A freedom-oriented lifestyle blog

Category: Netherlands

Texel island and preparing to leave Netherlands

Netherlands do have a few islands outside of their mainland and the biggest island is called Texel. The rumor was that Texel (pronounced Tessel in Dutch) would have nice places to take a bath, so we packed our swimwear. Just a few days from our planned date to travel to Texel, a friend contacted us and let us know that she and a friend where in Amsterdam for a holiday so we invited them to come with us to Texel.

Nederländerna har några öar utanför kusten och den största kallas Texel. Ryktet var att Texel (uttalat Tessel på holländska) skulle ha fina badmöjligheter så vi packade med oss badkläderna. Bara några dagar från det planerade datumet för att resa till Texel kontaktade en vän oss och meddelade att hon och en vän var i Amsterdam för en semester så vi bjöd in dem att komma med oss till Texel.

We bought our ferry ticket online, which made the check-in smooth and simple,  and we drove on to the ferry after we had picked up our friend Lynn and her friend Lina at the train station in Den Helder.

Ferries to Texel depart from Den Helder and they depart frequently all year (one every 30 minutes during high season). It is quite cheap if you can avoid the weekends and Mondays, meaning taking your trip out to Texel Tuesday to Thursday is cheapest. You buy a two way ticket and you either walk, bicycle or take a car on board. We took a car and the ticket is valid for the car, meaning that you can go up to 9 persons in one car on one car ticket. The price was 25 Euro for a car if you travel Tuesday to Thursday (it is 37 Euro the other days).

Hi Texel! Othilia is here!

One of the things you can do on the island is to visit the Eierland lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1863 and it was built on top of a 20-metre high sand dune.

During an uprising in April 1945 the lighthouse suffered a lot of damage. The lighthouse was then repaired by constructing a new wall around the original wall, but you can still see the original wall with its bullet holes when you go up the tower.

We got a nice overview over the sea and beach from the top of the lighthouse. Othilia loves to climb!

This was our main objective today. It was a really warm day, so being in the water was a necessity for Othilia.

The girls on their way to the beach!

Othilia was happy!

Pontus was running around and took pictures on animals he found in the water.

A few crabs! There were also animals in the water that we couldn’t see, but we could feel them – water fleas!

We ate dinner on Texel before we took the ferry back to the mainland and said good bye to Lynn and Lina. Our days in Netherlands were about to end, so we want to end our Netherlands 2019 trip with photos from our time here that didn’t fit the previous blog posts.

The days we didn’t have an adventure planned we stayed in or close to our magical village. We had Harlingen near us, where we went for shopping etc, but we also had close to Bolsward, where we found our favorite ice cream flavor – duindoorn in Dutch or havtorn in Swedish (sea buckthorn in English).  
Pontus started with a new habit to wake up and go watch the sunrise, so I want to show you a few of the sunrises Pontus captured during our month in Netherlands. So here is a mix of pictures from our month in the Netherlands.

Vi åt middag på Texel innan vi tog färjan tillbaka till fastlandet och sa hejdå till Lynn och Lina. Våra dagar i Nederländerna var på väg att ta slut, så vi vill avsluta vårt Nederländerna 2019 med bilder från vår tid här som inte passade de tidigare blogginläggen.

De dagar vi inte hade ett planerat äventyr stannade vi i eller nära vår magiska by. Vi hade Harlingen nära oss, dit vi åkte för att shoppa osv, men vi hade också nära Bolsward, där vi hittade vår favoritglassmak – duindoorn på holländska eller havtorn på svenska.
Pontus började med en ny vana att gå upp på morgonen och titta på soluppgången, så jag vill visa er några av de solupppgångar Pontus fångade under vår månad i Nederländerna. Så nedanför denna text är en blandning av bilder från vår månad i Nederländerna.

Stunning picture of a sunrise over the avenue leading to our village.

Othilia eating berries in our backyard.


Othilia playing in the village playground.

The heat was unbearable so we had to buy a fan to our rented house. It saved our days and nights for a couple of days.

Our nearest beach in Makkum. Nice to have when the temperature was peaking.

Another stunning sunrise that Pontus captured. This is not a bicycle road – it is actually a normal car road with a maximum speed limit of 60 km/h.

We took a walk in a small park in Bolsward one evening.

And this is here main objective when when she sees water. You can imagine what her reaction is when we deny her a bath.

The city had placed out animals carved out of wood in the park.

Othilia gets to hang out with dad in the morning if she decides to make morning way before I do. Here in her pajamas watching the sun go up.

Wherever we go we get stuck for a while if Othilia see a ball. Here, we had stopped at a McDonald’s to eat and Othilia was in heaven, the playground had balls hanging from ropes.

An evening shoot capturing the full moon. Pontus’s mobile camera is so good at taking pictures in poor light.

Then it was time for us to leave Netherlands, but it will not be our last time here. We love the Netherlands, especially the Northern parts. More pictures from our time here can be seen in the slider below.

De Haar Castle and Utrecht with bubb.la

De Haar Castle was another recommendation we got and our contacts brought us to Utrecht in the Netherlands so we decided to pay this castle a visit. It was on one of the hottest days here in the Netherlands so being inside a cold castle was perfect for us.
De Haar Castle had gradually turned into ruins since 1641 when the heir of the castle ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, in 1887 married Hélène de Rothschild, of the Rothschild family.  Hélène’s family, the Rothschilds, decided to rebuild the castle from its ruins. They hired the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and he would work on the project for 20 years. De Haar Castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, and a few rooms on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public, so we went in and took a look at them.

