Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Category Archives: Netherlands

Dada and the oldest Dutch city

This post is for dada!

The trip to Nijmegen (pronounced “nigh-meh-hem”) was successfully carried out. It’s been more than six months since dada’s departure from Bordeaux, embarking on his next journey in his academic endeavors in the Netherlands. Dada, otherwise known as Dr.Das, has courteously agreed to be the city guide for the day as he is now more or less “local”. How nice it is to finally have a reunion!

With more than 2000 years of history, Nijmegen claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands, although apparently Maastricht also claims the title. Well, my concern wasn’t really to find out which is older; that is quite irrelevant. That is nothing compared to seeing an old friend πŸ˜‰

Annie and dada (along with Yi-Shiang and his family) had lunch at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant in the Nijmegen city centre. It was my first time having all-you-can-eat Japanese food in Europe, and apparently it was dada’s first time having Japanese food. Oh silly dada, inventing his own way of holding the chopstick every single time he attempts it. When will you learn?

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Little surprise in Maastricht

This will be a brief entry on the final weekend travel destination before accomplishing my mission in Belgium for 2012, which was Maastricht in the Netherlands.

On a map, Maastricht is nested in a small part in the extreme south of the Netherlands that sticks out between Belgium and Germany. In fact, Maastricht is the southernmost city in the Netherlands. It is practically right across the border from Belgium, easily reachable from Liège by train or bus.

The skies were gray and the air was sombre when I reached Maastricht, but the absence of rain meant that it would probably be much more pleasant than the trip to rainy Antwerp. Actually, there were some little surprises too… πŸ˜‰

The train station at Maastricht resembled a huge cathedral. Upon exiting the platform, I was immediately surrounded by stained glass on all sides and I wondered if I was really in a train station at all. Maybe the building was indeed a cathedral before it became a station?

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A real trip to Amsterdam (and around)

A short entry and some pictures from the trip to Kinderdijk (a windmill field near Rotterdam) and Amsterdam last weekend with a friend from Brussels. I didn’t get to experience Amsterdam as much as I wanted to the first time I went, and this time, with a full weekend, it was more than enough. To be honest I didn’t appreciate Amsterdam so much, even after the second visit. It was touristy, crowded, and dirty. Currently it’s in the same category as Bruges and Paris, my list of “cities I don’t quite like”.

It began with a side trip to Kinderdijk, a windmill field similar to Zaanse Schans where I went last year. We arrived at around 9:30 in the morning, bright and early.

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Holland part 3: Amsterdam and Den Haag

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2. If you just want to see pictures, click here. If you’re actually interested in a bit of narration, please carry on.

While nature brought us flowers and history gave us windmills, our journey wouldn’t be complete without a visit (albeit short) to a Dutch city or two. Now, the only knowledge I had of the Netherlands before the trip was Amsterdam, but my colleague, much more prepared than I was, suggested a brief trip to Den Haag, since it was on the way back to Brussels. I know the English name of the city is The Hague, but the original Dutch name of Den Haag is now stuck since it was all I saw on the road anyway.

After Keukenhof, the group of 5 set out on a venture to find our “hostel”, which was literally situated in the middle of nowhere. It would be more appropriate to call it a “campsite” rather than a hostel, because what we rented was a little cabin with 5 beds and no heating. Oh boy. Then again, with low cost being our main priority, the place seemed pretty reasonable.

The ride to the campsite was quite amusing. Apparently Ms. GPS decided to lead us into the wrong destination when we entered our coordinates for the first time, resulting in me going on tiny, winded one-lane roads accommodating two-way traffic, bike lanes that were wider than the car lane, and frustrated drivers passing me frequently because I was slow. Hey, cut me some slack, I didn’t want to fall into the river on my right, and it was entirely possible what with the narrow space we had on the road.

So then after a bit of wandering and finally entering the address of the place instead of the coordinates, we found ourselves parked outside our hostel. Hooray, no passengers have been hurt in the process.

Enjoying life in the wild, are we? Well, the place was adequate for the most part, except for the lack of heating which was more of a problem than I had expected. I had not heeded the advice to bring extra blankets, and so I was stuck with the default ones that came with the cabin. At least there was SOMETHING, right?

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Holland part 2: Gone with the windmills

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 1 and here for part 3. If you just want to see pictures, click here. If you’re actually interested in a bit of narration, please carry on.

My first impression of Holland when I was a young child was the windmill. Whenever anyone mentioned Holland, I would imagine huge windmills and women wearing cute white traditional Dutch dresses. Tulips came later into the picture, but nothing beats windmills when you’re talking about symbols of Holland.

When my colleague suggested a visit to the tiny village of Zaanse Schans, I gladly accepted the proposition. After a “crazy” night in Amsterdam (which I will write about later, and explain what “crazy” means), Zaanse Schans was a humble little place to visit first thing on a Sunday morning, with the weather in our favour every step of the way.

It turned out to be more than worth it because first of all, there is no admission fee. Of course, if you choose to buy souvenirs, that’s your choice. I’m usually not a souvenirs person, but Zaanse Schans was the only destination in the Netherlands from which I actually bought souvenirs for my friends. All the variety and all the adorable designs – and surprisingly not too too expensive (except for the postcards that sold for 1.25 Euros each)!

Also, the scenery at Zaanse Schans was beautiful. As soon as we stepped into the entrance of the village, we were captivated by the windmills waving in the distance and the photo-snapping began, even though we weren’t anywhere close to the windmills. Along with souvenir-buying, we spent a good half an hour in the entrance area, and we haven’t even crossed the bridge that led to the actual attraction itself. The parking cost was 1 Euro for 30 minutes and 7 Euros for any duration more than 30 minutes, so to make the parking cost worthwhile, we’d have to stay for at least 3.5 hours. It didn’t seem possible at first, but with the half an hour spent just at the entrance, maybe we spoke too early and underestimated the charm of the little place…

Entrance area with lots of tourists. The two houses up ahead were the souvenir shops and we spent much more time than expected in there, though I did manage to get some goodies.

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