One fine day in Utrecht

Livin’the Dutch Life

Last Easter we had the chance once again to visit the Netherlands !It’s been two years in a row now that we’ve spent our Easter break in our second home in Europe, the bike capital of the world, the place where Tulips are goddess of beauty and pancakes are eaten for dinner! See, I always look forward going to Holland in Springtime for so many reasons. One, I’m still over the moon by the colors of Spring which I can only see in the Netherlands. Last year we have visited the Keukenhof in Lisse and I must say it again that it is really the most beautiful Spring garden in the world! If you won’t agree with me then you must see it by your own eyes to believe. Actually, we went to Holland right after we visited Berlin which is just 4 hours away by train on a direct Intercity train. I am glad that we made the right choice for this place because it turned out to be an amazing place add to the fact that we are having a wonderful spring weather in the spring capital of Europe!

Looking down on Manholes in Utrecht, Netherlands

We arrived in Utrecht at around 11 a.m . First thing I did was to look down for some manholes to ponder. I didn’t see much but I found some. Most of the shops are already open from 10 a.m on Maundy Thursday. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, located 50 km southeast of Amsterdam and only takes about half an hour by train. Netherlands has a great train network so Utrecht is easily accessible from Schiphol central station. Trains runs very frequently so the ride is really quick.What I find unique in the Netherlands is their scanning gate system in the train station which is really impressive and have better control of the passengers.

One fine day in Utrecht, Netherlands
Dutch gable houses: Every angle is different wherever you look

Feels like Amsterdam

For me, Utrecht is a mini version of Amsterdam, less chaotic, trendy but less crazy, but can also be full of frantic crowds, and also very touristy. It’s a great family get-away because it has everything for young and old. The crowds can be so diversed and multi-cultural. Along the canal areas I saw rows of coffee shops and you know that they don’t sell the ordinary Cappucino or Latte! Looking very “Dutch” is Oudegracht’s full of “Fiets” or bicycles. Only in Holland you can see this bicycle fever (ever!). Netherlands is really the country of bicycles. In Germany, people also cycle a lot but I’ve never seen the same amount of bicycles than in Holland! Of course, with the unique “Gezellig ” flair of the two major canals that runs through the city center, the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht, a daytrip in Utrecht is a great escape from big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. It’s Easter break so the whole canal area was full of people, relaxing,chilling, and basking in the sun.There was so much activity going on around. Never a dull moment and time really flies so fast. But be warned though, if you’ve never been to the Netherlands,brave yourself when cycling and watch out for other cyclists! Aside from the fact that the roads are smaller, most streets in the city center is one-way.

Traditional Dutch gable houses along the canals of Utrecht


Canals of Utrecht

I am really looking forward to spend time exploring the canals of Utrecht. While walking, I was taken back to the time when we are in Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht and the Red light District areas. With the long rows of cafes, shops, boutiques and restaurants along the canals, visitors can have a nice walk. Time flies so fast and it’s really cozy strolling around. This is a feature that is unique for the city of Utrecht. Utrecht is a small city and compact so exploring it doesn’t take that long and walking is the best way to explore it so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. But because we had a toddler with us, we took our time going with her phase. I just realized that my daughter walked as much as we did even from our days in Berlin. The stone boulders and poles became her jump poles and playground. My daughter was fascinated by the ducks along the canal banks and she wanted to feed them with coins!

Utrecht, Netherlands
Bikes and even more bikes
Oudegracht on a fine Spring sunny afternoon

It is never boring to walk along Oudegracht with rows of houses because everywhere I look is so pretty! I took so many photos because every angle is just different, and as usual, they are never aligned!

Wandering along the canals of Utrecht

Domtoren ( or Dom Tower)

As soon as we exited the mall, ( I totally forgot its name..) which was adjacent to the the Utrecht central station we follow the crowds leading further to the canal area which directly led as to the iconic Domtoren (or Dom Tower).Built of design by John of Hainaut and is the tallest church tower (112.5 meters) in the Netherlands. It was completed in 1382 and the tallest belfry in the country. I’ve heard about this church before but seeing it for real is really great.The exterior of the church tower is heavily renovated from the time of our visit but still on operations so its still accessible for visitors. I’ve heard that renovations are expected to be completed by 2022.

Domkerk, Utrecht’s landmark

The Tower contains 14 bells that weigh 32 tons and what makes it unique is that its still rung by a group of dedicated ringers or the Utrecht Klokkenluiders Gilde. There are two chapels in the tower; the Egmond chapel and the St. Michael’s chapel. Take note that you can only visit the Dom on a one hour tour. If you are in a hurry, you can still enjoy its exterior facade.

Eye- catching statues in Utrecht
Lush labyrinth garden in Domkerk

Website : http://www.domkerk.nl/

Welcome to Miffy Museum !

Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) and Centraal Museum

Actually, the main reasons why we visited Utrecht is to see the Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) .I’ve been longing to see this museum for a long time because of my four year old daughter.She had a blast in Berlin in the Legoland Discovery Center, going crazy over lego and the indoor playground, but inside Miffy Museum she had a total world of fun and interactive learning. Miffy Museum is the pride of the Netherlands in memory of its creator Dick Bruna. Seeing the museum, I can say that this place is definitely true to his words–” I create a world that children fill with their own imagination”. For once, I think the Netherlands has the most wonderful museum for young children and adults.

Adjacent to Miffy Museum is the Centraal Museum which houses the great works of local artists such as Joachim Wtewael and Gerard Van Honthorst. Another interesting feature is the “Utrecht ship” located in the cellar of the museum.It’s located in front of Miffy museum. There was a cozy Cafe in the corner of the Museum which you can enjoy a quick bite and enjoy the beautiful gardens.The souvenir shop can be found in the main entrance of the Museum.

Website : https://nijntjemuseum.nl

St. Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk)

We walked a bit further and we discovered the beautiful Labyrinth gardens in St.Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk) .St.Martin’s cathedral is the main cathedral in Utrecht and once connected to the Dom Tower but due to the collapse of its nave from the Tornado in 1674, the two building have been separated.This church was once the largest church in the Netherlands.What remains of the interior is still of high quality and extremely ornate with many vaulted arches and colorful stained glass windows. This is the lone church in the Netherlands that has a close resemblance to the style of the Gothic architecture.The building has a sole 367 ft tower named Dom tower which is Utrecht’s landmark. I was rather surprised to see the serene green surroundings inside the square of the cathedral. It has a fountain in the middle and the naves creates a remarkable shadow from the afternoon sun that creates a very relaxing atmosphere. Unlike the other Dom that we’ve visited, the garden has no graves, only a Labyrinth that my daughter loves.

Nice wall art found in the streets of Utrecht

As we are getting tired from walking around 2 o’clock afternoon, we decided to look for a place to sit down and have a drink. We followed the train back to the canal areas and wander through the narrow streets. The crowds are still on frenzy and there were now street musicians playing along the canals. Super ” Gezellig “!

I don’t know its name but it looks yummy!

Grabbing an ice cream, we sat by the benches facing the canal and just enjoyed the view, languishing on the coziness of Dutch life. People of different skin enjoying every single moment of leisure and I know, I am not the only one who became a storyteller after visiting this wonderful little city in the Netherlands.

Indeed, it was one fine day in Utrecht.

Reflections from the lowlands

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 De Grote Kerk and the Georgiuskerk amongst the greens reflecting in the pond 

From our recent trip to the Netherlands last Easter, I snapped  once again some photos where mirror-like reflections of nature was so captivating and irresistible to ignore.This is one of my favorite subject to photograph in Holland, its water reflections. Be it from a small pond, dike, lake or in canals, the waters are ever-so-clear! As we walked through the woods, I found this little paradise, just in the outskirts of the old town.This is the thing about Holland, be it after the rain or not, beautiful water reflections of nature are just a normal thing. The waters are so clear that the images of trees, city landmarks, and the sky makes a great portrait!

