Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: holland

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Holland part 1: Stop to smell the roses

This is part 1 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 2 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.

Keukenhof.

I have dreamt of going to this place ever since I saw my friend’s pictures on Facebook a few years back. Now, this is reality.

What beautiful weather we had! Unfortunately, there weren’t any roses. What I’d give to be in a garden of 5000 roses (TLP reference)! They’d be there in two weeks, but really, I can’t complain when there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of TYPES of flowers in bloom all around me. The fragrant smell, the endless waves of colours, so vibrant and so INTENSE…can you just say, breathtaking?

Some colleagues and I rented a car for the weekend road trip, and as I was the only one with a valid driver’s license, I drove the entire 650 kilometers in total (including getting lost, returning the car, etc.) It is surprising that the distance from Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium to Lisse in Holland, where Keukenhof is located, is shorter than the distance from Toronto to Kingston. There’s Europe for you in a relatively understandable scale.

The trip was smooth for the most part, thanks to handy dandy Ms. GPS. The only small stretch of traffic occurred interesting right at the Belgium-Holland border, just before we crossed the invisible frontier. It was strange because we were stuck there for a good 40 minutes, but there were no “slow down” signs, border patrols, collisions, or anything that visibly caused the jam. A colleague’s hypothesis is that leaving Belgium is an emotional event for many drivers and they took their time to slow down and say goodbye before entering another country. Personally I think it’s some sort of force field. Just sayin’.

From this point on I’m not even going to write bother writing long paragraphs. Just let the colours refresh your eyes and enjoy the beauty of Keukenhof, starting with the gallery of macros (click for full size).

The MACROS

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: