Holland: Haarlem

On day 3 i visited a town called Haarlem, this is another pretty town (ok, you are getting the idea lol…Holland is a beautiful place to go and visit). The history of Holland is worth reading up on. This town was occupied by the Germans during World War II, and so has a story to tell. To learn a bit of it’s history we visited a house /museum at Barteljorisstraat 19, 2011 RA Haarlem called the Corrie Ten Boom House. This was originally a watch shop and home (the home is attached behind and above the shop) that was lived in by Corrie Ten Boom and her family. She was a Dutch Christian who, along with other family members, helped Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Her family  acted as a ‘safe house’ and refuge for Jews during the occupation. A secret room was built in Corrie’s bedroom to hide the Jews in.  It was small (no wider than a young man’s shoulders and long enough to hold 6 people (cramped). A buzzer was also installed to alert everyone of danger.  Hundreds of Jewish people were saved by this family.  Ultimately, Corrie and her family were arrested after being betrayed by a fellow Dutch countryman.  The day they were arrested Corrie had been ill and was in bed.  The man who betrayed them came to the house seeking help from her family to get his wife released (whom he said had been arrested). He said he needed money and knew that they helped Jews, so could they help him.  He was sent upstairs to see Corrie.  Though she said there was something odd about the man’s eyes, she offered to help. He left the house and later the Nazis came to the house.  Fortunately Corrie and her family had enough time to hide the Jews who were in the house, in the secret room.  The Nazis came, arrested Corrie and her family and searched the house for the Jews, but didn’t find the hiding place (which was behind a solid wall with access via a linen closet). The family were taken to concentration camps and all died except for Corrie. (The 6 Jews, who were hiding in the house, were later rescued by the Resistance 3 days later).  Corrie was released unexpectedly soon after her sister died (10 months after they were arrested) and just before the Nazis made a new rule of sending all women over 45 years to the gas chamber (Corrie was 50 years old). As a Christian Corrie could see God’s hand in all that happened and, while her sister was alive, was continually reminded by her sister that Jesus is Victor (they had a plaque on the wall in their house that reminded them of this as they grew up) and that one day they would tell the world their story and what God had done for them during this time. As i mentioned, only Corrie survived but she spent the rest of her life travelling around the world and sharing her story of Jesus’ victory. This is a great place to visit, you will see the small space the Jews hid in and also have a tour of the home.  Entry and tour is free and the tour lasts about an hour.  You will find the entry to the house behind the watch shop, be there early as they only let in 20 people at a time for a tour.
   

     The plaque translated as ‘Jesus is Victor’

The rest of my time in Haarlem was spent looking at shops etc.  went into my first Lush store (lol ok this information is probably only for you female readers), great place and the prices are considerably cheaper than in America.

Holland

Holland
I spent 5 days in Holland with some friends and was very impressed by it.  I got there, from Germany, by train which took me approx 6hrs. The journey was an easy one and took me past bulb fields full of flowers, which was stunning
The first thing you notice about Holland is how flat it is and the many canals, this is due to a lot of the land being reclaimed from the sea. Holland is a very beautiful place and I am so glad I got to visit it and one of my old students who lives there now. I stayed in Hoofddorp, a town outside of Amsterdam, this is a great town to use as a base…easy access into Amsterdam and near the Keukenhof garden – a must see place in Spring.  This is a garden surrounded by bulb fields, that comes to life in Spring with masses of flower beds. It has more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths that fill over 32 hectares. You will also see a windmill and exhibitions here. My advice is set aside at least half a day to go around this garden.  It cost 16€ to get in and was well worth it.  We cycled from Hoofddorp to the gardens (quite a feat for someone who hasn’t cycled in a few years lol) but, it was definitely the best way to get there. You cycle past the canals, bulb fields, through pretty towns with places to stop and eat or buy cheese (at a much lower price than the main cities). Kinda got me back into wanting to cycle more lol.
   

  Talking about cycling; well you will probably be stunned at how many bikes are used here, but then again who wouldn’t cycle in a flat country 😉 It’s great to see the kids going to school on their bikes, or parents using the special child carrying bikes (see below). And not surprisingly, I didn’t see many people who were obese here. It’s a good, healthy lifestyle.

  

On my first day in Holland I went into Amsterdam, a city with a lot of character and many old buildings.  I went to the Rijksmuseum, a great museum to visit and one that would take about 2 or more hours to walk around. It has a heap of paintings, statues, furniture etc to see. I didn’t go to the Van Gogh museum because all lines were too long and in honesty I didn’t have the patience to wait in a queue for up to an hour lol, I wanted to explore. So, off i walked into the city centre. It only took me about 35 mins and was a really nice walk along the canals, past the bulb market (well worth walking around), past the cheese shops (SOOO many of these, and all with free sampling…yum) down the main street with a heap of shops to explore.
   

      Museum

 This is the bulb market