Oh Molens..and the Dutch National Windmill Day

I know there is indeed a National Tulips Day but a National Windmills Day ?

This one is very, very old.

When I married a Dutchman, of course I got curious about Dutch culture and life in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we don´t live there but somehow to it´s neighbour ,Germany.Although through the journey up until now, I find so many quirky things about “How-Dutch-people-do their-things” compared to the German culture that we´re living right now.Still, I have found great fascination with many typically acclaimed “Dutch” things.Let´s take for example their beloved “Molens” or windmills.

The Dutch love their windmills so much that they have even dedicated a special day to them. Apparently, every year in mid-May, the country celebrates National Windmill Day, for which windmills throughout the Netherlands are decorated with flowers, figures of angels or Dutch flags, and doors are thrown open to visitors. Hmmm, probably they will serve some freshly baked Dutch apple pies then.

The National Mill and Milling Day is an annual event on which more than 600 wind and water mills and pumping stations are open.

A fine one standing in Kinderdijk in the Netherlands

I got properly introduced to Molens in my first visit to this country. Arriving in Schiphol, I was greeted with Dutch icons–tulips, clogs, windmills and cheese! While exploring the local neighbourhood, and looking for a playground, I saw that many gardens with miniature windmills in their garden. I find it really nice.With a toddler in my hand, we had a quick hike, climbing up to the oldest Windmill in the area nearby.I have seen one fine old Windmill, there´s no doubt! It´s not operating on the time of our visit but was good enough to explore.In Holland, the sight of traditional windmill is just as normal as seeing cows, sheep and goat pasturing freely in the countryside.I find it idyllic though.

Up close and personal with one of the molens in Kinderdijk

Seeing rows of Windmills in the Unesco World Heritage siteKinderdijk“, translated as Children Dyke a few years back brings me back good memories.One thing, it is very windy, very very windy. Of course, there are approximately 19 huge windmills in this area.But then, these windmills produces very little turbulence. I thought for a second that they generate a sort of wind power, but then I was mistaken.

Kinderdijk is also the site of the old St Elizabeth’s flood, where Kinderdijk actually means ‘Children’s Dyke’ after a cradle had been found bobbing up and down in the water after the flood with, what is assumed, the house cat keeping the cradle steady.That´s how the history started.

I guess these polder makes this country so unique. Even without the UNESCO enlisting, these Windmills serves a common purpose.I find it quite interesting how the Dutch approach to prevent and control floods.This was necessary because the Netherlands is 26% below sea level. Windmills were also used for sawing wood, grinding grain and spices, making paper, and pressing seeds for oil.

I was reading the book that my husband gave me and was surprised to know that there are more than thousands of these windmills are still intact today.Now that´s another reason to explore the others.

I had the chance to see what´s in side of the windmill. There is also a tour for visitors to take and learn more about the mechanism and the art of operating it. Pre-Corona times, it comes easy and no hassle.Visitors can actually climb up, see the pumps and see what´s going on in there and I found it all super interesting. My daughter would probably never remember that visit but she had fun there. There was an interactive museum, a place with some farm animals or we called it little zoo , and a local neighbourhood where you can have a glimpse of the old days.

The place is very picturesque, even better in a fine clear weather. Unfortunately during our time of visit, it was summer time but the weather was like in Autumn, with lots of wind and grey.

A very windy and grey weather

The oldest from the windmills here is the “Blokker” which is actually dated from 16th century. Up until now, it´s standing there. One thing I noticed were its unique sails, they are mosty open and wide.They said that the sails were used before as a means of communication between the millers.On festive occasions,such as Dutch´s King´s Day, locals would decorate their windmills with flowers and colorful flags.

My parents in law were locals but it´s actually their first time to visit this place with us. They even thanked me that I have found this place online and urged them to visit this place together as a family. I guess seeing tulips and windmills were their everyday cup of tea but a little trip won´t hurt.But no, they were never able to wear a real wooden Clogs in their lives.

For them, windmills are part of their lives and will always be…

Glad I found another interesting thing about this country which is flat as a pancake! But yes, they have one of the best gardens in the world I must say and Amsterdam´s canals are not that bad compared to the Venetian lagoons.

Until then, stay safe everyone, Tschüss!

What I saw in Amsterdam

Does it always rain in Amsterdam?

I love Amsterdam. All its noise ,trendy shops, charming but very busy street life. There´s something about the charming canals through the city, and the lines of beautiful Architecture of Dutch gable houses that makes the city such a magnet for international visitors.Looking at each windows and tiny doors with detailed porches and balconies adorned with lights and blooms makes such a statement.Well, at least I love it. Dutch are not so fond of having curtains on their houses so most windows are see-through. There´s a unique sense of it!

There´s something about this city that really captivates me but one thing for sure, the bike culture in this city is so enormous.Everywhere I see bikes, bicycles,or Fiets as they locally called it, and they all come in different forms.The children of my sister-in-law all grew up riding their bikes to school and to everwhere else. It´s like when you don´t know how to ride your bike, then it´s a big handicap! One thing, Dutch people are not so fond of wearing Helmets while riding their bikes, which is very unlikely here in Germany where even pre schoolers wore their helmets!

I guess they are not bothered by wind either!

Life in the Netherlands in two wheels!

Now I can´t imagine walking to this city without a sight of these bicycles, and the coffee shops, and the provocative yet always “trendy” restaurants and Cafe´s along the streets.Just like Germans, Dutch people also loved to sit and have a cup of coffee and a slice of a cake, or Apple pie even in midday! There´s always time to take a break, and simply enjoy time outdoors with friends and families.Sitting in circles? yes, that is actually very typical Dutch!

