Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend in Holland

Hello! I've been having the worst computer trouble, but after 2 hours in the Apple store, transferring everything to an external hard drive, and wiping my computer, I'm back up and running and can finally blog again!

SO, it's finally here- my recap of my weekend in Holland. This post is super, super photo-heavy but hey, that's what I'm here for!

First, let's get something straight; the official name of the country is 'The Netherlands.' 'Holland' refers to the provinces of North and South Holland. If you are in any way confused, watch this amazing video from C.G.P. Grey and you'll understand everything!

Moving on, my roommate and I joined a trip with the university's International Student Network and headed out to 'Discover Holland' for the weekend. We made stops in Zeeland (as in New Zealand), Rotterdam, and the Hague.

Our first stop was Zeeland, way in the southern part of the country. It's pretty empty in the winter but apparently is a popular camping spot in the summer time.
Note: it looks like I'm wearing the same outfit this entire weekend- I promise you I had fresh clothes on every day! But when you're bundled up under a hat, scarf, and coat, things start to look very similar...

Biking through Zeeland. 

We stopped to let the rest of the group catch up, and someone happened to climb up the hill and realize that this view was just behind it! Definitely worth the pit stop. 

We continued biking through flat country roads and through a state park, riding along the shore for a long time until we reached an old lighthouse, where we stopped for what seemed like an hour because we couldn't stop snapping pictures!

The view from the top of the lighthouse.

Freezing, wind-swept, and a little claustrophobic after climbing up a narrow, winding staircase, but worth the view.

After one night in Zeeland we climbed back on the bus and headed to Rotterdam. I didn't know much about either of the cities we visited, but the best part about going on what was essentially a school trip meant I didn't have to plan much- tours, hostels, buses, everything was planned, giving us more time to enjoy our trip!

Rotterdam looks nothing like any other city I've visited in the Netherlands, or really Europe. Most of the city was bombed during World War II, so a majority of the buildings are modern and brand-new.

Rotterdam's underground shopping center, designed to save space. 

This church was one of the few buildings in the city center to survive the bombings. 

THIS is what I was most excited about seeing in Rotterdam- the Markthal, or Market Hall, opened in October and has become one of the most popular tourist spots. The massive indoor market hosts dozens of stalls, and the outer part of the market holds apartments!

This is the only part of Rotterdam that we saw that sort of looks like the rest of the Netherlands. 

Not sure who thought these were a good idea to put in a hostel...

My fabulous roommate got me the biggest bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day!

Sunday morning we piled back into the bus and headed to The Hague, the political capital of the Netherlands; Amsterdam is the official capital but most government buildings and embassies are in The Hague, as well as the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Peace Palace. 

Our first stop was the Escher Museum, housed in one the former palaces of Queen Emma. Though I recognized quite a few of M.C. Escher's drawings and etchings, I never would have visited the museum on my own. Even if you don't love Escher, the museum is 100% worth a visit, if not for the surreal tesselations than for the incredible palace and ornate rooms that once held a royal family. 

After a quick stop at the museum we headed out for a short canal cruise through The Hague. The city doesn't have near as many canals as Amsterdam, but enough to get a quick view of the old perimeter of the city that once separated the wealthy from the poor. 

Totally, completely in love with The Hague.

I'm still convinced that this picture is fake because no one could make the sky look that perfect in a photograph. It looks like the castle was cut from a book and placed over a blue piece of paper it's so perfect. 

Stumbled upon this shopping mall while wandering!

The crowns hanging over the street guide you to the king's palace!

The United Nations' Peace Palace. Unfortunately it was closed, but I would love to return to The Hague for a day trip to visit the palace and a few other sites. There is only so much you can see wandering around for a few hours!

Julia had to find the Canadian embassy, of course. 

Sorry this post has taken 2 weeks...oops! Stay tuned for another post on our weekend getaway to Belgium!!

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