Difference between revisions of "Gooi and Vecht"
Revision as of 01:48, 24 August 2011
While pretty much unknown to foreigners, Het Gooi is easily the most well-known region of the Netherlands among the Dutch population. It's known for the wealth of its inhabitants, the broadcasting industry and its high property values. Many of its inhabitants are Dutch celebrities working in Hilversum, the "media capital" of the country and home to the largest television studios in Europe.
Since the 17th century this area has been popular with rich traders from Amsterdam, who bought and built many vacation homes here. With the introduction of radio (and later television), broadcasting organizations set up shop in these luxury villas in and around Hilversum. It became a magnet for the rich and famous, most of whom currently live in Laren and Blaricum, two of the wealthiest municipalities of the country.
A conversation with the average Dutchman about the region will probably bring up adjectives like "arrogant" and "snobby". The typical Gooi "r" is not rolled as it is in standard Dutch pronunciation. This is not a historical dialect, but a modern speech trait that was brought in during the 19th-century by rich newcomers. Many Dutch people don't like this speech pattern as it would show arrogance to the general populace, but it is influential among upper class citizens nonetheless. Another term that shows a negative association with the region is "Gooi parking" (Gooisch parkeren), which is the casual parking of high-priced SUVs outside permitted parking places.
Unlike most of the country, the Gooi area is located on a slightly hilly area with the soil based on sand. The landscape is characterized by forests and heathlands. An exception to this is the Wijdemeren area, most of which consists of flat grasslands, polders and lakes. At hot summer days, many locals come here to sail their boat over the lakes.
The Gooi area is well-connected by the Netherlands Railways  service. Hilversum is the largest city of the Gooi area and the best connected one, as it is the only Intercity station of the region (and six international trains from Berlin also stop in Hilversum every day). Weesp, Naarden and Bussum are also home to a railway station and can easily be visited with the so-called "Sprinter" trains.
The other areas do not have direct train connections, so you'd need to continue your route by bus. Wijdemeren, Laren and Blaricum can be visited by bus from Hilversum (though it might be easier coming with your own transport). Huizen is best visited by bus from Naarden-Bussum, while Muiden is best visited from Weesp.
By far the easiest way to get around is by car. The only exception is Hilversum, as it has limited parking possibilities and a complex road network. There a bike would be more useful.
The Gooi area offers plenty of biking opportunities. Most visitors take a whole day to cycle from town to town and see most of the area by bike. The countryside between the towns consists of forests, heathlands and artificial freshwater lakes. Some popular routes:
The Gooi area has plenty of high-end restaurants. According to the Iens.nl Restaurant Guide, Bussum has three of the best restaurants of the area. Hilversum, as the media city, and Laren and Blaricum as towns for the rich and famous, also offer plenty of quality restaurants. If you're on a budget, you're in for challenge — but there are some budget restaurants in Hilversum for a quick snack.
For nightlife, Hilversum is the place to go. The prices of the bars are quite similar, as they differentiate by catering for different kinds of audiences. There's something for everyone, including hip bars for the rich and famous, bars for blue-collar workers, youth, 50+, all grouped together at the Groest. Bussum has a small community of bars at Generaal de la Reylaan near Naarden-Bussum train station.