Academic Trips & Language Classes
If you want to get fluent and have fun doing it, take a language course in Belgium or Holland. There are countless language schools; you can explore your options at www.language-directory.com, www.languageschoolsguide.com, or find an online partner to practice your new skills with at www.mylanguageexchange.com.
Maybe you've always dreamed of learning Dutch. Well, it can be done in Amsterdam. All three of the city's universities offer Dutch courses: Universiteit van Amsterdam, Spui 21, 1012 WX Amsterdam (tel. 020/525-9111; www.uva.nl); Volksuniversiteit, Rapenburgerstraat 73, 1011 VK Amsterdam (tel. 020/626-1626; www.volksuniversiteitamsterdam.nl); and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam (tel. 020/598-9898; www.vu.nl).
The terrain in Holland doesn't lend itself greatly to adventure -- but it does lend itself wonderfully to bicycling, and for some that will be adventure enough. If you want an active, typically Dutch vacation, VBT Bicycling Vacations, P.O. Box 711, Bristol, VT 05443 (tel. 800/245-3868; www.vbt.com), has a 7-day "Holland: Bike and Barge" tour. You get 3 days on a barge visiting historic towns along the IJsselmeer Lake shore, followed by 4 days of bicycling in the Hoge Veluwe National Park and around nearby Arnhem. Ask about VBT's "Air Package Plus," which includes round-trip airfare to Amsterdam and pre- and post-tour accommodations. The aptly named Tulip Tours (tel. 033/246-0040; www.tulipcycling.com) does a range of great cycling vacations through this bike-crazy country.
In addition to covering Holland, Pure Adventures (tel. 800/960-2221 in the U.S.; www.pure-adventures.com), takes in the Flemish part of Belgium, with the cities of Bruges and Ghent.
Food & Wine Trips
"Dutch cooking is not a widely known cuisine," admits a reviewer of The Art of Dutch Cooking (1997) by Corry Countess Van Limburg Stirum. True. Yet all is not lost, as you can discover by making contact with De Kookfabriek, De Flinesstraat 2-4, 1099 CB Amsterdam-Duivendrecht (tel. 020/463-5635; www.kookfabriek.nl), which (among other things) organizes Dutch cookery classes. Gordon's Guide Culinary Tours covers Holland, too.
Volunteer & Working Trips
Here's a list of companies offering educational and volunteer opportunities in Benelux:
- www.jobsabroad.com: Listings for jobs throughout Europe, as well as links to study and volunteer options.
- www.idealist.org: Resources and tips on volunteering abroad, along with volunteer and paid postings.
- www.volunteerabroad.com: Extensive listings for European volunteer opportunities. This site has extensive information about and links to Concordia (www.concordiafarms.org), a UK-based organization with extensive volunteering opportunities in European countries, among them Belgium and Holland.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.