Category Archives: Netherlands

Travel – Amsterdam, Netherlands Part III

I’m finally on the last installment of my trip to Amsterdam! (Read Part I and Part II.) On our last day, we started the day by heading to the Van Gogh Museum. I had previously gone one afternoon while G was at work but the long lines deterred me from entering. There are separate entrances for those who have a pass or have purchased a ticket in advance but even those lines barely moved. I stood in line for 10 minutes before deciding to come back on another day. So on our final day, we were at the Van Gogh Museum by 9.30am and we were in the museum in a jiffy. We bought G an advanced ticket and I redeemed my Tulip ticket for the entrance. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

The line to Van Gogh MuseumPart of the long line on a weekday afternoon in Fall

I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing when it comes to art and visiting the Van Gogh Museum was a good insight into the famous artist’s life and work. Unlike most talented individuals, Van Gogh was not a gifted artist. He studied and experimented a lot in order to create the level of art that he did. He’s truly inspirational to those of us who dream or aspire to pursue a different path in life. Perseverance and determination, anyone? Okay, I digress… Well, if you are hoping to spot the Starry Night in the museum, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. The famous painting is housed in MoMa in New York. That however, doesn’t make a visit to the Van Gogh Museum any less valuable and I highly recommend it to those visiting Amsterdam.

After the Van Gogh Museum, G and I took a canal cruise as friends of ours highly recommended that as a great way to tour Amsterdam. Without researching in advance, we purchased tickets at one of the many tour operators near Central Station. Our cruise was operated by the Lovers Company and we had bought tickets for a Museum Line Hop On-Hop Off tour without realizing it (the only choice for canal cruise was one hour or two)! Our two hour tour had one too many stops for people to alight and the tour was nothing but a recording as our captain/guide barely added anything. While I think it was a canal cruise is great suggestion, I would highly advise picking a different company or tour.

Lovers Company Canal CruiseBoat Houses along Amsterdam CanalAmstelhotel AmsterdamReplica of the VOC vessel NEMO Science MuseumThe EYE Film InstituteMovenpick hotel Muziekgebouw Music CentreCantilever Buildings in AmsterdamCruise Ship AmsterdamFrankBeekwilder

During our trip, we ate at two restaurants that I would highly recommend. One is an Italian restaurant that serves great pizzas. (G has a travel rule where he has to eat pizza in every country he visits!) The food was inexpensive (entrees ranged from €6- €20) and according to G the pizza connoisseur, it was quite good. The pesto pasta that I had was decent and filling.

Pizzeria Toscana B.V.
Haarlemmerstraat 130,
1013 EX Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 622 0353

The other restaurant that I recommend is one that we stumbled upon, a Malaysian restaurant. As a Malaysian, I can vouch for the authenticity of the curry laksa. It was quite good and talking about it now makes me hungry! G had General Tso’s chicken and he enjoyed it. (Granted, take this with a grain of salt as they likely may not obtain all the actual ingredients but it was still quite good.)

Nyonya Malaysia Express
Kloveniersburgwal 38,
1012 CW Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 422 2447

All in all, we had a great time in Amsterdam and I most definitely look forward to visiting again soon!

Travel – The Hague, Netherlands

On the last leg of our day trip (part one, part two), we adjourned to The Hague, the seat of the government of Netherlands. We were driven around to see embassies and we did a quick pit stop at the Peace Palace before finally proceeding to Madurodam. If we had a choice, we would have happily skipped going around the embassies (nothing spectacular) and instead opt to spend more time at Madurodam since we had only very little time there.

