International Fireworks Festival @ Scheveningen

Two weeks ago we went to Scheveningen for the final night of the International Fireworks Festival. It takes places over two weekends, with double shows (from two countries) on Friday and Saturday. These nights are very popular and it gets very crowded, making parking difficult. So we arrived early and enjoyed a walk on the beach. This is the Kurhaus in Scheveningen, a beautiful building that houses a hotel.

We walked on the pier which had nice views over the beach. They have recently added a new attraction, apart from the ferris wheel and the bungy jump tower: a zipline of 60 m high. It was fun watching people zip by at eye level :)

We had dinner at one of the nice beach restaurants. It was quite windy, with dramatic skies!

Evening fell, with more dramatic clouds and a lit up ferris wheel…

At 21:45, the first show started: Portugal. I stayed on the opposite site of the pier, where it was much less crowded but the views were really nice! It was windy but not very cold, and it stayed dry for the entire first show. I took lots of photos, enjoy!

The show lasted about 15 minutes. After a short break, it was time for the show by last year’s winners: Spain! The wind had changed direction and unfortunately it rained during the entire show. I moved to the other side of the pier for a different perspective, but I didn’t take that many photos as the wind was blowing all the rain drops straight unto my lens. Still, rain drops on the lens can give a nice effect:

There were lots of photographers with tripod by the waterline, and as I joined them much later I did not want to move in front of them. I just included them in the photo. I like the reflection in this photo, and all the elements that show how windy and rainy it is…

As soon as Spain’s show had finished (they won again by the way!) it started to rain heavily. Lots of people sheltered underneath the pier, but at some point we decided to walk to our car anyway. There were long queues at the parking garage, but we had bought a day ticket so we didn’t need to queue for the machines. Lots and lots of cars were leaving Scheveningen, but they had done a great job with directing traffic and it didn’t take long to get out of the town. On our way back to Rotterdam, we were hit by VERY heavy rain and thunder – impressive! – I think it was very lucky we didn’t have a shower like that while on the beach!

I really enjoyed watching the fireworks, and will try to visit again next year :)

Zomerlicht @ Pampus

In an article about original places to have dinner in the Netherlands, I read about Zomerlicht (Summer Light): a pop up restaurant / event on the island of Pampus, just outside Amsterdam. I’ve always wanted to visit Pampus (I’m an island girl!) so this sounded like a really fun opportunity. We were told to meet up at 19:00 in the harbour of IJburg, from where partyboat Sailboa would take us to Pampus.

On board, we were all given a big key with a number, this was their way to keep track of drinks for each couple/group. Already on board, you could start your trip with a drink…

There was a nice holiday/adventure atmosphere on board. The crossing to Pampus took half an hour, and luckily it stayed dry. Well, from the sky that is – there were a couple of waves crashing onto the front of the boat ;) The crossing took half an hour. Here, we are nearing the island…

It had been a rainy day, but the clouds started to clear. I loved the views while coming in to the jetty at Pampus.

When we arrived at the island, we were welcomed by the host of the evening, who took us into the fort, through very colourful corridors. We were served a welcome drink (gin & tonic) in a very pink room. After that, they served delicious sweet potato and coconut soup, and then left us to explore the fort and the island by ourselves.

Pampus is an artificial island, built on a sandbank. This sandbank used to stop ships from coming in to the harbour of Amsterdam until the tide was high enough to pass. There’s a famous Dutch saying “Voor Pampus liggen” or “Laying for Pampus” which means lying down knocked out, which stems from the ships having to wait. They started building the island and the fort in 1887, and although there were 200 soldiers stationed on the island during World War I, it never saw any action. When the Afsluitdijk (Closure Dike) cut off the IJsselmeer from the open sea, Pampus lost its strategic position and it was abandoned soon after.

Especially for Zomerlicht, the fort was lit beautifully. It was a lot of fun to walk around the corridors while they kept changing colours, and exploring all the rooms.

Such pretty lighting…

And the colours really changed to all colours of the rainbow…

Outside the fort, but inside the outer walls, was a photo exhibition of all the other forts in the defence line of Amsterdam.

We climbed on the wall surrounding the fort, to get a good overview of the building:

Then we walked around the shore of the island and enjoyed the views in all directions…

Until our stomachs told us to go to the restaurant area. Here they had set up food stands where you could get different dishes – here the mussel spaghetti. Michiel had a very nice selection of different fish. There was bread and dips, and cheese plates to go with it.

This was our view during dinner, I just had to walk outside and take a quick photo of the sunset. A group of volunteers were camping next to this house, they were staying there for a week and were working on renovation of the island.

After finishing our first course, we went for a sunset walk. This almost looks like it was taken from a tropical island instead of a fort island outside Amsterdam ;)

It was a beautiful evening as the sun was setting in the direction of Amsterdam’s skyline…

Peaceful views from the jetty…

A panorama showing the jetty, with on the right the Sailboa and behind it the restaurant where the dinner took place.

