Last week my parents flew over for the long weekend, and we spent the first two days visiting the most touristic sights in and around Leiden. (On the last day we did a very long walk across previously unexplored and new parts of Leuven). Our first stop was at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the windmills in Kinderdijk.
Here we had a nice walk discovering the area, except for the first few hundred metres where the path along the small channels was packed with tourists from all over the world. Afterwards we drove to our hotel in Leiden, checked in, and almost immediately went for a walk (leaving the car in a nice new underground parking garage that was opened only two days earlier). Of course first we had to refill our energy reserves, so we went for pancakes in a “pancake house” (Pannenkoekenhuys Oudt Leyden). They were excellent (and huge)! Then we walked around the centrum, and among others we also made it to the top of the Burcht van Leiden (an old fortified point overlooking the city, providing great panoramas).
The next morning we drove to the tulip gardens of Keukenhof right after a not too early breakfast. We arrived there around 11:15, and luckily we still got into the (otherwise amazingly well organised and coordinated) parking without a problem. People coming just a half hour later were not that lucky anymore, because by that time everything was full. It turns out that we managed to visit on one of the busiest days the park has ever had. This was pretty evident inside, since there were people everywhere, but there were also so many flowers and it was really so extremely beautiful, that it made up for the otherwise alarmingly high tourist-density to the full extent. Of course it was basically impossible to take photos without including a Chinese family or a Russian couple in the background, but I did my best to still get some nice pictures. It was definitely worth a visit, but I would recommend going during the week and maybe when the weather is a bit less perfect :D
Summer weddings are not always blessed with good weather in Belgium, but some people get lucky :) And having the old town hall as background is always a nice reason to take the heavy artillery out and shoot some pics. Proficiat!
Last week we spent five full days in the Black Forest in Germany. We stayed in the quite village of Hinterzarten (which can be reached by train from Leuven via Liege – Cologne – Freiburg), did three not too heavy but rather scenic hikes around the region (to the highest point of the Black Forest, to a nearby lake, and through the local gorge), and also visited the city of Freiburg. We were quite lucky with the weather, it was perfect for the hikes, as it was mild, sunny, and it only rained for an afternoon. I had way too many slices of schwarzwald cake, and plenty of nice food in the local restaurants/hotels (except for the first day, when we visited the Italian place nearby), and Clio was very happy to be outside in a nice forest. Unluckily during our stay the Belgians got also kicked out of the European Championships, but yeah, you can not have everything :D
Thursday the 24th we first headed to the Harborwalk facing the Waterfront to take pictures of the Boston skyline in the morning sunlight. Then after a quick sandwich and salad lunch, we visited the New England Aquarium. This was the first time that I have been to a proper aquarium ever, and it was awesome. Clio loves fishes (and that is an understatement), so for her it was almost as good as going to Disneyland. We could even pet some animals in the ‘ray and shark touch tank’. We spent more than 3 hours here! Afterwards we still walked through Chinatown and spent some time in the Public Garden (surrounded by hundreds of squirrels) before taking the subway home in the sunset.
On the morning of the 25th we started with a visit to the Science Museum. It was all right, especially the more interesting interactive elements, although I was a tiny bit disappointed with their collection overall. It’s not like the science museum in London… I think this one might be more fun for smaller children. But then after a lunch break (BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich for the win!) and buying a few more GoPro accessories (that are so much cheaper in the USA), we went kayaking on the Charles River. There was quite some wind, but the water was not too rough, especially inside the Storrow Lagoon along the Esplanade. The view towards the city was really nice and we enjoyed our time in the sunshine a lot. I am sure if we lived somewhere in New England, I would have a sea kayak.
Saturday was our last full day, and the first day when we were not exactly sure what to do. After quite some thinking we decided to go to South Boston. We walked along the Harborwalk from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum all the way up to Castle Island. The weather was still nice, although the wind got quite strong, so we were happy to warm up with a hamburger and a hot dog at the end :) Then we took a bus towards Downtown to find a place that had happy hour for oysters (for Clio).
Then Sunday morning we still had a nice brunch (where I had a gigantic breakfast pizza) at the MIT before going to the airport. The flight was uneventful, especially since we were sitting on the left side of the plane and thus we did not get to see the total lunar eclipse happening on the other side… And unluckily there were no northern lights on our side either. We arrived home on the afternoon with some serious jet lag. Clio tried to fight it with some sleeping, while I tried to stay awake playing FIFA 16 on the PS4…
To sum it up, we had a really nice time in Boston, it was really worth going. I spent quite some time making a selection of the hundreds of photos I had taken there, so if you are curious to see more than the very strict selection of this blog post, then head over to my Flick gallery. Thanks for reading!
On Tuesday – if I remember correctly – I was first properly beaten in the game of The Rivals for Catan (and this repeated itself at least one more time during our stay, and I kept loosing by only one point…), then we headed to Fenway Park. Now this might seem like an interesting choice, but I have a weird, slightly unexplainable attraction towards baseball. For some reason I like baseball movies, I even play baseball sometimes on the PS4 (MLB 15 The Show), but maybe the most important of all, I think baseball is an important part of the American culture and heritage. So it is only logical to visit the oldest and most famous ballpark in the MLB. (Clio was nice enough to come along although I know it was totally boring for her.) We had a 1 hour guided tour with quite some interesting info, and plenty of photo opportunities of the field, the stands, and the Boston skyline. Afterwards we walked to the Public Library and the Trinity Church, followed by some window shopping on Newbury Street.
The next day we took the commuter train (luckily into the opposite direction of all the actual commuters) to Rockport, a very cute, tiny fishing village one hour North of Boston. Here we had lobster for lunch (my first whole lobster ever), Salt Water Taffy for dessert, and Clio could finally go and find all the crabs hiding on the beach :) The sun was so strong and the air so clean (turning the sky extremely blue), that although the temperature was only around 20 degrees Celsius, we had to put plenty of sunscreen on. It was a great day, and a nice change after spending so much time in the city. Also the train ride itself was quite scenic, with nice views of the villages, small bays, and forests around. When I have my driving licence, I am happy to come back for a roadtrip of New England.
To be continued!