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July 15, 2005

Sightseeing and Life in The Netherlands

Since we've been staying in Haarlem, we've set up house and also gone on a couple of trips around the area to see the sights.

We're settled in to our place in Haarlem. This is what our toiletries look like after many months in Europe. We have a small couch, and a kitchen. Here is the view out the back window.

Matt got a new hairdo: before, after.

We have been to the beach, just a twenty minute bus ride, and swam in the North Sea. It sounds cold, but the water is quite warm from the Gulf Stream. We have also toured around the dunes that lie between the sea and Haarlem. There are fresh water lakes in the dunes, and many kilometers of trails for hiking, biking and horse riding. There is a cell phone tower disguised as a large tree (the "tree" is not like any of the native trees in the area, and it's larger too, so it still sticks out.)

We have been to Amsterdam a couple of times, just fifteen minutes by train from Haarlem. It's a big, busy metropolitan city, with many people riding around on bicycles. They've been having transit strikes recently, and we got a lot of exercise walking around when we arrived one day when the tram and bus drivers were on strike. We went to the Rijksmuseum, which is one of major houses of traditional Dutch golden age (17th century) paintings, i.e. Rembrant, Vermeer, et al. One of the most amazing things we learned here is the prevelance of doll houses from this time that were so incredibly decked out in finery, down to the miniature silverware and china. We also went next door to the Van Gogh Museum, and saw many of the paintings that Vincent didn't sell during his lifetime.

When you hear "Edam", you think cheese. We went to the town the cheese is named after. On Wednesdays during the summer, they re-create the old cheese auctions for the tourists, right down to the wooden shoes. Here are some shots of the happenings: cheesie, cheesier, cheesiest, cheese-r-riffic. We visited the museum in the oldest brick house in town, a very large chuch they are very proud of, and saw some typical drawbridges over the many canals. Here we are taking the atmosphere.

We went to the Aalsmere flower auction, the largest in the world. It was really something else. The flowers are shipped in from all over the world, traded by sellers and buyers, then shipped back out to points all over the globe. It all takes place in one of the largest commercial buildings in the world, an immense warehouse larger than the area of 250 football (soccer) fields.

There's still lots more to do and see; we'll be reporting, so stay tuned to this same blog-story on this same blog-station.

And don't be afraid to write a comment of your own, we love to hear from everyone.

Posted by Matt & Robin on July 15, 2005 08:10 AM
Category: Europe

Hi y'all, I've totally been lurking on your blog for the past year!! Darci gives me updates sometimes too.

A couple of must do's in norther Europe -
1. Go to Ghent, Belgium - I used to live there! It's a lovely city and much less touristy than Brugge - have a GREAT Belgian beer and some eel stew (hah!)

2. Budapest

3. Utrecht, Neth. to see the "DeStijl"style Schroeder House and museum. It will make you a modern architecture geek.

Take care!! See you in Portland sometime!! Kate

Posted by: Katelin on July 20, 2005 04:59 PM
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