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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #601  
Old 6 Jul 2015
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Albert Hjein brings back memories. It's been 15 years since I lived in the Netherlands
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  #602  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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Thanks so much for the comments and encouragement, guys! Really great to have you along with us!
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  #603  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/228.html



It's a strange thing to glance at your GPS and see negative numbers for your elevation. But that's what you get when you're riding through the Netherlands. Or is it Holland? Dutchland?

We've pulled ourselves away from the Belgian Haven of Eva and Thomas' home and rode out into the warming European spring. The sun is shining and the sky is blue and for the first time in a while, it feels like we're finally ahead of the weather instead of being chased away by it.


Riding past dams, dikes and levees of the Delta Works project

Being very flat, the Netherlands is not really a motorcycle destination. About 25% of Holland is below sea-level and more than half of the country is in danger of being flooded! There's been a long history of flood-control here, with the first dikes being built in the 9th century. For scenic reasons, we were advised to ride along the coast and through the Delta Works project in the south-west part of the country. It's basically a high-tech version of those first dikes, also helping to reclaim vast areas of land from the encroaching North Sea.

I was surprised to learn that this land reclamation is quite critical because the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world by land mass. There are more people squeezed in here per square km than in India!

Accelerating the population is similar to accelerating a motorcycle. Except that you clump the Dutch instead...


There are 35 people who live in this one windmill alone

Like other countries in this part of the world, I only knew a little bit about the Netherlands. I knew about the little boy who stuck his finger in the dike, and that everyone here smokes pot and wears wooden clogs. I didn't know why this place was also called Holland and why the official language was called Dutch, and not Hollandaise, or Netherlang.

I did know that there are a lot of windmills in the Netherlands.


Hanging out with the windmills at Kinderdijk

Speaking of population density, the densest concentration of windmills is in the town of Kinderdijk, so we rode there to see them up close. I always thought windmills were used to grind grain or something similar. Boy, was I mistaken.

At Kinderdijk, 7 meters below sealevel, all sorts of flood-management techniques have been implemented throughout the centuries: dikes, sluices, etc., however these all proved ineffective against the ever-rising waters. In the 1700s nineteen windmills were constructed to help pump water away from the low-lying areas in Kinderdijk. A hundred years later, these windmills were supplanted by newer-technology steam pumps which were then converted to electrically powered ones in the 1900s.

Today, the nineteen windmills at Kinderdijk have been restored and mainly serve as a tourist attraction. They've been designated as a UNESCO site, so once again, we are on the Gringo Trail in Europe.


These guys don't seem to mind all this water


Windmill Cruise
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  #604  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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Believe it or not, these are Canada Geese!


Back on the road, we pass by the Netherlands' Military Missile Defense silos

We're on our way to The Hague, about an hour south of Amsterdam. Mike and his wife, Bua are British ex-pats living here in the Netherlands. Mike's been in contact with me via the blog and has offered us a place to stay as we ride through which was super-nice of him. He was actually riding in Croatia last summer while we were in Pula, but our bikes hadn't arrived yet and we were still taking care of Neda's mom so we were unable to meet him.


Our hosts in The Hague, Mike and Bua

Mike is quite the avid motorcycle traveler. We talked a lot about the places he had ridden to and he gave us some great tips on riding through Scandinavia, which is what we're looking forward to later on this summer. I loved hearing about the Netherlands from an ex-pat's viewpoint, since they often see things differently than people who have lived here their whole lives. Both Mike and Bua had interesting perspectives on life in Holland after moving here from England.


Windmill at Keukenhof.

We happened to be in The Hague right around the time that the Keukenhof Gardens were open. Keukenhof is one of the world's largest flower gardens, it's in the city of Lisse just 40 minutes away from where we are staying. Neda *LOVES* flowers and Keukenhof is only open from mid-March to Mid-May so it was by luck that we were here at the perfect time to catch the flowers in bloom. Unfortunately Mike had to go to work, but Bua volunteered to take us.

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  #605  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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Indigenous peoples of the Netherlands


Yellow flowers

There are over 7 million bulbs in bloom this year covering the 32 hectares at Keukenhof, with 800 varieties of Tulips all over the gardens. Neda was in heaven, reveling in the multitude of colours around her and literally stopping to smell the flowers and read all the informational signs next to them. I was going to label all these pictures with the proper names of the flowers, but I don't know anything about them... You're more than welcome to e-mail me and help me identify them!

I'm not so much into flowers, but they do make for great pictures. We're really happy that there are clear blue skies for us to walk around under!


Some people take their photography very seriously!


The gardens were very crowded for a weekday! More than a million people visit during the two-months they are open


Red flower with yellow centre
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Last edited by lightcycle; 7 Jul 2015 at 14:00.
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  #606  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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The bridal exhibit does big business here at Keukenhof. This was the Love Wall,
where visitors from all around the world can proclaim their love by writing on tags



his pen is... what? Don't leave it hanging like that, Lotta...


Big yellow flowers with small blue ones beside it. Also purple sticks.


