Saturday, April 30, 2016. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Early this morning, six of us (Hoa, Ha, Nhan, Oanh, Bo and Lee) climb into Hoa’s van and head to the Netherlands. The plan is for us to sightsee Rotterdam and Amsterdam, spend a night in a hotel in Amsterdam, then our friends will return to Brussels the next day while we spend another night in Amsterdam before we go to Prague. Therefore, the group travel light except for the two of us that need to carry all our luggage with us.
On the way to Rotterdam, it drizzles on and off but stops just before we cross the Belgium-Netherlands Border. The Netherlands as a country is small, flat, and mostly populated. Rotterdam also has the largest port in Europe as it occupies a prominent front on the North Sea.
We stop at the Markthal Building in Rotterdam because of its world renowned architecture. Here, an upside down U-shape structure houses offices, residences, and a market hall. On the outside, Markthal is flat and chubby, but go inside and look up at the four-story tall ceiling, you are in for a visual treat. Images of flowers, birds, vegetables completely cover the building’s ceiling. On the ground floor, coffee kiosks, flower shops, and fruit and food stands are crowded by shoppers. Outside, an open air market is open for weekend shoppers. We enjoy the warm and sunny weather and the lively atmosphere
The Markthal Building in Rotterdam
Markthal Building's beautiful ceiling
Fruit stand inside the Markthal Building
Lee, Oanh and Ha
Oanh, Lee, and Ha outside the Marthal
There are several interesting buildings around the Markthal Building
From Rotterdam, we head to Amsterdam, passing through beautiful and vast tulip fields and fertile farmlands. Our next stop is the quaint charming Village of Giethoorn, known as Venice of Holland where cars are prohibited.
All the houses are lined up along canals and lakes, and transportation is strictly by foot, bicycle or boat. After paying the rent for a boat, we quietly maneuver it through the village canals and leisurely admire the tiny homes with beautiful yards and lush landscape.
Lee in front of the Kolk 180 Building
The Town of Giethoorn, the Venice of Holland
We rent a boat to ride the canals. Nhan is our captain
A quaint and charming town
Some of the canals connect to a big lake
A pleasant boat ride
By the time we arrive in Amsterdam, it’s already 9:00 PM. We find a great Japanese restaurant in the heart of the city and after a sumptuous meal of sushi, we wander various parts of the city including the red light district.
Near midnight, we check into our hotel, the Hampshire Golfhotel on the outskirt of Amsterdam
Magna Plaza Shopping Mall in Amsterdam City Center
All-you-can-eat sushi tonight L-E: Nhan, Ha, Oanh, Lee, Hoa