A Travellerspoint blog


A Day in Delft

overcast 16 °C

It may be September, and the spring tulips a long way off, but the Netherlands are still in bloom. Fields of fall flowers make a colourful patchwork amid the dairy pastures as we ride the double-decker train to Delft. The unmistakably Dutch landscape is criss-crossed by dykes and dotted with picturesque windmills like this....
But this is an environmentally conscious nation, so it's not surprising that dozens of modern wind turbines march across the marshland and spin the breeze into electricity. Sixteen and half million people live in a space smaller than Vancouver Island, with a fifth of it below sea level, so the Dutch have good reasons to take care of the environment and stop the warming climate from raising the oceans. Houses, roads and cars are tiny by North American standards - no one in their right mind drives an SUV or a pick-up - and with fuel pushing $3.00 Cdn a litre most people are happy to walk or take a bike. So when we arrived in Delft we rented bikes. Here we are with our Gabriolan friends, Gary and Jane, cycling alongside the canals of Delft...
Then we stopped for a traditional Dutch meal of thinly sliced roast beef and fried eggs on toast - delicious. After lunch we listened to some hot jazz in a traditional bar, then wandered the historic downtown where almost all the Dutch royalty are buried.
This is the medieval hall in the city centre....
Delft is a delightful small city which is world famous for its blue chinaware...
...but there's plenty of cheese here as well. In fact there is plenty of cheese everywhere in the Netherlands.
Almost every meal contains cheese and mouthwateringly excellent cheeses of every kind fill the stores and market stalls. But the cheese is not just great it is also incredibly inexpensive compared to Canadian cheese ...
Looks good enough to eat doesn't it! Go on... treat yourself - Take a bite!

Posted by Hawkson 00:53 Archived in Netherlands Comments (6)

Historic Amsterdam

overcast 15 °C

After an evening of dubious pleasure in Amsterdam's hotspots we thought we should get down to some serious sightseeing and where better to begin but with the museums. But which ones? There are more than 50 museums in the city. We could have joined the lengthy queue for the Anne Frank museum but we're only here for a few days so we skipped that and worked our way down the list: the Erotic, Hash and Torture museums were just "not really us" and we dismissed the Pipe, Beer and Diamond museums as being too frivolous. The Funeral museum is obviously much more maudlin but we are here to enjoy ourselves so, after skipping past the Pianola, Purse, and Houseboat museums, we slipped into the Verzetsmuseum which catalogues the struggle of the Dutch Resistance during WW11. It wasn't exactly fun, but it was interesting. With our heads full of the ravages of war we were trying to decide between the Jewish, Chess and Canal museums when we realized that we didn't need another - history surrounds us. Amsterdam is one great outdoor museum - every house, church and building tells a story. The beautiful canalside houses are mostly converted warehouses which housed goods from every corner of the globe in the 17th and 18th centuries ...
The unique lifting bridges are a picture...
And this 1480 Munttoron clock tower still cheerfully rings the hours with a carillon of bells installed in 1680...
So, instead of wandering the galleries of museums dedicated to tulips, ships and trams, we took a canal cruise where the helpful guide gave us a quick rundown on everything we had missed. For example, "On you right is the 1885 Rijksmuseum where you will see....etc. etc." ..."and on your left is the Van Gogh museum where you will see... etc. etc." Alright - we cheated, but in an effort to make ammends we spent the evening with the Netherland's Philharmonic Orchestra as they played a programme of Bruckner in the beautiful 19th century Concert-Gebouw, one of the most visited concert halls in the world.
Next stop - the pretty medieval town of Delf. But we're not finished with the delights of Amsterdam by half and will keep it on our bucket list for a future trip.

Posted by Hawkson 12:38 Archived in Netherlands Comments (4)

A is for Amsterdam

Biking, Bonking and Bongs

semi-overcast 17 °C

Amsterdam is known for its regal architecture. This is the central station...
But the narrow cobbled streets of this ancient city are clogged with bikes - at least a million bikes - an amazing number considering the population is only 750,000. There are so many bikes that canal barges are used as parking lots...
Although most end up chained to the railings and bridges....
The majority of bikes are relatively inexpensive sit-up-and-beg machines: this is useful because 100,000 are stolen and a further 25,000 are thrown into the canals each year.
Cycling isn't the only form of exercise here and, judging by the number of sex shops and brothels, it seems that most Dutch people are bikers by day and bonkers at night. Sex is around ever corner in Amsterdam and most tourists flock to the Red Light District where ladies-of-the-night flaunt their wares like skimpily clad mannequins in a saucy lingerie shop window. Every visitor comes to gawk at the women but most are just voyeurs. However, in our desire to bring you, dear reader, a true experience of our travels we visited the famous sex museum. We would be censored if we showed you what the butler saw, but there was this very interesting bronze fruit bowl, (or maybe it was for nuts?)...

Despite the Netherland's straight-laced puritanical past, Amsterdam's air is heady with the smell of pot and almost every store that isn't selling sex is selling dope. But there is much more to Amsterdam than biking, bonking and bongs: there are boats, bakeries and bookstores everywhere and, of course, there are bags of bulbs and bunches of blooms. Holland is renowned for its flowers and here are some bulbs and blooms for sale at the famous floating Bloemenmarkt....

Our next stop is Delft where we will be cycling the canals in search of ceramics. But we had better stop this alphabetical rhyming or we will run into a lot of problems when we get to Q,X and Z.

Posted by Hawkson 00:13 Archived in Netherlands Comments (8)

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