Netherlands Stories and Tips

Arnhem and the Folk Museum

Eetcafe Bij Oma, Arnhem Photo, Arnhem, Netherlands

The Arnhem Openluchtmusem (Open Air) is in the outskirts of the city of Arnhem, about an hour away by train. You then have to go to the nearby bus station and take a city bus, a number 3 that says Altveer on the front. Watch out for this because we saw several different number threes with different destinations. We asked the driver to let us know where to get off the bus and it was clearly out in the suburbs. You cross the road and go down the entrance driveway to the ticket office.

This museum is a collection of about 80 houses, farmhouses and buildings that come from various parts of the country and from different eras. You can get a feel for how people lived in Holland at different points in time over the last couple of centuries here. It's not set up like a historic village as such. Each building is kind of it's own little museum. Some are from the 20th century and some as old as the 18th. There is a tram line that goes around the huge park that is filled with trees and streams and canals. There are gardens and farms with rare breed farm animals. There are some little shops in some of the houses and there are a few cafes scattered through the park as well. Some of the houses and cottages would have belonged to poorer people and some to wealthy merchants and you can see objects and antiques in each type of house that relate to how the owners would have lived. You could spend all day here, looking through the park and in the visitor centre exhibitions as well. We didn't see it all but we did a good job of it. I had met a Dutch man through another travel website and we were meeting up with him and his wife here. It's a good job we did have them with us as many of the displays' descriptions did not have English versions and some of the people that worked in the park only seemed to speak Dutch. I think if you buy the guide book in your language of choice, it does describe each of the buildings and history and that would be useful. We did have the guide but didn't use it.

We spent from late morning until nearly the closing time walking around, poking into the buildings and businesses. We saw how they made paper from old rags, we saw a printing press, there was a dairy and a brewery and a little church. There were amazing topiary gardens and some really pretty and unique looking farm houses. There were windmills to see and animals to make friends with. Some of the merchant buildings actually have shops inside, a general store, a candy shop and a bakery. We had lunch in one of the cafes on the property. There was one farmhouse that would have belonged to a more prosperous family and it was filled with antiques and had little cupboards that opened up to reveal a bed. Odd but it used to be quite common for people to sleep in these enclosed spaces.

There is also a couple of buildings that house collections called "Collector's Paradise", collections that people have donated to the museum over the years. Collections of the oddest things in huge numbers. There is one room that showcases pipes and is only a fraction of the 20,000 strong numbers that one person obtained. There were collections of spectacles, religious icons, Pinnochio books, erotic images (including dolls, posters, etc), and one of the largest was a two level room with walls lined with piggy banks of every imaginable shape and size. There was one room full of Royal Family memorabilia. Across the courtyard was another building that looked more like a warehouse. The lobby had all sorts of household items including furniture nailed to the wall. I didn't go through the building as it looked like a lot of the stuff was just boxed and maybe a bit displayed. I sat in the lobby thinking the others had already gone in but it turned out they were outside looking for me!

By this time we were just about done in and as the rain was starting, we thought it was a good time to leave. We browsed in the gift shop for postcards and then drove into the city centre and parked up. We walked to an old courtyard around what used to be a church and is now a theatre, i think. The buildings around the cobbled square pretty much all had restaurants in them. We picked one that our friend had hear was good. It was quiet and dark and cozy, with wood furniture and the set menu was on a large board. But it was all in Dutch! Good thing we had someone to translate. There were quite a few choices for each course and we all seemed quite happy with our meals. For four people having the set menu and a couple of drinks, the total cost was only 99 euros which we all thought quite reasonable. The drawback was that the restaurant did not take credit cards!!!! Eeek! Between the four of us, we scraped together enough to pay the bill or we'd have had to do dish washing duty i think! Time to find another ATM!

The rain had stopped and we did find a bank machine on the walk back to the train station. We left our friends there and trudged up the incline to the station, found the platform and spent a quiet hour back to Amsterdam, resting. The museum was definitely worth a day trip. It's 14 euro per adult but if you have the museum card (not the iamsterdam card) then this cost is covered. It's not a bad price for a whole day's activities. We finally got back to the hotel with aching feet and legs but we were a bit rested from sitting and chatting at dinner and from the journey back. We repacked our stuff as we are checking out tomorrow and heading for Brussels but in the morning, our other Must See, the Rijksmuseum!

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