Keukenhof – the perfect day out on Easter Monday

4cef0d00-1f06-42b0-8ce5-603e3412d710.JPGWe had a really fortunate day when we had to travel to Den Haag anyway. By the time we finished there, it was a bright sunny day, albeit not entirely warm at all. But after a short visit to the seaside nearby, we went on to enjoy a wonderful day among the flowers in this enchanted world. Keukenhof can be approached easily by car either from Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague or Rotterdam as it is situated right in their middle. Expect to pay €16 per adult and €8 per child and also that even small children with small rollers are not allowed in – we came with two of these to make it possible for the kids to roll easily from place to place without getting to tired but we had to park them in a locked place. I personally don’t know why exactly this was the rule as people were allowed in with dogs on long leashes, which definitely disturbs lots of people, but one can’t argue. Instead, enjoy! We aren’t adding comments as the variation of flowers – and with them, names – is so vast that it’s impossible to keep up.

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Hope you enjoyed all these.

by Z.J.S, P.S. (first two photos and one more near the end courtesy of “De Gitarist“, and with participation of Zhuo and Julcsika)

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Prague, part 4

p1120612If one has more than two days to spend in Prague, (s)he will most probably come back to the castle again, at least to have another look at the city, even if it’s a cold, windy day. This time around, we’ll look at the outer walls of the palaces overlooking the river, then look down.p1120520p1120607p1120609On a sunny day, it looks a lot more cheerful, of course. So does the city below.p1120525p1120515But wait, what’s that dark wall over there? Closer …p1120511Still uncertain … Let’s get down there.

It’s actually within the Waldstein Palace complex, which I approached from the direction of the garden.p1120615_waldstein-palSome interesting sculptures can also be seen in the garden as we approach that wall.p1120618p1120618p1120622p1120623Some of those sculptures are quite old, this Laokoon below, for example, by a Dutch sculptor, is from the early 17th century.p1120626To the left of this path is that wall, which turns out to be called ‘dripstone’, which, outside of geology, is a a stone moulding used as a drip, also called ‘hood mould’. I’ve been to countless cities around Europe and China, but this is the first time I’ve seen such a wall. A rare sight indeed …p1120628_dripstonep1120629and there is even a big aviary for eagle owls made of these walls there.p1120632After having a good look, we can retract our steps and then, on the left side, we can go through a door to the Senate of the Czech Parliament – we have actually seen this entrance down the path among the sculptures, above. Here we get into a nice inner yard. p1120635_walstein-palaceThis is the Senate building, where, in the basement, we can see a nice collection of presents presented to members of the Parliament and other government official on their visits to a lot of countries around the world, from Zimbabwe through Turkey to Malaysia and further – a rare collection of people’s self-reflection.p1120638p1120640Only then did I find the front of the palace. Looking around a bit here, I finish my accounts of Prague. Hope you’ve enjoyed all of it and that you can also visit this gem of Middle-Europe, or similar Czech cities if you haven’t already been there.p1120642p1120643p1120645p1120648p1120650

By P.S.

Castles in the Netherlands 14 – Kasteel Heeswijk, in Brabant

A very romantic little castle indeed, with a simultaneous presence of various styles added over the centuries. While the first parts originally stood there in the 11th century, there’s nothing to show for that, various styles from the Renaissance are detectable.I t spelt roles in Dutch history at various points. After several leaders of the Dutch republic and kingdom, the ‘Sun King’ resided there, and a French general also used it as his centre in Napoleonic times.

Although it lies near Den Bosch, in the small village of Heeswijk-Dinther, it is difficult to approach, and impossible by train. Due to roadworks in the neighbourhood, I even found it difficult to get there by bike, but the entrance fee of €7.5, guided tour included, is worth the time and effort. A real gem of a place. Hope you can enjoy it too.

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Of course, the guidance in the tour has its disadvantages, but, unlike in a previous castle, the guide didn’t force all the windows close immediately so taking photos was less of a problem here, only a drag as the guide was talking for ages about one historical – mostly of tertiary interest – figure in the paintings after another. At least I was allowed to wonder in the meantime.

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In one room, interesting armour was exhibited, even complete with Excalibur …

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The “Chinese room” was unfortunately behind glass

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Nowhere before have I seen Chinaware on the ceiling …

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It was time to leave after more than an hour and a half. A great place.

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by P.S.