Rotterdam’s Market Hall

August 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Rotterdam was pretty much leveled during World War Two, and has been under reconstruction ever since.  Now, it is considered one of the most architecturally diverse and interesting cities in Europe, if not the world.  One of the buildings that has gained the most interest is the magnificent Market Hall.

Shaped like a large Quonset hut, it has a complete fresh food market with restaurants inside, and apartments in the structure itself.  Some look to the inside, some on the outside.  In either case, it is a spectacular place to visit, both from an architectural point of view or just to sample and eat the large variety of foods available.

Looking at the Hall from the outside

Looking at the Hall from the outside

From the outside, the apartments are obvious

From the outside, the apartments are obvious

An innovative design in the same area as the Hall

An innovative design in the same area

Some innovative buildings near the Hall

More innovative buildings near the Hall, which is just visible on right

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Activity on the floor, under the artwork

Looking up at the ceiling artwork

Looking up at the ceiling artwork

You can see the fantastic painted shapes, as well as apartmnt windows looking in

You can see the fantastic painted shapes, as well as apartment windows looking in

French bakery on premises, too

French bakery on premises, too

Lots of good vegetables

Lots of good vegetables, and pretty well anything else you may want

Categories: Traveling Tags: , ,

Sail Amsterdam

August 23, 2015 Leave a comment

When we arrived in Holland we found out that Sail Amsterdam was in progress.  What is it?  Well, it is one of the largest maritime events in the world.  It was started in 1975 in celebration of the 700th anniversary of the city of Amsterdam, and was so successful it was repeated every 5 years.  So we were invited by family to take in the fun.

You could tell how busy it was when we got to the Utrecht train station.  People everywhere, the train was standing room only.  But a short 20 minute ride got us to Amsterdam.  And then the crowds really started!  Not only people, but we were amazed at the number of boats…. and the variety.  everything from rowboats to 5 mast sailing vessels, and even a car!

The events takes place in Amsterdam, on the river IJ.  It is a big river, and lots of room for moored boats.  But the spectacular part was the continual parade of boats, with no seeming logic by what type or where.  Each boat was on its own to go upriver, turn around, and come back down river.

Check the pictures….

Crowds at the station

Crowds at the station

Look at all those boats!

Look at all those boats!

A real flotilla of boats on parade!

A real flotilla of boats on parade!

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No boat? No problem… take your car.

Even had musical accompanient, her a Dixieland band

Even had musical accompaniment, here a Dixieland band

And even a one man band!

Even a one man band!

Replica of a Spanish galeon,reminicent of Columbus

Replica of a Spanish galeon, reminicent of Columbus

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View of the bow.  Don’t think I would cross the Atlantic in one that size!

Captain's quarters

Captain’s quarters

Bowsprit

Bowsprit

Reefing the sails

Reefing the sails

 

 

 

From ocean to mountains and back to ocean

August 20, 2015 1 comment

After leaving Isle of Skye, we headed east.  Our first stop was in Fort William.  And the road there was spectacular.  Yes, a little narrow, yes a little curvy, but spectacular scenery along the many “lochs” (lakes) along the way.  And with occasional castles — some restored and operational (like the famous Eilean Donan), others in ruins — there were many stops.  An overnight in Fort William was interesting.

Fort William is at the foot of Ben Nevi, the UK’s tallest mountain.  It is the home of hiking, climbing, and ice climbing.  We did none of these!  But we did visit Inverlochy Castle, a 13th century ruin but still original shape.  And a visit to Neptune’s Stairsteps, a system of 8 locks that raise/lowers a ship some 65 feet.  Opened in 1822, it was an engineering marvel of its time.

From there we traveled into the mountains.  Reminded us of the Rockies, but a bit more rounded.  But beautiful.  We had a light lunch at Glencoe Mountain ski resort. From there only 50 miles to our B&B, but what a miles!  Very, very narrow roads (I called them single and a half tracks) that undulated up and down and twisted just to add limited visibility to the driving pleasure.  Watch out foe that bus heading the other way!

