Tag Archives: world heritage

Water Flowing through Amsterdam

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Welcome back to this travel blog! It’s been some time. We’ve had bathroom renovation in our place, what a mess! We stayed at my mom’s during the ten messy weeks, while she was in Poland. Otherwise we would have to pee in a bucket in the kitchen, take a shower in a shed in the yard and cook… no, no cooking. So we took the cats, some clothes, cameras and went exile. It was better then the staying at home option, but not sleeping in your own bed for over two months is not nice. And when we got back, the internet was dead. What a joke!

Now we are back, the internet is back and the bathroom and fresh, new and nice. Pretty good. And I’m back on the blog! Have we been travelling, while on exile? Have we seen some world heritage sites? Oh, yes! We went to Amsterdam and visited several sites in Holland and I was to Budapest with my work for a day. So let’s go!

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Water everywhere

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City of cheese

Amsterdam, what a city. We went there quite early this Spring, considering Spring being pretty late this year. I think it was the first weekend with sunshine and you could actually eat outside and just enjoy the warming rays of the sun. With a jacket on, but still. We decided what we wanted to do and see, we bought a flight ticket and friends told us where to stay. And all the nice, cozy and cheap places where crowded, booked, finito. It was some kind of youth event in town and some concert. And all the cheap hotels? Forget it! But after some searching we fond a five-star hotel close to the train station with one cheap room left. It was supposed to be a small room, a shead, but still a room.

When we arrived at the hotel we were told: “We’re really sorry, your room was taken we have to upgrade you to our luxury site. No extra cgarge”. To bad breakfast was not in the price. But minibar was with free refills. And Nespresso machine with as much coffe as we could drink. Pretty good deal.

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Pretty city

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City of bikes

We started out with visiting the tulip fields. I’ll write another post about it. In Amsterdam we strolled around a biit. We had some beer, coffee and food. Mostly meat, nothing special and the most wonderful pancakes. And more beer. One night we found an African restaurant and had kudu and springbock and Savanah Dry. Oh, how I long for Africa! We passed several shops with cgeese and had to try some. Great cheese!

In Amsterdam there were bikes everywhere. The city is pretty flat, so it was easy to ride a bike, but we didn’t. We walked. And walked, and walked. It was a very cute city with old buildings and smiling people. The building were often leaning and were not straight at all. I wonder why?

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City of channels

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City of weed

We took a boat tour, of course. We saw the city from the water, going through the channels, exploring the city. We looked at the leaning houses, beautiful places and seeworthy museums. Places to visit on foot and places that could be good. The tour was very nice and we met an American couple, that was travelling around Europe. Some people say that Americans are stupid that go to several European countries in a few weeks, but I think that’s a perfect thing to do. If you don’t have much time, you should still make the best of it. Take all the best gems, the rest is for later if more time and money would show up. All my respect to these eople!

More walking in Amsterdam took us to the red light district that was more sad then happy, coffee shops and shops with weed. Maybe I’m too old but I was not impressed. I was not really impressed by people that was stoned and gone. And the smell of weed was not so nice either.  Some things are magnets for wrong kind of people and that’s nothing to be proud of. That’s my opinoin.

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Gay city

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Amsterdam by night

We visited also a cat gallery. It was a wonderful place with paitingsof cats, sculptures of cats and three living, attention demanding cats. So cool! We didn’t visit any more museums. It was just a lazy weekend. We walked across the town day and night. We walked across the channels, streets and squares. The city made us feel good and embraced us, made us feel welcome. We found gay streets with rainbow flags in every shop, pub and hanging from every house, showing that everyone was welcome here, no matter who he or she liked.

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Another night view

Amsterdam is a pleasant city. You can walk or hire a bike and public transportation is cgeap and every where. I liked it!

Link: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht.

Grade for the Amsterdam channel system:

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Strong Wind, Windmills and Spring in Kinderdijk

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As I wrote in my previous post we went to Amsterdam to welcome Spring and make our annual visit-a-European-city-in-Spring-weekend. It was some kind of youth festival in town, so all the hostels, cheap bed-and-breakfast places and hotels were taken, but we found a good deal on a five star hotel, Amrath, near the central station, so it was pretty OK. We booked, of course, the cheapest room we could find.

