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In Netherlands


View NETHERLANDS - July 2011 on vanessa's travel map.

So, how it is in Netherlands?

THE COUNTRY
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The 1st characteristic to mention: Netherlands is a flat land lying next to the North Sea, which means sea-gulls, winds and watery. This is an urban country where buildings along the canals are staying tight, shoulder to shoulder. Narrow in the hips because of the high cost of urban land, they (buildings) are stretched up and their flat facades are lined in a perfectly straight line, like a ruler. But the land between cities is developed very much. There are endless green fields at the points of white sheep. Also it’s beautiful sky here.

PEOPLE
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I think that environment, the nature, influent on national character pretty much: people of Netherlands are calm, positive and loyal. Open to the horizon spaces made them being human with wide open eyes. They are honest, straight and not meaning. It seems that they use to live by right way –that’s why everywhere you go you see open windows, with no curtains. Through transparent glass u can see them reading or cooking, caressing to home, just living. Do they have nothing to hide? Netherlands is not a paradise, but a normal country – it means that there are problems to solve, but as one said me “We manage”. The key us mutual respect and commitment.

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TOWNS
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Towns are built along the canals. There are narrow and tall buildings, growing up into the sky. Behind the front door you will be climbing the very steep and narrow stairs, then you turn and having another steps, and after the second turn there are more steps, and so on, level after level. However, finally you arrive and don’t expect an elevator.

FOOD
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They serve hearty traditional food (I liked mashed potatoes with sausages or meat balls aside) with pint of beer. Dutch Cuisine has strong Indonesian influence because they having trade for ages. And this is origin of spices and huge choice of teas. Beer it’s not just a drink but beer-culture – similar to neighbour countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria, etc). Excellent honey indeed and variety of sea-food.
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Here it is coming to Hollandse Nieuwe, "new" raw herring. Oh, My God! It’s tasty thing! You can buy it in fish-shop, almost in every type of eatery, and right on the street – from the kiosk and eat it there, cut or one-piece. I eat it with little addition of chopped onion and pickled cucumber. No need bread. It is perfect.
BTW, bread come in many combinations, for lunch it's popular with fried eggs + additions (cheese, bacon, etc) by your choice or you can grab a Broodje. Lots of different pastries, staffed with apples, cheese and all the rest of foods. Good and a bit too expensive coffee. And, all right, cheese. Cheese doesn’t need my recommendation – it’s the symbol, like Red Lights District, even more. But it really so good! Mild or old, experimental or traditional, in cubes, in slices, in pieces, in crumbles. It’s hard to decide which one is better as they all are great taste! I mentioned the green one – pesto cheese, goodness! It is nice to taste different kinds of, before you are going to buy one or two, and in cheese-shops u have opportunity to do.

THE NORTH SEA
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And then we return to the sea. I’d better say: we begin from the sea. Dutch are nautical nation. They are sailors, fishermen and travelers. In the past they were also the colonizers - and who was not? Dutch are not spoiled by the warm comfortable climate, and so they are severe survivers. North Sea is not a playground, but it is serióus sea for real men.

Posted by vanessa 08:57 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

I AmSterdam

so I am


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THE CITY

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Amsterdam is pleasant and peaceful. Mainly built in 17 cent, city centre looks architecturally wholesome, interruption of eclectic is minimal there. Buildings are flat-faced and tall, built tight to each other.They are lined among canals. Mirroring in the water doubles effect of tall tightness.

__A__264_.jpg__A_canals__18_.jpg__A_canals__32_.jpg You go through Amsterdam, looking up until your neck becomes "broken" and you can't get anymore.

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Houses are watching the street through crystal-clean glasses, behind of them human life is transparent, like the scene of theatre into frame of windows.

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Amsterdam is surprisingly clean: not only windows are shiny, but walls aren't covered with city pollution,which is quite unusual for big city. It often explained "because the bicycles are the main transport vehicle" - which is true, but only partly. Amsterdam has traffic: there are also private vehicles of all kinds, intensive public transport - include trains, numerous scooters & motorbikes, lorries, pickups and etc. A is working city: it builds & bakes, it has a serious harbour and busy airport. For me it is still unclear how they keep it so unspoiled. Probably winds of the Nord Sea blow the dust, rains wash and sun dries? Here is mild climate - not too hot but not too cold ever.

