Monthly Archives: April 2013

Let’s Take A Look Around Haarlem, Netherlands!

Haarlem center

Grote Markt, Haarlem, Holland

I was looking forward to visiting Haarlem because when looking up a place to live in Holland this town kept coming up as our number one choice of a place to live. It’s just close enough to Amsterdam that you get the benefits of its proximity but far enough away from it that you don’t feel like you’re in a big city. However the day we visited Haarlem we didn’t really plan the trip all that well. It was one of those ‘Hey, let’s get out of the house today.’ ‘Okay, where should we go?’ ‘Haarlem?’ ‘Okay, sure!’ and off we went with no plan.

I've seen pictures online of the Grote Markt bustling with people...today was not that day. Still very beautiful.

I’ve seen pictures online of the Grote Markt bustling with people…today was not that day. Still very beautiful.

Usually we’ll look up places of interest in the city we’re visiting and try to hit all of the ones that catch our attention. We careful plan where and when we’re going and what we’re going to do when we get there including a nice place to stop and have lunch. But not this day. Nope!

More beautiful canals in Holland. This one is in Haarlem.

More beautiful canals in Holland. This one is in Haarlem.

We got on a train and then a bus and watched the scenery until we were there. It was really cold and the ground was icy in most of the streets but it appeared to be a nice little, sleepy town. My guess is that in the summer time this city is gorgeous and bustling. This day was pretty but barren and most of the day it almost seemed abandoned. Towards the time we were heading home it seemed to start coming alive…I don’t know where everyone was hanging out before that but they weren’t here. πŸ™‚

Sumo Sushi Restaurant, Haarlem, Netherlands

Sumo Sushi Restaurant, Haarlem, Netherlands

Basically we walked around town aimlessly, found a place to eat called Sumo Sushi (in our travels in Holland we visited this restaurant in Amsterdam and Den Haag too…what can I say, we liked it!) and then walked around looking at the shops. I even bought a pair of cool new winter boots there because my favorite purple winter boots that I was wearing had sprung a hole letting copious amounts of icy water in. (I guess the fact that they were purchased about 7 years ago in Switzerland and worn all over the world had earned them a permanent retirement…but I digress).

Statue of Laurens Jansz Koster in the Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands

Statue of Laurens Jansz Koster in the Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands

As a side note, the gentleman in the picture above is Laurens Jansz Koster. At the time that we took this picture we obviously couldn’t speak or read Dutch (we still can’t) so we decided he was the inventor of cell phones. Turns out we were not far off….he was actually the inventor of a printing press in Haarlem back in the 1400’s (okay we stretched the cell phone thing a bit…but it’s still a communication tool so we’ll stand our ground.)

There was much controversy over whether he was THE inventor of the printing press. Some say it was a gentleman from Mainz that was the real inventor but I am not sure that we’ll be able to settle that now. Nevertheless he’s somewhat of a local hero in Haarlem and you can see statues of him all around town. Apparently this gentleman perished in the plague that was so kind to visit Haarlem from 1439-1440! Bummer!

Matt looking dapper and no cold at all, Haarlem, Netherlands

Matt looking dapper and not cold at all, Haarlem, Netherlands

After that it was pretty late in the day, the sun was setting, and it was getting even colder. So we began our return to Alphen aan den Rijn. I was a little upset with myself when we got on the bus because I have an old letter from a relative on my father’s side (I believe she was my grandmother’s niece) who had married a man named Van der Water and they were living in Haarlem back then.

I love the design of Dutch buildings! So pretty and embellished!

I love the design of Dutch buildings! So pretty and embellished! Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands

The letter was dated 1969 or something like that so I didn’t expect anyone to still be living there but I thought it would be cool to visit the address, see who’s living there, and take a picture….BUT…did I mention we didn’t plan this day very well? I didn’t bring the address with me. It was cozy at home on my computer’s hard drive blissfully unaware that I needed it. I was hoping that we would have another visit there before we left Holland but that didn’t happen. Next time we visit I’ll have the address tattooed on my forearm for safe keeping! πŸ™‚

The Grote Kerk van St Bavo, Haarlem's cathedral

The Grote Kerk van St Bavo, Haarlem’s cathedral

So we returned home, took hot showers, had a nice cup of hot tea and marked another city off of our ‘Must See Before We Leave’ list!

