Category Archives: Netherlands

A quick tour of Delft

 Trip to Delft, The Netherlands, 4th April 2012

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I have always associated Delft with blue porcelain plates, blue porcelain Dutch dolls and other glazed ceramic items of the colours blue and white.

So when my tourist guiding guests – my sister and her family who came to spend the Easter holidays in The Netherlands and Scandinavia – suggested at the last minute that I squeeze The Hague in their itinerary, I didn’t expect that my internet research would show how close Delft is to The Hague!  It is in fact so close that a day ticket to The Hague –  you know, the unlimited rides to the bus, tram and local train in 24 hours – would include the 35-minute ride to Delft, excellent!

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From Den Haag (the Dutch name of The Hague), you only need to wait for Tram 1 to take you to Delft.

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The biggest thrill is seeing the vintage trams coming, so photogenic!

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This 750-year old small picturesque town is one of the best preserved historic towns in The Netherlands.

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It exudes the old Dutch charm of narrow canals,  bridges, cobblestoned streets and glorious churches.

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The 15th-century gothic style Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on the right houses the Royal Crypt.  This is where members of the House of Orange-Nassau have been entombed.

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Jezus leeft…..Jesus lives…..

We went to Delft on a Sunday where a church service is being held in the market square.

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The building with the red shutters, that’s how they call the renaissance-styled City Hall

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The facade of the City Hall displays in gold text the date when the edifice was rebuilt (1620) after the big city fire in 1618.

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The statue of Hugo Grotius (1583–1645)  infront of the Nieuwe Kerk.

”By understanding many things, I have accomplished nothing.”These are his final words.

Grotius was a theologian, historian, poet, jurist, Dutch political figure, escaped political prisoner, and finally as Sweden’s ambassador to France.   In 1598 the French king referred to him as “the Dutch miracle”.  Because of his books on international law and practice, Mare Liberum (1609) and De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625), he is considered as the founder of International Law.

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The Blue Heart of Delft.  The heart cut in sapphire (fake) stone symbolizes the Blue Pottery of Delft.
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You must have seen this painting before.  It’s the most famous work of the most famous son of Delft – Johannes Vermeer (1632-75).

The English text on the right of the picture states the following:

Most favorite Vermeer
The “Girl with the pearl” has grown into the most favorite Vermeer with the public at large.  The virtuoso painting technique and subtle way in which the reflection of the light is suggested, creates that the looker-on is the one who causes the girl to look up.  The turban has been revived with small reflections of light – Vermeer’s – trademark. The pearl is also very special, which exists of only two paint strokes: top left a clear light stress and at the bottom the soft reflection of the white collar.

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The movie, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” has partly been taken in Delft and based on Tracey Chevalier’s novel with the same name.  A completely fictitious story in which farmer’s daughter Griet, at the age of sixteen, took up the job of maid in Vermeer’s (played by Colin Firth)  household and finally models for the painting, “The girl with the pearl” from 1655.

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A (Delft) family that bikes together stays together

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The Royal Coat of Arms of the Netherlands is everywhere in Delft. The town is strongly associated with the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.

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You see this old blade-less windmill upon entering the road to Delft.

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Fancy buying your one-year supply of Dutch cheese from Delft…

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A city of canals, it’s quite dangerous I think to get out of the door without looking out first..

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Vertical mailboxes

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In Delft, you park at your own risk.

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Unesco’s Institute of Water Management is based in Delft.

The Tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens

Lisse, Holland

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 Hyacinth fields – photo taken from a picnic spot in Keukenhof gardens

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I’m back from an 8-day, 3-country tourist guiding assignment and can’t wait to post my pics of Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Keukenhof gardens, Copenhagen, Legoland and Malmo! It was drizzling half of the time and the average temperature was 5degreesC but we had a great time, nevertheless, especially yours truly who is a first time visitor to all these places except Amsterdam (although I got to know more of the city during this last visit!).

You might ask, how can one be a “tourist guide” to places she had never been before? It doesn’t make sense! Well, if you do your research very well, to which I did for days and days until my eyes began to swell, then you can be one! From the type of transport tickets to buy to the search for directions on how to get to places like Legoland and Keukenhof gardens and taking advantage of fare and ticket discounts if you are going as a group…

Now, let’s get your excitement going by looking at some photos of the sublime tulips and other spring flowers of Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, over an hour drive from Amsterdam. I’m telling you, if you have to plan a trip to the Netherlands, it has to be during the tulips season – from last week of March up to mid-May!

