Tag Archives: netherlands

Photo Of The Day: Is This A Naughty Gnome?

“Is it an elf or a midget or a dwarf or a gnome? What is that bizarre statue downtown? And is it something permanent, or a temporary installation?”

I asked my friend Amalin these questions when we were in Rotterdam and she said that the huge dwarf statue below had been quite controversial when it was installed at the edge of the shopping district and in direct sight of most of the tram lines as they passed on their way into the city.

Apparently almost €300,000 was spent on this work of art by American artist Paul McCarthy and it has been moved several times due to protests by the angry citizens of Rotterdam. The locals have a very rude name for it which you will discover if you click on the highlighted links above!

Controversial gnome sculpture in Rotterdam, Netherdlands

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Rambling Around Rotterdam – Part Three

Note to self — never think that you will be attending any museums in Rotterdam on a Monday because they are ALL CLOSED!!!

Museumless on Monday in Rotterdam

We had a list of museums that we were interested in seeing on our last full day in Rotterdam, but I had failed to note the days and times and absorb the fact that none of them are are open on a Monday!

Ah well — move to the back-up plan — just walk around Rotterdam, take lots of photos, see new parts of the cities.

We walked into the shopping precinct, had a quick lunch, and then caught a bus across a bridge and over onto a small island. And as we walked, we passed some of the things that you see below. Click on any of the smaller ones and they will enlarge quite nicely!

Old BMV with sidecar parked at the docks in Rotterdam

Looking back towards Rotterdam

Is white REALLY the new black???

Touring Rotterdam with a By Cycle tour

Orange Citroen at a French wine tasting in Rotterdam

Straw-clad bicycle in a Rotterdam courtyard

Finally, in a charming affirmation of their multicultural citizenship of Rotterdam, even the mannequins of infants in a children’s store come in every shade of the rainbow.

And as the icing on the cake, doesn’t your special little Princess or Prince need a made-in-Italy by Piaggio electric version of a Vespa???

Multicultural infant mannequins in Rotterdam window

Multicultural infant mannequins in Rotterdam window

Italian electric version of a Vespa for children

Come back soon for more on-the-road adventures!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Rambling Around Rotterdam – Part Two

Asking our friend Amalin what the citizens of Rotterdam did on a Sunday afternoon produced an instant response. “They go shopping!” And she certainly wasn’t kidding! Out the door we went, constantly remarking about how visually tantalising everything seemed.

Red tulips and a black cycle

We made our way to the tram after a leisurely brunch, headed into the shopping precinct, and were simply astonished at how clogged the sidewalks and shops were with people. But the area is quite attractive architecturally, there are plenty of places to stop and eat or get a coffee, and there was a happy vibe amongst the people who were out and about in the sunshine.

There are boutique-small and department-store-large places to shop for block after block. One section is a deep slash in the street which leads down to even more shops. The Dutch have a marvelous sense of humour about this particular district. They refer to it as “shopping in the buying gutter.” If you click on the picture, it enlarges so you can see more of the detail. Click again and you will see just how many people are milling around on that upper level!

Rotterdam shopping on a Sunday afternoon

Close-up of flashing tram sign

Flashing signs at tram crossing

The tram system here is utterly delightful and seems to get you just about everywhere you want to go. But you must be aware as you are crossing the tracks that the trams can be ultra-quiet and it would be far too easy to step out in front of one. For that reason, there is a tram crossing sign at the intersections of streets that makes a ding-ding-ding sound to draw your attention and there is also a flashing sign at the corner with a tiny little tram symbol in it. Wonderful!

We have seen no traffic congestion here at any time of day or night. I believe that this directly relates to the availability of public transportation throughout Rotterdam via tram, train, or metro. And there are quite a lot of people who ride their bicycles everywhere! There are dedicated bike lanes, some which also allow motor scooter traffic, and it keeps the number of cars on the road at a minimum compared to most other metropolitan European cities.

And to mention the Dutch sense of humour for a second time, I know of no other place that would have a bronze piece of sculpture in a public street that was an ‘homage’ to a dog and his poo!

Special lane only for bikes and scooters

Dog and poo sculpture

Come back tomorrow and I’ll have Part Three of Rambling Around Rotterdam with lots more pictures!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Rambling Around Rotterdam – Part One

The ship slid quietly through the dark night. There was no rocking or swaying to cause distress in the form of seasickness, but I still had very little sleep. Arriving in Rotterdam for a long weekend, I was excited about being in a new city but subdued from fatigue.

We are staying in a very diverse and attractive neighbourhood on the western-central side of Rotterdam called Coolhaven. It is so conveniently located that we can be in the heart of the city in 10 minutes on the #4 tram.

Cafe in Rotterdam on a Spring day

Day One saw us sitting in a sidewalk cafe/bar, drinking dark beer, and doing a lot of people watching after a brief ramble around town. We chuckled aloud when we saw these racing grannies on motorized carts who went zooming by whilst carrying on a very animated conversation.