Categories: Haarlem, Netherlands | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Snowy Day In Alphen Aan Den Rijn, Netherlands

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

After leaving Florida and heading to the Netherlands I was looking forward to some winter weather and in early January we got some. We went to bed with flurries and woke up to a winter wonderland so, of course, Matt and I had to go out and explore especially because this was his first real winter. Here are some pictures from that day.

Do you see the cat?

Do you see the cat?

I bet you do now! πŸ™‚

Our neighbor's cat was intrigued with this white floaty stuff!

Our neighbor’s cat was intrigued with this white floaty stuff!

No school day for these kids...

No snow day for the kids at this school…

The view through our little Christmas tree...

The view through our little Christmas tree…

New mode of transportation...the sled!

New mode of transportation…the sled!

The school where the kids came from...

Where are the kids? It’s SNOWING!!

Snowball fight!!!

Snowball fight!!!

I was impressed with the teachers at this school. These kids get to play outside in the school yard every day but this day because it was snowing, they came outΒ earlierΒ and were brought out to the playground behind our building to have a snowball fight!

I call this one...snowfall on plant thing! :-)

I call this one…snowfall on plant thing! πŸ™‚

So now after seeing how fearless the children were in dealing with the snow…Matt and I ventured out on our walk in the winter wonderland too!

Canals are starting to freeze...yes those are duck footprints!

Canals are starting to freeze…yes those are duck footprints!

And then we found out where the ducks went…the other side wasn’t quite as frozen…YET!

A bit of unfrozen canal for the birdies!

A bit of unfrozen canal for the birdies!

Pretty winter canal scene

Pretty winter canal scene

Matt is ready to experience a walk in the snow!

Matt is ready to experience a walk in the snow!

SAM_0452

This it the park where I used to see my little cat friend…this cold day he wasn’t there! Smart kitty! πŸ™‚

SAM_0455

Get ready for this one…I call this photo ‘Snow on rock wall’…pretty clever, ehh?

SAM_0457

I guess because the town is fairly easy to get around in they felt the need to add some confusion…hey, it worked!

SAM_0462

‘Snow on…I don’t know what this is…but there’s snow on it’!

SAM_0466

I really liked these condos and the park that was a part of it!

SAM_0475

Snow and red condos!

SAM_0474

This little guy seemed so lonely there…but I thought it was pretty.

SAM_0470

I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best so you got them both.

SAM_0480

These guys seem determined to wait it out right there…on the ice!

SAM_0481

They hardly seemed bothered by the cold!

SAM_0485

These swans and ducks found one of the rare places where the water wasn’t frozen!

SAM_0488

Ducks on ice!

SAM_0490

Bridge over frozen waters…

SAM_0493

Nice homes on the park…

Bridge in Europapark!

Bridge in Europapark!

Can you hear the snowy silence?

Can you hear the snowy silence?

More sleds as transport...this is what they use when they can't ride their bikes because of the snow.

More sleds as transport…this is what they use when they can’t ride their bikes because of the snow.

A cow sign in the middle of town???

A cow sign in the middle of town???

SAM_0520

Well lookie there…a cow…

SAM_0526

The rest of the herd…we walked right by them and they barely looked at us. Must be used to the foot traffic on that little trail.

More snow and glad to be in the warm apartment.

More snow and glad to be back in the warm apartment.

Parents picking up their kids from school with sleds rather than the usual bikes.

Parents picking up their kids from school with sleds rather than the usual bikes.

It's coming down again!

It’s coming down again!

Categories: Alphen aan den Rijn, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands, Netherlands, Video Tours | 4 Comments

Out And About In Alphen With My New Camera

Dutch windmill, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands

Dutch windmill, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands

Well Santa brought me a really nice digital camera for Christmas and it has so many different settings on it that I HAD to just take off on my bike for a photo tour of Alphen aan den Rijn. So here I would like to share with you all the best pictures from that first day of camera exploring! Some came out really good and others could be better but again I really didn’t know what I was doing with it yet. πŸ™‚

Bicyclists taking advantage of the beautiful day!

Bicyclists taking advantage of the beautiful day!

Whenever there’s a sunny day in Alphen you’ll see die-hard bicyclists all geared up with smiles on their faces.

Windmills and Bicyclists!

