Alkmaar – without cheese

May 16th

The temperature has dropped, it is quite cool! But we don’t care too much!

Alkmaar is known for its cheese market, but this event happens only on Fridays and today is Saturday. But there is still a lot to see. The tourist office offers a brochure with a round walk and many infos. For sure I would not walk this but with the bike it is ok.

A weigh house is a public building at or within where goods, and the like, are weighed. This particular one used to be a hospital before the city got the right to weigh the goods in 1582. In 200 years the place in front has been extended 8 times (!!!) to  create more space for the successful cheese market._DSC7593_new

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During the Spanish occupation in 1573 the city was under heavy canon bombardment. One canon ball flew directly in this house but nobody was hurt. As reminder of this wonder the canon ball has been attached to the house.

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This was the louse of a pastry chef. The windows in the middle of the stories have been the doors for to deliver grain.

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The house builder of the “Leeuwenburg” had to wait very long for his permit to built his house and also his original plan had been changed a lot. He was so annoyed about this that he put up the lions with their bottom to the city hall.

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Formerly on the fishmarket in Alkmaar a stork was living being in the service of the city. His task was to eat the fish waste. To prevent his flying away his wings were clipped. If this was necessary? He had all he wanted so he would have stayed anyway. I don’t  if this is true – but the story is nice!

The synagogue of Alkmaar

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The “hofjes” of Alkmaar are almshouses around a courtyard. They were privately founded and served as a form of social security for elderly women who lived in poverty and without any men. These courtyard are still inhabited but the ladies are neither poor nor old and also the last rule is not followed anymore.

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The mill of Piet:

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One of the oldest houses of Alkmaar is from 1540. The folding shutters have been used to display goods and to sell “from the living room”.

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The town hall of Alkmaar:

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On the roofs of the town hall and the weigh house sit two golden pigeons.

 

Unfortunately Domy and Yves have to return home for family reasons. As farewell we treat ourselves with a gorgeous meal in an Indonesian restaurant. It is a pity the four of us enjoyed our biking trip very much. We will continue next year.

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We decide to return home as well, it is better to repair Rainer’s  bike.

Thanks a lot for all of you who travelled with us,

 

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips

May 15th The „Keukenhof“ is a MUST for every visitor of Holland. It is open from March to May each year. My 17th it will be closed for this year and we take our last chance. No one of us knows exactly what to expect. Fields of tulips? The parking appears already quite full when we arrive. Masses of visitors head for the gate. After a wonderful huge park (32ha) opens up. _DSC7449_new_DSC7512_new The visitor can see the most beautiful bulb flowers – mostly tulips in all possible colors and forms. We are overwhelmed and get carried away with the camera even now towards the end are already finished with blooming.

In a special house are all kind of orchids displayed.

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Leiden

May 14th

It is not easy to find a place on a campsite, it is a holiday and high season in Holland. Everybody wants to go to the sea. We try our luck more inland and get lucky near Leiden. This city wasn’t in our schedule but why not?

As usual the bikes help a lot to visit a city. It is clear this is a student city – Leiden owns the oldest university of the Netherlands. I haven’t seen as many bikes as that!

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The city is very crowded, people enjoy the sun. In the center there is even a live concert. The floating restaurants are all occupied.

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But just around the corner and the hectic is gone.

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Here we find a curious art galerie. This piece is called „Apollo and Daphne“:

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and this : „Intoxication“:

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We also find a nice corner were we can enjoy the sun and our beer.

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Den Haag

May 13th

We try in at least three bike shops. No one can help. To order a new rechargeable batterie – not possible. Rainer uses his heavy bike now without the electric help – stressy but possible.

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The „Buitenhof“ is situated in the center of Den Haag, means the city grew around it since the 13th century. Here the Dutch parliament holds its meetings.

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Den Haag has its modern architecture but it misses the flair of Rotterdam.

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The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice and is often called the seat of international law.

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July 1999 seven flames from 5 continents were united to create the World Peace Flame.

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In 2004 196 nations joined together to create the World Peace Pathway. Each nation is represented by different stone.

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The World Forum is concert venue and convention center.

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Not very far stands a very tall statue of Nelson Mandela.

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The little fishermen village of Scheveningen has become the sea side resort of Den Haag.

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Delft

May 12th

Delft is one of the oldest Dutch cities. With our bikes it is no problem to discover the city in all directions.

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In the center at the huge market square is the city hall.

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Around this square are all kind of shops which sell mostly the famos blue china-ware of Delft and cheese.

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Nice houses and town channels.

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In the „Prinsenhof“ stand the blue pillars of Delft.

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The old city gate at the Oostpoort.

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The big „Nieuwe Kerk“ from the 14th and 15th century we saved for the end of our city tour.

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Here is the burial place of Willem of Oranje.

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The crypt of the Royal family is situated down below the tomb. It is not open to the public and is only opened when necessary. All important members of the Royal family are buried here.

