Friday, 20 April 2018

Amsterdam - Keukenhof Gardens - day 3

After a late breakfast on Saturday 31st March, our daughter and both of us drove to Lisse, about 45 min. away to go and see the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens.

This year the gardens opened on the 22nd March and will close on the 13th May.
On the drive my daughter commented that the fields on the way weren't covered in tulips like they usually were at this time of the year, but Spring had been a lot colder than usual.

This year's theme is "Romance in flowers", and in this 32 hectares of land 7 million bulbs of 800 varieties of tulips are planted, flower shows, inspirational gardens and unique art are on show. This year 100 pieces of sculpture by various artists were exhibited through the gardens.

Entrance fee for adults is €18.00 but €17.00 online, plus you avoid the queues. Parking which can also be bought online costs €6.00, and you need to present your ticket when exiting the huge parking area.

Keukenhof was designed in 1857 as an ornamental garden for the Keukenhof Castle, and since 1950 millions of tulips have flowered in that romantic garden.
The blooming season will conclude with Romance - a classical music festival amid the park's tulips.

If you don't have a car, you can still visit the gardens by taking Bus 397 (Connexxion) from Amsterdam city centre to Schiphol airport and then transfer to the Keukenhof express bus 858.

Romantic gardens - a bride and groom were taking photos (poor bride must have been freezing with her sleeveless dress), and 3 men riding by on antique wooden bikes were invited to the photo shoot.
My daughter and I, my husband and I, bride and groom on a photo shoot
The Romantic Garden area
Near the windmill there was an area where the old way of doing things was in exhibition - the metal worker with his old tools, ladies doing their washing by hand on wooden tubs, herring being dried, wooden bikes and a stand full of antique appliances.
The ladies drying the herring were also going around the area and letting people try herring - quite nice actually.
Showing the old professions
Some of the beautiful sculptures around the park were quite interesting,  I saw some were for sale with a hefty price tag...

A few of the sculptures around the gardens
At the Beatrix Pavilion, the orchids were breathtaking, beautifully displayed too around red clad mannequins, or heart shaped displays. Some had colours and shapes I had never seen on an orchid...

Beautiful orchids

And more beautiful orchids

At the Queen Juliana Pavilion we can see how the tulips that originated from the mountains between China and Turkey are now cultivated in Holland since 1593 when a Sultan gave some tulips to a Dutch ambassador. These plants are used to snowy cold winters and dry hot summers.
Today 300,000 bulbs cost a whopping 67,000 euros or 90,000 US$ and 62% of bulbs are grown in Holland.

The last pavilion we visited was the Orange Nassau Pavilion, where the flowers and romance came together in amazing displays - be it at wedding table displays, a horse and carriage, around a quirky red caravan, etc, each more beautiful that the other!

Looking for love? - Say it with flowers
After over 4 hours of walking around Keukenhof we left the gardens and drove back home.
After a late lunch at home my husband and I decided to go for a little walk around the area to check out the two red bridges that we could see from my daughter's 18th floor apartment windows at the Eastern Docklands area.

The two bright red bridges completed in 2000 connect the Borneo and Sporenburg peninsulas.  One is a low bridge ideal for handicapped people and the other is a 12 metre tall bridge that allows pleasure boats to cross under, but is climbed over via various levels of steps and has been nicknamed the python bridge.  We thought the different levels should have a different colour stripe on the edge, because they were made with the same wood and not well distinguished while walking across.

View from my daughter's apt of the two red bridges that cross that link the canal over the Borneo and Sporenburg peninsulas.

Crossing the two bridges on foot

 Across from the second bridge, the tall one, was a statue called "Fragment from a living room, reduced to 88%" by artist Mark Manders in 2001.
Consisting of 2 people standing on a table who appear identical, but have slight differences in posture and facial expression - I couldn't really detect differences though...

Statues on a table, the last red bridge in the distance and how people living in small units brighten the pavement with pot plants

Upon our return we joined our daughter and partner in a coffee shop just a few minutes away, across from the Lloyd Hotel, at Oostelijke Handelskade 34, Zeeburg in the Eastern Docklands.
The lovely Lloyd Hotel "art-deco" building completed in 1921 for Royal Holland Lloyd (KHL) cost eight times more than originally estimated, contributing to KHL going bankrupt in 1936, when the City of Amsterdam bought the building.
From 1921 to 1936 it housed travelling immigrants (mainly Eastern European Jews) as per the mural painted on the side.
From 1938 it was used as shelter for Jewish refugees from Germany and during World War II it was used as a detention centre, later functioning as an adult prison and from 1963 to 1989 it was a juvenile detention centre.
Because the building had fallen into decline, in 1996 a competition was held to decide what the building should be used for. Suzanne Oxennar, a curator and Otto Nan, an art historian, presented a design for a hotel and cultural embassy of culture in Amsterdam.
After an extensive restoration the building has served as an hotel since 2004 and has been considered a national monument since 2001. I wonder if I could have gone inside to check out the building?

