Belgium and the Netherlands

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by mooseontheloose, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    I have the possibility of a last-minute trip to the Netherlands and Belgium in early February of next year as I've found a conference I can attend in Amsterdam at that time. I've been looking at guidebooks and information online, but most of it is geared towards travelling during high season (or at least, not in the winter). I'm just wondering what to expect weather-wise. The cold doesn't bother me (I'm Canadian after all), but strong winds and rain/snow might. Is there much chance of snow on the ground at that time? Frozen canals? I'm trying to figure out a trip that has nice options for photography, but with good alternatives (museums, galleries, etc) in case the weather throws a wrench in the works. I like the bleak and minimalist aspect that winter brings, so that's not a big issue (blue sky, colourful pretty postcard pictures are not what I usually shoot). I'll be travelling by train for the most part, although I'm open to renting a car to get out into the countryside, if worthwhile, for interesting landscapes/small towns.

    I've been to the Netherlands before, having spent time in Amsterdam, Keukenhof gardens (it was late April), and Texel. I'll be in Amsterdam 2 days for the conference at the end of my trip, plus one more for museums and photography. Prior to that I'll have 7-10 days for (mostly) Belgium as I've never been there before. At the moment I'm thinking of spending 1-2 days each in Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and possibly Brussels. In all likelihood I would stay in one place (like Ghent) and day trip from there, avoiding having to check in and out of hotels all the time. The only thing I'm worried about is the weather (if stay somewhere locally at least I can head back to the hotel to warm up/dry off/change and/or rest) and having to lug my tripod around during the day, mostly because I would like to get some evening/night shots of various buildings/streets. Also I'm looking at one or two places in the Netherlands to visit before heading back to Amsterdam (Delft and/or Leiden probably, although I'm open to other suggestions).

    I noticed that I will be there during Carnaval, which I would like to see and experience, particularly in Binche, if only for the day (hotels are already sold out, but nearby towns still have availability), but it's not a deal breaker. If I do go, that means any other trips within the Netherlands would have to be cut. I'm open to other suggestions though, for either country.

    As usual, this is getting wordy, but basically I'd like any suggestions about what to see and do at this time, and if my itinerary makes sense (or not) given the time of year I'll be travelling and for interesting photo opportunities.
     
  2. rrusso

    rrusso Subscriber

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    Oh man, lucky you - after receiving Lars' postcard, I did a search for Brugge. I've got to get there somehow, someday.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Lucky you. Enjoy your trip. No matter where you go or what you do, you will have a great time. As you know dress in layers and bring more film than you think that you will need. [Who wants to spend time searching for film at the expense of seeing another country?]
     
  4. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    Hi Rachel,

    I'm a native Dutchman although now living in Canada. I moved to Canada when I was 36 and I still go back to the Netherlands almost every year. We're going there on Thursday for a Christmas vacation with a side trip to Vienna. Weather wise, count on damp weather with rain and grey skies with temperatures up to +10C but it feels colder due to the humidity. That is the typical Dutch winter weather. Although it can get cold, snow is rare and usually only lasts up to a week. At least that's my experience from when I still lived in the Netherlands. Besides Amsterdam, Haarlem is close and also really nice. So is Delft, my birthplace :smile:, although a bit further by train. The Zaanse schans (windmills similar to Kinderdijk) north of Amsterdam and the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen might be worth a trip if that interests you. These are touristy places but in the February it would be quiet. Rotterdam, my last residence in NL, has modern architecture and the Fotomuseum. Al these places can be reached by train easily.

    I was in Antwerpen for a day in August, see my gallery photos of the Central station. It has a nice atmosphere and beautiful architecture. Antwerpen would be a good central base for exploring Belgium. You can also explore Rotterdam, The Hague and Delft from there. In the south of the Netherlands Breda and 's Hertogenbosch are pretty. For carnaval in the Netherlands, you need to stay "below the big rivers", so in the provinces Noord Braband and Limburg.

    I'll leave Belgium to the Belgians to comment on. Enjoy the trip. If you want more detailed info, feel free to reply or send me a PM.

