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Trip Report: The Netherlands & Belgium, Sept. 2022

Travelers: Myself and my husband, both aged 42. I’ve traveled to several countries before, but not for 10+ years. I more or less felt like and considered myself a first-time traveler, since everything I thought I knew was out of date, half-remembered, or no longer useful. Of course, 2020 was the year we were ready to go and then like so many others we sat at home in disbelief. I promised myself that when this was over (over? You know what I mean) that I wouldn’t take it for granted that I could always get on a plane and go somewhere someday. I’m so glad it’s finally someday!

Also, thank you to all those who directly or indirectly helped in my research and planning, especially Dutch_traveler and their advice, and Tim from NJ whose enthusiasm for Antwerp led me to consider it.

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Delft

Day 1: We landed at Schiphol at around 8:00 AM. We didn’t check luggage and it took barely a minute to get through passport control so before we knew it, we were standing in the airport in a daze. I had done a ridiculous amount of research and planning, so it came as a surprise that barely 5 minutes into the country my husband looked at me for guidance and I threw up my hands and said “I don’t know.” It was as if my brain went blank. What the hell was I researching all those months, all these books and videos, and what are all these pages of notes? I’m standing in the airport unable to see an ATM or the way to the train station or even a toilet. Thankfully, my brain woke up a little and we started looking for an ATM. And looking, and looking. Spoiler: we never found one. I know they are there, I had it written down somewhere, heck, I remember Wolter’s World standing in front of a whole wall of ATMs at Schiphol in a recent video. At this point we sat down staring into space. I stood up and had my husband take a photo of me standing beside a giant clog filled with tulips. Are we ever going to leave the airport? It’s obvious we didn’t sleep on the plane, isn’t it? I pulled myself together and we went to the train ticket area. The man I bought the tickets from mumbled something, circled Delft on a piece of paper, and put up what I assumed was a ‘closed’ sign and walked off. OK. Off to the platforms downstairs. It’s funny now because I know how it ends, but at the time we got on the correct train, got off at the correct connecting station (which I can’t now remember) and got on the second correct train but almost instantly thought we got on the wrong train for reasons I still don’t know. We ended up jumping out of our seats and hovering near the doorway for the entirety of the trip in a panic asking people “Is this Delft?” every time the train stopped. Why didn’t we just use the NS app, you ask? Ahh, it was around this time that we realized that we didn’t have data on our phones like we thought we would. I had misread/misunderstood the T-Mobile plan we had! We’re off to a smashing start here. I thought I heard the word Delft in the staticky announcement and sure enough we had arrived.

We grabbed a couple of pastries and some water at the Albert Heijn and walked to our hotel which was about a 5-minute walk from the station. They held our bags and we walked around for a couple of hours until check-in time. We stopped at Kobus Kuch for coffee and apple pie (so good!) and I had the surreal feeling that I had stepped into one of the numerous YouTube videos I’d been watching. Delft was just so pretty everywhere I looked! The words ‘charming’ and ‘quaint’ were surely invented here. At check-in time we made our way back to the hotel and showered and then made the fatal mistake of laying down for just a second which turned into an accidental 1-hour nap. Oops. We went out walking again and when we turned the corner into the Markt Square we both let out an audible “wow.” The square, church, and especially the Stadhuis look even better in person than on TV! Dinner was fish n chips for me and a burger for him sitting on the square at Het Konings Huys. When we finally went to sleep, I woke up at 11 PM and couldn’t get back to sleep until 3 AM (I called T-Mobile during this time to get the data issue sorted).

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Day 2: Breakfast in the hotel and off to the train station to Gouda. What a difference a day makes! Having data on the phone helped too. Without Google Maps my husband felt like he was missing a limb. We both felt much less discombobulated overall and Gouda was perfect to help us keep easing into things as it was very uncrowded and it was such a pleasure to stroll around here. It was warm and sunny and we spent about half a day here. First, we went to Sint Janskerk and saw the famous glass windows. Loved it and there were only a couple of people in there. Then we wandered around and sampled cheese in a cute little store. I probably tried about 20 cubes of cheese and would’ve happily purchased most of them if I wasn’t trying to conserve space for the chocolate that I knew I’d be buying later in the trip. I did bring home a nice smoked gouda 😊. Next, we circled back to the square and had lunch outside at a restaurant called Swing Gouda. We both had the kroketten on bread with mustard and enjoyed it. We walked around some more and eventually found ourselves at Berg’s Bakery and watched the man make our stroopwafels fresh (only €2 each!). I definitely peaked early in this department as it would turn out to be my favorite stroopwafels of the entire trip!