Life in Two wheels
Cool street Art and Graffiti

What else have I ´ve seen? Hmm, In Amsterdam, there´s always a time to have a sip of traditional Dutch beer and stroll along the canals.There is no Beer gardens like here in Germany but people also love to sit under a shady outdoor restaurants, with a view of the canals.They are busy drinking wine at 10 a.m, having Kroketten for breaksfast and Bitterballen.

How do people kill time? People watching, admiring the blooms and count the countless “Lovelocks” hanged on each bridges.I guess it´s very common as well to have a feeling of “Coziness” or “Gezellig” even just by lying on a picnic mat and killing time in Vondelpark or sitting under the shady trees near Museumplein.

I love AMSTERDAM

I saw people screaming and climbing on giant letters. Definitely a “must” for every Instragram worthy post or story.Toddlers can learn early their ABC´s!

Summer in Amsterdam
Flowers, Tulips, cheese and fine Dutchies

Though the beautiful fields of Tulips is in the countryside of Lisse, Amsterdam has it´s own Flower attraction in the Flower markets in the old city.There I have seen so much variety of flowers and different bulbs whatever you called it. From decorative flowers to significant varieties, they have it all. I love these dried flowers in particular.They even have their own National Tulips Day in the middle of Winter .It is held on every third Saturday in January!

I can´t get enough of Dutch´s Golden Age

Of course, exploring Amsterdam always made me appreciate more of the Dutch Golden Age of Contemporary Fine Arts. A visit to Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Rembrandt House would definitely quench your artistic hunger and satisfy your curiosity.I visited the Rijksmuseum with a toddler and it was a success. Pre-covid, everything was quite different but nowadays, visiting a museum requires early online bookings.

Amsterdam is a place where I have got to know more of the Dutch culture and it´s masters from 20th century up to the Middle age up to the modern day Artworks.World-famous highlights from the Dutch Golden Age, including Rembrandt van Rijn’s Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, can be admired at the Rijksmuseum.

Vincent van Gogh

During our visit, the museum was quite packed that mit was actually hard to get a full glimpse of the Night Watch, but with little patience, we enjoyed admiring every little details of it. This painting was so beautiful and the use of lighting is really superb.

From bicycles to boats

Boat houses, sunbathing while boating, drinking and having lunch on a boat is quite a typical sight in the canals of Amsterdam.We visited around summer so I have seen it all. If you have time to kill, you can have your own boat experience and live like a Dutch cruising the canals as well.

Museum of prostitution?, anyone?

Probably not for everybody´s taste but Amsterdam is a very liberal capital. Besides the Family friendly strolls along the canals, there was quite an adult show, which came to us by surprise in the Red Light District area. I gasped at the sight of it but now, I fully understand why it is so. For first timers, this might come a shock to you. A sight of scantily-clad women in bright colored windows having a parade show might not be a suitable sight for young children so you need to plan your walks if you pass by to this area.

There´s always a light at the end of the canals…

If its not for your liking, you might skip this area and turn into the other parts of the city. This is a city with intertwining bridges and small nooks where the choices are endless.

Dutch Gable Houses

If you see the same Gable Houses which you have seen before, don´t worry, they might actually looked all the same , but there are quite a number of them and you are not lost.As long as you have the canals on your sight, you are still definitely in Amsterdam.

Lavenders, Hydrangeas, and more life in a boat in Amsterdam
What´s your size?

Aside from Cheeses and hand made delicious Praline chocolates, I have seen thousands of these wooden clogs and souvenir- kinds in Amsterdam. I got myself one so I guess I have been strucked by Dutch´s charm.

Ciao Amsterdam!

Do you like this Post? If you have more time to kill, then you might be interested how and why Dutch loved their Wooden Clogs and their traditional Spekulaas cakes.

Ever wondered why the Yellow Cube Houses in Rotterdam are such a tourist magnet? Or why Keukenhof is the most beautiful Spring Garden in the world? I still have so much to right about what I have seen in Amsterdam but then I reminded myself that yes,I almost forget to mention, actually, my husband is Dutch!

What´s not to love about the Netherlands, anyway? It´s The Netherlands, the land with more Bicycles than people!

Have a happy week, stay well & Tschüss!

Why we love Miffy more than Barbie

Playing with Miffy

Do you know Miffy?

Miffy or in Dutch calledNijntje is a character created by Dick Bruna, a Dutch children´s book author and illustrator .He have written almost 30 books about different adventures of Miffy.His books were translated into 50 languages and have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.In Holland alone, Miffy is a part of every child´s imagination and childhood.

Well,Miffy is a girl white Bunny wearing a little dress. Before I thought it was from Japan or somewhat similar with Sanrio and Hello Kitty but then I was surprised that it is of Dutch origin. Miffy was created in 1955 in Egmond aan See , the place where Dick Bruna painted Miffy for the first time, so that makes it 66 years old now .

My daughter loves Miffy and grow up with it.I love how simple the character, uncomplicated,and perfect for every little minds.Her books tells about children´s daily activities like going to the zoo, Miffy´s birthday, at the playground, in the snow, etc.The layout of the books is also very simple, with primary colors mostly, plus images of Miffy is so sweet.It is really a book for children. My daughter loved it,she is a voracious reader,and when she found a good book, she´s absorbed with it.

