Expectations are almost always different from reality. It applies to nearly every aspect of life, especially during travels.
I love fantasizing about the places I’m going to, months before the actual date of departure. I usually spend hours and hours wandering around the spots in my itinerary without moving away from my doorstep.
My imagination goes wild daydreaming about the possible encounters and experiences I will have. But when the day of actual traveling arrives, the places and the atmosphere are usually not how I imagined them to be. It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It’s just my expectations have always been different compared to reality, always.
One day, I read an article about Giethoorn. It’s a small village in The Netherlands without roads, only canals; without cars, only boats.
The idea was interesting but the photos were even more fascinating! It triggered a clear image of a rurral wonderland in my head; a picturesque village with cute houses and beautiful gardens, luscious green surrounding reflecting on the canals, colourful boats, warm and cheerful people, an overall positive atmosphere in the countryside.
Sounds dreamy, right? Well damn, it’s actually like that in real life!
I finally got a chance to visit Giethoorn this summer and I was blown away by the accuracy of the mental picture I created when I first read the article about the village. It was exactly how I imagined it to be. And I know it wasn’t just because of the details of what I’ve read nor the creative ability of my imagination, it’s something more…
It’s as if the heavens sang the right songs and the planets aligned just so we can have this perfect day in Giethoorn.
The temperature passed my tropical skin’s standards. In short, the weather was perfect.
Everyone living in The Netherlands knows that the Dutch weather is like a confused rebellious teenager suffering from existential crisis. Pretty messed-up and has no idea about what it wants to do. So a great weather and perfect temperature on the day of your trip that was planned two months ago — It’s more than just a sheer luck, it’s cosmic intervention!
The sun shone in the right angle that gave off a warm atmosphere, like an ideal afternoon stroll in the park.
Soft highlights, no harsh shadows, it’s an absolute treat for sightseeing and photography!
I was with three cool Travbuddies!
Keiko, Johan and his girlfriend Suli picked me up at Zwolle station before we drove straight to Giethoorn. The couple know their way around the village. We didn’t need to spend extra time figuring out where to go. As soon as we arrived, we walked around, found a nice place for a coffee, had some lovely chat, and wandered around for more sightseeing. It was relaxed and fun!
It was packed with tourists! Fantastic!
Ok, ok, in some days this would’ve been a huge turn-off, but not this time.The busy crowd gave off the atmosphere of local fiestas back in the Philippines which triggers a lot of good memories. This made me feel like we were more like visitors instead of tourists. No free buffet from the hosts though 😉
Some locals were having barbecue in their garden. I was so much willing to help them out with the freshly grilled meat but I said ‘No, thanks’ silently, ignoring my excessive salivation. Oh, and there was even a brass band in bright yellow uniform walking around playing local tunes at every stop, so yea, Fiesta!
There was a serious traffic in the canals and boats kept bumping against each other, so to spare ourselves from the hassle of getting in a fight against some tourists, we decided to go cozy and lazy in canal cruise.
Giethoorn History 101
The cheerful cruise guide ‘Captain Jack’ gave us a bit of history lessons in two languages as we pass by the usual tour route. Apparently, the unique landscape wasn’t made for anything fancy nor touristic purposes. Its history goes all the way back to 17th century, when settlers dug the land to harvest peat, a mixed soil and decomposed plants which when dried can be used as fuel. The excavations formed canals and shallow lakes. Later on, the canals played a huge role in the transportation of local goods from the farms around the village.
According to Captain Jack, the village gained popularity for tourists after it was featured in an old film Fanfare, which was released in 1958. At this point, one of the cruise passengers begged to differ. He said it wasn’t an old film. He knows because he was born in 1958 😉
I once mispronounced the name as /gait’horn/ which made one local laugh. That’s because the word geit pronounced as /gait/ means goat in Dutch. The correct pronunciation is /geet’horn/, though it turns out, it’s not so odd to read it as /gait’horn/ at all. Giethoorn actually derived from the local words which means goat horn and it’s quite obvious looking at their official logo.
I’d say Giethoorn is so far the most beautiful village in The Netherlands for me. But then again, I haven’t been to a lot of Dutch villages yet so I can’t say it’s absolute. In fact, I don’t want it to be absolute. I look forward to having more perfect days that would beat this one around The Netherlands!