When it got dark, we saw all the city lights of Amsterdam on the horizon: a pretty sight!

They lit a couple of campfires and the atmosphere was really nice. There were lots of different places to sit and enjoy your meal. We had another course of meat and potatoes, which was really tasty. The only downside was that the organization was slightly chaotic and at times there were long lines for the food. Luckily the food was worth the wait!

The view from the top of the island – a magical evening! Around 22:00, dessert was served, as well as tea and coffee with really good chocolate.

At 23:00 we all boarded the Sailboa for the journey back to IJburg. What a wonderful night!

Zomerlicht is taking place each Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 02 September, and there are still tickets available for most nights. Much recommended! Tickets costs €57.50 and include the boat transfer, dinner and a welcome drink. Check the website of Zomerlicht (only in Dutch…) for more information and tickets.

If you just want to visit the island of Pampus, it’s open daily except mondays until the end of October. For regular visits, the boat leaves from Muiden, and a return ticket plus entrance to the island costs €17.50. For more information, check their website. If you’d rather leave from Amsterdam, you can do so by using Amsterdam Tourist Ferry which leaves daily at 11, and a return plus entrance to the island costs €20. This is the same company that runs the Sailboa ferry that we took to Zomerlicht.

Venice

(We visited Venice in late April – I’m only a little behind with my blog…)

After our weekend in Modena, we drove to Venice. We left our car at one of the cheap car parks out of town, and took a bus to the city centre. From there we took a water bus to Giudecca (an island just across from the “main” island in Venice), where we were met by our AirBnB hostess.

On our first afternoon in Venice, it was rainy and windy. It turned out to be a Bora event  – katabatic wind, which is what my PhD was about – so quite fun to experience! This was the street that our AirBnB apartment was at, almost next to the women’s prison…

The location of our AirBnB on Giudecca

We went for a short walk around Giudecca, but we quickly retired to our apartment as getting soaked wasn’t that much fun…

Dramatic views towards the main island of Venice

The next day we took the waterbus for a long time, to the island Murano. The day started really sunny and it was so pretty. Murano is famous for all the glassmakers located there, and this artwork in front of the bell tower represented that.

The Bell Tower and glass art on Murano

Murano was a nice place to start in Venice, as it wasn’t so crowded here. We enjoyed walking along the canal and looking at all the small shops selling beautiful glass items.

Murano Canal

Such a colourful sight!

Fantastically colourful streets on Murano

We visited one of the glass factories and watched a demonstration. I bought some beautiful turquoise glass earrings – the perfect souvenir! In front of the glass factory we had great views towards Venice over the lagoon…

Impressive views over the lagoon

There was laundry drying everywhere…

Laundry drying everywhere

We took the boat back to the main island where we continued exploring all the narrow streets and canals.

Back on the main island with its narrow canals

The buildings in Venice are really old and it shows! I loved these kind of scenes…

Typical Venice view

Finally we reached Piazza San Marco. It was REALLY crowded around the piazza. That was exactly as everyone had told me before our trip, and what I was most worried about – that Venice is nice but the crowds of tourists will drive you mad.

Seagull with Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

And yes, there were a lot of people here. But if you went just a couple of streets away from the most famous places (like Piazza San Marco), the crowds are gone and the city is yours to get lost in.

The bell tower of St Mark's Basilica on Piazza San Marco

So to conclude, I would still recommend Venice – it’s old, it’s incredibly beautiful and fun. It’s easy to understand why so many tourists flock to the city, but I was glad they don’t venture very far away from the famous sights so you can still find peace and quiet in the city!

The next day was very sunny. This was our view walking towards the waterbus stop on Giudecca – and the yellow boat is actually an ambulance!

Looking towards the main island from Giudecca - the boat passing is an ambulance!

We wondered around the many colourful streets and canals again, and enjoyed the sunshine.

I loved wondering around the colourful canals

Venice is busy but if you walk away from the most famous sites you can find many quiet places too!

Gondola’s in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute…

Gondola's in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

The classical image of Venice, with tourists in a gondola…

Classic Venice image with a gondola :)

Another famous hotspot in Venice is Rialto bridge. It was really crowded with people and I actually had to wait for “my” turn to take a photo from the railing, haha… But the views from the bridge were worth a little wait.

Views along the Canal Grande from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

Lots of boat traffic on the Grand Canal…

More views from Rialto Bridge

I loved the view from the bridge, you could almost imagine being way back in time.. not a car in sight. But of course you’re surrounded by people taking selfies on their smartphone, so this illusion doesn’t last very long ;)

View in the other direction from Rialto Bridge

Panorama from the Fish Market. Just steps away from Rialto bridge but here we were nearly alone.

