So, yes 2 weeks 4 cities have gone by but not in a blur. It’s been great as I’ve been able to enjoy the 4 cities I visited over 2 weeks. Arriving in Amsterdam by Eurostar was amazing and I got to spend 5 nights staying in the museum district, then I took the train to Groningen where I spent 3 nights and if anything I wish I had spent 4 nights there although I did manage to fit in everything I wanted to do with added surprises. Next came Leeuwarden, the European capital of culture 2018 which was a very welcoming place and from there I took Flixbus to Rotterdam for less than €10 and arrived within 3 and a half hours.
Each city holds it’s own particular charm and offers something different to travellers such as me who are visiting many cities rather than just taking a holiday in one city. When I arrive in a city, I wait to see what it has for me, what are the people like, how do I feel in the city and perhaps most important for me is the question ‘Could I live here?’. Out of these 4 cities, I have my favourite thats for sure, however I have to say I have enjoyed my time in all of them and now want to share some highlights with you.
Amsterdam: was my introduction to the Netherlands as this is my fist ever visit and although a capital doesn’t wholly represent the rest of the country, it does act as a gateway to the impressions you will undoubtedly form. My first day was spent dodging the bikes which come fast and furious and don’t take any prisoners if you’re in the wrong lane and certainly have overall control on the roads and paths.
The best thing about being in a European city is often the diversity of people and languages you see and hear as you walk around the streets. When there is so much obvious diversity often you find acceptance or at least hope to and Amsterdam certainly promotes an ambiance of welcome to all.
Most of my time in Amsterdam, when I wasn’t in the museums Museums in Amsterdam, was taken up by the canals and more specifically taking photos of the canals and watching people travel over them by foot, by bike, by car or on the trams. In all the hustle and bustle in the centre, these canals with their bridges provide a calming backdrop to a lively city.
Groningen: offered a quieter option following Amsterdam and I will love it as it gave me the island of Schiermonnikoog A day out to Schiermonnikoog which was a welcome break from busy cities. Groningen has a young feel to it which is no doubt due to it being a university city, however within that youth there is also the history from the war and the architecture around. Although there is lots to see, you can easily navigate your way around the city and either follow set walks or take yourself off to discover what you like to see. I’ve already blogged about Groningen Discovering Groningen , Schiermonnikoog and also my interview with Muriel Meeting Muriël at Groningen museum but the picture for me which comes up my time in Groningen is taken from the city walk I took myself on.
Leeuwarden: As European Capital of Culture 2018, this city has a way of welcoming you which is so natural and consistent that you leave believing that all Frisians are so friendly and I so hope it is true. Whoever I spoke to was very helpful and wanted to share so much information or opinions with me about their home which was wonderful. Whatever you want from your holiday, I’m sure you can find it here, whether that is shopping, relaxing or getting out into the countryside. I’ve already blogged about my interview with Pieter about the DNA project Leeuwarden asks ‘What’s your story? and Leeuwarden as a whole Leeuwarden welcomes you but if I have to choose photos which sum all my thought about this city then it will be these as they show the welcome and interest in people, not just those who live in Friesland but also those visitors from around the world.
Rotterdam: presented me with something completely different to what I may have expected, although I’m not sure what preconceptions I had ahead of arriving there. Seeing as it is the 2nd biggest city in the Netherlands and sister to Amsterdam, all I can say is that they must have different parents as they have moe differences than similarities. All of this makes Rotterdam a refreshing destination and one not to be missed and hopefully it will receive more visitors with Eurostar stopping here. I have already blogged about meeting Erwin at The Erasmus Experience Debating with Erasmus in Rotterdam and Rotterdam’s creative project of making it happen Rotterdam makes it happen.
My lasting memory of Rotterdam I believe will be this. The architecture is certainly something which catches your eye and I think that’s what helps it to stand out from Amsterdam as it moves towards the modern day and tries new things out.
So, there you have the first 4 cities I visited in my first 2 weeks here in the Netherlands. At the end of the month, I’ll be ready to share more about the next 4 cities on my tour. I’m so glad I didn’t come to the Netherlands and just see Amsterdam as I would have missed so much about this country. When people tell me they have been to the UK and follow it up by saying they’ve been to London, I am left feeling sorry for them as London is certainly not the UK and if we all only visit the capital cities on our journeys then we miss out on so much.