Friday, April 29, 2016

Part One of Haarlem: Stunning Dutch Architecture

This post is insanely long overdue. Like 2 years overdue!

The City Hall of Haarlem.

My blogging backlog is amazing and in a way I am quite grateful because that means I have been travelling and enjoying life to the fullest. I work fulltime and I work hard. I also save majority of what I earn for the future (read: I want to retire early). But I also do my best in enjoying life the way I want to.

That said, I am doing what makes me happy, and this is what is important. Why? Because life is fleeting. I have to remind myself this fact of life everytime. I have seen it up close how life is so precious, so fragile and so unfair...

Nevertheless, I was in Haarlem 2 years ago (2014) in March. It was the end of winter and the day was exceptionally lovely. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. This happens rarely in cold and grey Netherlands. In fact as I write now it is cold and raining outside.

I remember having lunch at the Grand Cafe Brinkmann, otherwise known as the living room of Haarlem and I can understand why. Then I did a stroll around the city centre, taking pictures of the lovely Dutch architecture as I walk on century's old cobbled stone streets. I went to check out the organic farmer's market at the Botermarkt square. I also witnessed a wedding.

The Netherlands is a stunning country when the weather is on her side. But when it's gloomy, windy and chilly, she could look like a scorned middle aged woman looking for a fight. So I have been lucky on this particular day because the Netherlands looked like a beautiful lady opening herself up freely to her lover. That was Haarlem on this day. The reason why I took so many pictures that I have to post them in two separate blog posts =)

TRIVIA: Did you know that Haarlem was a major and huge city in the 14th century? Much bigger than Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. Back then there were 2 major old cities: Dordrecht and Haarlem.

Today Haarlem is the capital of the North Holland province, in which Amsterdam is a part of. The city has become a suburban bedroom city with a very rich historical past. It takes only a 15-minute train ride to get to Haarlem from Amsterdam Centraal, and by all means is Haarlem less frenzied than the country's capital which is perhaps the reason why many people are drawn to live here.

The Sint Bavo Cathedral (Grote Kerk) which is a protestant church.

Typical Dutch architecture on the main square of Haarlem.

A shopping alley.

Archeological Museum Haarlem.

The Grote Markt (big market square).

Yes, when the sun is out, the Dutch comes out too!

One of the hofjes in Haarlem. Hofjes are hidden gardens shared by a community (group of houses).

Typical Dutch architecture.

Inside the fitting room. Haarlem was voted as best shopping destination in the past. The city has many lovely special boutiques.

Inside Sint Bavo Church (Grote Kerk).

Inside the Douwe Egberts coffee shop, an old Dutch coffee brand.

Travel Period: March 2014
Destination: Haarlem (North Holland), The Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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