Sunday, July 23, 2017


We've walked the streets of the red light district with its "out there" whatever. You wanna joint, you wanna woman, oh there's another sex store.

Time to move on and discover the history and culture of Amsterdam. We paid a visit to the Resistance Museum which was confronting and definitely depressing. It left you with a feeling of why would one human do this to another. The jews of Amsterdam like France and Poland were persecuted by the Nazi and the museum depicted this with stories, film and documents. It reminded of  our visit to Oradour sur Glane in Limousine, France where on June 10, 1944 the Nazis murdered and destroyed a whole village as the war drew to a close.

On a more positive excursion, we visited the RIJKS Museum which presented the great Dutch masters through the eras. Some amazing work to be seen in ceramics and oils. The size of the paintings were amazing and the detail of the subjects enticed me to take some close ups of certain sections of the paintings.

The impressionist period has always been my favourite, from the French and also our own Australian impressionists of the Heidelberg School. Here are examples of the Dutch impressionist - no Van Gogh. He has a museum of his own that we didn't get to.

Tomorrow we hope to publish photos from the Amsterdam Museum which has a fantastic presentation called "DNA". This presentation in in the ancient building that house the Orphanage.
DNA presents the timeline of Amsterdam from its early beginnings to today.

Today we move on from Amsterdam and back to Brussels to help our son, Andrew move - that should be fun.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amsterdam Station and the Canals

Have to say that we were quite impressed by the Amsterdam Station. We took the train from Ghent with Andrew to Amsterdam and stepping on the platform with our bags and looking around was like being enclosed in a giant birdcage. AS we were early and could not book into our hotel room, we decided to have a light lunch at the Station. The architecture certainly dwarfs Melbourne's Flinder's Street Station.

We've been in railway stations of Paris and Rome, plus many of the regional French stations such as Tours, Avignon and Marseilles but Amsterdam is by far the most interesting with the design and marble columns.

Arriving at Amsterdam Station
Looking towards the exit
Overlooking the exit.
It could be an opera house rather than a station.
On our first day we took a stroll to acquaint ourselves with the local district. A hotel was only a short walk from the station and in the middle of the tourist hub of the red light district.

We had booked into Hotel France which is located on a walking strip beside one of the canals. Hotel France is beside Molly Malone's Irish Pub where the hotel has a contract to supply breakfast. We've taken calling in during the afternoon to relax with a Guinness or three with our son Andrew after our day excursions in Amsterdam. The canal has a continual flow of tourist boats with the occupants enjoying the sun and a few drinks. Some of the tourist canal boats are quite luxurious.

Where we have breakfast and also an afternoon Guinness after seeing the sights.

Some arty-farty canal pics

Photo opportunities at every canal bridge.

We've walked many of the back streets of the inner Amsterdam district and being the tourist city, it is quite busy. The constant ding ding of bicycle bells is constant and the put-put of 50cc scooters are at least louder to give warning. The bicycle lane network is marvellous and we in Australia could learn more by example. One taxi driver explained that if you hit a cyclist, the driver is by law at fault and will be punished for the offence.
There definitely is a respect and a sense of patience with the sharing of the roads and pathways.

Opposite our hotel
Think I'm adding kgs due to the constant foods and drink in cafes such as this one. Usually we would sit outside however this morning it rained very heavily for 30 mins and then the sunshine appeared. 

Our next post will be on our visit to the Rijks Museum where we spent most of yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ghent in 2 DAZE

Arriving in Ghent on the train, we took a taxi to our apartment. What a difference the taxi drivers from Bruges. In Bruges, the drivers were proud of their town and were as much tour advisors as drivers. They took pride in the cleanliness of the cars and their dress.

Ghent is a little scruffy around the edges and so are the taxi drivers and their cars - well this one was. No help with the bags, a cheeky attitude and not a great knowledge or care about his city. He asked if I would like to sit in front and I instinctively went to his driver's side. "You want to drive," he asked?
Being a little bold, yet embarrassed, I told him yes and that he could sit in the back if he wished.
I seemed to break the ice and his cockiness. When he realised we were Australian also made a difference as he thought we were English. He asked about Kangaroos and I of course told him that where we live they hopped thru our yard and down the main street. Hmmm, well its true in Trentham.

With out prior knowledge, we arrived at Ghent in the middle of a 10 day summer festival. Music, food, beer. We met our son Andrew in the mid afternoon to check into our apartment. Andrew was the reason to visit Belgium as he lives here and is on contract at one of the Universities.
His mother needed to see him so it was, hop a plane and go!!!

Although Ghent is a large city with the usual brashness, graffiti and noise that we are now unaccustomed to in a small Victorian town, it has the most amazing commercial and architectural  history.

The Lion of Flanders - the emblem of the region.

Welkom in Gent

Could this also be a Ghent Welcome sign?

 Another Canal Trip

Like in Bruges, we took a canal boat trip with a local tour guide who enlightened us to those early trading days. He had much to tell us about the various buildings we passed by that we would never have known by walking the streets on our own. we were most impressed.

In the very centre of Ghent sits Gravensteen castle. It was built in 1180 by Count Phillip of Alsace on the same site as a castle constructed of wood in the 900s. As centuries rolled on the castle fell into disrepair, houses were built around it, stone from the castle was used for other building projects.
It was to be demolished but the city of Ghent decided to restore it. It is quite a structure and we viewed it from our canal boat on what was part of the original moat that originally surrounded it.

 The above building you will see is built from timber, a rarity in Ghent but in Medieval times there were many and usually owned by the less financially influential traders on the canals.

The Scenes from Ghent

 Never drank so much beer of so many varieties

So I was in constant need of Ghent porte-loos.

 And then there was the constant lunches and dinners to be enjoyed.

 So how happy are these two to see each other again?


 What would a travel Blog by Leon without a Citroen?

Or a Bike!

Night falls on our short 2 DAZE in Ghent - today we catch two trains on the way to Amsterdam.
I wonder what adventures lay ahead of us? We will be sure to share these with you soon.