Some observations from travels

Holland

Thursday Lingering Look at Windows: Week 8

This is my first time to contribute to this challenge and quite excited about it.  I chanced upon The Day After‘s weekly challenge through Cee’s Photography and thought this was an interesting challenge as I personally like peering through windows.  This photo I had a while now but it is a real example of what lies within the many windows of Holland.

bar window amersfoort

DSC_3100

I took this photo of an antique shop I visited and didn’t realise the reflection of the building across from it

DSC_3158I hope you visit The Day After for more posts on this challenge.

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Travel Theme: Bridges

This week’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack is Bridges.  I love looking at bridges, taking photos of them and learning about some stories behind them.  Here are some of the ones I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and photograph.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Nagoya, Japan

Nagoya, Japan

Amersfoort, Netherlands

Amersfoort, Netherlands

New York, USA

New York, USA

Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore

Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore

Esplanade Bridge, Singapore

Esplanade Bridge, Singapore

Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rome

Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome


Travel Theme: Multiples

Which colour would best suit you? Multiple Klompens from Holland

Which colour would best suit you? Multiple Klompens from Holland

Cheese anyone?

Cheese anyone?

Bulbs ready for planting

Bulbs ready for planting

Multiple wishes waiting to be granted

Multiple wishes waiting to be granted

A thousand paper cranes to accompany someone's wish

A thousand paper cranes to accompany someone’s wish

There are many chances to take photos with multiples of a single subject in it and it’s beautiful, not repetitive.  These were some from Holland and here in Nagoya, Japan.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Visit other Travel Theme contributions here and enjoy how others showed interesting photos of multiples.


Panta Rhei – Everything Flows

Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers .”

“All entities move and nothing remains still”

“Everything changes and nothing remains still… and… you cannot step twice into the same stream”

“We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.”

These are excerpt from the philosophies of Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE).  Compliments of the ever reliable Wikipedia, I found out what Panta Rhei meant.  Heraclitus was known to be the Obscure and Weeping Philosopher and for his insistence in the ever-present change in our universe.

His philosophy on Panta Rhei is comparable to many other adages and tales including one of Buddhists’ three marks of existence – impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood.  “According to the impermanence doctrine, human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara), and in any experience of loss. This is applicable to all beings and their environs including devas (mortal gods). The Buddha taught that because conditioned phenomena are impermanent, attachment to them becomes the cause for future suffering (dukkha). Impermanence is intimately associated with the doctrine of anatta, according to which things have no fixed nature, essence, or self. For example, in Mahayana Buddhism, because all phenomena are impermanent, and in a state of flux, they are understood to be empty of an intrinsic self (shunyata).”  (Wikipedia)  I added this quote without revising it as I thought it was a very good explanation of this philosophy and I wouldn’t want to misquote an ancient writing.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

To those of you who have followed this series, it started out when my hubby and I left our last jobs and opened up our options for an uncertain future ahead of us.  I have always believed that, unlike the Mayan prediction about 2012 being the end of the world, this year brought with it a shift.  Since I started this series we have experienced many wonderful events, encountered interesting characters and changed our thoughts about certain ideas.  I recently read from one of the blogs I follow here that when we travel we should not have any expectations and this would make everything we encounter new.  I just love that!

So how did I come across Panta Rhei?  On our recent trip to Holland we visited one of my hubby’s aunt and uncle, whose house was called Panta Rhei, in a nice village of St Maartensbrug, north of the Netherlands.  Known for its quaint village atmosphere decorated with traditional windmills and numerous camping sites.  In one of my previous stories I posted a story about what we see in our backyard.  This was what we saw in this Dutch backyard.

These were the metal scultures that represented their two dachschund dogs.

Curios cousins of Shaun, the sheep!

 When I went in the backyard to take photos of these sheep they came closer and was as curious as we were of them, maybe they thought we had food to give them!  They were so adorable!

Our hosts were very wonderful and what I took away from that day were memories of the warm company, coffees and teas, home-made pie, choice cheeses…

Gatenkaas...YUM!

 

As we were driving back to Nijmegen we were blessed with an amazing sight of the sunset.

And that said it all… a wonderful day spent with equally wonderful people…


Den Haag – The Seat of the Dutch Government

Den Haag (The Hague) is the third largest city after Amsterdam and Rotterdam west of the Netherlands.  It is the seat of the Dutch Government, the Parliament and the Council of State.  All embassies and international organisations are found in Den Haag.  The Hague originated in the early part of the 13th century and during the latter part of the 16th century The Hague became the location of the government of the Dutch Republic.  Since the days of Napoleon in the early 19th century The Hague was officially called a city and granted special privileges only given to cities of the Netherlands.