White flowers. And a yellow and black bee


Need a windmill right here to help lower the water level under this bridge...
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  #607  
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More yellow, purple and blue flowers


White and brown goat. Neda wearing a blue sweater.


Yellow flower about to eat a smaller orange flower


Love birds


Blogs and clogs
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  #608  
Old 7 Jul 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Accelerating the population is similar to accelerating a motorcycle. Except that you clump the Dutch instead...
bunny fugger
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My memory is becoming that good, I should be able to organise my own surprise party soon
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  #609  
Old 9 Jul 2015
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Had a good laugh at your flowers!
I felt exactly the same when I was there...
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  #610  
Old 11 Jul 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/229.html



Amsterdam is only about an hour away from the Hague, so we headed out for the morning. The sky has reverted back to its dull grey colour as we ride the highway to the capital city of the Netherlands.


Scored some free parking at the old centre

We made a beeline straight to the old centre of Amsterdam, the part that everyone visits. Having never been here, I was very curious to see the place that not only legalized prostitution and marijuana, but put it on display in the stores on the main street. Our first impression: there sure are a lot of canals here...


There are over 100 kms of canals in Amsterdam...


... and tons of bridges. This is one of 1,500 bridges in the city
Amsterdam is often called the Venice of the North.



Boats seem to be a good way to get around here. Any other mode of transportation in the Netherlands?


Bicycles, of course!

Along with windmills, canals and tulips, Holland is known as the nation of bicyclists. About a third of the population list the bicycle as their primary mode of transport. We saw so many bicycles traveling around the city as well as locked up to railings that stretched along the sidewalks.
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  #611  
Old 11 Jul 2015
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Those not old enough for their own bicycle still trundled around on two wheels


Also a horse-drawn carriage. For the tourists.




The infamous red light district

I'd heard so much about the Red Light District but when we got there, we were so surprised at how not-seedy it seemed. Non-descript buildings housing sex shops and bawdy houses are only distinguished by garish signs and the scantily (if that) clad women behind the full-length windows tapping on the glass as you walk by.


Just so you didn't know where you were, the lights in this area have red bulbs.


Feeling spacey!

Another thing we had heard of was Coffee Houses. But coffee is not the main item on their menus... These are cafes where you can order marijuana from the menu, sit down and have a smoke or munch on a Space Cake. All out in the open! Coming from very repressed North America, it seemed so very strange!

But again, very un-seedy and normal-looking from the outside.

Amsterdam turned out to be quite a pretty place to walk around. At least during the day. We only spent a few hours there in the morning and headed back to The Hague in the afternoon.
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  #612  
Old 11 Jul 2015
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We wanted to try some native Dutch food: Herring Sandwiches!

In Holland, they love eating herring that's been salted and served raw. You can have it by itself or it's also eaten with raw onions and on a hot dog bun. This was delicious and cheap! They also say it's a great hangover cure.


Mike prepares our transportation for the evening

Later on, we are told that we need to blend in with the Dutch, so we trade in our motorcycles for bicycles! Bua is taking us to visit the nearby village of Delft on two (non-motorized) wheels. Because bicycling is so ingrained in Dutch culture, all the streets have dedicated bicycle lanes that have their own markings that denote right-of-way - very important when crossing an intersection!


It's a 40-minute ride to Delft and at all times during the ride there was always a canal by our side

I was not doing very well with all this exercise. Thank goodness Holland is so flat!!!


Delft Town Hall


Bua is very fit and waited frequently and patiently for us to catch our breaths
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  #613  
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Window shopping. No prostitutes or marijuana in these stores.


Renovations to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Delft


Bicycling in Delft


What a beautiful town! Lots of canals and bridges like Amsterdam.

We thought Amsterdam was pretty, but Delft was even more charming. Mainly because it was less crowded and we were able to see more of it since we were on bicycles. What a great idea! Too bad the sun was setting as it was getting dark and cold, so we had to head back.


As if the canals weren't enough to remind us we were in Holland, here's a windmill!
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  #614  
Old 11 Jul 2015
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We thought that would be the end of our whirlwind tour of the area, but Mike insisted that we *HAD* to see The Hague. This wasn't on our radar at all, but when our host got back from work the next day, we all took the public transit into the downtown. We were glad we did because Wow, Holland has some very pretty towns and cities!


The boardwalk in The Hague


Some funky artwork. Perhaps the artist had visited a coffee house or two before designing these...


It was still a bit early in the season, so not many people milling around in the beaches.


The Hague at night, pretty cafes lined the street

So strange to call a city *The* Hague. And calling the country *The* Netherlands. However, now that we've been here, we've decided to rename it "The NedaLands". Smack-Lick!


Statue of William I, Prince of Orange (is the new black)


More The Hague at night

Mike and Bua showed us such a great time around Holland, we were very grateful. We're keeping this blog primarily as a record for us to remember all the great places we've visited, but we're so glad that others are not only following along with us, but often reach out to us to offer us a place to stay as well as show us around their part of the world.

Thanks so much, Mike and Bua!
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  #615  
Old 11 Jul 2015
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Glad your having a good time in Holland!
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