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DUTCH & ICE-SKATING

Once, in 18th cent., winter suddenly got chilling and water iced. Dutch immediately made ice-skates and begun to glide. I found those lovely skates in antique store in Delft, each pair of other construction - amazing! Many of them were in good condition - just need to sharp them slightly and may use!

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ART

Being fascinated with ice-skating, Dutch created enormous amount of paintings, that illustrated in details new-born gliding-culture. You can find those awesome art-pieces in every museum all around the world, some of them became very famous. Here is the right moment to mention that Dutch were the pioneers of civil art. All the rest of European art had religious contest. They celebrated every single day of life; their art presents human being: eating (and Gosh.. HOW eating!!!),sewing and babysitting, they gifted us with light interiors, sweet gardens, galleries of faces and overloaded still-life(s). If they only had Rembrandt & Rubens - it could be enough, but they also gave to the world Van Gogh, Halls and Vermeer, and then I can name at least 20 more of brilliant and now world-famous artists, not to mention here less famous but still fabulous and , finally, numerous masterpieces of "unknown artists"whos names got lost, but not their paintings.

AMSTERDAM MUSEUMS

There are more than 50 museums in Amsterdam. I couldn't miss Van Gogh Museum and hard-to-spell Rijksmuseum of arts, there were few more that sound to me very interesting, but couldn't get all.

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- Rijksmuseum has big and impressive collection of arts, incl. Rembrandt and Halls.
- Museum of Van Gogh - was nice, but somehow disappointing, may be because the expectations were high. I hoped it will be V.G.'s Mecca, but it's new and sterile building, very educational, sine presentations of insane world of the artist.
- Anne Frank House is the hiding place where the Jewish girl - Anne Frank wrote her diary during World War II. It's scratching document, scare even more because it was written by teenager, in very plain language - with no dramatisation or effects, but in accurate details - day after day. It's always the long line in the street, waiting for entrance into. I didn't go inside, actually. I feel overloaded with WWII theme, can't get more.
I didn't have much time, but if I would then I will go to see some canal houses interiors, Amsterdam Tulip Museum and may be some weirdies: Fluorescent Art Museum, Pipe Museum (Pijpenkabinet), Electric Tram Line Museum, etc

AMSTERDAM FOR TOURISTS

- Red-lights district is annoying! Even not because of ugly idea of flesh-market (it's known, so was expected), but because of smooth chewing crowd, floating pipe-streets, moving like a noisy flock of sheep. Prostitutes of all ages are friendly waiving from behind greasy glasses. Streets are narrow and distance is touchable. Air is sucked with smell of junk-food. This is summer - high season. Pocket-pickers paradise. I couldn't find any element of attractivity in it, and for sure neither element of sexuality - it's pure marketial thing. Not being a puritan one I felt sick of it quite fast and was happy to leave.

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- Flowers market is awesome and could b perfect if wasn't filled with souvenir shops. But cheese stores at the side are blessed!

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- Harbour is nice - it's not exactly touristic place.

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I liked Amsterdam very much! But if I need to point what I dislike in Amsterdam I would say: "mass tourism". Being part of it myself (formally?) is confusing. May be I need to dress T-shirt "I'm not a tourist!" or something like this?

WANNA SMOKE?

Everywhere you go - there are coffee-shops. Unfortunateley for many it's the main reason of visit Amsterdam. Not being into it myself I didn't feel a move to try and, honestly? - I don't feel that anything is missed. But I can understand that ppl need seducing or relaxation - whatever they find in drugs. Actually I don't see anything wrong with it, once it is legal and ppl know to control. However, it is definitely culture of coffee-shops in Netherlands and it is a part of charm of the city. They key is loyality. Making it legal they give you chance to choose to get drugged or to stay sober. I see it as sign of trust and democracy. Originally coffee-shops were not created to attract tourists. They exist for needs of Dutch, who are mostly quite reasonable people. At fact, they have a very low number of potheads in Netherlands, compared to other European countries for instance. Still, the scene is surrounded by some dos and don’ts.

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I AMSTERDAM

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Slogan "I AmSterdam" is a mix of the phrase “I am Amsterdam” and “I heart Amsterdam". I liked an idea - I think it works.
I was curious and made a short search. That what I found (only fragment is here, full text is too long): " We are Amsterdam... Ultimately, Amsterdam’s strongest asset is its people: the people who live here, the people who work here, the people who study here and the people who visit here. The people of Amsterdam are Amsterdam."

... AND HERE IS MORE OF AMSTERDAM

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Posted by vanessa 10:44 Archived in Netherlands Tagged art architecture amsterdam windows ice-skating Comments (0)

The Hague / Den Haag


View NETHERLANDS - July 2011 on vanessa's travel map.

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What did I know about Den Haag? mmm... let me think. Not much, actually. The place of officials, various congresses and international organisations of sort of International Court of Justice and UNO. Right?

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I had a chance to be in Den Haag for a day. Being there for business, I seen the city briefly, no doubt it's much more multilayered that I could get in few hours. I'm glad to say that I liked it! I liked wide streets with clever traffic, feeling of respectable city (I know, sounds funny), lots of open space and air. I liked art galleries and parks there, cafes, faces in the street. I was very glad to find that it's the old city, begun in Middle Ages something and to see how organic and refreshing the modern Den Haag. Lovely. I got much more then expected. Amsterdam is a capital, but Dutch Goverment, Parlament and Court sit in Den Haag. Sity sits on the North Sea shore and has beaches (OMG! It's too cold)! The absolute brilliant in the crown is Escher Museum. Unfortunately I didn't have time for The Mauritshuis (Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Paulus Potter).

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And there are so much more to see... May be next time?
Let's keep hoping.

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:) :) :) :) ESCHER MUSEUM
http://www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/
Brilliant! Escher is brilliant and to see so many of his artworks refreshing like a cool shower. The museum is housed in a former palace (Lange Voorhout Palace) dating from the eighteenth century. Building is beautiful and spacious. As an "extra" pleasure it was an exhibition of photographs of Royal Orange Family on the ground floor.

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:) :) :) :) GALERIE NOORDEINDE
http://www.galerienoordeinde.com/
For a long time I haven't had such a great pleasure from visiting art gallery as I had in Galerie Noordeinde. Great location, spacious and light interior, cute garden and absolutely outstanding show.

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There were shown few international artists, very different from each other: different tools, different mentality, different themes. All of them were great, but i want to mention these two:

Korean artist JAEHYO LEE.
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It's hard to enter J.Lee into the frame or name his art technique or style. I'll just quote "Lee´s works willfully play with the oft-contested boundaries between modern art and design...". I don't know to tell it more clear.

Russian sculptor OLYA MURAVINA (Moscow).
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Bronze sculpture of her is very professional but it's not cold.
They are childish, smart and naive at the same time, they are touching.

MORE OF DEN HAAG?

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Posted by vanessa 00:45 Archived in Netherlands Tagged art history gallery the sculpture hague den haag escher Comments (0)

Amsterdam - Jordaan District

Here I learned about ...


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Happily my cheapy and creepy (and shabby!) hotel - walk distance from the train station, was located in the doorway to Jordan area. Still very central and sirring among the canals, Jordaan isn't the main tourist district .... Thank God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here I learned about canals and boat-houses; bridges, decorated with flowers, small cafes - which are great for taking a break from city walk - then you could sit endless long with glass of wine or cup of coffee in front of water - talking or reading or just staring. There are numerous odd shops of unclear propose, two-fingers-wide gardens under each window, kinder-gardens, smashed between & under layers of history, scholars, bumping with ball on the playground, paper about the missed cat... and then flash-shop that exists at same place for the last 400 years, club of yoga and club of vegeterian(s), etc.

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"The Jordaan was build at the large expansion of Amsterdam in early 17th century, as a district for the working class and emigrants. The population increase during the next centuries was enormously, caused by the stream political refugees like protestant Fleming, Spanish and Portuguese Jews and French Huguenots who mainly settled in the Jordaan. It was a poor district with small houses and slums, every little room stuffed with families and lots of children. The entire area was one ghetto with open sewers, canals served for both transport and sewer, and no running water. Around 1900 there lived about 80 thousand people, nowadays about 20 thousand."
I copied the text above from http://www.amsterdam.info. Hope it's OK. I could not explain it better then they did.
The renovation of Jordaan begun from 1970-th and then its inhabitants were changed. It became district of bohema, students, and rich who bought the very expensive renovated houses.