Slottet De Haar var en annan rekommendation vi fått och våra kontakter förde oss till Utrecht i Nederländerna så vi beslutade att besöka platsen. Det var en av de hetaste dagarna här i Nederländerna så att vara inne i ett stort, kallt slott var perfekt för oss.
De Haar-slottet hade gradvis förvandlats till ruiner sedan 1641 när arvingen till slottets ruiner, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, 1887 gifte sig med Hélène de Rothschild. Hélènes familj, Rothschildsfamiljen, beslutade att återuppbygga slottet från dess ruiner. De anlitade den berömda holländska arkitekten Pierre Cuypers och han skulle arbeta med detta projekt i 20 år. De Haar-slottet har 200 rum och 30 badrum, och några få rum på bottenvåningen har öppnats för att beskådas av allmänheten, så vi gick in och tittade på dem.

Welcome to De Haar Castle!

Better be in the shadows while walking around the castle!

Walking inside the castle over the draw bridge

First thing you see when you walk in to the main hall!

The main hall felt like it was taken from the land of the Maharajahs (Rajasthan in India) and sure thing, the newlywed couple loved travel and they even invited Maharaja friends to the castle.

The family tree of the van Zuylen/Rothschild family can be found here.

A few things from the Etienne/Helene van Zuylen era are on display in the different rooms.

Like their hygiene/make up boxes they couldn’t travel without.

A few of the suitcases that the family used during their travels.

The dining hall. A lot of prominent people have been dining around this table.

Collections of different things bought during their travels far away.

A few bedrooms are open for display. This room was Baronnesse Gabrielle van Zuylen during a few decades when she was married to Thierry van Zuylen van Nyevelt.

The library/cigar room!

The kitchen in the cellar. Highly modern for its time. Even though the castle has been built to resemble the old castle, the family was keen to modernize the castle so they would have proper bathrooms and kitchen, electrical sockets, heat and ventilation.

We couldn’t resist to buy a bunny to Othilia when we walked out through the museum shop. She was so happy to see it and she wouldn’t let go of the bunny.
More pictures from the castle will be displayed in the slider below.

We took a short walk in the park as well before we left for Utrecht.

We found deers in the park and Othilia got excited.

They were also staying in the shadows.

We found a swan family as well. We couldn’t stay longer, the heat was getting to us even though we were staying in the shadows most of the time.

Our original plan was to take a walk around Utrecht after our visit to De Haar Castle, but the heat forced us to find a place for us and Othilia to swim. The Evening came and we had arranged a bubb.la meet up in Utrecht so we had to leave the lake and head into the city – our only request was to sit indoors with an air-condition on full speed.

Vår ursprungliga plan var att ta en promenad genom Utrecht efter vårt besök i De Haar-slottet, men värmen tvingade oss att hitta en plats för oss och Othilia att simma. Kvällen kom och vi hade ordnat ett bubb.la möte i Utrecht så vi var tvungna att lämna sjön och åka in till staden – vår enda begäran var att sitta inomhus med luftkonditionering på full hastighet.

We found a lake near the De Haar castle so we went there to spend our afternoon waiting for our bubb.la member meet up.

Othilia and dad in the water.

We were not the only ones escaping the city during the heat wave.

Early evening and we were in the city of Utrecht.

We ate dinner here and then took an evening walk in the city center of Utrecht.

The city once had a much higher water level, that is why you find a lower ground level next to the canal today and both restaurants and tenants take advantage of that.

The canals are also used for kayaking and swimming in.

The sun was going down and we had to say good bye to our new friends. We didn’t have so many days left here in the Netherlands and we wanted to go on one more adventure before leaving the Netherlands. More about that in our next blog post.

The windmills of Zaanse Schans

We visited Zaanse Schans after this village was decided to be the place for a small bubb.la meet up with a Swedish/Japanese family that we wanted to meet. We always try to meet up with like-minded people when we travel around in the world and here in the Netherlands a few fellow bubb.la members currently live.

Zaanse Schans is a village with historic wooden buildings set up with the intention of preserving the historical heritage of the Netherlands. Many of the buildings here were relocated to the Zaanse Schans expansion plan between 1961 and 1974, and restored to their former glory. Only a few of the windmills are still on their original property. It feels like an amusement park, because of the many tourists coming here (2.2 million visited in 2017).  We bought the Zaanse Schans Card 15 Euros (10 Euros for children between 4- 17 and below 4 for free). With the card you can visit several museums free of charge for an entire day. However, the windmills you still have to pay for to enter (5 Euros to enter each windmill).

Vi åkte till Zaanse Schans efter att denna by bestämdes att vara platsen för en liten bubb.la-träff med en svensk/japansk familj som vi ville träffa. Vi försöker alltid träffa likasinnade människor när vi reser runt i världen och här i Nederländerna bor för närvarande några  bubb.la medlemmar.

Zaanse Schans är en by med historiska träbyggnader inrättade med avsikt att bevara det historiska kulturarvet i Nederländerna. Många av byggnaderna här flyttades till Zaanse Schans expansionsplan mellan 1961 och 1974 och återställdes till sitt tidigare skick. Endast ett fåtal av väderkvarnarna står på sin ursprungliga plats, resten är flyttade hit. Det känns som en nöjespark på grund av de många turister som kommer hit (2,2 miljoner besökte stället år 2017). Vi köpte Zaanse Schans-kortet för 15 Euro (10 Euro för barn mellan 4- 17 och under 4 gratis). Med kortet kan du besöka flera museer gratis en hel dag. Väderkvarnar måste man fortfarande  betala för att gå in i (5 Euro för att besöka varje väderkvarn).

Some of the windmills of Zaanse Schans on this side of the river: De Huisman (Spices), De Gekroonde Poelenburg (Wood saw), De Kat (Paint), The Seeker (Oil), Bovenkruier (Wood saw), De Os (oil), Het Klaverblad (Wood saw), De Bonte Hen (Oil).