KEUKENHOF GARDENS
Facts and Figures

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It’s the most beautiful spring garden in the world

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Has won prizes as Europe’s most valued attraction
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It is one of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands and has clocked up more than 44 million visitors in the last 60 years

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It is the largest bulb flower park in the world

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More than 2,500 trees in 87 varieties

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It is the most photographed place in the world

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There are 15 kilometers of footpaths

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It covers an area of 32 hectares 4.5 million tulips in 100 varieties

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It is the largest sculpture park in the Netherlands

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Keukenhof is unique and famous throughout the world

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The bulbs are supplied by 91 Royal Warrant Holders

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7 million flower bulbs planted by hand

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If you feel like you have to have these exact varieties of tulips in your garden, say in America or Australia, you can order your bulbs on site at the end of your visit. The Keukenhof will then send you your  selected bulbs the following Autumn.

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 How to get there:

From Amsterdam:
From the Leidseplein/Museumplein you can take  the red Sternet bus 197 to Schiphol Airport (busses run 5-6 times per hour). At the Airport you can change to the Keukenhof bus 58.
You can buy your combitickets online or at the Tourist Information desk at the Trainstation and at Leidseplein.

From Schiphol Airport
The bus 58 runs on Monday till Friday 4 times an hour and in weekends even 8 times an hour and leaves Schiphol from the bus station at Schiphol Plaza bus. The journey to Keukenhof takes 35 minutes.

A Quick Stop in Amsterdam

My flight Nice-Manila via KLM  the other day had me stopping over in Amsterdam for five hours. Instead of sitting bored at Schiphol airport, I decided to take the train to the city for few hours of sightseeing.

Now I would like to share with you how to see Amsterdam in 3 hours, for only 13.20 euros.

From the airport, I bought a return train ticket to Amsterdam Centraal at 7,60euros.  The 20-minute ride took me to the center of the city where I could have just walked around easily, but I opted to buy a tram ticket (2.60euros) hoping that I could get farther and see more. Realizing that most of the interesting sights can be seen by foot, I got out at the Dam Stop and started walking along the canal with my backpack and camera.

At midday, I was getting hungry but didn’t feel like splurging on a meal so I bought a hotdog sandwich in Dam Square which came  with a large selection of sauces and add-ons, like toasted bacon, salad and I thought, for just 3 euros, it was a giveaway!

I continued exploring the little alleys until I reached the zone of sex shops, hemp seed shops, all sounding seedy and suspicious but actually teeming with tourists of all sexes, taking shots of the gadgets on display.

Two hours to my flight, I went back to the train station and conditioned myself for the marathon run I was about to do at the airport in search of my gate!

Now I am contented to have seen Amsterdam again which  I first visited  ten years ago,  had my memory cards filled with photos of bikes, of people, of shop facades, but most of all, I got the walking exercise I needed before my 12-hour journey to Manila.

 Photos of Amsterdam

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The neo-gothic Magna Plaza Shopping Centre. The former main post office building was transformed into a shopping centre in 1992.

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The Singel canal which encircled the city in the Middle Ages is now the inner-most canal in Amsterdam’s semicircular ring of canals.

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Statue of Multatuli on a square over the Singel canal in Amsterdam

According to Wikipedia, Multatuli (from Latin multa tuli, “I have suffered much”), is the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker (2 March 1820 – 19 February 1887), who was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar (1860) in which he denounced the abuses of colonialism in the colony of the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia).

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Very conspicuous atop building facades are these protruding structures fitted with pulleys and hooks. They are for transporting furnitures into or out of the narrow building as moving them through the stairs are almost impossible.

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Damrak Avenue

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At Dam Square, this looks like a protest against the brutal killing of animals just to take their fur

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They were doing some renovation works infront of the Central Station and this art  board is just a portion of a long one used to cover the messy building work.

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Another “renovation works” cover along Damrak Avenue

The bikes of Amsterdam

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How to park your bike in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam Centraal Station in the background

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What to do in Amsterdam

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