The Netherlands 2022

My last visit to the Netherlands was in 2019. In March 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic started, making (international) travel almost impossible. Only in spring 2022 countries started to reopen their borders and I booked a six-week trip to the Netherlands. In this post I will report about my activities during my stay in the Netherlands. I have been very (too?) busy , here is a chronology of my agenda. To keep this blog readable, I will often refer to separate blogs about specific activities.

31 March

Arrival in a very cold Amsterdam. Detailed report here: Perdana View => Backershagen

3 April

My friend Yolanda is singing in a choir and had invited me to attend a performance of Bach’s St John Passion in de beautiful Dominicus Church. Afterwards, we had a drink with her and friends at a nearby café..

5 April

Invited by my friend Nico for a mussel dinner. My friends know that I like to have “Dutch” food when I am back 😉

6 April

Same when I visited my soulmate Inez the next day. What would you like to eat, she asked me. I chose “hutspot met draadjesvlees”.as main dish. A stew of potatoes, carrots and onions with braised beef. Very traditional Dutch.

7 April

The next day my brother Pim came to Backershagen and I was the cook. Herring as starter, meatballs with chicory as main dish, and a fruit salad as dessert

10 April

On Sunday I visited my ex-colleague Rene in Nieuwegein. His wife Caroline prepared asparagus for us, a seasonal delicacy. Ice cream as dessert. Writing this report I realise that I did a lot of eating ;-).

11 April

I visited the Stedelijk Museum. In the evening I went to the St Matthew Passion in the Concertgebouw with friend Lambert. No photos of the concert but about the Stedelijk I wrote a separate report, click here.

12 April

In 2019 we did not organise a family reunion, instead I visited all my siblings: Family Visits. This time I did the same. My first visit was to Arie and Ineke in Alkmaar. Before I met them for dinner, I spent some time in the town of Alkmaar, looking for Art Nouveau architecture. It resulted in this report : Alkmaar 2022 .I arrived at their place around 4pm, we had a drink, a lot of chit chat and a nice dinner.

13 April

Raoul is a former student of mine. In 2010 he married Aunn, from Thailand, and in 2011 Aric and I went to Thailand to celebrate their wedding with Aunn’s family and friends, We keep in contact and this time they invited me for dinner. It was a pleasant meeting. There was a beautiful sunset when I took public transport back to Backershagen.

14 April

The next day another former student came to Backershagen to have lunch with me. Wim is one of my earliest students, we are friends for more than forty years.

16 April

Yolanda is another student from the same batch as Wim. I visited her in Utrecht, where she lives. We had lunch together and visited the Public Library, beautifully housed in the former main Post Office. More photos in the album Yolanda & Utrecht .

17 April

I celebrated my 78th birthday in Alphen with my brother Otto and his family. In the morning Otto picked me up from Backershagen and via flower fields we drove back to Alphen, where we had lunch. In the afternoon we drove around in Alphen. Detailed report: Otto & Alphen ..

19 April

A busy day. In the morning I met my friend Nellie at the Amsterdam Zuid station. The original plan was to visit the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, but, as we had only a few hours, we decided to go to the Stedelijk Museum again. I had been there on my own, one week earlier, this time I was in a better mood. I added the photos I took to the album Stedelijk 2022.

In the evening I had my usual “special” dinner with Yolanda. A yearly tradition where she selects a new/trendy restaurant. . Because of the pandemic three years had passed since our last dinner meeting! This time we went to the Juwelier, a new restaurant with rave reviews in several newspapers. It was a bit of a disappointment. The food was ok, the service mediocre and the pricing was too high. Read some reviews by others here.

21-22 April

A 3D2N trip to Ruud and Jur in Groningen, a tradition when I am back in the Netherlands. We visited the new Forum and made a trip to a nature reserve in Drenthe. Of course we had nice food as well. Detailed report here: Ruud & Groningen

..24 April

Another busy day ( I call it busy when I have two “events on the same day 😉 ) I had lunch with my friends Marjan and Mike. who live now in Huizen in a very nice apartment. First I went by train to the Naarden-Bussum station (1924) an interesting building. From there I oontinued by bus. Mike and Marjan were waiting at the bus stop, we had a nice walk to their apartment.

