3 Memories of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands July 2016 – Trip Report
Part 3 the Netherlands
Thanks for viewing! This is part 3 of a trip report. If you missed part 1, “1 Memories of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands July 2016 – Trip Report Part 1 Germany” and 2, “2 Memories of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands July 2016 – Trip Report Part 2 Belgium” feel free to go back and read that post as well. Part 1 covers general items and our travels in Germany. Part 2 includes our stops in Belgium. I hope these post are helpful if you are planning a similar experience. Remember you can make a trip like this too! Go Artway Today!
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Wow! There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam! Canals, gabled architecture, brick pavers, art both modern and the Dutch Masters, shopping, peaceful (for the city) parks, and food. Amsterdam has something for everyone! On our fist afternoon we toured the Dam Square, Flower Market, Begijnhof, and took a canal boat tour. This part of town is super crowded so be ready to keep watch for your crew. We loved the boat tour, and it was a good introduction to the layout of Amsterdam. We had a chicken dinner near the floating flower market.
The next day we took a day trip to Gouda see below.
Museum day was next. The van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum was the most of the day. We all loved the van Gogh Museum even though it’s really crowded. You just can’t image how amazing these pieces are from a picture. You must see the van Gogh paintings in person to truly understand their significance. You just have to bear the crowds, and it’s so worth it. The Stedelijk, on the other hand, was absent of visitors. Most of the time we had the galleries to ourselves. They have some very nice modern art including an exhibit on Amsterdam School Art Deco. Go there when your tire of the big city museum crowds. We then proceeded to Vondel Park. It’s a symphony of bikes whizzing by, kids running, and folks laying on the lawn. We walked around the perimeter of the park and all loved it. Afterwards, we strolled through the Jordan Canal District, on the way back to the hotel. We even passed by the longest line ever of folks queuing to get into the Ann Frank House. We didn’t go in but, if you are interested, get advance reservations, or you will be waiting for hours. This didn’t look fun to us.
Rijksmuseum, Waterloplein Market, and Rembrandts House were all on the following day. The Rijksmuseum is a must see. All the Dutch Masters like Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and the like. It’s a big museum, so plan for it take some time. We then went to the flea market in Waterloplein. We didn’t find anything we wanted. But there was an interested array of various goods available. Even used bikes for cheap. This might be handy if you need temporary transport where you’re there. It’s a good place to people watch. Then we visited Rembrandt’s house. Not only is it a nice preserved old house, it has Rembrandt’s studio and collection of natural artifacts. It was very insightful to see his studio and get a feel for how the masters worked. Afterwards, we had a beer at a café at watched all the bikes ride by. A never ending parade of bicycles! That evening we took the long walk to Westerpark. It really is a place to go to get away from the crowds and was a refreshing way to end the day. I think my son really enjoyed this park, as he was somewhat fatigued from all the art. Remember, teenagers need to play too.
Going in chronological order we took to train to Lieden for day 17 of our trip. See below for Lieden.
On our last day we visited the Royal Palace, the Oud Kerk and Our Lord in the Attic. The royal palace was nice and had furnishings and décor from the time when Napoleon ruled over the kingdom of Holland. I loved the Old Kerk as the church is mostly empty of pews and furnishing, so you can really just focus on the building. It is right in the middle of the red light district, so if that bothers you, skip this part of town. Finally, we toured Our Lord in the Attic. This is a catholic church built into a townhouse to hide it from the public, as they were officially prohibited from worshiping if not a part of the Dutch Reformed Church. There must have been some degree of tolerance, even with hiding the church behind a house façade, as neighbors must have noticed the congregation at least entering and exiting.
One thing you must see when you visit is the morning bicycle commute. The Dutch are bicycle mad! All manner of persons along with their gear passed by my hotel breakfast room storefront at lighting speed. I’s a never ending bicycle race, like erratic ants marching. Go and see!
Best memories – seeing the van Gogh’s, walking though Vondel park with a strawberry smoothie, seating on the bench overlooking the canals of the Jordan district behind the hotel, and watching the crazy bicycle commute each morning from the hotel breakfast room.
Gouda, the Netherlands
Medieval town hall, cheese festival, and stained glass windows. We went on a day trip to Gouda. I was corrected by the train attendant it’s pronounced “howdah” similar to howdy. All these years I had been calling their cheese “goodah” oops! Or is the cheese pronounced different? We went to see the cheese festival and it didn’t disappoint. There were big round cheese disk laid out all in the square on pallets being auction off. Surrounding the cheese was vendors of all types. We of course went straight for the cheese. I got a huge block of cheese and we ate it in the square yum! We even visited the cheese museum in the old weight house. They will even weight children on the old scales. My son couldn’t resist and got weighed with the rest of the kids. After all the cheese we visited the Sint Janskerk to see the stained glass. It’s the longest church in the Netherlands. Unexpectedly to us, the Windmill Molen ‘t Slot was open for viewing. Because of the cheese festival I guess, as the website said by appointment only. The mill was on and all was spinning. It was really cool to see this thing in operation. The canals in Gouda are also lovely. The buildings are a smaller scale than Amsterdam, along with everything else. So if you want to see a Dutch City without all the crowds of Amsterdam, try Gouda and Leiden.
Best memories – Windmill climb, cheese, shopping in toy store for baby toy.
Leiden, the Netherlands
Oldest botanical gardens in the Netherlands, and windmill museum. We also took a day trip to Leiden. First we visited the botanical gardens. They have a nice glass house with many exotic plants. We enjoyed the outdoor gardens as the weather was nice. We then proceeded to the Molen Museum DeValk. This was really cool as not only can you tour the mill you can tour the residence of the miller, that is connected to the mill. So there’s quite a bit to see at this small site. There are eight stories, or lofts, so get ready to climb if you visit. We finished our tour of Leiden at the Burcht or old castle hill. The views are amazing, as it’s the only hill around. You can also walk around the old fort walls for an even better view of the surrounding area. This was a great day trip from the busy crowded Amsterdam.
Best memories – strolling through the botanical gardens and the view from de Burcht.
This was an amazing trip.
I’m extremely lucky to be able to experience such an adventure with my family. We all loved the trip. Mom is the planning stage for her and dad to go again. I also got to go on one last long voyage with my son before he grew up and went to work in South Korea. I have made other trips since this one, but in writing this report, I’m dreaming of our next trip. I have plans. Now you make some too! Go Artway Today!