Home -> Europe -> Netherlands -> Travelogue Netherlands -> 24 March 2006
Friday 24 March, visiting Amsterdam and Delft
We think it's very early when the alarm goes well before 7:30. Fortunately, we do not have to have breakfast yet because we will do that later at Schiphol. We are not the only ones that check out, there are also early flights so the Ibishotel near Schiphol is an ideal place to spend the night. An idea for when we have to fly early again or come back very late.
We are expected in the Schiphol Press Room, a place behind the check-in desks where we had never been before. We were very surprised when we received Flyglobespan's invitation, because after all we are just private individuals with some travel sites, who happen to be absorbed by Scotland, but otherwise we do not have commercial travel connections. We do not have to search long and after a while we are admitted to the catacombs (it seems so with the low ceilings) where journalists usually wait for film and football stars for the first interview after a flight.
We are met by a bagpipe player who loudly plays his beautiful music. The ceiling being so low is now very unfortunate, because now it sounds very loud, almost painful for our ears. And it is so very early! No wonder the Scottish regiments took bagpipers with them, if you wake up like this, you want to flee very quickly from your enemy!
In this company we get a presentation about the new price fighters flight between Amsterdam and Glasgow Flyglobespan and during and after breakfast we chat with the people who are there. Networking, it seems to be important, nowadays. You never know what those contacts are good for! Elisabeth has only discovered one flaw: her favorite (so festive) Scottish breakfast consists of toast with fried eggs and exactly those are not served here! While we eat our breakfast, the first flight from Glasgow arrives at Schiphol airport to fly back later with the first people.It is an ideal flight for a short weekend trip. The disadvantage is that the flight from Glasgow to the Netherlands during the week is very early (around 7 o'clock), but when you leave on a Friday at 9:20 and take the flight back from Sunday at 6:15 pm, you have more than 2.5 days in Glasgow.
All in all, we are happy that we have accepted this invitation, after all you do not have breakfast at Schiphol every day and it was a nice excuse (as if we would ever need that ...) to take a short break. We are curious to see if we will ever enter the press rooms of Schiphol again, probably not! We leave Schiphol now and take the train to Amsterdam Central.
It is already cold, and today the sun is not shining and now and then it is drizzling. Today we walk first to the southwest, away from the station, through the Zeedijk and along all kinds of nice canal houses. On the pictures you can see that the houses here have their foundations in the canals, it seems like we are in Venicee.The Zeedijk is one of the older streets in Amsterdam and protected the city for a long time against the water of the IJ. We walk past Café In 't Aepjen at number 1 but later we read an entertaining story about it: in former times monkeys were sometimes kept by traders and guests got quite often got itches from the vermin that the monkeys had taken with them. For example, the expression 'staying in the monkey' ended up in the Dutch language meaning that you are in a bad place.
However, we are more interested in this Chinese, Buddhist temple that we did not expect here. However, many Chinese live in this part of the city and it is striking that most street signs are not only in Dutch but also in Chinese!
After wandering around in the Chinatown of Amsterdam we arrive at the Nieuwmarkt where we are surprised by the Waag, a castle-like building. Originally it was a city gate (Sint Antoniegate) and the building is higher than you see here because part of it has disappeared underground when the square was raised. This building, like so many monuments here, has a rich history, but you can read more about it elsewhere on the internet (in Wikipedia, for example). Now there is a luxurious café.
After a long circular walk we arrive at the Rembrandtplein where we are ready for another cup of coffee. Then we walk through the Amstelstraat to the Waterlooplein where we of course visit the flea market. But we do not find anything nice and we decide we have seen enough of Amsterdam for today. There is a lot more to see and do in Amsterdam, but we want to visit other towns too.
We go once more to the Dam where now all kinds of artists try to imitate their colleagues at Barcelona. But here the statues can not stand still and they all point indignantly at their money box when someone takes a photo without paying. We pay nothing and zoom in from a distance.
We zigzag through the streets to return to the station where construction of the new, billions-worthy, metro line is going on. Cities like London and Berlin and many others are far ahead of our capital in that respect. You wonder if that money will ever be recouped, it will probably be paid by our tax money.Time to go back to the hotel and pick up the car. We must & euro; 12,50 pay for parking (almost 24 hours), a lot cheaper than if we had parked the car in a parking garage in Amsterdam. We take all kinds of back roads to drive to the south and we still have time enough to see another town. We choose Delft, where we may have once been in our youth, but we are mot sure.
We can park for free outside the center and walk into the center through the Oostpoort, the only surviving city gate that was built around 1400. We are jealous when we see that it is nowadays privately owned and used as a home, a very nice place to live!Until the seventeenth century, Delft was one of the major cities of Holland and is of course best known because William of Orange was murdered here in 1584. Previously, the Oranjes lived in Breda, where they were buried, but during the Eighty Years' War with Spain in the 16th century, Breda fell into the hands of the Spanish and Willem became the first of a long series of Oranges that were buried in Delft from now on. Delft itself, however, became less and less important and was later eclipsed by cities such as The Hague and Rotterdam.
The name Delft comes from the word 'delving', in this case the mining of a canal and here too many can be found. Actually we are quite surprised how much water there is to be found in the cities in the Randstad. The Netherlands is a water-rich country, but especially in the west and south, creative solutions have been devised for this and in the past water was seen not only as an enemy, but also as a friend who could help protect the city against the enemy.
Via the Beestenmarkt we walk to the center of the historic city. It is still cold and the sky is completely gray. Here too it is very quiet on the street, probably everyone is sitting in front of the stove at home. And they are right, we also better go inside some pub to eat a hot bowl of soup.
On the Market is the Nieuwe Kerk, with the second highest church (that is the Dom in Utrecht) of the Netherlands. However, the building in the picture is another church that looks much more imposing from the square with this weather, the Maria van Jessekerk. In the Nieuwe Kerk lies the tomb of William of Orange and the tombs of the royal house.
The Oude Kerk (left) is the oldest church in Delft (the building started in about 1200) and the tower is a bit crooked, which we did not even notice at first. Here are buried also a number of well-known Dutch people such as Piet Hein and Anthony van Leeuwenhoek. From there it is not far to the Prinsenhof where Willem van Oranje was a regular guest when it was still called the Sint-Agatha Monastery. He was finally killed by Balthasar Gerards.
We take all kinds of nice back streets with historic buildings to walk back to the car. Delft is a very nice city to walk through, but the weather does bother us and we are sorry that we could not have made better pictures. Of course there is much more to see (and do) than what we encounter on our short walk, but you can visit the website of Delft itself. It is definitely worth a visit!At the end of the afternoon we make a nice trip on all narrow roads through the Randstad, so you do not necessarily have to stand in a traffic jam! The most beautiful place was along a long dike road where we saw three windmills in the field. An agricultural area where you can almost not imagine that it is located near the busiest places in the Netherlands. Unfortunately we did not take many pictures (again because of the gray skies), but it is definitely a nice trip.
We then head for our hotel in Leiderdorp and tell our navigation to avoid highways. All around us we see traffic jams on the motorways, but we drive quietly over secondary roads directly to the hotel and only have to wait for a traffic light. We are happy that we do not live and work here, traffic jams are nothing for us, no matter how restful it must be to sit quietly in your car because you can not go anywhere.