A nice apartment and a delicious lunch

I could not stay long because that evening I had a concert in the Concertgebouw, a performance of Bach’s Hohe Messe. During my dinner with Yolanda in the Juwelier we found out that we both had bought tickets for the same concert! So of course we had to have a beer after the concert. and talk about it. It was a wonderful performance, of course you are not allowed to record it, but here is a YouTube video of the same ensemble and conductor Philippe Herreweghe) recorded in 2017 in the Concertgebouw: Heavenly music, Bach at his best.

25 April

Dinner with ex-colleague Dick Jurriaans, He suggested restaurant Elements and it was a very good choice. The waiters and cooks are students of a Hotel School and work here as part of their training. We started with oysters, after that smoked eel, duck breast fillet and panna cotta as dessert. Finally coffee with Armagnac. Nice atmosphere, very reasonable prices.

27 April

Koningsdag! The King’s birthday. The biggest celebration in the Netherlands, but not possible the last two years because of Corona. I went to the Vondelpark, here is the report : Koningsdag.

28-29 April

A 3D2N visit to Lous and Arend in Valkkoog. Another tradition when I am back in the Netherlands. Detailed report here.

30 APril

Last year around October my friend Inez messaged me that she had bought two tickets for a concert on 30 April by two countertenors, Andreas Scholl and Maarten Engeltjes. At that time the COVID pandemic was still in full swing, I was locked up in Malaysia. But in the beginning of 2022 the situation improved and I decided to take the risk t and book a ticket for a period which included 30 April. We were both so happy that it worked out well.

We met at the Muziekgebouw and had dinner in the Grand Café there before the concert started. If you are interested in what we ate, here is the menu (pdf file) Delicious.

It was a very nice concert, the two countertenors sang duets by the English composer Purcell.

2 May

A day trip with Inez to the windmills of Kinderdijk. We visited our ex-colleague Piet and his wfe Helma in Slikkerveer. In the afternoon we went with them to Rotterdam for an architectural walk. A full, interesting day. Here is the report: Day trip with Inez.

4 May

A lunch at home with ex-colleague Hans, his wife Annabella and Atie, the wife of my good friend Dick, who passed away a few years ago. Perfect guests, not only did they give me presents, they also helped washing the dishes and even cleaning the stove! They will be more than welcome next time I am back in the Netherlands.

The fourth of May is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. In the past I went to the Dam Square, where a massive crowd kept two minutes silence at 8 pm. But there is a smaller, more intimate ceremony opposite my apartment, which I attended.

5 May

As my visit was coming to an end, I decided not to prepare complicated food at home, I needed to clear and switch off the fridge. Therefore I invited my friend Lambert for a simple meal of soup and bread with herring, cheese and salad.

6 May

The next day I had dinner with my friend Roald in the restaurant Scheepskameel , located on the former Marineterrein. Roald is another former student who became a good friend, we know each other for more than forty years. To say that it was a pleasant evening is an understatement 😉 We chatted a lot about our shared past, had very nice food (and quite a lot to drink). We left the restaurant after 11 pm.

8 May

Discussing with my friend Gerrit how and where to meet, he suggested a walk in the parks not far from my apartment. A splendid idea. The weather was perfect, he had planned an interesting hike of about 10 km. Detailed report here: A Hike with Gerrit

Dinner that evening with my brother Pim.

9 May

And the next evening With Inez

10 May

My last evening in Amsterdam I invited Nico for another dinner in restaurants Elements, where I had eaten two weeks earlier with my ex-colleague Dick,. .Basically the same menu, only pity there were no oysters this time. Instead we had a cheese platter.

11 May

Cleaning the house. Around 6 pm Pim picked me up from my apartment to bring me to Schiphol Airport. Here is a report: Backershagen => Perdana View.

Lous & Valkkoog

I was planning to take the 10:09 train to Schagen, where Lous would pick me up from the station. But that train was cancelled, because of a logistics limitation. Did the driver oversleep, haha? Not the first time I had problems with the Dutch Railways. The delay gave me time to buy a coffee and a cookie.

My plan was to invite Lous and Arend for a nice dinner, but she suggested to have an asparagus dinner at home, where I would pay for the ingredients. We went to a countryside shop, where surprisingly I found a self-service section, where you put money in a slot, to open a compartment and take the contents. For Dutch readers: similar to the FEBO fast food automats.

On our way back to their bungalow, we already passed the first tulip fields

The bungalow, where Lous and Arend have been living already for decades is located in Valkkoog, a small village. The bungalow has a beautiful garden

After lunch Lous and I visited the Poldertuin in Anna Paulowna, a kind of miniature Keukenhof. Free access, not many people know about it. I have been there several times and every time is is sensational.

The Poldertuin in all its glory.

An orgy of colours.

The varieties in form and color are amazing

During our visit the tulips were in full bloom, but there were other flowers too, We liked these grape hyacinths

After our visit of the Poldertuin, we drove around a bit in the Kop van Noord-Holland, a region famous for its tulip farms. Personally I I like these geometric patterns even more than the arranged compositions in de Poldertuin and the Keukenhof..

Actually in these flower farms, the flowers are not important. The farmers are interested in the flower bulbs! That is why the tulips are “beheaded” when they are in full bloom, so all energy will go to the bulbs. In these two photos you can see that in some plots the tulips were “kopped” (beheaded). Notice the beheaded tulips in the paths between the plots.

It was time for a drink. We went to beach café Nogal Wiedus near Huisduinen. A famous lighthouse is located there, nicknamed the Lange Jaap (tall Jacob) It is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. The authorities are worried that it might topple over, so access is not allowed.

On our way back home, we passed more tulip fields. By climbing a dune, I could get almost an aerial view. A drone would have been even better.

Arend had prepared a nice dinner with the ingredients we had bought earlier. Strawberries and blueberries as dessert

We had seen enough tulips, so the next morning we visited a small nature reserve, Wildrijk. Originally part of a country estate, established in 1630 by a rich Amsterdam Merchant. The mansion is no more, only the park remains. On our way we passed several stalls where people could buy flowers or bulbs. Unattended, prices are indicated and you just put the required amount in a cash box. People still trust each other in the countryside 😉

We had a relaxed walk in the park, which is well known for its wild hyacinths (a.k.a bluebells)

Blue-violet is the most common color

But you can also find other colors. white and pink

During WWII German soldiers were housed here in underground bunkers. Quite a few remain, but you can not enter them

More photos. I had never heard about this place, a real gem, it was worth our visit.

For our lunch we went to Schagen,, the Peper en Goud cafe, where we met my nephew Jeroen, a nice, unexpected surprise. Jeroen’s son Teun also joined with his girlfriend, so it became a family reunion. I had my favourite lunch,a broodje kroket 😉

On our way back home, not far from Valkkoog, one last tulip field.

A tasty Korean dish , Dak Bokum, for dinner. And a beautiful sunset

The next morning I took the train back to Amsterdam As usual a very nice visit.

Here is a Google Earth map of the region, where I have marked some locations we have visited

Koningsdag

On 27 April the Netherlands celebrate the King’s birthday. It is a national holiday. It started during the reign of Queen Wilhelmina, Queen’s day was on 31 August. During the reign of her daughter, Queen Juliana, Queen’s day became 30 April. The birthday of her daughter, Queen Beatrix is 31 January, considered too cold for a festive celebration, so 30 April was kept as Queen’s day. King Willem Alexander’s birthday is 27 April, so that is now King’s day. Crown princess is born on 7 December, will that be the Queen’s day in future 😉 ?

Queen’s/King’s day is by far the biggest celebration in the Netherlands, but the last two years there have not been festivities because of Corona. This year it was possible again. Amsterdam (population ~ 900.000) expected 1 million visitors. Everywhere “vrijmartkten” (flea markets) .were held where people could sell their stuff. Like in the small park near my apartment.

A large crowd arrived continuously at the Amsterdam Zuid railway station

I went to the Vondelpark. Most people were wearing something orange, the Royal colour.

Also here a vrijmarkt. In the past you could find many children, trying to earn some money by playing violin , flutte, drums etc. . I was a bit disappointed that they were missing this time, no idea why.

There are always a few teenagers who are willing to put their face through the opening of a cardboard figure and let other people pay money to throw eggs at them.

First time I saw a less painful variant, throwing plates with whipped cream.

I walked through the Vondelpark to a street where friends of mine live. They always sell a lot of stuff just in front of their house. Left Han and his sister are standing at their stall, right Wout is selling a camera.

It was nice to meet them, we had coffee together. Other friends also joined. They said my jacket was not orange enough.

