You are currently viewing archive for May 2019

2019/05/30: Back Home

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The end of another great trip. I think it was a successful ---- Yvonne and I found our routes and we saw lots of interesting and beautiful things. The Netherlands is a beautiful country full of friendly people.

The flight home was uneventful and even though the plane left a few minutes late we arrived right on time. Then it was all back to normal --- stop and go traffic on the 401, due to, as usual, construction and volume of traffic. Oh so good to be back in my clean house (yup, Ed vacuumed and made sure the house was tidy) and in my own bed with Ed beside me.

2019/05/29: Last Day Touring

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It was a busy day touring the last of the sights we wanted to see. These sights were much busier than other sights but then they are also within an easy drive of Amsterdam.

Alkmaar is a city in North Holland that is known for it's cheese market. Unfortunately, we were not there on the correct day to see the market but we were able to see some of the other sites.

Alkmaar has many picturesque canals.

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A street view and the inside of the St. Laurentiuskerk.


Zaanse Schans Windmills is an open air museum with windmills and a recreated village. As Zaanse Schans is a short drive from Amsterdam the parking lot was full of tourist buses.

A view of 3 of the windmills.

Adding to the village atmosphere are the free range chickens.


One of the operating village businesses is a clog factory.


Edam is a small city in Holland that has a cheese named after it.


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Volendam is a Dutch town on the Markermeer Lake a couple of kilometers from Edam.


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Marken is located on a peninsula in the Markermeer not far from Voldendam and was formerly an island in the Zuiderzee.





2019/05/28: Beaches!!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we toured Harlingen. First stop was St. Michael Kerk.

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The inside of the church was a little simpler than some of the churches we've seen but the stained glass window are amazing.

Harlingen is on the Wadden Sea, so there are lots of sea going vessels and some smaller ones. The buildings in the background are newer but are very interesting in style

A fishing boat and a couple of tall ships.

I think this is a lighthouse and control center. There were no cruise ships in port but there were luggage carts and gantries.

Some more tall ships. It would be fun to be here when the ships sail out of the harbour.

Can't be a day in Holland without a photo of a canal.

Leaving Harlingen we drove over the Afsluitdijk (don't ask me to pronounce it). The Afsluitdijk is a major dam and causeway running from Friesland province to North Holland Province. It has an overall length of 32 kilometers and a width of 90 meters. There are 2 bridges, one at each end to allow ships to enter the lakes. While you are driving on the Afsluitdijk, it looks and feels like you are driving on a road beside a lake with a hill on the other side of the road. There's a spot where you can stop and drive down to the water where you get a different perspective.

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The photo on the left is from the waters edge looking down the dijk. The photo on the right depicts the job of placing rock/concrete pieces at the waters edge.

A 2 year project of re-enforcing the dijk started in April. The cones needed for the project appear to be jail.

We heard there were some nice sand dunes the coast near Den Helder. We were a little shocked at what we found - the beach was paved. I think it might have been high tide thus hiding the sand. That's all pavement you can see.

We found the dunes.

Following a paved path we crossed over the sand dunes to the beach. It was much more beach like here.

As we walked back to the car we ended up on the paved beach again.

We wanted to make sure that we saw the north sea, so we stopped at a small beach town as we made our way to Alkmaar and our hotel.

This was definitely more like the beaches we know.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today was a full day visiting five small towns --- Geithoorn where we stayed last night (it was a sun cloud mix this morning so better photos), Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen and Makkum. Tonight we are staying at a B&B in Harlingen (not Texas!)


May is a good time to visit Giethoorn as it's not too busy. Apparently, it's a bit of a mad house in the summer.

Sloten received city rights in 1426 and is the smallest of the eleven Frisian cities (Friesland is one of the Netherlands twelve provinces). The city has a small footprint, it's probably almost the same size as it was in 1426.


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This city has an interesting statue/fountain and a windmill.

From this angle it looks like the clothes is on a rack that's attached to the bicycle, but in reality there is space between the rack and the bike. I think the middle of the sidewalk was the only place that the resident of the house could find sun to help dry the clothes.

