Giethoorn – Dutch Camels, Goat Horns And The Other Venice

Giethoorn is a beautiful village situated in the Dutch province of Overijssel.

With over 180 bridges, this little settlement known as The Small Venice of The Netherlands, is only accessible by boat and attracts more and more tourists every year.

giethoorn houses

Short History

The village of Giethoorn is a place full of history, with a fascinating past.

Founded in 1200’s by a group of fugitives from the Mediterranean region, Giethoorn was firstly inhabited by illegals and criminals.

The village got its name from a large number of goat horns found on the grounds after a massive flood, which destroyed the area a few years earlier. The settlers named the little village Geytenhorn, meaning ‘goat horn‘, which in time became Giethoorn, the name currently used nowadays.

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Wooden plank  with the emblem of Giethoorn

Early settlers, including Franciscan monks, took to peat mining and the canals were dug for transportation. Some areas became lakes, many of them not deeper than 1 m. Actually, the small village has currently only one lake naturally formed, also 1 m deep, like the water canals.

Only in 1958 Geithoorn became popular as a tourist destination, after the Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra made a comedy, Fanfare, at this location, attracting tourists in large numbers, who named the small village the Venice of Netherlands.

Water Canals and Bridges

As mentioned above, the place is not accessible by car. Inhabitants who own cars, have a special parking lot, where they leave their car, and jump into their boats for the rest of the trip home, or walk, depending on the area where their house is located. With so many water canals, the village is home for over 180 wooden bridges.

With so much water, Giethoorn is the place where even nowadays wooden boats are handmade, without any blueprints, like in the old days. This means every boat is unique, in shape, size and looks. The boats are considered so precious, they are passed from generation to generation.

giethoorn water canals bridges boats

Top right – Traditional boat handmade in Giethoorn

During history, with every new island created, every owner was forced to build his own bridge, to connect the property to the rest of the village. Starting off with only a simple wooden board from the shed, not wider than 30 cm, nowadays, the bridges are beautiful structures, over the very busy water canals.

Nowadays, nothing changed from this point of view, so the house owners are still in charge of building and maintaining their own bridges.

giethoorn houses and horses

Camel Roofs

Giethoorn is a village with beautifully designed houses. Even if all houses are unique, at a closer look, you will notice one thing most of them have in common, which is that the roofs have an unusual shape.

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Camel Roof

As the area was initially constantly affected by floods, the locals were forced to find a solution for their livestock. Bringing the animals inside was the best one, so the house roofs got a camel hump, in order to create the extra space needed.

Even more interesting, is the placement of the hump, which is towards the back of the house, to preserve the heat in the front of the house, during the cold season.

Even if not many goats live in the village at the present day, we can say the camels never left the area. 🙂

Cooking Houses

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Traditional Cooking House

Having straw roofs can be pretty dangerous, especially when you plan on doing some cooking. Because the locals were extremely afraid of fires, they decided to build the kitchen outside the main house, in a separate smaller house, with regular roof tiles.

Not much bigger than a garden shed from nowadays, the cooking houses are not used anymore, but kept as a reminder of the small village’s beautiful past.

Vacation islands and concerts on water

In the area, you can rent a vacation house, or why not, even your own little island.

lake ice cream concert hall island for rent giethoorn

Concert hall on water, floating ice cream store and island for rent

The place also hosts concerts on water, where people drive their boats to a stage in the middle of the lake, and listen to the performance.

The last farmer…

Tourism definitely changes the face of any location on Earth. People have to readjust and accommodate tourists, or simply relocate.

As the place became a major tourist attraction and everything is done by water, not all activities find a spot anymore, in the village’s new lifestyle.

During warm days, over 650 small boats are rented by tourists, not counting the larger tourist boats. As most tourists have no experience sailing, the narrow water canals are constantly very busy and sometimes traffic comes to a full stop, especially when most boats end up on top of each other, instead of passing by each other.

Considering the new traffic flow, farmers couldn’t possibly do their job anymore and had to switch from farming, to tourism, as bringing all the supplies needed, proved to be way too difficult and in some days, even impossible.

