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Joyce & Wally go Dutch

Welcome to Joyce & Wally's Travel Page. Here is where we will be keeping a record of all our activities and travels in and around Den Haag and The Netherlands (and hopefully beyond!). Please feel free to leave a comment for us. If we have time in between working, keeping house, having coffee, eating out, shopping, working out the transport system, discovering new places and meeting new people or riding our bikes, we will reply to them!

Diary Entries

Monday, 17 December 2007

Location: Cheltenham, Melbourne, Australia

This is where we must leave our travel log of our wonderful adventure and looking forward to catching up with everyone.
To those who kept in contact from home and those who helped make our adventure so memorable – THANKYOU!

A Merry Christmas, Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Rozhdestvom Kristovym, Christmas Alegre, Boas Festas, Joyeux Noel, Natale Allegro, Boze Narodzenie!
....and all the best for 2008!!
Greetings from Wally and Joyce and the Sendeckyj family.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

We left Venice destined for Amsterdam and our last two nights in Europe
One more time in Amsterdam
11th October
Our last day in Amsterdam was a history-free day, just strolling to the Flower Market and the Flea Market. The Flower Market had only a few blooms, however there was no shortage in ‘hemp’ related products including starter kits and lozenges. The Flea market was eclectic and interesting and for the most part you would believe Amsterdam was stuck in the 60’s!
The late afternoon found us suddenly and unexpectedly (or so Wally says) strolling through a very social part of town - the red light district, which funnily enough doesn’t seem to be on the way to the station. I guess we just got lost Wally?
Finally at the station we walked through to the main canal behind Amsterdam Centraal Station and caught a ‘water bus’ to Ijmuiden where our friends the Westerhoven family picked us up cooked us a lovely meal at their home in Santpoort before depositing us back at the motel near Amsterdam Schipol airport for the Friday morning flight home.
13th October
All excitement of our final flight for home was over taken by the fun we had evening up the weight in the suitcases in the middle of Schipol airport and a VERY narrow connection at Heathrow for our flight to Australia – with about 7 minutes to spare – best part was we went VERY quickly through Heathrow!
So it was that we arrived in Tullamarine safe and sound, albeit with four other International flights and minus our luggage – such is travel!

Sunday, 07 October 2007

Location: Venezia, Italy

7th October
This morning we headed excitedly to Rome termini for the train we had booked to Venice and luckily Wally struck up a conversation with a travelling Irishman who warned us to validate our Eurostar rail tickets at the platform before we boarded or we would be told to leave the train – as our Irish friend and his wife had found out by experience and had had to rebook and buy tickets all over again!
We had a smooth arrival at St. Lucia station, managed to find a suitable map and a pass for three days to get us around on the Venecian Vaporetto water transport, found the correct ‘bus’ number 82, and off we went on our water adventure to find Piazza San Marco and our motel. After some little hiccups including fighting the throng of Sunday afternoon tourists (most of whom belonged to the outlandishly large cruise ships) and a little detail of the street name of our motel missing from our map, we finally arrived at our accommodation after an impromptu 1 hour tour of the maze that makes up the back streets of Venice.
Next day we were excited to take advantage of the ‘free’ trip the motel offered us, taking a private water taxi to Murano Island to view the glass blowing. The glass blowing took 5 minutes and the tour of the sales rooms of incredibly high priced glassware took about one hour, needless to say our guide lost interest in us when our jaws dropped at the prices! Best part of that trip? – the water taxi ride.
Next we took in the majestic gothic Doge’s Palace which is the seat of Venetian government and houses the 'Musei Civici Veneziani', with artworks by famous artists and sculpters including Titian and Tintoretto and also sporting a really creepy underground maze of dungeons (once including a prisoner called Casanova we think!)
Also at Piazza San Marco we visited the Basilica di San Marco and came across a treasury filled with Byzantine treasures pilfered by the Venetians from Istanbul and Turkey. In the Basislica we could also view St. Mark’s bones – a creepy early Christian tradition.
For our last full day in Venice we decided to get further away from the over- crowded San Marco hub and leisurely rode the Grand Canal to Ponte Roma where we checked out the bus situation to the airport for the following day and also found a nice cheap supermarket.
Armed with travel information we would need for our exit out of Venice and plenty of nice cheap food, we headed for the Jewish quarter or the ‘Ghetto’. We found out that ‘Ghetto’ means ‘Foundry’ and that the Jewish people had been relocated to this old glass foundry area centuries before and are still there living a peaceful existence.
We leisurely strolled the Cannaregio area, ate lunch in a church yard (it was becoming a habit on our travels) and wound our way back on foot to the Piazza San Marco. On the way we stopped at one of the main bridges on the Canal Grande and took in the unique beauty of a city ‘on water’ as the sun set.
What we had saved on food we soon splurged on a had-to-have but not-so-cheap Gondola ride. Our gondolier ‘Alexandro’ picked us up at the canal that ran next to our hotel and explained the history of some of the buildings on the Canal Grande and the uniquely coloured bollards that represented elite Venetian families.
Our last day in Venice gave us just enough time to wander the streets of the Castello area and took in our last ‘tour of history’ in the Church Dan Zaccaria with more ceremonial bones and treasures, until we needed to vacate before a funeral. Winding our way back to collect our luggage, a pidgeon decided to leave its love all over Wally’s jeans as a parting gesture!
After crossing the Piazza San Marco at high tide with all our luggage and negotiating the ‘boardwalks’ erected to keep our feet dry, we were able to enjoy one more canal trip before boarding the bus from Ponte Rome to the airport.
Venice was expensive, crazy, busy, interesting and fun!