The lovely Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy 

The canal behind my daughter's apartment building (bottom middle) and views to the city with former Shell building in the distance (middle left)
The area where my daughter lives - the two red bridges highlighted to the left, my daughter's apt on the corner by the big bridge from bottom island, on the other corner with a purple dot is the tram station, and across the rails with a blue cross is where I found the mural I'll be posting on Monday. Amsterdam central station on the right bottom corner.(from google maps)

And after coffee I went to photograph a mural that I had spotted from the apartment ... and none of the apartment residents had noticed it, lol.  I had to hurry before it started to get dark.  And you'll see that on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend, ours is going to be extra wet, apparently 1 month's worth of rain is due to fall in two days!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Perth - Dubai - Amsterdam:- Day 1 and 2

On Thursday 29th March I caught the 6am flight to Dubai.
The early flight wasn't the best choice, but it was the only one that would enable me to meet up with my husband in Dubai (he was flying out from Sydney at 6m, or 3am Perth time) and then we would fly together to Amsterdam. 

The taxi picked me up at 2,30am, was at the airport at 2,50am and by then I was already the 10th passenger in line at the Emirates counter that opened at 3am on the dot. 
A few minutes later I was being attended, my bag dispatched, and then I took the escalators to the top floor to wait about 50 minutes until the Security/passport control opened at 4am!
Easter chicks at Perth airport
Early morning pictures - Perth, Fremantle harbour?, Rottnest island and a fluffy clourds

After an almost 11 hour flight I arrived in Dubai at 1pm local time (4h less than Perth) and walked to the departure gate for Amsterdam where I met up with my husband when he arrived from Sydney a short while later.  Luckily we had only about 1,30h to wait to board the next flight.

After another almost 7 hours flight to Amsterdam, this time on the nicer and more comfortable A380, we arrived at 8pm local time (6h less than Perth) on the Thursday evening (a positive was we arrived the same day we departed),  picked our luggage and went to the Avis counter to pick the rental car that our daughter had hired for us.

Our daughter had gone to South Africa for work and would only arrive the following day.  Like the majority of Dutch people they don't own a car and we would need a car to take us to the tulip gardens on Saturday, etc.
When we arrived at the apartment building I rang the bell so our son in law could come down and open the gate to the garage to park the car. Then he helped with the luggage and gave us dinner before we went to sleep at about 10pm. For us it was already 7am and 4am of the next day respectively.
Early morning view from my daughter's 18th floor apartment next to the IJ river (bottom right)

On Easter Friday, 30th March, I had arranged to meet up with Dutch bloggers
Marianne and her husband Stef in front of Amsterdam Central Station at 10,30am.
It was a very cold morning (3C/37,4F!!) and I had to borrow my daughter's boots, beanie and winter coat as I hadn't wanted to carry all the heavy stuff, hoping the weather was better in Portugal and Hungary where we would go next.
Amsterdam Central Station
My husband and I caught the nr. 26 tram from Rietland Park station, a 7 min walk from the apartment, paid for a day ticket for both of us, but had to use a credit card as I didn't remember to look up what was the pin for our Qantas travel cash card, and the driver didn't accept money.
Just 3 stations later we arrived in front of Central Station and looked around the area for Marianne and Stef.

After our greetings we walked nearby to the former Stock exchange building at Beursplein 1, that now houses a beautifully decorated and quiet restaurant - Bistro Berlage.
We really enjoyed their company and hearing the stories Stef had to tell us about the city's architecture as he is a retired architect.

My husband Jose, Marianne, me and Stef
Bistro Berlage and the former Stock exchange building
The red brick building was designed for the Stock exchange by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage, was constructed between 1896 and 1903, and the Stock exchange operated there until 1998. Its huge main hall with an area around 1600m2  is now used as a venue for concerts, exhibitions and conferences. The present King Willem-Alexander had his civil marriage ceremony in the hall in 2002 when he married the now Queen Máxima.

