Place Stanislas - Fontaine de Neptune, Nancy France

Place Stanislas - Fontaine de Neptune, Nancy France

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22 April 2018

Netherlands Field Report 8 – Day 7 / Amsterdam

Steps today: 24 085

We slept in today!! Instead of getting up at 6 and being out the door at 7, this time we were up at 7 and out the door by 8.

We decided last night to finally use our imagination for breakfast and we picked up some supplies at the grocery store the night before. We don’t have a mini-fridge in the room so it limits our options, but we got some bread rolls and packaged sliced gouda and it was fine.

Then, the universe being an evil trickster, we discovered this morning the place RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET is open for breakfast at 8. And I swear, saying across the street makes it sound too far; it’s perhaps 3 strides away. After picking our jaws off the floor, we rationalized that our method of being out the door at the crack of dawn is still the better way to go because we are making the most of our days.

Here’s a look at the Haarlem train station we see every day:

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Today we spent the day in Amsterdam again because we bought tickets to the Anne Frank House Museum. I really hate “appointment sight seeing” where you have to be somewhere for a certain time because it removes all flexibility from our schedule – but in some cases it really is unavoidable.

We started the day at the boat docks looking at all the river cruise boats, there must have been about 10. My mom had the same reaction as I did when I first saw one: blown away by the length of them! I totally didn’t think to take any pictures since the cruise I took in 2011 still feels fresh in my mind. Instead, here’s a view of Amsterdam from the station…

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Once done, around 9:45 or so, we decided we’d go to the general area near the Anne Frank House and explore that neighbourhood some more since our entry time was 11:45AM. On the way, we checked out the Cat Shelter Boat again, and I did see a cat but he hid before I could take a picture.

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We stopped for a coffee around 10:15 and I decided to check our tickets just to make sure I had the right time and it’s a good thing I did because they were for 2:30PM! Where on earth did I get the idea it was for 11:45???  All I can say is thank God the mix up was not the other way around.

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So, now that we had a lot more of time on our hands, we went wandering.

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These lights caught my eye because they are tinted green. I wonder why? Just because, or is there a specific reason?

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We went to the Tulip Museum which was really great! Very interesting and educational.

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Next, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum which really is just a cheese shop with a kitchy display on how cheese is made. Thankfully there was no charge! … but all the free cheese samples made it worthwhile. The goat gouda with truffles was exceptional.

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From there, we walked around the area of the Noorderkerk which was as unremarkable to me as it was the last time. I realize now when looking at the map that the Brouwersgracht which I was searching for was even more to the north… we gave up too soon.

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Then by about 12:15 we stopped for lunch, the first time we found a shady spot in the “across the street from the restaurants in a little clutch of tables by a canal” setting. BOY do Europeans ever enjoy the sun. Not us!

By 1, with 90 minutes to kill, we walked to the Begijnhof which was full of flowers the last time I saw it and was a whole lot of nothing to us this time. We snapped a few pictures and took a few wrong turns walking back to the Anne Frank House and nearly died from the heat – it was getting up to around 26/27 with the humidity. UGH. We made it back in time with 10 minutes to spare.

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The Anne Frank House Museum was great. Compared to the last time I saw it (10 years ago) there were fewer artefacts on display due to the restoration work, but I think it was still better this time. The audio-video displays and guide made all the difference. I will want to come back again when the work is done.

No pictures allowed, so all I have for you is an image of the people with a 2:15 entry time waiting in line.

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We wanted to go to the Amsterdam History Museum too, but it was 4PM by the time we were done at A.F.H. and the History museum closed at 5PM. Not wanting to feel rushed, we decide to save it for another day and instead go to the main square for a drink.  My mom’s been watching a webcam of the Dam Square for ages so we went to sit at a table in the Europub cafe that she said always caught her eye. The wind really picked up by then so we cooled down a lot.

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Our final plans for the day was to go to the garden terrace at the Nemo Science Museum and see what the view was like from up there… Here are a few shots of the views on the way.

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The pictures from the Garden Terrace are not easy – we were shooting against the sun.

Still a nice image, I think.

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We got back to Haarlem by 6:30 and had dinner at an Italian restaurant 4 doors down from the hotel.

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Another great full day!

21 April 2018

Netherlands Field Report 7 – Day 6 / Den Haag (The Hague)

Steps today: 24 890… would have been a lot more if I had not been holding my phone in my left hand (The Fitbit Arm) to use the map as often as I did today.

The Hague was a beautiful city, we loved it! So picturesque and lively… in fact I warn you: This post is heavy on pictures!!

We took the train route from Haarlem that transfers in Leiden to see the fields of flowers in the country side; it’s just like the postcards. Strips of vibrant colours.  I didn’t get any pictures because it was hard to do from where I was sitting, but I’ll have another chance next time I take the train.

We had a tricky time taking pictures of the sights in the morning because we were constantly shooting into the sun, it got better later in the day but it means I have pictures of everthing in triplicate if not more so I will have a lot of culling to do when I get home.

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This is a Pinocchio drawn on the street with various foreign coins! So neat!

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Some look like they have been pried off!

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And of course…  flowers!

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This picture in particular has a bad memory attached to it: I was zooming in to try and get all the Dutch flags and crown signs when some asshole said to me “What if the people don’t want to be in the picture!”. OK, I get his point, but he was making a lot of assumptions AND being rude! … he is nowhere in this picture anyway and I was tempted to arrogantly tell him I was focusing way beyond him and why would I want a picture of his sourpuss face anyway??? Instead, I just smiled and he then said: “why are you laughing?”. He didn’t stop walking while he ranted at me, thank godness, that was really unpleasant.

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I won’t tell you about breakfast, you already can conclude how that went, so you’ll know why we stopped for lunch around 11AM. It was so nice to eat outside!

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Once we were done, we went to the Escher Museum which interestingly is in an Old Royal Palace (no longer lived it since I think 1945). Great venue, it was like a double museum.

It was not easy to take pictures because of the reflection on the glass, so some are not straight on, doesn’t matter, we know his classics well enough!

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The whole place had really unsual chandeliers!

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After that, it was off to the Mauritshuis Museum to see above all else: The Girl With The Pearl Earring. Terrific.

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From there, we walked to the Peace Palace – and again the sun was in the wrong spot!!!

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And we ended the day at the beach (on the North Sea).

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We were too tired to walk back to the train station from the beach (about 6km), so we took the sardine can, I mean tram back. Many places including public transportation busses, cafes and shops don’t take cash – only cards, it's really moving towards a cashless society here! I don’t want to use my card unless I absolutely have to, so I was relieved to see they accepted cash on the tram.

They say: no cash, no robberies. My reply to that is: even the petty thieves are losing their jobs!

On the way back to Haarlem, again we took the route that changes in Leiden so we could see the flower fields, but again I had no luck with pictures.

That’s it for today, the weather was hot but not as much as the last 2 days – it was something like 20C feels like 23C. Tomorrow afternoon it might rain, and then the temps fall off a cliff! Today might have been our last blue-sky, eat-outside day…  we’ll see!

Here’s a shot of our view walking back to the hotel from the train station.

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And this is a blurry picture of the view from our hotel room of the ferris wheel at the fun fair in Haarlem’s main square

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Good night!