A Day Trip To Delft

A Day Trip To Delft

Delft Pottery is one of the signature souvenirs you see in shops throughout the Netherlands. Little do people know, there is a long and proud history of where this pottery originates. If you want to see master pottery makers, and where one of the greatest painters of the 16th century lived – take a day trip to Delft.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam is about an hour by train or car. If you are visiting Den Hauge, then it is only a 15-20 min car or train ride away. Here is a little guide on what to see while your there.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - Delft Blue Pottery

Royal Delft Pottery Museum

This was recommended to me by a local there. The reason why is because not only do you get to see the factory where the Delft Pottery is made – it also has a museum of Pottery. The Pottery within this museum is part and partial collection of the Royal Family.

Each birth, marriage, and major event Located 1 mile outside town, but they have a little golf cart that picks people up and takes them to the factory. Be sure to pay for a return ticket if you don’t want to explore via walking on the way back.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - East Gate Entrance

History of Delft

Delft was founded in 1075, severely damaged by fire in 1536 as well as an explosion of gun powder stores in 1654. Delft itself was a major trade center for the famous tin-glazed pottery.

It was home to William of Orange and contains many graves of the House of Orange in the New Church. It was also home to Vermeer and attracted main painters for inspiration due to the quaint nature of the city.

Delft had strong fortifications because of the amount of trade that happened in this area. City walls were erected, and medieval gates were placed to protect the inhabitants during the Dutch revolt against Spanish Control.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - Oude Kerk - the old church

Oude Kerk, The Old Church

This truly is one of the oldest structures in the city, established in the 1050s, but rebuilt later by St Bartholomew. Walk inside the old church, and visit one of the greatest artists of the 16th century, John Vermeer. Marvel at the 18th-century organ, which often hosts concerts as there are 3 different organs built inside this one church. The stained glass windows are quite remarkable in this particular church.

Take a hike up the church steeple, and see the 9-ton bell adorning this church that rang out in mourning for the Royal family, or warned citizens in cases of disaster. The vibrations of the bell are so strong, that it is now very rarely rung.

If you walk down one of the neighboring canals and turn around, you will see that the tower is actually leaning to one side by nearly 6.5 feet (2 meters). This is due to the canal running so close to the church, making the foundation of the church unstable.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - New Church Tower

Best City View of Delft, New Church Tower

Want to work off some of the dutch chocolate and cheese? How about wear out your kids so they sleep well? Then take a hike up the 367 stairs in the New Church Tower. Towering over 360 feet (110m) in the air, it has been the most recognizable landmark in Delft for centuries.

If you reach the top of the tower, you may just be able to make out The Hague and Rotterdam in the distance.

There is quite a lot of history tied to this particular church, including William of Orange. It was in Delft that he fought the Spanish occupation, and was murdered in Prinsenhof in 1584. If you go inside, you can visit his grave, and the graves of all other Royal Family Members of the Netherlands as this is the designated last resting place.

The church itself was established in 1381 as Ursula’s Church, after the reformation it was converted into a Protestant church which changed the name to ‘Nieuwe Kerk’ or ‘New Church’.

Be sure to take a guided tour to get all the historical tidbits that surround this Royal Resting place.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - Beestenmarket

Beestenmarket

Originally used as a cattle market area (note the bull sculpture in the middle) during the late 1st to 6th century until 1972. The area was then converted into a carpark, and then in the mid-1990s became a public square.

The area is lined with cute cafes, restaurants, bars with plenty of outdoor seating. If going for a Day Trip to Delft, I would recommend visiting in the late evening when many of the restaurants and cafes are actually open. The area is lit by romantic lighting, and in the spring and fall there are warming cells, and blankets to snuggle under.

It is a great place to visit at all times of the year, with 24 trees providing ample shade in the warmer months, and in the winter is transformed into an ice skating rink.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam - William Orange history

Museum Prinsenhof

Museum Prinsenhof Delft, or the Princes Court, is a former home & convent where one of the most important men in Dutch history – King William Orange fought the Spanish in the 15th century and was eventually assassinated.

A revolution between the Calvinist Dutch and the Catholic Spanish broke out because of William Orange’s ideals of freedom, tolerance, and religion living hand in hand. There was no room for this type of forward-thinking with the devout Catholic Spanish.

