A Travellerspoint blog

First visit to Kinderdijk

Exploring close to home


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large_1297706_14982176427132.jpgIt's in the detail
This will probably become a Blog that goes on for years and years, Kinderdijk [Kinderdijk-travel-guide-1127549] is 1,5h drive from where I live but I love the place, it's really photogenic and since I also love taking picktures I will be back to make more in differens seasons and different light ...

This is the first time I visited Kinderdijk, why, I really don't know. The subject came up on a family gathering somehow and both me and my mom said 'I want to visit' so we immediately set a date.

We mananged to pick the nearly hottest day of juni and forgot the suncream so we'll remember this trip by pain as well. My dad and I brought our cameras and my mom just enjoyed the walk and the visits.large_1297706_14982176449920.jpg You can visit two of the windmills, Museummill no.2 and Museummill Blokweer, we visited them, both since they are different style windmills. My mom used to live near a windmill used as a saw mill and the village where they live right now has a grain mill. Where I live myself there is also a grain mill, but they are all very different from the one at Kinderdijk.

The mills at Kinderdijk are used for water management; to drain the polder to be exact, the mills pump water to keep the land from flooding. At most other polders modern technologie has replaced the mills but the ones at Kinderdijk were saved from demolition by late queen Wilhelmina

We had a nice dinner really close to the mills at Grand Cafe Buena Vista, and the actual plan was to go back after dinner for the sunset at the mills. But after dinner there was not a cloud in the sky left and the weatherforecast was only more dry and warm so no red skies tonight, I'll have to come back another time, and I will!

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Posted by Stefmuts 23:01 Archived in Netherlands Tagged landscapes windmill the_netherlands Comments (1)

A taste of Rome's fountains and piazzas

Rome 2016


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Piazza del Popolo (twin churches ???) Only half a day left before flying back home and still so much more to see and do in Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393]. We decided to take the metro to Piazza del Popolo and walk around until it's time to get to the train station. We left our luggage in the hotel and went on our way.

Somehow it seems I have a thing for scaffolding this year, many of the castles in Denmark and Sweden as wel as the Moses statue at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli and guess what one of the twin churches at Piazza del Popolo (!) always my luck!

From there we walk to the spanish steps, it's not a thing thats very high on my list but as it's close we might as wel take a look right? The steps have been closed for renovation this summer and are only just re-opened.large_1297706_14831083914936.jpg
It's sayd to be a meeting place always crowded with people sitting on the steps, but after the renovation the Roman police sees to it you don't go and eat your lunch on the steps, don't know why but it's not allowed and they are pretty strict on the matter. The fountain at the bottom looks like a sunken boat, I think it's quite ugly, and thats exactly what it's called too: Fontana della Barcaccia

Next we go and follow the route to Fontana Trevi which I actually liked a lot more than I thought I would, I thought the whole entourage of the fountain would be too much but it all fits just fine. I only think it should have been on a bigger square, but on the other hand thats also part of it's charm. I didn't throw a coin with my right hand over my left shoulder but I'm sure I'll be coming back to Rome one day so I didn't feel the need (and my Dutch roots prevent me from throwing money anyway)

It's still a bit early for lunch and since the Pantheon is really close now we go and visit this as well.large_1297706_14831084178457.jpg
Fontana Trevi (multiple photos cut and paste)Didn't think there would be enough time but everything is much closer than I expected. I'm really glad we did get to visit it! I think it's a great building. It started out as a Roman temple and was later transformed into a church. You would expect it to be a dark place with only a hole in the roof for lighting (the eye or oculus) but it really is not. The floors and walls are richly decorated but my main interest goes to the dome (occupational deformity)

We have lunch near the Pantheon before taking the nearest metro train to Termini station. We pick up our luggage at the hotel and go and find out how the ticket stuff works to get us to the airport. An old guy helps us out, I know it's a form of begging, but hey he helps us on our way so I leave him some change.