The world seen upside down; but still so beautiful — or maybe even more beautiful!

The first known mirror in the world was perhaps a very clear and still water surface. There is an old Greek mythology about a beautiful boy, Narcis, who saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with himself. So deep was his love, that he didn’t want to do anything but watch his own reflection, and he did it until he died of lust. I don’t know if the water mirror really is that dangerous, but I’ve fallen in love with Amsterdam reflections especially the reflections of the gable houses along the canals. During sunny days, the houses are reflected in the canal water or in the windows of houses on the opposite side. In parks, the image of trees on the water surface looks like a Van Gogh painting.

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Reflections from the Netherlands

Still-life or not, this beats any type of painting. The waters are crystal clear that minute details are clearly seen upside down.

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Though the weather is not that perfect, but still with enough light considering  I am only using my iPhone, I am still impressed by the images that I captured. This simple demonstration of beauty of nature needs no filter and no explanations. It is just perfect.

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Mirror-like collage of leaves of trees 

 

How about you, what are your favorite subjects to photograph in your travels?

This post is inspired by this week’s  Daily Post : Photo Challenge | Reflecting

Keukenhof in Pink!

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Gorgeous Pink Impression tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, April 2017

I know what you’re thinking…

I know, I know, forgive me for spamming you with my posts about our recent trip to the Netherlands but I can’t help it, Keukenhof is just too gorgeous!  One photo  wouldn’t do any justice and a single post is an understatement of my amazing experience there. The flower arrangement , the garden shows and the different exhibits showcases the epitome of beauty of the flower-mania  in Holland. For flora and fauna enthusiasts, it’s definitely a must-see during Springtime in Europe!

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My daughter adores some fine pink Tulipa ‘Menton’

 

After seeing all these beautiful spring flowers in the most beautiful spring garden in the world, my standard for nature has been elevated. My impression about Tulips in general has become so great that I have  now high regard for this wonderful piece of nature. I didn’t know that flowers could have such an effect to humans in general, and not only to gardeners, landscape designers, and flower enthusiasts.I have great respect for the artistic mind and tremendous hard work and  labor of the people who make Keukenhof a place to show this grand beauty.

To give credit to this amazing place, this time I’d like to share with you some photos from Keukenhof gardens once again, in pretty  Pink floral colors and it’s symbolism  to tell about your love to someone. Pink Tulips symbolizes the ” Awakening of Love “!

I have seen thousands of tulips coming in different shades of pink, from dark ones, almost purple, and with some bright tints of whites and red. Pink Tulips are a symbol of caring, attachment (not as strong as love, like the red ones) and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member.

Here are some snaps of my personal favorites so far!

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Pink Double Blooms

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Tulipa Negrita

Close up with ‘The Negrita” -Though it’s not as darkly colored as its name suggests (“nigra” means black in Latin), the purplish-pinkish color looks great in the garden with almost everything.

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Bi-colored peach-pink standard Tulipas!

Pink tulips  express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. It’s an ideal gift to have them sent to someone’s office as a warm first-day-on-the-job surprise. I was obsessing photographing them in layers because I just love how they are aligned with each other and how they create a striking sight!

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The pink impressions in Keukenhof gardens

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Pink-reddish lilies!

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Pink roses in the Flower show in Oranje Nassau Pavillion

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Up close with some pretty Pink Pearl Hyacinths

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Pink Double  Blooms, eager to blossom

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Parade of pink beauties!

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Beyond words…

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I must say that If you really have the chance to visit Holland in Spring, make time to get into Lisse, in the Netherlands to visit this garden. A day filled with colorful flowers can brighten anyone’s burden and who knows, It might change the way you see life.

Do you like Tulips? What is your favorite color so far?

If you’re interested to know more of different types of tulips, you can read it from here.

 

 

 

Holland, as I see it!

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Holland, our second home , as I see it!

Even from my countless visits, I am still charmed by Holland. It has its endless enigma that is so unique, so complicated and yet so unforgettable. This country behind its countless dikes, polders, and gazillions of bikes, is enormous. There’s a lot to enjoy and really worthwhile to explore, especially for families and for all ages.

For the first time,we spent our Easter holiday with my parent’s in-laws and my husband’s relatives and as usual, it was  a nice time, always ‘Gezellig‘. Though the sudden drop in temperatures dampen our moods for a while, the crisp winds, hail and rain came as a surprise but not for long, we managed to roll and live like a local.

So, aside from my recent Tulip-coma from the gorgeous Keukenhof gardens, here I share with you some of the things that still caught me by surprise.

This is Holland, the Netherlands, as I see it! Enjoy…

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Spring in Holland : Tulips everywhere, anywhere. I saw these bunch of  red beauty right along my in-laws neighborhood.

Easter egg hunt right in Opa’s garden!

Just like in Germany, Easter in the Netherlands was a blast. My daughter and her cousins had lots of fun hunting for eggs and of course, we had an overload of Osterhase ( Easter bunny) and chocolate eggs.

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Easter dinner with some fancy appetizers

Talking about the wind and Dutch Cloudscapes

The photo below is a typical Dutch cloudscape. I snap this  photo while I was in the attic and opened the window during dusk. You can almost feel the wind in the higher parts of the sky; the strips of clouds they call “wind feathers” . I know I am in Holland when the clouds makes an exhibition of their fluffy, airy, and colorful palette.The ‘cumulus’ type of clouds is as typical as the tulips and used as inspirations by artists in many classic paintings in the Netherlands. If you have time, Google ‘ Solomon Van Ruysdael’ and you will know what I am talking about.

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Phenomenal sky in the Netherlands, April 2017.

The Kissing couple  

I love everything Delft, and this one is far by my favorite second to the Tulip vase that I’ve seen from our visit to the Rijksmuseum. I can’t find any history of this but this little piece of a Dutch farmer kissing his wife in the fields is really something very-Dutch. It come in all sizes but they are typically in the blue and white color which means that they are made of Delft Blue (or Delftware) – a Dutch version of Chinese porcelain.

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Only in Holland, The Kissing Couple

Crystal clear water reflections

I know that I am in The Netherlands when nature is visible in any bodies of water. The water is super clean and clear that you always have a mirror-like reflections. I am obsessed photographing all these reflections. I took this photo  from one of our walks in the city center where the small river lies along the green trees and a castle. It always seems like just a few meters away and I am taken away to another place.

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Crystal clear water reflections

Flower power  spectacle in full colors

Need I say more,when it comes to colors, the Dutch have a reputation to defend. This applies to famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of my favorite painters, whose work can be seen in several Dutch museums. One of my unforgettable experience was seeing the “Night watch” in Dutch –De NachtwachtBut Holland is best known for its spring flowers, especially Tulips. They are gorgeoussssss!!!

My recent trip to the Keukenhof left me with a flower-coma but I’m telling you, by Springtime, a sight of tulips  are seen ordinarily in every Dutch household. Actually the flowers are just a by-product, it’s the bulbs that counts and is exported all over the world.

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Keukenhof Gardens, Easter (April 2017)

The Dutch Tulips, and the season of Spring in the Netherlands is something that you should not miss if you are visiting this country. If you wanna know why these flowers causes the first financial crisis in Holland, you better read it Here.

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Pretty in bright, red tulips, the queen of Spring season.

