If you bike or walk around the Netherlands you’ll become a bird watcher, a sheep farmer, or a cattle herder, whether or not you intend to. There are animals everywhere – they’re mostly just outside the city centers but sometimes in the center, too! Need a better vantage point? Find a nature tower.
You’ll see swans, geese, ducks, magpies, herons, coots, pheasants, and meadow birds. Two cities have deer parks. Sheep – and lambs in the spring – are grazing along the bike paths. Texel island has two breeds of cattle and in Rotterdam there’s a group of Scottish Highland cows freely roaming in a small section of natural area without a fence that you can bike through.
Oh, there are also a lot of outdoor cats. And a campaign to keep them inside at night.
This post shows a selection of the animals I saw over six days exploring Rotterdam, Delft, and Zoetermeer, and the surrounding areas.
Speaking of that nature tower…it’s in the Ackerijkse Plassen nature reserve and you can see the skyscrapers of Rotterdam, 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) away.
Vatican City has a train station but you cannot see it. You can, however, see the large gates within the papal state’s wall that enclose the train station and separate it from the main railway network in Italy.
There is one way to visit the train station and that’s to take a Vatican City-sponsored day trip from the station to the Pontifical Villages about 15 miles southeast of Rome. In 2022, the trips are offered on Saturdays through October 29 and cost about €43.
A proposal intended for visitors interested in taking part in a tour of the Vatican City and the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo.
Every Saturday, a modern and comfortable electric train connects the historic Vatican City railway station with the Pontifical Villas for a Full Day visit that, starting with the wonders of the Vatican Museums and continuing through the Vatican Gardens, will lead the visitor to discover the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas.
Watch this video from The Round the World Guys – skip to 5:58 – for a view of the station and their ride to the villas. (I thought The Tim Traveller also made a video about the Vatican City railway station but I cannot find it on his YouTube channel.)
When I was in Rome this month – part of a longer trip to Rome, Florence, Lyon, Strasbourg, the Netherlands, and Germany – I wanted to see what I could see, so I walked south and west around the wall towards the San Pietro station. A street follows the southern wall; walk along this and you’ll come to an entry to a railroad viaduct. At this point, it’s at ground level, but to the left (south) the ground quickly slopes down several stories. The viaduct holds the branch from the main line and you can walk across it to San Pietro station.
If that’s too difficult to follow, go to the San Pietro station, go up to binario (platform) 1, and walk towards the large St. Peter’s Basilica you see to the right.
I took this photo outside the café Memory Lane in Rotterdam because the man in the white shirt was standing in the “middle” of this intersection for a couple of minutes. Before he took this position, he was walking slowly across the intersection to the opposite corner as his car. He’s a livery driver, and he appeared to be waiting for his passenger.
This intersection is raised (the sidewalk is level with the road surface), and is uncontrolled (there are no traffic signals, stop signs, or yield signs). A bicyclist or motorist can pass through this intersection without having to stop unless someone is walking, or a bike or car is coming from their right.
This junction has no crosswalks, either. And no one honks. Especially not at the man who’s in the roadway.
Because he’s not in the roadway. He’s in a street, and streets are different. Streets are places for gathering, socializing, eating, connecting, traveling, and shopping. There was plenty of space for him to stand here, and for everyone else – including other motorists who were in their cars – to go about their business.
I found walking around in London a tad stressful, as crossing the street can only be safely done at signalized intersections, or at zebra crossings with the flashing yellow globe. Crossing the street safely is then compounded by the left-driving traffic. The “< Look Left” and “Look Right >” messages aren’t printed at all intersections and there’s a delay at signalized intersections because you can’t cross every other phase: you have to wait until the all-walk phase (when signals stop traffic in all directions).
However, London still has a lot of great pedestrian spaces and alleys (with bars and pubs) scattered around the town. It doesn’t have as much car-free space as city centers in the Netherlands and Germany. These three photos show three spaces on my many long walks around the town during my three-day trip there*.
Hay’s Galleria, seen on my Thames Path walk along the south bank. It was redeveloped in 1987 to the design and condition you see here. Like many pedestrian spaces I passed by and walked through this one is privately owned (and monitored).
This pedestrian space off of St. John’s Road near the Clapham Junction station (with National Rail and London Overground services) was created simply by blocking car traffic from entering or exiting St. John’s Road. It has distinct pavers that match the high street – it’s not exactly a shared space as buses have priority but there is limited traffic otherwise because only delivery and construction workers can access the road.
Old Spitalfields Market has been redeveloped – it maintains the old buildings and look on the edges with shops and restaurants but has a modern glass and steel roof with modern construction on the interior for more shops and restaurants. Even if you aren’t shopping here passersby can use it as a shortcut through the block.
* Calling it three days is a stretch because I was tired and slept a lot, missing precious walking and exploring time. I still managed to spend over an hour walking around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and go shopping at Westfield Stratford City for about two hours.
A year ago during Christmas, New Year’s, and today, I was on my 18-day trip through Europe. To share that trip (again), I’ve been uploading more photos from the trip to my Flickr. I’ll double the number uploaded in a couple of days. A year ago on January 3rd, I traveled from Bremen to Wuppertal, Germany, and then to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with train transfers in Venlo (at the border) and Eindhoven.
I added a bunch of new photos from Italy, mostly from the mountain bike ride I took in Como and Brunate with my friend’s brother. This was December 27, 2010.
Matteo and I on a mountain above Lake Como and very near the border with Switzerland on Monte Boletto. View on OpenStreetMap.
I also uploaded new photos of Bremen, Germany. I added many more pictures of the Valentin submarine pens, the ferry ride across the Weser River into Vegesack, and the trams that run constantly 24/7.
The tram station in front of the Bremen Haupthbahnhof (central station). Notice how familiar the people are with walking near and around the trams. View this on OpenStreetMap. This was January 1, 2011.
I’ve written many times about this trip. If you want to read more, I suggest you go to my index of all trips I took in 2009 through 2011. The different cities and countries are linked there. But here are a couple other posts that are more than photos: