Saturday, December 3, 2011

Leiden, Netherlands, and my Last Day in Europe

I woke up sad.  This day was my last day in Europe.  Also the last day I get to spend with my lovely daughter.  The last 31 days had gone just too fast.  I've seen much, laughed, been overwhelmed at where I was, eaten wonderful food, tried beautiful wines and spent the most amazing month in my daughters company - something that is so special and I shall treasure it for the rest of my life.  What huge memories I have.

I have 24 hours before I fly back to New Zealand so we had to pack as much as we could into that.   So the first thing we did was walk to the supermarket by Anne's apartment.  There were two actually so we went to both.  We picked up breakfast, as well as ingredients for the Dutch dinner that we were having that night at the apartment with Anne's lovely flatmates. 

I was amazed at how cheap things were compared to New Zealand.  I compared prices.  Dairy products were extremely cheap in comparison.  1 euro for butter, which is the equivalence of $2 NZD and we're paying nearly $6 for the same thing.  Cheese.  Dutch cheese is incredible and half the price.  Fresh fruit and veges - also incredibly cheap.  Wholegrain bread - of which we pay $5 here for was only 89c.  That's it - I don't want to come home!

Even non food stuffs were cheap.  Moisturising facewipes - 99c.  $10.29 here in NZ.  I bought some to bring back with me.  I'm using them sparingly.  We picked up some bread rolls, smoked salmon, yoghurt for breakfast, and the ingredients for our dinner that night, then headed back to the flat.  Unpacked then headed out the door - destination Leiden.  Our plan was for an hour or two in Leiden, then head into Amsterdam to the Dam square for a serious shopping spree.  I wanted a pair of boots, and Anne needed boots and jeans.  

We got the train down and arrived about half an hour later.  I was amazed - such a pretty town.  The Netherlands knew it was my last day and turned on glorious weather for me, making up for the terrible weather I had the week before....

Fantastic buildings...  I wish I knew more about this one.  I have looked on google but found nothing.  If anyone has any information about it, please leave a comment.
The canals were gorgeous...
And I found a windmill...  The big windmill in Leiden was undergoing constructions so I wasn't able to get a photo of it.  This one is a replica of the Molen de Put.
Beautiful reflections which meant my camera was working overtime...

Everywhere here were bikes.  On every available wall, bridge, or anything that one could be leaned against.
More reflections...
And reflections in windows even..

At this stage we found a department store and left the gorgeous canals and started shopping.  I found my boots in there.  Which is good, as it means I didn't have to try on another 127 pairs in Amsterdam later that afternoon!

We then found the Citadel of Leiden which was built in 1150.  It was erected on an artificial hill by the citizens of Leiden as a defence against the water of the Rhine.  The city expanded around the fortress and consequently lost its defensive purpose. The city magistrate bought the citadel in 1651 and made it into the park it is today.
At the top of the stairs you walk through the doors into citadel itself, and from there you are able to go up to an upper level to look out over the city...

The upper level has some good views to historic buildings.  This view is to the Heeren and Hoomoed which is the 17th century City Inn and Coach House.  The church behind it is the second parish church of Leiden.  It started out as a simple wooden building in 1314 and expanded  until the 16th century...
Here is the rear view of the orphanage.  (Don't ask me which buidling!!). Orphans supplied labour for the cloth industry in the 17th century.  When demand was high, orphans were imported from other countries!  To the left you see the high storehouses.  Here grain was stored and bread baked for the poor..
The domed church, called Marekerk, was the first Dutch church built specifically for Protestant services.  Until then formerly Catholic churches had been used.   The high chimney is part of the public utility.
Here is the rear of the City Hall. The original Renaissance building burnt to the ground in a huge fire in 1929.  Only the front on the other side survived.

Obscured by the City Hall you see the Pieterskerk.  This church, dedicated to St Peter, supplied the keys in the coat of arms of Leiden as St Peter held the keys to Heaven's gate.
Anne pleased with our shopping spree so far...
From the second level..
Back into Leiden, we headed back to the train station to catch a train t Amsterdam to finish our shopping.

We never got there though.  Instead we found some shoe shops and jeans shops in the centre of Leiden.  Actually it was a really really nice shopping centre.  We found some beautiful boots for Anne, then found a Jeans shop and bought some Jeans and a couple of tops for her, and a winter top for me, which was on special.  Loaded down with bags, we decided to go back to the apartment, to drop off the bags then head into Amsterdam by tram quickly for Anne to get her hair trimmed.  I waited at the tram stop while Anne dropped the bags home - it wasn't far, but it enabled me to rest my foot for 5-10 minutes.

We stopped one stop short of the Dam, and Anne rushed down to get her hair done.  I stopped to take some photos so told her I would catch up with her...  The sun was beginning to set so it once again was really pretty.  This is the Prinsengracht Canal.
Just over the road from the canal above is the big Westerkerk.  A prostestant church built in 1620 to 1631.  The spire, called the Westertoren (Western Tower), is the highest in Amsterdam at 85 metres.  Rembrandt was buried here in 1669, the exact location is unknown but it is presumed he is somewhere along the northern wall.  Just behind the church is Anne Frank House which I visited the week before.
We then caught the tram to Anne's work and visited a few more shops, tried some cheese, and bought a lotto ticket.  Then caught the tram back to the apartment to get ready for my first dinner comprising of Dutch food.  
Copious amounts of wine was drunk and lots of laughs.  The company was excellent and the food was divine!  Anne's flatmates are lovely. From left to right are Anne, Werner, Angelie and Serieke.
And crazy.  Did I mention crazy?  (I have a dozen more crazy shots too of which I will take bribes to post them up here or not post them up here! - The highest bidder will win !!! )

Such a gentleman - a single rose...  (if I was only younger!) - he did look a tad nervous!
A sausage?  I haven't been offered one of these for such a long time!  In fact, I don't ever recall being offered one quite like this before!!!
Then someone was experimenting with my camera.  I quite like what they took...
After playing cards, drinking wine, laughing, I attempted to pack my bags for the 2nd time trying to fit eveyrthing in!  I really really didn't want to leave.

The next morning, as Anne had to go to work, even though my flight wasn't til midday, it was decided she would drop me off at the airport at around 8.00 then head to work.  I would wander round the duty free and use my computer in the airport lounge while waiting for the plane.  It was really really hard saying goodbye, even though I knew I would see Anne in six weeks in NZ for xmas.  I simply wasn't really ready to go home.

My plane ended up being delayed for 5 hours so instead of sitting around in the airport for 2-3 hours, it was more like 7 hours.  Rather annoying.  Which meant it as highly possible I had missed my connecting flight in Malaysia.  Fortunately (or unfortunately - I haven't decided which yet), they held the plane in Malaysia so it was straight off one plane, and onto the next to fly to NZ.  Which meant 22 hours of sitting down straight plus 7 hours of sitting round airports.  Instead of getting in at midnight it was 2am!!  And yes - I was exhausted.  I am still hankering after Europe.  It's highly addictive.  We HAVE to win lotto so I can visit again!


Unknown said...

Lovely pics-- and it looks like you had a fabulous time! I don't know if I enjoyed the pics of the reflections or you laughing at the sausage more! said...

I don't know if I enjoyed the pictures of the reflections or you laughing at the sausage more! Looks like you had a fabulous time!

Libby said...

Beautiful pics Robyn - I can see what drew Anne to Amsterdam in the first place :-)