I have a kid who is obsessed with animals and in Holland, the wild animals are typically seen up close. You can see herds of cows, goats , chickens and sheep as you drive along the highway. There is always a country-farm feel like even in the midst of a busy city. I think I have seen so much horses and stable in my entire life every time I am in Holland. Here, deers are still 100% natural. In the Veluwe, a protected wildlife park, there’s always a chance to run into one. My daughter enjoyed her up close encounter with huge deers that she can feed and with the petting zoo in Keukenhof gardens.

 

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Huize Almelo 

Our lazy walks lead us to this castle, just a few meters away from the city center. Huize Almelo is a castle ( manor)  in Almelo which is owned by the family Van Rechteren Limpurg. It is not open for public access but of course you can view it from a distance.We love walking around here as it has a beautiful greenery and clouded with trees with a nearby lake and ponds.

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Local sighting- a herd of cows lounging in the fields

The taste of Dutch cheese

Need I say more? Gouda is the type of cheese that is known worldwide, but the famous cheese market is held in the town of Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam. I don’t know about my husband why he doesn’t eat cheese, but as for me, I adore cheese and I could eat this everyday!

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Delicious Dutch threats 

My sweet tooth indulgence when I am in Holland is elevated to the max. I can’t resist the delicious goodies like the  stroopwafels, gevuldekoek, kozakken,  Dutch Apple pies and bonbons. Though the Netherlands is famous for its ‘Frites’ and bitterballen, you can never underestimate the Dutch homemade dishes. My parents-in-law always spoiled us with so many home-made cooking that I can’t describe farther than ‘Gezelligheid’. It is always served with lots of love. And yes, even in Holland, it is Spargelzeit!

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Having a Gezellig time inside the Bolletje ” bakery and museum where the Apple pie is as good as their spiced biscuits and the all time Dutch favorite—Kruidnoten!

Our visit to Holland is not  complete until we had coffee and a slice of warm Krentenwegge ( raisin bread) and Dutch apple pie with a window view of  spring violet pansies, for which is truly relaxing. This bakery which dated since 1867, is a home to my husband’s favorite- raisin bread and Kruidnoten.

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If you see bikes  everywhere, then you know you are in the right city and you are definitely in the Netherlands! Either tucked in the central station, if not on a bridge, they are firmly locked over a canal or  in front of Dutch houses.

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Ik voel me zo ( I feel so..) Miffy figurine design created by Artist Mies van Hout. One of the life-size decorated Miffy  we loved during the Art parade on 60th Anniversary (2015) in Amsterdam.The fact that Miffy rarely shows her feelings allow children to project their own feelings on her.The red line that winds its way around Miffy is made up of faces that expresses all kinds of feelings.

Her name is Miffy, and  she’s older than Hello Kitty !

Nijntje, is a shortening of “konijntje,” which means “little rabbit.”Oftenly mistaken as Japanese because of it’s ‘kawaii’ features but actually she’s Dutch. Sanrio even got sued for copying her design; the court ordered them to discontinue their “Cathy the bunny” character.

Dick Bruna released his first bunny book in 1955, followed by over 30 more. This year, Dick Bruna passed away but left a legacy with this white bunny character loved by children all over the world, even adults. We were lucky to witness the Miffy Parade last August 2015 in Amsterdam for its 60th Anniversary where 60 artists decorated a life-size miffy  (1.8 metre high) from creepy goth to rubber ducky. My daughter adores Miffy  since birth, and I am thrilled that we brought home one of the limited edition’s design.

There’s still so much to write about but I don’t want this post to be a novel . But do you wanna know what’s my priced souvenir from this family trip? This…

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Finally, my own Dutch Potato masher!!! I am completely Dutchie-FIED!

You know you are completely Dutchi-fied when you have this in your kitchen!

 

Did you enjoy reading this post? If you’d like to waste more time reading about stuff Dutch people like, make sure to follow my Blog  for more stories like this and hey, If you like to support my artwork, please like my facebook page JustbluedutchArt  which I created just recently.

Are you in Instagram? Please follow me in JustbluedutchArt and let’s stay connected!

