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Our first Dutch outing

Discussion in 'Netherlands' started by Javan Rhino, 6 Mar 2015.

  1. Javan Rhino

    Javan Rhino Well-Known Member

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    At the end of May, myself and the better half will be spending a week in amsterdam and, as is customary, I'm posting a thread for people's advice and experiences. First and foremost, this isn't so much a zooing trip as a holiday with some zoos thrown in. We will of course be doing Artis, and we're planning on a train hop to do Rotterdam Blidjorp. If time and funding permits, we may do either vogelpark avifauna or Arnhem (or both, really can't decide - it will depend on how easy it is to travel to them).

    We're also planning on visiting little Venice, Anne Franks house and the Van Gogh gallery.

    So, any tips for the zoos? any pointers on travel? any recommendations on what else to see in amsterdam? Anything we really need to be aware of?

    Hoping to get some good advice for our first Dutch outing, so thank you all in advance :)
     
  2. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    Blijdorp is, besides Artis ofcourse, certainly a must see when you‘re in Amsterdam and very doable by train. Besides Blijdorp, Burgers‘ Zoo Arnhem is also a must see ofcourse and doable by train and bus. When you visit Burgers‘, I recommend visiting with someone who visits the zoo regularly because I think you'll enjoy exhibits like the Bush, Desert and Mangrove more when you are with someone who knows where all the birds and reptiles like to hide. Furthermore, I have to recommend visiting Dierenpark Emmen. The old (once) famous zoo in the city centre will close at the end of this year and it is really worth visiting, even though it isn't as great as it used to be. It takes two hours to get there by train from Amsterdam but it's really worth it I think. Avifauna is a nice birdpark with some really nice species like great blue turaco‘s and (surprisingly visible!) kiwi. I also like Dierenpark Amersfoort which has the nicest nocturnal house of the Netherlands.

    The public transport in the Netherlands is good but try to avoid getting from one train in to another...

    I cannot really help you with Amsterdam because I don't visit very often (way too many tourists...) but I think the newly renovated Rijksmuseum is also really worth visiting (haven't been there myself).

    I think you‘ll enjoy our country and our zoos! I hope I've helped you a bit with this! :)
     
    Last edited: 6 Mar 2015
  3. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Amsterdam (Artis) and Rotterdam (Blijdorp) are two of my favourite zoos and certainly not to be missed.

    I appreciate that you’ve stated that this is not primarily a zoo visiting trip but, in addition to the other places you’ve mentioned, I seriously suggest that you visit both Harderwijk Dolfinarium and the Apenheul Primate Park whilst you are in the Netherlands.

    Have a great time.
     
  4. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, blijdorp and burgers are among the worlds best. Blijdorp is easily reached by train, you can walk to the entrance (about 15 mins). Burgers is about 1 hour and you'll need an additional bus trip from the station to the zoo, but i'd say it's worth it.

    Artis is special, it has maintained it's incredible history and therefore I love it. It's perhaps not always the roomiest of zoos but it breathes old zoo atmosphere.

    The rest are just decent zoos. Amersfoort is probably the easiest to reach from Amsterdam. Not the most incredible collection, but all the basics and it does a lot very well. Avifauna is small but with many special species, like the two species of hummers. The (visable) kiwi in the nocturnal house has died last year. They had another in the outside aviaries, maybe that has been moved inside.

    Emmen is in my opinion too far away to bother, but it would be a "last chance to see". If you do decide to go to Emmen and need a tour, let me know.
     