We got back to Delft around 3 PM and after a quick refresh in the room we visited the Oude and Nieuwe Kerk, both of which were impressive. We walked a ton more this afternoon and into the evening and stopped in at Kruidvat to pick up some toothpaste and lotion and oh look, there’s a sale on Tony’s Chocolonely, don’t mind if I do. There was a Jumbo supermarket next door and we wandered in thinking we’d just pick up a panini from the bakery but it was late in the day and they were out of a lot of the ingredients. We then randomly stopped at a kiosk called Bram Ladage and bought some fries and kroketten (Yep, twice in one day. Take that, arteries!) and ate on a bench before heading back to the room.

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Day 3: Off to Den Haag! We had 10 AM tickets to Mauritshuis and arrived at around 8:30 AM so we wandered around. The first thing I remember noticing was that although it’s a big city it’s unusually hushed because there’s way more bikes than cars, at least on the streets around the station. I can’t remember ever being in a large city where there wasn’t a constant sound of cars, horns, sirens, etc. There was a sort of hushed swooshing soundtrack to this place. Bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere. It was around this time that I realized I might have been a little too zealous in my water drinking that morning because I suddenly needed a toilet but some places were not yet open and we started a frantic power walk to different stores to find one. I saw a KFC with lights on and door wide open so I walked in startling a woman mopping the floor (who was the only person on the entire trip I encountered that didn’t speak English). She said what obviously translated to “we’re closed.” I tried to mime needing the toilet and pointed to the open door of the toilet just a few steps away hoping she’d take pity on me but she shouted something out to someone and sort of held the mop up in a defensive stance. I thought, my god, this poor woman thinks I’m going to rob them or something. I sheepishly apologized and backed away and it was around this time that my husband waved me over from up the street where he had found a Dunkin’ with a bored guy behind the counter who waved me downstairs to the WC. Phew.

There were about 20 of us that entered the museum at opening time so it was nice and uncrowded. I loved the Mauritshuis! It’s such a beautiful building and I was enamored with the Vermeers. I had The Girl with the Pearl Earring to myself for a while and she’s a stunner. I also really loved A View of Delft and of course the Rembrandts.

After the museum we walked around the water to see the Binnenhof and I contemplated the herring stand nearby but no, not yet. We wandered around Noordeinde street and window shopped and saw Noordeinde Palace. This area was very nice and I liked how the architecture was so different to the other parts of the Netherlands I’d seen so far. Had a great lunch in a nice Italian café called Da Lina’s Little Italy where we had some delicious sandwiches and coffee. Afterwards we made our way to the Grote Kerk but urgh, it was closed that day. We then walked down Lange Voorhout Street and sat on one of the benches before walking back to the train station and heading back to Delft.

Final walk around Delft for our last night here. Purchased a cute little blue and white clogs figurine from one of the stores on the square (cheesy, I know, but it looks nice perched on my mantlepiece). Had dinner on the patio of a restaurant called Wijnhaven where we had beer instead of wine and I had chicken satay and he had a burger. During dinner my husband said “I have a feeling I won’t like the other places on this trip as much as I like Delft.” Awww.

Hotel Grand Canal: Loved this place. Small, clean, perfect location, good price and excellent abundant breakfast. The only downside was there seemed to be some kind of school event happening at the time we stayed there and this resulted in rambunctious street noise. They seemed to be aware of this and provided ear plugs on the night stands.

Final thoughts: Loved Gouda, like and enjoyed Den Haag, but wow did I love Delft. It’s not that I had low expectations, and maybe (?) there’s an emotional attachment because it was the first place, but it was just lovely. Not too big, not too small, lively atmosphere, so old looking – everywhere I turned it looked like a painting. Easy to see why Vermeer was so inspired. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and walking down every little street. It was bittersweet to leave.

