Sunday, 1 July 2018

Trip to Belgium & The Netherlands (Part 2: Or the Land of the Windmills)

Today I bring you part 2 of my trip to Belgium and The Netherlands, all about the land of the windmills! You can check out, if you haven't before, the first half of our journey in part 1: the land of the waffles where I talk about what we visited while in Belgium.

So I left the first part when we were in Antwerp and that's where we caught the train to Amsterdam. We were counting on being able to buy our tickets using the machines in Antwerpen-Centraal but apparently those self-service machines only sell national train tickets so we ended up having to wait in a long line for international trains and spent around 70€ for the two of us. The journey was around two hours and when we arrived in Amsterdam Centraal we walked all the way until the Nova Hotel, where we checked in. The whole hotel staff is very friendly and helpfull and it they serve a good breakfast with plenty of offer. There's a supermarket (Albert Heijn) a few meters away where we bought our dinners and a pharmacy in the back street.  Our first impression is of how many people were in the streets, that avenue was absolutely crowded.

From the hotel we walked to the Dam Square where we saw the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and the National Monument. From there we walked to the New Church (De Nieuwe Kerk), the Old Church (De Oude Kerk) and the  Church of Saint Nicholas (Sint-Nicolaaskerk). We then walked back to the hotel through the Red Light District and that's completely different from any other reality and totally normal for the citizens living in that district.

On our second day in Amsterdam we woke up early because we had our visit to Anne Frank's House scheduled for 9h, which is the first spot in their timetable. You have to buy your tickets online two months ahead and while you have a time to get inside the museum you don't have a specific time to get out so I believe the best time to see it properly is the first time in the morning where there aren't a lot of people inside. I had reread Anne Frank's Diary to prepare myself for this visit but I was honestly a bit disappointed since it doesn't have any furniture (Otto Frank's decision) and for someone who has the diary very fresh in her head, the visit in the house doens't add a lot of information. It is, however, interesting to see how they lived. The last part of the visit shows us a few testimonials from people who knew Anne and her family, their destiny after being found and some pages from her diary. After the visit, we looked at Westerkerk and walked towards the Van Gogh Museum (where we didn't go because of how expensive it is) and the I Amsterdam Sign, which was absolutely packed with people and is pretty much impossible to take a picture without having someone next to you (I didn't even try). From there, we went to the Magere Brug, the Bridge of 15 Bridges (where Reguliersgracht meets Herengracht) and the pretty Bloemenmarkt where we bought tulip seeds as souvenirs.

We spent the third day in the Netherlands roaming outside Amsterdam by train. The tickets are not very expensive but you have to pay an extra fee for the ticket (I didn't quite understand what that fee was all about, only that I had to pay it), which makes them 1€ more expensive and you have the option to pay with card only (and, in some of the machines with coins and they don't give you change). We went north first and got out in Haarlem (20 minutes journey) where we visited the Town Hall, the Grote Markt, the St. Bavo Church and the Molen De Adriaan, a pretty 18th-century riverside windmill. From the station, we headed towards Utretch, which is about 45 minutes away by train, and is a very picturesque little town. We visited the Dom Tower (Domtoren), and St Martin's Cathedral (Domkerk) and roamed around for a while. Even though we ended up not going there, I recommend Zaanse Schans in Zaadam and if you go around March/April, the Keukenhof in Lisse where you can see multicolored Dutch spring flowers (it was unfortunately closed by the time we got to the Netherlands, so do check their schedule before booking the trip).

We spent the morning before departing to the airport in a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam. We bought our ticket in the hotel, where we got a nice discount, and caught the boat in Prinsengracht, near Anne Frank's House. They had an audio tour so it makes it a nice way to get to know the city, learn a bit about its history and take pretty photos. Once again, our flight to Lisbon was delayed by over one hour so we ended exactly as we started the trip.

Overall, despite being a very pretty city, we were surprised by the amount of bicycles we saw in Amsterdam (even though we knew well ahead how they bike everywhere) and how dirty the canals were. People in Amsterdam must be very used to the type of rain that doesn't really make them wet because it was a constant while we were there and they didn't even bother using the umbrella. Our debit card didn't work on the supermarket but it worked when withdrawing cash in the ATMs so we're not exactly sure what happened with it - I would be cautious anyway and bring extra money just in case. Also, let me just add how pretty most tourists goes there to freely smoke weed and it gets annoying having to deal with the smell (it got stuck in my hair for days). As always, the pictures here are just a small sample so if you're curious about the places I've mentioned you can check my instagram.

You can also find me @ | | | | |

Post a Comment

Veriation © . Design by FCD.