I walked back through the Vondelpark. As you see there were many visitors, but it was still manageable. Parts of the town center were so crowded that the police advised people not to come.

Here are two pictures of very orange people.. I must confess that I put on the orange stuff only when I was back home, just for a photo haha.

Ruud & Groningen

First I planned to stay with Ruud and Jur in Groningen for one night only, but later we decided that a 3D2N visit would be more relaxed. Because there was a problem with the trains I arrived in Groningen one hour late, but there was time enough to visit the house of my nephew Jasper and have lunch there. His house is a former bakery shop, nicely renovated. To reacht the upper floor you have to master a very steep stairs 😉

We had a nice lunch and Jasper managed to get all three of us on a selfie

After lunch we walked to the town center, where of course I wanted to visit the new Forum building. It is a cultural center, housing the library, a cinema, part of the Groningen museum, restaurants etc, officially opened in 2019. Spectacular architecture, a fascinating contrast with the Martinitoren (1482) next to it

The interior is equally impressive with a complicated system of escalators leading to the various floors. The right photo shows an interesting work of art.

You have to walk stairs to reach the roof. Many people were enjoying the nice weather. The roof has high glass walls , for obvious security reasons. It makes picture taking a bit difficult 😉

Views in all directions. Left the Provinciehuis, the administrative center of the Groningen province, right the Martini tower and church

The inner city is very compact, almost no space for greenery. The right picture shows how flat Groningen province is.

That evening I invited Ruud and Jur for dinner in the Branderij restaurant . What a difference with the Juwelier in Amsterdam. Quality food, reasonable prices friendly service.

We had a very enjoyable evening, as can be seen in these two photos 😉

Ruud and Jur live in an attractive house , where we had breakfast the next morning, before we went out for a touristic trip.

Destination for the day was the Balloërveld, a nature reserve in the province Drenthe, about 25 km south of Groningen town.

One of the attractions of the Balloërveld is the herd of sheep, grazing the heath in the park. We visited the schaapskooi (sheepfold) , but the herd and its shepherd were in another part of the park that day.

We had a nice walk in the park. Here is a collection of the photos I took.

After the walk we had coffee and a snack at the restaurant next to the sheepfold.

I was a bit surprised that even in this part of the Netherlands they have tulip farms.

The province of Drenthe is famous for its hunebedden (dolmens). This one is located near Rolde. Look carefully and you will see a second one in the background

After this nice trip, a beer was a suitable reward, followed by dinner, prepared by Jur.

The next morning I took the train back to Amsterdam

Otto & Alphen

When I told Otto that I wanted to celebrate my 78th birthday in Alphen with him and his family, he said, ok then I will pick you up from Backershagen and we can visit some flower fields on our way to Alphen. First we had a cup of coffee in my apartment and we exchanged (alcoholic) birthday presents, as his birthday had been one week earlier. He gave me a nice Glen Talloch whisky glass with my nickname Kwai Loh Stuivenberg engraved in it. Click on the right photo. The glass should be filled with whisky to make the inscription better readable, but tt was too early to start drinking ;-_)

We made a detour through the “Bollenstreek” on our way to Alphen, and saw quite a few hyacinth and tulip fields, although the main season had not yet arrived. It was Easter holiday, quite a few tourists. Officially it is not allowed the walk inside the flower fields, but not everybody followed this rule.

We arrived in Alphen around lunchtime. Here are two pictures of the family house, front and back. I was not born in this house but spent my youth there, until I went to Amsterdam to study. Many memories.

Of course the interior has changed over the years. We had a festive Easter brunch with Nina and two of their sons, Aswin and Xander..

The garden in front of the house in a kind of Japanese style is beautiful and often admired by passersby

After lunch Otto and I drove and walked around in Alphen. We visited the cemetery, where our parents have been buried We took some time to clean their grave and plant some new shrubs.

Just a few snapshots of places in Aphen. Left the Hefbrug, right a view of the Old Rhine river

Left the Nutsgebouw,(1894), during my school days I have watched my first movies there. Right the modern city hall (2003)

From 1955 until 1961 I was a student at the Christelijk Lyceum in Alphen. The school has moved to another location long ago, but the building is still there. Right the entrance through which I must have passed numerous time. Nostalgia.

