, folklore and craftsmanship with stops in several villages. We enjoyed amazing views from our vantage point on the canal. A professional guide shared the rich cultural tapestry of Holland, as we cruised through Holland’s beautiful countryside and discovered tulip-filled meadows and studied the amazing Dutch architecture. We also had an opportunity to visit the villages and towns of Edam, Marken, and Zaanse Schans, and enjoyed a pleasant balance of guided walking tours and leisurely free time.
The Netherlands are known for their love of cheese. Did you know, the average Dutch person gets through 14,3 kilograms of the stuff per year. But this nation of cheese-lovers doesn’t stop there: taking it to the next level, they express their adoration with a variety of cheesy attractions. From taste-testing to cheese-making, there are lots of places to visit to “feed” your love of cheese! In Volendam, we visited a cheese factory to sample their globally renowned cheese before having lunch at a traditional Dutch restaurant.
While touring the fishing village of Marken, we admired the classic line-up of authentic windmills of Zaanse Schans. Historically, windmills in Holland served many purposes – the most important probably was pumping water out of the lowlands and back into the rivers beyond the dikes so that the land could be farmed. In the fourteenth century, hollow-post mills were used to drive scoop wheels to drain the wetlands.
Wooden shoes are a bit of a Dutch cliché—a symbol of the low-lying Netherlands’ past. Unfortunately, the clunky shoes are a dying art form. Wooden clogs are now mostly made for tourists, not every day wear. 300,000 pair of wooden shoes are made every year, but mostly for foreign buyers. And despite multigenerational clogmakers who have passed down their art, fewer and fewer people are interested in taking up a craft that looks doomed. Our tour included watching a shoemaker fashion clogs using old world traditional methods, and I was able to find a Christmas tree ornament of miniature clogs to bring home as a souvenir.
The fields of tulips were absolutely breath-taking! There are just rows and rows of glorious colors as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of Dorothy’s adventure in the Land of Oz when the looked out over a sea of poppies. The beauty is truly amazing.
Had I not been “forced” to spend more than 12 hours in Amsterdam on my way to my final destination, I would have missed a wonderful adventure.
The next time you find yourself sitting in an airport for an extended layover, check out what’s available to see while you cool your jets!
Have you toured a new location while experiencing a long layover? Share your story in the comments below. We would love to hear all about your adventure!
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