I decided I would boogie out of Amsterdam and go spend the day in Haarlem on the way to Rotterdam, where I was staying for the next couple nights.
I will say, walking around in the drizzle, which is pretty much because the air is at 100% humidity, with all your stuff, is not fun. Made even less enjoyable by the fact that I totally ate it going down the stairs leaving my hostel. Luckily, my bag broke my fall, but broke nothing else inside. Just some bumps and bruises. I’m sure the one on my elbow will be pretty.
Off to Haarlem. Luckily trains here are super easy. From Amsterdam to Haarlem is roughly 30 minutes, and trains run all the time. It makes it easy when you don’t have to worry about showing up at the right time to catch a train.
I got to Haarlem around 10, and the place was deserted. Like, I thought I was in the wrong area. Which would be totally possible being that I had no map other than my phone. However, I found the giant church in the square, so I realized I must be in the right area. I took a wander around the church, which is a nice classical Gothic church.
The food stand in the square totally makes the picture here. There are restaurants all around the sides of the square, with all this outdoor seating. Amusing to me on a day when no one possibly wants to sit outside.
When you let people walk all over your tombstone, pretty soon it gets worn enough you can’t see the letters. It seems that the entire floor of the church was tombstones. Interestingly, the brochure here described that you had to be rich in order to be buried in the church. When you bury people, they decompose. Decomposing things smell. This could be where the term “stinking rich” comes from. Or that was the brochure theory anyways. I thought it was logical.
The organ in the church was giant. And they have all these chairs lined up, but the place was empty for my visit.
I then grabbed a coffee at one of the previously mentioned cafes around the square. I needed some place to warm up. By the time I was finished, it was mostly not raining. Therefore, I wandered around town some more.
And the picture from the top, which is an old gate to the city. After all the wandering around, I grabbed a sofa/bench seat at a bar and read my book with some wine. Then off to the train to head to Rotterdam. This train ride takes you through the tulip fields, and would have been extremely gorgeous if it were spring.
My hostel in Rotterdam was in an extremely weird building complex. It was built as part of an architecture challenge. Rotterdam actually had a lot of interesting architecture things.
Each little cube was designed to be a separate house. You access them by a stair, and then there are three levels inside, with 100 square meters inside (~1000 sq ft). They have one that is open for viewing to demonstrate how you would live. Not sure I really liked it. A lot of wasted space inside, and tiny stair cases to get up and down.
The hostel was in a bunch of connected cubes. It had apparently been a school in a previous life. In the picture, it’s the taller cubes on the right. Once in your room, it didn’t seem as completely odd.
I chose Rotterdam because it was close to Delft and Den Haag, which I wanted to visit. Off on the trains I went. Luckily the Hostel is like 500m from the train station. Very convenient. (The picture of the cubes was taken standing outside the train station)
It decided to be a very nice day for my Delft visit. I started off with a climb up the tower of the New Church. Mind you, new means it was built in the 1200’s, or started then. They just name things as they make sense, so this was the new church because there was already a church in town, now called the old church. Super inventive.
The stair case up was tiny, thankfully there were not many people climbing up or down when I went. Early is key here. If you go through the pictures, you can see the space you get to walk around at the top of the tower. So thankful there weren’t a lot of people up here. It was already a tad terrifying. And I can’t imagine doing the stairs if I was any taller, even I had to duck at some spots.
After I got out of the tower, I wandered around the market. This is a bit like the farmers market, and I just happened to be heading to Delft on their market day. If I could buy things for eating at any point beyond immediately, I would have ended up with so much fruit.
A bit of wandering around town, a stop in the Old Church (because my ticket was good for both), a stop in tourist info, and then off to the Royal Delft Factory. It was a nice day, so I chose to walk.
The tour was by audio guide, which can be nice. It started with two short movies… for which I was the only one in the room. As you go around you can see the many different types of things they make. Royal Delft is mainly the blue painting on white, but they’ve made many other designs over time and they have them all on display. There used to be a ton of factories that made delftware, but this is the only one remaining. You get to see them hand painting the pottery in the tour. These people really are artists, I can’t imagine recreating the painting so it’s the same on all of the pieces. Check out the pictures where you can see the giant replica of The Night Watch in tile. There was also a giant cow hanging out in the factory. You pretty much get to walk right through their active production area, they just have signs saying please don’t touch.
Off to Den Haag next. I was really going to see Madurodam and The Netherlands’ Parliament. Madurodam was sadly disappointing to me, mainly due to lack of information about the recreated buildings. I could recognize some of them, but others I had no clue. Some had signs, some didn’t.
One of the big things to see in Den Haag is the Peace Palace, so I decided to check it out. Which would have worked better if it hadn’t been 6pm already. Closed.
Next off to check out the Parliament. I will say that the USA probably doesn’t win the “prettiest government buildings” award.
Out through the archway pictured above, and you run into a giant plaza. And it was PACKED. You could hear the dull sound of chatter all the way across the plaza. I figured this wasn’t exactly a hot tourist spot, so if all the tables are full, the food can’t be bad. Stopped for a meal. Thankfully, the salmon I had totally made up for the last place I ordered salmon. It was delicious.
I was going to wander around Rotterdam, because I was planning to stay until the mail came. I had dropped my pump in Amsterdam, and emailed Medtronic’s Benelux office in the hope of getting a new clip. 40 days without a pump clip was going to be a pain. It hadn’t shown up on Thursday (Day 29), so I figured I had enough time that I could hang out in Rotterdam for the day on Friday.
Shout out to Medtronic for awesome customer service all around the world. I ended up getting TWO pump clips, all gratis and mailed to my hostel! They’re clear, which is pretty cool to me as all my old ones have been dark grey. Not that anyone but me sees it anyways.
I was planning to just wander around and check out some of the architecture things mentioned on my map. In the process, I ran into a nice man on the river front walk. He and his young daughter were heading on a boat cruise that takes you out to see some windmills. Realizing I really didn’t have any better plans, I decided to tag along.
It was a slow boat trip, but fun none the less. Quite a pretty area. The boat drops you off and it’s a 20 minute walk out to the windmills (Molen, which is mill in Dutch). Back on the boat and back to Rotterdam where I then went back to my hostel, collected my mail and my things, and off to another train. I’m learning that train rides make great meal times, and there is almost always a grocery store very near the station.
Got to Brussels safe and sound, except I totally forgot to download any maps or where exactly I was heading. I did however know where the tourist info places were, so I figured I’d pop in a grab a map. Too bad they all closed at six and I got in around seven. Luckily I haven’t been using much if any of the data my mom set up for my phone, so I went ahead and pulled up the map and off I went. After getting to the hostel, I realized I probably should have gone with the metro option. 3km is farther than I really want to walk with my things. Oh well. Still alive.