Thursday, July 9, 2015
Love the Sunshine, staying another week!
This close to a Moroccan bakery is good ah!
|Morrocan Bakery half a block away|
We had the usual block walk to the Dee Haag HS train station which would whisk us off to Leiden, NL. What is Leiden's claim to fame you ask? Well, Albert Einstein was a professor at the University of Leiden. There is a museum in town that has his pen, the pen he used to write up the theory of relativity. Ken is such a geek.
Our first touristy thing to do was visit one of Leiden's windmills called "De Valk", a grain grinding mill. You are greeted in the entrance way with a huge, grooved grinding stone as it played an important part in this old windmill.
The bottom floor had been the windmill miller's home and we saw a calender from 1928 up on the wall so no one has likely lived there is awhile. The mill has the date of 1743. The home itself was well appointed with a fireplace, pictures (many of windmills) on the odd shaped walls, good sized windows and a very usable kitchen complete with stove and sink.
Next, up the Deft blue, narrow and winding staircase to the next level to view the television with a video discussing the importance of and use of windmills in the Netherlands. Along with each level in the windmill museum having most of the original running parts it also housed other memorabilia having to do with the Netherlands - pottery, baskets, equipment to measure the grain, etc.
Did you know that in Netherlands the patron saint of millers is Saint Victor? After the lovely and safe blue stairs came stairs that had steps like ladders going up to each level (likely safe but would not pass any Canadian inspections).
We even got to go our on a deck where the miller would at one point put cloth "sails" over the blades of the windmill, so we got an up-close and personal look.
In total we were on six different levels seeing exactly how the grain would have been milled. It was an experience I had looked forward to in the Netherlands.
Leiden is a beautiful with many canals which encircle the city. It is an old city. We walked way up the hill to The Citadel of Leiden which was built in about 1150. It was first build as a place to be safe from the flood waters of the Rhine, then it was used as a fortress, used to defend the town. Leiden is on the River Rhine. You could climb stairs and see over the walls of the old fort and get a roof top view of this lovely city. The Citadel itself was brick with an old well inside.
This intriguing city has alleyways to walk on and quaint doorways to walk through, beautiful flowers along the roadways and big birds to watch. We headed to the Hortus Botanicus (botanical gardents) , the oldest gardens in the Netherlands, at the University of Leiden. The Gardens had an enclosed greenhouse of tropical plants.
One tree that was especially magnificent from the second floor. It had yellow and burgundy hanging flowers. I think the tree was from India. We saw the big type of water lily with the raised lip of the exterior of the leaf, along with the Hibiscus we see in Mexico. This garden began way back in the 1500's by a fellow called Carolus Clusius. Another highlight was a huge, lonesome duck sitting on a park bench.
We walked our way around the windy streets and over the canal bridges finally coming to a suitable lunch spot. Most people were outside enjoying the sun, we found it much too chilly. We ate at Einstein's Restaurant. Yes, named after the professor that had taught in their town so many years ago.
We wound our way back to the main area of the city, exhausted, treated ourselves to coffee and cake. Then it was off to the train station, returning to The Hague.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Wow, did I wake up tired today! I guess that is how it is sometimes. We postponed our trip to Amsterdam because that will be a busy day. Today will be a "not going out until after lunch day". I need to rest.
We took the tram to Scheveningen Beach.
There, after dozing of on the bus, we found out you can not use you hotel key card to check off the tram - duh! A real "opps!" moment on our part. There is a huge hotel on the Beach that we also want to check out. Major impressions of the beach - massive, sandy beach actually covered in people enjoying the sun. The temperature was in the low twenties but on the beach with the breeze off the Atlantic Ocean the area on the sand was much lower. We wanted to put our feet into the Atlantic on the European side and was it cold. Ken likened it to the Ocean if it was in Edmonton.
|Yeah baby, that is the Atlantic Ocean and cold!|
Those people laying on the beach had these sort of little umbrella/wall wind breaks dug into the sand beside them. Never saw those on a beach before. In spots the sand was heavily peppered with small shells. There were lots of little restaurants on the beach as well. Up on the land above the beach were many condos with restaurants on the ground level. Dogs were not allowed on the beach, I have to question the wisdom of that. Dogs, however, were on the cement walkway along the beach, the malacon. People were out in full force because of the warm weather, the sun and it was Friday afternoon.
The Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus was built between 1884 and 1885 by German architects. It has suffered fires and the degradation of old age but has been renovated and restored to some of its former glory. It was once a concert hall as well. We saw walk of fame stars outside, one being for the Rolling Stones about in 1964. The Stones did play at this glorious old hotel way back then.
|Rolling Stones plaque|
|Busted shell beach|
We wondered around this part of town for awhile, consuming a beverage, then taking the tram into the usual part of The Hague that we hang out in.
|We decided not the stay at this hotel, it was Bad|
Odd thing happened. I was behind Ken when getting off the tram. He got out then I was clicking off my transportation card and went to leave and the tram door closed. I had to ride the tram to the next stop. I was a bit dazed as that had not happened before and when I went to walk back to where Ken was I did not really see where to go. I was feeling a bit panicked and then I heard it. Ken was laughing because he had found me trying to find him. All funny after the fact.
We were able to finally go out for Indonesian food. Back in the 1600's the Dutch had sailed to Indonesia in pursuit of the spice trade. They colonized Indonesia and the two have had close ties since. Two dishes that we had you likely have heard of Nasi Goering and Gado-gado. It was worth the extra walk around trying to find the restaurant.
|SeaBus, we will come back here.|
|SeaBus landing is a great place to watch and watch out for, bikes.|
|Really typical and nice bike.|
Saturday, July 11, 2015
We were up in record time to get ready, eat breakfast in our room, walk to the train station Den Haag HS and be off to Amsterdam. This is a city with a reputation, so I have always wanted to go. We were at the airport there but that barely counts as being there. Centraal Station was huge, as was expected with the attached shopping mall. Once out onto the street we could see the giant sized train station. It was opened in 1889 and was designed by a Dutch architect. It is built in the Gothic/Renaissance Revival style with a cast iron platform roof spanning 40 meteres.
You could also see from the street the crowds of people and just how busy the city is. We found a tram going in the direction we were headed, The Apple Store, and again were off. The city appeared similar to other Dutch cities with tall skinny buildings and lots of canals.
We walked almost nineteen kilometres yesterday so we covered a lot of territory. We walked to and walked around a flea market called Waterlooplein. Very similar to markets everywhere but with more local wares like a tarp full of Birkenstocks. We walked to the Van Gogh Museum but it was too late to go in, bought postcards and left. On the way there we walked through the art district. We found an art hotel and went in. It had a gallery with a show called The Beauty of Pop by artist Frank E. Hollywood. I found it inspirational and best of all, only one other couple was there.
We found a great chain restaurant, Maoz Vegetarian, with Mediterranean food. We liked it so much we went back for supper. Lots of veggies and very tasty. It is the type of place where you help yourself to the salad and pickles for your falafal.
Mostly we stayed in the downtown or old town area with lovely old buildings, canals and bridges and lots of people. We walked back to the train station on a different route than the tram took so we could take a couple of ferries. Only the second time we have taken ferries since leaving Gabriola. The ferries had only bikes and people - lots of both. We did the ferry thing twice both times did not see the kind of area we wanted to explore so got back on the ferry and returned to Centraal Station.
|Really good beer.|
After supper we wondered around more. As evening slowly became dusk the crowds increased. The tables in front of the little pubs and restaurants were teaming with people and laughter. Bridges had musicians blaring out their music. We found ourselves weaving in and out of little alley ways just following the crowds. Until it was obvious we had stumbled upon the red light district with girls dancing, skimpily clad in front of or in windows the perfect size for a young girl.
Off to the Centraal Station again. This time back to The Hague. We were on a different train and went back through Haarlem, N. That trip was fifty-two minutes and the morning's trip was forty-six but it sure seem to take a long time once we were tired.
|All these beers for under one dollar each|
Sunday, July 12, 2015
I finally made time to go to the big art gallery in The Hague called Mauritshuis (Maurice House). It houses mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings. There are paintings by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hais, Hans Holbein the Younger and others, about 800 works in all. Originally this opulent building was the residence of count John Maurice of Nassau. Now the government of the Netherlands has the property. Mauristshuis was built between 1636 ad 1641, in the Dutch Classicist style.
There were many portraits of people who must have been of higher social class to be able to have their image painted by an artist. Especially the artists represented in this gallery. The art was amazing. The likely most famous piece of art, at least of Johannas Vermeer was the Girl with the Pearl Earring, c.1665. It was not really a portrait of a particular person, but a portrait of an imaginary person - a "tronie". Vermeer is a master of painting light and this painting shows his mastery in the softness of the face, the glimmers of light on her lips and, of course, with the shining pearl.
