Finally, some sun!

The weather has been up and down lately in this part of Europe… we are having far too many rainy/windy days, and that will probably continue for a little while longer in the coming weeks. A couple of weekends ago was a rare change of events, however – the sun shone very bright and the days were hitting 18 degrees! That obviously meant a beach visit was in order.

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We also visited a seaside museum in Scheveningen called ‘Beelden aan Zee’, which specialises in sculpture exhibitions. This was a fun little addition to a sunny day and had some really interesting sculptures to view.

Have a wonderful week!

Rocca Calascio

While travelling in Italy, I visited the home region of one of my closest friends – Abruzzo. In this stunning mountainous area of the country, we visited the ‘Rocca Calascio’, a fortress located on top of a mountain.

Aside from the fortress, there is a lovely little village situated just underneath, with homes, restaurants, and tiny shops housed within. The view from the top of the mountain was well worth hiking upwards for – you could see for miles and miles around the region. Though we experienced a bit of rain and cold at first, the weather soon cleared up afterwards and the sun shone while making our descent, allowing for all kinds of photos to be taken in different elemental states.

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I really loved this part of the trip – it was very atypical of what tourists normally do in Italy, which is one of the best parts of travelling around with natives of a country.

Have a wonderful week!

Streets of Roma

After successfully finishing my final year at university a few weeks ago, I finally visited one of my dream locations – Italy! I’d been wanting to visit since as long as I can remember, and the country was everything I had imagined – and so much more. I spent the last week with some wonderful ladies, and had an amazing time exploring three very different areas of the country – the mountains neighbouring a little village, the seaside town of Pescara, and – most importantly – Rome!

I was at a loss on where to even start blogging about this trip, considering the amazing locations I was lucky enough to see and the hundreds of photos taken. But I decided to start with Rome, the most beautiful capital city I have ever seen. Rome itself could take up a hundred different posts, but I thought to share some gorgeous photos of the streets and some of my favourite looks at the city, aside from the magnificent sights of the Colosseum, the Vatican, and so on.

IMG_7448IMG_7482IMG_7483IMG_7507IMG_7478IMG_7444IMG_7474IMG_7475IMG_7868IMG_7872IMG_7896Visiting this city brought me a wonderful sense of satisfaction – I still can’t quite believe I spent two wonderful days there. The streets, the skies, the warmth, and the food culminated in an experience right out of a dream. I can’t wait to go back and see it again, and explore Roma’s beautiful hidden areas which remain unseen.

Have a wonderful week!

Discovering Delft

A visit to Delft on a grey and rainy day last week had me wishing for spring to arrive even more than usual. Delft is a stunningly beautiful little city, just ten minutes away from The Hague by train. Filled with dozens of picturesque canals, quaint stores and lots of royal history, it’s always a fun visit, even on a grey day.

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The City Hall

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Nieuwe Kerk (‘New Church’)

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The blue heart of Delft, representing Delft’s expertise in fine blue china

Since it was quite rainy outside, I decided to venture into the Nieuwe Kerk to see the resting place of the royal family and some stunning stained glass windows. Unfortunately, since the church is under construction, I wasn’t able to visit the tower, but will definitely be coming back next month to try again!

Spring is starting to appear finally in The Hague, so I can’t wait to start exploring in the warmer weather and enjoy the flowers and leaves starting to spring up all over town.

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One of the many Delft canals, showing the way to the leaning tower of the Oude Kerk ‘Old Church’

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One of the many architecturally stunning old buildings to be seen in Delft

Chinese New Year

The Hague city centre took on a whole new personality this past Saturday, with the Chinese New Year being celebrated right in the heart of China Town. Hundreds of people were able to celebrate and take part in the festivities, peruse street stalls filled with food and clothing and masks, and watch dragon dances and firecrackers being lit in the middle of the road.

The streets were chaotic, to say the least, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing dragon dances for the first time. Capturing them in a photograph was extremely difficult, given the crowds, but the atmosphere was electric with the brightly coloured dragons and the hammering of the drums and cymbals.

The centre of China Town was fully repurposed to make way for the parade of dragon dancers, accompanied by their drums and firecrackers. Some of the main roads were transformed into piles of firecracker paper, with the sound of them being heard every quarter of an hour.

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The main street in China Town covered in smoke after a round of firecrackers.

Winter Walks

It’s the middle of winter here in The Hague, and while there hasn’t been much snow, it has been quite chilly and icy on the streets. Winter weather can be painful – especially when it gives you a cold – but when the sun is shining outside, walking around the city can be just as pleasant as it is during the summer.

Stepping outside this past weekend was one of those lucky pleasant days – the sun was shining, there was an antique and books market in the centre, and plenty of people walking around taking advantage of the weather. Europeans always know how to appreciate good weather!

I went walking around ‘Het Binnenhof’, or the Inner Court, the centre for Dutch politics. The Dutch parliament meets here, and the buildings also house the office of the Prime Minister and the House of Representatives. This area is a gorgeous, peaceful location – the courtyard is a massive open space for the public to walk through, and just outside the walls of the courtyard lies several restaurants and the shopping centre on one side, and the famous Mauritshuis museum on the other side.

