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Delft Canals

A tour of the beautiful Dutch city of Delft

Delft is a beautiful Dutch city located in between Rotterdam and The Hague in the Netherlands. Well known for the Delft Blue Pottery, this small city has a typically Dutch city center lined by gorgeous canals.

Delft Canals [Photo Credit – sub_lime79]

The city of Delft has a history dating back to more than 750 years, its name derived from the word “delven” in Dutch meaning to dig. Delft has a good connectivity by road and rail with the other major cities in the Netherlands and the Amsterdam Schipol airport is just 45 minutes away.

Delft Canals[Photo Credit – niehoff]

Most of the Delft attractions are concentrated in and around the city center and it is best to walk along the narrow winding paths. Just keep an eye on the traffic.

[Photo Credit – Zemistor]

Start with the Oude Kerk (Old Church) situated on Heilige Geestkerkhof 25. As the name indicates, this is the oldest church in Delft, built in the 13th century. Originally known as the St Hippolyte Church, it was the highest building of its time, characterized by the 5 spires. The famous Dutch Baroque painter Johan Vermeer is buried here.

New Church, Delft[Photo Credit – FaceMePLS]

The Markt Square contains the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) built in the 15th century. The church is important since it houses the royal burial chamber. Prince William of Orange (Willem van Oranje) was the first royal to be buried here after being shot in 1584. Since then, the tradition continues.

Stadhuis, Delft[Photo Credit – tnarik]

The Stadhuis (City Hall) is also situated in the Markt Square, just opposite the Nieuwe Kerk. It was rebuilt in the 17th century after a fire destroyed the building.

Delft botanical garden[Photo Credit – Pete]

The city is also home to the Delft Technical University (TU Delft), one of the three universities of technology in the Netherlands. Just behind the university, in Julianalaan, lies the Botanical Garden. Enjoy the rich plant life including tropical, sub tropical, and ornamental plants and herbs in this beautiful green area.

Another one of the things to do in Delft is a trawl around the traditional open markets held in the city center, every Thursdays and Saturdays. Shop till your heart’s content, the next great bargain may be just round the corner!

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

My favourite piazza in Rome – Piazza Navona

Rome, situated on the Tiber river, is truly the Eternal City with the city’s history spanning over two and a half thousand years. When we visited Rome for the first time, we not only enjoyed the sheer brilliance and beauty of the Colosseum and the Vatican, but were also mystified by the very many piazzas in Rome including the Piazza di Spagna, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Venezia, Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza della Minerva. But my all time favourite Rome piazza has to be the Piazza Navona.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

La Fontana dei Quatro Fiumi [Photo Credit – The Wolf]

The oval shaped Piazza Navona forms the center of Rome’s social life, with its relaxed atmosphere and open spaces. Located just a couple of minutes walk from the Pantheon, the piazza houses Bernini’s La Fontana dei Quatro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) right in its center. This beautiful fountain, as the name indicates, represents four world rivers, namely the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata.

Piazza Navona, Rome

Fontana del Nettuno [Photo Credit – Rafel Miro]

Two other famous sculptures in the piazza are the Fontana del Moro (the Moor Fountain) located at the southern end of the piazza and the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune), situated at its northern end.

Piazza Navona, Rome

Fontana del Moro [Photo Credit – xiquinhosilva]

A prime example of the Baroque Roman architecture, the piazza is lined by beautiful buildings, shops and cafes. The place is frequented by tourists and locals alike, enjoying the elaborate art on display by street artists, musicians and painters from all over the world. Christmas market is held in the piazza in the months of December and early January.

Piazza Navona, Rome

Photo Credit – hslo

Other tips for visiting Rome include tasting the Volpetti delicacies and visiting the cemetery of artists and poets. Which is your favourite piazza in Rome?

If you’re planning a visit to the Italian capital, you can quickly find great deals at Rome hotels using the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

Zandvoort Beach, the Netherlands

Visiting the Zandvoort beach in the Netherlands

This weekend it was sunny and bright in the Netherlands – the perfect time to visit the Zandvoort beach. Situated in the province of North Holland, Zandvoort is famous for its Circuit Zandvoort (automobile racing circuit) besides being one of the major coastal resorts in the Netherlands.

Zandvoort Beach, the Netherlands

Photo Credit – Orangesplaash

The west facing beach of Zandvoort is quite wide and clear. The sparkling blue waters appear inviting and you can see kids playing alongside the beach, with their castle-bucket sets. A number of water sports including kite surfing and wind surfing are quite popular here during the Spring and the Summer.

Zandvoort Beach, the Netherlands

Photo Credit – Orangesplaash

This Dutch beach has ample amount of parking space, with affordable parking rates of around €1.8 per hour, but on hot days it is advisable to use the public transportation instead because of the frequent traffic jams. A number of cafes in and around the beach cater to the taste buds of the tourists and locals alike, dishing out delicious Dutch snacks, not to forget the frites.

