Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Traveling Around Holland: The Hague & Leiden


Oh hello! I've been missing for a week, I know. And I still have so much to share about our two weeks overseas. Before I get to that, the reason I've been gone is because I got so sick last week! I was down for the count Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday I was feeling much better, but still off. Then I didn't have the drive to get on my computer and get everything ready. So here I am a week later! On the plus side, I had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend and I'll tell y'all all about it tomorrow when I do my next Bumpdate. Stay tuned!

Today I actually want to share our day when we hopped on a train and travelled around Holland! First stop was The Hague. Chloe absolutely loved riding on the train. It was a great experience to see the countryside and more of this beautiful country.


We saw these gorgeous fields of flowers multiple times along our 45 minute journey. Their countryside is so colorful!

Once we arrived in The Hague, our plan was to hit some of the top spots and things to see in the city. We were there on a Monday, so it wasn't too crowded! The only downside was that many places were closed for tours on Mondays. We didn't think of that at all, so I had to be sure to share. Since tours are so popular on the weekends, they take Monday as their day off! We didn't let that stop us from exploring.



Binnenhof & Ridderzaal
First we came to Binnenhof & Ridderzaal. This is the Inner Court and Hall of Knights. It is also known as the political heart of the Netherlands. This is where important events in the Netherlands history have taken place. It is where Parliament meets and has been the office of the Prime Minister since the 1980's.



We had the chance to stroll around the courtyard and take in the beauty of the buildings. But again, since it was Monday, we weren't able to go inside or take a tour. It kind of worked out in the end because we were able to get more packed into our half day there.


Shopping
The Hague is known for their shopping! If you go for a visit be sure to check out the Court District. We didn't make it there, but we heard awesome things. If I wasn't pregnant, we would have found a way to get there. Even though we weren't shopping, we still saw some beautiful stores while walking the city.


The Canals
When you're in The Hague, be sure to take some time to walk along the canals. They are so pretty especially on bright and sunny days!


The Peace Palace
One of The Hague's top attractions is the Peace Palace. It's the city's most photographed building and it holds the Eternal Peace Flame at its entrance.



Once again, the Peace Palace offers tours, but not on Monday. Since we couldn't go in, we did take the time to enjoy all of the green space around it. Chloe loved running around and even posed for a few pictures for me!


Here's the World Peace Flame that burns eternally outside the entrance!


I also loved the attention to detail with the benches and gardens around the palace. This dove with an olive branch bench was my favorite!


The Panorama Mesdag 
This is a unique piece of Dutch artwork that shows the history of the city. The panorama portrays the city of The Hague from 1881. The building that holds the panorama was specifically built to house the painting. The panorama is in the upstairs roundabout tower and is 36 meters in diameter. It's size is quite impressive! Fun fact: The windows behind the panorama and the roof allows for natural light to come through, so the panorama projects the weather of the day.




Parks and Green Space
The Hague has parks and green space throughout the city. This was particularly welcome the day we were there because Chloe needed to burn some energy. She doesn't always love riding in a stroller all day, so any chance we can give her to run around and have fun we take!



A few other places to see in The Hague are:
Madurodam: a miniature version of The Netherlands
The Pier and the Sea: The Hague is on the ocean and is a beautiful place to visit. I wish we would have had the chance!
Palace Noordeinde: The royal palace


After we spent several hours in The Hague, we hopped back on a train and took a quick 15 minute train ride to Leiden. I fell in love with this city! Leiden is a sleepy little Dutch town full of history and quite a bit to do!


Molen de PutThe first thing you should do is check out the Windmill Museum! It's not far at all from the train station, and you can get great photos of a Dutch windmill. Of course, the museum is closed on Mondays. Just our luck right? I thought everything would be closed on Sundays, but like I said, we were wrong. We still got to see a windmill up close and get some great pictures.



Burcht van Leiden
An old shell fortress from the 1100's! It's now a public park open to everyone to take a break, have a look around and bask in the city views. When you enter the fortress, there are stairs that take you up to the top of the wall so you can see all around the city. Every few yards, there are plaques that explain what you're seeing. I loved learning more about the city and understanding what was around me.



JP and I had to take turns going up there and looking around because someone fell asleep in her stroller. It was kind of nice to be able to sit at a table and kick up my feet while JP took his turn looking around the fortress.


Leiden is the perfect city to just walk around on the cobblestones, browse through markets, check out the canal system, or sit at a cafe sipping a drink while people watching.


There are several churches and museums that you can visit as well as beautiful botanical gardens. Because we had such a busy day already, we decided against more museums and such. Instead we decided to try out the people watching at a cafe! A Dutch pancake cafe to be more specific.


We shared a cinnamon apple pancake while just relaxing and taking in our surroundings. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day traveling around Holland. Afterwards, we burned some Chloe energy running around the square before getting on the train one last time to go back to Amsterdam.


It was a busy day and we were gone from 9:00am to 7:00pm which is pretty impressive for a 2 year old! If you're visiting Amsterdam and have the chance to get out of the city and see more of the country, I highly recommend both of these cities. The Hague is more of a big city great for shopping or the beach. Leiden is more of a small, sleepy town great for a low key day checking out some museums, the canals and markets!

If you find yourself planning a vacation in The Netherlands even if it's just a few days, I'd love to talk to you and give you some great ideas of what to do!

Do you prefer visiting a big city or sleepy town? 
It definitely depends on the day for me, but I would say I definitely lean towards sleepy town!

Where would you go outside of your favorite major city if given the chance?


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