Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

WEDNESDAY – 1 August 2012

On the first of August, we all piled onto the train once more and traveled through the cow- and sheep-filled pastures to the beautiful old city of Leiden (Leyden in old Dutch).

Leiden Centraal – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Straight out of the station I saw a small booth selling….HERRING!  “Haring” is a Dutch specialty.  It’s lightly smoked fish served with onions…yum!  All of our non-vegetarians braved the fishiness and tasted it – and from what I heard, they all liked it well enough.

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver     Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver     Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver     Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Then we all walked over to De Valk, one of the oldest windmills in the Netherlands.

Prof. Nyitray, Cori, Angelique, Jason, Andrew, Perla, and Erin in front of De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

We learned about the different uses for windmills traditionally, including to help drain the marshes and make much of the inhabited land in the country today.  Since much of the country used to be marshland and wetlands, the water had to be drained to some degree to make the land stable enough for building.  Other uses for windmills included grinding grain and corn, and nowadays, they are often used for wind power.

We walked all the way through the house…

De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

…up the VERY steep stairs through the attic area…

Perla and Erin in De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Jason in De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

…to the top where we saw the sails going ’round and ’round over Leiden!

Cori at the top of De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Andrew at the top of De Valk – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

The long climb got us all pretty hungry so after a few hours wandering around Leiden, we met up again at the pannekoekenhuis (pancake restaurant) Oudt Leyden (old Leiden).

Oudt Leyden – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

We had wonderful pannekoeken on traditional large blue and white (Delft blue) plates.  There was every flavor from Caprese (mozzarella, tomato, pesto) to ginger/powdered sugar to cherries with ice cream!

Oudt Leyden – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

…I guess none of us learned not to eat anything larger than our heads…because this is what we looked like when we left:

Perla, Erin, Prof. Nyitray, Jason, Andrew, and Cori at Oudt Leyden – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Luckily, there were people giving out free caffeinated beverages at the train station so we all woke up out of our food coma for the ride home.  Cue goofy faces for the picture!

Prof. Nyitray, Shady Grove, Jason, Andrew, Perla, Erin, Angelique, and Cori in front of Leiden Centraal

All in all, it was a great day in Leiden!

Hello everyone!

Going back to Tuesday…

We started the morning with breakfast in the room and a short discussion of what we’d be doing for the rest of the week.  Then we all made our way down to Drift (near Janskerkhof in central Utrecht) where we had a wonderful lecture on the religious history of the Netherlands by Professor Henk Tieleman.

Andrew, Prof. Nyitray, Cori, Erin, Perla, Prof. Tieleman, Jason, and Angelique in the classroom at Drift – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

From there we walked over to lunch under the Dom (in the Domplein) and tried wonderful Dutch specialties like uitsmijters (open-faced sandwiches with 3 over-easy eggs on top) and kroketten (soft gravy/meat inside a hard fried shell).  We weathered the huge summer storm under the lunch umbrellas and then walked to the St. Willibrord’s church, the most richly decorated church in the Netherlands.  It was built in 1877 in the neo-Gothic style.

St. Willibrord church – Photo by Jason Cardenas

At St. Willibrord’s we were taken around by a nice volunteer who made sure to point out all of the unique nooks and crannies inside the church (including the dual-facing pews that flip up and down so parishioners didn’t have to get up and change seats when the speaker would walk up and down the aisles).

St. Willibrord church – Photo by Jason Cardenas

From St. Willibrord’s, we walked under heavy skies to the Catharijneconvent, a peaceful former convent that currently has the largest collection of relics and religious artifacts in Europe outside the Vatican.  We had coffee in the museum’s cafe and talked about the pillars of Dutch society and what it means to be Protestant and Catholic in the Netherlands both historically and contemporarily.

An intrepid few walked all the way back to the Hotel Mitland from the Catharijneconvent before heading out for dinner later that night.

Next installment coming later tonight!

Tot straks! (See you soon!)

Wow!  It’s already Wednesday night here in Utrecht– can’t believe the first 3 days of the program are already done.  Saturday evening brought Andrew to the Netherlands, followed by Erin, Perla, Cori, and Angelique on Sunday morning.  The whole group braved intense jet lag to wander around the city of Utrecht Sunday afternoon before sitting down for an intro dinner at the Hotel Mitland.  One final trip to the airport to collect Jason Sunday evening and the program had officially begun!

Monday morning we had breakfast in the hotel cafe and then met in our makeshift classroom aka extremely comfy suite living room for an short ‘intro to the Netherlands’ meeting.

Room at the Hotel Mitland – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

On Monday afternoon, we laced up our walking shoes and took the #4 bus to Prins Hendriklaan where we started our walking tour of Utrecht.  We walked up to the University College Utrecht campus and saw the Kromhoutskazerne area– site of monasteries and nunneries from the 1100s – 1600s, home to the Dutch military during WWI, and local headquarters of the Nazis in the provence of Utrecht during WWII.  It’s currently an English-language honors college affiliated with Universiteit Utrecht (located up the street).  We passed by the Rietveld-Schroeder house (a pioneering example of ‘De Stijl’ neo-plasticist architecture), had lunch at the Park Cafe Buiten (I got a great salad with pear, brie, cashews, and arugula), and walked through the Wilhelminapark before catching a bus downtown to Janskerkhof.

From the Janskerk (church) we walked up to the Speelklok museum, which has an amazing collection of automatic instruments (from early music boxes and clocks to large dance organs).

Speelklok museum – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

After listening to a number of music pieces–including ones by a self-playing piano, automatic violins, our wonderful tour guide with a phenomenal voice, and one organ fondly known as “the goat”–we gathered up our things and moved on to the Domtoren (crossing over the historical edge of the Holy Roman Empire…of course).  The Domtoren is the tower of the largest church in Utrecht.  The tower is still the tallest one in all of the Netherlands!  We then proceeded to climb nearly 500 steps to the top of the tower.  The climb, combined with the view from the top, was absolutely breathtaking!

View of Utrecht from the Domtoren – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

After the Dom, we went over to the Oudegracht, or ‘old canal,’ to have a traditional Dutch pancake dinner (called pannekoeken) at the restaurant ‘t Oude Muntkelder.  As it was Jason’s birthday, we snuck a card around the table to sign and then took him out for a drink downtown at Neude square.  For Jason: GEFELICITEERD!

All in all, it was a great first day!  I’ll be playing a bit of catch-up here on the blog for the next day or so to fill in the first few days when I didn’t post.  Hope you don’t mind backtracking!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next installment from the low countries…


Posted: July 28, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Hello everyone~

This is just a quick post to say the course has officially begun!  The first student arrived tonight at Schipol Airport.  Despite the briefly-lost luggage issue, everything went smoothly.  I, for one, am very excited that things are getting underway.  In just a few hours, I head back to Schipol to pick up the rest of the students.  Then we’ll take the train to Utrecht, get all of our transportation cards (OV Kaartjes), deal with the jet lag (nap time, anyone?), and have an intro dinner tomorrow evening.

To all of the students– welcome to the Netherlands!  To all of the blog followers– welcome to the start of the program and thanks for reading!

Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

YES!  It’s almost time to fly to the Netherlands!  We’ve had a few questions from some of you that others might have as well…

1. If I want to travel during my free weekend, do I need to book that trip before I leave the US?

*No, you do not.  It’s likely the prices of flights/buses/trains will be the same now and in a week (or longer) so you shouldn’t miss any special deals.  When you get here, your intro packet will have useful websites and other info about inter-Europe travel, along with a revised syllabus.

2. Do I need to declare medications I’m bringing when I go through customs in Amsterdam?

*No, you do not.  Both over-the-counter medications and prescription medications are OK to bring and do not need to be declared.  You should be able to pass through the NIETS AAN TE GEVEN / NOTHING TO DECLARE line at Schipol Airport.

3.  What do I need to declare?

*You need to declare items such as firearms and controlled substances (not prescriptions) so none of you should have that issue.  You are no longer allowed to bring meat or vegetables from any non-European Union country into the Netherlands (even if it was purchased on an airplane or in an airport that is non-EU).  If you have any meat or veggies from the USA, leave them behind or eat them because if they are declared, they’ll be confiscated.

4.  Do I need to change money before I arrive?

*No, you do not.  When I meet you at Schipol, I’ll take you past the airport bank and you can do it at that time.


If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to ask.  See you all soon!

Groeten uit Nederland!  (KHROO-ten OUT NAY-dur-lahnd)

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Arrived in the lowlands this afternoon, waved hello to Amsterdam from Schipol Airport, hopped on a train and came to Utrecht.  Apparently brought the warm California weather along…but luckily it will be back to the high 60s / low 70s, overcast, and rainy Dutch weather by the time all of you fly in this coming weekend.  Treated myself to Dutch bread (tijger brood–tiger bread) and cheese (komijnekaas–Gouda cheese with cumin seeds) for dinner.  That would normally be a breakfast food–but hey, I’m jetlagging.

Just a few reminders and tidbits of info before you come:

1.  If you are accustomed to using a small, square, American-style washcloth, consider bringing one along as Dutch people use long, rectangular towels instead.  If not, doesn’t matter.

2.  As I’ll be handling most of the breakfast and lunch prep, please let me know [] if you have any dietary preferences or allergies.  For example, if you’re vegetarian but really hate celery, let me know so I don’t go on a crazy celery kick and make you sad.

3.  Don’t forget to bring a small umbrella or rain jacket (or be prepared to buy one here) as there is a 99.9999% chance of rain next week.


*I will be meeting you all at Schipol Airport and then bringing you back to Utrecht on the train.  If you are one of the 7:45am arrivals, you may have to wait for an hour or two for the others so bring a book!

*When you arrive at Schipol, you’ll go through the baggage claim and pick up your luggage, then exit into the main corridor of the airport/train station (you’ll most likely have “NOTHING TO DECLARE / NIETS AAN TE GEVEN” <–follow that sign out of baggage claim).  Immediately once you exit the baggage claim, follow the signs hanging from the ceiling to the “MEETING POINT”.  It is a HUGE red and white checkered cube in the central entrance to the main train terminal/shopping area.  If you get lost, just ask for the meeting point and someone will tell you where to go.

*I will be sitting on the meeting point and will be wearing bright pink tights, so hopefully will be hard to miss.

*There will be a place to change money from dollars to euros before you exit the baggage claim.  I’d suggest not changing money there.  Once you meet me at the meeting point, I can take you all over to the bank in the train terminal and we can do all the money stuff together.

*I’ll be providing you with a transportation card (called an OV Kaart) and will show you how to use the train ticket machines before we head out.

*Near the meeting point there is a place to buy postcards, lots of places to eat/snack/drink coffee, a phone store, pharmacy, etc…

*Tomorrow, you’ll all get an email with my Dutch cell phone # and Prof. Nyitray’s Dutch cell phone #.  Keep this with you–written down–in case you need it while you’re in transit.


Please comment on this post if you’ve read it.  We really want you to start interacting with the blog and I need to make sure all of you can access it/comment.  Let me know if you have any issues.  Thanks and goede reis (good travels)!