We left Brussels, entrusting ourselves to Jane. As we entered a tunnel I thought 'How will she know where we are?' but she managed to get us out of there through about 4 different interchanges - no way we would have coped by ourselves.
Once clear of Brussels it was plain sailing along the motorway towards Amsterdam. With instructions from Uncle Wim, we made it to Vinkeveen by about 4pm. It was a kind of park on the edge of a lake. There were about 35 members of his family there, swimming or mucking about in boats. Soon it was time for us to be seated at one of the function rooms which Uncle Wim had hired. He also paid for al the food and drinks.
We had booked a motel nearby, the Plashoeve. It was fairly old and the rooms quite basic, but it was pleasant enough. We used it as a base for further sightseeing, including a couple of trips to Utrecht.
We drove to the station and caught the train in as it was easier to park and ride. Utrecht is also a university town with an old centre. It also has a belltower (The Dom) with 465 steps which we climbed. We also visited a science museum nearby, but as we found in other museums, it was time for renovations, so many sections were closed. A canal cruise was interesting, showing the old two-level warehouses.
One of the very interesting sites in Utrecht is the Railway Museum, full of old steam and diesel engines. Also full of kids on excursion - they loved it.
From Vinkeveen we went to Delft, the home of the famous blue china. Appropriately, many of the tourist tat on sale as "Delf" is in fact made in China. After a pleasant lunch in the square with another thousand tourists, we enjoyed the Military Museum. From there, we headed to The Hague where we stayed in the Petit Hotel. This was quite comfortable, with free street parking across the road.
Next morning we headed out by bus to see the Escher Museum. What a fascinating place! Many of his works were on display and we spent about 3 hours looking at them all. After lunch there, we walked to the nearby Maurits House Museum with many Rembrandts, Vermeers, etc, etc. We spent a few more hours here, unfortunately as with many other museums, no photos allowed.
|2011-09-29 Escher and Maurithuis|
After a walk through the Binnenhof we caught the bus back to the hotel, got in the car and headed for Amsterdam. Jane gave us a bum steer and took us off a motorway straight into a traffic jam! Nevertheless we finally found our way to the Conscious Hotel near Museum Square. Unfortunately, here there was no free street parking, only pay-and-display spots (full!) at 4 Euro per hour! I went into a parking station through lack of choice, it was even more expensive. Luckily 10pm to 9am is free, so after dinner I was able to find a spot.
Next morning Marjolein joined us at the hotel for a day seeing her Amsterdam. We caught the tram into town and visited yet another museum, this time a wealthy merchant's house (Museum van Loon) on one of the grand canals. It was quite a large house, with garden and coachhouse behind. Lunch was taken on top of a new hotel near Centraal, then we arranged to meet Peter and Alison for afternoon tea near Muntplein. They were getting Burrabilla settled in the marina for the winter. That night we took our washing to the laundry while we ate kebabs on the footpath. While we waited for the laundry to be finished we wandered about, looking at the many crowed bars and restaurants in the area.
Saturday afternoon Paul went off to the NEMO Science centre which is mainly a fun thing for kids, but still entertaining for adults. That night we were invited to have dinner with Annalies and Jan.
On Sunday we went to the opening session of the National Maritime Museum (yes another one!). It had been more than 4 years under renovation, and opened by Queen Beatrix the previous night. We expected that it would have been very busy but in fact it wasn't when we arrived. It certainly filled up later by which time we had seen quite a lot. There was a replica of the Batavia to explore apart from the many displays on 4 floors. Well worth a visit. We had lunch (slow! but it was the staff's first day) in the restaurant before heading off to the Van Gogh Museum. The security was pretty tight with X-ray examination of all bags on entry. The collection was great, with Sunflowers the centrepiece.
It was only a couple of blocks back to the hotel to collect our bags, then catch the #94 bus to Schipol for our flight back to KL and Langkawi.
So ended a most interesting holiday. We had no real idea of how the time after Burrabilla would pan out, but we were grateful for the assistance of our long-lost family members in making it a most memorable one. We saw many (how many?) museums, not so many cathedrals this time.