Our B&B was an old converted manse, right next to the ruins of an old, old church and graveyard.  But it was pleasant, and we were back at sea level.

One more view from our B&B on Skye

One more view from our B&B on Skye

A small waterfall in volcanic rock along the way

A small waterfall in volcanic rock along the way

Scotland's most famous castle, Eilean Donan

Scotland’s most famous castle, Eilean Donan

A castle ruins near Inverngarry

A castle ruins near Inverngarry

Entrance to Inverloch castle

Entrance to Inverlochy castle

One of four Interlochy turrets

One of four Interlochy turrets

Posing for the ages

Posing for the ages

One of Neptune's Staircase locks

One of Neptune’s Staircase eight locks

Ship's heading up tha Caledonian canal

Ship’s heading up the Caledonian canal.  The closest sailboat, a 50 footer, was from Oslo and just returned from a trip to Newfoundland and the US east coast.

Mountain vistas

Mountain vistas

More mountain scenery

More mountain scenery

A small stream is picturesque

A small stream is picturesque

Deep valleys

Deep valleys

Our B&B, an old manse under restoration

Our B&B, an old manse under restoration

Church ruins and graveyard

Church ruins and graveyard

Sea eagles and sea cliffs

August 18, 2015 Leave a comment

We drove to Portree on the west coast of Skye. There, we took a tour boat to see some wildlife.  And we did, even got a glimpse of a Minke whale (a small baleen whale) but the highlight was seeing sea eagles.  These magnificent birds have a wingspan of around 9 feet, weigh about 10 pounds, and are very fast.

We were lucky enough to catch 4 at the same time, and they were in some sort of territorial squabble so we had a great view of them in the air.  I didn’t have my long telephoto, and they blend in perfectly with the background cliffs, so pictures are a bit fuzzy, but I did my best.

After this we drove back to the east side and experienced 11 miles of serious single track road to get to Niest Point.  Essentially, this is a paved one lane road with pullouts to pass oncoming traffic.  It was obvious some people had never experienced this before and it got a bit scary, especially since the road has hills, turns, and cliff side.

Niest Point is well known as a particularly scenic part of Skye.  Dramatic cliffs, challenging climbs, and lots of people!  But it was an amazing area to see.Now only 11 miles of single track back…

Colorful Portree

Colorful Portree Harbor

From the boat scenery

Scenery around Portree, from the boat

Sea eagle just taking off

Sea eagle just taking off

Two sea eagles

Two sea eagles fighting for territory.  Note claws extended

Niest Point itself

Niest Point itself.  Hike down the stairs, over the path, and up to the point for best view

Lighthouse at Niest Point

Lighthouse at Niest Point, no longer active

Views to the north

Views to the north.  Lots of nesting birds

Views to the south

Views to the south (sheep in the foreground)

Driving (sort of) to Isle of Skye

August 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Our next destination was the Isle of Skye.  Located in the far north west of Scotland, it is renowned for its scenic splendor.  And the trip was only 112 miles… but took some 5 hours.

First of all, no highways.  Just two lane highways, quite narrow, and very winding.  And always with a spectacular view over the Scottish country side.  And, thrown in for your amusement, the Scottish “Single track”.  This is a two way road, but only one lane wide.  Every so often, there is a Passing Area, marked with a small white sign.  Here, the person who has the passing area on their side of the road is supposed to pull over and let the other pass.   It actually works, but there is no shoulder, so some very interesting moments.

But all went well.  We were early for our B&B check in, so we viewed the nearby Dunvegan Castle.  This is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the chiefs of the clan for 800 years.  Since it is still occupied, no photography was permitted except of the exterior and the beautiful gardens.

Our B&B is really nice.  It is a newer house, and right on the edge of the shoreline.  So the views of the bays, islands and inlets are superb.