Panorama from the Fish Market

Street scene in Venice.. I loved getting lost in the narrow streets.

Nice scene found while wondering around Venice

We tried to get really lost, but actually you easily find signs pointing to the nearest point of interest.. oh well. Lots of cute little bridges…

Michiel in Venice :)

Two pigeons in two old windows…

Old window & pigeons

After dinner we went for a sunset walk to get some photos. It’s even more beautiful at that time of day…

Gondola's at sunset

We spent some time on The Ponte dell’Accademia watching the last sunset colours disappear…

Sunset from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Venice at twilight is really pretty!

Beautiful twilight colours from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Quiet moments at dusk

Finally, the blue hour – all the lights are on and the sky is a deep blue colour. Loved this view!

Finally the blue hour - magical

It was fun taking long exposures of the boats passing underneath the bridge.

View from the bridge with boats passing underneath

We spent three nights in Venice and really enjoyed our stay. It was the end of our Italy road trip, after Venice we drove back to the Netherlands (two days of driving).

Denmark

Apologies for the long silence on this blog! A lot has happened in the mean time: I have left Norway after nearly 10 years, and moved back to the Netherlands after more than 13 years abroad! I’ve moved in with Michiel, in Rotterdam – exciting times!

I’ve taken my car with me, so last week we drove from Oslo to Rotterdam. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we managed to spend 3 wonderful days driving along the west coast of Denmark, which was so much fun! Here are some photos…

We took the ferry from Langesund to Hirtshals, arriving in the evening. We spent that night in Lønstrup, a small village about half an hour south of Hirtshals. It was REALLY windy, impressive to watch the sunset and crashing waves from the beach and dunes at the coast.

The beach at Lønstrup

We climbed to the top of the dunes, but it was SO windy that I didn’t want to stay there – I thought we might actually be blown off by the wind…

Windy view from the top of the dune, we didn't stay here long as I was afraid we'd be blown off - the wind was that strong!

Lucky panorama of the sunset, with a bird silhouetted in front of the sun…

Sunset panorama - I love the silhouetted bird, lucky shot!

Michiel on the narrow path that followed the dunes. There wasn’t much beach left at the bottom of the dunes, coastal erosion is a big problem here.

Michiel on the path following the dunes

The light was so beautiful that evening, I took a lot of photos!

The light was so beautiful that evening!

Flowers at sunset

Michiel enjoying the fantastic views

A very happy Hanneke in her element: beach, dunes & wind!

I was really enjoying being at the beach in the wind :)

We followed a path to another stretch of the coast…

The beach at Lønstrup - or what is left of it, erosion is a big problem here

And watched a beautiful sunset, and big crashing waves!

Sunset and crashing waves

The next morning we drove a short distance south of Lønstrøp, to a big parking lot from where you can walk to Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse – a really impressive place. This is from the start of the walk…

The sandy path leading to Rubjerg Knude Fyr (Lighthouse)

And here we had reached the 60 m high sand dune – and felt like we were in the Sahara!

Climbing the sand dune - you'd think we were in the Sahara!

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was built in 1900, but in more recent times it was threatened by continually shifting sands as well as coastal erosion. There used to be a couple of buildings next to it, which used to serve as a cafe and museum. In 2002, everything had to be abandoned due to the sand swallowing the buildings. The two smaller buildings were eventually removed, and only the lighthouse is still standing. It is expected to fall off the cliff in the next 15 years, but until then, it is a really impressive place to visit and experience the power of nature!

Approaching Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse at the edge of the cliff...

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse threatened by continuously moving sand

The views in the other direction are really impressive – it feels almost surreal to be on top of this huge sand dune and look out towards Lønstrup and the surrounding countryside!

Surreal landscape and views from the top of the sand dune

Couldn’t help myself, I had to take this really cheesy photo…

Michiel and lighthouse ;)

Later that day, the weather turned cloudy and even rainy, so I didn’t take a lot more photos. We spent the night at Nymindegab, these two photos were taken the next morning right next to our hotel…

Near our hotel in Nymindegab

Jetty in Nymindegab

Our last stop on the coast was Rømø, a Danish Wadden island that can be reached by a bridge (or a causeway rather). We had some amazing cakes in a coffeeshop / antique shop, and drove around the island. At some point we wanted to go to the beach and looked for a parking place – we didn’t see any though and suddenly we were driving ON the beach! The beach is huge here, and they let cars drive on some parts of it. A bit strange, but quite fun!

I know neither my dear Subaru or me are ‘sexy-model-on-fast-car’ material, but I still like this photo!

On the island Rømø you can drive your car on the beach - quite fun! Neither me or my dear Subaru are 'model-on-fast-car' material but I still like the photo :D

After our visit to Rømø we continued into Germany and home to the Netherlands the next day. It was a really busy week, but I was glad we were able to spend some time exploring Denmark’s west coast – we both want to come back at some point!