Thursday, 15 October 2009

Quintessentially Dutch

Mr Gnome has returned from a brief visit to the Netherlands buzzing with enthusiasm for our charming neighbours across the North Sea.

He relished, in no particular order:
  • the people: dignified, kindly, helpful and healthy-looking - must be all that...
  • cycling: travel by bike is totally built in to the the Dutch transport system, the whole culture, in fact. Of course, geography helps. But we could learn so much from our neighbours
  • applegebak: not exactly apple pie. Deeper, fuller, richer. Omnipresent. Lekker!
  • the Mauritshuis Museum in Den Haag. A treasure box on three floors of a grand, but not overwhelming, seventeenth-century mansion, housing some of the greatest works of the Dutch 'golden age': Rembrandt's 'Anatomy Lesson' and Vermeer's 'The Girl with a Pearl Earring'
  • trains: Mr Gnome couldn't get enough of the zippy doubledecker commuter trains
  • Delft and Leiden: what could be more beguiling than wandering the streets of these university cities on a crisp, autumnal day?
  • Hortus Botanicus: the University of Leiden's ancient botanical gardens were a serendipitous discovery. Glorious. And free - such a bonus for a Euro-strapped gnome.

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