Some more pictures. I don’t know the background of the artwork at the left. The right statue is the war memorial for WWII. It was a beautiful spring day.

Finally we had a look at the countryside around Alphen. The countryside of my youth, I still find it quite attractive.

Back home Nina had prepared a delicious meal. Xander, one of my nephews, has recently started playing the flute and showed us the progress he had made.

Just before I left, Pascal, the oldest son, arrived and of course a picture had to be taken of me with my three nephews. Aswin (left) and Xander (right) are identical twins, for many years I could not distinguish between them. Now slowly there are some differences.

I went back to Backershagen by train. A very nice day.

Yolanda & Utrecht

I went by train to Utrecht where I met my friend Yolanda at the station. The plan was to have lunch and then walk around in the town a bit. Yolanda had chosen a nice place for lunch, the Landhuis in de Stad (Country house in Town). From the station we walked about twenty minutes, passed a windmill and a nice bridge. It was a beautiful day.

It was a pleasant restaurant with good food and a friendly service. Many people had their food outside in the garden, but I preferred with my “tropical blood” to sit inside.

After our lunch we walked back to the town center. We passed an impressive building, the former location of the Royal Dutch Mint and again the windmill, actually a sawmill, Houtzaagmolen De Ster ..It was a peaceful walk

To reach the center of the old town, we had to pass the Hoog Catherijne shopping center.. The left photo shows this center with the Catherijnesingel. In 1970 this waterway was filled in to create a motorway, but recently it has been restored. The right photo is taken inside the shopping center, the water of the singel is flowing under it, and part of the floor is glass. Very nice design.

When I mentioned to my ex-colleague Rene that I would visit Utrecht, he told me that I must visit the Public Library, housed in the former Main Post office of Utrecht. So that is what we did. Utrecht is an attractive town, I visited the town a few years ago: Utrecht, 2019 .Notice the original way of building a canal-bike 😉

Passing the Oude Gracht (left), we reached the Neude square in the town center. with the Public Library. The Main Post Office was completed in 1924 and designed in Amsterdam School style by architect Crouwel. The post office was closed in 2011.

The central hall of what is now the Public Library is breathtaking. On one wall a gigantic clock, on the other wall the Royal Coat of Arms

Beautiful statues and decorations.

Free access, you can just pick a book from the shelves, sit down and read or study

You can charge your mobile by cycling ;-). Right a collection of old phones.

After spending quite some time in the library. Yolanda brought me back to the station. Here are some very typical Dutch pictures. Bicycles everywhere and a public urinal

We said goodbye at the station. A nice meeting

Alkmaar 2022

In 2015 I visited Alkmaar after my brother Arie and his wife Ineke had moved there. I wrote a report about this visit. During our city walk I discovered a few buildings in Art Nouveau/Art Deco style. This time I tried to explore more. Using the Internet I had found several interesting locations, marked on this Google Earth map.

I arrived by train and started from the station. First destination was the Wilhelmina School in the Doelenstraat, built in 1903 in Art Nouveau style. Taking pictures in narrow streets is not easy, but I managed to take a close-up of a tile panel in Art Nouveau style.

Next stop was at a former coal shed at the Kanaalkade and a former cheese warehouse at the Houttil. Both designed by the Alkmaar architect P.N. Leguit in 1908 and 1905 respectively. Of course they are now used for a different purpose. The right picture shows an Art Nouveau detail of the cheese warehouse.

Then it was time for lunch. It was still a bit chilly, but I found a nice terrace where I had a “broodje kroket” , a typical Dutch snack.

Next I went to the Tourist Office (VVV), housed in the Waag to ask whether they had more information about Art Nouveau or Art Deco buildings in Alkmaar. They did not. The traditional cheese market would only start later in the year, but a friendly volunteer took a picture of me as a “cheese bearer”. Already quite a number of tourists.

I continued my walk to the former department store of V&D, completed in 1927, Amsterdam School style with Art Deco details.

Het Kasteeltje (The Little Castle) was built in 1901 and is probably the most striking example of Art Nouveau architecture in Alkmaar. A real gem, here seen from across the Nieuwlandersingel.

Here a few details of this beautiful building.

The main destination for my walk was the Nieuwlandersingel. Along this “singel there is a concentration of capital villas, built in the beginning of the 20th century.