  5. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    Burgers Zoo and Blijdorp are overall the best zoos in the Netherlands and both are easily reached from Amsterdam. There are direct trains to both Rotterdam and Arnhem (both about 1 hour and go 4x per hour) and from there it is a 15 minute walk (blijdorp) or a 15 minute bus ride (Arnhem, goes 4 times an hour) and should not be missed. I would be happy to guide you through Burgers Zoo, as I basically grew up there ;)

    Apenheul is also doable. There are direct trains (I think 2 per hour) to Apeldoorn from either Amsterdam main stration or Amsterdam Zuid (south) and from there it is a 15 minute bus ride. Apenheul is especially if you like primates a must, but it is also one of the best zoos in the Netherlands. I would also be happy to guide you there. Although I am one week in Berlin in the second part of May, so possibly not there ;)
     
  6. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    You will have a fantastic time in the Netherlands. It is one of the best and most civilised countries in the world - things work, people are educated - with some beautiful cities, and, of course, fantastic zoos. Getting around is exceptionally easy, and the old cliche about everyone speaking perfect English holds true.

    I would certainly echo what has been said already: Artis is wonderful, Blijdorp a major world zoo (although, in my opinion, it is not looking at its finest right now), Arnhem and Apenheul essential for anyone with any interest in zoos (neither is perfect, even if both are brilliant, but they are so different to other zoos that they really do stand out). And then there's a host of smaller places - still pretty major - which are certainly worth seeing: Kerkrade is my favourite, but, as stated above, Alphen, Rhenen, Beekse Bergen and Amersfoort are all really good too. And then there is the host of small zoos, privately owned, which are all tremendous as well. With great, great zoos just across the border in Belgium and Germany, this has it be the best zoo hotspot in the world.
     
  7. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    It's been many many years since I was in Amsterdam, but I remember that it's a very easy trip by train to Antwerp - and the zoo is next to the station.

    Alan
     
  8. Javan Rhino

    Javan Rhino Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the comments everyone. I would love to do all the zoos mentioned but as we only have 6 full days (we arrive late and leave early, so travel days taken out) we've narrowed it down to 4 collections.

    We will be doing Artis, Blijdorp, Burgers and Apenheul. Antwerp is already in the pipeline for a future trip, and we do hope to do a second trip to amsterdam to visit the places we miss first time around (as we did with part one of Köln last year, and part 2 next year if all goes to plan). When we add in the other bits we want to see, I doubt we will have the time for a fifth collection.

    Just as an aside, what sort of budget should we be looking at for the zoos (return travel from amsterdam, entrance fees etc)
     
  9. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    If I was based in Amsterdam and could only visit four zoo, they'd be the ones I would choose (though I've not been to Artis, yet).

    Not sure about travel (I took my car over) but don't expect the "silly low" prices you got at the German zoos -Rotterdam was about twenty Euros I think (though I got in free on my Colchester card). That said, in my experience, the entrance fees were worth every single Eurocent.

    You should be able to get the entrance fees off the websites, some are in English, but if not "Google translate" will pretty much do the trick.

    Enjoy your visit, I'm sure you'll be impressed. As Sooty alluded pretty much everything about The Netherlands is "right".

    On your return, you'll have to give us your opinions on the enduring Blijdorp vs Burgers debate. :D
     
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Some years ago we did a short family holiday to Holland and I visited these exact same four collections. (I had also been once to Artis and Blijdorp and the now defunct Wassenaar a long time previously)

    From memory, of these four Blijdorp and Burgers are the biggest- probably worth a whole day in each- though I had to hurry round in far less time. Artis is rather smaller and mostly old fashioned. Apenheul of course mainly a Primate park- I would think you might find a halfday would be sufficient at each of these two.

    I was pleasantly surprised how small Amsterdam is too, no bigger than somewhere like e.g. Norwich in Norfolk so easy to get around. Anne Frank house is a must to visit.
     
  11. Javan Rhino

    Javan Rhino Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the advice so far, we don't have a set plan on the order of what we do yet, but will try and set one as soon as possible. We fly in on 27th may late on, and on 28th will be doing some general exploring around the city. We then leave early on 3rd June.
     
  12. ralph

    ralph Well-Known Member

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    You picked the four most visit-worthy zoos in my opinion.
    Being Dutch myself, those four are the ones I always enjoy visiting the most.
    I own anual passes to Apenheul en Rotterdam, and with those I also enjoy reduced fees for Arnhem and Amsterdam.

