Visiting the Netherlands 2012

Visiting the Netherlands 2012

Although we had a few moments of concern when we learned that Copenhagen’s Metro ticket vending machines only took coins and not plastic, our flight from Copenhagen to Amsterdam was uneventful. Danish and Swedish portion of our vacation travels can be viewed at our Copenhagen, Denmark entry.

I had last visited Amsterdam in 2009 with a ConTiki tour group. It’s a lot different when traveling on a self-guided tour in many ways. One noticeable difference is that you can visit tourist sites without feeling like you are in a crowd or in a hurry. There are advantages, but there can also be disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that you have to be your own guide and find the location of your accommodation on your own. Today, we had a bit of trouble finding the precise location of our accommodation at StayOkay Hostel but were never technically ‘lost” just needed a bit of guidance by two cute fellow hosteler girls who offered to give us a hand as we were obviously, map-in-hand, exhibiting some doubt about our directions… :-).

Eating continues to be an interesting event as we peruse menus written in ‘foreign’ languages. Some items, though, have international brand recognition :-). We haven’t encountered any really disastrous food issues from not understanding the menus and enjoyed our visit of the Heineken location. A few images from inside the Heineken plant can be viewed on my 2009 Heineken blog entry.

Other images from this part of our trip will be uploaded when we return to Canada or sooner depending on WiFi access and amount of time that we have…

The hostel provided a basic breakfast of  bread, jam. eggs, cereal and some deli-style meats and cheeses.  Basic but good and a good way to start the day.

The Riksmuseum, otherwise know as the Museum of the Netherlands, has existed for over 200 years and has occupied its current location since 1885. This year, the museum is in the process of being renovated or, as the Dutch might say, rejuvenated. This meant that only part of the museum was open. We were very happy to see the sections that were still open to the public and, since photography was allowed, that made me very happy. When we arrived at the ticket wicket, there were only about twenty people in the lobby and getting tickets and access to the building was a breeze. By the time that we left, there was a very long line-up that wound around the corner and the lobby was packed.

The following by Jan Asselijn caught my eye.  The museum describes the painting as follows: A larger than life swan lifts itself with threatening, out-stretched wings. Hissing fiercely it defends its nest against the approaching danger: the dog swimming in from the right. The dog seems to have designs on the eggs in the nest. The movement of the swan is extreme; its feathers fly up around it. The painter Jan Asselijn has convincingly depicted this spectacle, it looks just like a swan rising up in sudden anger. Through using a low viewpoint he has made the swan tower above its surroundings. This makes the scene even more impressive.

One of the more interesting things that we did in Amsterdam was walk to the Dam Plaza to meet up with a  Red Light District tour group. Very interesting tour but, sorry, no photographs since I didn’t want to risk having my camera end up in one of the many canals.

As we headed back to our hotel after the tour, we stopped at a convenience store to purchase some water and some pre-cut fruit pieces to munch on along the way.  A nice way to end the day surrounded by all types of interesting architecture and the many canals.

Before heading to the train station to catch our train to Rotterdam, we had some time available to explore the area around our hostel and stop in at a few of the shops along the way.

Vodelpark

Dutch wooden shoes for sale

The glass staircase in the Apple store

Alan color-coordinated for a look at a Mini

Alan checking out the many varieties of flowering cacti.

A clock tower

Amsterdam to Rotterdam:

Getting from Amsterdam to Rotterdam was pretty easy and for a cost of about 29 euros not an exhorbitant price to pay and we got a nice quick ride on a modern train.

Our accommodation while in Rotterdam was at the Rotterdam StayOkay. The hostel is part of a building complex where all of the rooms are in cubes that sit on a point rather than in a normal building configuration. Some of the rooms are very odd shapes but pretty cool. So far, I have only banged my head once!

It is always nice to have a pizza place near to a hostel and in Rotterdam the “Very Italian Pizza” restaurant filled that niche very nicely.  Really enjoyed their pizza!

Our plan for our next day in Rotterdam is to rent a bike and visit an area known as Kinderdijk known to have a large display of windmills.

On Wednesday evenings during the summer, Rotterdam hosts a rollerblade/roller skate evening with music and partying and lots of rollerbladers and roller skaters. We didn’t know about the event ahead of time but it would have been pretty hard to miss as 1000’s of people on roller blades and roller skates followed a truck through the street with plenty of music playing from speakers in the truck.

More to come if we survive our bike ride :-).

Well, we survived our bike ride to Kinderdyke (Kinderdijk) and discovered a few new approaches to map reading.  We made it though, and enjoyed looking at this wonderful collection of old-style windmills maintained and preserved by the foundation “Wereld Erfgoed Kinderdijk”. The windmills were originally constructed in the 1700’s with the purpose of moving water out of the Alblasserwaard polders and redirecting it down sluices to the Lek River – the Rijn. The Windmills and the land they are on is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Access to the site is free.  For visitors wanting to visit the Windmill 2 of the Nederwaard (the museumwindmill) and the pumping station “Wisboomgemaal” there is a charge of 6 euros for adults and a reduced fee for children. The museumwindmill and pumping station are open every year from April to the end of October, daily from 09:30am to 5:30pm with reduced hours in other months.  (Official Kinderdijk website)

We had rented bicycles from our hostel and followed a bike route for around 23 km to reach the Kinderdijk location (Bike route). We added in a few extra kilometers through a process called creative map reading :-).

After trying out a Dutch wooden shoe for size, we left the windmills behind and headed back toward our lodgings.

Next up will be an outing to De Haag and the Escher Museum.

Escher Museum

The next stop on this four country tour is Brugge, Belgium.

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