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Location: Roma, Italy

Although we arrived in Roma later than expected – 8.30pm, it was thankfully only a short walk from Fiumicino airport to the Fiumicino rail station and we were soon on the Leonardo Express train to Roma Termini. Armed with our google map it was only about a 20 minute walk to The Medici Hotel on Via Flavia 96.
The highlight of the following morning was 1) finally finding out after a long stand in a queue that metro tickets were sold at the Tobacconist (of course!) and 2) cleverly working out how to successfully negotiate the vending machine for two tickets to Venice on the Euro Star rail for Sunday.
Next was to join the sea of tourists and locals on the Metro bound for Octtavio Station and our rendezvous with our tour to the Musei Vaticani. Even with a group we were still subjected to a wait of 50 minutes for entry, however the audio tour and guide were worth it, as we could only hear our American born guide and not the other tours! We wound our way through the Museum of animal Sculpture, Museum of (HUGE) Tapestries and the Museum of Maps before receiving a history and behaviour briefing for the Sistene Chapel. The Chapel itself seemed, for us to have been dwarfed by its reputation, however the majesty and beauty of Michelangelo’s work is undeniable, particularly the dramatic Last Judgement. Wally hoped they found the missing gentleman called ‘Silencio’ as the security guards has repeatedly called his name.
The grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica blew our minds and senses with its sheer size and opulence. The visitors walking up above in the Dome looked like little specs.
Apart from many magnificent sculptures and artworks, the huge Baroque processional canopy; Bernini’s Baldachin, in the centre of the Basilica stood out; created entirely from bronze and gold with a huge 37,000 kg roof. It is the largest known bronze artwork taking nine years to build.
After lunch, we wound our way through St. Peter’s Square towards the Tiber River and Hadrian’s Mausoleum: the Castel Sant’Angelo, a completely cyclindrical castle and former fortress of Rome, now a museum.
Trekking on over the Tiber we crossed the Piazza Novanna, a popular entertainment and meeting place, to the well preserved Pantheon or "Temple of all the gods".
True to our guide map we passed the lower house of Parliament Camera dei Deputati or Chamber of Deputies. It was then good to rest a while and take in the exquisite sculpture of the Fontana di Trevi in the early evening, just as it was being illuminated. We especially loved the horses that seemed ready to bolt right out of the fountain.
We passed four more fountains at the intersection of Quattro Fontane before a well earned meal at 9pm. It was a big first day in Roma!
Saturday morning found us on the metro to Colosseo station to take in the mighty Colosseum and it can hardly be imagined how it must have looked in its heyday – so much of its precious stone had been plundered, amongst the culprits – the Vatican City!
Passing Constantine’s Arch , Athena’s Palace, endless ruins and the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Vittoriano monument, we finally found the strange ’face’ that marked our map – it was a marble face weighing nearly 2 tonnes and has a diameter of about one and a half meters, housed in the Cathedral of St. Maria. This massive face is called La Bocca Della Verita or ‘Mouth of Truth’; legend has it that if you are a liar and you place your hand in its ‘mouth’ it will bite it off (NB we didn’t try).
We then walked the length of Circo Massimo and hopped the metro again to take in the area of Villa Borghese which gave us a spectacular vantage point for a view of Rome, although we are just not sure if we found the actual villa.
After dinner we began packing for Venezia........

