The Netherlands


It was my second time making the long flight to Europe and it was such a relief arriving in Schiphol Airport. We made it through customs, got some money from the ATM and went in search of breakfast. The Seattle mermaid (Starbucks) had to do, and the first transaction went well. Thankfully, the bus to Haarlem was easy to find. On the ride over, I was surprised not to see more green spaces, but there was color sprinkled throughout the urban landscape.

The Train Station

The bus dropped us off here, and we got to test drive our light-packing while walking to the hotel.

The Ambassador

Our first “home” in Haarlem. It was a bit of a maze finding our 3rd floor room.

Angels watching over

We got in early on a Sunday and checked out a Catholic mass in Dutch.

The Cathedral

St. Bavokerk towers over the city. It was an easy landmark for finding the hotel.



While trying to find some lunch, we stumbled upon a parade of military vehicles from WWII. We even saw a group visiting from Chicago.

Read More
Frans Hals Museum

We were lucky enough to tour this museum. It was a good introductory museum for my dad, as this tour is heavy on art. I was excited about that, but wasn't sure how my dad was going to feel about it.

Read More
The Bookhouse

We found this cute little book house where you could borrow or keep a book. I liked how this two-story wooden library was constructed of both bark and branches.

Read More

Time to meet the group

After a power nap, we went down and met Stephanie, our tour guide, and our tour group. We learned about some logistics and asked questions about the ins and outs of the tour. After our meeting, we enjoyed a Rice Table supper (Rijsttafel), which included many side dishes with various rice. The meal was a way for the Dutch to show the abundance of their colonies with an array of textures, flavors, colors and spices. After supper we met a local guide who took us for a tour around Haarlem.

Around the Spaarnestad

Despite the cool temperature, we saw many places after supper. Haarlem has been voted the best place to live in the Netherlands. And we could see why. It has its medieval center with the cobblestone streets, old Cathedral, lots of museums and just a pleasant laid-back atmosphere. We saw the Corrie ten Boom house and museum, a safe haven for Jews during Nazi occupation. There was even a little Red Light district we walked past. Thankfully, no one was on display, but I found the red lanterns intriguing. We stopped outside a coffeeshop and learned a bit about the Dutch perspective.

Ruby, Our Local Guide

She was the first of many local guides on the tour. It was nice to have a local's perspective.

Watch out

We learned the Dutch word for bicycles was Fiets. And to get out the way if you hear it.

Teylers Museum

The museum is dedicated to art, natural history and science.

Red light

The town even has its own little red light district.

Blue hour Photos

I brought my travel tripod and wanted to do some night photography. These photos are 20 to 30 second long exposures.

Grote Kerk
De Adriaan Windmill
Many more Dutch delights are in store tomorrow in