On July 10, 1584, William of Orange was assassinated for his beliefs by Balthasar Gerards on the staircase at Het Prinsenhof. You can still see the bullet holes near the staircase where he was gunned down. His sons eventually led the Dutch to Victory, realizing William Orange

You can also discover the history of Delft (and the rest of the Netherlands).

Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was born in Oct 1632 in Delft, where he lived his entire life. Only about 36 of his revered paintings survive and are some of the rarest and treasured of the finest art galleries in the world. His layered approach and capturing reflections and realism in the daily lives of the citizens of Holland will take your breath away.

What is the most fascinating part of Vermeer’s life, is that he comes from a family of fine satin makers and art purveyors. There is no mention of his training as a painter, only that the works he produced were incredible.

Be sure to check out the life and career of this famous Delft Native at the Vermeer Centrum in Delft.

A Delft day trip from Amsterdam -  Kobus Kuch for the pie

Eat at Kobus Kuch

This cozy little cafe is in the center of town, right beneath the New Church. No matter what time of year you come, this place will never disappoint with their Famous Appletart and hot cocoa. They sell over 60,000 slices of pie per year, along with the typical bar food, and plenty of adult beverages to please any palate.

Wrapping Up Your Day Trip to Delft

You could easily spend two days in this quaint and historic town. If you only have a few hours though, I would stop by the Royal Delft Museum, The Princes Court Museum, and then grab a slice of Kobus Kuch Appletart to eat on the way back to your home base.

Getting To Delft

Delft is the ideal base for trips to the beach, Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden, and Amsterdam. The Hague and Rotterdam and it takes about 15 minutes to get to either city. And in only 45 minutes you can get to Amsterdam (airport) from Delft via train.

Map of Delft

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Touring Paracas Peru | Shore Excursions in Pisco

Touring Paracas Peru | Shore Excursions in Pisco

This tiny town at the southernmost point of Peru is one of the best-held secrets. Here are a few ideas for your shore excursions in Pisco Peru that you really do not want to miss out on. While there are plenty of ideas that the ship gives you, many of them are not as relaxing, overcrowded and VASTLY overpriced.

Be sure to check out the article on Lima Peru if your ship makes a stop there, as there are some important safety tips you will need to know about.

shore excursions in Pisco Peru at Tambo Colordao

Tambo Colorado

Tambo Colorado is one of the best-preserved Inca Ruins in Peru, because of only getting 1/4″ of rainfall each year. There is still red, white, and yellow paint clearly visible along with original wood from the time of the Incas. This was a major trade route along the river, and the fertile grounds surrounding the area were a major source for religion and resources.

See The Wild Life on a Pisco Shore Excursion

The beaches of Pisco, because of the low tourism here, have been a safe haven for wildlife to have their young. There is so much wildlife, you could make 2 excursions just to see it all.

shore excursions in Pisco Peru - Baby Flamingos

Baby Flamingos

Flamingos are one of these animals that you can see their babies plodding along the shores picking at the crabs there. You can tell they are babies, by the grey color of their feathers. They only begin to turn pink once they have eaten crab for a number of weeks.

shore excursions in Pisco Peru Ballesta Island

Ballesta Island

This is home to the endangered Humbolt Penguin, who loves to make its home in the century-old Guano made from the Guanay who also frequent this island. If you have ample time, you can also catch a glimpse of the only living otter that lives in saltwater – the Gato Marino or “Sea Cat”.

While this was a viable option for our shore excursion, because it is a protected area you are not able to get out of the boats. From those who went on this excursion they reported that while it was neat to see so many animals in such a small area, and the sea wolves (or South American Sea Lions) – the sun really wore the cruisers out. The boats here don’t typically have shade, so make sure to bring an umbrella. I would also bring a mask as the smell from the Guano baking in the sun was reportedly quite pungent as well.

There are occasional Humpback whales that pass through this area on their migrational journey – but because of the busy shipping port that is Pisco, it is difficult to catch them.

