How I found the prison-library, Camus’ café and happiness
The Netherlands…country of tulips and amazing gardens, tall men, bicycles and much more…I had a chance to witness all these myself while spending my Easter holidays in the beginning of April there- in one of the happiest countries in the world.
Let’s see what I have seen and found in this beautiful, “orange” country!
I was staying in the city of Leeuwarden, which I liked a lot. I was really impressed by Blokhuispoort, which is a former prison and a current cultural-business center with a modern library. The former prison cells serve as the offices for the employees and the whole building is interesting with its atmosphere and the facilities to offer. At the open air café of Blokhuispoort for the first time I tried the famous Dutch meat-based snacks called “Bitterballen”, which ware very delicious.
One of 11 fountains of Friesland, a province of the Netherlands located in the country's northern part, is in Leeuwarden and is called “Love”!
You can find information about the rest of the fountains here.
One can really find peace and relaxtion in Dutch gardens, one of which is Prinsentuin Park in Leeuwarden.
Now let's move to Groningen!
Martinitoren is the tallest church in Groningen. When the tower was completed in 1482 the spire reached 127m. The spire burned down in 1577 after bonfires were lit on the tower. Now it is the heart of the city and if you climb 300 steps to the top of the tower, you will be offered a fantastic view of the city.
It’s a relatively new building, which offers various facilities and places of the amusement. You can use the escalators to reach the rooftop of the building, where you are offered a rewarding view of the city.
One of the most impressive sights in the Netherlands for me about which I didn’t know before are Hofjes. These courtyards provided shelter to the sick and poor people as well as widowed women in the past. It was super nice to visit some of the Hofjes and enjoy the tranquility and ample greenness of the surroundings.
The royal garden, which is currently open to the public, is just wonderful to stroll around and listen to birds singing. The nature embraces you here and gives feeling of peace and joy.
The day when I was in Groningenin at the Vismarkt, which is the main market place in Groningen, plant and flower fair was open for the people, who wanted to get some beautiful plants for their gardens and houses. This fair is especially famous among Germans, who come to Groningen on this day to get their plants back to Germany.
We got from Groningen to Amsterdam through Afsluitdijk, which is literally a highway on the water. Before coming to the Netherlands and taking this road I have never heard about it and couldn’t even imagine that such a thing is possible. It was completed in 1932 and has been an example of Dutch marine engineering for decades.
Read more about this engineering wonder here!
Amsterdam is a “country” within the country. Compared to the tranquility of other Dutch cities here you feel just a small part of the crowd and obey the rhythm of the city. The diversity and openness of the city spins your head. For a long timeI was sitting at the window on the second floor of one of the bistros in Amsterdam and observing the people streaming down the streets. I had a feeling that all my sorrows and happiness would just dissolve into the air of this never resting city. When sitting there one thought sharply pierced my brain- “Only we ourselves are responsible for our own fates”.
The highlight of my one short day in Amsterdam was searching and finding “Stone’s café”, which was once “Mexico City” café, where Jean-Baptiste Clamence, the main hero of Albert Camus’ novel “The Fall”, ends up and starts his “confession”. I threw myself into the café in a rush. There were few visitors eating, drinking and watching football. I asked the barman, a huge black man, if I was allowed to take a picture inside the café. He looked at me in a strange way and asked “Why?”. I started breathlessly telling about Camus, “The Fall” and I would probably tell him the whole novel, when he just said, “Yes, okey”. I was immensely happy at that moment!
You can also read this article in Dutch, which helped me a lot to find a clue where the cafe is during my “investigation”.
It was my second time in Amsterdam and I again didn’t visit the famous Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Royal Zoo and many other places, but I was happy, I was overly happy and joyful.
This was a story of one Armenian in the Netherlands, but my compatriots got to "the Low Country" centuries ago.
“Perhaps the first notable contact was in the 4th century when Armenia became the world’s first Christian nation and monks spread to all corners of the world professing Christianity. One such missionary was Servatius who in the 4th century became one of the first to preach the Gospel in western Europe. He is believed to be the first to Christianize the Netherlands and became the bishop of Tongeren (Belgium),” we read in the article “A Rich History of Armenians in The Low Countries”.
As my article is already getting very long, I will just mention a few amazing facts about this amazing country and will drop a link below if you want to know more!
- There are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people!
- Orange is the national color of the Netherlands!
- The Dutch turned carrots orange!
Find much more in this article.
Thanks for reading!