Zooming Grannies on a Rotterdam street

Apartment living, whether owned or rented, seems to be the norm here. But there are lovely green spaces that punctuate the city and give you a respite from the acres and acres of bricks and concrete. The one in the picture below is only 3 blocks from the apartment where we are staying in the Coolhaven district with our lovely friend Amalin.

Green park in Coolhaven district of Rotterdam

Tomorrow’s post will show how the typical Rotterdam citizen spends their Sunday. So check back again!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Photo Break – The White Car Eco-Initiative in Amsterdam

The White Car — an Amsterdam initiative from the 1960s through late 1970s designed to lessen traffic congestion by reducing the number of private cars in the city centre. According to the write up at the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, this was a “playful yet serious response to this problem.”

Members of the White Car Association could rent one of the cars at stations which were scattered throughout the city.

This 1960s version of a ‘car’ may not be particularly attractive, but it is very similar to the ‘green car memberships’ which exist in many larger cities around the world today. Funny little thing — isn’t it?

The White Car: a 1960s Amsterdam Eco-initiative

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Teeny Tiny Transport

What fun! I have recently seen some of the tiniest motor vehicles possible on the streets of Amsterdam — so here is a selection of them. Pay particular attention to the size of the vehicle compared to whatever vehicle or bike or person is next to it.

Microvan chained to a ship's anchor to prevent theft

The first vehicle was so brightly coloured that it caught my eye several times during the week and ended up being a repeat performer in my photos. Apparently since these vehicles are so small, they are quite easy to steal. As a result, I noticed that they were frequently not merely parked, they were often chained to something sturdy. The vivid green microvan was spotted the first time chained to a ship’s anchor at the side of a canal!

The second shot gives you a true insight into the diminutive scale of this vehicle as it whizzes by the huge blue truck parked on on the street.

And if you click on the third picture and enlarge it, you will see that the head of the bicyclist nearby is actually higher than the top of the green vehicle.

How delightfully funny it was to approach the entry of the Rijksmuseum and see this tiny white expresso van parked alongside the footpath.

When you click on the picture on the right and allow it to enlarge, can you spot what is inside? It isn’t your imagination — that really is a crystal chandelier hanging on the ceiling of that wee vehicle!

We were walking back from a cafe one afternoon when we spotted this blue vehicle a few feet away. The first thought that sprang to mind was that it looked like a toy — or like one of those cartoonishly tiny cars that full-sized male clowns drive into the ring at the circus.

Over the next few days, I saw several versions of this car called a Canta. I did a bit of research on them and at a starting price of £12,000, these are not inexpensive in spite of their size since they are primarily designed for people with mobility issues.

According to several websites, no driving licence is required and these micro-cars can be both parked on the footpath and driven through a shopping centre quite legally.

Wouldn’t that do your head in a bit to be walking through the mall and have a car glide past you — a car that you towered over? Boggles the mind!

For my final example we have another Canta. — a bright red GLX version this time. We watched the woman driver and her child passenger pull up outside the movie theatre and stop to check the times of that day’s screenings. Look what a tiny portion of a parking space is being used!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Life Amongst The Bikes in Amsterdam

Look left, look right, and be aware! There are more bicycles in Amsterdam, used on a daily basis for every purpose imaginable, than any other city in Europe. According to GreenAnswers.com, 40% of the total traffic is made up of bicyclists.

Many other cities around the planet now aspire to be equally bike-powered and green, but ask yourself these questions while you peruse the photos.

Could you ‘car pool’ your children to school without a car — or shop for a week’s worth of groceries and get them home via pedal-power?

Bike riding parent with children

Bike riding parent with children

What if you purchased a piece of furniture, didn’t want to pay a delivery fee, and decided to just have a go at bringing it home on your bike?

Walking the table home

Walking the table home

Can you hitch a sidesaddle ride on a bike for a breezy afternoon outing?

Hitching a ride on the back of a bike

Hitching a ride on the back of a bike

And as to parking them? Bikes are chained up simply everywhere including along the railings of bridges and fences, to window grilles along building fronts, and to lamp posts.

Bike on a bridge

Bike on a bridge

Even though bikes in this city are chained/latched/attached to anything that seems remotely stable and firm — as you can see by the sign below, that is not always appreciated by the owners of various buildings!

No parking sign for bikes

No parking sign for bikes

Another option is to park in someplace safe and secure like this 3 story garage for cycles which is looked after by security guards and is situated quite close to the front of Central Station. BELOW: 3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

3 level bike parking lot. Photo by Mark Harmes

During our recent 8 day visit, I was especially impressed with the Bakfiets that I saw simply everywhere carrying children of all ages and sizes in the front section as the parents steered from the back. And whether used with or without the hooded ‘convertible top’ to keep the child passengers or shopping dry, the families that we saw using these sensible vehicles all looked relaxed and happy in spite of the winter temperatures.

Bikes with attached cart-style child carriers

Bikes with attached cart-style child carriers

This is one of the most charming cities in Europe and any visit to Amsterdam is made all the more delightful by being able to navigate through this beautiful city and enjoy scenic streets which are not clogged with noisy or air-polluting cars.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photography is by Deborah Harmes.
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.