    Menno

    PS Most Dutch people speak (some) English. So language shouldn't be an issue for you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  5. megzdad81

    megzdad81 Subscriber

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    I am going to make up a game for my granddaughter using a big world globe, called "Where's Moose Loose Now". You are everywhere!
     
  6. Frank53

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    Winters here are usually soft, but you may be (un)lucky. You can expect anything. Snow, ice, lots of rain or beautiful weather all the time. It seldom gets very cold, but it happens. That’s why everybody is always talking about the weather here.
    In the Netherlands you could go to Rotterdam, a big city much nicer than Amsterdam with lots of modern architecture. Smaller old towns are Delft and Dordrecht, both within 20 minutes from Rotterdam by train. Leiden and The Hague could be nice if you have time left.
    In Belgium Antwerp, Brugge and Gent are very nice.
    Carnaval is something to avoid imo. If you look at the map of the Netherlands, at about 1/3 (from bottom to top) you see some big rivers from east to west. Here you come from “above or below the rivers”. Below the rivers is carnaval, above not. I’m from above the rivers :smile:
    It might be fun if you are with a group of people, maybe some locals, but if you are on your own, I would stay away from all those people being drunk for 3 days.
    Have fun,
    Frank
     
  7. locutus

    locutus Member

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    Another option in The Netherlands is Utrecht, 40 minutes from A'dam by train and has a lovely historical city center and plenty of museums to wander around too. It being less crowded then A'dam/R'dam helps too :smile:
     
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    mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Wow, thanks for the replies! I won't be spending much time in Amsterdam, as I've been there before; mostly I will need to be there for the conference (although I'm debating commuting from elsewhere, since accommodation is pretty pricey in the city). I think I probably won't try to see any carnaval celebrations as, already mentioned, they are pretty far south and would throw a wrench in seeing other places. Being alone doesn't bother me as that is my usual state when travelling and going to festivals, but since I have such a limited amount of time it's probably best to focus on other things.

    The fotomuseums in Rotterdam and the Hague are already on my list of places to visit, depending on how much time I have in the Netherlands.

    I know people often ask "what are your interests" - and here that takes on a different meaning than regular travel forums. As noted above, all of the places I plan on visiting are well on the tourist trail, and of course I want to see a few things in each place. Photographically-speaking, I will be spending time in some cemeteries (this is a long-term project I've been working on) and possibly some war battlefields/cemeteries. I also like interesting villages and traditional areas. I've been to the Zuiderzee museum and wouldn't mind going again, but it will be closed while I'm there. I might try Zaans Schans if I have time. The Sonian Forest near Brussels looks interesting too - I wouldn't mind some easily accessible landscape/natural places to photograph, but I'm still searching for possibilities.

    @megzdad81 I didn't think I travelled that much! (I wish I had the time and money to travel more). I mostly use my research budget at work to fund trips - I find relevant conferences in places that I want to visit, and extend my time there to make a small vacation out of it. I wasn't planning on doing anything in February as I have a week-long intensive course to teach, and then I'll be off to Spain and Portugal for a few weeks after that in late Feb/early March (for another conference). As it is, I'm still waiting for approval, so nothing has been finalised yet.
     
  9. OP
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    mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Well, sometime between my last post and now I booked my flights and most of my hotel rooms. But a current thread on analog supplies in Switzerland also had me thinking about the same in Amsterdam/Rotterdam or Brussels/Antwerp/Ghent. I will probably be able to bring enough film for the trip (it's only 2 weeks, including travel time) but I'm interested in going to stores to look for things that are not as easily accessible in Japan, like photographic papers and certain chemicals (maybe). I did a Google search and quite a lot came up (especially for Amsterdam), but I'm not sure how good the darkroom/film sections of these stores are. If there are any favourites people can recommend to help me narrow things down, that would be great. I don't want to waste too much time shopping or looking for shops, but it would be nice to go to a couple of stores to see what's available.
     
  10. macfred

    macfred Subscriber

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    My recommendation to buy chemicals, film and (used) analogue equipment in A'dam is Foto den Boer - staff has great knowledge and is friendly and involved. Bought my R'flex 3.5F there; they have Fuji, Hasselblad and Leica gear too.
    https://www.fotodenboer.nl/c-3056201/contact/
    There are several other shops in town but I prefer this one.
     