There are numerous old churches dating back from the 15th century and old houses from 18th century which were built for diplomats and affluent Dutch families.  The Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands lives and works here.  The city sustained damages from World War II, walls torn down by the Nazi occupants and historical areas damaged from being mistakenly bombed.  But the city seemed to have recover quickly and was rebuilt to what is now a greener city compared to the rest of the country.  The modern city is a combination of the more affluent Hagenaars (stuck-up) along with the poorest Hagenezen (common) inhabitants.

We visited the city recently as we had to collect our visa from the Japanese Embassy for our next posting to Japan.  It was a couple of hours train ride from Nijmegen and hoping on the tram to our destination was very easy.  Walking around the city centre was even more interesting as it was a milder day and everything we wanted to see was quite central.

In and amongst the impressive 19th century architecture, very commonly found in the centre of Den Haag, are some beautiful modern ones as well.  We had lunch at Deluca Cafe, inside the Passage.  The cafe itself was a mixture of modern amenities with a touch of eastern decor.  We sat on a corner table that allowed us to view on a tv monitor live video feed from the kitchen.  So when we placed our orders my hubby, being a chef himself, made note on how long it took them to prepare his meal.

Inside the Deluca Cafe

 

The Ouitsmijter! One of Dutch people's favourite cafe meal. It comes with bread, ham (with cheese or without) and three eggs.

Fresh mint tea! Guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter's day.

As we continued exploring around the city centre we found more interesting images.

Den Haag is filled with old architectural delights which is ideal for taking photos.  And as the weather was mild that day it allowed us to comfortably walk around and enjoy the few hours we had exploring the city centre.


Amersfoort, the Medieval Centre of Holland

Amersfoort is one of the largest and well-preserved medieval cities in The Netherlands since the middle ages.  The Amersfoort region was believed to have been set up as camp sites for the hunter gatherers during the Mesolithic period.  The city centre feels like an open museum of old buildings and houses.  Walking around the centre you will enjoy old cafes and shops amongst the even older churches and fort walls.

Around Amersfoort you can have a walk through the many parks rich in greenery and wildlife.  One of them is the Park Randenbroek with its variety of trees and a landscape that is equally beautiful throughout the different seasons of the year.

In the middle of the city centre is an open space called The Hof which is surrounded by cafes, restaurants and pubs.  The Hof looks calm during the early hours of the day after a long night of wining and dining, except when it wakes up earlier for the Friday and Saturday markets.  You will not be short on choices of cheeses, breads and pastries, fruits and veggies, seafood as well as other odd bits that can only be found in markets.

In summer the square will be teeming with outdoor diners enjoying the warm weather.  During our recent visit it was evidently quieter but not empty.  We especially love the old cafes, in particular In Den Kleinen Hap, the Happerij & Tapperij and the Grandcafe as they have preserved the rustic look.

 There is so much history imbeded in and around Amersfoort as with any other part of Holland.  It takes more than a day and at different times of the year to fully appreciate this region.  I have been here many times but never get sick of it as there will always be something that will excite me.


Boxing Day: Nijmegen, Dry and 8°C

It’s been a week since we arrived in Holland, Nijmegen, to be more specific.  After a gruelling two days and about 32+ hours of flying from Brisbane-Perth-Guangzhou to Amsterdam! We arrived at Schiphol airport at 6am and 0°c.  This is not our first time visiting my hubby’s birth country, but our first visit in winter.  The forecast was a mild winter, and it had been in the past week, but we shall see how the next couple of weeks go.  I am looking forward to some snow to complete my winter experience.  The past two Christmases was white for Holland and most of Europe.

So what have we done so far…a quick visit to Hooftstraat in Amsterdam to check out the new G-Star store.  This street is known for its hotels and brand name shops – nice; been to walks around Central in Nijmegen; drove around a few times to Amersfoort and back; and walked around De Geerkamp areas.  We are staying with my sister-in-law in Nijmegen, East of the country, bordering on Germany.  Around where we live there are beautiful walking tracks along the river.  On a mild day you can see people walking their dogs, ducks enjoying the water and have some sun on your face.

Christmas Eve was small and intimate.  After a lovely dinner the family gathered around to exchange gifts and read a special poem written for you by the gift-giver.  An old tradition that the family still proudly practice.  The first day of Christmas was an elaborate brunch sharing fun stories.  The second day of Christmas, Boxing Day for us from Australia, was a day spent exploring the Haterstse Vennen on Gelderland.  This is a protected area with marshes and forests.  The walk was very easy as the area was mostly flat and the view was beautiful – apparently every season of the year.

And then there was the ruins of St Walrick of Koorstkapel from the 9th century.  Beside it is an old tree, a wishing tree or the fever tree, where people have been hanging hankies or pieces of cloth in the hope that they would be cured of their fever.

After our effortless walk we rested at an old Restaurant St Walrick for some coffee and snack.

Overall the day was a wonderful experience of another area of Holland.  There are many more to see from this small country that is very rich in history and culture.