Leiden / Wijk bij Duurstede / Zaandam, the Netherlands
June 7 – 9, 2019
Wind and water defined the Netherlands. Both elements billowing from the North Sea had shaped the country’s geography and culture. Sea breeze could blow a gale. The sea itself could sink a third of the country, one of the Low Countries, that lay below sea level. But the Dutch in centuries past were a hardy bunch. They harnessed these elemental forces with windmill technology to power their survival and progress.
Magnificent, towering, ancient. Such description could not apply to Protestant churches in my country. Grandiose church architecture was exclusively within the purview of Catholicism. As a Baptist, we traced our religious heritage to the American occupation a mere century ago. Our places of worship were modern and minimalist as Catholic cathedrals were massive and ornate. I was today years old when I saw the Gothic grandness of two Protestant churches dominating the skyline of Delft in South Holland.
I was born 300 years after the death of Rembrandt van Rijn. My 50th birthday trip and first visit to Amsterdam fell on the final dates of a memorial exhibition encompassing the 400-strong Rembrandt oeuvre housed in the Rijksmuseum, the national repository of Dutch art. Half of the only day I had to see the city was spent getting acquainted with the history and culture of the Netherlands through the eyes and hands of its most renowned artist. Where could a definitive collection of Rembrandts be held but at Rijks?
Den Haag (The Hague) and Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands
June 6, 2019
“Are you a seaman?” The unexpected question nudged me awake from my jet lag. As a male solo traveler bearing a Philippine passport, I couldn’t blame the Dutch immigration officer for profiling me. If anything, our countries had a maritime connection. I chuckled a no and he let me breeze through. Why did I even worry about my first entry to Europe? This was how easy-peasy it was.
Den Haag, the Netherlands / Le Puy-Sainte-Reparade, France / Casablanca and Tangier, Morocco
June 10 / 15 / 19, 2019
More than 3,000 kilometers from Amsterdam to Marrakesh. That was how much distance I covered in my epic trip to celebrate my 50th birthday and the 10th anniversary of my blog and alter ego – TTT (The Transcendental Tourist).
Three countries and 15 cities by land. That was how intimately I was acquainted with my itinerary as I traversed almost the entire stretch through railway and highway, but mostly on foot – save for one flight across the Mediterranean.