I was also taken with Paulus Potter's The Bull, 1647. It was a simple outdoor scene with a shepherd by a tree with his sheep and cows. What made it so special according to the statement beside the painting was the fact that the animals where painted on such a huge scale, not done before. The painting also had small details added to it like the flies on the cows back, the lark in the sky and the cows whiskers. I took many details shots of the painting.
Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632 was in the gallery. Rembrandt was asked to paint this portrait when he was only twenty-five - so life-like. It was so amazing to me that all these paintings were so life like yet were over four hundred years old.
Dirck de Bray was a painter from the 1600's and a Dutch master. He did great floral still life paintings. Just curious, but could he be a Bray relative? You never know because we are not really sure where the "the Bray" family originated from.
The building itself was amazing. This is not the original interior as it succumb to fire and was remodelled in the 1700's. Brocade looking wallpaper, extra wide wooden stair cases, floor to ceiling fireplaces, part wooden, part plaster but definitely engraved. There were amazing glass chandaliers, too. The ceilings were engraved, plaster cast, not sure but very incredible in design.
Monday, July 13, 2015
It was off to Amsterdam again today on the train.
We discovered that there is a part of the train where "silence" is mandatory like in a library. Some rather offensive fellow totally let us know that.
Once in Amsterdam we took the tram to the museum district. I was at last on my way to visit the Van Gogh Museum. Well, maybe not. The line-up was crazy - thick with people and over a block long. We decided to go for lunch. I felt I had made a mistake by giving up a great, little, cheap lunch spot in lieu of getting to the museum district. We, however, found a great, little lunch spot, not as cheap with a second floor that had Dutch food. We shared an amazing mushroom and cheese omelette with a huge pancake. Neither tasted like anything bland or ordinary they were wow!
I went into the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) instead, which is definitely World class with painters like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, etc. This museum started in The Hague in 1800 but moved to Amsterdam in 1808, in this building since 1885. It has over a million objects on display. It was another amazing, huge building with a glass atrium in the middle. Each floor had big rooms with a long hallway. Each hallway had about six open fronted rooms off of it. When you walked into a knew area there was a placemat sized card describing at least one piece of art in that area.
Again this museum was full of paintings by Dutch Masters along with many other art objects, sculptures, painted dishes or vases, etc. Many paintings were portraits or group painting of people of the day or scenes of everyday life. I will describe my favourite painting. It was not by an artist I had heard of before (forgive my ignorance), Jan Asselijin and was painted in 1650. "The Threatened Swan" was amazingly life like and huge. The swan is flapping her wings to protect her eggs from the dog swimming to shore. Details such as flying, loose feather, goose poop and the eggs themselves, along with the light on the flapping wings give the painting such life. After it was painted it somehow become interpreted as a particular Dutch statesman protecting the country from its enemies. Overall, in my humble opinion, there were an amazing amount of wonderful pieces, but I will not go into all the descriptions here. Just take a look at some of the pictures I took. The real thing was even more amazing.
In the end I was exhausted and just went through the second floor quickly. There was an amazing amount of art to see, I actually became overwhelmed.
We left Amsterdam tired. Ken decided to geek out instead of actually go into the gallery. I ended up meeting him at the Apple Store a few blocks from the Museum.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Again, poor summer weather here in The Hague.
I woke up knowing I had to do the laundry. Doing the laundry at this Hotel is actually quite interesting because it is different from any other place I have ever done laundry.
After that we had to pack up our clothing, etc. for our move tomorrow to Germany. I know my clothing/packing situation was a mess. I generally had to do a repack. Ken had purchased new shoes and had to figure out how to and where to pack them.
We made sure we purchased one last sweet treat from the Moroccan bakery.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
We took the train from Den Haag, NL to Cologne, Germany.
I like Den Haag and our place there so it was had to move to another spot. We took sandwiches and goodies on the train to eat. The ride went quickly through the countryside of the Netherlands. By the time we were in Germany there were many trees along the train tracks, the look of the countryside had indeed changed.
Once we got to Cologne, Germany (Koln) we were just a short ways from out Hotel - Coellner Hof. It is perched somewhat like a triangle on a corner and is a rather old property.
We are on the sixth floor in a very well appointed room. There is even a balcony to the outdoors.
|Ken tells me this is what goes for an inexpensive hotel in Germany.|
We went for a walk because it was still afternoon. We toured drugstores, grocery stores and checked the menu of a few local restaurants. The prices seem lower here, lower even than the Netherlands. Beer and wine were particularly lower in price.
We brought cheese, buns and salad back to the room to have a mini feast for supper.