The second time I traveled to Europe was in September of 2002, when my husband and I made a eighteen-day trip that included parts of Germany and the Netherlands. Throughout this trip, my husband kept a journal of our activities, while I took pictures.
I am sharing the highlights of the trip over a few consecutive posts, trying to follow my husband’s journal, adding comments as I go. Since that trip, many things have changed in the way I travel.
Over the past few weeks, I wrote about our time in Germany. If you missed these posts, you can catch up here: My Second Trip to Europe – Part One, My Second Trip to Europe – Part Two, and My Second Trip to Europe – Part Three.
Now, I’ll continue our adventures in the Netherlands…
Day Twelve (9/20)
After breakfast with our hosts, we drove to a nearby train station and took the train into Amsterdam. We had to change trains in Amersfoot before continuing to Amsterdam Centraal.
We purchased a full day tram pass so we could get around the city. My husband allowed me to choose one art museum to visit (not his favorite thing to do). I chose the famous Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch was the highlight, but we also enjoyed other works by Rembrandt and his countrymen, Vermeer, Cuyp, and Van Gogh.
After lunch at Amsterdam’s Hard Rock Cafe, we explored a couple of the markets – the Bloemenmarkt and Albert Cuyp Markt. We toured the Heineken Experience and then enjoyed a canal cruise. We crammed in all the touristy experiences we could in one day. We ate dinner at the well-known Indonesian restaurant, Sama Sebo.
My husband wrote, “Amsterdam was busy, noisy, and kind of crazy. It was not too easy to get there with the train, so we decided not to go there again.” I don’t remember having the same first experience as my husband. Since that time, I’ve been back to the city and enjoyed it – and trains in Europe are very easy.
Day Thirteen (9/21)
Since we had decided not to return to Amsterdam, we made different plans for our day with help from our hosts.
We were staying in the central part of the Netherlands, but drove back north to see if we could visit the windmill in Joure. We were pleased that they were open and allowing visitors. The volunteer gave us a free private tour and were able to purchase a couple grain bags printed with our family name.
We visited the town of Guithoorn – famous because it is still navigated entirely via canals. We walked through the town, along the canals, over bridges, and out to the adjoining lake before stopping at a small restaurant along the canal for lunch.
After lunch, we drove to Arnhem to visit the military museum there. The Battle of Arnhem took place in September, so there were veterans, military vehicles, and current military personnel commemorating the event. We visited the military cemetery before returning to the home of our hosts for a home-cooked Dutch dinner.
Day Fourteen (9/22)
We left the home of our generous hosts after breakfast. They had recommended visiting the Open Air Museum, a collection of old buildings representing a village. We found it somewhat interesting, but thought it was better suited to school children learning Dutch history. It didn’t help that it started raining when we were there.
We found a pancake restaurant for lunch, before driving further south to the home of our next hosts – again, distant relatives. We visited for a bit in the afternoon and then went to the evening church service with them. Their church was similar to ours at home, although it was entirely in Dutch so we didn’t understand much of it. After church, we had a light supper and visited for the rest of the evening.
Day Fifteen (9/23)
We got up early and went to Aalsmeer to see the flower market. It was amazing! Around 20 million flowers are sold through this auction each day.
The flowers are sold in Dutch auction style with a large price given first. The price is lowered a little at a time until someone agrees to purchase the lot of flowers. Beware though, the process goes very quickly. Buyers need to be ready to push their “purchase” button immediately when the new price comes up, if they have any hope of winning the bid.
After a while at the auction, we drove on to Delft. We took an interesting tour of the porcelain factory and purchased one small piece as a souvenir. (A few years later, I was able to purchase the companion piece).
After lunch in a café, we saw the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk. The Nieuwe Kerk holds graves of many of the Royal Family, including William of Orange. We enjoyed the city so much that we decided to scrap our plans of driving to Leiden, and spend more time in Delft. I climbed to the top of the church tower and we spent some time shopping.
We decided to do something different and ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Imagine our difficulty in ordering from a server who spoke only Chinese and Dutch – we spoke neither. The menu had pictures – which helped – and we were able to choose food we liked. We returned to the home of our host relatives, visiting until bedtime.
Day Sixteen (9/24)
We ate breakfast and visited as our host’s kids left for school. We made our way to Rotterdam for an 11 am boat tour of the harbor. It is the busiest harbor in the world, so the tour was interesting.
After the tour, we drove to Kinderdijk. We ate lunch in a café and then visited the windmills. It was quite windy so the windmill was turning swiftly. We could feel the power.
We saw a fisherman catching crabs and eel in the canals. My husband found him as interesting as the windmills.
We drove to St. Annaland to the last hosts of our trip. We ate supper with these distant relatives and visited for the evening.
Day Seventeen (9/25)
After breakfast, we drove to the town of Veere. It is a small old fishing village with a fort. We walked around a did a little shopping.
We drove on to the Delta Works – a permanent exhibit about flood control for the Zeeland deltas. My husband wasn’t impressed, but I thought it was very interesting. We had lunch in the picturesque town of Zerikzee before returning to the home of our hosts. We took a walk through the friendly, quiet town of St. Annaland.
Day Eighteen (9/26)
We had a little time in the morning before we had to leave so we toured the St. Annaland molen. The mill, built in 1680, still grinds flour and can mill 500 kilos per hour.
After saying goodbye, left at 11:00 for Schiphol Airport. We returned our car and checked our luggage.
About halfway into the flight, in was announced that we would be landing in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada for a medical emergency. We circled over the ocean for nearly an hour while they dumped fuel. We were not aware until we landed, but the airport was small and the runway was short. There were several emergency vehicles waiting for us, anticipating possible problems. As soon as the sick man had left the plane, we continued on our way and arrived home safely.
A Great Trip
The trip was great and reinforced my passion for travel. I’ve taken several trips since this one, learning more each time. Although most of my travel has been in North America and Europe, I continue to dream about other destinations.
My husband had always been the journaler in the family. When his illness no longer allowed him to travel, he insisted I keep a journal for my trips. My travel journals and new travels continue to inspire me to write the blogs on this website.
Thank you for sticking with me. I hope you continue to enjoy reading the posts as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.