And yes, finally! The first weeks just went by – in number 3 of them – and still, everyone is happy, feel good, full with energy. The guests are good as well, the team slowly get to know each other more and more, so: no complains so far. What a luck! But now go through the places one by one, where I’ve been during this one month, 21 days. Sounds like a small guide book – or just episode of that -, with pictures, personal recommendations, information. And some plus in the end of each part, let it be a surprise. Bon Appetit!
Amsterdam. Well, Amsterdam. What more can I tell about this city, but really? Who’d never been here, can’t even imagine this city, this life here, all around the city, and in the Center, in the Red Light District. In Budapest the Kiraly Street is nothing, compare with this. But this is not the point. Now list some of the things what everyone has to do, when comes to visit this place:
- Madame Tussaud
Yes, I know, almost in every second bigger city, they have one. But still, you can’t miss the dutch part of it. Where else you can meet with the wax body of Edgar Davids, Ruud van Nisterroy, Rafael van der Vaart, and other, really talented football players? The rest is the usual, George Cloney, Shakira, Ronaldinho, Albert Einstein, etc, etc. So this place has its own feeling. The time, what you spend for waiting in the line to get inside, totally worth it.
- (Red Light District)
The touristic center of Amsterdam, and not only for the men. All along the canal, on both sides, the girls are standing in the show-windows and offering themselves and their services, calling in the innocent, unprotected tourists. This place has its charm, for sure. Unbelievable, that during the night how many people are walking and staring on the streets. Here you can find everything, gift shops, sex shops, museums, hotels, motels, hostels, bars, coffee shops, everything to tease the tongue, the eye. And in the end, if someone really need some more entertainment, just knock on one door – window – and the ladies are ready for you.
- Canal Cruise
Next one is the Canal Cruise. Nothing like in Venice. Nobody is singing here in blue-white striped shirts, don’t stand in the back of the boat to steer and pull it, and not just two person stay inside. Here, please, they run this business in a higher level. I couldn’t count, how many companies offers different cruises in the center, and also some more a bit further from here. And all the companies have 8-10 boats to take the visitors. It is senseless. A quick reminder, or remark about the most important ways of traffic in Amsterdam:
Seriously, you barely able to see some cars, just bicycles, mopeds, boats everywhere. Madness, as I say. But turn back to the main topic, to the Canal Cruise. Boats with hard top, for 30 passengers, equipped with audio devices, so you can listen the guide on your own language (disadvantage for the Hungarians, I couldn’t find the HUN subtitle – discrimination). And the places, where these boats takes you, can’t be compared with anything else. If you were lucky (and choose the Lover’s boats), then this small floating vehicle will bring you out to the river IJ, pass by the dock of the river ships, so you can wave to your colleagues – if you were working on a river ship. But my form is 0 of 2 in this challenge. But still you can discover such beautiful places. One more thing on the to do list, what you MUSTN’T miss!
- Amsterdam ArenA
Okay, this one is not for everyone. I’d rather recommend this tour for men than the women. This stadium is the home of the Ajax Amsterdam and the Dutch National Football Team (Oranje). This stadium, where the Hungarian National Football Team once played a surprisingly 5-3, other time they destroyed us by 8-1. And still, this is a kind of holy place. The place, where such a brilliant minds stepped to the field. Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (Brazilian and Portugal as well), Kaka, Ibrahimovic, Roberto Carlos, Luis Suarez, just to mention a few of them. Oh, I almost forgot. The most important of all is Balazs Dzsudzsak!!! And it wasn’t me who said this, but the tour guide. You can imagine, how proud I was. But anyway, if you like football, you have to go there. The feeling, the soul of the place is amazing, the guest-orientation is wonderful, the structure of all the tours, really good. You can sit on the top line of the tribune, and look at the whole stadium. It’s a life-time memory for those, who likes this kind of games. And who is a supporter of Ajax, it will be the highlight for them!