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Antwerp

Day 4: I couldn’t resist a quick last walk around Delft this morning before checking out and heading to the train station. When we arrived in Antwerp it was raining. I had a quick coffee at the train station, we pulled up the hoods on our rain jackets and even though the tram was right there we decided to just walk (yay for backpacks!). The walk took us through a busy shopping area and the diamond district. There was a lot of activity and I kept stopping to take it all in. Checked into our hotel and headed straight out to the Grote Markt. Even in the rain, or maybe especially in the rain, it was really striking. The gloominess really worked here. We walked over to Saint Charles Borromeo Church and then Sint-Pauluskerk. They were both nice but the latter was absolutely gorgeous and had works by Rubens and van Dyck. We only had 25 minutes here before they closed and I could’ve used twice that. Before we left a nice woman asked if we’d had time to see the garden. When we said we hadn’t she ushered us out there insisting that we had to see it and she was right. Stunning and haunting with all the statues in the rain and the darkening sky.

It seemed odd to transition directly into the red-light district but we were right there, so we might as well. We hurried through it and then walked down to the shore/Ferris wheel area. The rain wasn’t letting up at all so we went for dinner at De Pottekijker. We had a nice little table upstairs and shared the beef stew and meat skewer with fries and beer. My husband said “I think I like Antwerp better than Delft.” “Why?” “No dodging bikes every 5 seconds!” We sat in the Grote Markt after dinner admiring the square lit up. Really nice atmosphere here.

Day 5: It rained again all day today but we soldiered on. We started the day by going to the Museum Mayer van den Bergh. We both loved this place!! We were 2 of only 4 or 5 people here and it’s a beautiful building packed with amazing art! We were floored that this place wasn’t in any guide book we read or that there weren’t more people here. I found this place randomly while browsing on google maps and sooo glad I did! I took a great photo of my husband from behind sitting in a darkened room gazing at Bruegel's Dulle Griet.

Next, we visited Ruben’s House which was fairly crowded and although it was interesting it paled in comparison to the van den Bergh. We had a quick lunch at a nearby Panos bakery and then off to Sint-Jacobskerk, which was my favorite of all the churches we saw on this trip. There was a short break in the rain when the sunlight came flooding through the stained glass and that coupled with the classical music they were playing (and no doubt my exhaustion from all the running around in the rain) almost moved me to tears. Such a stunning church. Ruben’s tomb and some of his art is here too, by the way.

We walked through Vlaaikensgang and grabbed a quick sandwich for dinner and just like that our brief visit to Antwerp came to an end.

Hotel Matelote: You couldn’t ask for a better location and we were upgraded to a junior suite when we checked in. It was very quiet and included breakfast, free coffee anytime, and water and a bottle of sparkling wine were given complimentary. Friendly owner.

Final thoughts: Antwerp was the surprise of the trip. It was one of those places we stopped at for 2 nights because it was on the way to Bruges and when would we ever be here again, but we ended up enjoying it a lot. The Grote Markt and surrounding streets are beautiful and it was an interesting city to visit.

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Bruges

Day 6: Arrived by train at Bruges and it’s still raining. Had a sandwich from Deliway at the train station and walked to Hotel Bla Bla where we were able to check in. Headed back out immediately and started wandering around. I have been wanting to come here for years so I was pretty excited on this day 😊 The first sight of the Grote Markt and the Belfort stopped us in our tracks. We grabbed some bitterballen from a food stand and stood there in the rain in the square, me grinning like a fool. Yep, I was pretty happy. Even happier when I sampled a waffle with chocolate sauce not long after.

We walked across to Berg Square and had a second wow moment, then decided to see the Basilica of the Holy Blood. What a beautiful, ornate church, inside and out. We sat for a minute taking it all in and then the serenity was broken by the piercing sound of a pack of cats fighting with out of tune trumpets. I ended up having to hide my face and turn my head because I couldn’t stop giggling – the organist had started playing and something was terribly, terribly wrong up there. People started glancing up curiously at the organ, my husband elbowed me to pull myself together, but really, what was happening here? We hoped they were repairing it or tuning it but I guess we’ll never know because we practically ran out of there. Maybe it was some sort of demented miracle because the rain had finally stopped! We walked and took photos along the water and the vismarkt and across bridges and along random streets. Dinner was at The Potato Bar and dessert was chocolate from one of the many chocolate shops.

