Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter - Den Haag to Aachen

Day 3

Our night in the five-star Sofitel was just amazing. Before leaving Den Haag we had a bit of a look around the city that was once the capital of Netherlands.

This is the UN International Courts of Justice. Pity that Saddam is on trial in Iraq, otherwise we could have popped in to see a session.

The Eternal Peace Flame, with rocks representing each of the countries. Australia has a rock here.

The official resisdence of the royal family, right in the middle of the city.

Liam in a thoughtful moment, overlooking Binnenhof - the very beautiful parliamentary buildings of Den Haag.

This is the central courtyard of Binnenhof, once used for executions. The church in the picture is the oldest building in the complex.

The biggest seagull we have ever seen! This photo doesn't do it justice.

Gouda is a gorgeous little town south of Amsterdam. Obviously it originally came to fame for cheese of the same name. These days it is a fabulous town for a day visit, in its own right. The heart of the town is circled by canals, and contains the town square, markets, churches and shops. Life for the locals rotates around the town square, where, on market days, all of the weeks fresh fruit, veges, meats, bread and of course cheese can be purchased.

Town markets in the centre of the town square.

More of the markets at Gouda.

Side street of the market square of Gouda.

Cheese stall in the markets.

Gouda town hall in the middle of the market square. In the markets we bought some lunch of cheese, biscuits and strawberries.

A short drive to the south of Gouda, and just east of Rotterdam, are the lower lying areas of Netherlands. This area is below sea level, so maintaining a dry town is the job of the windmills and some electronic pump stations.

Windmills at Kinderdijk. The area has the largest remaining set of working windmills (19 in total), that pump water away from the low lying areas of the region.

Most of the windmills date back to the 1700's and are still used as private homes today.

Just some people standing in front of windmills!

This windmill was open to the public. There is not a lot of room inside but they would be quite cozy to live in.

After last night's near miss with accommodation, we decided to book ahead before we left the hotel. We were hoping to stay in Mastericht, at the southern tip of Netherlands, but the couple of hotels that we called were booked out. There is another major town in that area just over the German border called Aachen, so we called a basic, but sufficient, hotel there and had accommodation lined up for the night. Our three country Easter trip had just turned into four, by 14 kms!!

Continue to Day 4...

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