Now that she is 6, she is crazy about Ninjago and Lego but then she reads more further, with topics of History and Science. The truth is she never liked Barbie or any other dolls.One time she was given a Mickey mouse stuff toy but then she doesn´t like it and I don´t know why. I find it funny at first but then I realized that her preference was really not on girlie things.The first time that we have met Miffy was 2015 in Amsterdam . Luckily, it was there that they held the Miffy Art Parade to commemorate the 60th years anniversary .Rows of Miffy statues were displayed right in front of the Rijksmuseum and it was wonderful experience to see different Artist´s interpretation.

But then seeing more of Miffy up close and personal in the Miffy Museum in Utrecht is far more than we´ve expected. If you have kids, I am sure you would love to bring them here.We love the Easter Bunny in Easter, but then, we appreciate Miffy in so many ways.

Here are some snaps I took of our visit in the world of Miffy and her friends in the Museum.

The Miffy school , where children learn some new things everyday.
Just as Dick Bruna say ” Each book begins first with a little idea…
After drawing, children can hang their own artwork in here

The whole place is really a miniature world for children. Everything is built as per children ´s ergonomics and function. It´s quite lovely to walk into this place realizing how great the world is, from a child´s view.No worries, no social distancing,everything is beautiful, safe and yes–no fear of virus whatsoever! Mini houses, kitchen,garden, animal fun zoo, art room, play areas and many more are just some of the fun places where children can experience the basic things in life as they grow. It´s a lovely place where they can feel “I belong here” or” this really fits me..”

This is the first time when we have met “Miffy” , aka Mr. Manhattan , Miffy statue here is painted by Selwyn Senatori, depicting his love for a Good Life, or Dolce Vita.

We´ve got ourselves our own Miffy, the one painted by Mies van Out, “Ik voel met zo” or ” I feel so..”. Funny, but according to Chinese and Japanese Astrology, the author Dick Bruna was born actually in the Year of the Rabbit.

” I create a world that children fill with their imagination…” -Dick Bruna

Playing with Puppets with an audience!

Before Corona, taking videos and photos inside the museum is still alowed, but then nowadays to avoid congestion, it is prohibited. I got lucky that I was able to take some snaps of the museum and how does it look inside.We practically spend half of the day roaming around here and exploring the place.My daughter can´t get enough of each room, so she would go back a few more times. It was not particularly crowded that time so we even have the room just for ourselves.Also, I´ve noticed that there were quite a lot of Asian tourists, knowing that Miffy is quite famous, especially in the UK and Japan.

Children unleashed their energy and hop from here to there and just having fun.It was really a day full of fun and creative playing.

In the Netherlands, Miffy is known as Ninjtje,derived from the Dutch word ” Konijntje“, known as well as le Petit Lapin in French.

While waiting for our turn to enter the other side, we roam around the grounds near the museum.The views around Utrecht is pretty amazing and has a very coolSpring vibes. There are lots of trendy shops along the canal and it is not so crowded as in Amsterdam.People sit by the canals ,families eating toegether, drinking, and enjoying some cool spring sun. We busied ourselves admiring the Dutch gable houses and people watching to kill time.

Our favourite so far was the room where children can dressed up as doctors and nurses and play pretend going to the doctor . She had so much fun wearing all those costumes and I just can´t stop smiling how fun it is to let her go by her own imagination. How sad this simple fun cannot be enjoyed by children now because of Corona restrictions….

I wonder when can we go again to such places without the fear of being infected and enjoy the fun while traveling...

Miffy is practically everywhere!

Of course, there is a Miffy souvenir shop and cafe adjacent to the building .The shop offers almost everything from books, to tshirts to pens and mugs. I love their children´s Miffy necklaces and lamps. It´s really a one stop shop and a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts. The museum restaurant offers a good coffee and Dutch cakes, organic juices and a wide outdoor play area for kids as well while their parents can have a breath of fresh air. A bonus,they even served Miffy pancakes!When you are in Holland, you´ve got to try their Dutch apple pie, it´s really a piece of heaven!

The girl enjoying some fun outside in the Cafe Centraal on a fine Dutch Spring!
One fine day in Utrecht
Miffy even has her own Van selling Ice cream, a Turquoise Miffy Van.

What a better way to end our trip is having some Miffy ice cream!

Do you also have a favourite childhood Book?

Until then, Tschüss!

Dutch Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

It´s full of Spring-feels now here in Germany, particularly here in Bavaria. Despite the “cold spell” and rains that we´re having right now, it didn´t stop me from getting myself busy gardening and rambling about our own “Fruhlingsfreude” .We have a little garden and this makes me feel excited . I can see more colors now , the Tulips and Daffodils are blooming and yes, it feels good to feel some sun again.

Speaking of garden inspiration, I kinda remembered this Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden I spotted inside the Keukenhof gardens in the Netherlands two years ago. Its white and blue inspired so I immediately fell in love with it. I think the idea was very original and of course, very-Dutch!

This Delft Blue inspired garden is full of colorful spring blooms and yes–a bit of Delft pottery, and images.On top of the list was these large crockpot-foliage with lots of crispy white Daffodils and Blue grape Hyacinths surrounded with draping Efeu (Common Ivy).What makes it so unique is that it is decorated with broken Delft Blue pottery.What a genius way of salvaging those precious pottery! I am calling it the Delft Blue giant Bouquet! This is the centerpiece in the garden and it sure made a statement!

Delft Blue inspired Spring garden in the Netherlands

Here in Germany, we have a traditional saying that “Scherben bringt Glück” or Broken Pieces bring Luck. I suddenly remember this when I saw this.This old saying applies for newlyweds where they bring old pottery, porcellain and ceramic pieces, old toilet bowls to smash and crack into pieces. They believe that the noise will drive away demons and bad spirits and protect the marriage. Glass in particular is forbidden to throw since glasses symbolize luck that cannot be destroyed or a Mirror, since a broken mirrow symbolizes seven years of bad luck.

Now this made me thought about the House of Mirrors I visited where a lady named Lydia decorated her whole House with broken Glass & Mirror shingles to cover up the mess made up by termites.Seemed like cultural beliefs are clashing.

Anyway, at least these beautiful blue and white Pottery were salvaged from being disposed. They made quite a nice mosaic that serves as a flower bed here.

Delft Blue inspired spring garden in the Netherlands.

I would definitely go for this inspiration. Blue and white are both very calming colors and it fits perfectly to us here just like our White and blue Bavarian Easter Eggs.

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

I have a few blue and white pots and ceramics which I got from our frequent visits in the Netherlands and now I appreciate it even more looking at this Flower bed with different Delft portraits of the famous scenic spots like the Kinderdyk, Windmills and the Dutch Gable Houses .This made me put Delft to put into our places to visit once traveling is okay again.I can´t wait to visit this place soon!

And what to do with old Delft Blue plates?

In the pond they put together all these plates , creating an artistic Lotus plates.This garden looks even more and more fascinating.

Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden in the Netherlands

Of course it won´t be complete without the famous “Dutch couple kissing”!

Delft Blue inspired Spring garden in the Netherlands

To complete the Dutch theme, of course the traditional wooden clogs is reusable as well as pots.

What do you think of Ceramic inspired Spring Garden?

Do you also believe that broken pieces bring Luck?

Until then, Happy Spring and Tchüss!

Suspended Flower Garden in the Netherlands

Those days where we are free to mingle with plants and people..

This is a late post from our last visit in the Netherlands late last year.I am so looking forward already to Spring that I began searching my photos for our last Spring vacation and beautiful fragrant spring bulbs.I´ve bought some bulbs of Hyacinth, Daffodils and Amaryllis and they were all blooming now, their smell inside the house is so fragrant.Few more weeks and I know, Spring is here.

Anyway, yes, back to positive vibes and more Flower love! Last Spring I was really in the mood and wanted to visit a Botanical garden and at the same time to find a place where my daughter can play and not bored ogling plants! Orchideeen Hoeve in Luttelgeest is a perfect place that we´ve found!

When it comesto gardens, botanical ones or not, nothings comes close to the Netherlands .Plants and flowers here are totally of different level. I don´t know but plants grew there on a different level.The species are also so varied.

Beautiful flowers I spotted inside the Orchideen Hoeveee

There are many fascinating things inside the Orchidarium including these sculptured faces and animals out of tree branches and stems.

These crazy Orange Pink Flamingoes are carefree inside the Orchideen Hoeveee

It was freezing cold outside, barren, grey, ugly and most trees are still bare with its leaves long gone withered.But indoor gardens are a different thing. There is a place in the Dutch Lowlands , in Luttelgeest, that can transport you to a plant -paradise destination during winter season! In Orchideeen Hoeve, we had this amazing family experience that really worth the travel and money.

Have you heard about their Suspended Flower Garden?

It´s not yet Spring but I guess just like their Tulips charm, Holland always comes number one for me.I’ve written it many times, and will write once again– their Tulips and Keukenhof Gardens is the most beautiful Spring Garden in the World . It really is, but you need to see it for yourself to judge it. The Suspended Flower Garden in the Netherlands and its Orchid Farm is just extraordinary beautiful.The lay out of the whole farm is great, with lots of things to offer for all ages. No wonder it was really full of visitors during our time of visit.Here you can enjoy a day pass and enjoy all the Amenities.

All blooming plants suspended in the ceiling creates a magical plant paradise

Once we entered the garden, we were all open-mouthed, and drooling at all the hanging beautiful summer blooms. It is huge, vast and overflowing with different kinds of flowers you can imagine! I am sure my German neighbors will be drooling at all the beautiful cascading Geraniums, Fuchsias,Begonias, and Lizzies above our heads!It’s a different world inside in Orchideeen Hoeve.

A great family destination

Inspired by “ Hanami Matsuri” or the Japanese Cherry Blossoms Festival in Japan, the Suspended Flora Garden and it’s greenhouse is as huge as two thousand square meters and seven meters in height. A magical place that creates coziness surrounded with natural living beauties in all colors, flowing oases of fountains, ponds and Gazebos. It looks so summery, and have a mediterranean feel all over the place.Every nook is so picturesque so I can´t really resists to take lots of photos!

There are plenty of areas to sit to enjoy and admire the garden. Whether you come as a couple, family or elderly, the place is huge enough! In case you got hungry, there is the “ Sakura Bistro” that serves snacks and drinks as well.The bathrooms are clean and plenty and there are lots of benches and nooks to rest and wait for your child while they play in the Play areas.Talking about playtime, the Mangrove Forest Play paradise one of the most comprehensive Nature play areas for children that I´ve ever seen.There´s also a Lorraine Garden, Jungle Theater and a Caterpillar Farm.Here I saw their very impressive Citrus Farm as well.

Take a seat and breathe in Nature

I decided to write about this because I really love the concept behind this garden. It is not just a place to admire and relax, but then it’s a place as well to appreciate nature. During Winter, we have limited places to go, especially something fresh as this. I am so glad that I had this experience before the Corona Outbreak happens! We would definitely check out this place once again in our next visit to Holland.

At further end of the Greenhouses, these is a wide place with parrots, birds and animals.Some cute animals that will surely attract your little ones are Meerkats, Ring tailed Lemurs, Ducks, Iguanas, Alpacas, jungle animals, some big fishes and Loris! It´s even like a petting zoo since you are allowed to touch them! I love the Flamingoes and colorful parrots .We enjoyed the butterfly garden and the turtles stretching their legs that looks like they are sunbathing on the banks of the river.In here I have seen as well thousands of swimming colorful Koi Carps in the grand river and waterfalls.

I bought a nice from here as a souvenir and until now, it still thrives!

Thinking of exploring the Dutch Lowlands? these Unique family destinations will surely not hurt your budget but will leave you exhausted, but happy. Have a great week everyone.Tschüss!

The Bicycle capital of the World

Exploring Utrecht with a Toddler

Out and about in the land of Windmills

The Cube Yellow Houses in Rotterdam

It´s no Ordinary year

The photo we entered for this year´s Photo Contest finally made it into 2021´s Calendar

This year is not only all about the tons of masks we bought and wore, or the excessive disinfecting of everything we´ve touched and our hands turning into a resemblance of chicken skin. Aside from all this hygienic crazy mantra that becomes a new norm now, I realized that this year was actually a no ordinary for me, personally.

This year also is the year for the first time that I joined a photography competition here in our local town, hosted by one of our local Bank, the Volksbank Raiffeisenbank Bayern Mitte.I actually mostly forget its name because you know, its long and its kind of twisting my tongue. Well, that´s what German does to me.Anyway, turned out that loved our photo and included it for next year´s Calendar called “ Die schönsten Motive Fotowettbewerbs 2020″.

I was thrilled and excited.I was not expecting that my photo could be chosen considering that there were so many nice landscape photos who were chosen in the whole region.We just got lucky, I guess. We received a prize and donated half of it to another organization.It was a great experience and I think it made our year a certain mark, to remember, to be thankful for the beauty of nature who seemed to be the only one unaffected by depressing situations around us.

The photo that I took is titled “Glacisbrücke im Herbst” ,or the Glacis Bridge in Fall. I love this photo particularly since it caught the mystic beauty of Fall in my neighborhood, plus this bridge is quite fascinating as well since its one of the landmark near to where I lived.

Whenever I crosses this bridge, I am being reminded of this recognition.Who could have thought….?

The “Mushroom” Water Towers of Kuwait

When I was still living in Kuwait, I took pictures of most of the places where I visited. It´s pretty normal since I am an Expat working there and yes, the culture is different and there are so many things that is new to me.My iPhone Gallery was filled with snapshots, candid selfies and landscape portraits which I even used most of the time in my Blog articles.Using these Photos rekindled my memories of being in there and appreciating the unique beauty that Kuwait has, like for example this “Mushroom ” Water Towers .

At first glance you wouldn´t even imagined that it´s a modern water supply system, but then it was.The shape, the color, the size, everything about this symbolic reinforced concrete system is unique.Maybe to local Kuwaitis it´s just a normal water towers but definitely not for me. I am still amazed and perplexed of its function and design.Clever design from VBB , A Swedish engineering company, with Sune Lindström as its chief Architect.No wonder it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, cycle 1980.

Mr. Antoon Kuhlmann from Hortus Nijmegen in the Netherlands along with Dominique Clement sent an email to me informing me if they can use my photo as a research material to be used in their upcoming manuscript about Mushrooms.What a brilliant idea!

This book really expains what special role Mushrooms played in Arts, Culture and yes, in Nature.I was totally honored to be a part of this book, to think even that Kuwait´s Water Towers was used as an example how Architects used mushroom as a concept for building a modern water system.

Just in time before Christmas I got a copy of this Book and couldn´t feel more proud than ever.It is cleverly done !Unfortunately, it´s only in Dutch language.

This post is not a promotion of the book mentioned above. I just felt grateful that one of my post and photo was used to compile all the amazing information supplied by this book.The Dutch Autors did a wonderful job in coming up to this phenomenal piece. If you are reading up until this part and interested to buy a copy, you can find the link Here.

Thought this year was only staying at home, social distancing and wearing masks…not for us actually.It was a no ordinary year because of this Online Art Project by the International Youth Library in Munich ( International Jugendbibliotehek München) called ” Kinder, malen sich Selbst” or the I-solation, Children ,draw yourselves, an online Exhibition initiative organized by this Library . The exhibition was joined by 800 participating children all over the world!

And my little daughter joined herself into this exhibition and by Spring of 2020, her drawing was submitted to the Library.By around June, we were invited to visit the Exhibition and had a Tour in their Library and see the beautiful grounds of Blutenburg Castle. It was her first, at the age of 5.

But as I wrote before, this year was actually a legendary year for all of us.Came December and we are still under stressed because of Corona infections, in Isolation and wearing Masks in School.Christmas Markets are cancelled and we entered a second Lockdown on Dec 16. Another melodramatic feeling of isolation creeps us, but then home is where we felt the most safe, well I guess, for everybody´s sake it´s the ony way out.

Nothing more to expect, we can´t change the tides.But then, we managed to have a meaningful Christmas season at home, without the frantic craze and glittering lights.

Here in Germany, children and adults are crazy about Adventskalendar. It´s literally a calendar, a coundown from the start of Advent to Christmas Eve.So this time, our local town hosted a drawing competition for children for the Adventskalendar with Winter moments as a theme. Once again, my daughter had her entry and yes, her drawing was chosen to be in the 15th day of Adventskalendar. On that day,she met the Christkind to receive her prize but of course, with a mask and distance!

Little clever Artist being proud of her Artwork.

I guess a Not Ordinary year means that we stopped expecting, and more of appreciating and giving.4 days to go til this year ends and I just want to document it here in my Blog what a meaningful year it was as well.There´s nothing much to tell of what we did, but we did the best of what we can do…

I think we´ll do this again next year if there´s another chance again!

Did you have a no Ordinary moment this year?

Alles gute und Tschüss!

The Scribe from Utrecht

Roaming the streets of Utrecht, the Netherlands
Here is some fascinating views in the garden beside the Dom Cathedral

The Netherlands : A place with more bicycles than people

A Land where there are more Bicycles than People


Seems like everytime I visit the Netherlands I become more and more into their Bicycle Urbanism. I just can’t get enough of their bicycles! It is so enormous in volume, it is everywhere! I get off from the train and arrived in the Station and see a parking lot full of bikes. I thought I’ve already seen it before and it’s no surprise anymore but then I still found it unbelievable. Different kinds of bicycles, old and new, modern, E-bikes and so on and so forth it’s all there. The sight of bikes is as normal as the sight of beautiful Tulips colors in Spring! I say to myself- Only in the Netherlands ! The country with more Bicycles than people.

Bikes parked along the canals of Utrecht, Netherlands

So I am inspired to write once again about Dutch and their bikes because I think this information is inspiring, as well as informative especially for people who lived in traffic prone places ( like I was before!) . I know it also depends where you are in the world but we can learn something about Dutch people and the way they cycle through all cycles of life through their bikes. Netherlands is so flat compared to Germany so going to places is shorter but can also be very windy. I know how hard it is to cycle when you have strong winds ahead of you, it’s not enjoyable and I hated it always. Also, nobody enjoys cycling in the rain, or when the roads are icy and frozen. So I am asking myself why do Dutch people love cycling?

The Netherlands : a beautiful place with colorful Tulips, canals and BICYCLES!

Cycling as an alternative and healthiest way of transport is the most practical solution of getting from A to B. They say that when you cycle for an average of 30 minutes then it increases your life expectancy. And for Expats who lived in the Netherlands and also here in Germany, I am sure this is one of the culture shock that we all can relate. Once I came here, we bought a bike! Anyway, I have been seeing my Stats and I noticed that I have viewers from different parts of the globe and I think that for someone who have never been to Amsterdam or in the Netherlands in general, they don’t really have an idea how big is the Dutch cycling lifestyle . It is really not just a trend or a tourist attraction to see–it’s a culture, it’s their life.

The average Dutch person cycles around 1,000 km annually and only in the Netherlands that there are more bicycles than people! And—did you know that Dutch old people still cycle even they are 80!

Super chic Dutch Bakfiets

With a country of 17.1 million people, there are 23 Million bikes! Imagine that!Meaning an average Dutch has 1.3 bikes, 2 or more! I saw it by my own eyes in my numerous visits in Holland. Bicycles or Fiets is staple as bread (or Brood) in every household and oftentimes they cycle to buy bread! Both young and old ride their bikes, going to school and to work. Every.single. Day! 32% of journeys for example in Amsterdam is by bike alone.

Utrecht Bike Lot is now OPEN : Biggest Bike park Station in the World

Compared to USA with 325 Million people, they have 70 Million bikes. I think everyone owns a bike than everyone owns a car. Last Easter we visited Utrecht and I discovered something more, it seems like that the number of bicycles is much even more than I could remember from what I’ve seen along the canals of Amsterdam and the bike parking lot in Museumplein. 40% of the visitors going to Utrecht are coming by bike so the largest Bike parking lot is found in this city. The 17,100 SQ/m parking space under the Utrecht Central Station can take up up to 12,500 BIKES! Imagine that!

My daughter trying to ride a bicycle we found parked in a light post

If they love to cycle then they need to build cycling paths for sure.There are 35,000km of bike paths only dedicated for cycling in the Netherlands. Most of the inner cities are car-free and there are endless places to go without the need of a car. Bicycle streets is very common standard in many Dutch cities but Utrecht is on top with 6km and plans for more.Bicycle Urbanism is the trend in Lowlands and I can really see why it’s bent to last.
What’s so fascinating is that they even created a pop-up parking concept for bikes and they have installed the Flo – a speed detection system coupled with digital kiosks that read each cyclist’s speed and help them speed up or slow down in order to catch the next light. It is a more complicated system than the simpler ones in place in Copenhagen .

What’s with the flowers and utility baskets in the bikes in Holland?
Without Helmets , the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to cycle!

Another important thing, as a parent, I can totally appreciate the unique love affair of Dutch with their bicycles and incorporating cycling to their kids at a very young age. For the past 2.5 years that I am now living here in Germany, and married to a Dutchman, I am cycling almost everyday and it’s one of my preferred practical means of transport, especially if I want to get on with everyday routines . I love the freedom, the peace and security I feel when I ride my bike but not on rush hours! Long distance cycling is not for me but here they have E-bikes as well but I appreciate everyday circulation and exercise I get from it. The fresh air that I breathe while riding my bike can be a stress-reliever and at the same time enjoying the surroundings while cycling is so nice. It’s one of the things I called “simplest form of luxury“. I often cycle going to work, getting basic groceries and bring my child to the Kindergarten and yes, I cycle even in Winter ! It’s very common here as well for Kindergarten children ( as young as 2!) to use Lauf Fahrrad (or walking bike) and cycle to their school accompanied by parents. We never had this in Philippines and certainly not in Kuwait so this new culture is something for you to really personally experienced for you to appreciate. It is not just a trend. It’s a way of life.

Bike capital of the World!