We came to Zaanse Schans in the morning when the weather was a bit colder, but the prognosis was promising sun, so me and Othilia had dressed for that.

We were waiting for our company of today a fellow bubb.la member that we have wanted to meet as soon as we knew we were going to the Netherlands.

Stefan, Aki and their daughter came with the train meeting us and it was so fun to spend a day with this family, we would love to do it again someday.

Zaanse Schans is a created windmill park with old windsmills transported from the whole country to be in the same place. It feels more like an amusement park for tourists, than a genuine village, but the windmills are still running and you can walk into them if you pay 5€ at each entrance. The other houses are museums, some are free and some you need to pay an entrance fee to get in, and others are restaurants, cafes and shops.

The Netherlands are known for clogs (Klomp in Dutch) and we have actually seen normal people walking in those in supermarkets. There is actually a clog making man in Zaanse Schans and a clog museum is a part of his working place.

Clogs in all forms can be found here.

There were a lot of clogs for purchase as well, not just for show!

Putting Othilia in place for the photoshoot I had planned with her dress from Bali, bought by mormor (grandmother) approximately half a year before Othilia was created. The problem was that Othilia only wanted to walk into the water so we had to act fast.

The hat were on her head for approximately 20 seconds before it ended up in the water. The hat was rescued by Stefan, but most of all quick thinking by Aki.

Next to the mills you have other historical buildings that have been transported here.

We decided to walk around in this part to take photos. We had so much to talk about with Stefan and Aki so we didn’t want to end the day to early. Othilia got the other hat, while the yellow hat was drying.

Zaanse Schans!

A garden in Zaanse Schans!

It looked like at least some of the houses here had people living in them!

We visited the museum of Dutch clocks and we could appreciate the craftmanship and work dedicated to these clocks. The boats and whale in the lower part of the clock was actually moving.

The first store opened by Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in Netherlands, has also been moved to Zaanse Schans. The store orginally opened in 1887 in the town of Oostzaan. We said goodbye to Aki and Stefan for this time around, but we would meet Stefan again a few days later.

Bumper boats in Giethoorn

Giethoorn is truly an interesting place. Founded by Flagellants, has no roads, and the number of Chinese people travelling to this village in the Netherlands is so high that the village was voted in as one of the places that you could buy on the international Monopoly edition released in 2015, after the contest on which places should be on this special monopoly edition went viral in China.

So we had to go there and experience the madness. No roads mean that you travel on waterways by rented boats and there are plenty of boats to rent due to the many Chinese tourists visiting this place. Between 150 000 and 200 000 Chinese tourists per year visit this village that only has around  2500 inhabitants. So it really felt like we were in an amusement park riding those bumper cars, but at the same time we were actually sitting in the love tunnel boats looking at the surrealistic scenery around us. Be prepared to be bumping around with other, mainly Chinese, tourists.

The history of Giethoorn starts with the Flagellants, a Catholic sect where worshipers likes to whip their own bodies with different instruments, who settled here in the 13th century. After them came the farmers and their farmland activities created the big lake Boppenwide next to Giethoorn, a lake which is no more than a meter deep at its places. The water is quite shallow in most areas here, so that is why we lack life-jackets in all pictures below.

Giethoorn is best pictured by actual footage, not text, so there will be plenty of pictures of the village below. Othilia started walking here in the Netherlands so we will insert a video of her record walking in the end and a few photos from Ulrika’s birthday. Pictures coming up!

Giethoorn är en verkligt intressant plats. Grundades av Flagellanter, har inga bilvägar och antalet kineser som reser till denna by i Nederländerna är så hög att byn röstades in som en av de platser som du kan köpa i den internationella versionen av monopol som utgavs 2015 efter att tävlingen om vilka platser som borde vara med på denna speciella monopolutgåva blev viral i Kina.

Så vi var tvungna att åka dit och uppleva galenskapen. Inga vägar betyder att du reser på vattenvägar med båtar du kan hyra och det finns många båtar att hyra på grund av det stora antalet kinesiska besökare. Mellan 150 000 och 200 000 kinesiska turister per år besöker denna by som bara har cirka 2500 invånare. Det kändes verkligen som om vi var på ett tivoli åkandes i radiobilar medan vi samtidigt faktiskt sitter i kärlekstunnel-båtar och tittar på det surrealistiska landskapet omkring oss. Var beredd och stöta runt med andra, främst kinesiska, turister.

Giethoorns historia börjar med Flagellanterna, en katolsk sekt där medlemmarna piskar deras kroppar med olika instrument, som bosatte sig här på 1200-talet. Efter dem kom bönderna och deras jordbruksverksamhet skapade den stora sjön Boppenwide som ligger bredvid Giethoorn. Denna sjö är inte mer än en meter djup på sina platser. Vattnet är väldigt grunt i de flesta områden här, så det är därför vi saknar flytvästar i alla bilder nedan.

Giethoorn är bäst avbildad av faktiska bilder, inte text, så det kommer att finnas gott om bilder på byn nedan. Othilia började gå här i Nederländerna så vi kommer också att publicera en video av hennes rekordpromenad, samt några foton från Ulrikas födelsedag. Nu kommer bilderna!

Be prepared for a lot of pictures on lovely houses and canals!

We needed to eat lunch before we were heading out on the boats and the parking place we choose had a deal that you could park for free if you ate at their restaurant, so we did. One thing Netherlands is good at is to clearly put up signs where you can find a place to park your car. It is easy to find a parking place in both smaller villages and bigger cities.

The food was amazing so we did not regret it.

We rented a boat at the same place we parked our car and you can choose a number of different options. 25Euro/boat if you only want to see Giethoorn (an 1 hour trip), 50 Euro for the 2-hour trip which includes part of the national park as well and then more Euros for the longer trips, which we weren’t interested in.