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Jordaan is so quiet at early morning.
A bit later streets getting fulfilled with stream of bicycles, but in the meantime they are empty. You only hear rare claps the doors and windows - half-sleeping habitats put plastic sucks with garbage outdoors. Garbage trucks will collect them soon, but before sea-gulls are celebrating their breakfast, tearing nylons with their strong beaks, pulling and scattering crumbs all around.

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Street smells with coffee and fresh bakery. Around 7 am mini-gardens are watered, garbage collected and area got clean once again. Moms pedaling children to kinder-gardens. Street smells with coffee and fresh bakery. Around 7 am mini-gardens are watered, garbage collected and area got clean once again. Moms pedaling children to kinder-gardens. Kids are sitting in spacious boxes, connected in front of mama's - bikes. It's quite poular in Amsterdam, probably in whole Netherlands. These boxes has cover from bad weather and they look like spacious and comfy. Sitting inside children continue to play with their toys in the way or sometimes just sitting patiently and caressing their little personal luggage. It's ordinary morning routine- everything is washed, clean, blondy and positive - no one yelling or angry.

At 8am city really awakes.

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Doors of cafes and little shops get opened all at once, like after command. Well, some open at 8:30am, but also at exact time. It's amazing - from the moment they opened - they are immediately in working condition - like they never stopped. Preparations are invisible for customers.

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Hundreds of people on bicycles are riding to work. They look like a river-stream. There are all layers and professions are performed: clerks in suites, elegant ladies in hats and hill-shoes, scholars, policemen in uniform, students with books, workers, waitresses, priest, tattooed jock, rastaman with flyers in his hands, etc. All kinds of waiving skirts and skinny jeans, tightening muscular legs, all these flip-flops, heels, rubber boots, sandals and keds - all of them are pedalling to work. If rainy, then shape of the rider improved with umbrella. Seldom cars are waiting for pauses in bike-stream and bus drivers are waiting as well.

In 9am Jordaan is getting quiet once again. House-wives are going (by bicycle as well) for grocery shopping. There is some minor delivery traffic. Look, lorry on the corner downloads herring for a fish store pickup at the opposite side of the street stopped for cheese delivery. Both are leaving before they could interrupt (potentially) someone in the street. Amsterdam is calm, but not lazy.

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Two elegant ladies are chilling their breakfast in bakery - they are chatting in French - tourists. Aroma of fresh-made bakery and coffee is head-spinning. Morning is done and new day already here.

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Posted by vanessa 10:14 Archived in Netherlands Tagged water amsterdam canal jordaan Comments (0)

Texel

It is a wonderland!

semi-overcast 20 °C

Oh, it will come very soon, and with photos too!

Posted by vanessa 10:46 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Utrecht

University, musical clocks and lots of history.

What is absolutely charming in Utrecht – church bells there are not ringing, but playing music.
Going through the city you hear different melodies in every round hour, sometimes even half an hour.
Music floats in layers – depends direction you going to. I had few favorite churches in Utrecht and always stopped to listen the music – it made me warm feeling of home.

MUSEUM SPEELKLOK

Actually Utrecht has a solid “base” of mechanical music. Thanks to rainy day, I cancelled my train trip to the natural reserve in South Netherlands and staid in the town. I had a chance to visit museum of mechanical music instruments, which has outstanding exposition of mechanical music from snuffbox with whirling ballerina to rich-decorated street organes, each at size of ball-room. You can see it alone, but once an hour there is a guided tour, which is brilliant! The guide is not only telling you stories, but he makes the instruments playing music. Figures are animated, music loud and people begin to dance - it’s quite amazing!

Utrecht_Sp.._Museum.jpg...and other photos

I didn’t plan talking about museums right here, but it came alone with these significent singing churches. I will switch back to my story and will write about Utrecht museums below.

WHAT IS UTRECHT LIKE?

It’s lively University City, much bigger (is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands) and much more multicultural then I expected. The Old City is full of magnificent medieval architecture and it build along canals – alike Amsterdam. There are also: a grand train station, entangled in maze of shopping center sleeves (you don’t have a chance to get out without assistance of locals!); numerous museums, monuments and churches; crowd of partying students (in July) and , it said, ongoin festivals – when I was there it was few.

