Sunday, 29 April 2018

Let's tip toe through

I am going to make everything around me beautiful -- that will be my life.                                                                                         Elsie De  Wolf

We have had quite a day!  We went into central Amsterdam, rented a car and took a road trip.  We had four destinations in mind.  Made it to three so we didn't do too bad at all.

The first stop on our road trip was to a town called Groesbeek.  There is a Canadian War memorial here.  There are just over 2600 graves of allied soldiers, 2300 of them are Canadian.  It was a poignant trip and so sad to walk among the graves of so many young men. The relatives of those who died would be pleased to know that the cemetery is beautifully situated and lovingly cared for.  There is not a grave that does not have flowers and it is a pristine environment.

The Canadian War Monument Grounds

The Cross and Flags

Row upon Row

While our road trip started on a solemn  note it did not remain that way.  We stopped for a lovely lunch and then headed out to the Keukenhof  tulip fields.  These gardens have been in existence for four hundred years.  They are situated on thirty two hectares and have more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.  It is a spectacular place.  The weather was less cooperative and it was cold and wet.  However it did not dampen our spirits or enthusiasm.  We wandered the maze, saw colorful birds and lovely animals as well as an abundance of color from the flowers.  After a great of coffee and Dutch apple pie we hit the road again in search of the windmills.

A glimpse of the fields

Rows of colour

A few feathered friends 

Isn't this guy gorgeous 

A different looking chicken

The peacock refused to spread those feathers

More colour!

I love this guy!

The beauty

Odd tree stumps

Again we had relative success and reached the town of Volendam.  This is a quaint seaside community and it boasted a beautiful windmill.  My list is complete!  The day finished with a leisurely dinner and then a short drive back into Amsterdam.  It was a whirlwind tour of the countryside and sites that had been associated with the country all reached and they were just as spectacular as my imagination had captured.

A glimpse of the harbour

Volendam streets.  A quaint and beautiful community

A fisherman with a basket of fish 

Loved the look of this boat

I keep telling you I am easily amused!

Last but not wind mill!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

O What a Time

April 27 is a national holiday in The Netherlands to celebrate the King’s birthday,  one ought to wear some orange and certainly plan to attend and participate in the festivities.  There were likely well over a million people on the streets and party hardy seemed to be the theme.  Public transit was the only way to travel so we all hopped on a train and headed to the city centre where things were well underway.  There was a wall of people on the streets and in the canal boats.  There were interesting home made flotation things that were basically planks on floating devices powered by a motor and looked like you could go for a swim at any moment if you were not super careful.  But the atmosphere was definitely one of celebration.  And yes we all donned some orange to blend in with the crowd.  We wandered Dam Square, city centre, roamed the alleys and finally found the Red Light District and strolled through.

Lots of orange decorating the buildings

Boats full of people fill the canals 

The view of one of the streets filled with people

This guy was totally into the colour of the day!

One of the buskers

Love or hate, here was the opportunity to express your feelings 

Lots of orange and lots of people

Today, both DH’s decided to give the morning, that my friend FC and I had planned, a miss.  We headed out to go to the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.  Colour us disappointed!  We arrived only to discover one must book tickets online.  They are released two months in advance and sell out almost immediately.  We were not able to go in to any of these venues.  So like the trusty GPS we went into a little coffee shop had coffee and tea with a chocolate croissant and recalibrated.  We saw the tulip museum and thought it was worthy of a stop, wandered along the canals, found a great candy shop and ended up in the museum quarter.  Here we were treated to an impromptu concert, wandered in a few stores and kiosks and generally had a lovely time.

Some of the art work that could be see


A fairly common sight but also quaint

Another treat today to see this majestic animal

Window decorations

Because I am easily amused!

Another decorative window ledge.  A unique way to display a tea pot collection 

Quiet on the canal today

Random street view

Rajksmuseum front view 

Peeking in at the gardens

Impromptu concert and they sounded fabulous

Despite our disappointment in not seeing the two venues that we had hoped for my friend FC and I were still able to have an enjoyable day with a lovely stroll through the streets of Amsterdam.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Art, Delicacies and Challenges

We are back on the move and this morning saw us getting a regional train to head out to Delft.  We had planned to leave a bit earlier but as luck would have it we did not need to go down to the central station but could hop on the train at the station directly across from our hotel.  An hours train ride saw us arriving at our destination.  Along the way the scenery was breathtaking.  Fields of tulips, windmills, horses, cows, ponies, sheep and beautiful countryside to admire.  

Once we arrived in Delft we stopped at the tourist information kiosk for a map and before I could ask for directions the man said to just go out of the station head straight ahead and turn right at the second bridge.  A very short walk indeed and we were in the heart of it.  My friend FC and I had googled what we would want to do here and we came armed.....oops I mean ready!  We had a list of places to see, eateries to try, delicacies that were a must and I can report that we checked every item on our list, even if we arrived at the museum just as it was closing (we saw the lobby).

We started our day, as suggested, with coffee at Uit de Kunst coffee house.  Right outside is an old telephone booth that is touted as the worlds smallest gallery.  It hosts the art of different artists.  It was interesting, the coffee lovely and the apple pie delicious.  Sadly I was the only one to give it a try as my fellow travellers are still having to be super careful with what they eat still.  Once we finished the coffee and I finished my super delicious treat we headed out to the Oude Kerk, a fabulous piece of architecture.  The stained glass began with the nativity star and told the biblical stories.  It was extraordinary to look at and the sun shone in to light up the glass beautifully.  From here we headed off to the Nieuwe Kirk.  Another fascinating and imposing structure.  Here the opportunity was offered to climb the 370steps to the top of the tower.  No sweat I thought.  Well it was a 370 step spiral staircase, about three feet wide and steep, steep steep!  I keep saying to my friend PC I’m getting dizzy!  Narrow steps, tiny hand rail, getting intimate with strangers as they squeezed by and you hugged the wall what more could one ask for.  Determination.  Finally we arrived.  The view was awesome and you could look for miles and miles.  We enjoyed the view and horror of horrors we forgot to take the requisite selfie.  It was only as we came outside on wobbly knees, and trembling leg muscles that PC and I realized that we had forgotten to take the selfie.  But we would not reascend for a photo opt.  

More wandering took us to the Vermeer centre, a coffee shop for tea, a picture session with red clogs, lots and lots of Delft pottery and the final stop Bakkerij Diamanten Ring for a few treats before heading back to the train station to head back to Amsterdam.   The biggest challenge thus far, not to take out a bicyclist.  While we are used to looking for cars we forget the cyclists and DH keeps saying don’t forget to look for the bicycles.  

Thought I should try on a red pair

Town house in the square

Sculpture of a pottery maker

One of the many canals

Shall we ascend?  376 stairs and yes they were just as steep as they look

The view from the top

Looking down on the Kerk 

The tulip fields.  Row upon row of majestical colour

More fields of colour

If you look closely you will see the fields of colour beyond the houses

Some of the scenery as we went by on the train

Just outside the train station in Delft, giant tea cups

Another canal view 

Smallest museum.  Today's art

Inside the Old Kerk, centre aisle

View of the back

Pulpit in the Old Kerk

Some of the stained glass

Tombstones of the rich who could afford these graves

The impressive arches 

Fiber artwork, Jackie Howard Artist.  
This piece is called Supplication 

House of my Mother

Birth of a Messiah

The New Kerk, PC and I climbed to just below the bells

Centre aisle

We all agreed that while the city was lovely there is nothing quite like the small towns for exploring.  So many hidden treasures so near by.  It is with thanks to the lady at the train ticket office that we had this experience today and it is definitely one that we were happy to have had suggested to us