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Daytrips through the Netherlands during the summer holidays of 2008.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008.
For these summer holidays I decided to stay at home and enjoy myself here instead of joining my parents in France. My idea was to make several daytrips though the Netherlands so I could discover our own beautiful country. The first of these trips took place today.
Some weeks before I began thinking about a bike trip to the German border. Many years ago I did that when we went camping with our school to a farm, but that was only 35 to 40 kilometers in one day there, camping for a couple days and then riding back. My idea was to ride the whole distance in a single day. During the past weeks I had already been on some long bike trips, so that was a good practise for this extreme one. The conditions were fine, so today was the day. The weather was good with nice warm sun and barely any wind. I started in Rijssen and rode via Wierden and Almelo in the direction of Tubbergen, and went from there via Hezingen to the German border. Covering the distance of approximately 35 kilometers was an easy job that I did in less than 2 hours. At the border I took some photos which you can see in the Photo album. On my way back I cycled through the city of Ootmarsum in the direction of Fleringen. Ootmarsum is a beautiful old city in the region of Twente. It's a nice and cosy city with picturesque streets. I took some photos here too. Near Fleringen I rode to the Kroezeboom, which is one of the oldest trees in the Netherlands. A very long time ago, people used to tell of the folklore of this place, and later they built a chapel near the tree in order to have (secret) church meetings here. You can still see the small wooden chapel near the tree, but of course it's not used anymore. Unfortunately they were doing some maintenance near the tree today, so the photos are not as nice as they could have been. In the forests surrounding Fleringen I rode to the old havezate 'Herinckhave'. This is an old manor house with a canal around it where important people (for example landlords) lived or still live. The last interesting thing that I passed, was an old mill in the surroundings of Albergen. This Fleringer mill was built in 1846 and is a very special mill, because it's built completely of stones. Hopefully you'll like the photos in the Photo album. After a short break in Almelo where I bought myself an ice cream, I cycled back home. I passed some great scenery on the way, but as I tried to keep up a good pace, I was unfortunately unable to take photos. It was a great and exhausting day. The first 'mission' was complete!

Saturday, July 5th, 2008.
The weather today was again perfect for a bike trip, but this time I didn't go far as the nature near my home is also very beautiful. This Photo album contains more than 40 photos of the scenery in the surrounding areas of Rijssen, including Friezenberg, Borkeld, Holterberg and the river Regge.

Monday, July 7th, 2008.
Previous weather forcasts had predicted some bad weather for today, so I thought it would be a perfect day to go to the Railway museum in Utrecht. Later, however, the forcasts changed and the weather turned out to be good, so I decided to pick another destination: Muiden, or to be more specific, the Muiderslot castle. Unfortunately though, today was also the day that the public transport thought that it would be fun to act all weird. A power cut near Amersfoort made it impossible to travel that way by train. To get to Utrecht, I now had to go via Arnhem, which already took me more than an hour extra. After losing another hour switching trains and busses, I finally arrived at Muiden, via Weesp, at 13:30. I had left home at around 9 o'clock.
In Muiden it was rather easy to find the Muiderslot castle. I bought a entry ticket once I arrived at the castle. They offered me another ticket for a guided tour through the castle. I was interested in that, so I bought that too for a little extra money. After I walked over the bridge and through gate I was in the inner square of the castle. The 'knight route' guided you to some high towers from where you had a great view of the city of Muiden. In the Photo album you can see these nice views too. Floris V, Count of Holland, was the initator of the building of this castle, something that happened around the year 1285. The castle is mainly built up out of stone. Only the roof constructions, doors and floors are made of wood. This route also takes you to an exhibition room where various knight's costumes are on display. Since this castle became a national museum, it has been restored to resemble the way it was during the seventeenth century. This was when the famous Dutch poet Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft (P.C. Hooft), son of the mayor of Amsterdam, was living in the castle.
At 14:30 the guided tour through the castle started. First we entered the livingroom of P.C. Hooft, where he lived for 38 years. This chamber is located in the Eastern tower and isn't very big. There was an enormous bed standing there, capable of sleeping 6 people at a time. There were also some beautiful paintings hanging in this chamber. P.C. Hooft was an important man at that time and who was also very involved in politics. He was ruler over a few regions and he was also a judge. Later on we entered the beautiful Knight's hall, where they made laws in the past, and also had a many great parties. The tourguide really involved the kids in the story, explained many things to them (and us), and told nice stories about ancient Dutch sayings. Some of the paitings hanging in the living room and the Knight's hall are about the so-called Muiderkring, a famous literary society that consisted of friends of P.C. Hooft. This group was founded because P.C. Hooft often invited his friends (writers, poets and other artistic people) over at his castle. There was no war at the time and that bored him extremely, so he organised many parties and other celebrations, after which his guests could sleep at the castle. We also got to see the dining room and the kitchen, all of which had their typical characteristics. Nothing could beat the slendour of the Knight's hall with its paintings and exquisite furniture though. Finally we visited the bedroom where P.C. Hooft let his guests sleep during the nights. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take any photos in all these rooms...
After the guided tour I decided to follow the other free route through the castle, the 'tower route'. This tour goes through some exhibitions of castle items and a room where you can watch a documentary about the history of the castle, but as the guide had just told us about it, it was unnecessary for me to watch that video. The towers and the gallery upstairs was quite impressive, especially the turrets and battlements. The photos of these can be seen in the Photo album. When I had seen all the things I wanted to see in the castle, I went outside to look at the beautiful castle gardens. The garden was not only for flowers, but served as a vegetable, herb and spice garden as well. The garden is certainly worth taking a look at. Earlier there had been a show of birds of prey, but I was unfortunately too late to see that. Maybe next time... After a lot of hassles accompanied by some bad weather, I arrived back home at 19:30, and cooked a nice meal for myself. It tasted really well after such a long and active day!

