Saturday, July 30, 2016

Netherlands: Historical Centre of Meppel

Earlier this year I went to Drenthe, one of the 12 provinces in the Netherlands located in the north eastern part of the country, and the only province I haven’t visited.

I spent an extended weekend in Drenthe, visiting the capital city, Assen and a few towns and villages nearby. One of the towns I dropped by is Meppel.

Meppel’s historical centre is relatively small. You can easily walk around in a slow pace for an hour or two and you have seen everything you need to see.

I find the historical centre of Meppel quite charming. The shopping centre area is evocative of other Dutch towns though; having the same architectural style, the same brickwork, the same atmosphere. But if you walk to the direction of De Reest river you’ll see a lovely area of the town where you can find a small haven, a charming wooden draw bridge, a stunningly restored circa 1859 windmill and a pancake boat restaurant.

Meppel actually has 3 windmills, 2 of which are located in the town center. I was able to visit De Weert Windmill. Read here my blog entry: Meppel Windmills – De Weert and De Vlijt

In addition to all this, I had a quick kibbeling (fried cod fish) and haring met uitjes (raw herring with onions) light lunch at the Saturday market. All of these are typically Dutch delicacies that I keep coming back everytime I have the chance. You will find them in the city centres and in the markets.

After walking around town, I had coffee at the outdoor terrace of Eetcafe De Beurs which is a very nice cafe on the square called De Wheem. In total, I must have spent about 3 hours in town.

Where Meppel is on the map of the Netherlands:

The nearest big city is Zwolle (Overijssel province) in the south and Assen, the capital city of Drenthe province to the north, halfway through to Groningen.

As I was writing this blog post, I remembered what an old Irish colleague, who has lived for more than a decade in the Netherlands once told me, “All the Dutch towns looked the same you know. If you have seen one, you have seen them all.”

Well, I am not sure if I agree but I sure get his point loud and clear.

This is what actually happens when you have lived in the same place for such a long period of time. The novelty wears off being replaced with tediousness. Familiarity breeds contempt. It is a human flaw and can happen to anyone. It does to me as well for sure, from time to time, but luckily I am an exceptionally curious individual so I tend to see something new in the familiarity of things =)

There are however cities and towns in the Netherlands that really stand out from the rest. I love Hoorn, Marken, Monnickendam and Enkhuizen for example.

As for Meppel, I will let the pictures below do the talking.

Mariakerk of Meppel.

Kerkplein (Church square).

Saturday market in Meppel.

My lunch =): Kibbeling (fried cod fish) and Haring with onions (raw herring). Typical Dutch specialties.

Hoofdstraat: Main shopping street of Meppel.

Local cheese shop and liquor.

A drawbridge on De Reest river.

Typical Dutch residential houses in the city centre.

Moi here at the De Weert Windmill.

More residential houses in the city centre.

De Reest river.

The pancake boat restaurant.

The De Vlijt windmill in the city centre and a museum exposition of Meppel's healthcare before.

Staphorster meisje (Staphorst girl).

Drukkerij Musem (Old Printing press Museum).

A popular square in town: De Wheem.

Having coffee at Eetcafe De Beurs.

Travel Period: February 2016
Destination: Meppel (Drenthe), the Netherlands

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Netherlands: Rotterdam Centraal Station

Rotterdam Centraal Station at night.

All main railway stations in the Netherlands: Amsterdam Centraal - Den Haag Centraal - Rotterdam Centraal - Utrecht Centraal have undergone massive modernisation and renovation. Only Utrecht Centraal is not finished yet, and I cannot wait for the new Utrecht Centraal Station (the largest railway station in the country) to be unveiled very soon.

So last June, Dutchman and I were able to find our way to Rotterdam with the train which means we were able to finally check out the new Rotterdam Centraal Station. It looks quite impressive! Definitely state of the art design =). Well done.

This newly renovated train station was officially opened 2 years ago by none other than the king of the Netherlands, King Willem Alexander.

The station is designed to accommodate a daily commuter capacity of 110.000 (which is the current number of commuters) up to 320.000 as expected in 2025. The renovation project took 9 long years.

I managed to take a lot of pictures. Hope you enjoy them.

The station during the day.

At the platforms.

All centraal stations in the Netherlands have a piano.

Checking out here at the gates.

The NS logo. NS means Nationale Spoorwegen (Dutch National Railways).

The huge lobby of Rotterdam Centraal has a wide screen featuring all things Rotterdam.

View of the rails from the Groothandelsgebouwen.

The Dutch trains in blue and yellow colour trademark.

Railway and platforms of Rotterdam Centraal.

Rotterdam Centraal Station Square.

The facade of Rotterdam Centraal Station. Sleek design.

Just outside the station beside the square you can find the city trams.

Groothandelsgebouwen and Rotterdam Centraal Station.

Travel Period: June 2016
Destination: Rotterdam (South Holland), the Netherlands

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