  11. mard0

    mard0 Member

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    Calumet in Rotterdam are mostly focused on digital, but still sell some film.
    I'm not sure abut other physical shops. There are no shops close by were I live (south west of the Netherlands) that still sell chemicals and film. So I always buy my chemicals and film online, mostly from a Belgium webshop.
     
  12. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    Ah Brugge, beautiful place. If you have good legs, I suggest you climb the Belfry tower, you'll have a splendid view of the city. Also, if you have time sit and enjoy a good Belgian beer, stop by a bistro and ask for a Brugge Tripel :smile:
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  13. OP
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    mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Thanks macfred! That helps a lot - not sure if I'll find what I'm looking for, but it looks like a good place to start.

    That's what I normally do too, and I may do so while I'm there. Although now I'm wondering if I'll save more by not paying VAT by ordering overseas, if the shipping isn't too outrageous.

    I can't wait for Brugge - I know it's touristy, but I'm guessing in early February it won't be so bad. I'll probably be still pretty jet-lagged when I arrive, so I'll see how things go.
     
  14. Ste_S

    Ste_S Member

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    I'm off to Amsterdam in April and will check that out, not far from where I normally stay in the Oud-West.
    What do you reckon to Radio Foto Janssen ? Stuck my head in there last time I visited and seemed to have some interesting used film cameras.
     
  15. Frank53

    Frank53 Subscriber

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    Filmprices here in The Netherlands are up to twice the prices you pay online in Germany (Photoimpex etc) or Ilford in the UK (The Imaging Warehouse, Firstcall etc.)
    The only shop that sometimes has reasonable prices is Calumet. To check that look on their website. But they hardly have any stock and usually have to order. I don't know about Belgium for sure, but I think it's about the same situation regarding prices. So take enough film with you or order in Germany and have it sent to your hotel. It usually takes 2 or 3 days.
    Regards,
    Frank
     
  16. macfred

    macfred Subscriber

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    Radio Foto Janssen on Haarlemmerbuurt has tons of used film cameras and lenses - with patience and knowledge you can find something nice. AKAIK most of those stuff isn't serviced or cla'd.
    they have film and some darkroom stuff too.

    not my photo :
    [​IMG]... So Little Time (or) Radio video foto Janssen (Explored) by Mark Nye, on Flickr
     
  17. Doug Richardson

    Doug Richardson Subscriber

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    In Brugge, besides the tower, take a boat tour. You can get some good views from there that you cannot get while walking. The city itself is nice and has a unique personality that I am sure you will enjoy. Oh, and besides the Belgian Triple, try a Kwak in one of the large glasses. It will be the most uncomfortable/unique beer drinking experiences you can get. Enjoy. -Doug
     
  18. macfred

    macfred Subscriber

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    An important topic !
    For your information : 37 Belgian beers not to miss http://www.belgiansmaak.com/belgian-beers/
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Calumet Belgium cancelled film sales about 2005.

    In Antwerp you will find a variety of films at Foto Grobet in the center of the city.
     
  20. Ron789

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    The best place to drink a Kwak is the cafe "De Dulle Griet" in Gent, very close to Brugge. You'll get a huge glass, some 60cm tall. Before you get it you need to take of one shoe. The bartender will put the shoe in a basket on a rope and lift it to the ceiling. After you finished the beer and returned the glass you'll get your shoe back. Have fun, I hope you enjoy your stay in The Netherlands and Belgium!
     
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    mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone!

    I’m here now, staying in Ghent and doing day trips from here. It’s pretty cold (the damp I think) so probably no boat rides or taking off shoes for me.

    I’ve been up since 2 a.m. (thanks jet lag!) but I guess that means I can get some early starts. Exploring Ghent today, but trying to figure out the best plan for tomorrow, since the forecast calls for snow. Hopefully my cameras won’t freeze up in the cooler temperatures (it's happened before, even when it’s technically not that cold).
     
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