Trip to Belgium and The Netherlands

We took a two week trip to Belgium and The Netherlands with my brother, his wife and my parents.

Since returning from the trip, I have spent a bunch of time going through pictures. I took  ~2200 pictures and trimmed it down to ~1750. I caption, geo-tag, people-tag and do some basic tuning for each picture. The pictures are finally available on this website here.

We stayed in four cities: Amsterdam, Delft, Bruges and Brussels. From there we did day trips to see: Hoge Veluwe, Haarlem, Enkhuizen, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Antwerp.

We primarily spent our time touring: going to museums, cathedrals, seeing the sites, etc.

We saw a lot of great art. The Kröller-Müller museum was probably my favorite. It has a lot of sculpture and their collection was varied and interesting. Several of the big museums were under renovation. This usually worked in our favor as they would move their ‘best of’ to other locations saving us time. However, we did miss a few paintings that were on loan out of the country. Another museum highlight was the Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. It had the most 20th century art including Ye Old Ruin by Paul Nobel.

We went to several interesting non-art museums too: Tyler’s museum had a collection of old scientific instruments and has existed since 1784. The Plantin-Moretus museum is a printing museum and has the worlds oldest surviving printing press and lots of old books. The Musical Instrument museum in Brussels has lots of weird instruments and was housed in an art nouveau department store. And finally the bottle-ship museum was probably the smallest museum we saw, but the bottle-ships were cool and the proprietor was very enthusiastic.

Each city had at least one impressive old town square with ornately decorated buildings. The most impressive these was probably the ‘Grand Place’ in Brussels. It was hard to capture in a picture because it is a square surrounded by photogenic buildings with incredibly detailed facades. The Markt Sqaure in Bruges is a close contender with its massive belfry. We got to climb the belfry and see the machinery used for ringing the carillon.

We visited a cathedral in most of the cities. The most interesting was probably the one in Haarlem. All the floors in the cathedrals were tomb stones which added an extra bit of creepy/old vibe. We went to an organ concert at the cathedral in Haarlem. The organ that we heard was played by Handel and Mozart.

We saw some interesting sites too. In Rotterdam we went out to see the windmills at Kinderdijk. These are restored original windmills that were used for pumping out water. They are wood and stone structures with 15′ canvas sails turning huge wooden gears. I was very impressed by the speed and power of the mills. In The Hague we went to the Madurodam (mini-Holland) which has 1:25 scale miniatures of many of the famous landmarks in Holland. The level of detail is impressive. They had countless bonsai for trees and lots of moving boats/trains/cars/planes. In Enkhuizen we saw the Zuiderzee museum which re-creates a fishing village in ~1900 when the Zuiderzee was connected to the sea. It is now freshwater. Finally, we saw the Maaslant storm barrier which is two, Eiffel tower sized, floating, mobile dams that swing into place over a river to protect Rotterdam from high seas.

We also had some fun at a street carnival where we rode a monster ‘cheap spinney ride’ and saw the Mayboom festival. We also happened to catch a canal parade where the floats really floated.

And last but definitely not least, we ate a lot of good food. The region is known for cheese, chocolate and beer and we sampled lots of all of them. We went to two breweries. One was a standard Belgian brewery and the other was a traditional lambic style brewery where we sampled their Geuze. But there is not really as much of a regional cuisine as a sampling and blending of other countries. We had some good Indonesian, some Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and several French meals.

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