Windmills and Bicyclists!

Keep in mind that this was in December and despite the outfits these guys are wearing the wind was blowing hard and it was cold!

Modern Dutch windmills up close and personal

Modern Dutch windmills up close and personal

These windmills could be seen from our apartment. They were just down the road from us and could be seen over the roofs of the buildings if the angle was right.

Windmills peering from behind the buildings!

Windmills peering from behind the buildings!

When I first got to Alphen I went on a hunt to find them because you could see them and then you would turn a corner and they would mysteriously disappear from site. Needless to say I finally found them. πŸ™‚

SAM_0055

Landscape picture of a pretty little pond I found.

SAM_0054

Another pretty shot!

SAM_0058

Bike/Walking trail through the fields!

SAM_0061

A nice place to rest among nature!

This is the only picture this guy would let me have of his face!

This is the only picture this guy would let me have of his face!

The rest of the pictures were like this or worse...

The rest of the pictures were like this or worse…but I personally like this shot!

More of the trail...

More of the trail…

Look I discovered I can even take panorama shots too!!

A nice panorama shot of the field trail.

A nice panorama shot of the field trail.

Church in town in Alphen...

Church in town in Alphen…

On the way to the windmill I passed a nice church and this little park in a neighborhood that I liked…

A small park in a neighborhood I liked in Alphen...

A small park in a neighborhood I liked in Alphen…

The windmill below is a working windmill but now it’s used as a museum (most are…or people use them as their house) and there’s also a popular bakery on premises.

Another traditional Dutch windmill...

Another traditional Dutch windmill…

Going back towards the center of Alphen I crossed the bridge over the canal below…

One of the canals going into downtown Alphen

One of the canals going into downtown Alphen

Some residents of the above canal...

Some residents of the above canal…

SAM_0127

Another little village church just across the canal bridge…

SAM_0122

Panorama of the bridge and canal

SAM_0128

I liked the way the sunset was hitting this weather vane…

SAM_0131

One of the side streets going into Alphen downtown square….

SAM_0134

The Castellum in Alphen downtown square…

The Castellum in this picture is a cafe and movie theater as well as a place where plays are put on.

SAM_0139

Another church in the Alphen downtown square…

There are so many little churches across the country but apparently very few Dutch actually use them. They do look pretty though. Have no fear because there is still a McDonald’s and numerous coffee shops to attend instead! πŸ™‚

SAM_0142

Sunset on the canal in Alphen downtown…

SAM_0155

Sun setting on this pretty Dutch building!

At this point the sun was setting and I had been gone for about 4 hours so I figured it was time to go home and make some dinner! πŸ™‚

Categories: Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands | 5 Comments

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Part 1

028

Chilling out in Amsterdam

Here are some pictures of my first adventure into Amsterdam just before Christmas. These aren’t the best pictures of Amsterdam (more will come in upcoming blog posts) but these are my first impression photos. πŸ™‚

020

Fog, Minney Mouse, and Christmas trees outside Schipol Airport, Amsterdam

021

For our Florida friends…we’re thinking of you!

023

Me and Mickey strike a pose!

058

Amsterdam Centraal (train station) all decked out for Christmas!

051

It was cold but everyone was out and about having fun! Amsterdam trams!

045

More pretty buildings and happy people!

044

It was quite busy in the square that night!

041

Ice Skating rink…though it was cold it wasn’t COLD so the ice was actually melting and they kept sweeping the water off.

039

This big building is the Apple Store in Amsterdam! It’s an incredibly beautiful building inside and out! Definitely check it out if you have the chance. It’s the biggest Apple store around I believe.

037

More ice skaters in the square having fun!

Categories: Amsterdam, Netherlands | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Day At De Pier Scheveningen, Den Haag, Netherlands – Part 2: Art Sculptures!

DSC06356

During our nice sunny excursion to Scheveningen Beach in Den Haag we came upon the art sculptures that line the end of the boardwalk. I really enjoyed these because they all had a great sense of humor to them and made me smile and laugh. I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures I took of them as much as I enjoyed walking among them all.

096

I felt sad for this big guy. I wanted to hug him!

099

I thought this was an interesting commentary on the world…what do you think?

101

The mouse gets his revenge on the lion!

103

Don’t mess with this whale!

