Geithoorn

Faraway, in the Netherlands, crisscrossed by canals brimming with wading ducks & punctuated by little thatched cottages, is a charming little countryside, called Geithoorn.

Straight out of a fairy-tale book, this hamlet I feel is the place that spells of those carefree, atemporal times of childhood, when magic & wonderment are the hallmarks.

Merry yet quaint, cheerful yet laid-back, this place to me, seemed to be a microcosm of an ancient world where humanity had found joy in small pleasures; where time stood still..

Apart from the Tulip Festival, I had wanted something different from this Holland Holiday. I had wanted to be away from the ersatz emotions exhibited by neurotic crowds. I had wanted to shut out the drone & speed of barreling vehicles.

While the ‘windmill & cheese tours’ screamed aloud, my heart yearned for something different. I spoke to a few relatives & friends who had already visited Holland but I wasn’t convinced by the ‘tried & tested’.

Windmills on the way..

The third day of our 3 day tour to Holland was left blank. I had wanted to fill it with something unique, with unforgettable memories, with the joy that comes with a daring yet beautiful adventure..& later dwell on the heartsease that comes with time well spent.

Isn’t it said that one must always heed one’s heart? At last, my patience bore fruit. I discovered Geithoorn!

And here’s my discovery for you…

Away from the bustle of the city, was this enchanting fairyland, where visitors strolled around flashing a benign smile & exchanged pleasantries; paused to feed ducks & smell the roses, posed with a genuine glint in their eyes, played with little tots —unmindful of the passing of time, & voluntarily lent a helping hand to families, which aimed for that perfect snapshot.

It was a place where people were glad to just be, chasing nothing but their daydreams ―relaxed & content in the fact that nothing would be seized from them. In short, it was a place where people lived!

And reinforcing this dream were inns & museums reflecting a bygone era & a Wunderkammer radiating the beauty of precious gems.

A 2 & half hour train journey from Amsterdam Central brought us to Steenwijk, from where we took a waiting tourist bus.  A further 30 minutes brought us to Geithoorn. On the way, were pretty little homes that looked stately & pretty at the same time.

Upon reaching Geithoorn, I was a bit dismayed. In place of the picture-perfect wonderland, was a scene that seemed commonplace 😥.

However, like a gleaming gem, Geithoorn began to slowly unravel & flaunt its glowing facets. In no time, the gorgeousness of Geithoorn had wound us in its spellbinding grip 😋.

Geithoorn pronounced by the Dutch as ‘Heat-horn”& known as Little Venice or Venice of the Netherlands, got its name from the goat horns that were found as detritus on a peat bog ravaged by a flood in the 10th century!

This sleepy village stayed wrapped up until the Dutch film maker Bert Haanstra unveiled its beauty during the filming of Fanfare. The place, I think is still Holland’s best kept secret!

And true to what I had wanted, the only sounds I could hear were those of the quacking of ducks, an occasional gleeful chortle & the click of cameras, for, a boat ride & a jolly ramble are the only ways to explore the place. Vehicles cannot ply, for there are no roads for them!

So we started out exploring on a motorboat filled with a handful of quiet tourists.

Gliding gently down the stream, we sprinkled water on passing ducks, crossed quaint wooden bridges & sighted a church, some homey eateries, souvenir shops & homes that remained closed but looked surprisingly welcoming.

The canals soon opened up to a larger lake.

Upon the completion of the boat ride, we were thrilled to step down & discover the hidden aspects of which we only had a glimpse. So we first headed for the Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus.

Strewn about the farmyard were interesting artifacts like Old Dutch boats, windmills, clocks & furniture —all relics of a forgotten era, used by unsung heroes, who’ve left their footprints in the sands of time.

A closed door seemed very intriguing & upon yanking it open, I discovered something that startled me for a second! Seated on a wooden settee was this stuffed doll (the size of a grown woman), eyeing at us! We used that as a bait to lure unsuspecting family members & tourists.

Stepping into the homestead was like entering a time warp! Steeped in ancientness, the museum was a reflection of a bygone era.

We were welcomed by ‘hosts’ that ‘sprang alive’ from the inaccessible inner recesses of time. Stuffed miens of folks who inhabited this Earth long before you & me —played hosts dressed in traditional habits. Cuckoo clocks, ancient ewers & urns decorated the archaic interiors.  ‘Shopkeepers’ of yore sold their ‘wares’.

Away in one corner were the same habits, which we could drape & get clicked in.

But the objects d’art, were the clogs that Holland & its neighbors are famous for. As is my habit, I couldn’t leave the place without indulging in cosplay.

A flight of steps takes you literally down memory lane into the annals of history —onto the times when the deluge had ravaged Geithoorn. On display were mannequins of its townsfolk back then, their costumery & ornaments.  Do not miss this.

Museum de Oude Aarde

Dusting off this storied past, we geared up to discover more of this glorious spread.