Stavoren is the oldest city in Friesland and once was a prosperous port. During the Middle Ages the city of Stavoren was a prosperous port city with a thriving harbour. Unfortunately the city's fortunes took a turn for the worse when an impassable sandbank formed at the mouth of the bay that prevented many ships from entering the harbour. Of course this slowly decimated the city's former prosperity, and as was the custom in those days, the whole thing was blamed on a woman. (borrowed from somewhere on the Internet) Here's a link to the tale

We walked along the dijk to enjoy the view and came across sheep grazing. Sheep are used to keep the grass on the dijk cut as tractor and cows are too heavy and could go through dirt of the dijk.

Colourful paint is a good way to spruce up some row housing.



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Hindeloopen is an old city on the Ijsselmeer. Hindleloopen is another of the 11 cities of Friesland and is filled with little canals with wooden bridges and pretty captain's houses.

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In the church graveyard and graves from WWII Canadian soldiers.




Sheep are mowing the grass in Hinderloopen as well.


Makkum is a village with town like structures dating from the 17th century. Again, another town with canals, bridges and pretty houses on the Ijsselmeer.


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Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our hotel was conveniently located within walking distance to the Paleis Het Loo (one of the Dutch Royal Family homes, now a museum).

Unfortunately, the Paleis is under renovations till 2021. It was still worth walking over as the grounds were beautiful and so were the gates.

Across from the hotel is a statue of a man with 2 hats --- one for Canada and one for the Netherlands. Unfortunately, there was no wind so it's hard to see but there were also the flags from each country.

Kampen was once a bustling seaport with it's no fleet. When Ijssel River silted up it brought all of that to a halt. The historic district of Kampen still has the succesion of towers and spires that recall those headier days.

Broederpoort gate is one of the three remaining city gates.

A tranquil scene.

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An alley way and a the Nieuwe Toren and a spire.

Street view looking towards the Nieuwe Toren.

The bridge across the Ijssel.

A canal.

Leaving Kampen we stopped at Schokland. There's not a lot there but museum and board explaining the changes to the town. Schokland was an island in the Zuider Zee which ceased to be an island when the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed from the sea in 1942.

Next stop Urk.

Hey Ed, we found the geocache for you. It was beside this pumping station, one of several that keep the Noordoostpolder dry.

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The Fisherman's monument and the lighthouse.

There are a lot of wind turbines in the water at Urk.



Giethoorn is our home for tonight. This is a cute little town with lots of beautiful thatched houses and lots of canals.


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2019/05/25: Castles

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
So far we've taken an airplane, a taxi, a trolley, a canal boat and a train. Today we're adding a bus to the list. The stop was right outside the hotel and it went to the city center of Utrecht. We left the bus right at one of the things on our "to do" list. The Janskerkhof flower market. The market was full of bright colours and wonderful smells. The selection of cut flowers included peonies, irises, roses, sunflowers and many more including some I didn't recognize. There were also lots of bedding plants, flowers and vegetables.



Wandering around Utrecht, I was surprised how close the buildings are. From a distance we saw the spire of Sint Willibrodkerk (St. Willibrod church). As we tried to get near the church we realized that buildings were attached it and only a little of the external walls visible. A priest walked into the church right behind us and asked if we had been in the church before. When we answered no, he said you're in for a surprise. He was correct --- our jaws dropped when we entered the church proper. Unfortunately, my photos don't do it justice.

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Dom Kerk (St. Martin's Cathedral) is a massive church with an beautiful courtyard (not shown) but it also has the "buildings touching" issue. On the right is a University building.

The canals in Utrecht are different from the canals we've seen in other cities. The flat area at water level is used as extended living area or dining areas of restaurants.

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There are a lot of bicycles in Utrecht. In the background is the Domtoren (Don Tower). The tower was constructed in 1321 and is currently being restored.

The bus ride back to the hotel had a bit of a hick-up. When a bus pulled up to the stop we asked if it was correct bus and the driver said yes. Luckily I was running map software on my phone and noticed when we started going away from the hotel. We got off the bus as soon as we could resulting in a one and a half kilometer walk back to the hotel.

