Blogs from North Holland, Netherlands, Europe


Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 26th 2019

We left Utrecht for Zaandam a short 44 minute train ride away. Our last stop on our epic two month holiday, we decided to yet again finish our European adventure in Amsterdam and stay with my cousin Biab and her husband Douwe. Biab, who moved to the Netherlands 22 years ago from Thailand, and Douwe, live in Zaandam which is only 10 minutes north of Amsterdam. We had visited them twice previously and in 2003 I stayed with them for 3 months (I was 20). They met us at Zaandam station, then a quick break at their place before heading out to Amsterdam for the evening. We parked just outside Amsterdam and took the metro (very new it only opened a year ago) the rest of the way. We had some beers at a bar and ... read more
Bikes by the flower market, Amsterdam
Dam square, Amsterdam

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 20th 2019

Back onto the train towards Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS. Our lodging is in a cozy little room right on a canal. Trying to cross the road is like taking your life in your hands. There are 850,000 residents here, and 850,000 bicycles, and the cyclists have the right of way. Thousands of bikes are stollen each year, and many are found in the canals. Oh, and no-one wears helmets. A fresh day, and off to the Albert Cuyp Market. Many stalls sell the stroopwafels that taste like a waffle and caramel cookie combined. There is a bird of paradise tree for sale, huge figs, local art work, and tasty sausages, plus clothing booths. Our girls suggest we attend the Rijksmuseum. The building contains paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. You can stand and watch Rembrandt’s famous Night ... read more
Amsterdam Central Station
It is a busy harbour!
German was late?!

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Haarlem September 3rd 2019

Today I left Amsterdam and boarded a train to Haarlem, a town just west of Amsterdam. (When the Harlem in New York was named, New York was New Amsterdam.) The Dutch version is a lovely, quaint town that was enjoyable to walk around. I visited several sights that are worth mentioning. Corrie Ten Boom was a woman who lived in Haarlem during WWII and she worked with the Resistance and hid Jews from the Nazis. She was eventually caught, but survived the Ravensbruck concentration camp and then wrote a book (The Hiding Place) that tells the story of how she and her family hid fugitives behind a false wall. She is credited with saving over 800 lives and I was touched to be able to tour the house and see the hiding place. The false wall ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 2nd 2019

Today I spent most of the day visiting two of the world’s great art museums. The Rijksmuseum contains Dutch art through the centuries and the Van Gogh Museum contains works by, well, I’m sure you can guess. The Rijksmuseum’s collection of works by Rembrandt includes his famous Night Watch (featured on Dutch Masters Cigar boxes). This large painting presented a bit of a spectacle because the museum is systematically rescanning all of its holdings and The Night Watch was on the schedule today. It was hard to see much of the painting, but it was interesting to see the computer-driven camera scan back and forth over a section of canvas. Another artist I wanted particularly to see is Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum has the world’s largest collection of Vermeer paintings - four. The Milkmaid is one ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 1st 2019

I followed Rick Steves’s Amsterdam Walk today and saw some of the things that the city is famous for. There is a stretch of canal alongside which are numerous stalls selling flowers, especially tulips and bulbs. I passed by the Bulldog Cafe - a “coffee shop”, which in Amsterdam means it sells legal marijuana. I visited a Catholic church that was built in the 17th century when Amsterdam was officially Protestant, but tolerated Catholics who kept a low profile. The outside of Our Lord in the Attic church looks like a typical merchant’s home, but inside there is a three-level nave with altar, pews, organ, and confessional. Another thing Amsterdam is famous for is immigrants, so for dinner tonight I decided to try shoarma (shwarma? schwarma?). I had heard of it , but never eaten it ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 31st 2019

Today was the only day of the trip where I had an early morning flight so I was at the airport by 6AM. I flew to Amsterdam, and it felt a little like a homecoming since I have been here a couple of times before (not counting the several times I’ve passed through the airport). I headed for the city center at Dam Square with the identifying obelisk and then I went for a walk around the Jordaan district west of there. It is very picturesque with many gabled houses and pretty canals. I had booked an entry time online for the Anne Frank house and visited there in the middle of the afternoon. The house itself is preserved, but the house next to it has been turned into a modern efficient visitor-friendly building. That is ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Haarlem August 27th 2019

Everything comes to an end so our trip and may we say the last one. We had a very good time again but it is getting to costly with travel insurances etc. We celebrated Liz birthday that evening with family in Oudenbos visiting a restaurant called Het Zusje. We have been there once before and was very nice. It is a sort of Tapas place where you can order lots of things to try out. It comes in small portions. There are a few spread out in Holland and is a great success. Next day there were a few tears but than there is always Skype, so not everything is lost. We were also happy to see Ronald & Elly who live in Belgium but very close to Liz brother Hugo. We saw there new home ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 22nd 2019

The war in Europe is over. Celebrating was fervent in North America - massive crowds filled Canadian streets - there were parades, band concerts, tickertape was dropped from the sky by aircraft -offices and some factories (not churning out war materials for the ongoing Pacific battles) closed and students left their classes to participate. There were many prayers and tears of relief. Many cities wisely prepared for the surrender announcement by ordering liquor stores and drinking establishments be closed to prevent over "exuberance" and potential looting. In the Netherlands there was great celebration as well - for the Dutch there was finally food and freedom - every village, street and house was decked with red, white and blue Dutch flags and orange streamers. The Canadians - Private Kelley included - were greeted with a tumultuous welcome. ... read more
Dad and Limo
Dad (left) and limo
Doug and Hazel’s wedding

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 21st 2019

August 21, 2019 Our last full day in Amsterdam. Today our plan is to explore as many neighborhoods as possible. This, of course, depends upon our feet; mine in particular! First up….Royal Palace. This is the palace? Really? Nah. REALLY? OK. Pass. I’m such a bitch. OH….there’s a store across the street. Here we come! This place is gorgeous! DeBijenkorf – I was wondering where all the nice designer merchandise was in this burg! No designer boutiques – just shops within this store. I thoroughly enjoy looking. No purchasing, even though both if us found many, MANY things which we could (should?) take home with us. NO. We shall be good. More walking. We eventually walked from our hotel all the way out to the locks where the Amstel meets the Sea. We wandered through old ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 20th 2019

Well - this is where my story of private Kelley resumes. In the beginning of 1945 - Private Kelley is back on the front lines - or somewhere up and down them - In the Netherlands. In the final months of WW II the Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands. From September 1944 - April 1945 the First Canadian Army fought German forces on the Scheldt Estuary - ordered to clear the wide & multi-channeled Scheldt to the North Sea - distance about 80 km and much of this in the Netherlands. By November 8th the estuary and largest islands had been secured - the rivers were cleared of mines - allowing the first convoy of allied cargo ships to enter Antwerp. The Canadian Army spent the winter patrolling ... read more
Groesbeek entrance
Groesbeek War Cemetary
Private H. C. Davies, age 24

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