Madurodam is a miniature park comprised of various famous Dutch places ranging from castles to public buildings, and transportation. It is absolutely fantastic (very interactive!) and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands. As someone who loves miniature models, I lit up as soon as I stepped into the magical world of miniatures. (G can attest to that!) (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Tram in The HagueTram near the Peace Palace

Peace Palace NetherlandsPeace Palace

World Peace Flame in The Hague

Hansje Brinker at Madurodam
Map of Madurodam, The Hague

Kinderdijk Madurodam

MadurodamMadurodamHet Loo Palace and National Museum MadurodamBasilica of Sint-Jan MadurodamRound the Sting Madurodam

Hotel Des Indes MadurodamMadurodam Mill "De Palmboom" in Schiedam MadurodamRijksmuseum MadurodamConcert Gebouw MadurodamThe Hague Peace Palace in MadurodamTrain tracks MadurodamAmsterdam Schipol AirportAmsterdam Schipol Airport MadurodamAmsterdam Schipol Airport MadurodamCrane Operator MadurodamShip in Madurodam

What I failed to capture in my snaps are the moving transportation throughout Madurodam. It’s fascinating to watch as the vehicles move around the miniature city. (Think mechanical trains on a train track for Xmas displays but in a grander scale!) Sadly, we ended up spending less time than anticipated at Madurodam as our tour guide thought the park was closing later than it was. 🙁 I would definitely love to come back for another visit in the future. There’ll be one more post coming soon to round up my trip to the Netherlands!

Travel – Delft, Netherlands

From Rotterdam (posted here), we boarded our tour bus and headed to Delft. Our first stop was the Royal Delft Pottery. We were given a tour of pottery which included beautiful exhibits followed by a tour of the factory. Aside from seeing some of the artists at work, we were also able to view a demonstration on how the beautiful pottery is made from the scratch.(WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Royal Delft Blue Netherlands

Royal Delft Blue Tiles

Royal Delft Plates

Royal Delft Blue China

Royal Delft Blue Painting

Clogs Royal Delft Blue

Artisan painting Royal Delft Blue ChinaOne of the artists at work

Royal Delft 2013 Christmas OrnamentsThe black ink turns blue after the heating process to seal the ink

Painted Tiles in Royal Delft BlueProcess of staining Royal Delft BlueMaking of Royal Delft tiles

Making of Royal Delft vaseMaking of Royal Delft vases

Royal Delft Blue China

Miffy Royal Delft Blue

Royal Delft Blue ChinaPretty porcelain items that one can purchase as souvenirs

After the tour of Royal Delft Pottery, we were taken to Markt, the main square in Delft also known as the market square. We were given a few hours (less than 3 hours, if I recall correctly) to have lunch and explore the town center. Our tour guide recommended visiting the Oude and Nieuwe Kerk, Old and New Church in the main square. There is a tower in the Nieuwe Kerk  that one can climb to get a bird’s eye view of Delft. G and I however, opted to take a leisurely walk in the main square checking out stores instead as we didn’t want to rush ourselves up and down the tower.

Delft New Church

Delft Town Hall Stadhuis

Delft Town Hall StadhuisDelft Town Hall (Stadhuis)

Royal Delftware Store

Cheese & More in Markt Delft

Delft China

Miffy magnets

Canal in Delft

Canal in Delft

Fall leaves

We enjoyed visiting Delft and would have loved to spend more time there. Alas, as with every tour group, time is limited so we had to reconvene and head to The Hague, our last stop of the tour. Stay tuned for the next post on The Hague! 🙂

Travel – Rotterdam, Netherlands

As mentioned in the previous travel post here, G and I took a quick one day trip in the Netherlands after his conference ended. Our trip included visiting Rotterdam, Delft, and The Hague. (I’ll be blogging about each place in its own post.) We paid approximately $70 per person for the trip through Viator which included transportation and entrance tickets to Euromast and Madurodam.

Our first stop was the Euromast in Rotterdam. the second tallest building in Rotterdam. (The tallest building is KPN-Zendmast Waalhaven, a communications tower that is less well-known.)  The Euromast is symbolic to Rotterdam as the Eiffel Tower is symbolic to Paris. Here are some snaps to share of our journey from Amsterdam to the Euromast in Rotterdam. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Windmill in Netherlands

Rotterdam Cube House Dwellings Kubuswoning
View from Euromast
View of Erasmus Bridge Erasmusbrug

Shipping and Transport College Group STC Rotterdam Netherlands

View from Euromast  KPN-toren Waalhaven

New Ocean Paradise Hotel and Restaurant Rotterdam

Poseidon and Neptunus

The SS Rotterdam at the Grand Harbour

Westerlaantoren Nieuwe Werk Luxury Apartments

There is a revolving restaurant on the Euromast where one can wine and dine overlooking Rotterdam. As it wasn’t a part of our tour, we did not stop on the level where the restaurant is located. We did however stop by at the deli on the ground floor while awaiting the rest of our tour members.