- Pubs, coffee houses
In this point, you can’t chose only one or two. Almost all the places have to be visited, but at first, please just check them on the internet, which ones are recommended mostly. My private suggestion would be the Old Nickel Hotel’s little bar (In de Olofspoort). Last time we’ve been there with my boss, and had an excellent Belgian beer (I can’t say anything about the Dutch beer, since here was none of them). But the place was the important factor here. It has some brutal feeling. We stepped inside, and like in the old movies, wooden counter, behind it 4-5 different beers on tap, waiting for the thirsty travelers. The place is not crowded, not on the main street, just in the perfect spot. Leather cover on the sides, few tables, a few more chairs. The air is a little smoky by the cigarette, but this is what turns this whole place to a fabulous one – at least for me. Then we realize, what makes a bigger difference! The Cat! He’s sitting at the next table, more sleeping than just sitting. We took our places, speaking, enjoying our beers, when I felt that something is coming through my shoulder. And the Cat was it. He was coming, through my shoulder, and on the way to my beer. In the last moments, a few centimeters from my glass, he stopped, scratched himself a little, and went toward. And we decided, that we have to come back here again! But as I mentioned, this was just one place out of the millions.
- Running possibilities
Million of small streets, docks, ferries, tunnels, bridges. This is Amsterdam. In every way where I look, the nature calls me. Start to the left side, through the bridge, go to the ocean liner’s terminal, through another bridge to another island, and back.
Or to the right, where the industrial docks, factories, cranes are. Or who knows, maybe go to the city center, which is more like an obstacle course than just a usual run, but still breath-taking. I can recommend all of them, you’ll find the best for you. The only advise I would give to you: dress up warm! Amsterdam is not the place of the sunshine, and hot, warm days. More the place of wind, cold, rainy, chilly weather. So put on your hat, gloves, scarf, and you’re good to go 🙂
Maybe I’ll be in a trouble with this one. There is not a lot to see, at least not that much, like in Amsterdam. But still, it’s a lovely, peaceful city. For running the river bank is just perfect as much as the city center, which is just 5 minutes away from the docking place. Restaurants, shops, boutiques, and of course, a long shopping street. They have a military museum nearby (Airborne division), so if someone is interested in military and history, it worth a shot. And one more thing, I almost forgot again. In the 70’s, they’ve shot here the movie “The Bridge Too Far”, what is a really nice complain of the city – in my opinion.
- Running possibilities
Simple small city, hard to get lost. Even harder, if you’re running along the river. Bicycle path and walking path next to each other, so you have a lot of space, just like distance. The edge of the city is suitable for the sportsmen, long distances, a few turns, 1 or 2 crosses, street lamps can disturb your pace. And also, to go to the middle of the city is another possibility, only 3 kilometers there and back, but if you want to follow the main street, it could count until 6-7 kms. It depends on you, how fast can you manage this distance.
Still in the Netherlands, still in Dutch waterways, but the next stop will be in Belgium. So, this city, Nijmegen (how to pronounce it properly, have no idea) is still not a metropolis, but as I heard, excellent for shopping. I don’t know from this point of view, I’ve been here only twice, always running. Oh, and once I was searching for a gym, but I had to realize, that here they do not have a daily ticket, just a membership for a month or a year. So, this did not make my job easier. On the other hand, I believe to the guests and my colleagues, this place can be good for shopping, wondering. Also, they have a beautiful park on the hill-side, and have to go there. And, the Casino! Everyone’s favorite!!! 🙂
- Red Light District
Yes, they have here as well, but much smaller than in the capital city. From the river to the left, a few small streets, but the point is the same. Having fun. Not so popular, just the locals knows about it, and of course some tourists 🙂
- Running possibilities
One of my favorite place. The city itself for walking, wondering. But also for running, working out. Leave the ship, and you’re immediately in from of the old buildings, next to the river, beautiful picture. There are two main options:
- Into the city, and slaloming between the tourists, what is a really good generative excercise, and in the same time we can have a city tour,
- Or go until the first bridge (lets start to the left side), through the river Waal to the other side, where we can find a smaller part of the city (maybe it’s already a separated city, I’m not sure about it). Through this small place, in a round – it’s a square shape – we’ll reach the railway bridge, and next to it we can find one for the runners and the walkers. Through that, on the other end down on the stairs, a little bit more to the left, and there we are, already. The scenery is beautiful, the environment is relaxing, the air is fresh. What else do you need for a good run?
