Tag Archives: france

Holla Holland

See all my photos here or in a slideshow

A few rain drops is no worry for the bikes in Amsterdam.

 

While abroad, I took an Anderson Tours trip from London to Holland for Easter weekend.

It was definitely a unique experience for a somewhat guided tour.

From London, we took a bus to Dover and boarded SeaFrance ferry, while still on our coach to Calais, France.

The port at Dover.

 

Overlooking the Channel towards France.

 

The French, unfortunately, decided to strike, which I guess happens a lot at the port, and the under two hour ferry ride took six hours as we couldn’t enter the port until some people ended their demonstrating. From Calais, we drove the coach off the ferry to Holland.

We stayed at a noncommercial style hotel called Lake Land in Monnickendam. The area is, obviously, flat and a beautiful country scape. It’s quiet and a nice change from the city of London, which we had been staying in for three months. While the hotel’s buffet style dining may not be for everyone, it’s a fun atmosphere for seniors (who were dancing to the beat) and young people.

The view at Lake Land.

 

Holland is wicked flat. And by wicked, I mean very. No mountains or even hills, and there are canals big and small everywhere. Some are few feet wide and some are several yards wide. Canals are also used like fences. It’s common to see a simple gate and canals used to keep sheep and cows on a plot of land.

Heading into the city – Amsterdam – there is more flat land and a lot of construction going on whether it’s of buildings or on roads and highways.

Once you hit the city, you will know it. There are rats nests of bikes everywhere, and everyone is on a bike.

I'm guessing there are miles of bikes lined up if one counted.

 

Because the city and country is so flat, it’s easy to walk or bike everywhere and anywhere. Amsterdam also has a good public transportation system, which there are tracks for the above ground seemingly everywhere.

The city itself isn’t a skyscraper city or even quite like London. Things are more small and cute. But the essence of Amsterdam is an openness and cool that no other region can compete with.

One of many canals.

 

Yes, prostitution is legal and there are coffee shops (they don’t sell coffee) on ever corner. But the fact that people don’t seem to judge you when you walk down the street is quite impressive. 

It’s easy to rent a bike and tour the city or even take a boat cruise through the winding canals.

Not quite what I was hoping for, but it beats getting rained on.

 

You can visit the red-light district and it’s perfectly safe, or that’s what it seemed. Prostitution is some people’s career. It’s viewed as nothing to poke fun at and has been a huge part of Dutch culture since the times of great painters like Johannes Vermeer. One thing that is frowned upon is taking photographs of the district’s doors and windows where women and men might be at work. And, if you are wondering, according to our guide, if the light is red and on, the room hosted by a woman is open for business. If the light is blue, it usually means there is some sort of “mixture” or male element.

Not really sure what this was about but no one seemed disgusted.

 

There are many kinds of museums and attractions for everyone alike. One day we checked out the Anne Frank House, where for a 20 minute wait in line, visitors can tour the house where Frank and her family went into hiding. 

Outside of Amsterdam, tourists can tour clog and cheese factories such as the one we visited in Monnickendam. Clogs are still made and worn today, though it may seem they have become a bit of a tourist attraction. The idea behind clogs is that they are lightweight, water proof for those canals, and hard to protect worker’s feet.

Right down the road from Lake Land.

 

A demonstration. Apparently, it's not that hard but takes practice.

 

I could never figure out if these were mechanically produced or person produced.

 

Another Dutch cultural excursion to take is a trip to a tulip farm, like Keukenhof. The tulip has historically been a part of Dutch cultural and very much is today. Visitor’s can tour tulip field’s, gardens, and greenhouses filled with the most amounts of tulip arrangements you might ever see.

Keukenohf: Spend a good portion of the day if you love flowers.

 

It's a bit overwhelming, but so colorful.

 

Field farmed tulips.

 

There are a few alternative arrangements, much like a painting.

