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Giethoorn, Netherlands

 

GiethoornIt is so peaceful, so different and has such simple beauty that it hardly seems real - gently gliding along small canals past old but pretty thatched-roof farmhouses.

You can turn down a "side street" (another small canal) and drift under a wooden bridge where an elderly resident may be strolling over to see a neighbor.

No this is not Venice, or Amsterdam. It is too quiet, too serene and remote. It is so calm that its nickname of the "Dutch Venice" may give a false impression of size and crowds and commercialism.

GiethoornHere in Holland's water village of Giethoorn the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds.

Giethoorn is in the province of Overijssel in the east of the Netherlands, a green and still area.

Giethoorn is at the centre of Overijssel's canal system. Indeed, the little village is so dependent on its waterways, many of the houses cannot be reached by road. When the postman delivers the mail he travels by punt.

G#iethoornBoating has been a popular tourist attraction here for years, with 90km of canoe trails and scores of motorboats to rent, but now, instead of conventional outboard motors, the hire shops stock so-called 'whisper boats' - dinghies driven by electric motor.

Giethoorn's name originates from the first inhabitants' discovery of hundreds of goat horns (gietehorens) in the marshland, remnants of a 10th-century flood.

Today no goat horns will be found here, but the vegetation is quite distinct still. Here you will find yourself on the edge of vast series of lakes and canals, ideal for boaties, angling and paddle-cycling.

GiethoornAlthough there are organized boat tours, it's more fun to hire a small electric boat that requires no great technical skill to operate, and seats two or three comfortably.

Most of the canal-side restaurants rent them and it's a grand way to spend an afternoon, gently puttering down the narrow waterways, under gracefully arching bridges, past cosy thatched cottages.

There are three canal-side museums to visit and the Schreur shipyard, where the Giethoorn punt is built. Footpaths beside the canals are ideal for walking or cycling, and there's a wide selection of cafes and restaurants.

GETTING THERE

Fly into Amsterdam and head to Zwolle. You can take the train to the city and rent a car when you get there, or simply obtain a vehicle from the get-go and drive the whole way. From Amsterdam, take highway A1-E231 to the A28-E232. Driving time to Zwolle is about 90 minutes.

Giethoorn

Giethoorn

Giethoorn