Travel 2011

A long weekend in Amsterdam was the prefect spring break, even if it was a belated company Christmas do.

Having never been there before, I found it a fascinating place and a really good walking city, every other street being a canal. I shall definately be going back. Must also try it out for Christmas markets, as it sounds very good.


In May, I drove over and spent a week in South Holland, touring old towns and the Tulip bulb areas of the Netherlands. September produced a trip to South Devon and October a trip to Budapest. Budapest also turned out to be a great place, in spite of the smoking, and will be somewhere on the list of places requiring a return visit.



Amsterdam↑ Top

Amsterdam

Classical Amsterdam, a canal, boats, houses and a bridge at the other end. Not quite the same site at night, when in the Red Light area, they are full of British and Antipodean tourists throwing up in the canals. Not a pretty site.

Bicycles↑ Top

Well, this is definitely a country of bicycles and this city is mad about them. They seem to rule and have right of way over everything including pedestrians. You really have to watch out to not get run over by them.

Only the Dutch would have multi storey bicycle parks and so many different uses for a bicycle. This is just a selection of bicycle encounters I had.

Multi storey bicycle parks Multi storey bicycle parks

I have never seen so many bicycles in one place!

Bicycles Bicycles Bicycles

They are used for carrying the children, taking the dog for a walk...

Deliveries

and deliveries.

Architecture↑ Top

A church Cheese shop window

Churches and Cheese shops.

Strange little house How to get your mattress in through te top floor window

Strange little old house jammed in and how to get your mattress in when you live on the top floor.

Zuiderkerk church Zuiderkerk church

Zuiderkerk church and it definitely leans.

Cafe de waag, Nieuwmarkt square A bridge

Cafe de waag, Nieuwmarkt square and one of the little lift bridges that look lovely at night, when they are all lit up. Unfortunately, I found it on my last morning.

Wonky houses Wonky houses

Wonky houses.

Miscellaneous↑ Top

Outdoor male toilet

Something about France and the low countries, where they are more than happy to have outdoor male toilets. Strange we don't have these! Expect they are very useful after a nights heavy drinking. Having said that, I did see a young woman trying it.

Sexual attire

This reminded me of a Monty Python sketch from the 1970's "Condoms through the ages". The one on the left being "The Harry hold you firm".

All the houses seemed to be competing for the most decorative windows above their front doors. A selection below.

 

Holland↑ Top

Stayed in South Holland for a week and toured around. For those who don't know, North and South Holland are provinces of the Netherlands.

Windmills, the old and the new. Something I had not realised before, how many of the old windmills were thatched and not just the roofs, but also the side walls.

Keukenhof↑ Top

World renowned for it's Tulips displays in the March to May period, we paid a visit to catch the displays. Unfortunately, due to the warm spring we had, the displays were a little past their best and arriving a couple of weeks earlier would have been a better idea. As can be seen from some of the photograph's below, there's an awful lot of green, where the tulip heads have been removed on those past their best.

The whole area is geared towards Tulip production and the hotel was surrounded by Tulip fields, which would have looked brilliant, had they not already been harvested.

Keukenhof Keukenhof

Note sure what the flower is on the left, and an old Trabant being used as a flower display on the right.

Keukenhof Bulb Fields

Finally a picture of some of the bulb fields, although this was taken in North Holland near Alkmaar.

Leiden and Delft↑ Top

Leiden well, it was OK, but didn't see anything of any great interest.

Whereas Delft is well worth a visit. Lovely old medieval town. The town square was worth it, sit out in the sun and eat and drink and then a visit to the Royal Delft pottery. All hand painted. Below are a couple of pictures I tried to take of the "Night Watch", a famous Rembrandt painting. All hand painted blue delft tiles. Lots of them and it must have taken ages to produce.

Leiden Leiden

Leiden. Old barges and a wooden windmill.

The Nigh Watch The Nigh Watch

The Nigh Watch.

Delft Delft

Delft.

Delft

Delft.

Den Haag and Gouda↑ Top

Both worth a visit.