Day 7: We had tickets for the Groeninge museum when they opened and we loved this place so much and were lucky that it wasn’t at all crowded. Outside was another matter. Saturday in Bruges – don’t do it! Time your Bruges days for weekdays if you can. After the museum we walked to the Begijnhof which was nice (the adjacent museum mentioned in Rick’s book had a ‘permanently closed’ sign on the door).

We spend the afternoon walking and taking pictures and sampling chocolate and ended up at a restaurant called Odette where we had some appetizers and beers and watched a robot bringing food back and forth from the kitchen while the waitress walked behind it like a proud mother. I may or may not have had more chocolate for dessert 😊

Day 8: We tried to go to Sint-Janshospitaal but were informed that the things we wanted to see were at that time replaced by a modern photography exhibit which didn’t interest us. Instead, we went to the Stadhuis where we saw the spectacular top room. Afterwards the crowds were getting on our nerves so we walked out into a suburban area and to the outskirts where there were some windmills. Circled back and stumbled across a large street market which was fun to browse in. We had lunch at a Syrian restaurant in this area and kept walking, this time to Ezelpoort. Even way out here Bruges was still lovely, and no crowds, just local families enjoying their Sunday afternoon. At this point we were too tired for a real dinner so we grabbed a kroketten from a vendor on Markt Square and sat watching the square lit up. I wasn’t too tired for another waffle though.

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Day 9: Daytrip to Gent. It was easy to get to by train and then we took the tram to the central area. The first thing we noticed was the very striking Sint-Niklaaskerk. Wow! I also couldn’t stop staring at the amazing Stadhuis. We went to Sint-Baafskathedraal to see the altarpiece and then walked around the surrounding streets, taking the obligatory photo on graffiti street, of course. We stopped for lunch at a café and had focaccia sandwiches. Around this time, we both starting feeling a little run down. Maybe we were mentally and physically tired. I’m not sure, but Gent didn’t click with us. I’m looking at my photos and the individual sites were breathtaking, all the ingredients were there to be swooning, but as a whole our feelings about Gent were cold. After lunch we still had to go to Gravensteen castle. At the ticket area I blurted out “do you even want to go inside?” “Not really, do you?” “Nah, let’s go back to Bruges.” So we did.

Monday night in Bruges = very quiet. Peaceful, dreamy. We loved it here. For our final night we walked around in the dark, sat in the square one last time, and reluctantly went back to the hotel to go to sleep.

Hotel Bla Bla: Nice place, nice people, excellent location, and Rick’s books lined up on a shelf behind the desk. Only thing was cleanliness was a little casual (dust bunnies in vents and corners, etc.)

Final thoughts: Bruges was my husband’s favorite stop of the trip, and I’d say it was mine too. Crowds aside, we loved everything about it (except the weekend crowds).

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Amsterdam

Day 10: Checked out of hotel and took the train the Brussels. We stored our bags in lockers and headed for the Grand Place. I was excited to see what I’d always read was one of Europe’s most impressive squares. Well. The entire square was covered with construction. It looked like they were building a stage of some kind and it was all we could do to not get run over by the many cranes and trucks. I wasn’t able to get any decent photos since there were trucks blocking most of the buildings. There were a few similarly disappointed tourists nearby also looking about with dismay. So that sucked, but oh well. We did Rick’s walk and saw the peeing statue (ho-hum) and tried a Brussel’s waffle (I prefer the Liege style). I was yelled at in French by the woman when I couldn’t find the trash can and was sort of hovering with my tray in confusion. Desperate to salvage the day I decided to do something that could not possibly disappoint – buy some chocolate! My favorite was the Godiva store with a very nice employee. I had previously posted for restaurant recommendations for lunch in Brussels but with all the commotion we ended up eating a quick doner kebab and just heading back to the station.

We arrived at Amsterdam in the late afternoon, checked into our hotel and walked around taking pictures. Dinner was a quick Lahmacun at Effendy Bakery and off to bed.

Day 11: Up early for Anne Frank Huis. I didn’t know what to expect with this but it was so very well done and moving. You don’t really ‘enjoy’ a place like this, but it was a very good experience. I was also pleased that the people around us were respectful and mostly quiet (except for a couple taking a grinning selfie in front of a picture of Anne Frank, what the hell?). We both felt melancholy and heavy after this and found ourselves sitting in Pancakes Amsterdam Westermarkt for a late breakfast. Afterwards we did Rick’s Amsterdam City Walk, browsed in The American Book Center, and then did Rick’s Jordaan walk. It was a long day! We had reservations at The Pantry for dinner. This place was great! Excellent food and very jovial owner.

