The Day I Got Chased By A Rhino

“Don’t make eye contact, don’t look, don’t look! Okay run, RUN!”

The three of us bolted, following the zig-zag pattern that our guide was doing to throw them off course. My camera bag bounced against my hip as I ran, my heart raced and the sweat started to drip down my face. The branches on the ground crunched as we trod on them heavily, being completely silent wasn’t an issue anymore – getting out alive was. 

How I’d found myself running away from a rampant female rhinoceros, I’m still trying to work out but here I was in the Chitwan National Park in south-west Nepal trying to outrun a pissed off mother rhino whose bath was rudely interrupted by humans. 

This morning when I’d left the Safari Club Lodge where I was staying, I was under the impression that we would be going for a lovely canoe ride down the river, followed by a short walk through a part of the national park to hopefully see some animals. I had assumed that the short walk was just a way of making it back to the lodge and they’d called it a jungle walk to make it seem more exciting. However, this is Nepal and after three weeks of being in this crazy, chaotic country that a short walk actually means two hours of trawling through dense grasslands in search of animals.

The canoe ride was indeed very lovely. There were two guys from the Czech Republic – who were also staying at the Safari Club – who had come along with me. Before we even got into the canoe our guide spotted two rhinos further down the river. One was cooling off in the river and the other was on the banks out of sight, sussing out whether he should invade the other rhinos territory. It was my first time seeing a rhinoceros in the wild and it was quite exciting to be up close to such an exotic animal. Little did I know I was about to get a whole lot closer.

There were over 600 rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park, the largest population in Nepal. They are some of the most protected animals in the park and years of poaching culling numbers dramatically. However since the 1970’s, many conservation laws have been put in place to protect the species. This has been very successful, with rhino population numbers higher than they’re been in years. The past three years the park has had zero poaching attempts, a number that they’re very proud of.

When I first decided to go to Chitwan I hadn’t expected to see any of the exciting animal in the wild, like rhinos, tigers or elephants. I thought it would be a glorified trip to the jungle where the most exciting thing you’ll see is a monkey or deer. So to see a rhino straight away, I was stoked!

As the canoe ride went on, we floated past locals fishing on their wooden rafts. Everyone seemed to know each other and yelled out conversations as they passed. Rain started to sprinkle on us and I was annoyed that I forgot my rain coat. A rookie error in monsoon season. We passed an elephant having a bath and a snack and a few diffferent varieties of birds. After about an hour, we pulled up to the sandy bank and climbed out, ready for saunter through the jungle.

Cruising down the river

Like I said earlier, I thought this would be a quick stroll through some of the jungle before heading on to the elephant breeding centre and the tour guide wanted to make the day’s program sound more exciting. However, I was wrong and we were actually going to stalking around the jungle for about two hours! Before we started, our guide gave us the lowdown on how to act if an animal turns on you. As he went on about running in a zigzag pattern and climbing trees for rhinos and standing still and making eye contact with tigers I had a little laugh to myself. These guides sure have been taught well on how to wind up tourists! He was so sincere in his monologue I almost believed him but thought that there would be no way they’d let us out in the wild with potentially deadly animals. Now you’d think for someone who’s done some pretty wild things in her travels, such as letting off explosives in a silver mine in Bolivia and hiking the illegal Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii that I would be a little less naive about safety regulations around the world (or more, the lack of) But no, having come from Australia where everyone is wrapped up in cotton wool and treated like a baby I still believed that everything will always be sunshine and dandy and danger would never come my way. 

I was going to be proven wrong, yet again..

After the safety briefing we hiked in a single file silently through the jungle. The humidity was even worse under the canopy of the jungle and my shirt clung to my sweaty back instantly. We walked for about fifteen minutes, treading carefully on the grassy plain below us, the only sound being the crunch of twigs breaking beneath our feet. I was already bored of the walk when my guide stopped suddenly and turned his head to listen. 

‘This way… Rhino” he whispered, indicating that we follow him behind a huge shrubby bush. As he pushed the bush away there was a small lagoon filled with lilyponds a few metres away. At first I couldn’t tell what he was pointing to but then I saw the dark grey blob amongst the bright green reeds. A rhino was bathing just 10 or so metres from us! Completely oblivious to his audience, the rhino looked so content as he wallowed in the reedy water. One of the guys inched closer and trod on some broken branches. The rhino turned his head towards us and looked us directly in the eye. We stood still waiting to see what would happen but the rhino just turned back around and continued his bath. He wasnt camera shy. We watched for a little longer before moving on deeper into the jungle.

What chu lookin’ at???
Nothing to see here folks…

Excited that this dull jungle walk was more than what I was expecting, I picked up my pace and kept my eyes peeled for anymore animals. Another 10 minutes passed with nothing and then we spotted some monkeys and deer going about their day. The deer with the excellent hearing ran off just as we got got but the monkeys weren’t afraid being so high up. We walked further and my hopes were slowly disappearing again. 

Oh deer.. they spotted us

Just as I was about to give up on expecting any more animals, our guide made a sign to be quiet and follow him. We tiptoed behind him and he pointed out a muddy water hole to our left. We walked past the waterhole to the hide behind a couple of trees. Just 20 metres away was a mother rhino and her baby having a bath in the muddy water. The baby rhino was quite possibly the cutest and ugliest thing I’d ever seen! We watched for a few minutes before trying to edge closer for a better look. As the branches crunched underneath our feet, the overprotective mother looked our way with her little ears pricked in attention. We halted abruptly and waited for our guides next move. Paused a moment, I got the chance to take a quick photo before the mother rhino turned towards us and started moving. 

Right before she started to run towards us

“Okay, go, GO!’ Our guide said and he took off – there was no protecting hotel guests here! We followed hastily, trying to run in a zigzag and not lose our guide. I didn’t dare look behind me but kept an eye out for any trees that might be climb-able. I wondered if my travel insurance would cover being trampled by a rhino. Even though it was only a handful of seconds, it felt like we were running for an eternity. Finally our guide launched into some bushes and waved us to get behind him. We squatted, panting for breath hoping that the rhino had been thrown off course. Thankfully we’d made so much noise running like idiots through the jungle that she was too startled to chase and ran off in a different direction. We stayed squatting for a minute to catch our breath.

“She gone, we are safe” our guide said. The three of us looked back at him bewildered. What happened to the mundane jungle walk!? We all looked at each other and burst into nervous laughter, talk about dodging a big, grey leathery bullet! Continuing on, I kept very close to our guide as we made a quick exit out of the jungle. That was enough cardio for the morning! We reached the edge of the dense jungle and walked down the beaten 4WD path until we reached the elephant breeding centre, sweaty and muddy. So much for an easy jungle walk!

J. X

Drievliet – The Dutch Disneyland

With some crazy luck I managed to visit two theme parks in two weeks! Considering it had been about three years since my last theme park visit, I was stoked at the chances of this happening.

I wrote about Disneyland a week or two ago and now I bring you the Dutch version (sort of) and I have to say, the Dutch can theme park pretty darn well. The thing I realised about theme parks as an adult is that you have to approach them with a young heart. It makes the experience so much more fun and gives your inner child a chance to run free again.

Drievliet is located just outside of the Hague and easily accessible by tram or bus. Of course though, as I was with my youngest kidlet, we were spoiled and my host dad dropped us off. What first started as a tea garden, Drievliet has morphed into one of the most popular theme parks in the Netherlands.

Drievliet - the Dutch Disneyland
 Drievliet – the Dutch Disneyland

Spending the day at Drievliet with my host girl M was a stack of fun. She is 11 and I admit, I probably acted 11. But we raced around the park, going on the roller coasters at least five times each, stuffing ourselves with suikerspin (fairy floss) and taking silly photos. It was my last week with M and I was grateful to spend this time with her, this little girl has warmed my heart and I’m going to miss her and her goofy ways.

Teacups - in Delftware blue of course!
Teacups – in Delftware blue of course!


Smiles on top of the luchtballoon rad
Selfies on top of the luchtballoon rad
Look at that face! Thats the one that convinced me I should buy the suikerspin
Look at that face! Thats the one that convinced me I should buy the suikerspin

Before we knew it, we’d been on the fastest roller coaster, the Formula X eight times and my host dad was calling to let us know he was coming to get us.

Think I enjoyed that ride :p
Think I enjoyed that ride :p

If you have a spare day in the Netherlands and are looking for something fun, head to Drievliet. It is aimed at a younger crowd, but it’s still an awesome day of fun and fast rides.

From the girl whos insides are totally flipped around and upside down.

J. x

10 Things to do in Amsterdam that is better than the Red Light District.

Amsterdam. The name that was conceived from the word Amstelredamme – which pretty much means the city’s origin was at the dam of the river Amstel – sparks many different thoughts and opinion from people worldwide. Amsterdam is renown for its casual view on drugs and sexual liberty. It’s often the party stop on a person’s Europe tour and people come and go each day, only being drawn to the racy Red Light District and then to mellow out in one of the many coffee shops. This is the sad part about Amsterdam, that it’s reputation as being the wild, party city overrides what is really beautiful about the city of canals. So here’s a few reasons why you should keep walking through the Red Light District and explore what Amsterdam really has to offer.

1. Sprawl out in the sun in Vondelpark

The largest park in Amsterdam is 45 hectares of lush greenery which is just begging to be picnicked on. Situated close to Museumplein, Vondelpark is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike, with over 10 million visitors a year. Always buzzing with activity, you will never be short of people to watch as they run, cycle or rollerblade around the park. During the warmer months, the grass is covered with people enjoying the sunny weather with a picnic and a beer. There are often free open-air concerts which draw large crowds and are a great way to see local talent. With the sun not going down until around 10pm in the summer, its the perfect place for you to escape the crazy streets of Amsterdam and relax and watch the sunset.

Tulips in Vondelpark
Tulips in Vondelpark
Vondelpark is where you can avoid being run over by a bike and enjoy a little slice of nature.
Vondelpark is where you can avoid being run over by a bike and enjoy a little slice of nature.

2. Get cultured in the Museumplein

Museumplein is so aptly named because it literally translates to Museum Square. It hosts the grand Rijksmuseum, which is home to approximately 8,000 pieces of art and paintings. This included many masterpieces by Rembrandt, such as the colossal sized and world famous ‘The Night Watch’. You will also find the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and the infamous IAMSTERDAM sign, with tourists clambering all over the larger than life letters. Once you’ve been cultured, rest your brain and plonk yourself down on the soft grass to do a spot of people watching.

The iconic IAMSTERDAM sign. Surrounded by tourists as always.
The iconic IAMSTERDAM sign. Surrounded by tourists as always.
The beautiful Rijksmuseum in Museumplein
The beautiful Rijksmuseum in Museumplein

3. Catch the ferry to the other side of Amsterdam and dig for second hand treasures at the flea market

Instead of walking out of Amsterdam Centraal towards the hustle and bustle of Dam Square, exit the train station from the other side and catch the free ferry across the IJ River to Amsterdam Noord. This industrial area is the upcoming ‘place to be’ in Amsterdam, which is is infinitely better than the Red Light District. Once a month, the IJ-Hallen flea market is held in the old NDSM ship building structures are are a hidden treasure in itself. The markets, which are the largest flea markets in Europe run from 9am until 4:30pm and have absolutely everything on offer at dirt cheap prices. It’s the place where you will find that unique treasure that you can take home and boast to all your friends about how you ‘just bought it in Amsterdam’. As well as the markets, there are several cafes and bars on this side of the IJ which are effortlessly hip. In particular Pllek, the ultra cool beachy bar and restaurant that sits on the banks of the IJ River. Made up of a warehouse and old shipping containers, Pllek attracts all the cool kids with its chilled out vibe and is a great place to enjoy the warm weather. Theres live music on Sundays as well as yoga and massages on the beach.

Dig for treasure at the IJ-Hallen flea markets.
Dig for treasure at the IJ-Hallen flea markets.

4. Ride a bike through the narrow streets

There is no better way to see the city of Amsterdam than by bike. Apart from boats, this city was built for bicycles. There are special bike lanes everywhere and with a shrill ‘brrriiingg’ of your bell, you will have people leaping out of your way as you buzz past. Bike riding is a way of life here in the Netherlands, not just a form of exercise. So for a true Dutch experience, get on yo’ bike and enjoy the city on two wheels. Just a bit of advice from an (almost) local – if you can’t ride a bike, don’t begin here. It is a similar experience to crossing the road in Asian cities, just with fancier bikes and taller people. Locals get seriously peeved by stupid tourists trying to steer their bikes around and blocking the roads. And don’t ride a bike if you’re planning on spending some time in coffee shops. Leave the smoking and riding to the locals who have perfected that talent over the years.

5. Visit the house of Anne Frank

This one is a given. You can’t go to Amsterdam without visiting this iconic place, even if you aren’t that familiar with the story of Anne Frank. Located on the Prinsengracht canal, the nondescript building would probably by bypassed except for the multitudes of people that line up outside the doors everyday to witness Anne Frank’s hiding place. A sobering but fascinating place, the Anne Frank House (or in Dutch, the Achterhuis) not only has the original secret rooms that Anne and her family hid in for more than two years, but also a museum that exhibits the life and times of Anne Frank. The Achterhuis is always busy so it’s best to time your visits either early in the morning or in the evening (From March to October it is open from (9am-9pm).

6. Enjoy a beer (or three) in Rembrandtplein

Instead of losing yourself amongst the red lights, keep on walking to Rembrandtplein, where there are bars and pubs are aplenty and the atmosphere alive. The square is, of course named after famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn, who had a house nearby. in 2006, as a part of his 400th birthday, Russian artists Mikhail Dronov and Alexander Taratynov created a bronze-cast representation of his most famous painting, ‘The Night Watch’. Rembrandtplein is a hive of social activity with tourists and residents filling up the bars and restaurants that surround the square. A short walk away is Leidesplein, another popular drinking area. Both are exponentially better than the trashy, touristy Red Light District.

Rembrandtplein and the 3D bronze statues of Rembrandt's most famous painting 'The Night Watch'
Rembrandtplein and the 3D bronze statues of Rembrandt’s most famous painting ‘The Night Watch’

8. See the narrowest house in Amsterdam

Just when you thought the houses of Amsterdam couldn’t get any narrower, there is one that takes the cake (or clearly not enough cake) in being the skinniest of them all. Situated at Oude Hoogstraat 22, this building which would make supermodels envious, is a mere two metres wide and 6 metres deep. There is also Amsterdam’s narrowest street, whose width is no more than 100cm. Known as  Trompettersteeg, you will have to traipse through the Red Light District for this one as it’s located right in the middle. Either side of this narrow street is filled with prostitutes posing through red-lit windows. A popular stop for city tours, this teeny tiny street is alway jam-packed with either people wanting photos of Amsterdams narrowest street or a glimpse at the ladies behind the windows. Or both.

The tiny street of Trompettersteeg, lined with red light ladies.  Photo from
The tiny street of Trompettersteeg, lined with red light ladies.
Photo from

9. Heineken Experience

This one only just makes the cut because essentially it is just a big tourist trap. However, despite this, it’s a pretty bloody fun tourist trap. 18 euros will set you back to enter the old brewery and inside you will find plenty of information and history on the brand. You go behind the scenes in the process of making a beer, as well as ‘becoming a beer’ on the 4D adventure which is every bit as cheesy and fun as it sounds. You get free samples of the cold brew and there are plenty of interactive games you can play. The best part is the free boat ride through the canals of Amsterdam that takes you to their flagship store just behind Rembrandtplein. It’s the best way to see the city. Just be wary of the gift shop, those souvenirs might look a whoooole lot more appealing after several beers!

Heineken Experience - see the old brewery as it once was.
Heineken Experience – see the old brewery as it once was.
"There is always something happening around a beer" Memorabilia found inside the Heineken Experience
“There is always something happening around a beer” Memorabilia found inside the Heineken Experience
Free boat ride through the canals to the flagship store.
Free boat ride through the canals to the flagship store.

10. Get out of Amsterdam

Unfortunately, most people only spend a few days in Amsterdam before moving onto other countries. Having lived in the Netherlands for almost a year now, I can only emphasise how much more there is to see. Beautiful old cities such as Maastricht and Utretch are full of history and culture. The fast paced industrial city of Rotterdam is way ahead of the rest of the class. With their party hard attitude and flair for new and innovative architecture, it’s not hard to understand why it’s one of the New York Times ‘Must See Cities’ for 2014. The political city of The Hague is where all the big shots come to talk world affairs, but is also home to the popular Scheveningen Beach if politics don’t take your fancy. During the spring, the world famous Keukenhof comes alive and the national flower of tulips pop up everywhere, which have to be seen to be believed. There is also the UNESCO site, the Kinderdijk, where you will find 19 windmills furiously spinning year round and the gorgeous town of Gouda, where cheese is the official language. The best part about getting out of Amsterdam? The country of the Netherlands is so small you can drive from one end of the country to the other in a matter of hours.

The boardwalk at Scheveningen Beach - less than an hour from Amsterdam
The boardwalk at Scheveningen Beach – less than an hour from Amsterdam
UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Kinderdijk. As Dutch as it comes
UNESCO World Heritage Site – The Kinderdijk. As Dutch as it comes
The Cube Houses in Rotterdam. Just one example of the city's innovative architecture.
The Cube Houses in Rotterdam. Just one example of the city’s innovative architecture.

So instead of making Amsterdam your marijuana-smoking-drink-all-you-can-and-oogle-at-the-prostitues stop on your Euro trip, get out and about and experience the city from a locals point of view. You (your liver, lung and dignity) will be thankful for it.

A Dutch Easter – Deel Twee (Part Two)

We arrived into Amsterdam after a few minor mishaps with finding a train and found where we were staying for the next two days. I had booked an apartment through AirBnb which was my first time using the website. Definitely can recommend AirBnb for finding accommodation – but more on that in a later post. The apartment overlooked Vondelpark – Amsterdam’s largest city park, in a funky little neighbourhood. We made ourselves at home (read: sprawled out on the couches exhausted from a day of playing tourist) before having a walk through Vondelpark as the sun went down. The 120 acres that make up Vondelpark were opened in 1865 and has about 10 million visitors annually. This is a beautiful park, with lush greenery and flora, including the infamous tulips which are scattered in colourful bunches around the park. We wandered until it became dark and we went in search of dinner. Much like the previous night, we wandered around indecisive of what to eat before coming back to the Italian restaurant practically across the street from our place, where we gorged ourselves on authentically Italian wood-fired pizza and watched Harry Potter until we fell asleep.

The next morning I woke early, eager to see as much as I can of Amsterdam. While its my fifth visit to the capital city, I still have lots to see, however B was keen for a sleep in so I went hunting and gathering for food and coffee which eventually lured him into starting the day. We walked through Vondelpark to the Museumplein where we were greeted by the glorious Rijksmuseum which was buzzing with people. We walked through to the I Amsterdam sign and took the token touristy photos with the sign. It was my third time seeing the sign but I still get ridiculously excited over it. The sun was starting to come out from behind the clouds and when the wind persisted for awhile, the weather was beautiful. Spring has definitely sprung!

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Our next stop was the Heineken Experience. At first, I wasn’t so keen on going – it’s definitely a big tourist trap and I don’t even like beer! But I have to admit, the Dutch (or at least, the Heineken marketing team) has done a fantastic job creating and promoting the Heineken Experience, even so much that a total anti-beer drinker like myself was impressed. Opened in 1991, the Heineken Experience offers four floors of multimedia exhibits, historical brewing artifacts and a tasting bar. There is also a fun 4D adventure that transforms you into a beer and takes you on a journey of how a Heineken beer is created. It is incredibly touristy and ultimately is one big marketing ploy for Heineken, however putting that aside it was a bunch of fun and we also got a few free beers as well as a couple of goodies from the gift store. I recommend getting a Heineken pint glass engraved, the lady does it on the spot and she is incredibly talented! 

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We discovered that you could get a free boat ride to their brand store where you can pick up a freebie, so jumping at the opportunity for free stuff we boarded the bright green Heineken boat and enjoyed the leisurely float down the Singel canal passing the famous flower markets (Bloemenmarkt) and the wonderfully Dutch canal houses wonkily lined up next to each other. We even had a tour guide for the half hour boat ride who told us many funny facts about Amsterdam and their canals. Apparently on average, a car a day falls into the canal and approximately 10,000-12,000 bikes are retrieved each year from the canals. A less funny fact is that around 11-12 people die each year from falling into the canals. According to our tour guide, almost two-thirds of them are drunk men relieving themselves into the canal. I guess it’s an interesting way to go. We reached the brand store but decided to come back later when to crowds dropped a bit so we searched for a bathroom and some food before picking up our freebies. One large patat frites (hot chips) with mayonnaise and satay sauce and a toilet break and we were good to keep continuing our Amsterdam day.

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We walked through the Bloemenmarkt, checking out the vast range of flowers on sale and sampling some cheese at the Old Amsterdam Cheese shop. Walking to Dam Square was a mission with the thousands of people milling around, the Easter Long Weekend sure was popular here! As we got closer we discovered there was a mini-carnival happening in the Square, complete with a Ferris Wheel, Haunted House and those bungee type rides that fling you hundreds of metres into the air, potentially creating a disaster for anybody with a weak stomach. We pushed our way through de Dam and towards the notorious red light district where I stopped for coffee at Metropolitan Cafe while B had a sneaky look around the red light area. Metropolitan Cafe is one place I will return and recommend a visit to anybody. They have a wide range of delicious gelato and delectable treats which are terrible for you, but being Easter I indulged in a chocolate brownie and it was so worth it! B returned from the depths of the drunk/high/pervert-filled area known as the Red Light District and we walked up to Centraal Station to catch the tram to our apartment so we could grab some things for a picnic in Vondelpark for dinner. A quick stop at Albert Heijn for some wine, cheese and Stroopwafels and we headed down to the park to watch the sun go down. It was a little chilly but that didn’t stop people from laying out on the grass enjoying the beginnings of Spring. We picnicked until it became dark and then retreated to our apartment for an early night, totally buggered from a big day wandering around.

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Easter Sunday was started leisurely by pancakes made by yours truly and a Skype call with half my family. We yabbered for an hour or so before B and I had to get a move on to Den Haag. The train ride was quick and very pretty as we passed the masses of tulip fields near Leiden. Our next place for the night was also an AirBnb discovery and this one seriously did not disappoint. 39 floors up on The Hague’s highest building, we had scored a luxury apartment for the bargain price of 70 euros. We reached our room and was taken aback by the view of the city and the fact that we had this huge apartment all to ourselves. Our earlier ambitions of seeing the Keukenhof and Madurodam where crushed as we plonked down on the couches and watched the city from above, too lazy to do anything. Eventually we got ourselves organised and caught the tram to my neighbourhood Scheveningen where we walked along the boardwalk and enjoyed a glass of wine on one of the couches at beach club Bora Bora. We caught the tram back to the centre of the city and walked around finding something for dinner. Being Easter Sunday though, most places were shut so we settled for a pub meal at the English pub Fiddler’s. After scoffing down our dinner we headed back to the apartment to catch the sunset over the city. It was slightly cloudy but it was still amazing to watch from so high up. I could definitely get used to living like this!

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The following morning B had an early flight so we said our goodbyes for another month, where we would be meeting again in Italy and I grabbed a coffee and a banana before heading back to the apartment to enjoy the luxury for a couple of hours before begrudgingly checking out and catching the tram back to normality at my house in Scheveningen.

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My first Easter abroad was a great one. While it didn’t really feel like Easter it was so nice to spend it showing B around my part of the country. I was feeling the holiday blues as I unpacked my bags but with Kings Day coming up on Saturday and my trip to Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia starting on Sunday I could hardly stay depressed. Fingers crossed the next four days go quickly!


From the girl who thought a tram was a bus, and was reminded so kindly all weekend about it.

J. x

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

The Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands that is world famous for the windmills. They are the largest concentration of old windmills in Holland. There are 19 windmills in total and most are still in use. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Kinderdijk is Dutch for ‘Children’s dike’ and legend has it that it was named this after the Grote Hollandse Waard flood in 1421. Apparently after the storm finished, someone went to the area to see if anything could be saved. What they found in the water was a wooden cradle floating with a cat jumping back and forth on it to keep it balanced and afloat. As they got closer they discovered there was a baby sleeping soundly inside it. This folktale had been published as ‘The Cat and the Cradle.’ This however, has nothing to do with the famous song originally by Harry Chapin released in 1974.

One of the windmills is a museum called the Museummolen and there is also a visitor centre onsite with lots of information. You can hire a bike to ride around the windmills or catch a boat down the canals. Word of advice, go in the summer months, it’s bloody windy there and while the dark storm clouds are good for dramatic photos, it’s not so enjoyable. However Dutch weather is notoriously unpredictable so if you get good weather you are very lucky!

The Kinderdijk is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Netherlands and is definitely well worth the visit. I mean, where else in the world will you see 19 windmills in one small area!?

J. x



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Casual Sunday Bike Ride.

Pulling up at my house in Scheveningen, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to get off a bike. I had spent the day cycling approximately 45 kilometres with two friends IB and A, for a casual Sunday bike ride. What was meant for a quick trip to the town of Wassenaar – about 8 kilometres away, turned into an epic marathon on two wheels. Though I would happily do it again in a second. It was a day full of gezellig-ness and fun (and sore butts)

We met up at the Peace Palace at around 10am, where the majestic Palace was already crowded with tourists and stopped at ‘De Oude Tol’, a cafe with the best view of the Peace Palace and cheap, strong coffee. We set off just before 11am and decided to go via the sand dunes to Waasenaar. The sand dune area between The Hague and Wassenar is known as Meijendel and is one of the most important coastlines in the Netherlands. It is vital for the conservation of wildlife, providing drinking water and recreation. Over one million visitors come to Meijendel each year. It has excellent cycling paths and hiking tracks to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The cycle path is relatively easy – like the entirety of the Netherlands it is mostly flat. Though a slight raise in the road as you go over the dunes can feel like a mountain when you are used to flat ground! Being a Sunday, there were plenty of people around and lots of professional looking cyclists speeding past us three girls – making us feel like we were going the wrong way in the Tour De France.

We reached the turn-off for Wassenaar but tour guide A had spotted some tulip fields on her map so we continued past the turn-off in the direction of Katwijk. The fields we found were nothing like the huge fields last weekend at the Keukenhof but the rows of daffodils were the perfect opportunity for an impromptu photo-shoot. I thought I would be flowered out from last weekends activities but once again my inner flora nerd made an appearance as I gushed over the beautiful flowers.

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We continued on under A’s trusty guidance and with the encouragement from a group of passing cyclists (“Ahh lekker meisjes!“) until we reached the beachside town of Katwijk. Much like our town of Scheveningen, Katwijk had a relaxed vibe and there was a salty scent to the air. We parked our fiets and wandered down to the sand where we had a coffee stop at one of the cafes on the small boulevard. The ocean wasn’t particularly pretty today and despite the sun being out it was still chilly, making this Aussie girl pine for her glorious Australian beaches. You just can’t beat ’em!

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After our caffeine fix we jumped back on our trusty bikes and headed off in the direction of Leiden, hopefully finding a turn-off before there that will take us back to Wassenaar. A slight detour through some farming area we eventually were on the right way to our destination. Cycling along, it was hard not to smile at the lush, green paddocks filled with fat cows and sheep and the canals that paralleled with the road. The warm change in the weather had encouraged the trees to sprout their leaves early and wild flowers were running rampant wherever there was grass. This, plus the mix of endorphins from cycling made the burn in my quads bearable as we cycled closer to Wassenaar.

As we biked into Wassenaar, the place was like a ghost town. Much like every other town in Holland, locals seemed to disappear on Sundays, though we had now found out where they all went – cycling in Meijendel! Despite Wassenaar being a relatively small town, it is one of the most well known in the Netherlands due to its conspicuous wealth. It is the official residence of King Willem-Alexander and his family and home to several ambassadorial residencies including Canada and South Korea. It has a reputation of being a ‘posh’ area, however it was hard to tell as there seemed to be nobody around the town. The main shopping area was desolate apart from a couple of cafes serving a few families who were basking in the sunshine. We visited the ‘Windlust’ which is the windmill in the town that was built in 1668. Despite years of unuse, the windmill has started milling again regularly and is open on Saturday afternoons for visitors.

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A late lunch at ‘Bagel Alley’, which was prompt and delicious was had before discovering Wassenaar’s greatest attraction – ‘Luciano Ijssalon’. Basically an ice-cream shop, Luciano was the mecca of all things dairy and frozen in Wassenaar. It appeared to be a favourite amongst ‘Wassenaarders’ (locals), as there was a line out the door. We were expecting the prices to be similar to the reputation of the town but were pleasantly surprised (OK, ecstatic) to learn it was very cheap – 2.90€ for three scoops! We umm-ed and ahh-ed for a bit before making our final choice. I went for brownie, Speculoos and pistachio and was very happy with my choice until I learnt they had Bounty. Not to worry though, we vowed to return here, the ice-cream was sublime. We demolished our ice-creams and enjoyed the sunshine for awhile before embarking home which was a relatively short ride compared to the distance we had covered earlier today.

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I arrived home, glad to be off my fiets – the ‘Captain’ – but content with such an active and fun Sunday. It was a lovely way to end my weekend and I will definitely be sleeping well tonight!


From the girl who probably will be crawling up the stairs tomorrow.

J. x

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Tulips + Speculoos + Wine = Gezellig weekend

After two relatively quiet weekends I was ecstatic to have my three buddies C, K and P visit me in my little old city of Den Haag. It was probably the shortest turn around since we had last seen each other but it didn’t make our time together any less special and like every other time we’ve been together – I didn’t stop laughing the entire time they were here.