We soon entered the national park and it was so quiet, even though a lot of boats were driving through. The boats are electrical so the usual noise from a motor is absent.

We stopped at an outlook tower to get a good overview over the nature park.

We suddenly got a vague feeling of being in the old movie “Waterworld”

There were plenty of birds that kept Othilia amazed for part of the journey.

The journey through the park wasn’t so pleasant as it looks like. We temporarily forgot that we have a daughter who loves water so when the initial curiosity over the boat was over, she was all about wanting to climb over the railing and go in the water. She was loud when she was denied going over the railing so Ulrika had to breastfeed Othiliato calm her, so our boat wouldn’t destroy the moment for others .

We where approaching the village Giethoorn again after approximately 1h and 20 minutes going over the lake and exploring the nature park. The last 40 minutes would be going on the main waterway through the village.

Hello Giethoorn! The village with around 150 bridges.

Strong feeling of being in bumper boats in an amusement park.

Othilia in Giethoorn! I think she is a direct image of her father in this picture.

A selfie in Giethoorn.


We left our boat where we had rented it and went back to the village walking on the pedestrian/bicycle road. The only roads in this part of the village.Nowadays Giethoorn is much bigger than just this old part of the village.

And we got to see the houses with their gardens better.

Giethoorn by foot!

Apparently tourists mistake the mail boxes to be trash bins. How strange and sad for the people living here.

Giethoorn by foot!

Giethoorn by foot! Then it was time for us going back home.


We stopped in Lemmer on our way home so that Othilia finally was able to bath. We had denied her that the whole day, so we wanted to make it up to her! The weather forecast had warned us about coming days with bad weather so we had to rearrange our plans for Ulrika’s birthday that was coming up.

We usually take a few days of between our adventures so we barbecued in our little Japanese garden in our own backyard for dinner the day before Ulrika’s birthday.

And Ulrika was surprised with gifts by the family in the morning. We had a calm birthday waiting for the rain. We went to a small art museum and took it easy. We knew that we had a busy week ahead, but more of that in the upcoming blog posts.

And lastly, our daughter walking by herself exactly 10 months after we welcomed her into this world. The time goes so fast!

18th century planetarium and Museum Martena in Franeker

We would never had gone to Franeker , or Frjentsjer in West Frisian,  if it weren’t for Ulrika and that she regularly looks at Atlas Obscura to see if there are some interesting places to discover.

The world’s oldest still working orrery can be found here. The orrery was built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga, an amateur astronomer, in his house to help the people in Netherlands understand Astronomy. In 1774 an alignment of several planets happened and this induced mass panic among the Dutch people,  who thought that a planetary collision was imminent, and Eise Eisinga wanted to show that their fears were unfounded.
Eise Eisinga had not been allowed to go to school, but he was gifted and through self-education he mastered mathematics and astronomy and published a book about the principles of astronomy when he was only 17 years old. Eisie Eisinga became a wool carderer,  but would later be recognized as a scholar and become a professor at the Franeker Academy.

Vi hade aldrig åkt till Franeker, eller Frjentsjer på västfrisiska, om det inte var för att Ulrika regelbundet tittar på Atlas Obscura för att se om det finns några intressanta platser att upptäcka.

Världens äldsta fortfarande fungerande planetarium finns här. Solsystemsmodellen byggdes mellan 1774 och 1781 av Eise Eisinga, en amatörastronom, i sitt hus för att hjälpa folket i Nederländerna att förstå astronomi. 1774 inträffade att flera planeter hamnade i linje och detta orsakade massapanik bland holländarna. De trodde att en planetkollision var nära förestående och Eise Eisinga ville visa med sin modell att deras rädsla var ogrundad.
Eise Eisinga fick inte gå i skolan, men han var begåvad och genom självstudier lärde han sig att bemästra både matematik och astronomi.  Eise publicerade en bok om astronomins principer när han bara var 17 år gammal. Eisie Eisinga blev en ullkardare, men skulle senare erkännas som lärd och bli professor vid Franeker Academy.

The house with the orrery. Usually in Netherlands the entrance to the museums are the house next to the house that contains the museum. So here the entrance is the house to the left of the planetarium.

Eise Eisinga loved astronomy so that was his focus when he was building his orrery, and he also collected them. The museum also contains astronomy instruments from more modern times.

The orrery was constructed to a scale of 1:1,000,000,000,000 (1 millimeter equals 1 million kilometers). Each planet continues to orbit the sun at an appropriate speed (i.e., earth, once a year; Saturn, every 29 years).

People from the Franeker academy went to see his planetarium and they all could confirm that his calculations were correct. They have a guided tour in the room every 10-15 minutes and they do the tour in dutch, but you can request English and then it becomes a bilingual session.

We could walk up to the second floor to see the mechanics behind the orrery. Othilia like to walk by herself up and down stairs.

This is the work of only one man and the orrery contains over 10,000 hand-forged nails.

We walked around in the museum looking at old books and manuscripts, some of them written by Eise Eisinga himself.

a much smaller orrery.

The earth with slices showing different continents. Othilia got tired so we had to leave the planetarium before we had the chance to look at everything, so we plan to come back here when she is older.

Franeker can be traced back to the 800’s and the name probably derives from Froon-acker, meaning “country of the king”, so it is an old town with lots of history. The city is small, but we came later during the day, so we went to the planetarium, ate at a restaurant and then had to go home to come back the day after.  When we went to the planetarium we got offered to buy a combination ticket for Museum Martena (8.5 Euro/person)  and we accepted that offer, but wouldn’t be able to visit the Museum Martena the same day. The combination ticket is valid for one year, so that is good if you run out of time as we did. Both the planetarium and Museum Martena are quite small so we would have made it to both on the same day if we hade arrived earlier to Franeker the first day.