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul was amazing, and you really realise you are in a largely Islamic country when the you hear the 'Call to Prayer' at 5am on your first morning! It rings over the city like an echo, very eerie and beautiful.
Shortly after our late night arrival at Ataturk airport ,we were met by our Turkish guide and transfer taxi driver. The guide described himself as a 'modern Turkish man' and his friend the taxi driver as a 'modern handsome Turkish man'. We believe he meant that many Turkish people did not necessarily embrace the rigourous Islamic customs, and in fact, that not all people in Turkey were necessarily Islamic and that Turkey is very much a cultural mix (although we're not sure about the 'handsome').
Having been woken early we set off to explore the city after a breakfast on the 6th floor with a stunning view over the Sea of Marmara. Excitement got the better of us and we discovered two local Mosques and the outskirts of the Grand Bazaar market before we eventually arrived at the majestic Sultan Ahmed Mosque or 'Blue Mosque'. We arrived about a hour before the next prayer session commenced and were able to take in the majesty and beauty of the mosaic interior. As long as you respect the covering of shoulders, head and feet, the Islamic people are extremely happy to share their scared Mosques with the public and only ask for a simple donation in return.
Looming high in the skyline, not far away, was the mighty Hagia Sophia, built originally as a Byzantine cathedral, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, and now a state Museum with many layers of history still being uncovered. Our last stop on this marathon first day in Istanbul took us through the ancient Topkapi Palace, a museum since 1924 and originally commisssioned by the Ottoman conquerer Sultan Mehmed II in 1479. The Palace hosted a number of smaller galleries and museums - the most spectacular of which was the Treasury of highly impractical but stunningly beautiful artifacts such as suits of armour studded with precious gemstones. Another highlightof the Palace compound (with the exception of another entrance fee) was the Harem with its myriad of rooms and spectacular colourful mosaic decor, all still largely intact. From the magnificent gardens we were able to take in the vast junction of the Sea of Marmara, the Boshphorous Sea and the Golden Horn - a real hub of civilisation!
The next day we enjoyed a trip on the Bosphorous sea which took us almost to the Black sea. Wally couldn't believe we were so close to the Ukraine (next time!!??). The lookout in the hunting grounds of a Sultan's summer palace on the Middle Eastern side of Turkey looking over the ancient city was spectacular. We managed to shop a little in the Grand Bazaar and the exotic Spice Bazaar- with the most heavenly turkish delight we've ever tasted.
The evenings were full of life in the traditional public area between the fully lit up mosques with the smell of brewed turkish coffee, roated nuts, baclava and a variety of dishes for hungry faithfuls breaking the Ramadan fast.
Our last full day in Istanbul took us underground to the ancient Basilica cistern which still has water running throught it. The cistern was built with spare columns found around the city and two of the columns are on pedestals of Medusa Heads at odd angles.
Next came the museum marathon - luckily all within the same area; the Archeological Museum, the Museum of Oriental Archeology, the Tile Museum and the Mint. This compound sported so many ancient artifacts and sculptures that we even encountered 'spare' relics in the foyer of the toilets and in the grounds of the little cafe. Lunch consisted of very cheap but filling turkish bread toasties washed down with apple tea.
The lunch break fortified us to tackle the Grand Bazaar for some shopping therapy, the highlight of which was finding (the original we think...) Aladdin's Lamp in a dingy antique stall.
We had just enough energy to find our favourite friendly and sort- -of-cheapTurkish restaurant called Sar's in the back streets before setting off for Ataturk airport the following morning at 5am with the echo of the 'Call to prayer' in the background.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Location: Den Haag, Netherlands

It was time to say goodbye to the wonderful cazy people of the ICC Library - but not before a night of Tappas and writing our departing greetings (and other stuff) on the walls!
(Please don't ask Eamonn about his relatives!)