On the other side, here in Germany, we use much of the “Anhänger“. Of course, Germans always have the best technology for everything! It’s a compact carriage tagged along in a bike so you can cycle with your toddler everywhere you go. My daughter loves it and its very common here. I think most of families with little children have it. Complete with straps, seat belts and children always wear helmet as much as adults. But not so in the Netherlands.They transport their babies and toddlers in a box-type carriage attached to a bike called “Bakfiets” together with a bag of groceries withe other things as well. It’s what they called “super-utility box “!
In Germany, even if you don’t do cycling professionally, or you’re not into Sport, people wear Lycra and cycling gears, which is a total NO-NO in Holland. Dutch people cycle in normal and work clothes. What is amazing that the women can cycle so classy on skirt while riding a bike!

Bikes parked in Train Station

I lived 200 meters from a nearby school and I observed that young people ( Realschule and up to Gymnasium) also ride their bikes going to school, but most of them are being dropped off by a car every single day or taking the bus.

Should I cycle or should I play?


It is well known that Dutch children are the happiest in the world. I believe cycling is a part of the development of inner security that they feel as a kid. Cycling allows them to reach destinations safely and gives them the feeling of freedom, and achievement.

Parallel motion –Bikes, houses, shops, bars and people

The Dutch train their children at a young age to ride so they can confidently ride in the roads when they are around 12 years of age, just before they start secondary school . Only if they pass their traffic exam are they awarded their Verkeersdiploma (traffic certificate). This training is necessary as 75% of secondary school students cycle to school, rising to 84% riding for those living within 5 km of school. Even for distances of 16 km (9.9 mi) or over, some 8% of secondary school children cycle in each direction to school, though this is mainly in rural areas where the closest secondary schools can be a fair distance away.Some 49% of primary school children ride to school, but distances are shorter and adults often accompany the younger ones .

People cycle like crazy without helmet and children sits in front of the bike without the child seat like we have here. Do you know why it so normal? Street accidents are unheard of. In the Netherlands,the traffic rules are so bike-friendly so safety is not an issue. I have seen it by my eyes, children pedals from school to home but bikes being stolen are another issue.

What about you, what is your opinion about cycling? Do you hold back on riding a bicycle?

If you happen to visit Holland, try to observe and capture people cycling with umbrella and especially on bicycle rush hours, it’s really a sight!

How about you, what is your view of cycling? What do you like about riding a bike?

Some interesting read can be found Here and Here.

If you want to know how others feel about when they are cycling then read on from Here.It’s really good.

One fine day in Utrecht

Livin’the Dutch Life

Last Easter we had the chance once again to visit the Netherlands !It’s been two years in a row now that we’ve spent our Easter break in our second home in Europe, the bike capital of the world, the place where Tulips are goddess of beauty and pancakes are eaten for dinner! See, I always look forward going to Holland in Springtime for so many reasons. One, I’m still over the moon by the colors of Spring which I can only see in the Netherlands. Last year we have visited the Keukenhof in Lisse and I must say it again that it is really the most beautiful Spring garden in the world! If you won’t agree with me then you must see it by your own eyes to believe. Actually, we went to Holland right after we visited Berlin which is just 4 hours away by train on a direct Intercity train. I am glad that we made the right choice for this place because it turned out to be an amazing place add to the fact that we are having a wonderful spring weather in the spring capital of Europe!

Looking down on Manholes in Utrecht, Netherlands

We arrived in Utrecht at around 11 a.m . First thing I did was to look down for some manholes to ponder. I didn’t see much but I found some. Most of the shops are already open from 10 a.m on Maundy Thursday. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, located 50 km southeast of Amsterdam and only takes about half an hour by train. Netherlands has a great train network so Utrecht is easily accessible from Schiphol central station. Trains runs very frequently so the ride is really quick.What I find unique in the Netherlands is their scanning gate system in the train station which is really impressive and have better control of the passengers.

One fine day in Utrecht, Netherlands
Dutch gable houses: Every angle is different wherever you look

Feels like Amsterdam

For me, Utrecht is a mini version of Amsterdam, less chaotic, trendy but less crazy, but can also be full of frantic crowds, and also very touristy. It’s a great family get-away because it has everything for young and old. The crowds can be so diversed and multi-cultural. Along the canal areas I saw rows of coffee shops and you know that they don’t sell the ordinary Cappucino or Latte! Looking very “Dutch” is Oudegracht’s full of “Fiets” or bicycles. Only in Holland you can see this bicycle fever (ever!). Netherlands is really the country of bicycles. In Germany, people also cycle a lot but I’ve never seen the same amount of bicycles than in Holland! Of course, with the unique “Gezellig ” flair of the two major canals that runs through the city center, the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht, a daytrip in Utrecht is a great escape from big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. It’s Easter break so the whole canal area was full of people, relaxing,chilling, and basking in the sun.There was so much activity going on around. Never a dull moment and time really flies so fast. But be warned though, if you’ve never been to the Netherlands,brave yourself when cycling and watch out for other cyclists! Aside from the fact that the roads are smaller, most streets in the city center is one-way.

Traditional Dutch gable houses along the canals of Utrecht


Canals of Utrecht

I am really looking forward to spend time exploring the canals of Utrecht. While walking, I was taken back to the time when we are in Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht and the Red light District areas. With the long rows of cafes, shops, boutiques and restaurants along the canals, visitors can have a nice walk. Time flies so fast and it’s really cozy strolling around. This is a feature that is unique for the city of Utrecht. Utrecht is a small city and compact so exploring it doesn’t take that long and walking is the best way to explore it so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. But because we had a toddler with us, we took our time going with her phase. I just realized that my daughter walked as much as we did even from our days in Berlin. The stone boulders and poles became her jump poles and playground. My daughter was fascinated by the ducks along the canal banks and she wanted to feed them with coins!

