And so it begins. We left Lise's parents house at 9:15 AM. We drove to Antwerpen, where we got lost and never found what we were looking for. Driving in European cities is not an easy task. After spending about an hour being lost in Antwerpen, we finally found our way out and continued our journey to The Hague, Netherlands. We stopped in Breda, Netherlands for lunch on our way there.
Breda is the first city on the border of The Netherlands when coming from the south. This makes it a popular city to visit for people that want to buy things that are only legal in the Netherlands (if you know what I mean). A good analogy would be driving to South Carolina from North Carolina to buy fireworks.
We stopped at a service station that had a couple restaurants as well as a gas station. We filled up our tank and decided to eat at McDonalds. The menu was similar and the prices were reasonable but ketchup and mayonnaise cost .60 euro each! The cashiers all spoke English very well so there was not a language barrier problem. There was a special room for bus drivers to eat which
Tried to get Escher's famous reflection self portrait in our own reflection selfie
I thought was pretty cool.
We also had to pay .30 euro to use the bathroom! The hand drying mechanism was a towel on two rollers that was dried and heated in the upper compartment that would be used and re-used by people pulling on it to dry their hands. We bought some Paprika flavored pringles at the gas station on the way out to eat on the road.
After our Pit stop, we drove another hour and a half to The Hague. Along the highway there were a number of windmills and wind turbines. The Netherlands is a very flat country and the winds can be very strong.
We got to The Hague around 1:30 but due to all the construction and changes in the roads, the GPS was utterly confused and useless. After asking half a dozen different people for directions we finally found our host's home at 2:30.
Elze and Menno (found through Airbnb) were happy to see us and showed us to our room. We talked briefly about our trip, things to do in the area, and the house, and then made our way out to go to the Escher Museum. On the way to the
Liberation Day Festival
To celebrate the end of WWII they have a celebration on May 5th every 5 years in the Netherlands. Mama Franko is on the stage killing it.
museum, there was a huge carnival with plenty of games and rides to celebrate liberation day. Liberation day is a celebration of the end of WWII and the end of German Occupation in the Netherlands. It is celebrated every 5 years and we just happened to be staying on this important night.
The Escher museum was very interesting. Lise and I had heard of what's called the "Escher effect" but hadn't really experienced it until halfway through the 3 floor museum. Your brain starts to get a little dizzy after experiencing enough optical illusions. We watched a short video on Escher's early art career, his experiments with tesselations, and his interest for optical illusions and perpsective art displayed his optical illusions drawings (waterfall) and tesselation drawings.The bottom floor of the museum was dedicated to his early art career and perspective drawings, the middle floor displayed his tesselations and reflection drawings, and the third floor showed some of his own optical illusions and there were also some hands on illusions. We bought some postcards at the gift shop before heading out at 5 PM when the museum closed.
After the museum closed we headed in the direction of some music that
we heard. There was another large festival for Liberation Day with live concerts, alcohol, merchants selling dutch stuff, and even a play area for kids. Every one was wearing a torch sticker on their cheek. We listened to one Dutch band that was very good that whose genre I can best describe as Dutch Polka. I couldn't really understand the language but I think that they said that they had just published a new album called "lets celebrate life". The band name was Mama Franko.
We left the festival and made our way to Madurodam. We asked one of the locals how far of a walk it was to Madurodam from the festival and they told us 15 minutes. They were mistaken unfortunately and it was closer to 45 minutes walk. The wind was terrible and we had to fight for every step of the way.
Madurodam is cheaper after 5 PM so we only paid 10 Euro each to get in. Madurodam is a large collection of 1:25 scale buildings of the most important and historically significant buildings in the Netherlands. There were models of power stations, canals, museums, palaces, windmills, and even concert halls. We were given a
Bike lane traffic cop
There were so many bikes that there were traffic cops just for pedestrian/bike areas (guy in yellow)
card at the entrance and the card could be used at various stations to watch a short video about a certain model or to activate an interactive model. Everything was incredibly detailed and intricate. We spent about 2 hours there but could've spent all day.
We took the tram back to where we were staying and met up with one of Lise's old friends Constantijn. We spent the rest of the evening drinking Dutch beers and catching up.
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