On our way to the airport it starts raining, we have been lucky with the weather for a change

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:44 Archived in Italy Tagged churches buildings fountain ruins city sightseeing roman city_trip Comments (0)

Capital of the Roman empire

Rome 2016


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After visiting several Roman sites all over I think it’s about time I go and see the place they came from, starting with the Colosseum. Here we can skip the line again and although it’s not as crowded as the Vatican museum skipping the line safes us at least half an hour waiting time. Inside I can’t help it comparing the hole Amphitheatre to the one I visited in Tunisia (El Djem) The Colosseum might be the biggest one but it’s most certainly not the best preserved one. I remember visiting the tunnels under the arena in Tunesia, here in Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393] the whole floor of the arena is gone. A part of the outside walls are modernly rebuilt and a part of the arena is covered to show how it would have looked like with the floor intact.
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But it still is an impressive structure which would have been able to seat up to 50.000 people at gladiator and animal fights and executions, with trap doors and lift constructions to get them on and off the ‘stage’.

On the upper outside ring is an exhibition on Palmyra and the damage Isis has done to that place. It’s really sad to see the before and after pictures but the replica of the famous statue Isis has destroyed shows how modern technology can undo a bit of the damage, yes the real one is gone forever but restorations with similar replicas at least make sure all is not lost.

Then it’s on to Palatine hill / Forum Romanum , here again a waiting line and no skipping this time, but we get the tip to walk the 5 minutes to the other entrance.
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There we slip in just before a group. Their tour guide was counting heads so we just went around them, not nice maybe, but no harm done either. We walked around for a while, came to the place where we could overlook circus maximus, I later saw that spot is actually three stories high built, you have no idea when you’re standing there. We walked back to the entrance near the colosseum then decided we needed a toilet so we left the site at the north entrance.

A TB-er gave me a tip on the Moses statue by Michelangelo at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli so we crossed the street to go find it. Again I used Google maps offline to find it, we found Piazza di San Francesco di Paola and it had to be near that but no church in site. On the far side of the Piazza there is a tunnel and a sign, we were on the right track.
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view from Castel de Sant’Angelo Through the tunnel another square and indeed a church. Doesn’t look like much on the outside but the inside is beautiful! The statue of Moses is on the right side of the altar. It’s part of a huge free-standing funeral monument meant for Pope Julius II but before it was finished Michelangelo had to do another painting job, a chapel in the Vatican (the Sistine chapel J ) My luck again, it's in scaffolding. But they built the scaffolding around the most important figure: Moses . The chains of St Peter are also on display in the church under the main altar.

Last thing on the list for today is a Roman / Christian combination: Castel de Sant’Angelo This building started out as the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, it later became a fortified military outpost in order to defend Rome and a hiding place for the pope. Inside the passage spirals upwards with slopes and stairs until you reach the level with again elaborately decorated rooms. On this level you also have a nice view on the river and the Vatican.

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Posted by Stefmuts 23:51 Archived in Italy Tagged churches ruins city sightseeing roman Comments (2)

Vatican skip the line

Rome 2016


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After breakfast me and my mom went to find the open hop-on hop-off buss to go with the rome Omnia card. We knew to look for a yellow bus but it took us some time to find the right bus stop as they don’t have a sign as most other hop-on hop-off companies. It turned out to be across the street from the train station (Termini) on Via Giovanni Giolitti (for those planning to use the Omnia card on their trip) To use the skip the line ticket option we had to join a group tour at a set time so we only reserved for the Vatican museum and took the gamble at St.Peters. We had some time before we had to get to the meeting point so we started exploring on our own.

At St.Peters there was a long line of people waiting to get in so we almost regret not getting the tour.large_1297706_14830227453000.jpg
But as we planned to visit the basilica after the museum we would just get in line then. Another thing on the list was Santi Michele e Magno (Kerk der Friezen) I located it on google maps but it still was a bit hard to find it in real life. There was only a small sign on the wall and stairs going up between the buildings, no real indication of there being a church. On top of the stairs a big steel gate and behind it a courtyard and indeed a building looking like a church. Sadly the gate was closed, a man sitting at the top of the stairs told us it had been open every day up until now, must be our luck.

