The ferry crossing to Calais was calm. A group found a quiet lounge but were sent out. Hope this is not a bad omen.
Our first day was a tour of The Hague. The streets were litter free and beautifully adorned with flowers, this was a common feature throughout the trip. It started to rain but this did not dampen our spirits. The Panorama Mesdag was awesome and well worth travelling to Holland just to see this cylindrical painting of Scheveningen fishing village as it was in 1881. We walked in the rain to the Mauritshuis, known as the ‘Royal Gallery of Paintings.’ Our guided tour of Dutch masterpieces was amazing.
We travelled to Amsterdam again noting the flat landscape and noting how much is below sea level.
The Rijksmuseum was impressive from the outside; it was mind blowing on the inside. We had another excellent guided tour and focussed on the Dutch Old Masters. Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ was being restored and that was interesting to see modern equipment for the work. The guide spoke with such passion that I was inspired to read up about the paintings we saw both today and yesterday. The rain returned so we dashed to the Flower Market which was busy and fun. We bought tulips of course!
We were sheltered inside the canal boat for our cruise. It gave another perspective to the architecture, history and economy.
In Haarlem we went to the Frans Hals Museum and it was a perfect setting for the art work. We did not have a guide but books and notes were available in the rooms. I’d have liked more time in Haarlem so I guess that’s a prompting to return.
The Zaanse Schans was an open air shopping mall. The developers need to see St Fagans and Beamish. Richard and Bob went into a working saw mill and saw logs being cut up, all very interesting for them.
The Koninklijke Porcleyne in Delft was in a beautiful building and courtyard. The guide spoke about the history and process adequately but not with the passion of our previous guides. Delft town is full of character and atmosphere. I would have liked more time here as we rushed to see both the old and new church.
Fifty years ago we spent several months in Scheveningen so I was looking forward to our visit. It was a huge shock. The place looked like Las Vegas by the sea. We walked along the sea front and saw one building that featured in the Mesdag painting. That end of town was more tastefully developed-a dream for children familiar with ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.
The old university city of Leiden was a joy to walk through. By now the buildings, canals, bridges, people on bikes and the flowers are all familiar but still a delight. We walked to the Botanic Gardens but considered that we did not have enough time to do it justice so we went to the Pieter’s Kerk instead. I’m glad we did because I found this the most interesting church of the whole trip because of the history and link with the Pilgrim Fathers.
The Kroller Muller Museum was in the Hoge Veluwe National Park – an excellent site for displaying the sculpture and art work. We really only had time for a glimpse so a return visit is needed.
We said ‘goodbye’ to Woerden which was centrally located to travel to various places. A brief visit to Ghent en route for Calais gave us the opportunity to see ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ in St. Bavo’s Cathedral.