Travels in Holland: Haarlem (May 29, 2014)

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Attractions:

  • Grote Markt
  • Frans Hals Museum
  • Molen de Adriaan
  • Kathedrale Basiliek St. Bavo [St. Bavo’s Cathedral]
The brave maid and her companion, Haarlem, Holland

The brave maid and her companion, Haarlem, Holland

In the early morning, the town of Haarlem awaits us. We arrive in the quaint town passing by a memorial commemorating the brave maid and her proud companion. Following the lazily, winding cobbled stone paths, we watch as store vendors clean their shop and creative restaurant artists doodle caricatures on the store windows. Then, we enter the heart of Haarlem—the Grote Markt (Big Market). From there, we take in the sights and sounds before choosing our next destination.

Haarlem is a short journey by train from Amsterdam (about 20 minutes) and is easily navigated by foot. Following the main street from the train station, several shops and small restaurants line both sides of the street as one goes toward the town center—the Grote Markt.

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The Grote Markt is the main square with the most important buildings of the town, including the town hall (see below), Grote Kerk (leftmost building in above image), and many restaurants for a savvy adventurer to try. On certain days, there are market days selling clothing and other goods. Unfortunately, the church was closed the day we visited so we could not explore the interior.
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Travels in Holland: Amsterdam (May 26-27 and 30-31, 2014)

Park in the Museum-Kwartier, Amsterdam, Holland


Park in the Museum-Kwartier, Amsterdam, Holland

Attractions:

  • I amsterdam letters photo site (May 26)
  • Hard Rock Café (May 26)
  • Van Gogh Museum (May 27)
  • Anne Frank Huis [Anne Frank Museum] (May 27)
  • Stedelijk Museum (May 30)
  • Rijiksmuseum (May 31)
  • Gassen Diamond Factory (May 31)

Ring! Ring! The sound of a bicycle bell snaps me back to attention as I allow the bicycle to pass. Here in Amsterdam—along with its busy, winding cobbled streets and canals—the bicycle is the most common form of transportation. In the early morning, from the veranda of Hotel Aalders, one can hear the soft pedaling of several bicyclists heading for work or school. From the hotel, if one heads down the street and around the corner, one can see the hubbub of parents on bicycles taking their children to school. What surprise to see mothers in heels skillfully maneuvering their bicycles and charges through the traffic to school!

Prior to our tour with Trafalgar, my family and I arrived four days early in Amsterdam to explore the city on our own. We stayed at Hotel Aalders, conveniently located in the Museum-Kwartier (Museum Quarter) within walking distance of the Rijiksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, diamond factories, and Stedelijk Museum. Public transportation in Amsterdam is very convenient—a tram cuts through the center of the city, making it easy to visit the important sights of the city.

Tip: If you are planning to stay at least 3 days and 3 nights in Amsterdam, it may be wise to invest in the I amsterdam city card. The perks are unlimited public transportation usage of the metro, tram, and bus; and some free admissions or discounts at participating vendors/restaurants. There are three options: 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour cards. See the official website for details.

I amsterdam letters in the Museum-Kwartier

I amsterdam letters in the Museum-Kwartier

On the dreary morning we arrived, we checked in at the hotel and then took a walk in the Museum-Kwartier. We passed by the closed museums and headed to the iconic I amsterdam letters, where we took photos. Passing through the tidy park, we passed by the ornately decorated Rijksmuseum as we headed towards the main city center.

Rijiksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland

Rijiksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland

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