As I mentioned on my post about our trip to Edinburgh, Dina & I have decided that November 2011 was a travel month. Our second trip was to the Netherlands, staying in Haarlem with former colleague & friend Alex, but predominately to visit Amsterdam, the capital.
Again we both travelled separately from our respective homes, Dina from Belfast & I from London and this time we both landed within minutes of each other in Schiphol Airport on the Friday evening. The Netherlands is a pretty small place which is very well organised so after we’d met up with Alex, we hit the trains and were back in Haarlem within 25 minutes.
Walking around Haarlem city centre, it was easy to see that it is beautifully old & preserved, with it’s cobbled streets, cathedral and quaint shops. According to Alex, it’s actually an older town than Amsterdam. So once the bags were dumped we headed out for a wander around & some food, sampling ‘Bitterballen’ a sort of potato delicacy with breadcrumbs… which was quite nice once it had cooled from it’s ‘nuclear-reactor’ type temperatures.
On the Saturday we headed into Amsterdam, particularly to see the Anne Frank House museum and the Vincent Van Gogh museum. We sort of ambled towards the Anne Frank House first, through the flat & cobbled streets, we turned the corner to discover a huge queue to the museum… which immediately put us off… so we decided to scrap it until the morning & head for the Van Gogh.
A short walk later we were queuing into the museum (thankfully a much shorter queue!) and shortly looking a world famous paintings. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a culture vulture (I thought the hour we spent in the National Art Gallery in Edinburgh a fortnight a go one of the longest of the month!) but in here, it was all about the main man. Van Gogh’s paintings were unique, stylish and, bluntly, worth looking at. There were many other artists displayed (influences, peers, etc.) who just didn’t hold my interest at all… I’d even hazard that the sprinkling of Monet’s weren’t as interesting as the Van Gogh’s… though they were excellent too.
Aside from that, the day was spent meandering about streets before looking for somewhere to eat… which was bit of a mission. Alex had decided on a particular restaurant, across town, but when we got there it was rammed… so the usual bizarre, aimless wandering around ensued before we found a French restaurant which had a short wait time for a table… and that was followed by a pretty good meal before returning to Haarlem.
Sunday saw us return to Amsterdam for the Anne Frank House museum… something which I’d done before, but something Dina really wanted to do. The Anne Frank story is a quite sombre one, but an important one & it really is something we should be all aware of.
Another meander around Amsterdam saw us head for the Airport… where, approximately 110 minutes ahead of take off I discovered that I’d left my passport in Alex’s apartment in Haarlem… so 35 minutes later and 85 Euro later I’m back at the Airport after a mad taxi dash. A few goodbyes – first to Alex and secondly to Dina I’m at my gate & headed back to London…
Still, not long until I’m home again soon & get to see my fiancée again.