Jellyfish Blooms

When our cruise ship was heading out, our ship went through a massive bloom of jellyfish. The jellyfish we were going by were so big I could clearly see their red, yellow, and white tentacles and bell-shaped heads. My master diver friend I was with, said the Jellyfish were easily 3-4 feet long if not more.

shore excursions in Pisco Peru Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

The Nasca people of this area lived from 1 AD to 700 AD, creating mysterious designs in the desert sands in Paracas Peru. Many of the lines are formed from shallow trenches that are 4-6 inches deep (10-15cm). The top layer of the sand, made of the reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles, is removed and the contrasting white sand below lets you see the lines from the air.

There are a total of 300 geometric figures, and 70 different designs of animals, plants and other items. Some of the lines are up to 30 miles long, and designs ranging from 50-1200 feet in length. Some designs are as big as the Empire State building.

This is why the designs were not well studied until the invention of flight in the 1930s. Some believe they are in line with the sun, others believe they align with the stars. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the Nazca lines. Despite being 2000 years old, the designs still remain intact because of how minimal the rainfall is.

shore excursions in Pisco Peru Dune Buggy Riding

Dune Buggy Riding in Pisco Desert

To say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with a Dune Buggy Ride is a vast understatement. If you have heart issues or high blood pressure, I DO NOT RECOMMEND going on one of these rides.

This is a ride that brings you to the brink of what physics allows to be possible in the presence of gravity. The hot desert sands, shift under the wheels while the demon driver in the front seems to feel he isn’t doing his job if you aren’t screaming in terror.

Not physically being able to say ‘Please stop’ because of the fear coursing through my body is literally how this ride felt. It is difficult to see and anticipate when the next drop off into oblivion is going to happen upon you.

I think they were excited to scare the crap out of us because at first, we didn’t think we needed seat belts. That is how naive we were about this ride. Please watch the video below, and watch how much the skyline pitches from one side to the other. It will give you an idea of how the ride is but is grossly under-represented.

Would I do it again? Ab-so-freaking-lutely! We rode with AdrenArena and felt completely safe the whole time.

Other Shore Excursion Options

Looking at other options on Trip Advisor, Viator, Websites – there is plenty to do in Pisco. While there aren’t many organized companies there – sometimes it can be just meeting up with locals in the town.

AdventurArena has desert dinners, there are Jet Ski Tours, you can take a drive along the coastline through the Paracas Desert National Preserve. At first, I didn’t think there was much to do in Pisco and would be one of the most boring shore excursions. Once we got there, went on our shore excursions I think Pisco became one of my favorite places we visited.

Your trip is what you make it, so don’t just follow the herd of cattle at the excursions office with the boat. The locals all know when the boats come in and how important it is to get you back to the ship in time. So take a chance and you might just find yourself on some of the greatest adventures

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How to Communicate When Traveling in a Foreign Country

How to Communicate When Traveling in a Foreign Country

One of the most intimidating parts of traveling can be the language barrier. Especially if you don’t know how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country. Everything seems bigger, more urgent, and the confusion that ensues can snowball to the point that you are lost and crying in the middle of the train station being consoled by policemen who don’t understand. Not that I would know how that feels….ahem….moving on.

After a couple of decades of travel, I have put together a guide on how I have learned how to better communicate when traveling. Now I’m the one consoling and helping families, crying women, and even making locals laugh.

How to Communicate Over Wifi

While for some this can be costly, there are a lot of options for finding free Wifi in restaurants/shops, etc. I typically like to book a hotel/hostel that specifically has good wifi, so I can research questions in the local language I may need to ask before I leave.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

What I Personally Use to Over Come the Language Barrier:

If you can afford a little portable Wifi device though, this will – by far – be the best investment on your trip. Personally, I use my phone, with AT&T as my carrier – they have an ‘International Passport’ option, where for $10 a day I can use my normal data, Wifi, minutes, and text messaging.

If you are going for longer than 7 days, then I recommend signing up for something a little more affordable like Tep Wireless. This pocket-sized device can be used in over 100 countries, is easily recharged (via MicroUSB Cable), you can pick the plan you want from 1GB/day for $5.95 per day all the way up to 5GB/day at $11.95/day. They also have a customer support chat available 24/7. The best part is that you can rent the Teppy Pocket, and don’t have to fork out $200 to buy it upfront.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Other Options:

Some other options you could consider if you are traveling for more than 8 days that are slightly more expensive but still relatively affordable; especially if you are a frequent international traveler.

  • Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L WiFi Hotspot (around $199 for device)
    • Verizon charges $80 per month for “unlimited” data, which includes 15 GB of 4G LTE. The battery lasts about 24 hours, is removable so you can just change it as needed. It can connect up to 16 devices at a time.
  • Skyroam Solis (Around $149 for device)
    • This one works in over 100 countries and data costs around $9 per day with a secure 4G LTE with download speeds of 500MB. It has a 16-hour battery life and can be connected to 5 devices.
  • Netgear Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot ($199 for the device itself)
    • This device is more for AT&T users. It can connect up to 20 devices, has 2.4-5 GHZ Wifi. The battery lasts around 24 hours and can be used with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. What I really like about this one is that you can use an ethernet cord with it as well. It has a full-sized USB port, so you can share files between devices to the internet much quicker (ie/uploading videos etc..).
  • Coolpad SURF Mobile Hotspot (about $72 for the device)
    • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n connectivity to up to 15 devices by utilizing T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network. So you are limited in certain countries, I would check the coverage map to ensure the device will work. It also only provides about 5 hours of use, and there is no signal strength display.
  • Huaawei E5770s Mobile Hotspot – ANY PROVIDER
    • This supports about 10 different devices, can be used with any service provider because it comes unlocked. It provides 4G LTE globally.
how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Use Social Media To Communicate While Traveling

Now you have several options for WiFi while traveling, you can utilize things like Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp to talk to friends at home without using your minutes or texting. Make sure you put your phone on airplane mode and then turn on the WiFi – so you don’t incur hidden fees on your telephone plan.

I think WhatsApp is one of the biggest apps used by those around the world. I used it to communicate with friends in Morocco and to coordinate my driver when going to Lake Atitlan (A very remote area) in Guatemala. So be sure to download that before you go. It does require you to give people your real telephone number, but also has a ‘block’ function if things get uncomfortable via messaging.

How To Communicate When Traveling, and Stay CALM

Whenever I start getting nervous, especially when meeting new people – I have a mantra, “We all poop on the same pot”. For some reason, it puts a smile on my face, breaks the ice inside my head and then I can proceed. If this doesn’t work, then I try my other techniques.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Make it a Game

Making it a game is the best way, for me personally, to remain calm when trying to communicate. I’m prone to anxiety, given my history, so tapping into my creative genius and making it a game is the best way for me to stay calm.

I will typically bring a pad of paper with me and if I don’t know how to pronounce the words, then I draw pictures. Most of the time, showing a picture does the trick. What if you can’t draw though?

There are cards or pre-made quick point cards that people use to communicate things they want. We use these cards all the time when we have a patient on a ventilator. There are certain human functions and needs that are very common and widely recognized. On one side of the card, there can be phrases or even an alphabet; while on the other side, there are photos of what the person needs/wants. So browse on Pinterest for quick point communication cards and I’m sure you will find exactly what you are looking for.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Be Polite

If you say the wrong thing, and they giggle – don’t be offended. For example, there are some languages like Portuguese, where ‘pickup’ can also mean ‘kill’ in a different country. So, anyone, this could be funny, or scary – and could elicit a giggle no matter what country it happened in. So take it in stride, make fun of yourself and thank them for being patient with you.

If they are not patient with you, I still thank them and politely tell them I will ask someone else, and sorry to bother them. I always try to remember that just because I am on vacation, with loads of time, the people I ask for help are taking time our of their day/vacation to help you. I have had people completely ignore me & I still offer a smile and wish them good-day. I have other locals, who walk with me from place to place, stand in line with me and get me on the right train – taking more than 45 minutes out of their day to help.

There are times you won’t be able to find help though. For my fellow Americans, DO NOT GET ANGRY NO ONE SPEAKS ENGLISH!!! There is nothing that will drive away help more, than standing at the hotel, restaurant or ticket line like an American putting their hands on their hips and loudly exclaiming, “Well this is just ridiculous, doesn’t anyone here speak English?” – no one will want to help you if you do. Saying things like this is what gives Americans a bad reputation as being, loud, rude, and snooty. Don’t be like them, please….

Don’t Be Embarrassed

There are so many other things that you could be embarrassed about – like when you think you need to fart, but it is actually a shart. If you don’t know what a shart is, consider yourself blessed – if you’re curious, use urban dictionary to look it up.

