Volkel, a small town in the province of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands, where I have lived for two years, is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you imagine a European vacation. Volkel is home to mostly Dutch farmers and American airmen (as there is a Dutch and American air base nearby), but there are definitely events for tourists as well.
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Dutch scenery always includes windmills, and in Volkel there is a traditional windmill just outside the centrum (the center of town). Beside the windmill are cornfields and cow pastures, which make for a beautiful picture of typical Dutch scenery that looks like a painting. The cows are used for cheese, called gouda cheese, which is from the Dutch city of Gouda, just forty five minutes away from Volkel. One can buy this delicious cheese at the Jumbo, the supermarket in the Volkel centrum. The centrum is also home to several animals in the petting zoo which could be fun for families with small children. The petting zoo contains goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs and swans. There is no cost for entering this petting zoo, but for the larger zoo in Volkel near the Air Force base be sure to buy tickets or a family pass to enter.
May would be the ideal time to come to Volkel, because the Air Force puts on an annual airshow. Over a quarter of a million people came to Volkel's 2013 airshow. For a good view, park in near the waterpark of Hemelrijk, and then enjoy a day in the waterpark after the show! The man-made lake is a great place to go swimming. May is also the best time to see the flowers in Keukenhoff. Keukenhoff is an hour away from Volkel, but it is worth the drive. The tulips are absolutely gorgeous, and at the gift shop tourists can buy their own tulip bulbs.
For tourists staying in Volkel, there is unfortunately only one option: the bed and breakfast. However, the bed and breakfast has large rooms, a park for kids, and a bar and dining room to order food.You can also pick up brochures for other Dutch attractions there. It is a comfortable stay, and the owners are very friendly and often stop to talk with the customers. Other food options include Sami's, a Mediterranean-style restaurant which serves pizza and shoarma, but also Dutch food items such as schnitzel. Next door to Sami's is another restaurant, which serves ribs, Chinese, and Dutch food. It is a perfect place to grab a snack, or go to dinner with friends. The waitresses are always friendly, but they don't always speak English well, so it would be a good idea to learn a few Dutch phrases!
My experience living in Volkel has been a pleasant one, and friends who have visited have also had a blast in the Netherlands. Though Amsterdam is probably the city that tourists visit when they come to the Netherlands, Volkel is also special and embodies Dutch tradition, culture and simplicity.
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