On Saturday Marco and I went to Leiden. It is a university city not far from The Hague (10-15 minutes by train). We first made a stop at the VVV office (tourist office) for a free city guide. Unfortunately it was pretty commercial in nature and it wasn’t quite as informative as the Dordrecht guide was (we paid €5 for that). However the Leiden guide did have three recommended walks in the back so we used that. You just need to keep in mind some of the streets it takes you down are store heavy…
A few weeks ago Marco and I visited Utrecht. For various reasons it ended up not being quite what I expected but that can be chalked up to two things: the weather wasn’t that great and we went on a Monday, when a lot of things ended up being closed. We mostly stayed in the center of the city and looked at stores (board game stores, comic book stores and similar) rather than doing too many cultural things. I do wish we could have stayed until it got dark, though, as I would have been able to see the Trajectum Lumen. At night certain areas of the city are artistically lit, with guided tours provided on Saturdays.
I did get some good pictures, though. Here are a couple:
Utrecht canal, typical Dutch bike in the photo frame
stares down to the canal level on Oudegracht (a main street in the central area). A lot of restaurants are at canal level, so you take the stairs down to reach them.
close up of some flowers in Utrecht
Items at “It’s a Present” gift store
“It’s a present” was actually a pretty cool gift shop even though we didn’t buy anything. It had some really random items for sale, including what you see above. The only negative was that the shop was small, so they had to expand vertically – there’s technically three small floors, but sometimes the stairs can be a bit tricky to navigate.
During the first summer that I spent in the Netherlands, we did the expected canal ride in Amsterdam. It’s sort of like being a first time tourist in NYC and visiting the Statue of Liberty. I’ve managed to avoid going up to the top of Rockefeller and the Empire State building… somehow.
But I was definitely looking forward to the 1 hour canal ride. I went with Marco, his mother, and our friend Roger (the die hard NY Rangers fan… Let’s go Rangers!). Luckily we managed to be one of the first ones on the boat, so we had the pick of what seats we wanted.
The public library of Amsterdam is useful for more than just library related activities (or for borrowing a computer to let someone know your phone is currently dead). It also provides a great view of the city from the 6th floor.
Houses along a Delft canal... too close for comfort!
Look at how close the houses are to the edge of the canal. It’s amazing to realize that some (unpictured) houses have doors which face out into the canal. Open up and jump in!
And it makes me cringe a bit. In my hometown, Hurricane Irene decimated a local bar/eatery when it came through in August. The barely four foot wide stream overflowed 7 foot high retention walls, leaving the surrounding area under a foot of water, and their basement completely flooded. It took until Christmas for restaurant to reopen.
Delft canal, with obligatory bikes
I was also amused to see that there really are not any guard rails to prevent the cars from driving in, either. And I found this blog post about bikes being thrown in to be an interesting read, with cool pictures of “bike rescues”.
Father and his sons, feet dangling into the canal
Ignoring the port-o-potty behind them, I focused this picture on the family, curious to see if the father’s feet would ever touch the water — they did not. Just a simple moment, captured forever.