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Windmill and yellow flowers

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Detail on a windmill

 

When we arrived at the hotel we were told that our room was taken, and they were really sorry, but they had to upgrade us to luxury suite. No extra cost. I wasn’t sorry. The room was great with huge bed, huge bathroom, free minibar and remote for the curtains, but we were not planning on staying in the room, anyhow.

The spring was slowly waking up, sunshine was pleasant, but it was still pretty cold and the tulip fields in Keukenhof were still pretty empty, although the park was nice. I’ll write more about it later, in another post.

On the second day we decided to leave Amsterdam and visit Kinderdijk and see the windmills, a UNESCO world heritage site. Staying almost next to the train station made it easy to just leave. Breakfast was not included in the hotelprice, but coffee in the room was. So we drank coffe and ran off, buying a sandwich on the way.

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Nineteen windmills draining the area

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Windmills and canals

We took a train to Utrecht and a bus from there. Bus went thruoght really cute villages. The roads were narrow and we could not understand how two cars could pass each other, but it worked. And there were of course canals everywhere. And the landscape is flat, really flat. I think when the earth was made, someone came up with Norway and all the fjords and mountains and all the mountains were used, so when it was time for Holland there was only flatness available. No wonder they bicycle everywhere, there is no hills, what so ever.

Finally we came to Kinderdijk and saw the windmills from far away. What a great sight! Nineteen beautiful windmills, some of them still working, one for turistic reasons, as a museum. We visited it, of course, and it was really interesting.

Guess what, it was blowing there. The land is, like I said, flat, and nothing stops the wind, so it’s blowing. I think it was a pertty warm and quite sunny day, but I was freezing. The winds were still cold.

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Close-up

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It’s a world heritage site, yes it is

 

Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands. It is situated about 15 km outside of Rotterdam, in a polder. To drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the best known Dutch tourist sites. They have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Are the Dutch people proud of this site? I think so. But still they don’t make it super-commercial with pop-corn and candy and ballons, and that’s very good. But the UNESCO world heritge sign is hidden in one of the mills and I don’t know about it, I think it should be more visible when you arrive. And I’m still undecided if I think it’s good or bad that the information is there for those who want to find it, and not right in everyones face.

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Nice view

We loved this site, we were walking, looking at the windmills, looking and small yellow flowers. There were some tourists at the site, but I imagine that there are much more summertime. Do I recommend a visit to Kinderdijk? Yes, I do, for sure.

We left Kinderdijk through Rotterdam and it was not pretty as on the way there.

Link: Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout.

My grade is a very five globes:

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Blood, Polar Bears and Cravens in the Tower of London

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Time for another world heritage site: Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress that we saw in London in October last year. You don’t know it? It’s more commonly known as the Tower of London. It is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies  by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 . The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.  The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

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London Bridge, leading to the Tower of Lpndon

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Part of the Tower of London

In October last year Jany and I took our mothers to London. We wanted to listen to Carmina Byrana at Royal Albert Hall, see a few World Heritage Sites and just get away for a while. The idea to take our moms along seemed like a good one at first, but wait they actually never met before, so this could end anyhow. My mom is by the way talkative, she always has an opinion and always wants to convience anyone that she is right. Jany’s mom is calm, doesn’t talk too much and is more quiet. And now the four of us ended up in London.It was pretty OK after all, even if I was nervous and my mom tried to talk everyone down.

On the third day in the afternoon we decided to go to Tower of London. It was Halloween weekend, so we were passred by ghosts, vampires and werewolves, but when we got to the tower there were atually mostly normal people here.

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The building is huge, so this is another part

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We were not alone

We walked around the castle fascinated by its size. We listened to one of the guides at first, but then we decided to go on our own and read, look and listen to guides when we passed them, or they passed us. Maybe not as good, but we were quite late and we tried to be effective. It was still too much information for one visit, so I guess that I have to get back here.

As I wrote before the place is really old. It was cadtle, it was prison, it was treasury. It’s fascinating to see all the different time prints from different eras, different purposes and different kings. Like walking inside a history book. The oldests parts were more simple, the newer more fancy, but all the parts fit together really well and they still look like one whole piece.

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Inside one of towers

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Beautiful glass

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Fancy building in the yard

We walked in the different towers, all the different parts and you could almost feel the ghosts, the soul of the place, the glorious history and the less bright. The power struggle was pretty obvious as well. Not always criminals were thrown into the prison. Sometimes brothers get rid of each other in order to take, or protect their power, their crown and their money. And sometimes the luck turned.