    Both the entrance fees and travel expenses will be high - you didn't pick the cheapest country to visit. Still, you will find all four zoos worth every penny.
     
  13. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    In the Netherlands all public transport can be payed with an ov-chipkaart (similar to Londons Oyster card), normally you would travel with full fare (which is about 95 euros per person to an from Rotterdam, Arnhem & Apeldoorn, excluding buss tickets) as you do not have such a card yourself and have to buy a single use ov-chipkaart for every (return) journey.

    However you could buy a subscription with free travel during the weekends and 40% discount during the week for all train travels if you also buy a personal ov-chipkaart. If one person has this discount, this discount is also valid for up to 3 other persons who also have a personal ov-chipkaart but not this discount subscription as long as they travel together. This subscription costs 29 euros for one month, so that could save you a lot of money. However you can only buy these on a Dutch website with no translation, so you can PM me if you want to use these personal ov-chipkaart with the free travel and 40% discount on train travel.

    some general information:

    Dutch railways (NS)
    Home | NS ? Travellers

    the ov-chipkaart
    https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/

    The subscription I mean (only available in Dutch)
    Actie Weekend Vrij | NS ? Consumenten ? Producten
     
  14. Javan Rhino

    Javan Rhino Well-Known Member

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    With just over a week to go now until we fly out, our trip is getting ever nearer.

    Just to post an update - we have now added Hardewijk onto our agenda.

    Apart from the trip to Hardewijk with tickets booked for a certain date [29th May], we don't have any dates set in stone for when we are going to which zoos.

    Rough itinery:

    Weds 27th - Arrive in the early evening and have a look around Amsterdam to get bearings.

    Thurs 28th - Day around Amsterdam for our anniversary, taking in a canal tour.

    Fri 29th - Hardewijk Dolfinarium

    Sat 30th - Tues 2nd - Arnham, Rotterdam, Artis, Apenheul

    Weds 3rd - Return flight in the morning.

    If anybody has any last advice on any of the collections please let me know, and if anybody is at any of the zoos and happen to see us around feel free to come over and say hello :).
     
  15. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member

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    FYI Apenheul have the most talkative staff of any zoo anywhere! The guy who founded the zoo was adamant that guest inquiries all be answered with respect and patience ( that is my experience however not necessarily his exact words).

    If you speak with the right people and are near the Gorilla house when they are brought in for the night a impromptu behind the scenes tour is a possibility in my experience :)
     
  16. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member

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    I was able to do Artis on a short visit to Amsterdam late last year. Utterly charming, I loved it. Excellent photography too, unfortunately I only had my iPhone with me. Its an excuse to go back.

    Other than Artis, Amsterdam was at its best wandering around, enjoying architecture, atmosphere, food and drink. It is a very compact city, the canals are great, and the constant clash between the classy and tacky is unique in my experience.
     
  17. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    I agree fully. Loved my time there.
     
  18. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Remarkable that you all liked Holland so much. Everytime I go abroad and get back home I'm always annoyed by how visitor unfriendly my country seems to be. Very few signs and information in English and quite a few rude people behind desks.

    Then again, I think must people feel embarrassed about their fellow countrymen. Last year I had an American guy apologise to me about the ignorance of Americans in general :)

    Have fun! Let us know how you got on!
     
  19. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Given how much time you have I wonder whether you can really fit Arnhem - Burgers' (it is rather spacious) and Apenheul Primate Park in one single day. I would - all things considered - narrow it down to three zoos only. I might be biased (Amsterdam-wise) but I would say / advise Arnhem and Rotterdam are the best.

    Also: have am surpassed you have not considered some of the wonderful and small herpetological collections around?!!!

    I am sorry I may not be here on the day as I am due to leave the next day for a long haul flight out to the tropics.

    Well have a nice stay anyway!
     
  20. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    Not sure if you've misread here - they have five zoos with a full day for each. Should be plenty.