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

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Goettingen

It’s been a while since i wrote and I have a lot to tell you about 🙂

I have stayed mainly in Goettingen but taken some time out to visit The Netherlands (more on that in the next post). At the moment i am heading to Rothenberg ob der Taura.  But before i jump to that, let me tell you a bit more about Goettingen.
Goettingen was one of the towns that was protected from bombing in World War 2 (there was an arrangement between Germany and UK to not bomb each others university towns). So, because of this, Goettingen still has many of it’s old buildings.  If you go into the town centre you will see a lot of these old buildings dating from 14th century.  Most have dates on so that you know when they were built…handy if you don’t know your architecture.  The other thing to note is that a lot of streets and buildings have names on them of famous scientists.  Now, that shouldn’t be a surprise because Goettingen is the town for science.  Over 40 Nobel Prize winners have come from here.
       


In the town, next to the Town hall there is a statue of a young girl herding geese.  This has become a well known statue because of the many PhD students who kiss her after getting their PhD (and nope don’t think about the multiple germs possibly on her lol).
 


Germany: Gottingen

I arrived in Gottingen, Germany by IC train (from Paris) 2 weeks ago.  On the first leg of the route I was served a full meal and given free drinks which was great.  The second leg of the trip I was served a tiny (or rather miniscule) bag of sweets and the tea/coffee was not complimentary.  Quite a contrast between the two legs.  The trains were on time and the connections on route were easy to follow.  I found that the staff on both trains spoke English and were very helpful.  

Some things I have observed about Germany so far: 

1) The Germans are very friendly, though not many smile at you when you smile at them…my son explained that it was a cultural thing.  

2) The Germans LOVE cakes etc and they are very cheap to buy, in fact food is a lot cheaper here than in France.  

3) They use bikes here like the Dutch, sooooo many bikes around. Saying that, while walking you need to make sure you are walking on the correct side of the path (one side is for bikes, the other for pedestrians), otherwise you will get ran over. 

4) Using buses is easy, and they run very frequently and on time.

5) You can’t buy large packets of ANYTHING 😳. Everything is sold in small packets, makes buying ingredients for baking frustrating, but hilarious to try to work out what is what ingredient in the shops ie baking powder lol.  I must look very strange to the Germans, I walk around with my phone held up to items to use Google Translate to read what the labels say lol.

6) During the war, Germany and the UK agreed not to bomb university cities, that has meant that Gottingen still has lots of buildings from the 1500’s etc.  

7) The Germans love to practice their English.  Often I ask if they speak English and they say ‘ohhh only a little’, and then promptly hold a conversation with me in perfect English…wow I wish I knew German ‘only a little’.

All in all Germany has been a big surprise for me. It is a beautiful place with very warm and welcoming people in it.