Franeker kan spåras tillbaka till 800-talet och namnet härstammar förmodligen från Froon-acker, vilket betyder “kungens land”, så det är en gammal stad med mycket historia. Staden är liten, men vi kom sent på dagen så vi gick på planetariet, åt på en restaurang och sedan var vi tvungna att åka hem för att komma tillbaka dagen efter. När vi kom till planetariet så fick vi erbjudande om att köpa en kombinationsbiljett för Museum Martena (8,5 Euro / person) också och vi accepterade det erbjudandet, men kunde inte kunna besöka Museum Martena samma dag. Kombinationsbiljetten är giltig i ett år, så det är bra om du har tidsbrist som vi hade. Både planetariet och Museum Martena är ganska små så vi skulle ha hunnit med båda på samma dag om vi hade anlänt tidigare till Franeker den första dagen.

We took a walk in the city center our second day in Franeker.

The small square and the church in Franeker.

Othilia got to explore som parts of Franeker by herself. More pictures from Franeker in the slider below.

Museum Martena is a fortified stone house built around 1500 by a nobleman called Hessel van Martena. He was constantly at war with other noblemen in Friesland so he needed strong security. Inside is a collection of art and furniture from different eras, ranging from the van Martena family, but also from other noble families that has lived in this house. The van Martena family owned the house until 1694 when Suffidus Westerhuis bought the house. He was keen on bringing the house to the 18th century so much of the wall decorations comes from his era.  It is a lovely place to walk around in with exhibitions on all floors, with belongings from the different families who once lived here.

Museum Martena är ett befäst stenhus byggd omkring 1500 av en adelsman vid namn Hessel van Martena. Han var ständigt i krig med andra adelsmän i Friesland så han behövde stark säkerhet där han bodde. Inuti finns en samling av konst och möbler från olika tidpsepoker, från van Martena-familjen men även andra adelsfamiljer som har bott i det här huset. Familjen van Martena ägde huset fram till 1694 när Suffidus Westerhuis köpte huset. Han var angelägen om att föra huset till 1700-talet så mycket av väggdekorationerna kommer från hans era. Det är en härlig plats att gå runt med utställningar på alla våningar, med ägodelar från de olika familjerna som en gång bodde här.

Museum Martena. The entrance is through the house next to it.

A room with Arcadian wall paintings, put there during the renovations by Westerhuis in 1694.

There are a many portraits of former inhabitants of house Martena.

The Mulder family that lived in the Martena house in the 1800’s. Mr Mulder was a doctor and professor at Franeker university and used his daughter (in the lap) as guinea-pig for the cowpox virus vaccine. Mr Mulder died after he used himself to demonstrate how to drain an inflammation on one of his sinuses during a class that he taught at the university. He developed fever and died a few days later.

The top floor is dedicated to two interesting residents of Franeker. One room is dedicated to Anna Maria van Schurman, a female scholar from the golden age of the Netherlands (17th century). She knew 14 languages and she promised her father never to marry so she could dedicate her life to study.

The second room on the top floor is dedicated to Jacob Kooistra, a lorry driver who built his own fun fair in 1940. All the components of the fair are made of throwaway materials. The whole town helped Jacob Kooistra by collecting old bicycle lamps, christmas tree lamps and old cigar boxes to give to him.
Below is a short video from the fun fair. For 0.5 Euro we could see the show for ourselves!


More pictures from Franeker, house Martena and Planetarium:



A walk through the city of Amsterdam

The name of the city Amsterdam comes from that the city’s origin starts with a dam in the river Amstel in the 12th century. Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. Today, many of the world’s largest companies are based in Amsterdam or established their European headquarters in the city, such as Uber, Netflix and Tesla.

We went to Amsterdam with no goal in mind except for just walking around in the city centre and get a feeling of the atmosphere of the city. We found a city filled with tourists and not so much local people. We could barely hear any people speaking Dutch, just a variety of other languages.
We also encountered a lot of coffee shops and here Marijuana is legal so the number of people on this drug is quite high here. They are friendly though so we don’t mind them and they are much less obnoxious and aggressive as a lot of drunk people. It can feel quite funny though when your waiter starts to giggle while taking your order and the cashier at the supermarket returns the money you just gave him for payment as the exchange (could have gotten it for free!) . This happened to us during our day in Amsterdam.

For Othilia’s part, her first tooth has now appeared and she also runs so our bet on which one will come first seems to end in a draw.

Stadens namn kommer från att Amsterdams ursprung börjar med en dam i floden Amstel på 1100-talet. Amsterdam blev en av de viktigaste hamnarna i världen under den nederländska guldåldern på 1600-talet. Idag är många av världens största företag baserade i Amsterdam eller har sitt europeiska huvudkontor i staden, till exempel Uber, Netflix och Tesla.

Vi åkte till Amsterdam utan något speciellt mål i åtanke förutom att bara vandra runt i stadens centrum och få en känsla av stämningen i staden. Vi hittade en stad fylld med turister och inte så mycket lokalbefolkning. Vi kunde knappt höra några människor som talade holländska, bara en mängd andra språk.
Vi stötte också på många “coffee shops” och här är Marijuana lagligt så antalet människor på denna drog är ganska hög här. De är dock vänliga så vi bryr oss inte om dem och de är mycket mindre motbjudande och aggressiva än vad många berusade människor kan vara. Det kan vara ganska lustigt när din servitör börjar fnissa när han tar din beställning och kassören i snabbköpet returnerar pengarna du just gav honom för betalning som växel (kunde ha fått det gratis!). Detta hände oss ​​under vår dag i Amsterdam.

För Othilias del så har nu hennes första tand dykt upp och hon springer även, så vårt vad om vilket som kommer först verkar sluta i oavgjort.