Cloistered in the inner alcoves was Giethoorn’s Jewel in the Crown ―Museum de Oude Aarde, showcasing glittering gems & gewgaws in multicolored hues.

A couple of massive soft pink Rose Quartz — scattered carelessly at the doorstep, formed the ‘Open Sesame’ rune to this ‘Aladdin’s Cave’.

Inside this treasure trove, a panoply of sparkling stones in varied hues dazzled & shimmered, each more titillating than the other!

On display were mammoth rocks & scintillating gems. Amethysts, Onyx, Rose Quartz, Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Jade, Emeralds, Agate, Sapphires & Rubies glimmered & vied for our attention.

Bijouterie, trinkets & necklaces strung in silver or platinum, along with rare stones in eye-catching colors made for a spectacular spectacle.

Pouches filled with single piece stones & an assortment of stones, were for sale. My father had been a collector of such gems, one of his subjects being Geology & those were bequeathed to me. I chose a colorful pouch to add on to that collection.

While this ethereal world stimulated the senses, the sylvan outdoors seemed comfortably soothing.

If the priceless pieces over here stole the show, somewhere close by was a shop displaying glazed pottery ―another treasure from Mother Earth’s trove!

Inside was ceramic garniture like bowls, vases, jugs & pots, done up in soft pastels.

Outside, it was still sunny & we were not sated with all that we saw.

The place was so picturesque that we tried capturing Geithoorn’s glory from all angles —from atop bridges, from the grassy mead, from the promenade, & felt the perfect snapshot was the house around the bend, or better still the one at the crossroads.

All homes looked alike but their placement around the waterways; their porch, the garden & bridges were elements that created a ‘clear blue water’ between each.

At one point, I stopped clicking & let my eyes take over. Except for a distant woodnote & the gentle paddling & subsequent sluicing of water, there was nary a sound!

To be enjoying breakfast by the tranquil waterways must be so thrilling. To be away from the din of vehicles must be such a blessing, to be breathing fresh air & to be dwelling in these boondocks must be such a boon!

Nevertheless, I counted myself fortunate to have visited this idyllic Eden☺️.

I wanted each nook & cranny & every nuance of this place to be etched in my memory & hence clicked as much as I could. I didn’t care about the repetitions.

This captivating fairyland that vibed with a ‘happily ever after feel’ was a world in itself.

So we decided to take a slice of this enchanting paradise with us.

Little shops & restaurants lining up the place added to its charm & we gleaned for stuff that would remind us of Geithoorn.

While souvenirs & fridge magnets of tulips & clogs were common everywhere, I don’t think I saw those of Geithoorn in Amsterdam. Blue pottery, candles & other artifacts made for interesting objects of virtu.

Geithoorn Gowda Cheese Shop needs a mention as we shopped for Gowda cheese from here. Not that the shop is not well-known, but Jelly, the owner proved to be the friendly sort & I felt a mention would be appropriate😊

A mild drizzle left a golden glint on the western horizon & that only made parting more unbearable. We were already in the twilight zone & coming down to earth was a tad difficult. Note: There are hotels & home stays in Giethoorn. However, Geithoorn’s remoteness from Amsterdam makes it a distant dream. If you have more days at your disposal, then don’t miss it.

Winter in Geithoorn can be as adventurous as summer or spring, we heard. When the flowing waterways freeze, boats get docked & the place becomes an ideal spot for ice-skating..

Somewhere in my heart, I had wanted Geithoorn to remain tucked away from the eyes of the world. Not that the world wouldn’t or doesn’t know about it but the fear of this pristine paradise being exposed to prying crowds bothered me. But joy like grief, cannot be contained for long..

Departing was like arriving at the last page of a gripping fairy-tale romance of an unputdownable book. Aren’t there books that have always tugged at our heartstrings & left an indelible mark? Geithoorn will remain our fairy-tale..

At a distance was this boat —moored & perhaps waiting to be rowed by other merry tourists. We moved on, glad that we dipped a toe in the waters here. Surely, a revisit is a pipe dream but we can always hope; after all life is nothing but a dream! 🥰

 

Comments

  1. Ashok Viswanathan

    Wonderful thoughts to accompany the beautiful pictures. Indeed a hidden gem and tranquility of the place shine through the absorbing commentary. Thank you for giving us so much more than a glimpse. I experienced this place just through the blog.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you for finding the time to read. It is a pleasure writing for eager readers like you..☺️

  2. Purty G

    Wow! Such a quaint, fairy kingdom truly deserves such a vivid description!!! I’m certain Shubhrata, you have done full justice to this place through the travelogue. The accompanying photos tell their own tale and have piqued my imagination about the little ducks, pretty yet simple homes and countless canals. They all are beckoning the reader to come and take away a slice of the sweet paradise!

  3. K. V. Deepasuresh

    Wow…what a wonderful description Bhabi..and beautiful mind-blowing pictures…really it gives a feel to visit while going through the blog..you have done a wonderful job by shairing your experience accompanying with the beautiful pictures..thank you so …much. I am not getting words to explain …tq so much once again ..