The old kings had they pets from around the world. They had imported lions, elephants and evebn a polar bear that used to swim in a special pool in the castle. How did they got it there ? Poor animal, there was probably not enough snow there, it must have benn too hot, but imagine that impression of power. I gueass the guests were amazed.

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One of cravens

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This is the ledend of cravens

There were also cravens in the Tower. The legend says that as long they are there the kingdom and the crown will live in prosperity and wealth. When they go the disaster will struck and the power will shift. It’s importrant to keep the cravens there. Well, they solved it by cutting the birds wings, so they can’t fly away. It’s cheating in my eyes.

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Royal guard

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A couple of guides

The guides were dressed up in old clothes (I guess) and played often roles, pretending to be from back then. It was quite interesting and yet another story. I think it’s good for the imagination and makes the tour a little more special and theatrical.And it was fun for the kids and tourists to photograph the guides and themeselves with the guides.

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More Tower

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Old and new

We went also into the treasury to look at the royal jewels. No photography inside there, so I only have great memories. Inside the treasury there was automatic band, that we stood on aand rolled by the treasures. The jewwels, crowns, spears were beautiful. Gold, diamonds and other presious stones. Just beautiul, really worth seeing. I think that both mothers were really impressed. We were as well.

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Protecting cannon

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Detail

The Tower of London became world heritage in 1988. Link to the site: Tower of London.

My grade is three gloves. There is almost everything here: history, blood, treasure and beauty, maybe too much people.

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The faith of elephants in Serengeti

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I know I wrote about Serengeti once before. I often go back there in my thoughts and remember the wonderful nature there. So I decided to go back there in our blog as well. This time I will focus on elephants, so this post is more about the grey, gracious, smart animals and Serengetti. Let’s go!

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Elephant walking grasiously around

 

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An elephant starring at passer-bys.

Elephants are endangered, we know it all. And the people who maybe can turn around this problem and make it better simply count their money today more then lives of elephants. Am I surprised? Not really. How can people care about animals, when they don’t care about each other? How can someone who don’t care about his neighbor care about future generations and their ability to experience the same wonderful nature, as we get to experience?

Thailand’s prime minister promised recently that the country will ban trade with ivory. It’s a small step forward. But how about China? They don’t see the need? Come on! The need is huge! And banning the trade is just a small step, we need many steps.

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In the afternoon sun.

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Mother with a kid

WWF is fighting every day to wake awareness in this field. In many more as well. I was thinking if I wanted to sponsor elephants and rhinos or orangutangs in Borneo or gorillas in Uganda or maybe polar bears or Baltic sea? I chose elephants and rhinos. This time.

Did you know that elephants in Tanzania are on the edge to extinction? Did you know that elephants are smart and they know that in the National Parks, likes Serengetti they are much more safe, they are much more like to survive? They hide there and there are no fences to keep them inside the parks. They choose to stay there. Isn’t that amazing?

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Far away

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Pretty close

When we visited Serengeti we saw elephants several times. First time they were just next to the road, many big and small and tiny elephants walking in peace by the road. We stopped and watched. Another time was on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater. It was a large male elephant waving his ears. I guess he wasn’t too happy with our presence.

Did you know that African elephants are larger than Indian ones? Did you know that their ears look almost like the map of Africa? Did you know that they are, just as humans, either right or left-handed? Most of them are left “handed” You can see that on their tasks, the one that is shorter is the one that they use more often, so it’s more woren down. Did you know that they live in couples and are monogamous? Did you know that they can cry? When their partner or a child or a friend die they actually mourn and cry and are sad for a long time.

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Gathering

And these wonderful animals some people see as merely chop sticks, ash trays or ivory statues. I have no idea why. But that’s stupid, heartkess and irresponsible.

I could write much more, but this is enough. Serengetti National Park became World Heritage site in 1981, let’s preserve it, lets’s save the elephants and all the other creatures.

Some links:

My grade for Serengeti is still five globes.

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//Monika

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Banks of River Seine in Paris

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I Love Paris, I really do. Its wide boulevards, its streets, the coffee shops, baguettes, you name it. Paris feels like home even if I don’t always understand the language. We went to Paris last spring and it was very nice. We visited Versailles and several other sites that are mostly for tourists. Including the Eiffel tower. And even if it’s touristic, it’s still nice. I think that I have a special capability remembering the nice parts and forgetting the boring once. Pretty usefull.