 

The openness of Dutch culture is truly remarkable. We met a group of Dutch guy friends who we thought were our age or much older. In fact, they were all younger than us, but because of their casual normalcy of alcohol and acceptance they seemed so much older. We chatted with them and it seems because they are “so experienced” with these “things of life,” alcohol, drug use, and the like are not as big a deal as they are in the U.S. They said, some people they know haven’t ever smoke marijuana because they know it’s there and they can do it any time they wanted. The Dutch guys also told us we weren’t spontaneous. I won’t defend myself and say that’s true. I like to consider myself spontaneous when I decide to randomly go on a bike ride and take photos. But I’m not sure I can compare myself to these guys who say, when they want to enjoy life and have a good time, they will. As an American, my night ended with me feeling like I should “enjoy life more” by going mini-golfing at random or hang out with people I’ve just met.

Pillow fight!

 

Holland is definitely a culture that people can learn from, not just have an exciting and beautiful trip to. I will definitely be back to Holland, soon, I hope.

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Photos of the Day – Holland, Brugge, Docklands

April 2, 2010

Drove out to Dover, drove right on to the ferry and sailed to Calais - too bad the French decided to strike extending our journey to 6 hours.

 

April 3, 2010 

Checked out a clog farm, which is what the Dutch are known for. Many still wear clogs today.

 

April 4, 2010

Holland is also known for tulips, so I checked out on of their tulip farms.

 

April 5, 2010

On route back to London, I stopped in Brugge, a historic and adorable Belgium town.

 

April 6, 2010

Today I checked out London's Docklands and the museum. It's an interesting side of London that's easy to miss.

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Why Paris Disappointed Me

 

It looks best at night.

I really hate to complain. Well, not really. But I hate to complain about such a great city like Paris. I mean, it’s the heart of France. Yes? No? There’s a lot of culture. International recognition. It boasts of Napoleon and the Louvre. The Louvre! But there were several things that I see as the downside. They kind of disappointed me. Maybe London has spoiled me (not that this is an English verses French kind of thing).

What Mona sees everyday.

10 Reasons Why Paris Disappointed Me:

  1. Watch out for land mines because there’s dog poopy everywhere
  2. The winter gardens aren’t as well-kept as other cities like London
  3. Smells similar to a waft of air from sewage plant
  4. There’s an exceptional amount of litter
  5. If you attempt French out of courtesy, you’re still greeted with hostility
  6. The metro smells worse than the waft of airs outside
  7. Lots of gypsies come up to you asking, “Do you Speak English?”
  8. There’s a startling number of homeless people, or at least that can be seen
  9. The automatic metro doors wait for no one – don’t get your head slammed
  10. The Louvre is more busy than a shopping mall

 

Entertainment for the kids.

 

Too bad you have to pay... more than its really worth.

 

If you take a boat ride, do it on a sunny day.

 

More free entertainment for the kids.

 

Update: March 9, 2010, 10 p.m., London

FYI – Major Cities I’ve been to:

  1. Barcelona
  2. Florence
  3. Kaunas
  4. London
  5. Madrid
  6. Montréal
  7. Nice
  8. New York City
  9. Paris
  10. Quebec City
  11. Rome
  12. Valencia
  13. Vilnius 
  14. Washington, D.C.

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Photos of the Day – Plethora deux

February 2, 2010

I call them biscuits, they call them scones.

 

February 3, 2010

When you don't have fresh echinacea from the farm, this is the next best thing.

 

February 4, 2010

Westfield shopping area, by the BBC, by where I work, which isn't the BBC but it's close...

 

February 5, 2010

Obviously today was a let down.

 

February 6, 2010

Crepes in Paris.

 

February 7, 2010

Better than the Louvre.

 

February 8, 2010

This snow severely delayed the tubes - and I'm not even being sarcastic.

 

February 9, 2010

The Wallace Collection. Would this room have not matched my prom dress?

 

February 10, 2010

This is what journalists do.

 

February 11, 2010

View of the Westfield shopping centre from my work... near the BBC.

 

February 12, 2010

The building with all the Windows has the title Telephone Exchange written on it.

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