Bikes, dikes and other delights of Holland: through the eyes of Holland Untourists, Patricia & Jay Edie

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Arial view of Leiden from LaPlace eating cafe on the top of the VD Department Store.
Did you know that we have a wealth of Holland Untourists who’ve had wonderful trips to Holland and shared it on Untours’ own social network, Untours Cafe?
Here’s a sample: Patricia and Jay Edie
have writing a wonderful Triplog, complete with photos, of their time in Holland ?  Here are a few excepts; read the whole thing here….

We just returned from a recent Untours sampler trip. We spent one week in Leiden in the Netherlands, and one week on the Rhine River in Germany in the town of St. Goar. We received so much assistance from past Untourists as we planned our trip that we want to reciprocate with a short report on our trip for future travelers. This blog will cover the first week in Leiden, Holland.

We had Untours do our air as well and everything went very smoothly with British Airways from LAX to Heathrow and a change to Amsterdam. We were met by a driver. We did have to wait over half an hour and ended up calling our local contact but eventually the taxi arrived. He had been delivering other arrivals and was running late.

Overall….we LOVED Holland and would go back in a heartbeat. We did not know what to expect so it surpassed our hopes. The town of Leiden, being a university town, was very alive. EVERYONE speaks English so language was not a problem. Their first language is Dutch, but if we began to ask a question in English, it was always understood and responded to.

We stayed in the Van Gogh apartment on  Hogwoerd St. It was a spacious apartment on the ground floor in the back of the building. The apartments have internet access and we had brought a little Toshiba Netbook that worked just fine. A canal was right behind our building and we were close to the bus stop, various restaurants and the food market.  Large living space with small TV. CNN in English…plus many movies in English with Dutch subtitles…not dubbed…To the left off the living room is the bathroom and bedroom…with two twin beds that we were able to push together.

We were on the go each day. Some of our outings were:
1. Three trips into Amsterdam…two on our own and one with Marike…the Untours art historian that gave us our city tour and a tour of the Riksmuseum as the optional outing provided by Untours.

2. On our own we visited:

  • The Dutch Resistance Museum – do not miss this!
  • The Van Gogh Museum
  • Anne Frank House (we bought our tickets in advance at the Visitor Center in Leiden)
  • The flower district with gazillion flower bulbs!

 

3. Trip to Haarlem…a lovely town nearby. From here we took a bus to the Cruquius Museum. This was a wonderful surprise…seeing the largest steam engine pump used to reclaim land and create the poldars. We had a tour given by a volunteer and came away with a real understanding of the dikes, the canals, the polders and all the Dutch do to “keep their feet dry.” Highly recommended!

Jay with guide in front of steam pump.

4. We spent some wonderful days in Leiden itself. Ekatrina was our {Untours)local contact and she was superb! She gave us a very comprehensive orientation, a tour of Leiden, lunch at a Pancake House as guests of Untours. We stayed in Leiden on the Saturday to not miss their Saturday market day which was a happy experience. It was the ONE day that we had sunshine so it was a great memory. (Yes…they do eat raw herring fillets.)

Ekatrina, our Untours staff person,  explaining the bus system.

 

Also in Leiden: the De Valk Windmill Museum
 

As everyone has said…the bikes rule the highways. Do watch out for them. It is a wonderful system and works well for the Dutch.Above, the bike traffic on our street.

Free bike parking

Bikes in all shapes…very creative!

Kiddies stay dry!

Electric wheelchairs also use the bike lanes and they go FAST!

To read the Edie’s entre triplog, with lots more goodies, just go here.  Or stay tuned.  The Edies have a lot more to say about Dutch food, and we plan to feature that on one of our culture clues.

 

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