Our first stop in Belgium. Amazing city. But really. It really watched my breath. I think it’s more beautiful than Bruges, and somewhere in the same level with Brussels. Not so important, or touristic place, but quiet, and the life is really depends on the river’s life. If you know what I mean. Groups of tourists are wondering, getting lost on the streets, taking pictures, listening the more and more interesting stories about the city. I prefer to explore the city by myself, get lost on the small, hidden streets and then, get back to the main routes. It feels much better. Everyone is heading to the cathedral, what is totally understandable. But in the mean time, they totally forget about the small, local streets, about the nice Italian-Greek restaurants, or maybe about the walks along the river bank. You can’t miss that one, there are really nice ships (just like ours) 😛 And of course bigger ones, older ones, and different types.
But what is the most interesting, and invisible for most of the people – or if you’re really patient, than you can see it -, that’s the water level. Antwerp is near to the delta, so the ebb and flow, which plays a very important rule in the city’s life. In the morning, when we arrive there, you can easily see the city from the front desk, but in the afternoon, you have to go up to the sundeck to see the top of the highest building of the city. It means about 3-4 meters difference within 10 hours, what is a really impressive fact, I think.
- Chocolate shops
If once in a lifetime, you can go to Belgium, you can’t miss a few things. One of those is the chocolate. And you can find Belgian chocolate almost in every city, every corner. I don’t recommend to step inside all of them, so please just chose wisely.
Elisa Pralines, just to mention the most centraled one. Or next to that, the Leonidas Belgian Chocolate Store, a full shop-network. But if you can’t find your choice, go to the next shop, sooner or later you’ll find the perfect chocolate for yourself. And also, the Sjokolat, just to mention one more. The choice is yours!
Hungarians! All men and women! Listen to the beer’s call! But really, the Belgian beer is Belgian beer, I can’t compare it with anything. The Danish got the Carlsberg, the Germans have the Pilsner, in England the Ale is the best, at home the Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Aszok and the similar things. But in Belgium, that’s different. Here, they don’t have just good beers, but they have wonderful, tasty beverages! De Koninck, Duvel, Trappista, Westmalle, Jupiler, Stella Artois, Amstel, Leffe, and these are just a little part of the selection. And where you can find these and the others? Almost in every restaurants. Cheers! 🙂
After the chocolate, this is the next one what you must try, if you’re sweet-addicted. But I say no more words about this, let’s keep something for surprise!
- Running possibilities
From this point of view, I love this city! On the other side of the parking places, which are just next to the river bank, you find paths for bikers and for the walkers as well, separated. A lot of the citizens, and visitors come here for running, for jogging or biking, it’s a really fit city. Last year I missed the local Marathon race just with 2 days… I was really upset because of that, but maybe next time, next year! And first, I have to complete the 21 km-s in the end of this October. But let’s go back to the main topic. If we go to the left from the ship, in 2-3 kilometers we’re already in the industrial harbor, but if you chose to take a right turn, than you can go a lot more in the same direction, without another corner. And close to that direction, you can find a little park, which is suitable for some workout. The city itself is not so crowded, except the main square – of course. If you avoid that place, than you can’t have any problems, this place is just perfect for running. As I said, one of my favorite!
To be honest, I’ve never been in Ghent before. Until today (21st of April). Because today I’ve been there – ok, not today, but on the 21st of April it was today. Not a metropolis, only 250 thousand inhabitants, but in exchange it’s quiet nice – at least that part what I’ve seen. I was lucky, I could met with one of my friends, spent a quick breakfast together, and later she guided me to the group’s meeting point. Nice squares, good shops, stores, old and new build houses – that’s how I could describe Ghent, or that part of the city where I’ve been. Kinga, I wold like to thank you again for this meeting, it was really nice to see You, maybe once more in summertime 🙂
Please, don’t ask me how to pronounce it. As you would like! Just a stop, there’s nothing really interesting here. But after this city, that is something f**king funny! As soon as we came out of the lock, and doesn’t matter if we turned to the left or to the right, the big, huge container ships are sailing here. Fast, with big waves. So just be careful with the gas pedal – hand accelerator, we don’t have pedal on board! If you (or the ship’s captain) is not careful enough, than it would turn this ride for fun or disaster. For myself, it makes me the first option, big time!