After a second round of coffee for them, and hot chocolate for me and delicious Dutch pastries, we left the coffee shop and crossed the street so Marianne could show us the Beurspassage on Damrak avenue, an arched passageway whose ceiling, walls and floors have been turned into a stunning artwork by Arno and Iris and Hans van Bentem.
Through the mosaic adorned ceiling, the chandeliers, mirrored walls and granite floors we are told a story about Amsterdam and the canals and we get the impression we are walking through an underwater tunnel.

The beautiful passageway Beurspassage with Marianne in the left corner
Details of beautiful Beurspassage 

The first tulips I saw around the area

Oude Kerk, leaning narrow buildings, bronze hand over breast, old green glass windows

Major Alida Bosshardt from the Salvation Army, who lived across the road, house from 1686, Boat coming through a narrow canal, a Portuguese restaurant
The tour around the area carried on with Marianne and Stef showing us through the Red light district - Amsterdam's oldest church - Oude Kerk, the quirky bronze statue "Hand over breast" on the pavement - one of a few anonymous statues around Amsterdam, who some people say were done by Queen Beatrix who is herself a sculptor, the narrow and leaning buildings, the original green glass windows of a building, the old gable stones that were used to represent names or professions of house owners when people couldn't read in the Middle Ages. All fascinating things!

House gables, corner statue and gable, street name in Chinese quarter, funny signs

Lunch time was upon us and Stef and Marianne took us to lunch at a restaurant near the Waterlooplein Market, a big outdoor flea market with over 300 stalls - the Eetcafe Blauwbrug at Waterlooplein 403.

Before they left to return to their home in Almere (about 46km away), they took us to the 
City Hall building (City center Loket), situated next to the National Opera and across from the Amstel river, where we were shown "The Fiddler" another one of the bronze statues by an unknown sculptor. It's a beautiful statue don't you think?
And here we said our goodbyes to Marianne and Stef.

The market square and the Weigh house

My husband and I then went past the flea market again and bought 2 thick scarves before walking to Market Square (Nieuwmarkt), a centre for commerce since the 17th century.  We bought some cheese at the daily market and took photos of the Weigh House (De Waag), a 15th century building, originally a city gate (St. Anthony's gate) and part of the old city walls of Amsterdam.
Nowadays the bottom floor hosts popular restaurants, while the upper floors are closed to the public. It's Amsterdam's oldest remaining non-religious building.

Interesting and colourful snippets of life in Amsterdam

City buildings, Rietland park tram station and sculpture at the station with 3 tables with bee boxes in the top tier.
By around 4pm we were tired, it was getting colder, so we walked to Central Station to catch the Nr. 26 tram back to Rietland Park station.
As we were arriving at the apartment building our daughter was just getting out of a taxi from the airport, so it was great timing.

Later that evening the four of us took the nr. 20 tram that stops in front of their building and went out to dinner at the Taj Indian restaurant at Marie Heinekenplein 1, in the bohemian suburb of De Pijp. Both the food and the service were good.

And so ended our second day in Amsterdam. 
The following day we drove to the Keukenhof tulip gardens in Lisse, a 45 min drive away, but that will come in the next post.

Sorry for the pictures overload, but with 650 photos taken in 3 1/2 days there's lots to show!!

Here you can read more about the statues by the "unknown sculptor":

Monday, 16 April 2018

Monday Mural - Fado singers

Painted on the outside of a small restaurant where Fado (the Portuguese national song) is played.
The restaurant is called Porta D'Alfama (Door of Alfama), and is situated at 17A Rua de São João da Praça, within walking distance of Portas do Sol viewpoint.
Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon between Sao Jorge castle and the Tejo River where you'll find an abundance of historical attractions as well as a lot of Fado bars and restaurants.
No idea who the artist is.

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.  Once you start looking you find murals everywhere.  
Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds posted this week.  Thanks.

And if you haven't heard a FADO before, here is one sung by one of my favourite Fado singers - Marisa singing "The rain"
Just close your eyes and listen...

Monday, 9 April 2018

Monday Mural - Millo in Lisbon

With the title of "Darts and Hearts" this mural painted in 2015 by the well known Italian artist Francesco Camillo Giorgino aka Millo, it's located at the popular LX Factory in Lisbon.

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.  Once you start looking you find murals everywhere.  
Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds posted this week.  Thanks.