Not easy to take good photos. Here are a few facades

This is Villa Emma (1905)

Villa Wilhelmina (1904-1905) and Villa Marianne (1908-1909)

And here are some details of Hofdijkstraat 2, corner of the Nieuwlandersingel, a villa built in 1907 in Art Nouveau style

The Emmakwartier , behind the Nieuwlandersingel, was the first neighbourhood built outside the city walls in 1890. Until then it was not allowed by law to build outside the city walls! Many beautiful mansions in this quarter, Here are some pictures

At the end of this architecture walk I walked back to the city center for another snack and a glass of wine.

Day trip with Inez

During my visits to the Netherlands my friend Inez and I always try to organise an outing. Sometimes a longer trip, like in 2018 to Brugge, this time a day trip, with a mixed destination.

A former colleague of us is now living in Slikkerveer, a small village not far from Rotterdam. Piet and his wife Helma invited us to visit them and suggested that we should combine it with an excursion to the world-famous windmills of Kinderdijk . After lunch they would show us some modern architecture in Rotterdam.

Inez and I met at Amsterdam Central and took the train to Rotterdam. It was tulip season and from the train we saw several flower fields.

Left picture: The façade of Rotterdam Central Station, an interesting modern building. Almost all railway stations in the Netherlands have rental bicycles, simple sturdy models. Not easy for me, because I am used to hand brakes and these had coaster brakes (terugtraprem in Dutch, I had to Google for the English word).

It was beautiful weather, with our bikes we cycled to the river Maas and used the Waterbus to go to Kinderdijk. Here is a picture of the Waterbus, no idea why a Dutch bus should be named Blue Amigo.

The waterbus is part of the Dutch public transport system and a very nice way of traveling in Rotterdam. Left the iconic Erasmus bridge, right the Willems bridge.

On our way we passed a very unusual ship: Noah’s ark, built by a fundamentalist Christian businessman, who believed in the literal truth of the Bible.. Years ago I visited an exhibition on this ship, an amazing experience. Now temporarily closed, final destination Israel;

We left the bus in Alblasserdam and soon passed the first windmills of Kinderdijk. There are a total of 19 windmills, built to pump water out the low-lying Alblasserwaard polder into the rivers, World-famous and I had never visited them!

With the blue sky the windmills are a photographer’s delight. Some are still operational, although their work has been taken over by modern diesel pumps.

There is a visitor center where we had coffee.

When I talked about Kinderdijk with family and friends, everybody knew about the famous windmills, but almost nobody had actually visited them! I will go again with Aric on our next Europe trip.

From the visitor center a ferry took us back in a few minutes to Slikkerveer. Piet and Helma are living in a former warehouse of Smit Slikkerveer, now transformed into spacious apartments

We got a hearty welcome, were shown around in their loft and had a nice lunch.

After lunch they joined us with their bikes on the Waterbus back to Rotterdam. We passed many modern buildings on our way. Left the Headquarters of Unilever BV (2007), right the iconic building De Rotterdam (2013).

We parked our bikes at the Veerhaven and walked around.

This is the Parklaanflat (1933) one of the earliest examples of a stacked building, with (in this case seven) luxury apartments one above the other.. Now we are used to apartment buildings but then it was a novelty. Right the monumental entrance.

We continued to the entrance of the Maastunnel (1937-1942) . Left one of the ventilation buildings, right the entrance for pedestrians and cyclists. Beautiful expressionist architecture.

Piet had been using the tunnel often when he was a teenager, and was eager to show me around.

After we had explored the tunnel it was time for a beer.

After our beer we decided to call it a day, although Piet and Helma said there was much more to see. We have to come back. Here is a last view of the Rotterdam skyline.

Cycling back to the station we passed the Depot of the Boymans van Beuningen museum. Spectacular with its reflecting walls.

fThe Boymans is closed for renovation, the Depot should be interesting to visit. In the reflection you can see Inez and me in the center 😉

As it was getting a bit late we decided to have a beer with some snack food before taking the train. Near to the pub we saw this controversial work of art, called Santa Clause, but commonly called ……… by Rotterdam people. Find out for yourself.

It was a rewarding trip, full of variety. Here is a Google Earth screenshot, where I have marked the various points of interest.