Just walking around in Amsterdam was enough for us. It is beautiful here with all the canals.

The day before our visit to Amsterdam, we finally felt a tooth (lower right) in Othilia’s mouth. Later we realized that it was actually two teeth coming out so now both lower front teethes are showing.

We found a windmill on our way into the city center. We had parked 2 kilometers outside of the city center to get a cheap parking (0.5 Euro/hour) while we were exploring Amsterdam.

We had nice weather in the morning, but darker clouds would soon arrive. The weather has been quite cold for being in July and it is not until this week it has become warmer.

Picture of a bicycle shop in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam cars isn’t a problem, we had to pay a lot more attention to people on bicycles. They were quite reckless.

We found a lot of small house boats on the canals. We wouldn’t mind having a place like this!

Another house boat!

House boat!


The number of canals intensifies when you reach the city center, as do the number of tourists.

The royal palace of Amsterdam. The palace was originally built for the purpose of being a city hall in the 17th century.

Othilia was more interested in chasing the doves at Dam square.

She barely needs our support any longer. She often runs while only holding one finger or we holding her hand. So we would say it is a tie between Othilia starting to run and getting her first tooth.

More buildings in Amsterdam. We like to just walk around and look at the architecture in a city.

We don’t think we have seen more leaning houses anywhere else we have been. Houses on the same street can lean in different directions.

Westerkerk is the biggest church in Amsterdam and it was built between 1620 and 1631.

The house where Anne Frank and her family was in hiding from the Nazis.

While we parents stood and watched Anne Franks house, Othilia went in full mode of trying to jump into the canal.

Really upset after we denied her the chance of taking a bath.

More boats on canals. This is what we did all day, walking around looking at houses, canals and boats.

And flowers!

House decorated with flowers. We were about to go back to the car and drive back home when we entered one of the more famous districts in Amsterdam.

We accidentally ended up in the red light district. Due to the respect of the sex workers we didn’t want to take any pictures of them. They were selling their services at the front window so we took a picture on the museum that we found there. We did not go in there though.

Leeuwarden – Leaning tower and an aqua zoo

Leeuwarden, or Ljouwert in West Frisian, is a town we have visited three times. First time we went to the aqua zoo which is located east of Leeuwarden. The second time, we went to Decathlon to update our wardrobe and on our way back home we decided to drive through Leeuwarden. We saw a beautiful town, but it was when we drove past The Oldehove we knew that we had to come back and explore the tower and the city.

The Oldehove is an unfinished church, where its tower started to lean more and more during construction. The construction began in 1529, but it soon started tilting, so after several attempts to rescue the tower the construction was stopped in 1532-33. For 3.5 Euro you can go up in the tower and see the church bells (from 1633 and 1637), which is still working and rings,  and look at the view over Leeuwarden.  The height of the tower is 39 meters (128 feet) and has 183 steps. There is an elevator up to the first floor, but you still have to take the remaining stairs to the top. The top of the tower is displaced horizontally 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) from the center and we definitely felt the displacement going up the stairs on the side of the tower.

Leeuwarden, eller Ljouwert på västfrisiska, är en stad vi har besökt tre gånger hittills. Första gången besökte vi aqua zoo som ligger strax öster om Leeuwarden. Andra gången åkte vi till Decathlon för att uppdatera vår garderob och på vägen hem beslöt vi oss för att köra genom de centrala delarna av Leeuwarden. Vi såg en vacker stad och när vi körde förbi Oldehove visste vi att vi var tvungna att komma tillbaka och utforska tornet och staden.

Oldehove är en oavslutad kyrka, där tornet på kyrkan började luta mer och mer under byggandet. Byggandet började år 1529, men snart började tornet luta, så efter flera försök att rädda tornet upphörde konstruktionen år 1532-33. För 3,5 Euro kan du gå upp i tornet och se kyrkoklockorna (från 1633 och 1637), som fortfarande ringer, och titta på utsikten över Leeuwarden. Tornets höjd är 39 meter och har 183 trappsteg. Det finns en hiss upp till första våningen, men man måste ändå ta de återstående trapporna upp. Tornets topp är förskjuten horisontellt ca 2 meter från mittpunkten och vi kände definitivt av förskjutningen när vi gick uppför trappan på sidan av tornet.

Leeuwarden, we can’t get enough of the canal-filled towns we visit here in Netherlands.

The leaning unfinished tower.

The entrance. They are usually open everyday during summer form 1 pm to 5 pm.

The way up was narrow and the stairs were leaning so much that we felt like being on a boat while walking up the stairs. Not so bad walking down though.

In the windows going up, they have also put in pictures of how Leeuwarden looked like from the tower during older days. We could have seen a big windmill from this window, but we are a few years to late.

Finally up and Othilia could run around while we parents tried to enjoy the view.

The view is amazing from up here.

Not so many tall buildings in this town.

We also had time to explore the city center.

Othilia got to taste her first ice-cream and she loved it.

Othilia got distracted by some nice boys borrowing their ball to Othilia. She was happy and content and didn’t want to jump into the canal in this moment.

And we bought some Dutch cheese, we found really good aged Gouda cheese that we bought.

Cheese, clogs, bicycles are a few things Netherlands is known for.

A few houses that were built in 1609. it is another thing we notice here in Netherlands. A lot of the houses leans in different direction.

We also walked through a park full of noise from these old music machines. They were scattered around the park for some kind of show day for these kind of old playing instruments.

We will show more pictures from Leeuwarden in a slider below. We will also show some pictures from the Aqua zoo, located in the eastern part of Leeuwarden. It is a lovely little zoo with mainly marine animals, from penguins to seals, crocodiles and birds and monkeys. They have a small playground and we estimated that 2 hours would be enough time spent there if you have children as young as Othilia. The entrance fee is 17 Euro/person (15 if you buy the ticket online) and a 4 Euro parking fee.