Day 12: Up early for the Rijksmuseum. We headed straight for The Night Watch and were the only ones there for a few minutes. Of course, I quickly made my way to the Vermeers and was so so happy to finally see The Milkmaid in person. I’ve loved this piece for years. We spend about 3 hours here and then walked to Albert Cuyp Market. I was finally ready to try the herring! It wasn’t bad at all 😊 My husband opted for kibbling though. I was bummed that the stroopwafel stand was closed that day so we didn’t get to try that. There might have been more than one stand but we were tired of being there so we headed across to do Rick’s Red-Light Walk. Our favorite was the Our Lord in the Attic Museum. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I thought it was just going to be one room but the audio guide took us up and down and all around the house. It was great. Dinner that night was at Moeder’s, another very good Dutch restaurant. We couldn’t decide if we liked this or The Pantry better.

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Day 13: Up early for Van Gogh Museum. Wow, this place was the most crowded of all. I found myself perpetually irritated here as most people didn’t seem as interested in what they were seeing as they were in pushing and shoving and taking selfies (hey, good practice for Mona Lisa at the Louvre, yes?) Interesting shouting match between a security guard and a woman affronted that she was told to stop pushing in front of people to take pictures.

We spend the rest of the day walking around leisurely and taking pictures, browsing bookstores (loved getting to go into a Waterstones at last), and just hanging out people watching.

Day 14: Up early for day trip to Haarlem. We loved Haarlem! When we walked out of the train station my husband said “I feel like I can breathe again!” The overall vibe of Haarlem was an absolute pleasure and we spend a lovely, quiet day here. Even the people seemed friendlier. We also really enjoyed the Frans Hals Museum. Neither of us were saying it yet but we would bother later confess that we sort of kind of wish we’d stayed in Haarlem.

Mr. Jordaan Hotel: Expensive but very nice. Very clean. Nice people.

Final thoughts: We had mixed and somewhat surprising feelings about Amsterdam. I had visited 15 years ago for a blurry day or two and remember having a great time, but of course, that was a long time ago. My husband wanted to see Amsterdam and found himself taken aback by how he wasn’t enjoying it as much as he thought he would. A combination of crowds, smoke, garbage, rain and constant near misses with bikes had worn us down by this point. I think we would’ve felt better if we’d done Amsterdam at the beginning of the trip when we were at our freshest instead of at the end of what was, in hindsight, a very packed itinerary. We both absolutely loved the museums (and food!) here though.

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Random notes:

  • Trains in both countries were easy, straight-forward, and there were always English-speaking employees around to ask if we had a question. The ticket machines were also very easy to navigate.

  • If travelling from Belgium to the Netherlands you need to have an employee scan you out of the station as there’s nothing on the Belgium ticket to scan and let yourself out

  • Toilets in the Netherlands seemed to mostly be automated and I could always just tap my card. In Belgium it was often a person with coins

  • We used our tap card everywhere and had no issues. We only had to insert chip and sign one time and I can’t remember where it was. We had cash but barely used it.

What we learned:

  • We were both intimidated and nervous but we gained a sense of accomplishment and a bit more confidence going forward. We both came back with a sense that we can do this!
  • My husband is a wiz at figuring out trains
  • I was endlessly entertained by having him pronounce stuff in Dutch with the guttural sound
  • Although I’ve always been a big city person, I seemed to enjoy the mid-sized and smaller places more than I expected to.
  • I can pack light and carry-on only.
  • Walking on the treadmill is worthless preparation for bricks, cobblestones, etc. 😉
  • The pigeons in Amsterdam will probably eat your face off if given the chance. Bold little things.
  • The chocolate and fries in Belgium really are as good as they say.
  • My husband started out agreeing to travel “for me” mostly. He’d never thought too much about it and had always thought it was something other people did, more adventurous and rich people. By the end of the trip, it was obvious that he had caught the travel bug. Not an incurable case like me, but enough so that (he said) it’s not just going along for me anymore, it’s for him too. Since we’ve been back, I’ve caught him looking at my travel books unprompted, which has never happened before. This probably made me happier than anything.

What's next:

We're going to Rome for 9 nights in December 😊

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A combination of crowds, smoke, garbage, rain and constant near misses with bikes had worn us down by this point.

Your comments on Amsterdam resonated with me, particularly the bikes. Glad I went some 20 years ago, but I have zero plans to ever go back. Once was enough...

Very nice trip report overall; your writing is excellent and a pleasure to read. Some of the reports posted on the forum are either poorly written or they are "TL;DR", yours was just right, for me at least.

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452 posts

Hi Roubat, thank you so much for your well written report! It seems you very much enjoyed yourselves in both Belgium and the Netherlands. I’m glad I could be of some help in preparing your trips.

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2401 posts

Great report, thank you for sharing! We were in Amsterdam in July and my husband said he could live there, which was such a shock to me because he is more of a small town person. I know we would love the other places you visited!

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1954 posts

Wonderful report! It brings back memories of our trip to Holland and Belgium 18 years ago (hard to believe it was that long ago as the memories are still fresh in my mind). We loved Delft and Bruges as well and the Mauritshuis is a gem isn’t it. Europe is so crowded now that I am glad we went to Holland and Belgium years ago without the crowds. But it is what it is. I am glad that you added in the foibles of your trip as so many reports skip those. Your jet lag and confusion on arrival is totally understandable and relatable. My husband and I got stuck in an elevator in Glasgow on our recent trip mainly due to jet lag and a degree of stupidity. So, yeah, jet lag happens.

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Thanks for your interesting report! We're planning to go to Netherlands and Belgium in April and we'll be staying in some of the same towns, so it was enjoyable to read about your adventures. I hope we have as great a time as you did!

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2335 posts

Very good trip report! I share your feelings about Amsterdam. The Anne Frank Huis was the ultimate bucket list site for me, so I’m so glad we went, but I was not charmed by the city, mostly because of the bikes. I admire the residents for choosing bikes over cars, even in chilly weather, but it prevents relaxing strolls. We were forever tense trying to dodge all the bikes.

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73 posts

Nice report, you saw a lot of nifty things! Brugge really is best when you can stay and enjoy it in the evening.

If you do return to Netherlands, and like relatively smaller places, Leiden is about a 15 minute train ride from Schipol, and Arnhem is just over an hour. Plenty to do for 2-3 days, at a must more relaxed pace.

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2305 posts

Thanks so much for a well-written Trip Report. You included both the pros and cons, which are immensely valuable. A journey such as your is on our bucket- list, and I will use your report as I research ours. Again, thanks for including so many useful tips, and honest reflections.
Safe future travels!

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so glad you wrote this. So much of it resonates - I've been to all those places, some frequently, and loved reading about them

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Thanks for this great trip report. I’ve just started collecting ideas for such a trip, and this makes me think I should move it up on the list!
I especially loved your description of being stunned on arrival at Schipol - despite all my prep, that’s me after every trans-Atlantic flight. I laughed out loud - could only get better, right?

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8611 posts

I love The Netherlands and after reading your report , I guess I should give Belgium , especially Bruges, another chance.
We spent a wonderful week in Leiden, using it as a base to explore the nearby towns. Loved The Hague too. Kinderdijk was a highlight for us.
Not a chocolate lover, but did feast on lots of stroopwaffles!
Enjoy Rome! It is one of our favorite cities to visit. Book a dinner reservation well in advance for “Armando al Pantheon”.

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1795 posts

Sounds like you had a great trip, roubrat! I enjoyed it the trip report!

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1940 posts

Thanks for the great report.

I was in Rotterdam a few years ago for a conference and everyone said to go to Delft. I didn’t and reading your report, I do regret it.

I was in Amsterdam many years ago and even though I enjoyed the sites, it never clicked for me either. I have never wanted to go back.

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1586 posts

Great trip report!! I’ve been waiting for this one as I have a similar trip planned for next Sept./Oct. Delft, Bruges, and Haarlem.

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6814 posts

Stellar report. Thank you for sharing intel.

Throughly enjoy Rome. A “ hidden gem, “ Quartiere Coppedè. Was meandering and found it. This was over 15 years ago but I remember grinning when I entered the area.