105

Shipwrecked and hanging on by an oar…well almost!

109

Enjoying the Dutch treat of raw herring!

DSC06354

Another perspective of the herring eating sculpture!

112

Hiding your head in the sand!

113

Headstand on the beach!

118

The princess and the frog…happy ever after!

Other things we saw that day on the beach:

This pretty little guy posed for me!

This pretty little guy posed for me!

All roads lead to...well...somewhere!

All roads lead to…well…somewhere!

Getting friendly with the local fish!

Getting friendly with the local fish!

Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel from Strandweg next to the beach, Scheveningen Beach

Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel from Strandweg next to the beach, Scheveningen Beach

I thought this picture was so Dutch and beautiful!

I thought this picture was so Dutch and beautiful!

Stay tuned for more of our travel adventures coming up…

Categories: Den Haag, Netherlands | 2 Comments

A Day At De Pier Scheveningen, Den Haag, Netherlands – Part 1: Goofing At The Beach

Scheveningen Beach, Den Haag, Netherlands

Scheveningen Beach, Den Haag, Netherlands

Despite the fact that it was November and cold Matt and I had a great sunny day in Den Haag at Scheveningen Pier. Here are a bunch of pictures from our fun day there!

Crazy surfers heading out to  the North Sea for some fun.

Crazy surfers heading out to the North Sea for some fun.

If you notice in the picture above these surfers have some serious gear on. They are covered from head to toe in wet suit and even their hands and feet are totally covered. If you ask me that’s too much protection to be fun getting in that cold water but that’s just my opinion. πŸ™‚

031

Catching some waves!

032

Racing to get the wave first!

038

Waiting for the next REALLY cold set!

DSC06330

Let the action begin!

De Pier Scheveningen, Den Haag

De Pier Scheveningen, Den Haag

We didn’t see anyone do the bungy jumping off the pier but I just think it’s crazy. That’s all I’ve got to say. The pier was high to begin with and then people actually climb this tower thing and fling themselves off attached to a stretchy cord! This is not a new concept to me but it still elicits screams of “NO WAY!” from me every time!

Bungy jumping? I think NOT!

Bungy jumping? I think NOT!

It was really chilly but we really did get an exceptionally sunny day to have some fun!

Beautiful day!

Beautiful day!

Matt & I enjoying the sunny beach day!

Matt & I enjoying the sunny beach day!

That crazy bungy jumping thing!

That crazy bungy jumping thing again!

Trying not to get wet!

Trying not to let the waves get me!

057

Matt land surfing…

...almost got his feet wet...

…almost got his feet wet…

066

Matt contemplating the North Sea!

Found this on the beach there and thought it was really sweet.

Found this on the beach there and thought it was really sweet.

Check out the seagulls following the fishing boat.

Check out the seagulls following the fishing boat.

Matt loves his Dutch pancakes!

Matt loves his Dutch pancakes!

Mine was quite good as well!

Mine was quite good as well!

Categories: Den Haag, Netherlands | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Impressions of Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands – Part 2

Windmill, Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

Windmill, Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

Yes, I’ve warned you about the windmill photos…more are coming!

Windmill, circa 1898, Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

Windmill, circa 1898, Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

What I find amazing is that this windmill has been around since 1898 and it’s still working!! Now it’s a museum as many are plus there’s a bread store on site as well which is popular with locals. There were two young kids this day that were trying to sell everyone sticks that they found. It was quite cute actually.

Church in Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

Church in Alphen aan den Rijn, Holland

Crossing one of the many canals in Alphen going to the center of town. Nice church in the background.

I love cows!

I love cows!

This is outside a restaurant in Alphen (one of the very few…it’s a small town) and it’s a wine bar/restuarant. This cow is quite the attraction! I had to pet him! I wanted to go there for my birthday but it was closed on Sundays. Then it snowed and…well then we left Holland!

Petting the cow!

Petting the cow!

Now this little kitty cat was my really close friend in Alphen. I came across him going to the grocery store the first time I ventured out and just called to him and he came running!

My little kitty friend!

My little kitty friend!

All you had to do was whistle at him and he would come running and meowing the whole way then you couldn’t pet or love him enough!

Giving some loving to my kitty friend.

Giving some loving to my kitty friend.

I know he lived in the area close by because he was in the same area every time I saw him but boy was he a lovable cat. I really miss him!

