Our Netherlands Vacation

Apr 28th, 2008, 10:56 PM
  #1  
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Our Netherlands Vacation

We love this place.

Getting here was not the best experience. We had called a cab to take us to the airport and it managed to arrive 45 minutes late. As if to compensate, our flight was delayed 5 hours because one of the crew members was stuck in Minneapolis. We finally got to our B&B around 3:30 Saturday afternoon. But we're here now and it's great.

I need to start with the B&B. We're staying at The Flying Pancake in the Plantage and I couldn't be happier. It's a bit like moving into a studio apartment in the community. I won't boor you with the details but, if you're at all interested, go check the reviews at tripadvisors.com - they're extensive, positive, and, as far as we can tell, accurate (although I don't recall them mentioning that Claudia is not only the hostess but also a young, pretty, a mechanical engineer, the mother of two cute twins, and incredibly cute herself). The B&B has its own website that can also be reviewed.

We did little on Saturday but walk around the neightborhood. The restaurant Plancius got good reviews by both Claudia and Fodors and is only about a five minute walk from here, so we went there for dinner. Dinner was excellent. Our suite comes equiped with a wonderful shower with built in Eucalyptus Sauna. It was a nice way to end the day ...

Sunday was a full and rewarding day. We started at the Anne Frankhuis. We're Jewish and the experience was both moving and difficult.

From there we went to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Googh Museum, both very enjoyable. I discovered that (for me) it's possible to get too much Van Gogh but, to my surprise, never too much Rembrandt. Even more exciting was the John Everett Millais work on display as the Van Gogh. His work is outstanding and should not be missed.

Sunday evening we ate at a new (and ver small) restaurant called Goesting. It's just a few doors west of the Plancius and very, very good.

My wife and I spent yesterday at the Vitalizee Spa Baths in the unpronouncible town of Scheveningen, stopping at the Madurodam on the way home. We thoroughly enjoyed both. Note, however, that the Baths are mixed and clothing is not allowed. Unless you are very prudish, it quickly becomes a non-issue.

We ate dinned somewhere near the Dam. I don't remember the restaurant's name, but the food and service were excellent. The Dutch deserve a special place in paradise for their pea soup.

It's now Tuesday morning. We're off to Leiden and Keukenhof. There's a light rain falling but we're hopeful that it won't dampen the experience.

Everywhere public transportation has been exceptional and the people warm and helpful. It's a great country.

Perhaps I'll check in tomorrow - Queen's Day!

Shalom ...

jmf314159 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2008, 11:39 PM
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Glad to hear you are enjoying yourselves so far. A shame the weather has taken a downturn - but it will get better at the weekend I'm told!
A handy site for you to see what the chances of the rain continuing is www.buienradar.nl. It has an animation of the rain radar and if you click on a time on the left under verwachting it gives you a forecast for that time - looks drier later this morning!
Take a raincoat tomorrow though.
Have fun.
hetismij is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 12:41 AM
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Oh so nice that you love the Netherlands. I adore Amsterdam, if you have time Utrecht is a very nice place to visit as well. We travelled there by train.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Wish I were there too.

P
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May 1st, 2008, 09:20 PM
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Keukenhof was magnificent! The only thing more beautiful than the garden was my wife's reaction as we strolled for hours through an amazing floral landscape.

Getting there and back was, of course, simple. We traveled there via Leiden.

I had planned to spend more time in Leiden, but it just didn't work out. We did, however, walk the short distance from the train station to the Molenmuseum De Valk and climb to the top of the windmill. It was well worth the time.

Returning to Amsterdam we got out first (excellent) taste of the Red Light District. Blauw ann de Wal is a restaurant recommended in more than one travel guide and deservingly so. It's a serene and cultured oasis right in the middle of the touristy part of the RLD. The food was very, very good, and the service was, if anything, even better.

The rest of what we saw was certainly novel and, for me, a bit sad.

We walked back to the tram stop which happens to be immediately in front of the restaurant we enjoyed on Monday. It's name, by the was, is De Rode Leeuw. We got home very late ...
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May 1st, 2008, 09:37 PM
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Sorry, but we found Queen's Day underwhelming. We walked around quite a bit, found a great little coffee place (the kind that sells coffee), and managed to escape the crowds by visiting the Museum Het Rembrandthuis and the Joods Historisch Museum, a place we returned to yesterday.

It was while walking around on Queen's Day that we first noticed that signature contribution to pedestrian culture: the 4-person open-air urinal that can be found where one might expect foot traffic and beer consumption to be equally heavy. There is something liberating about peeing in public.
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May 1st, 2008, 09:53 PM
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Yesterday was Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day.

After walking around some in the morning we returned to the Jewish Museum, made our way and paid our respects to the Portugees-Israelitische Synagoge, and then attended the Yom HaShoah service at the Hollands Schouwburg - a place once used as a transit station for Jews being deported to the death camps. Many in the crowd were old - old enough to have seen it and remember.

I found it interesting that included in the ceremony was the sining of a song of the Dutch Resistance, a song which many seemed to know by heart. As with the Schouwburg, the Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) is a very short walk from our B&B. We will certainly pay our respects before we leave.
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May 1st, 2008, 10:04 PM
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So now it's 7:00 AM Friday morning. As soon as we've had breakfast we're off to den Haag. I had originally planned to visit Giethoorn today, but the weather suggests that we would be best served by visiting some place where our focus is the museums.