CANALS

I was told: “The canals in Utrecht are much nicer than those in Amsterdam. You have to take a canal ride”. So I did.
The first thing - I seen the guy who built the ship (a model), right against the boat station. I’m a big fan of ships and everything that associated with water, so I could not miss. I received his permission to watch and to take couple of photos and I even was invited into the workshop – to see more of beautiful ships. His name is Rob and building the (working!) models of historical ships. It is his passion. We chat until my “tour” begun.

Oh My God! What can I say?
Canals are really beautiful, but it is short distance there. So, boat went sloooooooow, swirling between couple of canals. The capitan/ driver was telling stories about every single building, he did it in two languages (Dutch and English), and and no single nerve did not waver in his face in spite of my disgusting behavior. The thing is… that I’m a hiperactive one. I could not sit quietly and enjoy guided tour, like other two couples did. I ran from one side of the boat to another, moving like a dancing fly, I was hunging out of windows and leaning out of the door, trying to make special shots with pocket camera. I almost lied on the his back, sticking in the cap's cabin. He staid calm and unbreakably friendly even when I took memorable photos of my teddy-bear. I guess that he seen even worse passengers.
When I left the boat I thanked him for his top-notch professionalism. What about me - 1,5 hours of the ride was lifelong for me. I swear it's the last time when I joined a tourist activities! Never, never again!

ACCOMMODATION

The hostel B&B Utrecht City Center at Lucas Bolwerk, 4 - probably the weirdest hostel that I ever staid.

Adventure begun at online booking – this hostel appeared in few web-sites and each of them gave different information. They served breakfast - which was fine, but they also said that you can eat there lunch and dinner - what ever you want. What a sh..t? Also ratings were various: some choked with delight while others painted it in black colour. Finally I decided to risk and booked a bed in mixed 16 beds dorm.

After succsessful getting out of the train station labirinth , I immediately found the city map (thanks!) and moved there. This hostel is really in the city center, but it’s at the very end of the center – facing the “ring” canal. Another side is already out of central part, formally. Finally I found Lucas Bolwerk street, aha, good to me! But where is this number… mmm.. not here and not there. Somehow at this evening city was full with drunk students – probably they celebrated the end of summer semestre. From third try I stopped near the door with many-many bells and signs of all sizes and shapes. One of them said something familiar, sound like part of name. I rang the bell, but no one answered. I rang another time, and then rang again. Finally someone opened the door in his way out. “I-m-not-working-here” – he muttered before I asked. There were side door and another door inside, and node of dirty sheets between them. Narrow steep stairs climbed up and then they turned into another vertical, almost touching the ceiling. Happily I never travel with big suitcase, so I climbed to the 1st (?) floor relatively easy. I seen the coffee-machines of industrial size and stepped into the open door next to them.

It was spacy room, used as lobby and dining room, both. Few people used public computers, someone eat, and another guy was writing music down on paper. Through the window I could see smoking balcony and fire escape ladder. Also there was a concert grand piano, a black one. It was another big window in the opposite side of the room and a table next to the window. Behind the table I have seen an old mustached woman with impartial face. I greeted her and said that i have a booking here. She asked my name, and while she was slowly checking it up in the registration book, I was staring around. I just returned from Texel, and the difference between completely new and shiny hostel in Den Burg and here…ouch…
But allright, my name is found and mustached lady called the bellhop. “This is Kim”- she said, “Kim will take your luggage”. Kim was a blue-eyed slim teenager with a frowning face. I doubt if it was he or she – it easily could be both: awkward girl or delicate boy. “No, no, it’s not nesessary” – I protested, “I can do it myself!”
“No, no, it’s not nesessary” – I protested, “I can do it myself!”
"It's ok" - mustached lady said, "It's her (his?) job"
Child grabbed my bag and took me back downstairs.
...
(will b continued)

MUSEUMs OF UTRECHT

I already mentioned MUSEUM SPEELKLOK (museum of mechanical music instruments), and for me it’s nu one in Utrecht. They also manage restauration workshops and music-related events for kids and for adults.
(photos)