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1382 posts

Yay! I'm so glad you had a great trip, I've been thinking about it! I have to laugh at the poor woman in KFC thinking you were a threat, so that she had to brandish a mop 😂

I haven't been any of those areas, and really want to go. I had a friend who lived in Amsterdam for 3 years. They had to return home to Seattle and really really wanted to keep up the biking lifestyle, but alas. The U.S. is just not designed for it. But I hear you on the loud and busy part and liking the smaller places.

I hope you have a wonderful time in Rome, I absolutely loved it and would return tomorrow if given the chance!

And great TR, nicely condensed. I'm probably one of the TL;DR writers myself (although my recent trips have been longer) and it was fun to read yours!

A

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771 posts

Roubrat, thanks for a great trip report! I’m so happy that the threatened rail strikes never materialized for your travel times and all your connections went smoothly. Thanks for providing me information about them. The trains all worked out well for us for our independent travel, as well.
I was on the RS Belgium and Holland tour that left just before you departed. We covered many of the same places, but in different orders.
Its great that your husband has realized the wonders of travel. I have to say that my husband has had a similar awakening, after I initiated trips. I think you both will love Rome!

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394 posts

I loved your trip report. My husband and I visited Belgium and Holland last March/April. Part of our trip was independent and part was the Rick Steves Belgium/Holland tour. I wrote a trip report and I am probably guilty of TL/DR.

We felt the same way about Amsterdam. We visited it at the end of our tour. It felt overwhelming, dirty, too busy, and morally bankrupt. We felt like we had to have our head on a swivel so that we didn’t get run over by bicycles. My favorite city on the tour was Ghent, with Bruges and Delft a close second. I tell friends that we love the small cities for their unique buildings and architecture and you go to the big cities for the museums. We loved Brussels. (There was no construction in March). We also visited Bastogne to learn more about the Battle of the Bulge. It was more difficult to get around. We had to take a bus part of the way as the trains don’t go into Bastogne. We also found out that English is not as prevalent as in other parts of Belgium.
Enjoy your trip to Rome, and enjoy the planning. There is so much to see in Rome.
BTW, we just returned from a trip to Germany, Italy and Switzerland and it is my opinion that the chocolate is better in Belgium than in Switzerland!

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I'm a little relieved that we aren't the only ones that found the streets of Amsterdam challenging.

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1382 posts

@va from va, I'm glad the rail strikes didn't impact you, either! Between that and worrying about the Schiphol lines...

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336 posts

Thanks for your detailed report! We’ve just returned from France, and were traveling through some of the rain you were experiencing. I appreciated your reports on places I’d like to visit. I’ve only been to Amsterdam as a teen, decades ago, and your comments still resonate! If my husband and I get a chance to go there together , I now have better idea of how to plan our stay, thanks to your experiences. The museums and the Anne Frank House were most memorable for me…next time, I’d really like to explore towns away from the big city.

I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences - thanks again!

Laurie

Posted by
1382 posts

Glad it was helpful, Laurie. The smaller cities in the Netherlands were so charming!

Posted by
2063 posts

Great report!
Giggling at you rushing out of the church with the strangled-cats organ sounds…..

Posted by
10663 posts

Just getting caught up on the longer posts from when I was traveling! What a terrific trip report. And it was a perfect trip for you. I think your starting in Delft was awesome. Such a cool little city! I, too, love Bruges. Agree about the crowds and yes I retreat to the windmills when it's too "peoply", lol.

"Walking on the treadmill is worthless preparation for bricks, cobblestones, etc. 😉"

I laughed my butt off at this statement! Yes! Even hiking over uneven ground doesn't do the same for your feet and ankles that Cobbles do!

"The pigeons in Amsterdam will probably eat your face off if given the chance."

I was recently sitting in the Duomo Piazza and thinking what that place needed was a few Peregrine Falcons or Harris Hawks....ditto Amsterdam!

Now...on to Rome. I think it was Steven from White Plains NY who linked this series on Bernini on youtube. I watched them and it really helped me understand what I was seeing in the Borghese and looking at the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. I am not really much on sculpture but Bernini really moved me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wet-VF2bDCA

In searching for that I found this youtube on an adorable elephant designed by Bernini....wish I has seen the video before I went to Rome so I could have looked for it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8LwDieQmes

Posted by
1382 posts

Thanks, S J.

Pam, thanks for the reminder about those Bernini videos. I had bookmarked it awhile ago but completely forgotten!