If you’ve followed my previous thread ‘Our First Dutch Outing,’ you may be aware that we will be making a return to the Netherlands at the start of June this year, just days over 12 months later [we actually flew back to Liverpool John Lennon Airport on the 3rd of June 2015 and will be flying back to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on the 4th June 2016]. Towards the end of October last year, it was announced at my work that there would be redundancies made as a Conservative government had made the decision in their ‘Summer Budget’ that all social housing providers had to reduce their rents by 1% each year for the next four years, leaving us with a funding gap of approximately £4 million. Some on here will know that this became a worrying time for me as I wasn’t in a position where I could afford to lose my job, and my worry grew when our team were taken into an office and told that we had to lose one full time post from the team, and that one of the customer service offices that I worked in was to close. However, by Christmas time the applications for voluntary redundancy were all in and my job was safe. We decided then that as soon as I got paid towards the end of January we would be booking a holiday. We knew we wanted to return to somewhere we had already been to for this year’s holiday, and for a while we debated between re-visiting Cologne or Amsterdam, with the former being the front-runner. However, when it came time to book the flights several factors made us go with Amsterdam, with us deciding the time wasn’t right for us to re-visit Cologne. So, we booked our flights to leave on 4th June 2016 and return on 11th June 2016, and we booked our hotel [the same hotel as last year, located on Damrak – it is a basic hotel but it is a good price and only five minute walk over to Amsterdam Centraal]. Then came the planning stages of what to visit and on what days, both for zoological collections and for other sights and attractions. We knew straight away that we wanted to strike a bit of a balance between revisiting some places we were already familiar with and visiting places we hadn’t been to before. Certainly from a zoological collections point of view, there were some easy decisions to make: Apenheul and Harderwijk were out [very nice collections, but little if anything changed since last year], and VogelPark Avifauna was in. Then Natura Artis Magistra was a given considering we’re staying in Amsterdam, and a return visit to Burgers’ Zoo got onto the list as we didn’t see the ringtail last year [we did debate we might not see it this year either, but it is a zoo that is worth visiting anyway]. Following that, we had some harder choices to make. A return to DierenPark Amersfoort or to Diergaarde Blijdorp? Tempting, but then we’d be doing too few new collections. The new Wildlands Adventure Zoo, Emmen? Again very tempting, but it’s a bit outside of the radius I’d be comfortable with abroad at the moment, and it is a collection I would like to visit in a few years’ time once it has had the opportunity to develop. Ouwehands DierenPark? Ok, so the tarsiers and spotted cuscus are still off show if Zootierliste is up-to-date, but still it sounds like a nice place and I have heard good thinks about it: that one is in. I also happened upon Vogelcommando’s pictures of Stichting Schildpaddencentrum during the planning stages, and discovered this may be doable in a day with VogelPark Avifauna, so that one is in if time on the day permits. I’ve also discovered in recent days that there is little if anything on the forum about Artisklas in Haarlem, so I would like to visit this place as it should only take a couple of hours and I can fill in some blanks on here. I had decided on Landgoed Hoenderdaell for this trip, but just today I have started to debate between this and De Paay. Both seem to have a similar journey time, but De Paay appears to have a couple more rarities [for example, the African civets and the grison species]. It could also be where temptation would take over and we would end up re-visiting Amersfoort or Blijdorp as they are both nice zoos and both have easier journeys, but I think I would still prefer to visit somewhere different. As for the non-zoological aspects, we are hoping to visit the NEMO Science Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, Bloemenmarkt, the Cheese Museum and the Anne Frank House. We are also hoping to go on one of the Countryside and Windmills tours that operate from Amsterdam. All of these are things we would have liked to have done last year but ran out of time. I am hoping to do a trip report this time, and I’m sure that saying this now will mean if I don’t I will have several Zoochatters poking me with a stick until it is done. Obviously, with this being a trip to Amsterdam – and with this being a family friendly forum – there will be certain gaps in my trip report on the nightlife sections where it wouldn’t be proper to discuss them here, for example certain museums, shows etc. So, without further delay, please see below my provisional itinerary: Friday 3rd June: Finish work and travel to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, staying in a nearby Premier Inn so that we can get to the airport the next morning. Saturday 4th June: Providing we have no delays, we should be able to get into Amsterdam fairly early and drop our cases off at the hotel. As soon as we’ve done this, we’ll be heading to Artisklas, the Cheese Museum and the Anne Frank House. Sunday 5th June: Burgers’ Zoo Monday 6th June: Ouwehands DierenPark Tuesday 7th June: VogelPark Avifauna and Stichting Schildpaddencentrum Wednesday 8th June: Countryside and Windmills tour, Bloemenmarkt and the Van Gogh Museum Thursday 9th June: NEMO Science Museum, Micropia and Natura Artis Magistra Friday 10th June: ‘The Mystery Box’ [Landgoed Hoenderdaell, De Paay, Amersfoort or Blijdorp] Saturday 11th June: Flight back to Liverpool I would like to take this opportunity in the coming weeks before the trip to get people’s views on the various aspects of my itinerary. What should I look out for at the various zoological collections that I may otherwise miss? What are the best routes around, especially for the places I haven’t yet been too but also for the places I have? Are there any issues with transport or opening hours that may mean we need to tweak around the days a bit? Have people been to any of the non-zoological places that can give an insight on what to expect? What would be the best outcome of the ‘Mystery Box’ – I would say Blijdorp is a no-brainer, but if I am strict in saying I want to pick one of the places that is new for me is De Paay a better option that Landgoed Hoenderdaell? I can imagine the grison to be elusive – is this the case? Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated.