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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coming to the close of my seventh month in the Land of Dutch, I have noticed that I have picked up a few Dutch behaviours which I’m not sure whether I am ashamed or proud of. Regardless of how I feel about it, the truth is, I do all of the below. Regularly.
Saying ‘Ja’ instead of ‘Yes’ when asked a question. This also includes saying ‘Dankje’ instead of ‘Thanks’ and ‘Lekker’ when something is yummy or nice.
Riding your bike everywhere. And forgetting what its like to be in a car.
Being capable of riding a bike one-handed, whilst holding an umbrella/shopping bag/texting on your phone whilst dodging traffic and pedestrians – all while carrying a friend/child on the back
Thinking you own the road as a cyclist, demanding everyone stop for you and get out of your way, including cars and trams.
Also thinking this as a pedestrian.
Pronouncing your ‘e’s like an ‘a’, your ‘i’s like an ‘e’ and your ‘a’s like an ‘ah’.
Thinking bread is acceptable to eat at every meal time
And you can put whatever you please on your bread without judgement – chocolate sprinkles included.
You decide you only need an umbrella if theres a torrential downpour. Any other rain is simply not worth it.
You think its perfectly fine to use a postcard as a birthday card, especially the free ones you find in restaurants.
Stroopwafels and Speculoos are staple foods.
You will never eat hot chips with tomato sauce again. Its all about frites with mayonnaise and satay sauce. Life changing.
Albert Heijn is the answer to any question regarding food. Albert knows best.
You don’t hesitate to say what you really think. The more blunt you are, the more Dutch you’ve become
You’re content with leaving the curtains open, showing the world your private space. I mean hey, they can admire all your cool stuff as they walk past.
You know that even though the sun is out, its still cold as hell and blowing a gale
But you should take advantage of any moment of sun because it could be raining/snowing the next day
And finally, my favourite –
You’ve at last nailed that weird, throaty noise you have to make when saying anything with the letter ‘g’ in it. And pity others when they can’t do it.
From the faux Dutchie who can’t really ride a bike and doesn’t really eat bread. But would eat lekker Stroopwafels all day, everyday.