Turned out that the walk was a good thing. Part of the walk was along the road but the rest was through a park where we saw these guys and gals.

Yvonne's maiden name is Van Bemmel and she remembers her father telling her that if she ever went to the Netherlands she had to go to the town of Bemmel and see the castle. So we did.

Kasteel De Kinkelenburg (Kindelenburg Castle) in Bemmel.

It was about an hour drive from Utrecht to Bemmel. It didn't take long for the city to disappear and country to appear. Bemmel had a totally different feel from the cities we have visited. The houses didn't touch and there was space for gardens like this one

and this one. This gentleman saw as walking down the sidewalk towards his house and I think was waiting to see our reaction to his gardens. I hope we oohed and aahed enough. He also told us about his MGB.

Now here's a real castle (sorry Bemmel). About 15 minutes drive from Bemmel is the Doorwerth Castle outside of Doorwerth. The castle and the grounds are beautiful and are apparently available for weddings --- a small wedding was between ceremony and reception during our visit to the castle.


Irises in the castle garden.

I don't think I've ever seen sheep with black ears, eyes and noses. There's also a bit of black on their legs and feet.

Leaving Doorwerth we drove about a half hour north to the town of Apeldoorn. We picked this town to stay in as our mother's maid names are Apeldoorn but have nothing to do with city as far as I know.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We have a lot planned for today so we got up extra early. By 8 am we had walked to the Metro and were on the train for city centre.

Borrowed from google: Rotterdam is a major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland. After being almost completely reconstructed following WWII, the city is now known for bold, modern architecture.

The Cube houses are cubes titled on a 45 degree angle resting upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. The design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest. The idea of cube houses is to optimize space. These homes were designed in 1977.

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A couple examples of the interesting architecture in Rotterdam.

This photo has a lot going on. The bridge is the cable stretching Erasmusbrug bridge. Behind the bridge is the SS Rotterdam is birthed in Rotterdam and used as a hotel. There are also some interesting buildings in the background.

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The Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, built between 1449 and 1525. The church was heavily damaged in the Rotterdam Blitz on May 14, 1940. The church restoration was completed in 1968. The 2nd photo is more interesting architecture.

At Kinderdijk, the ingenious system of windmills and pumping stations has been keeping the soil dry for nearly a thousand years now. We only spent a little over an hour here and I have lots and lots of photographs of windmills but I'll be kind and only post three.




Leaving Kinderdijk, we drove to Bilthoven. The town of Bilthoven is where my mother, Yvonne's mother and Yvonne were born. Our first stop was the city hall where Yvonne's mother and father were married. We popped into city hall to thank Ernst, a fellow who Yvonne corresponded with to find out information regarding her family. It was a short walk from the city hall to my grandparent's house and to the house where Yvonne's parents and brothers lived and she was born. The last stop was the Montessori school that Yvonne attended when she was 3 years old. For me it was interesting seeing the place where my mother grew up. For Yvonne is was exciting to see where she was spent the first few years of her life.

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Myself and Yvonne in front of our grandparents home.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Yvonne and I have rented a car and are starting our tour around the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a small country but a week is just enough time to scratch the surface in a small area.

Yvonne agreed to drive the rental car leaving me to navigate. The rental car, a Toyota Yaris is a hybrid with key less entry which are foreign to me but known to Yvonne (yeah!!!). By the way Yvonne did a fabulous job driving especially in Den Haag when the GPS took her down a small street that was closed and the street we turned on was block with a garbage truck. Luckily the garbage truck eventually moved. We found a parking garage, landed and determined we were near the sights we wanted to see.

According to google ----Den Haag, or the Hague, is a city on the North Sea coast of the western Netherlands. Its Gothic-style Binnenhof (or Inner Court) complex is the seat of the Dutch parliament, and 16th-century Noordeinde Palace is the king’s workplace. The city is also home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace, and the International Criminal Court.

The Grote Kerk --- the large church.

In the court yard of the Binnenhof.

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A fountain in the court yard of the Binnenhof. A tree lined street.

The Peace Palace.

At the Peace Palace is the "Imagine Peace Wish Tree". Each piece of paper has a wish on it.

A playground in the Noordeinde Palace gardens.

Next stop was Delft. Here we found some free parking --- we needed to make up for the 15.60 euro we paid for parking in Den Haag. Unfortunately, we had to walk a little over a kilometer to get to the area we wanted to see but given that the Delft is flat it wasn't a bad walk.

According to google (I copied and pasted), Delft, a canal-ringed city in the western Netherlands, is known as the manufacturing base for Delftware, hand-painted blue-and-white pottery. In its old town, the medieval Oude Kerk is the burial site of native son and Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer. Once the seat of the royal House of Orange, the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk houses the family's tombs and overlooks Delft's lively market square.

Beestenmarkt is a beautiful square. Most of the building along the perimeter of the square are restaurants. Yvonne and I ate a very lovely dinner here. When you sit outside a restaurant in the Netherlands, you sit beside each other so everyone can look into the square. You sit normally (across from each other) at the tables that are in the center of the square.

The cow of Beestenmarkt ---- I have no idea what the significance of the cow is.

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The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) is on the left and it dates back to the 1300's. The Oude Kerk (Old Church) is on the right. It's about 100 years older than the new church.

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This is a third church in the old area of Delft. The churches are within a 5 minute walk of each other. The inside of this church was really beautiful.

The outside wall of some buildings are one side of the canal. I wouldn't want to get a leak in the wall!

There are a number of picturesque canals in Delft.

Windmill the Rose

Leaving Delft we drove to our hotel that is on the ring road that goes around Rotterdam. We're on the 14th floor and have a great view of a couple of bridges, a soccer field and the city.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Off to Amsterdam again using the trolley. We thought we had the hang of the trolley ---- we knew what stop we wanted to get off at and we pushed the button to request the stop but somehow we didn't realize that we had to push a button by the door once the trolley had stopped to open the door. Off to the next stop we went. We got on a different trolley at the next stop and managed to get near to where we wanted to be. If we stayed a couple of more weeks we might figure it all out!

Traffic jam, canal style. If you look real close you can see a bit of blue in the sky.

The building is the middle is a church I think --- it has the word Kerk (church) on it but that's it.

One last Amsterdam canal scene.

One last Amsterdam church .... see the blue sky.

Carriage rides are not very popular here. We only saw a couple of horse and carriages.

We decided it was time for a change of scenery so we walked over to Central Station and got on a train for Haarlem. It's about a 15 minute train ride. There's a train station near our hotel so on the way back we stopped at it and grabbed the tram for a 1 stop ride.

The Grote Kerk in Haarlem.

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We picked up a walking tour of Haarlem from the local information center. Of course there were a number of churches on the tour. We had trouble finding the church in the right hand photo (it's the oldest church in Haarlem). When we did find it, I decided to walk around it and was very surprised with what I saw. In a building beside the church was a woman sitting in a window wearing something red and black garters. I didn't realize that Haarlem had a red light district and I was even more surprised I stumbled on it beside a church.

This was the first street we saw that had identical buildings on it.

How much is that doggy in the window?

A drawbridge on the canal.

The two building on the right was a brewery many years ago. I thought the other 2 tall buildings were interesting with the sailboat masts.

A windmill on the canal.

Most of the boats on the canal here are ocean going boats but there were a few house boats. I thought this one was really cute.

2019/05/21: Amsterdam

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The weather forecasters in Holland are just as good as the ones in Canada. We were suppose to get a mix of sun and clouds today, we got an evenly grey sky all day, with drizzle as we were heading back to the hotel. So, unfortunately that means the photos will look a little flat.

We started the day with a very good buffet breakfast at the hotel. Next was purchasing transit passes that were in the candy vending machine. We found the trolley stop and boarded without incident --- but we missed our exit stop by one which actually worked out for the best.

Not sure how many kilometers we walked today but it was a lot and we ticked off a lot of our "to do" boxes.
- ate a chocolate from Puccini Bomboni ----- excellent
- ate a honey stroop waffle from Confectionery Lanskroog ---- very good but a little too sweet for me
- took a canal boat tour --- very interesting and well worth doing
- ate some wonderful dutch food, real pea soup and krokets with mustard and french fries with special mayonnaise.
- found a geocache for Ed

On top of all of the above we also saw many of the major sites. And then we managed to use the transit system to get back to the hotel with no problem.