There is another museum that sound very nice and (What a pity!) I came too late and they already closed. I’m talking about MIFFY – the worldwide fame rabbit, which is popular almost like Michael Jackson was (silly compare, but the first that came to my mind). She (Miffy is girl-rabbit) is so popular that she has her own statue in Utrecht and her own television program and is up there on the top ten dutch exports.
Dick Bruna - the creater of Miffy, was born in Utrecht, and here is the museum.
(photos)

Another museum that I feel sorry to miss was a RAILWAY MUSEUM that situated in an old unused station. I adore trains and it could be great choise if I would go there instead of CENTRAAL MUSEUM which left an awful impression. I have to admit that it was the only negative impression in Utrecht, and in whole Netherlands. Still, I feel uncomfortable saying it, but it was really dissapointing. Everything went wrong there: arrogant service in ticket office (isn’t weird?), the temporary exhibition that made me sick, nervous guardians that followed on my heels in this creepy exhibition (did they afraid that i will do something illegal?), then - complete lack of navigation between the departments of the museum, and, finally, and it's so much ODD for the Netherlands! - a miserable collection of paintings. It was complete waste of time.

MUSEUM CATHARIJNECONVENT exhibits the history of Christianity in Netherlands. It said one of the most facinating museums of Utrecht.

Posted by vanessa 01:01 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals utrecht history university musical_clocks Comments (0)

Delft

Canals, Vermeer and blue pottery

19 °C

Very big Markt Square with impressive building of the City Hall, The Old Church and The New Church (14th Cent.) and all the rest of sights right there, around the square. Canals & bridges are the typical, then Vermeer and blue pottery. This is Delft.
I had a fantasy that it's a rural and stepped in time sleepy town - the place to discover. I hoped it will be a Very Dutch one. No complains - town is picturesque, but it looked to me "too German", I mean that I have seen many of this type in Austria and Germany.

Summer. The town was crowded with multilingual tourists. They filled restaurants all around the square and diligently worked with their jaws (I can't blame them, it was lunch time). I am, as usual, was concerned with looking for the perfect place to drink my coffee, better away from the crowd. After a few fruitless circles through charming alleys and tight doorways, I returned to the central square where I have spotted a good cafe. On my grief, a Turkish fella played accordion directly against the entrance. Deafeningly loud and false, he played a monstrous salad made from scraps of popular music. Obviously his silence was worth a lot of money. Being steadfast in my low-budget travel, I did not figure out how much. The idea of ​​drinking coffee in the open air did not seem to me attractive anymore. I sighed and stepped inside.

Guy from cafe greeted me with smile:" Wanna sit outdoors?" - he asked.
"Oh, no, no!!! I wish to sit as deep inside as posible, it's MUSIC there" - I replied.
"OH , YES!!!" - his face impressed comic horror, "Tell me about that..."
Coffee was good and it improved the situation.

JOHANNES VERMEER

Actually, the main reason of my visit was Vermeer, who was born and lived in Delft. And, really, there is a museum, full dedicated to this great painter. I planned to visit the museum, but what happen to me then - when I stepped into the lobby of the museum I felt confused. It appeared that the real house where the painter lived does not exist any more and the paintings they show are copies (the original paintings are belong to great museums). The pride of the museum is Vermeer's workshop - re-built after his picture. I'm sure that they re-created it accurately, caring about details, but it is kind of educational center, where his way of vision of the light, his technique and his everything are carefully dissected and explained. I felt they dissected to pieces Vermeer. Poor dead artist, it sound me more alike anatomy museum. It may be was a mistake, but I didn't go inside.

Vermeer, Vermeer...
It's little is known about his life and his works are rare. Something of the 35 or 36 paintings generally attributed to him. He worked slowly and with great care, never had any pupils and therefore there was no school of Vermeer. His time was not fully dedicated to painting: keeping a big family he was an art-dealer and had duties in the guild (a trade association for painters) too. At this time Delft went through several wars, the plague, huge explosion that destroyed half of the town and economical downs. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime, almost unknown out of Delft. He seems never to have been particularly wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Somehow I feel sorry for him.
Ahhhh.... Vermeer, Vermeer...

Posted by vanessa 10:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals pottery vermeer crafts delft Comments (0)

Leiden

rain -17 °C

I didn't have enough time for Leiden, and it's pity, because the city is very interesting and peculiar. Yesterday weather was warm, so warm that I switched to 'summer uniform". Morning in Delft was fresh, but still nice. Until I reached Leiden - it was an afternoon already. It got cool and windy, with some showers, and my minimal dress didn't fit the weather.