One spectacular view after another

One spectacular view after another

Another roadside stop

Another roadside stop

Low tide

Low tide

Start of yet another single track section

Start of yet another single track section

We found a waterfall along the road

We found a waterfall along the road

Castle from a distance

Castle from a distance

Castle elevation

Castle elevation

Viewed from the ocean side

Viewed from the ocean side

An old bridge under the castle entrance

An old bridge under the castle entrance

Castle entrance

Castle entrance

Part of the garden

Part of the garden

Lovely little flower

Lovely little flower

Gardener's cottage

Gardener’s cottage

This castle is tho oldest clan

Battles, monsters and whiskey

August 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Whew, busy day today (and getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road)

We started at the Culloden Battlefield. Here, in the mid 1700’s, the Jacobites (Catholics under Prince Charles, mostly from the Highlands) fought an epic battle with Government forces (Protestants under General Cumberland). The goal was to wrest control of Scotland back from the British. However, the Jacobites were routed and Scotland stayed in British control. The above is very very shortened, but gives you an idea. I think for the Scotish the Culloden Battle is viewed a bit like we view the battle of Gettysburg.

Then off to Loch Ness. We thought we saw Nessie, but it turned out to be a rock. Oh well, it is a beautiful lake. The Vistor Center had a very comprehensive multimedia presentation on the geographic history, the many rumors surrounding Nessie, and the results of a lot of searching for the lost monster.

Our last stop was at the Glen Ord distillery. Here they make single malt scotch specifically aimed at the Asian market, where it is very popular. Our tour was quite extensive through the whole process, from the very first barley processing through to the final aging in barrels. At the conclusion we were able to try the various brands and could really compare the different tastes developed by the brewing process.

Some of the battlefield and the memorial cairn

Some of the battlefield and the memorial cairn

The memorial cairn

The memorial cairn

Looking across the battlefield

Looking across the battlefield

The heather made for hard going

The heather made for hard going

An old farmhouse used during the battle

An old farmhouse used during the battle

Closer view of the old farm house

Closer view of the old farm house

What's that black on the lake? Nessie?

What’s that black on the lake? Nessie?

What's that? Nessie?

What’s that? Nessie?

Turning our backs to Loch Ness, we're not scared

Turning our backs to Loch Ness, we’re not scared

Very attractive brewery

Very attractive brewery

A view of the work areas

A view of the work areas

Good stuff, resting for 12 to 18 years

Good stuff, resting for 12 to 18 years

The variety of single malt whiskeys distilled here

The variety of single malt whiskeys distilled here

Packaged to sell

Packaged to sell

Edinburgh Tattoo, 2015

August 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Since 1950, Edinburgh has a Festival in August. Thousands of people jam the streets, pubs and restaurants. There are all kinds of vendors and street entertainers, all hoping to strike it big (some do). Certainly one big party!

But the highlights of the Festival is the nightly Tattoo. Drawing on a world wide source, there are marching bands and precision dancers from around the world. In fact, the Tattoo emphasizes the International aspects, as a means of drawing people together. A list of the performing bands:

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
1st & 2nd Battalions The Gurkha Rifles
The Royal Air Force Pipe Band Association
The Citadel
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Auckland Police
Manly Warringah
Christchurch City
Scotch College
The Crossed Swords
The Pipers’ Trail

Our friends Bob and Margaret got some spectacular seats, high up at the entrance. Here we could see the acts come marching from inside the castle to the performance area. Coupled with an amazing light show, \it was a visual and auditory delight. If you can make it, it certainly is worth while(but buy tickets early, it sells out fast!).

A colorful sunset to start the festivities

A colorful sunset to start the festivities

Opening ceremony

Opening ceremony

Massed bands

Massed bands

US Air Force Honor Guard

US Air Force Honor Guard

Conducting the Shetland Fiddlers

Conducting the Shetland Fiddlers

The Citadel represents the USA

The Citadel represents the USA

Chinese Liberation Army Marching Band

Chinese Liberation Army Marching Band

Chinese dragon festival

Chinese dragon festival

Indian dancers with light display

Indian dancers with light display

Bollywood dancers

Bollywood dancers

Switzerland's Top  Secret Drum Corps

Switzerland’s Top Secret Drum Corps

Left side of the finale

Left side of the finale

Right side of the finale

Right side of the finale

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