 

 

 

The Gable houses in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal houses

Even before I’ve met my husband, seeing Amsterdam is already on my bucket list. I love how different this city is and how unique the architecture you’ll see once you walked through the narrow cobbled-streets of Amsterdam. Oh yes, the bikes are another thing ! The first time I’ve visited Amsterdam and looked from the plane’s window, I was totally surprised by how different the landscape compared to the “brown, desert scapes” I saw when I first I came to Kuwait. Holland is flat as Kuwait, but at least with green landscapes.

Yes, The Netherlands is a flat country same as Kuwait, no mountains or valleys. Literally, about 27% of the country lies below sea level and tracing back the history, very prone to flooding.This fascinating country of my Dutch man  falls into three natural topography, the dunes, the lowlands or “polders” , and the higher eastern section of the country. But Holland is not only world renowned by bicycles, colors, thru Van Gogh and Rembrandt, or from its Tulips spectacle, but also with its capital landmark ; the remarkable Gable, and leaning  houses along the canals of Amsterdam.

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Reflections in the canals of the Gable houses in Amsterdam

“A leaning standpoint “, this is my first impression when I saw how crooked and odd the houses looked in a row. Some houses appear not to be standing straight, some really are!

When I explored Amsterdam and walked along the canals,even with a toddler in a tow, I really noticed that some of the houses are tilted, and wondered why. Maybe they just follow the previous pattern of houses. I know that it’s not only me, most of the tourists observed this. It was hard taking a decent photo if you follow an aligned perspective.Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. The vibes in this beautiful city is really wonderful, very diverse and totally laid-back. I could spent hours and hours walking on the small alleys, admiring the quaint cafe and shops, and the details of the houses. Everything is just so pretty!

Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometers of canals and its charming Canal District holds the city’s hidden gems; elegant canal-side mansions. From research, I’ve learned that the cost of living in Amsterdam is high, let alone renting an apartment along the canals. Amsterdam is known for its luxurious canal houses and it’s famous for the series of canals that encircle and crisscross each other throughout the city. From 17th century, locals built their houses along the canals which also served as their business offices, the basement and attics are used to store goods to be sold.

The architecture of these houses is very unique and particular and the intricate style shows the talent the carpenters had when building them many years ago. The 17th-century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.

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Beautiful houses in Amsterdam, a world heritage site ( UNESCO)

These Canal houses are known for being slim, high and having interiors that run deep. Due to the danger of flooding, the front door was usually built higher up and only reachable via stairs. The floor of the main story was a few steps above street level for this same reason. One of the things that stands out in Amsterdam are the big windows and charming gabled façades, many houses that seemed tiny from the outside opened up into beautiful spaces within.

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Every street along the canal is picturesque, unique and vibrant.

It is these very gables that are an exclusive Amsterdam design! When looking up at these majestic houses, you can see that many of the gables are adorned with a hook. Although it may look like a decoration, the hook is there to enable tenants to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the top floor. Canal houses were built slightly leaning forward so that the gable was further out into the street, in order to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window. A special beam or pulley installation would be located in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. You can see this method being used today as the pulleys are still used for moving furniture in and out of houses.

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A postcard from Amsterdam

Also,many old Amsterdam houses  are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Amsterdam was a typical ‘staple port’. This is a place where merchants make money by trading all kinds of goods that enter into the city, usually by boat. And speaking of boats, there are so many boat houses in the canals, most were privately owned and adding to the “charm” of the rings of canals flowing all throughout the city.

 

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Amsterdam canal houses

The thing about Dutch houses is that the large open windows  don’t have any curtains, which guarantees zero privacy. The sheer size of them and complete lack of drapes illustrates the openness of Dutch society and how its people show that they have nothing to hide. Having one’s possessions out in the open for everyone to see isn’t very common, with many closing their curtains at night for privacy or security reasons. This idea of transparency is a key social element and shows how comfortable they are with being completely open.