Vi kommer visa fler bilder från Leeuwarden i ett bildspel nedan. Vi kommer också att visa några bilder från Aqua zoo, som ligger i den östra delen av Leeuwarden. Det är en härlig liten djurpark med främst marina djur, från pingviner till sälar, krokodiler och fåglar och apor. De har en liten lekplats och vi uppskattar att 2 timmar skulle vara tillräckligt med tid där om du har barn så unga som Othilia. Entréavgiften är 17 Euro / person (15 Euro om du köper biljetten online) och 4 Euro i parkeringsavgift.

Othilia and the penguins. They are almost as tall (or short) as Othilia.

The park is so green! Here does the pelicans live.

They have both smaller monkeys and gorillas here.

Raccoons  and skunks begging for food. For 0.5 Euro you could buy some snacks to feed them.

Othilia patting a fake crocodile. The real ones were behind glass.

There was also a children’s zoo where goats and hens were living and could be patted.

We ended our visit at the playground and Othilia did enjoy the zoo! Below is a slider with more pictures from Leeuwarden and the zoo.



Harlingen – the fishing and shipping city of Friesland

“You must go to Harlingen!” was the first tip we got from our host family. “it is the most beautiful town in the Netherlands!”, they continued, and we followed their advice and took an afternoon exploring trip to this coastal city.
Our host family was right, it is a beautiful town and it is one of the nearest towns to our small village. We were hoping to find a sports bar that would broadcast the semi-final between Sweden and Netherlands in the women’s soccer world cup.

Harlingen, or in West Frisian, “Harns”, is an old fishing and shipping town that got its city rights in 1234. City rights is an interesting phenomena dating back to 1000 AD in this part of Europe. When feudal landlords got into  financial problems (and usually did), they were often forced to  offer sale privileges to settlements, and these sale privileges comprises the city rights. The feudal lords could often get a cut of money in exchange for the loss of power by doing this, and over time, the landlords had to sell more and more sale privileges. The result was  a shift of power within the counties and some of the towns that got city rights even developed into city-states. You can read more about this on wikipedia.

We strolled around in Harlingen on the look out for a bar that would show the football game, but we also managed to take a few lovely pictures that shows the small town as we saw it. It is lovely here!

“Ni måste åka till Harlingen!” var det första tipset vi fick från vår värdfamilj. “Det är den vackraste staden i Nederländerna!” fortsatte de, så vi följde deras råd och tog en eftermiddagsutforskningstur till denna kuststad.
Vår värdfamilj hade rätt, det är en vacker stad och är en av de städer som ligger närmast från vår lilla by. Vi hoppades även  på att hitta en sportbar som skulle sända semifinalen mellan Sverige och Nederländerna i damernas fotbolls-VM.

Harlingen, eller på västfrisiska, “Harns”, är ett gammalt fiske- och sjöfartsställe som fick sina stadsrättigheter år 1234. Stadsrättigheter är ett intressant fenomen som går tillbaka till 1000-talet i denna del av Europa. När feodalherrar fick ekonomiska problem (och oftast fick de det), var de ofta tvungna att erbjuda handelsrättigheter till olika bosättningar, och dessa handelslicenser består stadsrättigheterna av. Feudalherrarna kunde ofta få en andel av vinsten (vinstskatt) i utbyte mot förlust av makt genom att göra detta, och över tid behövde dessa  feudalherrar ge ut fler och fler stadsrättigheter. Resultatet blev en maktförskjutning inom landet och några av de städer som fick stadsrättigheter utvecklades även till stadstater. Du kan läsa mer om detta system på wikipedia.

Vi promenerade runt i Harlingen och höll utkik efter en bar som skulle visa fotbollsmatchen och vi lyckades också ta några fina bilder som visar hur den lilla staden som vi såg ser ut. Det är vackert här!

Othilia on the porch covering the canal (that she really wanted to take a bath in).

There are a lot of canals in Harlingen and both small and large boats explore Friesland by water by entering through Harlingen.

Othilia gets to ride her father’s shoulders a lot (when she is not tired). The sling is only used nowadays for napping. All other times we as parents need to be on stand by if she wants to be at ground level, to walk herself.

The stone houses are everywhere, not just in Harlingen. But it is amazing how different they can look in just one city. Here is a specially nice stone house.

Canals and stone houses are Netherlands to us now.

Sluices make the car, boat, bicycle and pedestrian traffic co-exist in the Netherlands.

Lots of boats.


We ate dinner in Harlingen at a really beautiful restaurant.

Ulrika and Othilia waiting for food.

We found a pub that were in preparations for the game later this evening. We said hello to the owners and promised them to come back for the game. We took a short walk to entertain Othilia and explore Harlingen a bit more.

We let Othilia walk, but she needs to ride Dad’s shoulders when we are close to the canals or else she will fight us for not letting her jump in.

A few random pictures from our walk in Harlingen will be shown now. It is so beautiful here.

We have seen many house boats here in the Netherlands.

It was time for the semi-final between Sweden and Netherlands and we were the only Swedes at the pub. We could only stay the first half an hour of the game before we had to leave to get Othilia home. The Swedish team played well the part that we saw, but we heard that they had collapsed, and in the end the Netherlands stood as winners and a finalist team.

Pingjum – our magical village in the Netherlands

We decided to go to Netherlands, and we knew that we wanted to stay out of the bigger cities, so we ended up in Pingjum in Friesland, not knowing much about either Pingjum or Friesland.

Friesland is one of twelve provinces in the Netherlands and it is the only province that has their own language – West Frisian. Many of the cities have two names, a dutch and a West Frisian name, and I will try to write out both names when I write about the different places we visit.

