Netherlands

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Winkel van Sinkel means “Sinkel’s Corner,” more or less, and this building housed the very first department store (selling multiple types of goods) in the Netherlands. Now it’s a cool restaurant and bar, beautiful both inside and out as you can see :-). Note the advertising campaign that plays on issues of the moment in the EU at large…

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This is the Utrecht cathedral, a major portion of which was destroyed in (if I recall well) a storm many hundreds of years ago. There’s some kind of rebuilding thing happening, but I didn’t entirely follow whether they plan to rebuild the whole thing or not. (Image below: much of that is a painted canvas which I assume shows the future cathedral as planned?)
Everyone knows Amsterdam’s a gorgeous city, but a lot of folks from outside NL aren’t aware of how many other quite charming and lovely mid-sized or small cities there are here. We’ll have several more posts of the sights of Utrecht ahead – and if you’re on the full version of this, you can also check for “categories” and then select “Netherlands, Utrecht” to see all the posts from here. (Or same logic for other places, because I do try to categorize and tag most posts so any of you considering a trip can consider what you want to see and do 🙂

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Fun fact, this residence was built for the one and only Dutch pope, who died after a short term in office & without ever living in this lovely building. I’m told he was rather unpopular in Rome because of his ascetic, non-partying ways, and the same source told me that the men who elect popes never again elected a non-Italian one, until they elected the first Polish pope during my own lifetime.

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OK, ok, so it’s really the Maas or Meuse river, not a canal, but it’s sure the countryside. Note the guys in lawn chairs enjoying afternoon beers :-).

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Urban Garden: King’s Day Special Edition :-)

April 27th is King’s Day here in the Netherlands – they celebrate the reigning monarch’s birthday in uniquely Dutch style. What this means, so far as I can tell, is three things: a) It’s one of the rare “bank holidays” where just about every office and shop is completely closed (since one gets more weeks of actual annual leave / vacation here, one doesn’t need to depend on the three-day weekends to breathe, as one does in the US), and this year it fell smack in the middle of the work week which was kind of fun; b) As demonstrated in this post, here in Amsterdam it’s the one day per year where folks are allowed to lay out their wares on any old street corner for sale – and key parks like Vondelpark are reserved for kids; c) Once the day becomes more advanced, all the rest of the adults come out and turn more or less the entire city into one continuous, enormous citywide moving block party, with bands everywhere. Oh, and unlike the US, one’s allowed to drink in public here – though the city’s site reminds everyone that one bottle (allowed) means one bottle, not a six-pack (not allowed).

I’m fortunate to live just down the street from Vondelpark, more or less the most famous of Amsterdam’s many lovely parks, and having been told that the kid-energy in the morning there would be a lot of fun, I strolled on up around 8:30 and took all of the photos on this post between 8:30 and 9:45. It was fantastic – so many families out there with kids proudly displaying the toys they no longer want, or selling cookies they’d baked or coffee they’d made. The entire park become one lovely kid-driven block party / garage sale (the US term). It was delightful energy, and it began with the kid just above who’d clearly arrived early to snag one of the best spots just at the main western entrance to Vondelpark, whose bright smile & “goede morgen, mijnheer” started my exploration in just the right mood.

I did venture out to Centrum in the evening and experienced the many bands on the street and the HORDES of people moving en masse from one band to the next…but photos just weren’t possible. You’d have be here to understand, but let me say for those who’ve been here: it’s the first time I’ve seen pedestrians take over every street entirely so that no wheeled vehicle of any sort can move anywhere, whether main street, bike path, or sidewalk. (I mean, true, in Centrum at midnight during tourist season it’s hard, but it’s limited to Centrum…this day, much more broadly distributed, much longer, and more fun with bands and all.) So enjoy this gallery celebrating national pride the Dutch way, which is quite inclusive and enjoyable, I’d have to say. 😊


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Small Wonders.100

So apparently, if I’ve counted correctly, this is the 100th time I’ve posted photos celebrating the beauty in small things, so…what better moment to shower you in a million small things with the last photos from my Bollenstreek outing? (See earlier post if that allusion is lost on you…)

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We’ve had a lovely spell of sunny days with nights cool enough to keep all the lovely spring flowers blooming longer. So on walks and bike rides I’ll see not only still-blooming daffodils & tulips, or cherry and apple trees, but also wisteria like this. Many homes in Amsterdam – and also, as you see here, in Utrecht – have gorgeous, big wisteria plants trellised and blooming in spectacular profusion. Sadly, when I see them in A’dam, it tends to be when I’m rushing past on my bike during the morning bike-to-work rush hour, with no ability to stop and snap a photo. Will try to change that in the weeks ahead, before I lose the chance this season…

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