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008.
As I didn't go to the Railway museum in Utrecht on Monday, I decided to go there today. I arrived at the beautiful station's hall at the Maliebaan at around 11 o'clock. This old railway station's hall still houses numerous waiting area and rooms, including a Royal waiting chamber and a dining room. At the other side of the building I could already see a steam locomotive. This one was the 'NS 2104' (originally 'HSM 504') built in 1914. It has already been in the museum for more than 50 years. Attached behind the locomotive were some old Royal carriages that were used by the Royal family in the past. After checking it all out I walked through to a newer hall. This was called the 'Workshop', and mainly electronic trains were on exhibition here. By most of the trains there was a sign saying that at certain times there would be mini-tours where a guide from the museum would tell you things about the particular locomotives or wagons, and who could answer answer questions.
A lot of the museum is aimed at children. There are some nice attractions, including the 'Steel monsters', which is a mini rollercoaster in the dark and with some exciting special effects. The part of the museum that is called 'The great discovery' is really special. At the entrace you get a transmittor with some headphones. It is almost like a time machine. First, you travel back to the year 1800 where you enter a mining city after a trip through a mineshaft. This village is the English city where the first Dutch train driver John Middlemiss guides you further -- you hear him talking in the headphones about while you walk along. You walk, for example, to the house of George Stephenson where you can see a scale model of the world famous steam locomotive 'The Rocket' from the year 1829. Later you enter the house of Michael Longdridge, the designer of the first Dutch steam locomotive, 'De Arend'. After taking a look at Soeders' workshop you walk towards a square near Amsterdam station in the year 1839. Unfortunately a replica model of 'De Arend' was not here due to maintenance, but normally you would be able to take a look at this old iron monster here too. I took a couple of photos of the most interesting things and made a selection for the Photo album. Enjoy them!
The Railway museum also has a restaurant where you can buy tasty things, a shop and a library. There is also some entertainment outside, especially for the children who can take a trip on a scale model of the French highspeed train 'Thalys'. They can also play with boats in the water or try to complete an obstacle course. There are also some trains on display outside, most of which are diesel locomotives. One of them looked very similar to a scale model version that I have for my miniature railway track.
At the end of it all, it was a really nice day out and I enjoyed it. If you are interested in trains, then it is worthwhile visiting this semi-museum. After my visit I went back to the Central train station in Utrecht. On my way I walked through the city center of Utrecht and took some nice photos of some well known and picturesque places in this beautiful city.