With the entrance fee we are also allowed to visit the „Oude Kerk“. The steeple has a height of 75m and already started centuries ago to bend sideways. Since decades its bell has not been rung for static reasons.

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From the outside the church doesn’t look impressive but inside it appears huge. The   most famous son of Delft – the artist Jan Vanmeer – is buried here.

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At the „Oude Delft“ the nicest town channel we want to have a coffee to relax from our visit. A gust of wind throws my bike against Rainer’s and both disappear in the „Oude Delft“ which gets even nicer by this. Two young guys help very quick and our bikes are back on the road. Domy has the guts to take pictures!

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Mine is wet but ok. But electronic of Rainer’s bike is dead.

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Hoek van Holland

May 11th

Hoek van Holland is the gate to Rotterdam. Here the river Rhein flows into the Northsea.

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On the other  side of the river is the Europoort, the worldwide largest harbor for Petrochemie.

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Once again we come upon bunkers of the Atlantik Wall. In one is even a small pub.

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Hoek van Holland was and still is one of the most important ferry harbors from the European mainland to Greatbritain.

Between 1938 and the start of the war in 1939 10 000 Jewish children were allowed to escape the NS prosecution to England without their parents. Most of them crossed the channel at Hoek van Holland to Harwich. This sculpture is dedicated to the people of the Netherlands and Great Britain who saved these children.

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Also part of the project of the Deltaplan is the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier which saves Rotterdam of the power of the sea. This gigantic construction is built with huge moveable arms. Because they rest on land the shipping traffic to Rotterdam is not disturbed. The entire constuction consists of three times as much steal than the Eiffel Tower of Paris. During normal water level the doors are in dry-docks on both sides of the „Nieuwe Waterweg“. When needed because of a storm surge the docks are flooded and the doors closed. Each door is 22m high and 210m long. To close the doors takes 2 1/2 hours.

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Rotterdam, City of Modern Architecture

During WWII large parts of Rotterdam were destroyed. After the war the people of Rotterdam disclaimed to reconstruct the old city but went for modern architecture. Wherever you go you notice unusual buildings, each one very special and well worth seeing.

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The most unusual complex for sure are the Kubus Flats. You ask yourself how will you furnish such a place? One flat can be visited!

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In the old harbor we enjoy the sun during lunch.

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On the other side we can see „Het Witte Hus“ with its white art nouveau facade. This building is 45m high and with this 1898 it was the first skyscraper of Europe!

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Indoor market halls are common everywhere but the combination of market hall and apartment construction is unique. In the shape of a horseshoe the flats are arranged above market, shops and restaurants.

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If you look up the ceiling is decorated with a piece of art called „cornucopia“.

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The city hall dated from 1915 is one of the few buildings which survived the bomb war from 1940.

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At last we pass the Central Station of Rotterdam. Some historical elements have been integrated in the new construction like the clock at the facade and the letters „Central Station“. The top of the building directs to the city center.

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I could go on forever – this is a beautiful town!

The Harbor of Rotterdam

We are not sure if we should visit this large city. A camp side at the edge of the city makes the decision easier.

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We bike to the Erasmus Bridge, one of Rotterdam’s landmarks. It is one of the most famous bridges of Holland and was opened in 1996 as important conection between the north and the south of the city.

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Here the harbor tour through the third largest harbor of the world starts – after Shanghai and Singapur.

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We might have heard of Rotterdam as the largest trans-shipment center for mineral oil but it was new to me that worldwide the largest stock of concentrated orange juice is in store here. We learn a lot of new things – for instance there more than 300 cranes in use in this harbor.

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We pass huge containerships as well as the SS Rotterdam, Hollands biggest passenger liner which is now used as hotel and convention center.

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Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier – a gigantic construction

May 8th

„Neeltje Jans“ is an artifical island which was constructed towards the end of the nineteen sixties. It was the construction side for the main elements of the storm surge barrier. Nowadays the info center of the complex is here.

After the  North Sea Flood of 1953  it was decided to close off the Oosterschelde by means of a dam and barrier. The nine-kilometre-long Oosterscheldekering (kering meaning barrier) was initially designed, and partly built, as a closed dam, but after public protests, huge sluice-gate-type doors were installed in the remaining four kilometres. These doors are normally open, but can be closed under adverse weather conditions. In this way, the saltwater marine life behind the dam is preserved and fishing can continue, while the land behind the dam is safe from the water.

Alltogether the construction consists of 65 pilons (18 000 tons and 65m high each). Huge plates hang between each, they can be closed by hydraulic within an hour.

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The pilons were built as a hollow body in a dry-dock and brought afloat in its position. To ensure a stable baseplate special synthetic mats were developed, filled with rocks and brought to the seabed. The pilons were lowered to the mats, filled with sand and weighed around with stones.

The construction was completed in 1986. It is constantly tested and supervised and up till now no transformation has been discovered.

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The 66th pilon was built as a replacement if something would go wrong during the mounting on the seabed. Fortunately it wasn’t needed and serves now as a climbing wall.

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