Archive for the ‘The Netherlands’ Category

Kinderdijk / Trip by Waterbus

Two weeks ago I cycled from Rotterdam to Dordrecht via Kinderdijk. This is a UNESCO heritage site with 19 windmills, and really popular with tourists. On Strava (a cycling app) some sections have names, and the cycle path that goes through Kinderdijk is called “Avoiding Tourists”, haha. I had never been there, so I stopped for some photos…

It was nice weather, with a typical Dutch sky full of puffy clouds :)

Panorama of Kinderdijk…

There’s a small ferry for foot passengers, you can buy tickets for that and for visiting the windmills, but if you just want to see the mills by bike or on foot, it’s free.

In Dordrecht I visited a museum, and then I took the waterbus back to Rotterdam. The trip takes an hour, costs less than 5 euros and bikes are free. Excellent! I really enjoyed the boat trip over the river :)

Especially the last bit when you go through the center of Rotterdam and see all it’s iconic architecture. Below the Unilever building, which was inspired by De Hef, which is the bridge in the foreground. De Hef was a vertical-lift bridge for trains, it’s not in use anymore but it was kept as a landmark. As a bonus, the Erasmus bridge can be seen behind De Hef.

Typical Rotterdam: old and new together in harmony. Old houses on Noordereiland (an island in the middle of the city), the Erasmus bridge (The Swan), and De Rotterdam towering over the old houses.

One last photo before I had to leave the Waterbus. These water taxi’s zoom up and down the river, this one is owned by Hotel New York.

A great day trip!

Sunrise at Veluwezoom National Park

In August I had two weeks of holidays to spend. Having only just moved back to the Netherlands, I was keen to spend more time in my own country :) One of the areas I visited was Velp, and the nearby Posbank. The official name is Veluwezoom National Park, which is actually the oldest national park in the Netherlands (founded in 1930). It’s a hilly area (yes, we do have hills in the Netherlands!) and in August the flowering heather turns the hills into a purple carpet. I had never been there, despite living very close when I studied in Wageningen, I must have been lazy back then ;)

Checking the weather forecast, I found that there would be one misty sunrise while I was there (rain was forecasted for the following days). So, I put my alarm for 05:15, wondering if I would really be crazy enough to get up that early AND cycle up the hill. Spoiler alert: I was :)

Cycling up in the darkness and chill before dawn was something special. There’s nobody around and I saw a lot of wildlife this morning: two wild boars, one with babies (awww…), a few wild horses and deer.

And once I got up there, I did not regret getting up so early. What a magical view!! There was some mist hanging in the valleys and I patiently waited for the sun to rise from behind the hills. There it was…

I thought I might meet a ridiculous amount of photographers, as this is a really popular place to go. But I went to a lower area on the hills that you can only get to by bike (or walking), so I think most photographers were elsewhere and I nearly had the place to myself. So beautiful! This is a panorama shot of the same scene…

Once the sun got up, the colours changed rapidly to deep yellow and oranges…

I walked around a bit, looking for scenic views, but they were everywhere!

I loved the warm sunlight streaming over the hills. At such moments, you can only feel incredibly lucky to be alive and to witness such beauty…

I do understand why this area is so popular with photographers – there are plenty of really pretty lone trees, and the colour of the flowering heather is just spectacular!

When the sun got higher, the mist started to disappear. I followed a small path…

The path brought me further down the hills to a group of trees.

This last photo was taken at 07:30, only 40 minutes after the first one. The light has really changed and it was time for a new day to start – one of the hottest days of the summer actually. I was glad I cycled up in the early morning when temperatures were much more bearable :)

I got back on my bike, and cycled down the hill back to the very nice B&B I was staying in (it was even called “very nice” or Erg Leuk in Dutch), where breakfast was served as soon as I walked in the door – perfect!!

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.