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you, Deepa. Indeed, it’s a beautiful place ―heavenly. Do visit the place sometime.

  4. AnuA

    I want to visit too! Sounds n looks so beautiful n frankly , felt like I was there as well -with you. Wonderful read ! Did you try on the shoes?

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Yes, I did try the shoes. And shall I say, my feet were too small for the boots? 😉. It is indeed a fairyland..do visit the place..

  5. Great description, Shubhrata!

    Indeed the end would have seemed like that in a fairy tale after having relished such mesmerising moments!

    Good luck to more beginnings, soulful treats.

    Do enchant us with your fabulous travelogue.

    Best wishes,
    Sheela

  6. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

    Thank you for Sheela, for going through..i’m glad that i chose this place over others.

  7. Lata

    Beautiful place and wonderful commentary by you. Feel like visiting. Lovely

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Glad you liked it, Lata. Yes, do visit the place. It’s beautiful..not the run-of-the-mill..

  8. sabina iyer

    Wonderland it is … and so well described by you. I could feel the paradise thru ur travelouge. So mesmerized by every pic, that I cant stop scrolling and staring at them. Lovely write up

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Glad you enjoyed reading it, Sabina. No words to describe the place..Do include it if you visit again..

  9. Gopinath Iyer

    A feast for the eyes, the photographs. The nuances are etched in the reader’s memories too. Carefully chosen words to mirror the exact feelings one goes through when one is truly transported to another world, fantasy though. Keep it up Shubrata. Continue to force the reader to refer to a dictionary now and then. Let your journey me be from 100 metres dash to an unending Marathon. Good luck, stay blessed.

  10. Vidula

    Beautifully captured pictures in nature’s lap. You have also woven the story of this lovely quaint town in a very interesting manner. Keep sharing your travelopedia

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you Vidula, for going through it.😊. Yes, the town awed me completely.

  11. R.Shankar

    Calm and beautiful place . very smoothly written and lovely pictures . Very nice . Keep it up.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you & glad we made it here..😊

  12. R.Shankar

    Fantastic writing . Very Cool place . Keep it up. Keep on writing .

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      😊

  13. Rajesh

    Very nice article and super photos

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you, Rajesh. I’m glad you liked it..

  14. Pravin Shringarpure

    What a wonderful travelogue of one of the most picturesque places.I remembered my travel to Netherlands way back in late eighties from Kiel in Germany, where I was deputed by my office.I visited Holland twice and apart from famous places like keukenhoff,madurodamm ,Amsterdamm, etc.the most memorable place was the countyside. We stayed at youth hostel in JAN GIJZEN with lovely cottages,lakes,boats,ducks.Tranquil,serene &peaceful.And also the unforgatable flower festival of Harlem.
    Thank you Shubhrata for bringing out those memories.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Wow! Some places you’ve described were missed by us. Of course, Geithoorn more than compensated for those. Nevertheless, if i get another chance, I’d visit the ones mentioned by you. I can imagine how lovely the place would have been back then..so many moons ago..

    2. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      It was a pleasure writing about the place. I wish I could revisit, to see some of the places mentioned by you. Do watch this space for ‘Tulip Festival’. We selected Holland only for that & we were very lucky that the flowers were in bloom. I had heard that a few years back, due to late spring, the flowers weren’t in bloom. We were a wee bit lucky.

  15. Rekha

    Wow Shubratha, it is so well written. It is detailed, informative and descriptive that it actually transports us to same surroundings.
    We visited Netherlands in 2003 and our visit included most touristy places like Amsterdam, Keukenhof etc. Missed the fairyland as you aptly described Geithoorn. Would love to visit again and if we do I will definitely visit all the places that you have written about. Thanks for all the valuable information and the beautiful pictures which makes it very interesting to read.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you for liking it, Rekha. Many who have visited Netherlands have never been here. I instinctively wanted something more & my patience paid off. Now that you are closer to the place, you must plan a visit. You could spend more days there..

  16. kavitha biju krishnan

    Hey Shubhrata … as always.. this travelogue on Geithoorn by you is a treat for the eyes and ears !! i say ‘ears’ because as i was reading the lines, i cud hear you speak…beautifully written and photographed.. the words seem to pour out from your heart… we were thinking of exploring this place after hearing it from Shankar.. but after reading your blog… i need to RUSH !!! to plan of course.. its going to be our next vacation spot for the summers… Thanks so much.. u are really gifted.. u can make the most boring places and mundane things come alive with your writings…. my gratitudes to you for sharing your experiences.. will get in touch if i need more information.. Thanks again… love you lots for being such a wonderful and beautiful person…

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you, Kavitha, for taking the time to read. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, do visit the place & spend a few days too. It was indeed a fairyland & I could’ve gone on & on about the place..☺️ It’s that enchanting. Yes, you can get in touch before you plan your visit.

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