Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Travel – Barcelona Part II

On our second day in Barcelona, we were off to an early start as our tickets to visit Parc Güell was scheduled for 8.30am. G’s cousin who lives in Barcelona had suggested that we booked our tickets (€7 per adult) in advance and try to visit early to avoid crowds. We took the Metro and got off at Vallcarca, one of the two Metro stops close to Parc Güell. We got a surprise when we saw the hill that we had to climb to get to the park! Granted, there were escalators between each block but it was only for the uphill direction. Well, it was all worth it as there were only few crowds, mostly tour groups and the view as well as the park itself was beautiful. Needless to say, Gaudi‘s handiwork did not fail to impress us. I shall let the pictures do the talking… (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Next on our itinerary was a visit to the famous La Sagrada Familia that has been in construction since 1882. Once again, we purchased our tickets in advance (€19.30 per person), which included a visit to one of the two towers (Navity or Passion). If one had to pick only one of Gaudi’s works to visit in Barcelona, this would be my pick. Gaudi’s magnificent work of art La Sagrada Familia is absolutely breathtaking. One can easily spend hours in the building admiring the architecture and his extraordinary vision. I was mesmerized by the beautiful stained glass and can easily spend a few hours staring at the vivid colors. There were also a few exhibitions housed in the building, some of which gave an insight to Gaudi’s architectural influences. G and I particularly enjoyed the 3D exhibition where we could touch the objects demonstrating his architecture ideas. We ended our tour by visiting the Passion tower which had a great view of the city.

After the visit, we headed back to our AirBnB apartment to rest before heading out for dinner in the neighbourhood. Our host had recommended Pizza L’avia as a restaurant with good local food that was inexpensive. Since we’ve been having tapas for our previous meals, I was delighted to find paella at the restaurant and ordered that for dinner. G as usual ordered pizza. (His goal is to eat pizza in every country that he visits!) The paella was bit too greasy for my liking but otherwise, the taste was decent. G however, wasn’t too pleased with his pizza due to the use of local cheese, which he found unappetizing.

After dinner, we headed to Museu Picasso which offers discounted rates on Thursday nights. We only paid €15 for our tickets with included an additional exhibition. Discounted tickets however can only be purchased in person after 7pm but since we were there early, we didn’t have to wait too long to purchase our tickets. Regular admission is otherwise €11 per adult.

As photographs were not allowed in the museum, I have none to show other than the entrance and a pretty snap of the blue skies from the courtyard past 8pm. I have to say between the Van Gogh Museum and the Picasso Museum, I much preferred the former in Amsterdam. I guess I prefer Van Gogh’s style of art to Picasso’s.

If you missed my first post on Barcelona, it’s here and the outfit details for this post is here. We’ll be off to explore the mountains outside Barcelona for the next 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!