Backershagen => Perdana View

On 30 March I flew from Malaysia to the Netherlands, I wrote a report about it: Perdana View => Backershagen I stayed in the Netherlands six weeks in which I visited family and friends and took more than 1000 photos. It will take time to write posts about the trip, the first one in three years! On 11 May I flew back and I decided to write a (short) post about it, mainly about the rules and regulations related to COVID-19.

When I booked my trip in February, Malaysia was planning to reopen its borders, which they did on 1 April. The new rules were: a negative PCR test, less than 48 hours before departure, a negative Antigen test within 24 hours after arrival and 5 days in home quarantine. Acceptable for me, although of course I was not happy with the PCR condition, as it meant that I could only be sure that I could fly, one day before departure.

So I was really relieved when the Malaysian government announced that from 1 May, the two tests and the quarantine were no longer needed. Only proof of full vaccination and you needed to have the Mysejathera app installed on your mobile. This app contains all your vaccination details and for my flight I had to create a Traveller Card in the app. Which I did.

Of course I still had to limit my luggage to less than 12 kg. And I had to clean the flat (and the fridge) in Backershagen, as it would be empty for many months. Left picture, doing the last laundry, right picture, collecting my stuff.

KLM advised to come to the airport at least three hours before departure, because of extra COVID checks. As usual my brother Pim brings me to the airport and after checking in we have coffee and a snack. But not this time. At the check-in counter I was told that I had to proceed through security check and passport control to gate E1 where they would check my Covid documents and issue a sticker. Also they only could give me a boarding pass for the flight to Singapore. There I had to go to a transit counter and get a boarding pass for the connecting flight to KL. Fortunately they were willing, after some discussion, to check in my cabin bag and take it straightaway to KL. Flying is no more what it was before 😉

So I had to wave goodbye to Pim from a distance. At the E1 counter officials were checking whether I was fully vaccinated and had a Traveller Card. As I was early, there were only a few people queueing. I got my sticker and they told me the departure gate, E9. Finally I could relax with a Cappuccino and a brownie.

When I passed E1 again on my way to the gate, there was a big queue with slow processing. Good that I had been so early 😉

It was a full flight, continuing to Indonesia after Singapore. At the airport and in the plane face masks were still compulsory.

After take off at 9:45 pm, dinner was served. No first round of drinks anymore, and no cognac with the coffee. One ridiculous detail, there was an announcement asking passengers to remove their masks only after everyone in a row had been served.

New for me was that passengers had access to WIFI during the flight. Full access for a fee, but one hour texting was free. So I used WhatsApp to text a friend, I am now flying over Rumania!

I was worrying a bit how to get the boarding card for the connecting flight. But when we exited the plane in Singapore, a lady was waiting with this paper in her hand. She guided us to the terminal and transit counter where again my documents were checked and a second sticker was put on my passport.

The flight to KL takes only about 45 minutes.

I was wondering what kind of COVID-control Malaysia would have at the KLIA airport. The answer: nothing at all. Apparently the checking in Amsterdam and Singapore, resulting in two sticker, were enough. Surprising.

There were long queues at Immigration, but there was a special counter for Diplomats and MM2H passengers, with only a few people waiting.. And I didn’t have to wait long for my luggage!

KLIA arrival hall was rather desolate looking.

The whole procedure was so fast, that I had to wait a few minutes for Aric. On our way back we stopped for food, my favourite hokkien mee. In the middle my passport wit the two stickers. And to the right a photo that shows me, tired but happy: Back home.

Altogether a smooth flight back

Perdana View => Backershagen

There are two places I call home, Perdana View in Petaling Jaya and Backershagen in Amsterdam. Most of the time I live in Malaysia, once or twice a year I stay for a couple of weeks in the Netherlands. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic it was almost three years ago that I visited the Netherlands. In the picture below the apartments are indicated with an X, left Perdana View, right Backershagen.

In February I decided to book a trip to the Netherlands from 30 March until 11 May. I was fully vaccinated, including a booster shot. The Netherlands were opening their borders and Malaysia was planning to do the same. I only needed a negative PCR-test, taken less than 48 hours before my planned departure.