I'll talk to you guys later ...
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May 2nd, 2008, 12:12 AM
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Sounds like you are having a good time. I know what you mean about Koninginnedag. I never bother with it, though this year I would have perhaps enjoyed the free concert on the Museumplein. Not worth fighting through the crowds though.
Yesterday sounds to have been a very moving time for you. I am so pleased to hear that you took part.
Enjoy Den Haag. Better weather at the weekend - maybe you can get to Giethoorn then!
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May 5th, 2008, 09:43 PM
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We very much enjoyed den Haag. The Maurithuis is much more than Vermeer, although I must admit that the Vermeer is stunning. I've been a big Escher fan for many years and I also greatly enjoyed the Escher in Het Palais Museum.

Saturday we traveled to the Paleis Het Loo, stopping off at Amersfoort for dinner on the way back. We felt that the audio tour of the Palace was particularly well done and very much enjoyed the visit.

Amersfoort is a great town for walking around. We ended up having a very nice dinner at The Colony - get the Rack of Lamb!
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May 5th, 2008, 09:52 PM
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Not all decisions are smart ...

I wanted to see the Delta Project so, like a dummy, I chose to hop a train to Middleburg ... on Sunday no less! Of course, it being Sunday, the buses (it takes two) from Middleburg to Neeltja Jans only run every other hour. When we finally got to our destination we found ourselves on one of the most worthless boat tours imaginable - the perfect metaphor for the day.
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May 5th, 2008, 10:10 PM
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Yesterday was low impact and relatively local.

We got up early and made our way to Zaanse Schans. It was a beautiful day for strolling around and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselved. The windmills are beautiful and I spent far too much on a couple of pewter port glasses.

Returning to Amsterdam we hopped on a canal cruise and then worked our way toward the Anne Frankhuis for lunch at the Pancake Bakery. Go to the Pancake Bakery!

We really should have walked for four or five hours to work off lunch but, instead, we took the #14 tram back to the Plantage to visit the resistance museum.

The Verzetsmuseum is well worth a visit, if only to pay respect to those who made the often deadly decision to oppose the occupation and the transfer of the Jews. It's important to realize that ordinary people can and do rise to this level of courage, and that many paid the ultimate cost for their acts of humanity.
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May 5th, 2008, 10:23 PM
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The Verzetsmuseum is very close to our B&B. I dont know whether it was the effects of a week of running around or our trip to the Pancake Bakery, but we found ourselves back 'home'and quitre willing to call it a day.

We availed ourselves of our in-room steambath, used our in-room espresso machine, and then made our way to our in-room bed. It was a good day.

It is now Tuesday morning and we're about to leave for Delft and Haarlem. I really love the Rail Pass!
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May 9th, 2008, 11:51 AM
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Haarlem was pleasant but disappointing. Fodders speaks of a Mueller organ concert held Tuesday evenings in the Grote Kerk. It didn't happen. Furthermore, none of the many people we questioned had ever heard of such a thing. Oh well ...

Delft on the other hand was totally charming. Take the VVV walking tour and be sure to visit the Vermeercentrum. Also, we found the herring at the nearby fish market a memorable experience. Get one of the large pickles too.

Wednesday we chose to go to Texel. Very nice, and the weather was excellent.

Yesterday, given the continuation of great weather, we decided to travel up to Giethoorn. I can see why some might find it charming, but I was totally underwhelmed. We did, however, see some very nice countryside from the train. Rather than head back to Amsterdam, we chose to spend the evening in Gouda. I wish it had been the whole day. It's a great city. Sint Janskerk is magnificent and the Rotisserie L'Etoile restaurant is superb.
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May 9th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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So, it's now Friday and we spent most of the day in Alkmaar. I enjoyed the Cheese Market far more than I expected, and we really enjoyed walking around the city.

We got back to Amsterdam early - around 6:00 PM - and my wife suggested that we should see if they would sit us at the Tempo Doeloe - a small and very popular Indonesian restaurant just a few blocks from our B&B. We were lucky. It was my first experience with Indonesian food and I really liked it. I was also very pleased at the way the hostess arranged a special rice table for my wife (who has zero tolerance for spicy food). It was a special dinner!

Tomorrow is our last day in the Netherlands. We'll spend it in Amsterda ...
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May 9th, 2008, 12:21 PM
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I'd be interested to hear more about the Vemeercentrum. It is relatively new, that's my understanding. I have looked at its website but still unsure what it has exactly.

Also, the VVV walking tour - I assume that's organized by the tourist center? Is there a fee and how long is it? What does the walking tour cover?
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May 9th, 2008, 11:14 PM
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The Vermeer Center requires perhaps a one hour investment. There is an interesting audio-visual presentation (in English) and a display of prints with commentary.

This is not a museum - it does not compare (and should not be compared) with seeing his work in den Haag, but it is very accessibly and interesting.

The walking tour is combined with a canal tour. I believe the cost was 10 Euros. Again, it's nothing spectacular, but we enjoyed it.
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May 10th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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yk
 
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jmf- Thanks for the description. Regarding the walking tour, are they offered throughout the day? Do you need to sign up in advance? I assume the one you took was in English.
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May 10th, 2008, 04:36 PM
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ttt
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May 12th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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yk

To be honest, I do not know if there is more than one tour per day. We walked from the train to the VVV and noticed a "text tour" sign. It was a pretty informal process and walk, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Delft is a great city (as is Gouda and Alkmaar).
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May 12th, 2008, 06:08 AM
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Sorry, that should have been "next tour". I guess I'm still suffering from jet lag ...
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