Den Haag, Rotterdam, & Delft

Trip Start May 17, 2008
Trip End Aug 24, 2008

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Flag of Netherlands  , Zuid-Holland,
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wow! So it has been several days since I have written in this blog. I have been meaning to catch up but so much stuff has been happening that I just haven't had the chance. But now I do, so here's a re-cap since last I wrote!

Last Friday Mike & I finalized our plans to spend Saturday on the western side of the country in Rotterdam and Den Haag (The Hague). Rotterdam is the 2nd largest city in Holland, and the Hague is a nice place to be because it has a nice beach area called Scheveningen, so we decided to go there.

Saturday we woke bright & early for our 2 hour train ride. When we got to the train station I tried to use my Rabobank (dutch bank acct.) ATM card, but the card wouldn't work! I had been using it for a week and then all of the sudden this weekend it stopped working. We were in quite a jam because we didn't really have any cash for the weekend (we were planning on using my bank card) and the bank was closed that early in the morning. So we decided to go to Peter's parents house and see if they could help us out. They loaned us enough money to cover the entire weekend which was so gracious of them, and thus we were able to still go on our trip!

So after that short delay we were off to Den Haag. Once ariving at central station we headed over to the VVV which is the tourist center. On the way there we say a ceremony for students graduating from their army training. At the VVV we plotted our route for the day, taking a walk through the city and heading north to the beach at Scheveningen. We did the entire trip by foot which was quite a hike. On the way north to the beach we stopped by a museum which showcased an enormous (about 40 ft high) panoramic painting of Scheveningen back around the 1900's. It was really neat the way the piece was showcased because the way it was set up we entered the room from the center, and we were inside a gazebo-type structure. We couldn't see the top or bottom of the panoramic and it was 360 degrees all around us, so it really felt like reality since the painting was all we could see outside of the gazebo. It's kind of hard to explain, so I hope you got the idea... no pictures of it though; the museum didn't allow it.

Once at Scheveningen we stopped first in the harbor area. They were supposed to be having some sort of sail boat event, and Mike is interested in sailing, but we didn't see any signs of the event when in the harbor. At Scheveningen there were tons of things to do. As you can tell by the pictures it was a very long beach area with tons of restaurants on the beach, soccer, bungy jumping, etc. It really was a nice place to be. It wasn't quite beach weather, but there were still a lot of people there because of all the attractions and shopping. This was a part of Holland I had never seen before since last time I was here it was January, and it was really fun to have that ocean/beach atmosphere that I personally do not associate with this country.

So after all that walking we boarded the train and headed to Rotterdam to check in to our hostel. Rotterdam is, as I mentioned, the 2nd largest city in Holland (next to Amsterdam, of course) and is a complete modern city because of being bombed in WWII. It has such a different feel to it; something like a large city in America, because all the buildings are new and there are many sky-scrapers. The hostel experience was new to Mike & I, and it was a little different; but I'll go into the details later. When we arrived at the hostel we found out that the website we had made the reservations through hadn't confirmed with the hostel, and thus we weren't on their list to stay that night! Fortunately they did have places for us to stay, but not in the same room unfortunately. Mike was in a 10 person room and I was in a 6 person room. After dropping off our bags we headed into the city center for dinner and to watch the soccer game. It was hard to find a place where we could sit, eat, and still watch the game, but after maybe a half hour of searching we were able to do so. We had a tasty dinner at the bar and sat outside and watched Holland loose to Russia 3-1. It was very disappointing. The only redeeming fact about the whole situation was that the Russian coach is actually from Holland; from a town right next to mine, and he is quite a hero in this area so at least he won his game (but, of course, at the expense of the Dutch loosing).

That even we arrived back at the hostel at about midnight to loud music playing in the bar. Good thing Mike brought ear plugs for us! The place we stayed was actually very nice for the price. The only thing that is strange about a hostel is that you have absolutely no privacy, so in your room or in the bathroom you always have people around. But it was a good learning experience because now if I stay in a hostel again I'll be able to be more prepared. In the morning we had a complimentary breakfast of bread with hagelslag, jam, cheese, etc. Mike downed 10 slices of bread as it was free (a fact I keep giving him a hard time for).

After packing our bags we headed down the street to try & take a boat tour of Europoort. Europoort is the 2nd largest sea port in the world (one in Asia is larger) and the scale of everything there is so hard to comprehend. The port is literally around 20 miles long & just packed with containers, oil drums, ships, etc.! One of the pictures gives you a good sense of scale as there are 2 semi trucks on a ship and they are just so small compared to the ship & loading system. The boat tour was really awesome because we got to see the heart of the shipping operation.

When we got off the boat we walked around the area for a little while and went to a road race event that was happening next door. That wasn't too interesting, though, so we headed over to Euromast to see a view of the city. One of the opportunities at Euromast is belaying down the side of it (controlled slide down a rope; climbers do this). Though we didn't do it, it was fun to watch some people go down. The view from the top of Euromast was great, and we were even able to take a rotating elevator to the very top & get a great view of the city.

Part of the package that we bought at the Euromast included a trip to the Maritime Museum. Here we learned more about Europoort and saw many ship models. We ran out of time there, however, because they closed at 17:00 and so we were only there for about an hour.

On our way back home we took a stop in Delft. Delft, of course, is home to the historic blue delftware. Since we were there on Sunday night there was not a lot open, but it was a great stop at the historic city. The city is much different than Rotterdam or Den Haag, so really all the cities we spent the weekend in were completely different from each other. In Delft we had a nice dinner of panekoken (spelling?) which are Dutch pancakes. They put very exotic things on their pancakes, and it is always a treat to have them. And that, finally, sums up the weekend! We rode the train home and crashed for the evening.

On Monday after work an engineering professor, Professor Hoeksema, spent some time with Mike & I and took us out to dinner. He is in the country for a few weeks organizing the semester program at the Free University in Amsterdam, and was kind enough to drive across the country & say hi! He is the professor that I came to the Netherlands last time with, so it was good to catch up as I haven't had a class with him since that time.

And now the past couple of days have just been busy trying to catch up. I have had such a nice time here, but have also had some good communication with people back home, and have enjoyed the messages that many of you have sent me. Hope you enjoyed reading this, it's a long update but a lot of things have happened. I don't know what this coming weekend holds, but I'm sure we do something fun!
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