Good friends, good food, good for the soul..

My past weekend consisted of great friends, so much laughter, WAY too much food and huge plans. My dear friend C, who has been au-pairing in Paris paid me a visit in my little old city of Den Haag and I was more than happy to play tour guide.

She caught the god awful overnight bus (which in fact, will probably become my new mode of transport – so cheap!) and arrived bright and early on Saturday morning. It was still dark when I went to fetch her and clearly the tram drivers in Den Haag don’t like waking early on the weekend either, making a reasonably easy trip to the train station a long drawn out process. Nonetheless, we arrived back to my house at around 8am where we promptly fell into bed and napped for two hours. After some recuperating shut-eye, we got ready and jumped on the bikes for a day of playing tourist. First stop was coffee at one of my regular places close to the beach – however as we approached the street we noticed the street blocked off and people milling around wearing old, historic type clothing. Now the Dutch can be strange folk however this was definitely out of the ordinary. Our curiousness lead us to follow the crowd where we quickly learnt that something BIG was happening.. the normally deserted boardwalk was filled with thousands of people, all searching for the perfect spot to witness some sort of performance. Still totally oblivious to what was going on we parked ourselves in a spot where we assumed a parade would go past and waited. Luckily we were standing next to a very informative Dutch man who told us that today was the 200th anniversary of when the first Prince arrived in Holland and that they were re-enacting that day. Impressed by the lengths the Dutch had gone to for this re-enactment we waited patiently watching the big screens they had set up on the beach. Things got more exciting though because the King of Holland just happened to be driving right past us to make his way to watch the performance. Before we could grab cameras and organise ourselves the King and his ‘sexy Queen’ (old Dutch mans words, not mine) drove past waving at us in the crowd. Talk about putting on a show for my friend! It was only 11am and already we had witnessed royalty first hand!

After all the excitement we refuelled with all-you-can-eat sushi and pedalled into the Centre, stopping at the Peace Palace and Parliament for some touristy snaps. Wanting to give C even more of a Dutch experience I took her to eat raw haring. This delicacy consisted of basically downing a whole raw herring covered in chopped up onions. C being a sushi lover, jumped at the chance, whereas I was wincing at watching her gobble it up. We chased that down with a fresh stroopwafel and a stroll down the main shopping street on the Hague. By this time it was time to head home and get ready to babysit my two girls for the night.

The following day we were up early to make our way to Amsterdam to meet our friend K from London who was also in Holland for the weekend. Before this though we Skyped one of guys from our Topdeck trip who has been living in Japan to make plans for a catch up in London early next year. Only on the train ride to Amsterdam did we realise how amazing our lives sounded on paper.. Five months ago I certainly didn’t think I would be living in a city in Holland, visiting Amsterdam with my friends from Paris and London and organising to meet up with my friend from Japan. Suddenly my old life seems dull in comparison.

C, K and I had a fabulous day in Amsterdam. The city was full to the brim of Christmas cheer and the streets were choc-o-block with market stalls and elaborate lights. By the end of the day I had a sore neck from constantly gazing upwards. And a sore belly from the amount of delicious food I consumed.

While we only had a brief time together, being with these girls made me insanely happy. We made plans for our next trip (Australia Day in London, woooohoo!), laughed, ate far too much food, drank several sneaky beers and basically talked about how privileged we feel to be able to be doing what we are doing. Before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to K for another month or so and then C and I were on the train back to Den Haag (Dutch sweets in hand to soften to blow) Shortly after, I said my goodbyes to C and as I settled into bed, feeling like the weekend hadn’t even happened I thanked the universe for blessing me with such fantastic friends and amazing opportunities.

I honestly am so happy right now. I’m not really one to gloat but damn, life is good. And with a sneaky trip to Belgium, snow approaching and Christmas in Vietnam with my family (OK i do miss them, there I said it), life is about to get a whoooole lot dandier (touch wood!)

From the girl who has the greatest friends all over the world

J. x

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