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River Seine and magnificent Parisienne architecture

Paris has several world heritage sites, the Banks is one of them. The others are Notre Dame and Versilles. We actually did not get into to the Notre Dame the last time, but I’ve been there before. You can read about the other sites separately.

“The Seine is a river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre. There are 37 bridges within Paris and dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Neuf, the latter of which dates back to 1607.” [wikipedia]

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You have to buy baguette when in Paris

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A cozy place where we had beef tartare and champagne for lunch, why not.

We chose Paris for our spring destination last year. We went there to celebrate spring, Jany’s birthday and our anniversary. Well, we celebrate the anniversary every month, so it’s pretty easy to pick a date close to it. Paris is about food, fashion, art, architecture. It’s grande and it’s worth visiting. How about the food? The day we arrived we went out for lunch and found this perfect place. We could sit outside, by a square, watching people and being happy. We had this wonderful beef tartare and champagne, just like that.

Another day we walked by a seafood place and ordered a huge seafood plateau. People walking by starred, so did we. The oysters, shrimps, crabs and lobster were just wonderful. I love Paris! One more day and more food, we ate a cozy fondue-place, we had crépes at another place and visited nice cafes as well with great pastries and better coffee. Last but not least, if you haven’t walked with a baguette under your arm, you have to do it here. We did.

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Magnolias waking up. it’s spring!

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Just an art piece next to the centre Pompidou.

We wanted to visit Centre Pompidou, by the new Matisse exibition caused long lines, so we skipped it, another time. This time we walked around town, enjoying street art, small shops and Little Prince. One of my favourite books is “Little Prince” by the French author Antoine d’Saint Exupery. I have it in several languages and I’ve read it many times. And I found a bookstore full of Little Prince. So I now also have it in Swahili.

Paris is a large city, but it’s a city for walking. We walked everywhere. We passed Notre Dame several times, we walked past the Louvre. We did’t visit it this time. I’ve been there before and you need several days just for the Louvre.

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Notre Dame and the Seine

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Another picture of the Seine

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Metro

And then we walked to the Eiffel Tower. It took some time and my legs protested a bit, but it was so worth it. The tower was lighted up and sparkling. We watched it and smiled and rested a while and then we started to walk again. We crossed the river Seine once again and we walked to Triumph Arch and Champ Elysees. It was really beautiful in the evening lights. And we walked again. Paris is one of the places that never sleeps. This street is a perfect example. It did not sleep. It was late at night and we visited several stores and a café. And finally we walked to our hotel. I’m not sure about the distance that day, butit was far. Was I tired the next day? Maybe, but it had to wait until I got home.

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Eiffel Tower

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Paris by night

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L’Arc de Triumph

The next day it was time for Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge and even more walking. We transported us across the river again, but this time we took the metro to get there faster. Maybe I was tired. By the Sacre Coeur there were many artists, painters and musicians. There were many people in the stairs outside the church enjoying the sun and the marvelous view of the city. There was a guy playing violine like a crazy and another climbing a lamp pole with a football showing his acrobatic skills. There were many cameras, many sun glasses and many smiles. I love Paris!

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Sacre Coeur

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Paris by day

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Street music

From Sacre Coeur we walked down to Moulin Rouge. It was nice and red in the spring sun. The area is not as cozy and innocent, as the rest of town. There were many adult-only shops. There were also many theathres, some probably with shows for the grown-up audience as well. But the area is charming as well and it’s worth visiting as well. It’s a part of Paris.

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Moulin Rouge

On the UNESCO’s site you can read: “From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, the evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from the River Seine. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle are architectural masterpieces while Haussmann’s wide squares and boulevards influenced late 19th- and 20th-century town planning the world over.”

I agree with the description. The architecture is great, Notre Dame is beathtaking and the Eiffel Tower is a modern monument like no others. But are these the world heritage? Maybe naming it “Banks of Seine” makes this too narrow? Paris, like many other cities that has a river in the middle is turned away from the river. The river is only a geographic landmark, that makes it a little bit hard to get across if you don’t find a bridge or have a boat. It’s too bad, because the river is beautiful if you just stop and look.

The river Seine has some small book and art shops and artists around it, but that’s it. And they’re all closed on a chilly day.

This became a world heritage in 1991. Link to the site: Paris, banks of Seine.

Initially this site got only two globes, as the river, but as I went back to look at the description I realized it could as well mean the entire city, so that’s why I’m changing it to five.

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//Monika

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