Erynn and I decided to take a four day weekend to The Netherlands in October. Mostly for the heck of it, but Erynn had always wanted to go and it is within easy driving distance from our home in Mannheim. We ended up spending a few days walking around Amsterdam seeing most of the major tourist attractions then spending the afternoon in The Hague for our last day.
Before you ask... no, we didn't go for the sex or drugs. It's just a cool city with a lot of history. With the canals, old buildings and museums, it's a nice place to visit. However, the weather when we went wasn't terrific, but we made the most of it. The surprise of the trip though had to be The Hague (Den Haag). There were virtually no tourists and the old masters museum there was better than what we saw in Amsterdam. At least to our novice eyes.
For full resolution photos from the trip to Amsterdam and The Hague click here.
Hotels in the city were quite pricey so we stayed outside of town in Leiden. We then drove in each day using the Park & Ride to the Centraal Train Station. Cheap and convenient for us since we had a car. Probably not as viable an option if you're flying in.
And of course what you think of when you think of Amsterdam is the canals! Get your mind out of the gutter...
One of our first stops as we walked around town was the flower market (Bloemenmarkt) near the Mint. You can see the flower stalls in the left photo - they are the glass covered barges lining the left bank of the canal. It was about one kilometer long and full of places selling wooden shoes, tulips bulbs, and other trinkets.
Next on the agenda was the Hermitage Museum, which was dedicated to the natural and historical linkages between Amsterdam and the Hermitage in Russia. The art gallery featured a number of works of art from the Russian Hermitage. No photos allowed inside...
One focal area for tourists is the I Amsterdam sign. Right next to this sign are both the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. In the right photo Erynn and Greta are in front of the Rijksmuseum, which had some old master paintings and what appeared to be a strange collection of Dutch historical artifacts. The layout and theme of the place really didn't make sense to me.
No photos were allowed past the front door of the Rijksmuseum (left photo), but I couldn't resist taking one with my Blackberry (no flash) of Rembrandt's The Staalmeesters. of course, fans of Dutch Masters Cigars will appreciate the photo. I don't smoke, but couldn't resist the photo anyway...
Next up was the Van Gogh Museum a few hundred meters from the Rijksmuseum. You can see from the left photo there was (probably always is) a long line to get in. Our top tip is to buy a ticket from the tourist office across the street and close to the Rijksmuseum. You can then bypass the line and go right in! I snapped the photo of the line while Erynn was getting our tickets. Probably saved over half an hour.
The right photo shows Erynn and Greta in front of the new annex to the Van Gogh Museum.
Photos weren't allowed in the Van Gogh Museum either. But if you look like you're playing with your phone then quickly snap one before the guard tackles you then you're good. This contraband photo (no flash) is in front of Van Gogh's Irises (1890).
Another large, famous square is Dam Square. A couple focal points for the square is Koninklijk Palais (top left photo) and Madame Tussaud's (top right). Neither of which we went into.
Also in the square are the National Monument and Diamond Exchange (bottom left photo). The one building on Dam Square we did enter was the Nieuwe Kerk (bottom right) photo. More pictures are below...
Here are some photos from the inside of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). The left photo shows the Nave and Pulpit. The middle photo shows the stained glass window over the main visitor's entrance. The right photo shows the Michiel de Ruyter Memorial who is the Netherland's most famous naval hero.
Who goes to Amsterdam and doesn't take a canal boat tour? Not this family!
One of our last items on the itinerary was to float around the city looking at all the old buildings. Unfortunately, Greta wasn't super happy with the idea...
I won't bore you with a ton of photos from the canal boat trip. You can see all of the full resolution photos from the entire trip HERE.
However, a couple photos I liked were of the sculler we chased down the canal. He was a brave man with the power boat wake present. The other photo I liked was when the boat driver slowed down so we could get a picture of the seven bridge arches lined up.
Here are some parting shots from Amsterdam. Just photos I liked...
Left photo with Erynn in front of Mr. Hot Dog. We were also so close to Belgium we thought we'd honor them by eating some Pommes mit Mayo. And lastly, on the right is a shot of the hippies supposedly "Occupying Amsterdam."
On our way home we stopped at The Hague. We parked in the city center and walked around for a couple hours. Above is the city's skyline from the Plein, or main square, where we parked. Right behind me in the photo was the Maurithuis.
The Maurithuis is the large building to the right. The building houses a number of Dutch and Flemish master paintings (including the Girl with Pearl Earring), and quite frankly, was the surprise of the trip. Go to this museum. The entrance to the Dutch Parliament is through the gate to the left of the museum.
I really didn't want to get tackled by security so I was resigned to taking a photo of a copy in the gift shop...
Behind the museum and parliament buildings is a beautiful lagoon and park that we strolled through. And Erynn found a little Dutch Boy. Plus it was a gorgeous day for a stroll!
We then headed to the pedestrian friendly commercial district. It is a beautiful little city.
Lastly, we stopped at a little cafe for coffee and sandwiches before heading for home. Erynn took this photo, which is one of my favorites of Greta.
© 2012 Doug Rathburn