Saturday, July 12th, 2008.
According to the weather forecast, it would not be a nice today as there was a lot of rain predicted. To be sure of the situation, I checked the rain radar and it showed some relief for the place that I was planning to visit this weekend. I read some weeks about the Navy days in the harbour city of Den Helder, and that got my attention. The weather seemed to be fine for this location, so I took the train there. I woke up early (compared to what I normally do on Saturdays) and took the train to Deventer, Amersfoort and via Amsterdam to Den Helder. From that station there was a bus service that transported the people to the harbour terrain. This was all very well organised and indeed, the weather was quite good!
Once at the harbour, I first went to some enormous storage halls, that included a full distribution center of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Here I could see all the objects and accessoires that are used for cars, boats and aircrafts. Most things are still done by hand, but some parts of the storage center was operating fully automaticly. There were some stands where marine officers and other crew explained details about rockets and missiles. It was impressive to see these huge explosive weapons. At the end of this tour I got my bag back (you had to hand your bag and etc in before entering any of the halls) and walked some more around the harbour area. There were several activities to entertain the children. Other activities included speaking to a diver that was underwater, climbing into a helicopter and etc. I walked to a British landing ship dock where I was allowed to get on one of the ships. It was wonderful to be allowed to walk on this ship and to take a look at nearly everything.
Then it was time for a display from the Royal Navy and Air Force. Helicopters re-enacted some sort of rescue operation, the Dutch Marine Corps did some cool things with small rubber boats in the harbour and sailed in many interesting formations. Also the KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution) was present and gave a nice show with one of their extremely powerful lifeboats. The helicopter helped rescue a drowning soldier. This was all really impressive to see. I took quite a lot of photos of this, so hopefully you feel a bit of the atmosphere in the photos that I took (see the Photo album).
After my visit to the British ship, the 'RFA Lyme Bay - L3007' I went to visit the new Dutch ship called the 'Hr. Ms. Johan de Witt - L801'. This ship is so extraordinary that your jaw drops to the floor. It houses, among other things, a fully operational hospital operation chamber, many hospital beds, a full dentist's practice, a room where they can take x-rays and etc. This ship is also an amphibious landing craft which can partly sink in the water and open it's doors, so LCU-units (Landing Craft Utility) can easily sail in and out of this ship. Then it can close its doors and raise out of the water again. It could also take many trucks onboard, as well a some helicopters on deck.
Then I went off to go and visit some army vehicles. They had some armoured cars, weapons and many other things on display. Children could complete a full sized obstacle course. There were also some small caterpiller cars that took children for bumpy rides over high sandy hills. That was really fun to watch. At 17:30 it was closing time and this Navy day came to an end. I first had a nice warm snack and then headed back home. That took another 4 hours. This was a really good day that surprised me beyond my expectations. And I'm really glad I decided to make this trip. Because I didn't have the chance to look at all nice ships and submarines, I hope to go there again next year.

Monday, July 14th, 2008.
After a nightly adventure to Schiphol airport I went to bed at around 3 o'clock that night to sleep for a few hours. I had to get up early because I had a job interview regarding the conditions of employment at 11 o'clock. After this interview, which took place at the Tauw company in Deventer, I walked to the city center to spend some gift vouchers. I also walked for a bit along the nice streets in the city center of Deventer and along the river IJssel, of which I took some nice photos. You can see the photos of the Bergkwartier quarter and the river IJssel in the Photo album.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008.
The weather forecasts predicted overcast conditions throughout our country. It appeared that they moved in from the north west, so to have as little as possible to do with these clouds, I decided to go to the most south eastern place of the country. A nice attraction in this area of the province of Limburg is the Tripoint in Vaals. It would mean a long trip and I had to switch trains and busses regularly. Once I arrived in Heerlen I needed to travel for nearly an hour by bus to Vaals, from where I could take another smaller bus that would take me to the Tripoint. Once I arrived there I noticed that there weren't many people there, but still enough people to have a nice atmosphere. The people were mostly families with kids or elderly people. The border stone that parts the Netherlands from Belgium and Germany was easily found. There is also a nice labyrinth for kids at this Tripoint area, but I didn't go to that. Instead I decided to go for a walk through the area of this Vaalserberg (which actually has the highest point of the Netherlands). At some places you had really great views of nature and the hilly landscapes of Limburg. At some places the paths are so steep that one nearly has to use one's hands as well in order to climb. In the Photo album you can see some pretty views of this area. And, from here, I phoned Tauw and accepted their job offer, so now I had my first job!
Once I got back to the central area I bought myself a tasty ice cream, and after eating it I took a small bus back to Vaals, from where I took another normal bus to get to Maastricht. Maastricht is a really cool city to visit, and so I took some nice photos of the buildings there. You can see these in the Photo album. In Maastricht I went out for dinner, and I chose a nice typical Italian pizzeria with Italian crew. The salami pizza at 'Napoli' tasted pretty good, I have to say. After the pizza had disappeared it was time to go back home again. Also, by that time, the clouds had arrived here too, and it even started to rain a bit. It was a great day and after about 4 hours I arrived back home.

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008.
As I said earlier, I spent these 2.5 weeks all alone at home. This meant that I had to arrange all the food and cook dinner for myself, whereas usually I would never do that. I also had to do the dishes, buy the groceries, clean the house, etc. And despite some less sunny days, there were also very nice warm days. In the Photo album you can see some photos related to the text above.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008.
Today some people would return from their holiday, but because the weather was so nice, I decided to go out for another day trip. The destination for today: Den Haag and Scheveningen. When I got to Den Haag I went directly to the miniature city of Madurodam. Madurodam is a park where you can see nearly 200 typical Dutch things, but as scale models (1:25). All buildings and other objects are constructed in great detail, which makes it a great thing to see, and thus definitely worth a visit, especially for foreign people who want to discover our tiny country in just a couple of hours. Every night in summer there is a cool light show, but it would be too late for me to be able to experience that. In the Photo album you can find a selection of the most beautiful photos of this park. After visiting Madurodam I went to the beach at Scheveningen. Here I got blown inside out by the wind on the boulevard. It was also nice to walk quite a distance along the sea shore. At around 16:00 I went back to Den Haag from where I took the train back home.