The weekend of 20 March I had visited Taiping, see my report Taiping, March 2022. On the last day of my visit I had been in close contact with a Covid-infected friend and although I should be immune, I was a bit worried, so I did an antigen self test, which was negative. Still I was nervous when on 28 March I went to my GP for the PCR test. Relieved when I received the negative result the next morning. Left the antigen test, right the PCR test

Because of the uncertainty, I only started packing after I received the negative test result, one day before departure! When I booked my ticket, I expected that, being a KLM frequent flyer, I was entitled to one piece of cargo luggage (23 kg) free of charge. But my level was too low, so I could only bring 12 kg cabin luggage. I managed to take only essential stuff, of course I had warm clothes in Amsterdam. The last evening I could relax in our roof garden 😉

In the past KLM had a direct flight from KLIA to Schiphol airport, but nowadays I first had to fly to Singapore. When I booked my ticket, I had a Singapore Airline flight to Singapore (20:40-21:50) with a connecting KLM flight (23:35 – 06:50). Perfect, less than a 2 hour transit in Singapore.

But a few days before departure KLM rescheduled my flight “for operational reasons” Departure from KL at 2pm with Jetstar Asia and from Singapore with KLM at 23:05, resulting in about 8 hours transit in Singapore. How to spend that time? The departure of the KLM flight half an hour earlier was probably the reason, to change the connecting flight from KLIA.

We left Perdana View early at 10 am and that was a good decision because KLM had not notified me that the Jetstar Asia flight would not depart from KLIA but from KLIA2, the former Low Cost Terminal. Nearby KLIA, but still a hassle for us and a bad move of KLM.

I was pleasantly surprised by the service of Jetstar. I think they were not used yet to KLM travelers. They decided to accept my cabin bag as cargo luggage and directly transfer it to Schiphol, so I didn’t have to carry it around in Singapore. I had to show my negative PCR test, that was all. There was time enough for a nasi lemak 😉 Passing Malaysian immigration was smooth.

When boarding started, they invited me to came forward first, for the first time in my life I entered an empty plane. And during the short flight (less than one hour) I was one of the few passengers who got a muffin and a bottle of water. Kudos for Jetstar

Thorough fogging of the plane and not a full flight.

In Changi airport I noticed the departure time of 23:05. Eight hours to spend. I had visited Changi Airport in 2019, admired the famous Jewel, but now I was in transit. However there are an amazing lot of things to do while in transit. You can even make trips to the city while staying in transit! I only visited the gardens in Terminal 1. There are three of them.

From left to right the Artifical Tree garden, the Waterlily garden and the Cactus garden.

I bought a book and found a quiet place to read.

I had dinner at the Burger King, quite good quality.

Many shops were still closed

Shock! The KLM flight was retimed to 23:35, the original departure time! So I could have taken the 20:40 SQ flight and saved 8 hours of time. The flight (from Jakarta) was unpleasantly full, but fortunately i had an empty seat next to me.

Usually the KLM flies from KL to the Netherlands over the Ukraine. Of course they did not because of the war in Ukraine, the plane went far south. As usual I could not sleep well. We landed early at 6:05 am, the pilot announced that the temperature was 1° Celsius with a chance of show.

Immigration was surprisingly smooth, no Covid checking at all. Nobody was wearing mouth masks. Because of the cold I considered taking a taxi, but finally decided to go the usual way, a ten minute train to Amsterdam-Zuid and from there a 15 minute walk home. I survived the walk, but it was bitterly cold.

Here I am standing in the lift to my apartment. Yolanda, Paul’s sister who has a key of the apartment, had bought flowers, a nice welcome.

As the apartment had not been inhabited for more than two years, I had to go shopping at the nearby AH. And have my first lunch, with cheese, herring and strawberries, of course.

It was a cold night, with snow.

Here are some pictures I took the next day.. Some daffodils were trying to survive. Real winter atmosphere.

I had to solve several problems that day. The prepaid sim card of my mobile had expired, I needed to buy a new one. My laptop had problems, I had to buy a new keyboard/mouse. And the central heating was not working properly. Not a nice start of my visit. But still I could enjoy a pre-dinner drink

And prepare my first, very Dutch dinner.

Saturday a guy came to repair the central heating. And a bicycle pump was deliverd after an online order. Because of course the tyres of my bike were completely flat after three years.

That Saturday evening, three days after coming home, I could finally relax and enjoy the tulips.

Sunset and view from my apartment Sunday morning. At least a bit of blue sky. But still unpleasantly cold.

More blogs about this trip to the Netherlands will follow