Even so, Giethoorn can proudly say it still has one farmer left, who’s still doing farming, by water, on his own little island, as it has always been done, since the beginning of the settlement.

Living in a place like Giethoorn sounds like a dream, but considering all the intensive tourism in the area, the place is slowly losing its charm for locals. Business vs privacy … Which one wins in the end?


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Flower Parade of Bollenstreek – Flower Overdose

For all you flowers lovers out there, the Netherlands is the place to be during spring. From wonderfully colorful flower fields, to tulip’s day, to flower gardens and parades, the Dutch really know how to celebrate their love for flowers.

flower fields netherlands 2016

The Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek is the biggest event happening during springtime, becoming more and more every year, the symbol of the start of warm season. No other event is so full of color, perfumes and joy!

The origins of this event go back all the way to the end of the 1940’s, just after World War II, when people needed a bit of color and happiness in their lives, right after the war. The very first procession consisted only of a couple of flower garlands and decorated trucks. Still, it was the beginning of a great event.

Willem Warmenhoven, an amaryllis grower from Hillegom, is the creator of the first float, which took the shape of a whale, built out of hyacinths. Hillegom invited back then Sassenheim and Lisse, to cooperate at this event, which set the base for the large-scale parade taking place nowadays.

Like every year, this year the Flower Parade of Bollenstreek (the bulbs area), started in Noordwijk, and traveled slowly through Voorhout, Lisse, Hillegom, all the way to Haarlem, enchanting the spectators waiting for the colorful vehicles. In total, over 40 km of color, happiness and festive atmosphere.

With over 20 floats and 40 richly decorated vehicles, all covered in flowers, the procession made its way through the thousand of visitors, and around 9 pm Saturday evening, the illuminated parade arrived in the centre of Haarlem, ready for receiving a wave of admirers, on the following day.

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The entire Sunday, the parade floats were displayed in the beautiful old centre of Haarlem, the perfect time for seeing them closer, and clicking pictures with the million of flowers. Many activities were organized as well by the municipality, from music to street performances and food stalls.

And what better way to end such an amazing event, if not by sharing flowers with the spectators? Flowers sure put a smile on everyone’s faces 🙂

flower parade netherlands 2016

In the end, we have the appreciate the effort and dedication which are required in order to keep this beautiful tradition going. As every single flower, must be manually set in the right spot, you can only imagine how much time and patience it requires.

Happy Spring, from the bulb region!


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My First Oil Painting – Old Dutch Sail Ship

When I want something, I simply want something. No further explanations needed.

Being a bit too proud of my latest acrylic paintings and my new skills, I’ve decided it’s about time to feel bad once again, in order to motivate myself to improve even further. As acrylic and oil painting are so different, and from what I understood, it’s harder to paint in oil, I’ve decided to upgrade.

Buying my first oil set was a special moment. The only thing I could have in mind, was: my first painting has to be an old sail ship at sea. Why? No idea, but I wanted it.

As one of my friends said: “Why make it easy, when you can make it complicated?“. Most people start with a simple flower, but no, I have to start full speed, all engines running. No flower for me, unless is sitting on a sail ship. 🙂

First contact with oil paint was strange, to put it mildly. No more looking for water to quickly rinse my brush, no more finishing a painting in one go, no touching it for at least a few days. Even so, something about it fascinates me. The things you can do with oil, you simply can’t do with acrylic, and that alone is worth it, even if it means retraining myself on how to paint.

After painting one painting in 3 days, because of the different drying times, I must say I learned a lot, but what I’ve learned most of all is patience. You can’t do it all at once, but you can wait for the right moment.

And so I did, and with every brush stroke, I realized my first oil painting, isn’t a complete disaster, how I expected it to be, but it’s turning into something amazing.

old dutch sail ship

For a first try, I amazed myself, and I realized I was right all along to choose a ship at sea, instead of a simple painting. Painting something I really wanted, made me even more motivated to do it right!

Sails up, engines on and full speed ahead into more unknown waters!


Contact me to buy an original painting or a very high quality reproduction on canvas 


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