The Hague had a mixture of old and new, which did not work for me. The old was spectacular and worth seeing, but I felt there was too much new and it spoiled it. Gouda well worth a visit, although I believe it is best to go the last week in June or through July, on a Thursday. Then they do the cheese weighing ceremonies and I suspect it is worth seeing.

Den Haag Den Haag

The Binnenhof, where the Dutch parliament meet.

Den Haag

The Ridderzaal, where the State openning of parliament is performed. It's one of the Binnenhof buildings.

They were filming a TV series at the Binnenhof, hence no one in the pictures. It was about a Dutch type Mafia in the 1930's who nearly brought the government down. Or so the pretty young lady from the film crew was telling me. Frankly she could have said anything and I would have believed it.

How many people can you get on one bike, or rather children. This young woman had her hands full, but seemed to be coping. Amazingly, I don't recall seeing a cycle helmet in Holland at all.

Royal Palace Canal view

The Paleis Noordeinde Koninklijk, a royal residence and a typical canal setting.

Stadhuis Gouda Stadhuis Gouda

Gouda, different ends of the same building the Gemeente Gouda, the Stadhuis.

Cheese Museum

Gouda, The cheese museum. The marble carving on the front depicting cheese making is new. The original from the 16th century is inside and badly eroded by pollution.

 

Devon↑ Top

Ferry Salcombe harbour

The South Sands ferry, Salcombe harbour.

Decided to go away in the UK for a change, so took a week off and went down to the South Hams part of Devon and stayed near Kingsbridge. A part of the country I had never been to or explored before. Lovely part of the country and well worth a visit, perhaps some better weather next time. Took a little while to get used to driving a big bloody Volvo around those small narrow country lanes.

Smeatons Tower

Smeaton's Tower, a former Eddystone Lighthouse which has been rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe.

Slapton↑ Top

Slapton Ley and Sands

Slapton Ley and Sands. Fabulous long beach. This whole area was cleared and people forced to leave their homes in the 2nd world war, as it was commandeered for training for the D Day landings, and looking at it in this picture, you can see why.

Coastal Path↑ Top

Went for a walk along the coastal path between Hope and Salcombe. Weather so so on the day I went, still very high winds at times. They had had 100 MPH winds the day before and horizontal driving rain, so glad I did not go that day. Still struggled to stand up in some very exposed areas.

Thatched Cottage

Old Thatched Cottage in Hope.

Rugged coastline Rugged coastline

Some of the rugged coastal views.

Rugged coastline Rugged coastline

Took the first picture of a couple standing on the edge of this bit of rock jutting out. Then took the 2nd picture standing on the edge of that rock looking down.

Salcombe↑ Top

Liked the Salcombe and the Dartmouth areas, really nice, but becoming very exclusive. They say Salcombe is a ghost town now for large parts of the year, as a lot of homes are 2nd holiday homes and only occupied for small parts of the year.

Salcombe harbour View out through the heads at Salcombe

Salcombe harbour and then a view out through the heads when the weather had improved.

Harbour bouy with the words Fairway on it

Strange golf courses in Devon. Hell of a water hazard.

Dartmoor↑ Top

Clapper Bridge

A Clapper bridge.

Widecombe in the Moor

Widecombe in the Moor, a beautiful little village.

Haytor Haytor

The Haytor area of the moor.

Hound Tor

Looking across the moors to Hound Tor, made famous in The Hound of the Baskerville.

 

Budapest↑ Top

A long weekend in Budapest made a welcome change at the end of October, a very interesting city. Had been to Vienna last year and these two used to be the main cities in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Again, a great city for walking, although the public transport was great and easy to use. It has a wealth of old architecture, but also a strange mix of old, new, communist era and old that is desperately in need of attention. Some of the old buildings were riddle with bullet holes.

A night view of the Parliament building Budapest

A night view of the Parliament building.

Buda↑ Top

Buda is on the left bank of the Danube and is more the old royal side of what was once, 2 cities.

Fisherman's Bastion Matthias church

The famous Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias church during the day.