MOLEN DE VALK - the windmill museum.
I begun the sightseeing from windmill museum "Molen de Valk" - close to the train station. Climbing through levels of the former windmill sound to me awesome and I wasn't disappointed, I got exactly what I expected.

THE LEIDSE LOPER red keys
From there I followed the "Leidse Loper" signs - the red keys that guiding through the nicest places in the city. Leiden is attractive, sometimes surprising and it made me curious: I felt that I wanna know more of history of this place - to understand it better. Their revolt against Spanish Catholic yoke and history of printing and publishing alone are good reasons to proud. This is where Rembrandt was born and learned how to paint, where Clusius planted the first tulips in Western Europe and where Holland's first university was founded almost 500 years ago. Now I found the website of Leiden Loop with map and detailed information (better late then never, ah?)
Here it is The Leiden Loop Website. What is sweet, that they even give you a version for mobile, with audio guide, and it's free of charge.
So... Leiden Loop is taking you through many of very special places. There are: Univercity, the Weighing House and the Citadel, mansions along the canal Rapenburg and 35(!)almshouses. Right in the city center two branches of the Old Rhine unite and it's beautiful and, be sure, it was very useful for practical Dutch ppl.

Posted by vanessa 10:52 Archived in Netherlands Tagged university leiden rhine Comments (0)

The sky of Netherlands

beautiful sky is there.
No even need any comments, except may be dates and names of places, where shots were done.
will b updated soon...

Posted by vanessa 11:18 Archived in Netherlands Tagged sky Comments (0)

Survival Guide

About public transport, accomodation, food and safety.

Netherlands are very friendly, clean, comfortable and safe country. Only prices can b an issue to survive. Here few comments, few tips and few notes that probably will help u to enjoy this country as I did. Nothing magic, there are just notes, based on my own expirience. Hope it helpful.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
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Good and efficient, public transport in Netherlands is not cheap (should it be?).
Anyway there is some ways to spend less.

1. If it's no direct train between cities you travel and you need to change the train anyway, check up your options. Usually there are more then one way and prices can vary too. Going through few or more places in one day you can save money buying one ticket between departure station and your arrival station, stops in the way are possible and not always counted. In any case need to ask in train station to be sure.

2. One-way bus ticket in Texel is expensive, but if you need 3 or more rides - take daily ticket. It's a great value for this price.

ACCOMMODATION
Really "the big deal", especially in Amsterdam. I couldn't find bed in hostel cheaper then 25EU/night. Part of hostels served breakfast included, others didn't, with or without lines incl. - details can vary. Double room in hotel - we only found one hotel in Amsterdam for 50EU/night, but it was really shabby one and very small room. All the rest of hotels were much more expensive. Sometimes you can take a good "last minute" deal, but chances are 50/50 - you also get a chance to sleep on the bench, if hotels are fully booked. I would like to share the magic way to sleep well on budget in Netherlands, but may be you do - so, you very much welcome to share your expirience.
It may help:
StayOK Hostels - www.stayokay.com

FOOD
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You have full range of options to satisfy your stomach in Netherlands.
Here is acceptable and avaliable street food, delicious herring and other sea-food, celebrated beer, cheese madness, good coffee, spicy Indonesian cuisine and great bakery. According to my observations daily food expenses are approximately equal to expenditures on accommodation. If you can afford eating out - you have great possibility to eat good: tasty, various and even health. If you are on budget - it's not yet reason to starve. Try to find hostel with kitchen facilities, prices in supermarket are reasonable. Self-catering will save your money enough to pamper yourself with expensive cheese and good wine once a while, and if your debit & credit allows, then may be even with fresh prepared sea-food or other food you love. I strictly recommend to eat Local Food, at least couple of times. Without it the travel is not complete. In between expensive restaurants and unhealthy but filling fastfood you will find variety of little cafes/ eateries/ bakeries - inexpensive, joyfull and incredibly tasty. Love yourself a little more - it helps to make right choices. I was talking about Dutch cuisine more here.

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USEFUL LINKS
typically.nl - All things Dutch

Posted by vanessa 01:06 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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