C arrived into Den Haag around 10:30pm. After some initial confusion of being at the wrong station we finally found each other and promptly headed to the Grote Markt for a sneaky drink. We were joined by some of my au pair friends and as everyone got acquainted with C it made me appreciate the simplicity of introducing a new person into an already well-oiled group. Having the job of au pair as a common theme, conversation flowed easily and hilarious stories were shared as we compared our day to day lives. Several drinks later, midnight struck and C and I decided it was time to head home. We had planned a big day tomorrow and needed shut-eye though this wasn’t before devouring some honey ribs leftover from dinner and watching a few episodes of ‘The Inbetweeners’.

The next morning we woke and got ready for the day ahead. C was unaware of K and P were coming to town and despite my lack of being sneaky, so far I had managed to not blurt it out. We met with my friend IB and headed into the centre to “meet somebody”. My level of stealthiness doesn’t even make the radar, so I’m pretty sure C had worked out what was going on but pretended to be oblivious, making the surprise extra special. The five of us made a neat little group and we were ready for the days adventure – visiting the worlds largest flower gardens, the Keukenhof. Before we made the voyage to the town of Lisse, where the Keukenhof is situated, we grabbed some picnic supplies from the Albert Heijn and made the unanimous vote that lunchtime was a perfectly acceptable time to start drinking, therefore going all out for the occasion and buying some Australian made Jacob’s Creek wine. A train and a bus ride later we were at the gates of the Keukenhof, ready to get our flower power on.

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The Keukenhof has a rich history dating back to the 15th century where it was a part of the estate of Jacoba van Beieren. The aptly named Keukenhof – which is Dutch for ‘kitchen courtyard’ was source of herbs for the castle. In 1857, the castle gardens were re-designed by landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher. The English landscape style still remains the basis of the Keukenhof to this day. I have never been much of a garden enthusiast – despite all my grandmas efforts – but the elaborate and colourful gardens featuring approximately 7 million bulbs captured my attention and my previously benign gardening genes started to fire up. We hadn’t walked twenty metres into the park and I was already overwhelmed by not only the vast array of flora on display, but the detailed upkeep of the place – not a weed or tulip out of place!

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Before we delved further into the park, our grumbling stomachs indicated their need for food so we found a spare bit of grass to lay out our picnic. Cheeses, bread, wine, carrots, hummus and deli meats made up of savoury portion of the picnic but the best part was our dessert of pancakes, strawberries, bananas and Speculoos. A pancake burrito filled with the crunchy, gingerbread spread of Speculoos, topped with sliced strawberries and bananas were the ultimate treat and gave us a serious sugar rush to explore the garden. We consulted the map but kept getting distracted by the tulips, daisies, daffodils and various other flowers whose vivid colours were amplified by the brightness of the sun. The Keukenhof has different themes each year and this years theme of ‘Holland’ was distinctively Dutch. This theme accentuates the most famous export of the Netherlands – the tulip. The highlight of this years theme was the 60,000 flower bulb mosaic displaying an Amsterdam canal scene, symbolising the tulip mania during the Golden Age.

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We worked on our photography skills – each of us trying to outdo each other with the most ‘arty’ photo. And took typically touristy photos amongst the bulbs. Before we knew it, it was reaching late afternoon and our flower power was starting to wear thin. We laid in the grass for awhile, finishing the wine and relaxing in the sun and then decided it was time to head home for a rest before getting a dose of Den Haag nightlife.

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K and P headed back to their little apartment they rented for the night and C, IB and me headed back to home in Scheveningen, . We chilled out for an hour or so before getting ready to go back into the centre of the city for some drinks. We met up with K and P in their apartment and were joined by some of my au pair buddies, N and E where we listened to my ‘white girl thug’ music and played drinking games until we were a bit too silly to function. The night only escalated from there and was a blur of more drinks, meeting up with more friends, dancing on bars and chowing down on frites with lekker garlic sauce before passing out in K and P’s apartment.

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We woke the next morning after a short four hour sleep with slightly sore heads and cleaned up the apartment in time for 10am checkout. Breakfast was at the hipster cafe, Hometown and then we caught the tram back to my abode, ready to sloth it out for several hours. Even though our Sunday was totally unproductive, it was so nice to be around my pals and just relax. K and P headed off to Amsterdam in the late afternoon and C and I kept on slothing until the following morning – only stopping to plan a Paris trip in June, and pick up more carrots and hummus.

Like always, I was sad to see my friends off and fall back into daily au pair routine. Though April is looking particularly busy and exciting so I am eager for the days to go faster so more fun could be had.

From the girl who single-handlely started a Speculoos revolution amongst my Aussie/American pals.

J. x

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