Lots of canals and lots of boats in Amsterdam.

First this fellow and vehicle appeared and they began hosing down the road. Then a man with a broom and a street sweeper appear. Interesting way to keep the streets clean.

Dam Square with the palace and the New Church on the right.

The De Bijenkorf is the oldest department store in Amsterdam. Wandering through the store we found a floor with a restaurant and these fresh herbs growing on the shelves.

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Het Houten Haus built in 1528 and the inside of De Drijtberg Kerk, a Roman Catholic Church..

One of the floating stalls at the Bloemermarkt (bloom market).

Given the weather today we opted for a closed in canal tour boat which meant the photos weren't as good as the could have been but then weather wasn't conducive to good photos.

In one spot on the canal you could a number of bridges all in a row.

The inside of the tour boat. The windowed roof allowed you to see the tall building as you drove by.

I'm guessing it was a tug pushing the small barges.

On the tour boat we were told about a 5 star hotel (De Hotel L'Europe), so we decided to take a look. The public bathroom was really, really nice.

The Dancing Canal Houses. Rotting wooden support poles caused the houses to tilt.

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The top of a clock tower and a view down a canal looking at a different tower.

Some of the tour boats help on a drab day by adding colour to the photo.

So do flowers. Years ago Amsterdam was having a housing shortage so people started living in house boats. The "legal one" have water and electric connections.

The house boats are all different sizes and shapes. Many have plants on them and some have grass growing on the roof.

Yet one more canal view.

2019/05/20: Made It!!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
My cousin Yvonne and I made it to Amsterdam.

The hubbies drove us to the airport and got us there with lots of time to spare ---- in fact we were checked in, through security and at our gate by 9:10pm. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:55pm (last scheduled flight of the day) so we had lots of time to read and wander around.

The flight was good --- the plane was only about half full so Yvonne and I both had an empty seat beside us ---- yeah!!!! On top of all the room there was no turbulence --- another yeah!!!

Things changed a little once we were on the ground.The line up for the passport check was horrendous. There were 5 kiosks and several hundred people and the people didn't stop coming. We were in the line well over an hour. Once we made it to the kiosk it was quick --- the passport was scanned then stamped and you were off to the claim your baggage. Unfortunately, we were sufficiently delayed that our flight was no longer shown on the baggage board. I found a nice gentleman who looked our flight up and told us where our baggage was sitting. Grabbing the bags we headed out to the taxi stand. Guess what? --- another huge line. Luckily it only took about 20 minutes to get a taxi. When we arrived at the hotel we ended up in line behind a group that was checking in. I guess today was the hurry up and wait day. Nothing went wrong just everything went slowly.

Our hotel is in the West Park area of the city --- a short tram or train ride from downtown. By time we checked in, called home and settled in our room it was after 5pm, so we decided to find a local restaurant for dinner. First night in the Netherlands and we eat Italian! Pizza and salad for me, pasta for Yvonne. And what's even more interesting is there was not an Italian (or Dutch) among the restaurant staff.

Our hotel. XO Hotel West Park.

After dinner we went for a walk.
Here a bike, there a bike, everywhere a bike!!!! There was the road, the sidewalk and the bike road which was for bicycles and motorbikes.





We walked through a park that had a small canal. On the other side of the canal were these small homes or what we assumed where homes as they all had a lovely garden.

2019/05/13: Getting Ready

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I'm starting the count down to the next adventure. In six days I get on an airplane with my cousin Yvonne and we wing our way to the Netherlands. Yup, Ed is staying home. Yvonne and I are looking for our "roots" --- Yvonne, her mother and my mother (sisters) were all born there. Yvonne immigrated when she was 4 years old and hasn't been back and I have never been to the Netherlands. It should be an an interesting trip.

In preparation for a trip without Ed I'm learning about downloading photos, charging cell phones and camera batteries --- all the things he does when we are on a trip. I think I miss him already!