Zandvoort Beach, the Netherlands

Photo Credit – Loving Photography

Situated about 25 kms from the city of Amsterdam, the Zandvoort beach has a peculiar landscape bordered by coastal dunes, making cycling and walking some of the other popular activities here.

Scheveningen beach in the Hague is another place worth visiting on a sunny weekend.  Have you visited any Dutch beaches?

Petrusse Valley stunning views - Luxembourg City

Have you visited the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg City?

 Petrusse Valley stunning views - Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City is the capital of one of the smallest countries of Europe – the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, with a total population of over half a million.  A number of attractions like the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Grand Ducal Palace, the Bock Casemates, the historical castles and museums offer an opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s culture and lifestyle (fellow Europe a la Carte blogger, Amanda also suggests not to ignore the city) but what sets it apart from the other cities in Europe is its location.

 Petrusse Valley stunning views - Luxembourg City

Luxembourg city is situated atop high cliffs, overlooking the Alzette and Petrusse rivers, thereby providing spectacular views of the valleys and gorges beneath. Check out the delightful sights at the Petrusse Valley, located below the Adolphe and Passerelle bridges.

 Petrusse Valley stunning views - Luxembourg City

A walk along the city center and the nearby areas lets you appreciate the beauty of this historical city and if you get tired of walking, take the Petrusse Express Train that offers a ride through these picturesque spots. The train runs during the months of April through October and costs €8,50.

Last year, the city also played host to the ING Europe Marathon.

[Photo Credit – Orangesplaash]

Tulips in Keukenhof, the Netherlands

Why I love the Netherlands

Having lived in the Netherlands for quite some time now, and having visited its various tourist and the not-so-tourist destinations, my love for this beautiful country increases with every passing day.

Tulips in Keukenhof, the Netherlands

Here are some of the reasons why I love the Netherlands :

  • The Netherlands is a small cosy country – a few hundred kilometers across the East-West and the North-South. You can pretty much drive through the entire country in under 3 hours.
  • Not only the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague feature plenty of sightseeing opportunities but the small villages and cities also provide wonderful insights into the Dutch culture and the way of life here.
  • The weather though unpredictable at times, offers a plethora of possibilities in terms of events and activities held throughout the year.
  • The summer in the Netherlands witnesses the country hosting some of the biggest European festivals including the Rotterdam Summer Festival and the Deventer Book Market.
  • Skiing, snow-boarding, ice skating are just some of the activities in vogue during the winters.
  • If there was just one reason to love the Netherlands, it would be this – the mesmerizing and delightful tulips in full blossom during the spring season. These lovely bulbs showcase all the colors of life. My cycle trip across the tulip fields earlier this year, is full of such find memories.
  • The boat rides through the narrow countryside canals as well as cruise trips across the Maas river render a surreal charm to these low lands.
  • Come rain, wind, snow or storm, the Dutch cycle their way to work/school/fun and living in the Netherlands, I have developed a liking for the bicycle too – the preferred mode of transportation in this fascinating country.
  • The country also has a lively art and culture scene, with some wonderful museums and unique architecture.
  • And lastly, at the risk of sounding cliché, I want to add that I simply love the various kinds of Dutch cheese on offer here.

Have you ever visited the Netherlands? What do you think are the best things to do in Holland? Share your views in the comment section below.

[Photo Credit – atlassb]

Delft Blue Pottery

Delft Blue Pottery – The perfect Dutch Souvenir

Planning a trip to the Netherlands? Confused about what to get back as a souvenir from the land of tulips, windmills, cheese and clogs? But what if you could get all of them and much more, dripping in the very own unique flavour of the low lands? Read on.

Delft blue pottery (or the Delftware as it is also known) is the tin glazed, hand painted blue and white earthenware produced in and around the Dutch town of Delft. The pottery is famous for its quality and craftsmanship.

Delft Blue Pottery

The original, entirely hand painted pottery is now made only in some of the factories in Delft. These are quite expensive and come along with a certificate of authenticity – the most popular and the best variant being the ‘Royal Delft’ (the title reflects its honorary status).

A thorough knowledge of the Delftware is required on part of the buyer when considering the expensive, hand painted version. Look for the trademark as well as for the quality certificate issued by the Delft Chamber of Commerce to verify the authenticity of the Delftware.

Delft Blue Pottery

To avoid burning a hole in your pocket, you might as well go for the less expensive version (that does not follow the centuries old tradition of hand painting), but reflects the culture of the Netherlands nevertheless. These pieces are readily available in local antique shops, open markets and tourist stores.

Delft Blue Pottery

Delft pottery is most commonly available in the form of tulip vases, floral plates, tiles, windmills, key chains, cutlery, and clogs as seen in the pictures here. Make sure you wrap them properly before putting them in the suitcase, as these are fragile items.

Delft Blue Pottery

Display them with pride in your home when you are back – they will bring forth fond memories from your travels.

Find the Best Deals on Delft Hotels

Click here to find the lowest prices on hotels in Delft using the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

[Photo Credit – Orangesplaash]

Netherlands Film Festival

Experience Dutch Cinema through the Netherlands Film Festival

Would you like to know more about Dutch films? Visit the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht this month (from 22nd Sept to 1st Oct) and experience the magic of the Dutch Cinema. This film festival is held every year, in the last week of September, in the beautiful Dutch city of Utrecht.