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Throughout the centuries, the phased expansions of the city of Amsterdam were thoroughly planned. The plots of land along the 3 main 17th century canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) were initially quite small. Each plot was 5 to 7 meters in width. Probably they chose to divide the land this way because that way, a maximum amount of houses has an entrance on the waterfront, the most important means of transportation in the late 16th century.

Amsterdam houses might seem narrow, but they are quite deep. In the back there is a large garden hidden from view and often the rich had a carriage house in the back.If you want to experience a chance of “Dutch’s Gezelligheid”, take a peek of their lifestyle the next time you roam around and walk through the small alleys. Amsterdam sure thing is a busy city and literally never sleeps, but you can’t afford to miss the beauty that this city holds!

 

Have you visited Amsterdam? What do you like from your travels?

 

 

Landgoed Singraven : Sun is warm, grass is Green.

The world is better when it is Green.

We found another perfect green paradise and as always, Nature never fails to amaze me. I am a lover of beautiful buildings & modern structures, but nothing compares to a visit to nature. The allure of the sound of the gentle waters slushing from a flowing river, the crisp green plants, the warm and bright sun that touches our cheeks with the gentle breeze.

Its all priceless.

 Do you know that your mood changes the moment you are exposed to green outdoors? It’s a natural  booster.

Or haven’t you realized  that strolling and walking outside can even increase your creativity?

I grew up playing outdoors a lot. My childhood memories are full of  playing & running in the rice fields, catching spiders and spending so much time as if there’s no tomorrow.It was so much fun compared to the modern games of iPad now. Now that I am a mother, I am so concerned about this especially with a wandering, active, feisty toddler who wants to be out, all the time! Studies show that playing in the dirt (soil) outdoors helps kids stay healthy. Bacteria, viruses and other gross things in the soil actually help the immune system, and brain develop. Playing the dirt can also improve a child’s mood and reduce anxiety and stress. There is really a great insight why spending outdoors in green settings can do so much to our overall being. This is also one of the reasons why Dutch kids have a very active & happy childhood. They are so blessed with natural greens.

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The wandering Toddler

We’re so glad that we stumbled into this hidden Green Oasis and a gem tucked in the woods. It”s  a secluded place of imaginary fairies, lotus, and serene river Dinkel tucked away from the busyness of the city life. There we heard only the sound of Nature. Nothing else. Everything is green. Everything is fresh. Even the sun has a special rays. It is gentle. The breeze is cool. We felt instantly at home.

Langoed Singraven estate is beautifully situated along the Dinkel near the village of Denekamp. In here are many special monumental buildings, including the state house Singraven, the rear coach house and the ancient water mill with three wheels. Singraven offers a versatile landscape with woods, alleys, fields, meadows, marshes, and the ever-present Dinkel. If you visit Holland, don’t miss to see this place. It is worth your time.

This place has  fascinating cultural history, soothing and interesting nature, active leisure activities such as cycling or walking and much more. My daughter just simply loved lounging on the greenest grass that we have ever seen! She climbs everywhere and licked the grass, pinch it, and tasted it. I cannot blame her, the place is like an oasis to us. We haven’t had these amazing greens in Kuwait, so we really indulge.

 

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Even the water in the river celebrates nature. A reflection of quiet green bliss.

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The Langoed Singraven  ( Singraven means Large Canal )

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Of Mid Summer Night’s Dream ,with clear River Dinkel on the side.

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Dutch Watermills (Watermolen)

Now one of the fascinating things about Netherlands is their Watermolen (or WaterMills).The Singraven watermills were first mentioned in 1448 and inspired famous 17th century painters like Jacob Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema.

 This watermill is unique because of its three mill wheels: one oil mill (inactive), a flour mill and a saw mill; both of which are fully functional and still in use. Current buildings date from around 1880. So much beauty &  history on this place.

