Let me start by saying that I am a Rick Steves’ fan. He does a great job of giving you jam packed 30-minute TV episodes focused primarily on travel to Europe. Anytime I travel in Europe I see plenty of Americans traveling with their Rick Steves’ guidebooks, so I can tell you that I am not alone in thinking he is pretty darned good at his job. Instead of personally carrying a guidebook, though, I prefer to do trip research in advance, plan a few keys things scattered throughout the trip, and then let the vacation take me where it will once I hit the first airport.
About a year ago, I saw one of Rick’s travel shows that shined a spotlight on Madurodam. Try as I might after that segment, I could not stop thinking about how much fun this playground of sorts (built at 1/25 scale) would be to see and explore. Madurodam is actually a miniature of the Netherlands in entirety, and each section of the country – every major city, main tourist attractions, important buildings, and the primary industries – are displayed through normal day-to-day activities. It all just looked so darned cool… Needless to say, as soon as we put Amsterdam on the calendar for vacation this year, a trip to Madurodam was imminent. We were actually going to see it up close!
Once we arrived into Amsterdam, we decided to check out the Gray Line office to see if there were any tours to highlights that we wanted to see during our week in the Netherlands. The Gray Line office is located in the same building as the Visitors Center directly across from Amsterdam Centraal train station. There was one bus tour, called the Grand Holland Tour, that included Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, and Madurodam. That seemed like a good one to take, so we snapped up two tickets for the Monday tour.
On Monday we took our tickets to the Gray Line office for our 9:30 am departure. They told us to go around the canal to a bus parked at one of the docks. Here we found several buses, but none marked Gray Line. Luckily one of the tour company folks asked what tour we were looking for so we told him the “Grand Holland Tour”. Turns out this tour was run by a company other than Gray Line… (Just something to be on the lookout for as we were really confused.) The overall tour itself was a real letdown. Overcast skies, frequent downpours, and re-routes plagued our path and reduced what we could see throughout the day. Thankfully for us, however, Madurodam was at the very end!
Once we reached Madurodam there were still cloudy skies and light rain, but we were not going to allow the ugly weather to deter our plan for some fun! Starting at the cheery entryway, we could tell we were in for a real treat AND we going to have a good time!
The most difficult thing to decide once we reached the map in the park was where to go first.
While the rest of our tour decided to start on the left, we – and our umbrellas – went directly toward the things that caught our eye: planes, boats, and automobiles. I think you will see from these photos that we weren’t disappointed with our choice!
We finally did make it around to some of the cities and the flower market at Madurodam, too, but the interactive exhibits is where we spent our time. You could even participate as a bidder at the flower market auctions!
We wrapped up our whirlwind tour of Madurodam with one last look at a panorama of the entire city!
This was a small “world” we are glad we did not miss and we will never forget! There is no question we will be keeping our eyes open for future gems we run across in our research, and trusting our instincts that when something truly looks cool it very well may be cool!