Matthias church at night Matthias church at night

Night shot of the Matthias church, and a night shot from the chain bridge of the church and Fisherman's Bastion.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle by night. For some reason I don't seem to have a day shot of it. It's a museum these days.

Chain Bridge at night

A night view from the Buda side, of the Szechenyi Chain Bridge.

Castle Hill buildings

Unusual buildings on Castle Hill. I believe they are all rebuilt after being destroyed in various conflicts.

Old building on Castle Hill

Another old building from the Castle Hill district.

Gellert Citadel

Gellert hill with the citadel on the top and of course, the obligatory Russian statue, although the old soviet star has been removed. Some great autumn colour on the hill and in other photos further down.

View of the Danube

View from the citadel of the Danube, with the chain bridge in the foreground and the Parliament building beyond it on the right hand side. Yes that is pollution in the distance,too many cars.

Gellert Hotel

The Gellert hotel at the foot of the hill, has a spa in the hotel grounds.

Museum Museum

A museum building just down the river from the Gellert. Don't know what sort of museum it was.

Communist symbols

Relics of the Communist era.

Pest↑ Top

Parliament building Parliament building

The spectacular Parliament building. Day and night views and this was right opposite my hotel on the other side of the Danube.

Parliament building Museum building

The back of the Parliament building and another museum building in the area.

Autumn colour Autumn colour

Autumn colour.

St Stephen's Basilica St Stephen's Basilica

St Stephen's Basilica.

Central Market Hall Central Market Hall

The Central Market Hall, a spectacular building with views outside and in. Well worth a visit. Sample the food area.

Dohany street synagogue memorial to the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs

The Dohany street synagogue and the memorial to the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs.

Andrassy Avenue. This is one of the major boulevards leading out of Pest to the north east, ending at Heroes Square. Its a bit like some of the major boulevards you get in Paris and has some spectacular buildings along its length. A long walk as it is about 2 Km's long.

It's very fashionable in parts with flash homes and shops. The Opera house is also on this boulevard as I think is List's house.

Andrassy Avenue House of Terror

Andrassy Avenue, including the House of Terror, a museum covering the Fascist and Communist control of Hungary.

Andrassy Avenue Andrassy Avenue

Two buildings next door to each other on Andrassy Avenue, one in great condition and the other in desperate need of some attention.

Heroes Square at the far end of Andrassy Avenue. The avenue was built in the 1870's to easy traffic problems and to provide better access to city park, which is just beyond Heroes Square.

Heroes Square

A panorama of the square, taken from 3 hand held shots. It shows the museums on either side of the square. I suspect you have guessed by now, there are museums everywhere in Budapest.

Heroes Square Heroes Square

Some of the Heroes, don't ask me who they are.

Museum Heroes Square

One of the museums on Heroes square, at night.

Just beyond Heroes square is the city park. You can find another major Spa here, with pools etc.. the Szechenyi Gyogyfurdo. You can also find the Vajdahunyad Vara, which is sort of a museum, but has famous castles and building from all around Hungary recreated.

I had forgotten that Hungary was carved up after the first world war and various parts went to other countries, because it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and backed the Germans. So I had no idea that Transylvania, Dracula country, had been part of Hungary.

Ice rink

This amazing looking build, believe it or not, is the entrance to the Ice rink on the edge of the city park.

Recreated castle Recreated stately home

Some of the buildings in Vajdahunyad Vara.

Szentendre↑ Top

On the Sunday, I took a train trip out into the country side to the village of Szentendre on the banks of the Danube. Its a bit of an artists type colony, but picturesque and has apparently been there for over 1000 years.

Church Wooden home

The local church and one of the wooden homes with clogs hanging in the doorway.

Fancy tiled building

Came across this unusual building with a tiled front, but because of the buildings opposite, I could not get back far enough to take a picture, to do it justice.

Fancy iron work

There was a lot of fancy iron work on the buildings.

Fancy iron work Fancy iron work Fancy iron work

A lot of very strange iron signs hanging in front of buildings. I never found out what they meant.