And what to do here? It’s a good question, I have no idea. Once I was running here with Orsi, at the beginning it was sunshine, in the end it was ice-rain… Welcome in the Netherlands!
Do you have the picture about the Csillag-erod from Komarom, in front of your face? Who have it, please, put your hands up! Wonderful, thank you. You can put down now. Just imagine Willemstad like this, but not like a fortress, since it is a little town. Really cute town. You can find here everything, in this hidden pearl of the Netherlands. Church, town hall, coffee houses, restaurants, harbors (2-3, full with beautiful ships, yachts), one gas station (Texaco), cemetery, souvenir shop, pedestrian street. What else could you wish?
And what you can do here, or just try?
- Reformed Church
Lovely, tiny reformed church in the middle of the town, in the end of the pedestrian street, surrounded by – a little bit morbid – the cemetery. And by a gutter, just to make sure. Nobody goes in, nobody goes out under the ground. Inside of the church it’s quiet nice, pretty, the priestess (!!!) has a strong voice, and hopefully knows what she say, I don’t understand.
I’d like to recommend this place, if you would like to have a breakfast. For that occasion for sure, about the other times I don’t know. A really nice place with a terrace, friendly and professional staff, delicious meals, local birds, and with a perfect view on the harbor. Just like in the movies. And the bonus point, you can have Muffin filled with Nutella!!!
- The Windmill
Willemstad has only one windmill, higher than any other building around the city. And it’s occupied, a family lives inside. Gorgeous, you have to be Picasso, if you want to record – or paint – this picture, this view!
- Running possibilities
Around the town, just in star-formation! The distance is around 3 kilometers, not a big deal. Me and my colleagues prefer to run here in the morning, before work (6 am), the weather usually nice here (even if we’re still in the Netherlands), and it’s also breath taking to watch the nature, how it wakes up. If you’re lucky, you can meet with a bunch of sheep as well.
Before 2013, I’ve never heard about this place. Not even a single word. Than last year, I’ve been there first, and I could see the place just from the sundeck, as the passengers left the ship. But in this year! 2016 will be different, I already knew it at the beginning of the season!
You can find here a whole visitor center, kind of an open-air museum, and not just because of the windmills. As the guide told us, here is the biggest pumping system in the whole world (?). As they said. 3 different system, one with coal, one electrical, and one with solar energy. The point is, that the whole place is located in a basin, under the sea level. So, if there is a lot of rain, this basin could be filled up very fast. And it won’t be so good for this place, right? So, somehow they have to suck out the water from here and bring it to the river, on the other side of the road. And for this they need these 3 pumping system. And it works fine! And of course, the other thing, the windmills. Windmills are everywhere. Look in front of you, to the left, to the right. After a while, behind you as well. You can walk all around the place, if you have a few hours free time for this. I had only 1,5 hour, but still, what I’ve seen, was beautiful. There is one windmill, where you can go inside to look around, how they used to live here – with 13 children!!! Amazing, I have no clue, how they could manage it.
Adorable tiny small town. One more. Quiet, not crowded at all. We stop here only for a night, so you can go out only by yourself to explore it. But totally worth it. You can’t get lost, but if yes, it’s easy to find the way back. In the middle of the town – of course – the church is located. And mainly that’s all. The nice, old-fashioned houses laying on the canal-banks, with nice restaurants. So this place is perfect for a relaxing evening stroll.
- Running possibilities
Anywhere. What I would highly recommend, to go across the river with the ferry (yes, you read it right, with a ferry, the staff is very nice, helpful, you can buy the ticket back to back in advance, and they remember you – mainly in the evening, then there is not much traffic), and on the other side go to the left. Empty road, just a few cars passing by, no worries. Instead of the traffic, you have a long, straight road, a nice stretch. Or you can go around the city, why not? Or maybe you want to go inside the center, the streets are not crowded, you don’t have to slow down or avoid of other people.
So, that was me for this time. I hope I made some appetite for you for this lovely towns, cities, just for reading about them, or maybe to visit as well. If you’re just a little bit interested in Belgium or in the Netherlands, you have to visit this places. Even in this order, because of the variety. One day is a big city, the next one is a little village. That’s why I love this area!
And of course, because of the running. And because of the TULIPS! 🙂