Utrecht, Netherlands
Bikes and even more bikes
Oudegracht on a fine Spring sunny afternoon

It is never boring to walk along Oudegracht with rows of houses because everywhere I look is so pretty! I took so many photos because every angle is just different, and as usual, they are never aligned!

Wandering along the canals of Utrecht

Domtoren ( or Dom Tower)

As soon as we exited the mall, ( I totally forgot its name..) which was adjacent to the the Utrecht central station we follow the crowds leading further to the canal area which directly led as to the iconic Domtoren (or Dom Tower).Built of design by John of Hainaut and is the tallest church tower (112.5 meters) in the Netherlands. It was completed in 1382 and the tallest belfry in the country. I’ve heard about this church before but seeing it for real is really great.The exterior of the church tower is heavily renovated from the time of our visit but still on operations so its still accessible for visitors. I’ve heard that renovations are expected to be completed by 2022.

Domkerk, Utrecht’s landmark

The Tower contains 14 bells that weigh 32 tons and what makes it unique is that its still rung by a group of dedicated ringers or the Utrecht Klokkenluiders Gilde. There are two chapels in the tower; the Egmond chapel and the St. Michael’s chapel. Take note that you can only visit the Dom on a one hour tour. If you are in a hurry, you can still enjoy its exterior facade.

Eye- catching statues in Utrecht
Lush labyrinth garden in Domkerk

Website : http://www.domkerk.nl/

Welcome to Miffy Museum !

Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) and Centraal Museum

Actually, the main reasons why we visited Utrecht is to see the Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) .I’ve been longing to see this museum for a long time because of my four year old daughter.She had a blast in Berlin in the Legoland Discovery Center, going crazy over lego and the indoor playground, but inside Miffy Museum she had a total world of fun and interactive learning. Miffy Museum is the pride of the Netherlands in memory of its creator Dick Bruna. Seeing the museum, I can say that this place is definitely true to his words–” I create a world that children fill with their own imagination”. For once, I think the Netherlands has the most wonderful museum for young children and adults.

Adjacent to Miffy Museum is the Centraal Museum which houses the great works of local artists such as Joachim Wtewael and Gerard Van Honthorst. Another interesting feature is the “Utrecht ship” located in the cellar of the museum.It’s located in front of Miffy museum. There was a cozy Cafe in the corner of the Museum which you can enjoy a quick bite and enjoy the beautiful gardens.The souvenir shop can be found in the main entrance of the Museum.

Website : https://nijntjemuseum.nl

St. Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk)

We walked a bit further and we discovered the beautiful Labyrinth gardens in St.Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk) .St.Martin’s cathedral is the main cathedral in Utrecht and once connected to the Dom Tower but due to the collapse of its nave from the Tornado in 1674, the two building have been separated.This church was once the largest church in the Netherlands.What remains of the interior is still of high quality and extremely ornate with many vaulted arches and colorful stained glass windows. This is the lone church in the Netherlands that has a close resemblance to the style of the Gothic architecture.The building has a sole 367 ft tower named Dom tower which is Utrecht’s landmark. I was rather surprised to see the serene green surroundings inside the square of the cathedral. It has a fountain in the middle and the naves creates a remarkable shadow from the afternoon sun that creates a very relaxing atmosphere. Unlike the other Dom that we’ve visited, the garden has no graves, only a Labyrinth that my daughter loves.

Nice wall art found in the streets of Utrecht

As we are getting tired from walking around 2 o’clock afternoon, we decided to look for a place to sit down and have a drink. We followed the train back to the canal areas and wander through the narrow streets. The crowds are still on frenzy and there were now street musicians playing along the canals. Super ” Gezellig “!

I don’t know its name but it looks yummy!

Grabbing an ice cream, we sat by the benches facing the canal and just enjoyed the view, languishing on the coziness of Dutch life. People of different skin enjoying every single moment of leisure and I know, I am not the only one who became a storyteller after visiting this wonderful little city in the Netherlands.

Indeed, it was one fine day in Utrecht.

National “Romantic” Tulip Day!

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Tulip picking !

Are you prepared to gather your own  FREE Tulips?

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Tulips in bloom in Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

Is it Spring already? Nope, its still freezing over here in Germany, as it is still winter here in Europe, but in the Netherlands, you can catch an early glimpse of Spring! As a yearly tradition in Amsterdam, once again this year, the TULPENDAG or the National Tulip Day is set! What makes this super exciting and colorful? You can gather your own Tulips, as much as you can, and yes—all for FREE!

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Memories from Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

In lieu of this year’s theme “Romance“, Tulips are such in tune with any romantic occasion. I ,myself love Tulips no matter what the occasion is. Most especially when it is given to me as a gift. Just last week, I got a bunch of Tulips and when I put it in the vase, I can’t help myself comparing the bulbs from the gorgeous Tulips I have seen back in Holland. They are totally in different genes !!

Tulips are such a nice token to give to someone you love.It has a universal symbolism of purity, love and beauty.Though it can be super expensive in other countries, in Holland, tulips has its own pride.

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On January 20, the Dam Square will once again be filled with over 200, 000 Dutch tulips ! On this day, Tulip growers will wow the world once again by creating a temporary Garden right in the touristic Dam square. From 13.00 to 16:30, so if you are in Amsterdam or you have a chance to visit this beautiful city ( like I did!), then grab everyone along with you to see this event!

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Photos are from my last year’s visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, in Holland!

What about you? What is your favorite flower?

Have you ever heard of a Tulip Movie? I found it very interesting and if you love Tulips, then this is something for you to learn more about the pride of Holland.

Enjoy watching!