Netherlands Film Festival

The festival showcases feature films, documentaries and TV films released in the previous year. The films then compete with one another for the coveted Golden Calf award (the grand prize of the film festival, awarded in 16 categories). Foreign films featuring the local Dutch talent form a part of the festival too. In 2009, the festival attracted more than 100 000 visitors and screened more than 430 films.

The work of a Dutch film celebrity is highlighted in the Spotlight section of the festival, along with glimpses of the country’s cinematographic past. Kids’ Cinema is organised to educate and entertain the children while live bands and talk shows add to the celebrations.

Those not attending the film festival this year can follow the proceedings at home. Dutch Television channels like Nederland2 and Film1 will broadcast reports and highlights from the festival.

Here is a handy check list of all the major film festivals held in the Netherlands throughout the year.

Rotterdam Zoo - Rotterdam Attractions

Meet the sharks at Diergaarde Blijdorp – Rotterdam Zoo

Diergaarde Blijdorp, Rotterdam Zoo, is one of the most popular Rotterdam attractions with more than 1 million visitors a year. The zoo provides an excellent opportunity to discover the wildlife of the many different countries while wandering through its various regional sections.

Rotterdam Zoo - Rotterdam Attractions

Look forward to catching up with the giraffes from Africa or the elephants from Asia in their special “natural landscape”. From the zebras to the snakes, from a group of crocodiles to cockroaches, the zoo makes sure you and your family have a fun filled, learning experience.

Rotterdam Zoo - Rotterdam Attractions

With the addition of the Oceanium, the Rotterdam zoo has almost doubled its visitor count. Meet the wonderful marine inhabitants such as fishes, snakes and penguins enclosed in a large glass dome over your head. You can also watch the sharks gliding through the waters – live, face to face – a major draw and a star attraction of the Oceanium.

The zoo is open from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. in the Summer; and from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. in the Winter. The entry ticket is priced at € 18.50 for adults and at € 15.50 for children from 3 to 9 years of age.

You may also enjoy visiting Kralingen Park, the Cube Houses and touring the harbour.

If you’re planning a trip to this Dutch city, you can find the best deals on Rotterdam hotels, using the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

[Photo Credits – Rotterdam Zoo/Rob Dolaard]

Mirabell gardens, Salzburg

Top 4 Sightseeing Tips for Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, the Austrian city famous for its Alpine setting, attracts a large number of tourists each year. Here are my four Salzburg sightseeing tips.

  • What is the Sound of Music? As much as the city is famous for its “Sound of Music” backdrop, most Austrians have never seen the movie and therefore are not in a position to answer your questions on the movie locations. Avoid the expensive guided tours proclaiming to show all the attractions featured in the movie – plan to explore them yourself.

Mirabell gardens, Salzburg

  • Mozart balls, anyone? Buy Mozart kugels (Mozart balls – named after the city’s most famous son and gifted composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) from any of the grocery stores, avoiding them completely at souvenir shops.
  • Where is the shade? The sun can be quite punishing in the summers, specially if you are climbing the Hohensalzburg Castle. Always carry your water bottle, sun glasses and an umbrella. Keeping yourself well hydrated in the summer is the key to a great Salzburg experience.

Salzburg city view from the Hohensalzburg Castle

  • Is there a Salzburg beyond Mozart? Be sure to explore the city beyond Mozart and the Sound of Music. Salzburg with its picturesque countryside and natural beauty should be seen without any prejudices. Take a salt mine tour or discover the hiking paradise that Salzburg is, through its many hills like Mönchsberg and Festungsberg.

Click here for the lowest prices on Salzburg hotels

[Photo Credit – Orangesplaash]

Kralingen lake, Rotterdam

Experience Green Rotterdam at Kralingen Park

Kralingen lake, Rotterdam

Exhausted after a full day’s sightseeing in Rotterdam? Looking for a place to relax while observing the cultural characteristics of the city? Then head to Het Kralingsche bos (the Kralingen park) – the largest green area in Rotterdam.

Kralingen lake, Rotterdam

Located in the township of Kralingen, to the east of the city center, the park surrounds an artificial lake. In Summer the place is usually bustling with kids cycling along the lake on a dedicated track. The park is a good place to picnic; the smell from the occasional BBQ is enticing.

Kralingen lake, Rotterdam

There are also running and skating tracks, and it is fun timing a lap across the lake. Several cafes line the lake, and are usually a good place to experience the Dutch menu. The two windmills on the side offer a unique peek into the Dutch culture. When the wind is good, sailing is one of the most popular activities here.

Kralingen lake, Rotterdam

If you are in Rotterdam, visit Kralingen Lake to get a feel of the summer in this beautiful city.

If you’re planning a trip to this Dutch city, you can find the best deals on Rotterdam hotels, using the HotelsCombined price comparison site.

[Photo Credit : Orangesplaash]