Grand Holland Tour

Looks like Amsterdam did have a party after all. Today when I came out of the Amsterdam Central Station, I was greeted by this…

Today I went for a bus tour called the “Grand Holland Tour” wherein I was taken to bunch of cities and towns in Holland in 8 hours. kind of useful when you do not have a lot of time to spend in Holland.

We started out by visiting a town called Aalsmeer where were taken to a see the place which conducts the largest flower auction in the world. For someone who did not see Keukenhof, this may have been interesting.

Next we were taken to Rotterdam, the city that has the third largest port in the world, after Singapore and Shangai. Rotterdam is completely different from any other city in Holland, in the sense that it is filled with skyscrapers and works of modern architecture, as opposed to the ancient buildings that you see in other parts of Holland. Along the bus ride, I saw only two ancient buildings, the town hall and the post office. This is because the Germans flattened Rotterdam during World War II. This building is better known as “The Pencil” for obvious reasons.

For lunch we were taken to Delft, a city which looks like this…

…and has a city center that looks like this…

After lunch we drove to The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch), the unofficial capital of Holland. Unofficial because the official capital is Amsterdam, but the government, monarchy, foreign embassies are all located in The Hague, along with the international courts and offices of other UN organizations. We passed by all these buildings. This is the Queen’s residence…

Considering yesterday’s incident, I was quite surprised to see the level of security outside the building. In fact I didn’t see any security at all. I saw a man and a boy standing outside the main gate and a vendor selling ice cream to the public. My guess is that the Queen wasn’t in because the flag pole didn’t have a flag on it. In total contrast, the US embassy looked like a fortress, with armed guards all over the place.

Next we were taken to the fishing town of Scheveningen, situated on the North Sea. Nothing much to see there apart from a beautiful sandy beach.

To wrap up the tour we were taken to Madurodam, which was wonderful for an altogether different reason. If you have a full day in Holland, I suggest you take the Grand Holland Tour. If you have only a couple of hours, then I suggest you visit Madurodam. Here you get to see all of Holland scaled down 25 times – all major heritage monuments, skyscrapers, railway stations, airports and ports. There are also a few factories, a stadium and tons of neighborhoods. Maybe I should simply show you some pictures.



To give you an idea of the level of detail, take a look at the following closeup picture. The leaves are the only give away since all the vegetation is real.

This is a great place for kids because they can see how things work. All these models are mechanized. Trains speed on the rail tracks, a steam engine spits out water vapor, vehicles speed on highways, planes taxi around the airport and even bridges open so that ships can pass through them. Truly amazing.

But I guess my jaw dropped when I saw a fire, a real fire, on the deck of one of the oil tankers. It was quickly put out by a nearby rescue vessel by squirting water from its water cannons.