The point is, everyone expects you to not be fluent – so if you don’t get the words exactly right, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, laugh at yourself, know how to say sorry in their language. If you get too flustered, or your brain is fried from all the touring or the red-eye – revert to the Kwikpoint card (explained below) or drawing a picture.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Research Common Phrases

The number one thing to remember when beginning to learn a language is to not use big words or long phrases. Start small and use flashcards to memorize them so you aren’t fumbling and it comes second nature. If you aren’t sure how to pronounce something, Google and YouTube are going to work wonders for you. Here are a few phrases you will likely need to know when traveling, shopping, eating, meeting people, and if you run into an emergency.

  • How long (duration)?
  • What time does it leave?
  • How far?
  • I lost my…
  • I am going to…
  • I came from…
  • I leave on…
  • Where is…
  • Airport
  • Bus / train station
  • I am allergic to…
  • Where is a doctor?
  • Where is the pharmacy
  • Tampons / sanitary pads
  • Can I drink the tap water?
  • Bed bugs – or other words for dangerous bugs common to the area
  • Air conditioner/fan
  • I lost my key
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Do I pay here, or can I have the bill?
  • Do you take credit cards or cash?
  • How much?
  • Too expensive
  • I’m not interested / No, thank you
  • Do you have change?
  • Can I try?
  • Hello, my name is…
  • Do you speak English?
  • Sorry
  • Slowly, please
  • I don’t understand
  • Goodbye!
  • Thank you and Thank You so much
  • Can I help you?
  • Where is the Embassy?

Use your Resources To Communicate While Traveling

We live in a world full of technology, and advanced communication devices. So it is so much easier to get past the language barrier than ever before. Here are a few resources I personally use to communicate in a different country.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Google Translate

My number one resource is Google Translate that I use on my phone, with the AT&T passport. The reason I like this so much is that you can do a voice to text with it. It also has a conversational function on it, where you can easily switch back and forth between languages and have them just speak into your phone. They check the text to make sure it is what they mean to say, edit what needs to be edited, and then you go back and forth.

This became very useful when I was trying to figure out what the safest way to get my friend to the airport was. It was in Santiago, I speak enough Spanish to get around, but when it comes to safety – you need details. So I was able to use Google translate, to understand how and who would take my friend to the airport. If you use Uber in the city, and the police catch you – you can get a $1000 fine. There were also reports of an unregistered Uber driver pick you up, and then take you to an obscure place in town – where they then rob you. S

I was also warned that I shouldn’t have bought the strawberries from the street vendors, because there was a big problem with diarrhea with travelers there. Apparently, turtles had invaded some of the water sources, and put Salmonella in the water systems – the locals were used to it, but travelers coming in – it was creating a big problem.

Kwikpoint

If you want something super affordable, can’t speak the language, and don’t draw pictures very well – then I would suggest a Kwikpoint card. This would be the bare minimum that I would take with you in order to communicate. You can get cards with small colorful photos on them, in specific groupings that visually can be easily recognized and understood throughout the world. If they don’t have it in their country, they will likely find someone who can explain it to you – or they can use their own phone/computer to use google translate to tell you.

how to communicate when traveling in a foreign country

Find A Common Ground

Let them know you are sorry you don’t speak their language but are trying to make things as easy as possible to have a good trip. This really breaks the ice and lets them know that you don’t think you are better than they are.

There are WAY too many times that I have heard people say, “Doesn’t anyone around here speaks English?” when traveling in a foreign country. This is absurd, and wouldn’t hold up in the USA if someone came and demanded someone spoke Spanish or French. So get off your high horse, realize it isn’t the USA – and so you should at least ATTEMPT to speak the primary language of the country you are visiting.

You have to remember you a VISITOR, not a foreign dignitary or some royalty that should be cow-towed to because you are an American. So check yourself, before you wreck yourself.

Now You Know How To Communicate In A Foreign Country

While you may not be fluent in the language of the country you will visit, now you have the resources to help put your mind at ease about the language barrier. Just don’t give up, be polite, stay calm and realize we are all humans. Invest in a good Kwikpoint card, Wifi, and make sure you can access Google Translate and I promise you will have no trouble navigating the world despite your language limitations.

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