Vi bestämde oss för att åka till Nederländerna och vi visste att vi ville undvika de större städerna, så det slutade med att vi hamnade i Pingjum i Friesland, utan att veta mycket om vare sig Pingjum eller Friesland.

Friesland är en av tolv provinser i Nederländerna och det är den enda provinsen som har sitt eget språk – västfrisiska. Många av städerna har två namn, ett holländskt och ett västfrisiskt namn och jag kommer att försöka skriva ut båda namnen när jag skriver om de olika platserna vi besöker.

Welcome to Pingjum! This small village of 600 inhabitants contains so much magic translated to scenery, kindness and openness from the locals. We feel right at home at our temporary home for the month. Notice the speed limit sign.

This is where we came from to get to Pingjum and on these kind of roads it is said that you are allowed to travel up to 60 km/h and it is wide enough for one car, we thought we had accidentally got on a road for bicycles.

The house we rent is a small one room with a fully equipped kitchen and it suits us perfectly. We have a lovely garden to our disposal and we are allowed to eat anything from the garden.

Huset vi hyr är ett litet ett rum med fullt utrustat kök och det passar oss perfekt. Vi har en härlig trädgård till vårt förfogande och vi får äta allt från trädgården.

This armchair and the stairs is Othilia’s favorite things in our rented house.

And lamps! Othilia can say a few words and lampa (lamp) is one of them. Other words are mamma (mom) och pappa (dad).

Our garden where we can go out at eat plums, apples, pears, red and black currants, gooseberries, almonds and walnuts. We also have a small herb garden that we are allowed to use.

Pingjum has only a few roads, a pizza place (which is open a few nights of the week), a distillery, a school and a communal garden. The streets generally are quite narrow in the Netherlands and sometimes we think that we are driving on bicycle lanes rather than a two-lane car road.

Pingjum har bara några vägar, en pizzeria (som är öppen några kvällar i veckan), ett destilleri, en skola och en gemensam trädgård. Gatorna är i allmänhet ganska smala i Nederländerna och ibland tror vi att vi kör på cykelbanor istället för en tvåvägs bilväg.

Our main road early in the morning.

This is the house style in all parts of Netherlands we have visited so far – brick houses. They are beautiful and we suspect that the houses are made out of bricks, and not wood, because of the climate here, windy and humid.

A bus that sells clothes stopped here one day. Their customers are likely older people who are not able to go to the cities to buy things to wear.

We have a small playground in the middle of the village where we go and meet locals and their kids.

Othilia looks so grown up in this picture.

There are a lot of animals in our village and cats is a also a favorite.

Agricultural landscape surrounding our village. Animals get grass fed here without any fences, only ditches keeping the animals away from the roads.

The communal garden is lovely and the locals takes care of this place together. The fruits of their labor are sold to the public using only a moneybox. We go here to buy our eggs and we can also visit the hens that lay our eggs.

Den gemensamma trädgården är underbar och lokalbefolkningen tar hand om denna plats tillsammans. Frukten av deras arbete säljs till allmänheten med endast en sparbössa. Vi går hit för att köpa våra ägg och vi kan också besöka de höns som lägger våra ägg.

Here is our only local shop where we can buy eggs and vegetables grown by the locals in the communal garden. It is a popular shop.

they also have a few animals.

Othilia and the communal animals. Say hello to Torsten, the goat. Pontus has named most of the bigger animals. The pigs are called Boris and Doris (not in picture).

And the rabbit is called Alice. Othilia knows how to properly give Alice dandelion leaves and she usually tries to take a bite out of the leaf before handing it to Alice.

Our pizza place is another place in the village where we meet the locals. They are so friendly here and always greets us strangers with a smile and an “oi”.  We have even spoken to some of them and dutch people in general are very good at English. West Frisian/Dutch is not so hard to understand if you know German, English and Swedish.

Vårt pizzaställe är en annan plats där vi träffar lokalbefolkningen. De är så vänliga här och hälsar oss främlingar alltid med ett leende och ett “oi”. Vi har även talat med några av dem och nederländare i allmänhet är mycket bra på engelska. Västfrisiska /nederländska är heller inte så svårt att förstå om du redan kan tyska, engelska och svenska.

We have a pizza place in Pingjum, which is run by a lovely Italian family.

The food and drinks are amazing. This beer is a new favorite.

The pizzas were good, but the most surprising dish (in a positive way) was the razor shells, which we ordered as a starter. Even Othilia liked eating them!

Pontus has started the habit of getting up early in the morning and borrow our host family’s bike to cycle around in the surroundings. Around us there are farmland and other small villages. Just a few kilometers from us lies the coastline and the sea, so we can smell the sea when the wind is right.

Pontus har tagit för vana att gå upp tidigt och låna vår värdfamiljs cykel för att cykla runt i omgivningarna. Runt omkring oss finns jordbruksland och andra små byar. Bara några kilometrar från oss ligger kustlinjen och havet, så vi kan känna havslukten vid rätt vindförhållanden.

The sun is about to rise, 5.30 am.

A walking bridge over the motorway.

The Netherlands i so flat, one can see several kilometers into the country from the coast. The only altitude in our vicinity is this levee that gives protection from the sea.

The coast in Friesland, just a few kilometers from our village. 

It is a good thing for us to be close to water with Othilia’s love for it. We have two sand beaches nearby, one at the coast near Harlingen. Othilia was amazed by the sandy beach, but we couldn’t jump into the water this time.

Unfortunately for Othilia, the water was far out so no bathing for her. Wattenmeer is saltwater ocean which is affected by the tide so we had to go to another place.

We went to our second option instead, a beach in Makkum and here we can swim in a fresh water lake (IJsselmeer). Othilia was happy to finally be allowed to sit in the water.

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