Short-term accommodation in Utrecht, 20 min away available mid Dec 2007
Getting to Naarden Vesting
Naarden Vesting is an important medieval fort (from 1280 AD), 20 km east of Amsterdam, just south of Gooimeer, a freshwater lake reclaimed from the sea. Surrounded by quiet nature resorts and affluent villages, the fort and the historic town inside are completely intact with streets of cobbled stones. The gigantic St Vitus Church (built 1380) also known as the Grote Kerk (Great Church) is the central focal point. Directly opposite is the Stadhuis (from 1601) now being used to marry people. It is a privilege to live here, as seen in the number of posh restaurants and shops housed in equally old but restored premises. Surprisingly, it is a well-kept secret in the Netherlands.
The area encircling Naarden Vesting is a cyclist and nature walker's dream. The moat outside the fort links to canals that take you into the Gooimeer lake, a favourite for boats big and small. The scenery of this entire area is idyllic with breathtaking views of the fort and moat.
One can easily spend an entire day in Naarden Vesting, the oldest town in the Gooi. In fact, if you stay here for a week, you can eat in a different gourmet restaurant every day. For history buffs, visit the Vesting Museum and the Comenius Museum. Meander to the design centre (including brasserie and theatre) of Jan des Bouvrie, the most famous interior designer in the country, in the Arsenal. Music lovers will enjoy the organ concerts in the Grote Kerk. Its interior exudes peace and tranquility. Your camera will soon run out of film.
Food and beverage will not disappoint you in this town frequented by the locals. In the Arsenal across from the design centre is Paul Fagel's restaurant. Trained in Provence and hailing from a family of chefs, Paul Fagel worked in his brother's restaurant for 7 years before he opened his own restaurant in Wijk bij Duurstede on the coast of Holland. Two years later, it was awarded a Michelin star. Seafood is his speciality, and his designer dishes look like some famous Dutch painting but taste like authentic gourmet French cuisine. His creme brulee with Tahitian vanilla is heavenly --- close your eyes and indulge. Outdoor seating is nestled in a quiet area of the Arsenal facing the canal. Indoors, you find yourself under double height ceilings in spacious ambiance, including a conservatory. The only thing missing, for me, is a grand piano.
Another very nice place is the Turfloods Restaurant. Some 400 years ago, this building was used to store turf. The husband and wife team bought it 45 years ago for the restaurant known today for Dutch and French cuisine. Located next to a canal, its high wooden ceilings and original tiled floor take you back to ancient times. From here you can embark on a "rondvaart" cruise on an open boat around the town.
Naarden Vesting is a mere 15 minute cycling ride from where I live. Yet I only discovered its beauty recently. In early summer the elderflowers surrounding the wooded areas of the moat beg to be picked for making that refreshing elderflower drink. Here you get a double sunset ---- reflection on the water.
How do you get to this gem of a place? The town of Naarden (largely outside the fort) population 17,000 shares a train station with Bussum (population 31,000). The population of Naarden Vesting (the town inside the fort) is less than 2,000.
Naarden-Bussum is on the Leiden line from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport (AMS) to Hilversum or Amersfoort. Purchase the 5-Euro one way ticket at the counter, where you can also purchase a "trein taxi" for additional euro 4.10. The train taxi is cheaper than a regular taxi if you are travelling alone for it waits at the train station till there are enough passengers, somewhat like a hotel shuttle, and then takes you to your designation. If you are travelling with one or more people, then hiring a cab at Naarden Bussum train station is better value.
At Amsterdam Schiphol airport, embark the train from platform 1 or 2, and you'll arrive 30 minutes later. You can see on the sign if it includes Naarden Bussum. There are also direct trains from Amsterdam Centraal, Amsterdam Rai, and Amsterdam WTC.
Note: you can store your things at Amsterdam Schiphol ariport as well as at Amsterdam Centraal Station and elsewhere. There are coin operated lockers as well as human-operated storage rooms.
From the train station of Naarden-Bussum, you can walk, cycle, catch a bus, hire a taxi, or use your train taxi fare.
When you leave the main exit of Naarden Bussum train station, you see a taxi stand in front of you. On your right are bus stops, usually the final stop for most busses. Yu can catch bus 136 (direction of Amsterdam) to West Walstraat stop or 151 (direction of Almere) at stop “De Veste”. During the week, bus 136 runs 6 and 36 minutes past the hour until 8:06 pm, and hourly at 6 minutes past the hour until the last bus at 23:06. Bus 151 runs 8 and 38 minutes past the hour until 19:08. The famous "strippenkaarts" which are used on Amsterdam buses, trams, and metros can be used throughout the country. You can purchase those striptickets at Schiphol Airport.
A taxi ride (8 euros for the journey to Naarden Vesting) should take about 10 minutes, no longer than 20. At the station, you can rent bicycles for the day, unless you have already brought your own bike (no extra charge for folding bikes on the train).
If you are driving from Amsterdam, take the A-1 travelling east and exit "Naarden-Vesting." Follow signs for parking.
Next: where to stay for a wedding in Naarden Vesting
9 September 2005 Friday
Map Quest of Bussum and Naarden
Map showing Amsterdam and the Gooi (pronounced hoy)
Naarden Vesting - history in English
Naarden Vesting - English guide and links to other Walled Towns
Naarden Vesting - great description, photos, in English
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