At 12:00 we had to go to the meeting point. While waiting we saw other groups pass by, following the person with the flag. A boy waiting with us asked his dad why those people were following the flag, not realizing he was about to do exactly the same.large_1297706_14830228053648.jpg
Our flag was a fast walker though and I felt sorry for the lady with the walking cane who could not keep up. We skipped the line on the other side of the street. So this is what they mean by better use a skip the line ticket for the Vatican museum. The row of people waiting to get in was huge! We on the other hand could use the group entrance which was empty (!) Inside we got our tickets and could go on by ourselfs. We didn’t plan to see all the rooms so we skipped the Egypt exhibition and took the short route to the Sistine chapel, our main reason for visiting the museum.

We pass through various lavishly decorated rooms, it’s all so much you fail to see the beauty of it all. Walls, floors, ceilings everything is covered in paintings tapestries tiling everything telling a story.
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Finally we enter the Sistine chapel. Here no photo’s! Inside I’m actually a bit disapointed , it’s much the same as the rooms we already passed, too much of everything! (Critics are gonna hate me for saying this) The paintings are beautiful on their own but stashed together like this the beauty fades, and my first thought of the wall paintings was: color blue on sale or something? As for no Photo’s; I just couldn’t help myself … nearly got myself kicked out by an angry guard but he didn’t make me erase the picture so …

Back at St.Peters the huge rows had reduced to a lot less and within 5 minutes we passed the security gates. Inside it was crowded but not as much as I feared. We had to shuffle along to see Michelangelo’s Pietà and had to wait a bit at the elevator going up to the dome but nothing bad. My mom went with me up the dome which surprised me since she has a fear of heights. She did enjoy the view and actually went right up to the fencing, not looking down is the magic trick she said.

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:03 Archived in Vatican City Tagged churches buildings city sightseeing roman ancient city_trip Comments (4)

Preparing is half the fun

Rome 2016


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large_1297706_14830214115699.jpgMy mom wanted to visit Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393] for a while now. First try was with 2 of her sisters, everything booked and planned and then she fell ill and had to cancel the trip. Her sisters did go along with the trip and had a great time. We are some years later now and one day my mom said: I still haven't been to Rome, dad doesn't want to go there. So I said: I will go to Rome with you. So we picked a time of year and started collecting information on everything to do with Rome.

I went to my local travel agent and got some books with city trip offers, asked my fellow TB-ers what must sees Rome has besides the obvious (Vatican city, Colosseum, Trevi fountain etc.) I got some nice tips, enough for even more trips to Rome.large_1297706_14830214223793.jpg I found on the internet info on the Rome and Omnia card with skip the line options. Separate tickets might be cheaper but this has all we want, entrance tickets to the Vatican and ancient Rome, hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation. My mom found an offer for flight and hotel so we booked this all together.

Next thing is to plan the trip itself, most things we both want to see so no need for concessions there. We plan a full day for the Vatican, a full day for ancient Rome and on the last day. Piazza del Popolo, Spanish steps, Trevi and some more if there is time

Our flight arrives in Rome around noon, then we have to take the train to the city center. Still way too early to check in to the hotel so we decided to walk to the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano where we can pick up our Rome and Omnia card and stop on the way to get some lunch. I have my backpack so I can go on for days, my mom has a small suitcase on wheels which turns out to be not as convenient as it sounds. We had a pizza and a soda on a small terrace near piazza Vittorio, picked up our Rome and Omnia card and took the metro back to Termini station. Checked in our hotel and stayed there till dinner time.

We found a nice restaurant really close to our hotel we didn't feel like doing the city tour at night so we would just make sure to be rested enough for tomorrow: the Vatican

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:44 Archived in Italy Tagged churches buildings city sightseeing city_trip Comments (1)

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