Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Whirlwind Tour of the Netherlands

The Gouda Cheese
 A prolonged stay it home sometimes makes the mind drift to some awesome destinations which I was fortunate to visit in preceding years. After several years in the Navy, I had just switched to the corporate world. Within a month, I was asked to travel to the United States for training at Boston. It was quite a surprise but got me excited. The flight was via Amsterdam and there was a layover of a couple of hours. Fortunately, I was having a visa for travel within the Netherlands too! After many years it was the first time that I landed on the soil of Europe, As the flight was descending the huge green field interrupted by many canals caught my attention.  While landing I could see a steady stream of cars flowing under the runway of the Schipol airport at one place. It was fascinating indeed.
Groningen Centraal
As the luggage was already checked in, I walked out of the airport with my handbag and headed for Amsterdam Central station from the airport. The huge airport was bubbling with activity and in less than half an hour had boarded a train. The Amsterdam Central station overlooked the canals and the beauty of the city with tall church spires in the background with hundreds of flower sellers, the cafes and cheese shops bowled me over. I spent a couple of hours exploring the city including a boat ride on the canals where I learnt the history of the city and saw several overbridges en route. The house of Anne Frank, now a museum looked pretty.  This was the beginning of a long term relationship that was built this beautiful country in times to come. I returned back to the airport later in the evening, with some memorable shots of my first encounter.
The Cathedral at Gouda

Most of us who visit the Netherlands see only the city of Amsterdam which has a long list of attractions besides the nightlife and Keukenhof Tulip gardens which would require a separate post. It is a truly happening city, and no matter how many times you visit the place it does not seem to be enough. It is the only country in the world that has more bicycles than the entire population of the country. The cycle tracks connect the entire country making it the most reliable and healthy form of commuting. In the ensuing years, I was fortunate to see several other cities and towns in this lovely country and that is where the beauty truly lies.
A windmill at Leiden
Amsterdam lies almost in the middle with  Groningen at the northern end and Maastricht at the southern end, bordering Belgium. It is separated by a distance of 270 km that can be covered by train in almost four hours.  There are several beautiful towns and villages that are very picturesque. Some of these like Haarlem, Utrecht, Gouda, Leiden, Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Dordrecht, Eindhoven and Breda are a must-visit depending on the time available.
The canals in Gouda
For those who love the countryside, Gouda, Leiden and Delft are a rare treat. The Cheese and Stroop waffles of Gouda are known the world over. Discovering the old canals, windmills and the blue pottery of Delft is a rare treat. It is the birthplace of the painter Johannes Vermeer, known for his creation of 'The Girl with a Pearl'. 

Pilgrims Houses in Leiden

Leiden is a university town and is a prominent scientific centre since 1575 and several Nobel Prize winners hail from the town. It is also the birthplace of the world-famous painter Rembrandt. It is also known as a place where the 'Pilgrims' lived in early 17th century before they headed for the shores of the United States of America This year the Netherlands, England and The USA  are commemorating 400 years of the Pilgrims( the founders of the United States of America) before they arrived in Plymouth in the USA. A number of the presidents of the USA were the direct descendants of these pilgrims.
Erasmus bridge-Rotterdam

Rotterdam is perhaps the only city with skyscrapers in the entire Netherlands. The city was razed to the ground during the Second World War and was built from scratch. It is the busiest port in the world today besides being a cosmopolitan hub wit some lovely landmarks like the Erasmus bridge, The Cube Houses, a quiet flowing huge Maas river. The city is like a Disney land for the architecture geeks for the variety and styles of construction.
Utrecht University

Haarlem is famous for its Grote Kerk(church) and Grote Markt. The residents of Haarlem call their shopping street as 'De Gouden Straatjes ( the streets of gold), Everything imaginable is available here.
Street of Haarlem
Beautiful green spaces are tucked away behind many unassuming streets. Utrecht is one of the most populous cities besides being a huge railway junction of the Netherlands. It is on the banks of River Rhine and has some of the most beautiful and historical structures like the St Martin's Cathedral, The Domtoren( The Cathedral Tower) and the grand University on the Dom Square.

Clingendael Park or The Japanese Garden -The Hague
Each of the other places like Dordrecht, Breda, Eindhoven, The Hague are extremely pretty and have sights that will stay in the memory forever. The first printed Bible, the old houses, the fascinating tales, huge helpings of cheese, broodges( Dutch bread), and tall built men and women will remain etched in the memory forever and unsatiated for time to come till you revisit them

PS :All pics are mine


  1. I knew i could visit sm places in ur blog even if the lockdown has trapped us inside four walls!! I do hope u remember me. Iv bn away in hibernation writing a book.

    1. So nice to see you back after a long while!. Hope you are well, healthy and happy. There could be no joy more than to see a reder like you back again. Thanks a lot for your kind comment, Jerly

  2. Such a lovely place and pretty pictures.

    1. Am grateul to you Lady Fi for your kind comment and more so from an ace photographer like you:)

  3. Nice to see a write up on Netherlands... My place of residence these days 😊....Have you been to Geithoorn also in Netherlands... That's another most charming place I have ever seen... And yes Delft is just too good... This reminds me I should get back to my travel blog soon...I have been neglecting it off late!

    1. Wow! Lucky you! Where are you located? Have travelled very frequently , Geithoorn is next on the list and I know it is very pretty. Will wait to read your post :)