We also said goodbye to Marla, Martin and family, we loved the apartment and thanks for your hospitality and the bikes!

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Recent Messages

From Edina
What a great job you've done here with journals and photos, and above all - enjoying yourself while in Europe!! I logged on thinking I will be writing to you, but now I am actually distracted by all these entries so I will make it short this time!!

I hope coming back home was nice and troubles. How does it feel now? Back to your jobs, in friends' lives, and nice, comforting routine or up to something completely different?!

I hope I'll here from you some time soon (I'm leaving my email address, could not read yours). Meanwhile, I send you the warmest regards from your former neighbour (it was nice to see the pictures of 'our' building)!!
Big hug,
Hi Edina,
How lovely to hear from you! We are glad that you have found our travel log and are enjoying it.
We will finish it soon (just Venice to go) and send some photos of our life in Australia as well. Meanwhile we have your email address and will send a lengthier message soon. Until then, all the very best and hope you have a lovely Christmas and New Year.
Tot ziens
Wally and Joyce
From Peter
Hi Joyce & Wally,
It was nice meeting you last saturday in Waddinxveen. I hope you enjoyed the concert that evening. Very nice blogsite and photo's.

Response: Hi Peter,
Nice to hear from you so soon. Wally and I also enjoyed our relaxing afternoon with you and Tante Corrie. We have sent some pictures by email for you both and have also sent them to Ruud and Jane. The symphony orchestra very good and even included a light show - very dramatic!
Hope you can visit us in Australia in the future!
All the best
Joyce and Wally
From Nicole
Hi Joyce just finally catching up on your adventures after quite a hiatus. Liz doesn't have a blog but she's sent plenty of emails and has had a fab time. She's back now and is finding it quite a shock!
Look forward to catching up in October.
Response: Hi Nicole,
Great to hear from you! I am looking forward to catching up with everyone. It is autumn here now with cooler and windier weather, which slightly takes the enjoyable edge off cycling and public transport! Give my best regards to everyone.
Regards Joyce.
From Kate
Hi Wally & Joyce,
What a great report you are providing us. You guys are having a fantastic experience.
Ralfie has 3 days to go boy is he getting excited.
Wendy is well and very excited.
Response: Kate,
I bet Ralph is looking forward to his retirement and doing all the things he has wanted. Also fantastic news about Wendy; hope she is feeling well.
Glad you enjoy the website, and if we are unable to catch up, hope you have a great holiday with Ralph.
Wally & Joyce
From John Marsicovetere
Good morning kids, it is great that you are having a great experience and Wally has finally got away from his domestic duties. When you come back you two should start up a travel magazine. It must be hard travelling around Europe wearing clogs. Have you come across many dikes????
Keep up the good work

Response: John,
Good to hear from you.
I've noticed that I am getting a lot of strange looks from people when I'm wearing clogs and riding my bike (fiets), I must be breaking some sort of local protocol.
As most of the Netherlands is below sea level, have seen lots of dikes, canals and windmills (windmolen).
Glad you enjoy the blogsite.
Will catch up when we get back.
Wally & Joyce
From Kate
Wendy from the sandwich shop is having a baby. I'm going to be a great aunt.
Glad to see you a making the most of your trip.
I always thought the window tax in Ireland was odd.
Response: Hello Kate,
What fantastic news, please congratulate Wendy for me, and I hope she is happy and well.
Joyce and I are weekend tourists. Because Joyce works Mon-Fri, I
organise the weekends.
We are have a 'relatives' weekend; Saturday having dinner with Joyce's uncle, aunt and her daughters in Amsterdam. On Sunday travelling by train to Arnhem and catching up with Joyce's cousin and family for morning coffee, then another aunt from Joyce's mum's side for afternoon coffee.
Tell Ralph that we had a day trip to Amsterdam but didn't get to the
flower market, we will save that for another time.
Hope you and Ralph are well. Again its good news about Wendy.
(Tried to reply to your work email a couple of times but it kept bouncing back.)
Wally S.
From Bruce O'Mara
Hi Joyce & Wally,
Glad to hear all is well in Holland! I've enjoyed reading the planetranger website and following your diary entries - particularly Wally's Heathrow saga. The photos are great but your diary does not mention how the cross-country kayaking went? I'm sure you are both having a wonderful experience.
Bruce O'Mara
Response: Hi Bruce,
It is good to hear from you and hope all the family is well. We have seen many places here in Holland where kayak transport would work a treat.
We could probably have seen Amsterdam entirely in kayaks, even though the water traffic is more hectic than the streets!
Cheers for now
Joyce and Wally
From Emma
Hi Joyce and Wally,

Great to read your stories and see what you are up to! Photo's are wonderful, but make me homesick. Can't look at them too long : (

VVV stands for Vereniging van Verkeer and vrijetijdsbesteding - I think, it is a very old organisation.

Hope the weather gets a bit better! Malaga should be great!
Response: Hi Emma
It is good to hear from you and I am sorry the pictures are making you a little home sick - but is easy to see why. It is a very liveable country and reminds me alot of Melbourne a (but I'm not that homesick yet!) Wally has his own ideas about Dutch acronyms - so I just let him have fun with it!
Cheers for now
From Bob Clegg
Morning all from down under, love the photos. Hey Wally have you told the kids that you have become acustomed to the appartment living and when you get back you are moving to docklands?

Great photos keep it up.

Response: Bob,
Great to hear from you.
We can see how apartment living is attractive to some, but we think we would miss the garden and the space too much.
We're glad you enjoy the photos.
We are heading off to Spain for a week and will post these photos on our return.
Hope you and everyone else are well.
Wally & Joyce
Hello Jose and Wally,
We are writing to you from Avondrust on Riny's laptop. I have seen all your emails from Anneke with some photo too.
I am going to Anneke's birthday party/dinner on Friday. Love Mum and Irene, Riny and Hendrika.
Response: Hi Mum and Irene, Riny and Hendrika! It is lovely to hear from you and thanks Riny for setting this up for Mum, and to enable her and your Mum to see the photos. With the 21st coming, we are missing home a bit but then we realise we are about at the halfway mark already. Much love and best wishes to you all.
So gaan wij naar Spanje!
Joyce and Wally.
From Deb & Alb
Hi sendecks,
Have just got to this and will have a good read and look at the pics too. From emails sounds like all is going well and you are having a great time as you should be. We only have about 4 weeks until we go, can't wait.
Cheers from The Martins
Response: Dear Debbie and Alby,
Good to hear from you. Hope you enjoy the photos and entries on our site; we will try to keep them up to date. Four weeks will fly by and you'll be in Europe before you know it.
Its been really easy to settle in, the Dutch are very understanding and easy going.
We will catch up when we get back, in the meantime keep the emails coming in.
Wally & Joyce
From Lydia Popec
Hi Wally and Joyce

I really enjoyed the running commentary; especially the Wally wit coming through. Now I know why Leon is apprehensive about Heathrow.

At the Vemeer gallery, did you see the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" which I think is absolutely beautiful.

Great photos, can't wait to see more.

Take care and enjoy,


Response: Hi Lydia,
We went through the Vemeer Gallery in Delft and only saw a replica of that particular painting, but there were other Vemeer paintings on display. The original is in the Royal Picture Gallery (Mauritshuis) in Den Haag together with paintings from other Dutch Masters; and yes the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and some of Vemeer's other work is beautiful. Will update the site with more photos shortly.
Wally & Joyce.
From Nicole
Hi Ya Joyce and Wally. Your adventures in Holland look just fab! Joyce, it is horribly quiet here now on Wednesdays without you to chat to. I am even missing you chatting to yourself ;-)
We are all now living vicariously through your blog and also Liz's tales of adventure from the US and soon, Anne Crook's tales of adventure from Europe.
Response: Hi Nicole!
Great to hear from you!Hope you had a lovely break recently. I miss your lively chatter also and catching up with the Chadstone crew. We have a chatty library group here too so it feels just like home! Does Liz have a travel log? If so could you email it to me?

Cheers for now
From Maha
Hey there!

Great reading about your adventures! It makes a welcome break from the grind around here.
Looking forward to the next installment! Have fun!

Maha... ;)
Response: Hi Maha!
Great to hear from you!
Life here is certainly settling into a nice routine of the working week and then the tourist weekends with a few nights out in between seeing it is light here until about 10.30pm. I dont know at our age how long we can keep this up! Hope all is good at Waverley campus, please send a big hello to Amy, Anne, Lan, Sharee, Jamie and Janet and all the staff at Chaddie and Moorabbin. Cheers Joyce.
From John Marsicovetere
Good to see that you two have settled in & wally is on home duties. I always knew that one day Wally would be a kept man.

The weather hear has turned nasty and it has been snowing all over the place.

Response: John,
Joyce is working hard at the ICC, and I'm working extremely hard with "domestic duties". Weatherwise, the start of summer has not been as expected, with rain and "blitzen" (lightning).
Keep in touch - send me your email address.
Wally & Joyce
From Trish & Pat
Welcome to Europe Wally!

We are currently enjoying the heat of southern Spain - 38C. We hope it is warm and sunny further north and that you are enjoying every minute. We have met quite a few Dutch tourists down here and given them your home details, so expect a few unexpected guests for dinner!

Enjoy and have fun!
Response: Trish & Pat,
Have been following your website around the Mediterranean; fantastic.
Settled in pretty well in Den Haag. Look forward to receiving your visitors for dinner.
Wally & Joyce
From Earl, Tina, Lydia, C
Wally What's up?......You are the talk of the word from you....

From Tina..How are you both goin....I hope you guys are having fun...I am not doing any work....I am on holidays too...

Dora said don't forget the souvenir....

From Chandra...How's the push bike going.....
Response: Hello to everone,
Just had the internet connected and I can finally reply to you and upload to the website as most internet cafes do not have USB facilities.
Everything is going well. The dutch people are lovely and very understanding, especially of tourists/foreigners. Doing a lot of walking and utilising the tram system using the "stripencards" similar to our hourly zone tickets.
Its good to hear that Tina is finally able to get some rest and have a holiday - "when the cat's away".
Dora - have not forgotten the souvenirs and plan to go to Belgium one of these weekends.
Chandra - the landlord is arranging a "fiets" (bicycle) for us next week, so we'll be more mobile.
for now.
Wally S.
From Anneke
Hi Moo-ma and Moo-pa!
I hope you're having fun and enjoying yourselves!
Love from Anneke
Response: Hi Anneke
Guess your name must be Dutch as we have found a shop named after you!
Sending the photo.
Hope domestic bliss continues for you and James in Devon Street.
Love from Mum and Dad.
From David
Hey Wally,

Have you used the apron yet?

How are the little fury Aussies going?

Do you need another jigsaw puzzle? We could send a shredded version of the business case for you to peice together. You might finish that before we actually get it signed off :-)

See ya,

Response: David,
Arrived reasonably intact; too cold and windy for a BBQ, and too busy for the jigsaw.
Good luck with the business case, hope it goes well.
Wally S.
From Robert Clegg
Afternoon Wally it is 2.45 on Friday 29/6 and you have not left yet. Enjoy the experience and I am sure that you and Joyce will remember this for the rest of your life. There are not many good opportunities one has in life.

If you really decide not to return can you let us know he he!.

See you when you return and enjoy.
Thanks Bob on behalf of Wally and myself for your lovely wishes - I'm sure Wally will catch up with this blog soon.
From de Bruins
Good luck...
Try to fit on some clogs, but don't forget to grab the tail of the heerlijke salt haring and then...down the hatch. You will find a haring stall right near the entrance to the "Binnenhof" (Parliament) in Den Haag.....

Enjoy, Gre and Ype de Bruin
Response: Yes! Ype I did find this and will keep this happy event for when Wally arrives. I found it across the road from the information Centre.
Regards to you and hope your stay in Holland is also Pleasant.
From Wally
Good Luck Joyce.
So far we haven't any place to stay. Should I inquire about shipping out caravan over?