Always with the butt in the face! What's up with that?

Always with the butt in the face! What’s up with that?

Holland is a very cat friendly place more so than dogs. There were cats everywhere inside and outside. They were all very friendly and lovable too which says a lot for the people of Holland in my humble opinion!

Matt makes a new kitty friend in Alphen

Matt makes a new kitty friend in Alphen

Matt made a new fuzzy friend just walking about Alphen and we didn’t even know this kitty!

014

I had to add this one because…well my name is in there! The purple flowers in the picture are actually known as Veronica’s (which I’ve never actually seen in person) but the actual plant in the planter is not!

003

Church in the downtown center of Alphen on the way to the coffee cafe!

002

Matt is happy to have his cafe latte and to be inside nice and warm!

001Barista cafe, Cafe Latte, Alphen aan den Rijn! Very nice indeed!

Categories: Alphen aan den Rijn, Barista Cafe, Coffee Shops, Netherlands | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Impressions of Leiden, Netherlands – 1st Visit

Windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

I am fascinated by windmills old and new so you’ll have to bear with me as they will be showing up quite frequently especially in the Netherlands blogs. So above is one of the many windmills you will see in the next few blogs. πŸ™‚

Same windmill but from a closer, awesomer view!

Same windmill but from a closer, awesomer view!

The sun was kind to us and decided to peek out a little bit for a few nice pictures.

Canal, Leiden, NL

Canal, Leiden, NL

I really liked the colors and lighting in this picture. The blue sky dotted with black clouds made for a really nice picture.

Beautiful architecture!

Beautiful architecture!

Some of the really nice architecture in Leiden. This building was from the 1800’s.

One of the required travel coffee breaks at a place called Doppio, Leiden

One of the required travel coffee breaks at a place called Doppio, Leiden

One of my missions: if there’s a new coffee place I must try it. πŸ™‚ The picture is blurry probably because I hadn’t actually drank it yet. I must have really needed it!

Me in front of Leiden Centraal

Me in front of Leiden Centraal

Leiden Centraal, a place that we would visit often as it’s one of the major train stations where you switch to go just about anywhere else.

Strange picture I know but I was fascinated by this...

Strange picture I know but I was fascinated by this…

I was fascinated by the bathroom in Leiden Centraal because of these soap, water, air spouts but, of course, they didn’t actually work so can’t give you a review on it. Looks cool though.

Rainbow at the end of our day!

Rainbow at the end of our day!

Categories: Leiden, Netherlands | 3 Comments

Impressions of Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands – Part 1

My first official real stroopwafel!

My first official real stroopwafel, Alphen aan den Rijn

I am so far behind in my travel writings that I’ve decided to do a bunch of short blogs with pictures in order to give you an impression of the different places we’ve been in the last 6+ months. So here we go! Out and about in Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands.

Cafe Latte from Delifrance, Alphen center!

Cafe Latte from Delifrance, Alphen center!

My usual visit to coffee shops while traveling led me to this Delifrance in Alphen center. Very nice coffee and the little sugar cookies that came with it were very good too!

A foggy morning in Alphen!

A foggy morning in Alphen out our living room window!

It wasn’t uncommon to wake up to fog outside our apartment. It gave it a really nice, dreamy quality to the neighborhood!

I still can't tell you exactly what this was supposed to be...but it was right near our grocery store.

I still can’t tell you exactly what this was supposed to be…but it was right near our grocery store.

Above could be a deer? An anteater? A strange morphing creature? I don’t know but whatever it was there was a crossing sign there too but I never saw anything that looked like that. πŸ™‚

Stroopwafels and tea, our daily ritual for the time in NL!

Stroopwafels and tea, our daily ritual for the time in NL!

I think I probably (well…okay definitely) packed on some extra pounds with the stroopwafel ritual in the morning here but they were sooooo good! πŸ™‚

Beautiful view of the last of the autumn leaves in town center.

Beautiful view of the last of the autumn leaves in town center.

I just really liked this picture with the last of the autumn leaves hanging on to the trees. A few weeks later we got some really good snow too.

One of the many canals in Alphen!

One of the many canals in Alphen!

This is a really tiny canal compared to most of them in the Netherlands but this was my first day roaming around town seeing the sites.

Categories: Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.