Euromast Deli menu

While G and I were tempted to order some desserts, we sadly didn’t have enough time! We had to return to our tour bus in a few minutes and the long line to place an order at the deli didn’t help. Oh well, we were whisked off to Delft next and that’ll be the next travel post! 🙂

Travel – Amsterdam, Netherlands Part II

On my second day in Amsterdam, I met up with a friend who took a day off work to be my tour guide. (Thanks, C!) I can’t express my immense gratitude to him for I wouldn’t otherwise been able to explore Amsterdam and its outskirts on a bike like we did. Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city and bikers rule the streets! (At one point, C was looking up Google maps while we were smack in the middle at an intersection and a car eventually came behind us. I was petrified and urged him to move out of the way but the car just went around us, nary a honk or negative gesture!)

We rented bikes from OV-Fiets (OV-Bicycle) at Amsterdam Zuid station where I met C. As C had a membership to OV-Fiets, I don’t know how much bike rental was but one can rent a bike for 24 hours in Amsterdam for around €10. After we got our bikes, I road tested it for bit as I wasn’t familiar with coaster brakes (back pedal brakes). Once I felt fairly confident, we rode off to the Rieker Windmill before biking into the city along the Amstel River. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Rieker Windmill in Amsterdam

Rieker Windmill Amsterdam

Rieker Windmill in Amsterdam Netherlands

South of Amsterdam

Amstel River

Amsterdam bridge

VOC ship replica Amsterdam

We went to a flea market while in the city before heading to grab a quick bite at a Burgermeester. The cheeseburger and the banana milkshake I had was very good. It reminded me of Shake Shack, similar to Byron Burger here in UK. After our meal, we biked to Centraal Station to return our bikes before catching a train to Haarlem. The trip took about 15 minutes and the return train ticket was €8. From Haarlem, we rented bikes at the train station from OV-Fiets again to bike to the National Park Zuid-Kennermerland. C said that we would be biking to the beach and that it would be about 30 minutes from the train station. As I enjoy biking, I didn’t think it would be a problem as there weren’t rolling hills to be conquered. Alas, don’t be fooled by the flat lands in Netherlands! There were many times where I would be pedaling like a crazy person only to have the bike move by a few inches. C, like most Dutch who bike regularly, was super patient with me and kept motivating me to pedal along. I have to admit as we were close to the national park, I ended up wheeling my bike instead of pedaling on it for I was just too unfit! (While I’m fairly active, I haven’t worked on my cardio since I left competitive sports in high school!) All was well once we arrived at the cafe by the beach and took in the beautiful sights. After some refreshments, we walked along the beach to capture the beautiful sights.

Stairs to North Sea in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Zuid Kennemerland National Park Bike Parking

Beach in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea Beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Sunset North Sea Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea Beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park Amsterdam

Sunset North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Sunset North Sea beach Zuid Kennemerland National Park

After taking in the sights by the beach, we took a different route to bike back to the train station. We got to see the beautiful dunes in the park and I felt as though we were on a movie set for Lord of the Rings!

Sand dunes in Zuid Kennemerland National Park

Bike path lane Zuid Kennemerland National Park Amsterdam

We made it back to Haarlem train station shortly after dusk and caught our return train back to Amsterdam. I have to say, contrary to Harlem in New York, Haarlem in Amsterdam is posh! I couldn’t help notice the pretty big houses (some mansions) while biking to and fro. C and I parted ways after he made sure I was back in Amsterdam safely. (He then took a train back to Delft about an hour away where he resides.) I’m truly blessed to have such an awesome friend! I was beyond exhausted when I finally made it back to the hotel to meet G, so we stayed in for dinner. I’ll blog more about our day trip in Netherlands in my next post. Hope you’re having a great start to the week!