Friday, August 10, 2018

The Netherlands

After leaving Verdun, the next destination was north to The Netherlands.
First stop Amsterdam, and second was Leiden.

These were two great stops and the order that we did them in was perfect too.

Our drive from Verdun took about 5 hours.  Starting on some 2-lane, we had a nice
drive north thru the French countryside.

Our destination was the Amsterdam P+R Arena.
A large sports complex where the local Soccer team plays, there is a special parking
garage attached that serves as the park & ride facility for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, in an attempt to reduce traffic, has pursued a stick and carrot approach.
The stick is exorbitantly expensive and limited parking options in the city center.
The carrot is a great transportation system, adjacent parking, with very low rates for both.

North on A2 Approaching Amsterdam
Pulling into the Bijlmer Arena parking, we follow the signs for P+R.
Entering the garage we push the button for a P+R parking ticket.

Parking the car, we get our train tickets at the Blue P+R machines and
head out of the garage into the Arena Complex.

The Burger Bitch is our landmark for finding the correct parking door when we return. 

Burger Bitch at Bijlmer Arena
It's a short walk to the adjacent Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena Train station.

Bijjlmer Arena Train Station
Only €5.00 for our two round-trip tickets. 
We wait for the Metro 54 which will take us 30 minutes into the city center.

Amsterdam Bijlmer Train Station Platform
Our train arrives right on time, and the doodles get to experience 
one more new mode of transportation.

On the ride into the city, Gracie made friends with a passenger, and jumped up
into her lap and enjoyed the ride.

Riding the Metro 54 into Amsterdam Center.


We exit the metro at Nieuwmarkt Station, one stop before Central Station.

Our home for the next 4 nights is a lovely flat on a canal right in the middle of
the UNESCO World Heritage Canal Zone.

The view from our flat in Amsterdam
Conveniently located in the middle of everything and walking distance to all the sights,
yet on a quiet canal - it was a prefect place to enjoy this great city.

One day we took the dogs for a nice long walk to Vondelpark.
Its the main park in Amsterdam and a great place to people watch and see how
people spend a beautiful summer afternoon.

Vondelpark in Amsterdam
On the way back from the park we stopped at a sidewalk cafe for some lunch and drinks.
Amsterdam is an extremely friendly dog city.

Gracie orders a cocktail
By the time that we got back to our apartment, we had put almost 6 miles on the little Doodle Paws.

Another day trip was to the Maritime Museum where we boarded the
East Indiaman  Sailing VesselAmsterdam.

It was called an East Indiaman as were all other ships of the time that were engaged
in trade with East India - know known as Asia.

East Indiaman Amsterdam

The Dutch have a proud seafaring heritage and the museum covered all aspects of this
along with a replica of the sailing vessel Amsterdam.

A section of the museum is dedicated to Dutch seafaring art.

Art in the Amsterdam Maritime Museum
Around every corner is another canal and another beautiful view.

This is a view of our apartment from the bridge across the canal.
Our flat is the windows (right center) with the red shades pulled.

The church behind us had Carillon Church Bells that chimed a song on the quarter and
half hours plus on the hour.   Once you learned the songs you could tell the time by them.

One of the quirky things about Amsterdam are the leaning houses.
Built upon soft ground - the houses all lean one way or the other.

Leaning house in Amsterdam
They lean to the left and to the right.
And they lean to the front and to the back.

Leaning houses on a canal
While here we really wanted to visit the Anne Frank Museum, but it turns out that you need
to reserve you tickets 2 months in advance.   I tried to get the few same day tickets that
come available at 0900 - but luck did not shine on us.

We did walk over to that side of town to see the house, but
you must buy tickets online if you wish to get in.

After 4 great nights in town, on Saturday morning we headed off to our next
destination Leiden, Holland.

Again, we took the metro 54 back to Bijlmer Arena.

In order to qualify for the low parking rates (€1/day) you need to follow the rules precisely.
Check out of the city center (scan your ticket), travel to the garage.
Then at the red P+R machine, insert your parking ticket, and scan your
train ticket..   then Voila'  like magic our total parking bill for 3 1/2 days was €3.80!

Red P+R Machines where you check out and Pay for parking

Kinderdijk, Holland

On the way to Leiden, we stopped to visit the UNESCO listed windmills at Kinderdijk.
Seeing the windmills gently turning in the breeze was like something out of a fairy tale.

Windmills at Kinderdijk

A windmill as Kinderdijk
The doodles - always happy to strike a pose.
They are such good travelers and have been more places than most people.

A pair of Dutch Doodles

Leiden, Holland

Our next stop in our visit to The Netherlands was the beautiful city of Leiden.
After the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, this beautiful city was just what the doctored ordered.

The view below was steps away from our front door.

Leiden Holland Windmill
We walked to the local market to get some groceries.
The view below is from a bridge across the canal we stayed on.

We walked to the local park along a canal juste steps from our door.
Leiden is working at connecting all their parks to create one ring around the old city.

Below - where the Nieuwe Rijn and Oude Rijn meet

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Leiden is a stunning very livable town.
With all the beauty of Amsterdam - without the crowds.
There are places to eat or have a drink everywhere.

A nice treat at our Air BnB here was that our host  Frans, took us for a ride of all the canals
in his boat.   It was a great way to spend a Monday morning.

Frans takes us for a ride.
A canalboat converted into a houseboat 

Around every corner - a new vista!

Below - one of the old gates of the city. 

About 90 minutes later - our ride was over.

4 days passed in no time and it was time for us to move on again.
Before we left - I snapped the picture below of our car in front of our apartment.
The apartment is just in front of the car - green doors behind the bicycles.

Our Air BnB in Leiden
A wider view of our apartment on the canal.

Our time was wonderful in this special city.
This is really one place that we could come back to and spend more time....
and probably will.

We really want to come back here during Tulip season.

The local Keukenhof Gardens is only open during tulip season, but when it is open,
it puts on a world class show.

Below are two photo taken during the spring season.

Now you can see why I want to come back.

Keukenhof Gardens in Spring

We are now in another European Jewel...
The Medieval Belgian City of Brugge.

We are here for 4 nights and then it's time to wrap up our time here on the continent.
On Sunday we'll head to a Holiday Inn in Calais, France.

Monday morning we turn in our leased car and take the train thru
the Chunnel to England were we pick up a car with that crazy
backwards steering and we go thru that whole driving on the wrong side
of the road adventure again.

This time it should be just a tad easier since I'm now an old pro at it
with a whopping 4 days under my belt.

Stay tuned -  there's plenty more to come!

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