Singraven has a manor which is sometimes open to the public and a watermill. The watermill has three functions: oil-mill, flour-mill and a sawmill.  Today the oil-mill is a restaurant but the other two are still functioning with the of volunteers.

The first house of Singraven dates back to 1415 but it was demolished and replaced by a new house in 1661. Several different Counts and families lived in the house. Almost all of them made improvements to the house. The last owner is  Willem Frederik Jan Laan donated the estate to a foundation.

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The River Dinkel that flows through Singraven

There so much activity that this place can offer. Its perfect for families with little children who wants to explore and roam.The vast area is perfect for Hiking, cycling, walking, strolling, or just enjoying a quiet meditation. The place has a park, a range of restaurants , Dinkel shop, Watermills, Carriage Houses that can house a function, Dinner or Luncheon meetings. You can even marry in this lovely place. This could be a perfect setting for a romantic garden wedding.This is also the ideal place to learn more about Nature. Estate Singraven participates in the project “Education on Location”, organized by the Foundation Museums in Dinkelland. Other participating institutions and museums are: Huize Keizer, Natura Docet, Mill Foundation Lattrop-Tilligte the Open Air Museum Ootmarsum and Cosmos Observatory. If you want to learn mohre about this place, you can check their website (Dutch ) Here.

Do you enjoy green landscape of Nature like this? What do you appreciate about country living?

Hope you have a chance to visit a green place just like this. Here’s to #theworldneedsmoregreens!

 

Cube Houses in Rotterdam

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Kubuswoningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Have you’ve been to Rotterdam? The Cube Houses is one of this city’s iconic landmark and pride of the Netherlands.

Imagine living in a square tilted Cube House with  walls and windows that are angled at 54.7 degrees, with only a  total area of around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

And everytime you look up, it seems that the ceiling is just touching your head,and all you can see is corners? As I explore more of the rooms, I was thinking that this house needed special furnitures and the thought of living above a pedestrian bridge is overlwhelming!

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Great view because of the sloping windows.

Structurally, the cubes sit tilted on a hexagonal pole. They are made up of concrete floors, concrete pillars and wooden framing. Inside, the houses are divided into three levels accessed via a narrow staircase. The lower level is a triangular area used as the living room. The middle level houses the sleeping and bathing area, and the highest level is a spare area used either as a second bedroom or another living area.

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Kubuswoningen

This is my impression when I was inside of the model Cube House when I visited Rotterdam in Netherlands. Outside it was a striking structure, more of like an eye-candy, totally unique & brilliantly made.

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“Living as an Urban Roof ” – Piet Blom

This is the concept behind the “Kubuswoningen “or locally known as Cube Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands designed by Dutch Architect Piet Blom.  It was  built in 1982 and was completed in 1984 which is a perfect example of “Structuralism”. He tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.

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Cube Houses in Overblaak Street in Rotterdam,Netherlands.

There are 38 small Cube houses and so-called  2 super-cubes attached to each other. If you want to experience what is it like to live on top of a tree trunk,  ( in an Archetypical way) then make sure not to miss this when you visit Rotterdam.

Do you want to Visit the Cube Houses?

There are three ways to see the interior of a Cube House:

  • By making friends with a resident (not very practical, unless you get lucky with a “Looking for a Cube House buddy” ad on Craigslist).
  • By booking a bed at Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam, a Hostelling International youth hostel that opened in the Kubuswoningen in 2009.
  • By paying a small fee to visit the Kijk-Kubus, or “Show-Cube,” a model dwelling outfitted with custom furniture (designed by the museum director) and several exhibits about the project and its history.

The Kijk-Kubus or Show Cube is open daily from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m. Follow the signs to the entrance, which is simply a doorway beneath one of the cubes. (Be prepared to climb a steep flight of Dutch-style steps; at the top of the stairs, you’ll enter the cube dwelling’s living room, where you can buy a ticket for a few euros.)

For more information, Click Here.

What is the most interesting piece of architecture you have seen lately? How was your experience?

 

 

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