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The buildings both inside and outside this courtyard always give me a very Hogwarts impression, with the tall towers, sloped roofs, and bricked walls.

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Just outside the Binnenhof lies the Hofvijver, a lake nestled among some of the most famous buildings of The Hague. The Hofvijver and its surroundings make for some beautiful pictures, no matter the season or time of day. On this walk, I found some unexpected mushrooms growing on a tree, a graceful addition to the scenery.

Have a lovely week!

Magical Maastricht

Maastricht’s Christmas market is definitely one of the best in The Netherlands. Starting in early December and open until New Years Day, this market is an extremely popular attraction during the cold winter months. With a massive skating rink, a ferris wheel, children’s rides, and lots of little stores selling Christmas trinkets, it gives a wonderful start to the magical festive month.

I’d never visited a Christmas market (or Maastricht) before, so visiting this market was a great start for someone living in The Netherlands already, especially since it is only a 3 hour train journey from The Hague. Maastricht is a beautiful little city, full of young students and tons of stores and restaurants. The architecture is typically Dutch, with tall and narrow buildings, and there were hundreds of Christmas lights everywhere. Walking around the city at night was absolutely beautiful, especially overlooking De Maas (‘The Meuse’ river).

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A view over Maastricht

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Boats on De Maas

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A beautiful building in the city centre

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The skating rink

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Twilight over the Christmas market

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A beautiful lit-up reindeer

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Lights in the Christmas market

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A carousel in the Christmas market

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A view of the beautiful Christmas market at night

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De Maas by night

This was a day trip I had been anticipating for a while, not just for the Christmas market, but also to see a very popular city in The Netherlands. It was a lovely experience, and I enjoyed every minute of walking around the stunning city of Maastricht and seeing a Christmas market for the first time!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival has just started on the 1st of this festive month, bringing a whole new stream of lights to this already sparkling city. The festival is held annually in December, and can be experienced either by walking or by taking a canal trip. The light artworks are featured all across the city centre for just under two months, with submissions from light artists all over the world.

Amsterdam is already a very illuminated city by night, with huge lit-up signs and buildings to be seen all over the centre. However, with the festive season and the start of the Light Festival, there were even more beautiful twinkling lights to be seen everywhere. I was only able to find four of the installations for the Light Festival (should have taken a map…), but the ones I found were stunning up close.

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The stunning ‘De Bijenkorf’ department store in the city centre

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One of the light artworks on display over a canal

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A second light artwork on display

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A rainbow light artwork on a canal bridge

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A fourth light artwork, right next to the Amsterdam Central Station

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Amsterdam Central Station all lit up at night

Seeing Amsterdam by night is truly beautiful, and something I will never tire of. Walking along the canals, watching people go by and seeing the Christmas lights appearing as the sky darkens will always be a wonderful way to spend a relaxing evening.

Amsterdam By Night

Amsterdam is a city that gives me very mixed feelings – without a doubt, it is absolutely stunning with its architecture, shopping streets, and about a million things to do at any time of the day. But because of its popularity, there is always a sense of chaos when you step out of the train station and enter the heart of the city.

I realise that this is what city life is really like – especially in one of the biggest tourist cities in the world – but the crowds in Amsterdam are unlike anything I’ve experienced before. And at night, the city takes on a whole new level of chaos – but this is precisely the best time to experience the city’s real spirit and beauty.

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Experiencing a Night of Museums

This Saturday, I finally got to attend one of the best cultural events that takes place in The Hague annually – Museumnacht! This is a night which opens up over 40 cultural places of interest in the city, ranging from art galleries to film houses and historical museums. Not only can you experience art, architecture and history until the early morning, but each place had special surprises for the night – from ice cream at the Mauritshuis to a Cirque du Soleil theme at the Escher Museum!

I had never properly been to a museum in this city before Saturday (shock horror), so I visited three of the most popular ones in one go!

1) Museum de Gevangenpoort (‘Prison Gate Museum’)

Even though this was the smallest museum of the three I visited, it was definitely the most fun! We were taken on a short tour of the torture room and prison rooms, and given a lot of interesting history about some people who were held there. There was even a very realistic depiction of a man that had been formerly imprisoned in one of the prison rooms! For each room we visited, we were asked a question to test our knowledge – if we got it right, we got a chocolate coin! It was a great start to the night.

2) Het Mauritshuis

Next stop was the very famous Mauritshuis! The building and architecture of the museum itself was exquisite, as was the art inside. I was able to see well-known pieces such as ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Vermeer and ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’ by Rembrandt, and so many other beautiful paintings and sculptures. There was also a special British Royal Collection featuring 22 Dutch genre paintings. This museum was definitely a wonderful visit, made even better by free ice-cream at the end!

3) Escher in Het Paleis

Finally, I visited the stunning Escher museum. This was a building I had been passing by for the past few years I have been in The Hague, and the museum was even more beautiful on the inside – perhaps because it is a winter palace! The museum had been transformed into a circus theme on the night, which went perfectly with Escher’s amazing optical illusionary art and the Halloween festivities. Aside from Escher’s creations, the main highlight for me were the chandelier sculptures – they were exquisite! A perfect end to a night of culture.