Navigating the Netherlands

Being busy is great. Especially when you are busy doing fun stuff. Unfortunately, being busy also means that there is no time left for writing about all the fun stuff you have done and the awesome things you have seen. In short, we know we still owe you a story on all of our adventures in the Netherlands.

Alright folks… Ready?
Prepare thyself… Here it goes.

April
April 27 is the Dutch King’s Day. A relatively new holiday, since we have only crowned our King two years ago, after 33 years of being ruled by Queen Beatrix. What has not changed, however, is that all throughout the country the festivities already start the night before. Basically, in the Netherlands that means live music and beer. Lots of it.
So as any monarchy respecting citizen would do – read: party lover – we went out for drinks at Café De Brouwer in Deurne. As it turned out, most of the people I know in Deurne had had that exact same plan. The result? A really fun night of beer tasting and catching up. Or… getting to know everyone, in Will’s case.

Koningsnacht: King's Night

Koningsnacht: King’s Night

Koningsdag: King's Day

Koningsdag: King’s Day in the Netherlands

The next day, on the actual King’s Day, we went to the city of Eindhoven, where we visited a good old Dutch “rommelmarkt”, listened to festival DJ music at Electric Orange, and enjoyed some tasty pizza to conclude this successful day. And did I mention that our world turns completely orange – with the occasional red, white, and blue – this day?

Orange is our colour!

Orange is our colour!

The next couple of days we visited some of my friends who have recently (or not so recently anymore…) become a mom, toured around Deurne, ate the most delicious food at the Greek restaurant (!!), and went to the Overloon War Museum. Besides an impressive amount of information on the Second World War, the exhibition also included an amazing collection of war vehicles. Needless to say, we literally spent all day there.

Weekend Trip 1: May 2-3

Midday in Delft. Strolling around the canals, seeing City Hall and the churches, enjoying enormous warm “stroopwafels” at the outdoor market, and sitting down at Vermeer’s viewpoint for his painting View of Delft.
Afternoon and dinner in Sassenheim with Marly’s friend Perine. Another “new” mom, even though her daughter is already running around and loudly uttering her first words. Indeed, I am never around… We walked into red tulip fields for a typically Dutch photo shoot. :D

Delft Outdoor Antique Market

Delft Outdoor Antique Market

Tulip fields!

Tulip fields! – And finally meeting my friend’s almost 1.5 year old “baby”… *shame*

Our evening was spent in Leiden, watching the sunset over the canals and meandering through the historic walk, learning about the Pilgrims of Leiden. Then we went for a drink in what happened to be an Australian bar. (Is that a sign?)
Late at night we arrived in Amsterdam, where we could stay the night with another friend of mine.

Breakfast was served early the next day, as we had to catch the train to Utrecht. From there we took a bus along the Lek River to reach the UNESCO World Heritage windmill complex at Kinderdijk and enjoyed the first proper Dutch weather. Rain, that is. Rain, drizzle, wind, and more drizzle. Could not have been any more perfect.

Kinderdijk: Largest Collection of Dutch Windmills

Kinderdijk: Largest Collection of Dutch Windmills. Oh, just look at that beautiful blue sky! ;-)

Late afternoon we got to Dordrecht and traveled yet another historic walk. All of a sudden, my nose got carried away, and I found a Dutch person making the delicious Argentinian Choripan sandwiches! It was amazing. A cone of fries with mayonnaise to top off this adventure, and we were ready to head back to Deurne.

Old harbor in Dordrecht

Old harbor in Dordrecht

Day trip to the Deep South
First to the idyllic hilly town of Valkenburg. Ascended the “Cauberg”, followed another history walk, saw Valkenburg Castle, and – an absolute must-do in Limburg! – sampled some pies a.k.a. Limburgse Vlaai at a main street cafe.

View of Valkenburg Castle from the Cauberg

View of Valkenburg Castle from the Cauberg

Limburgse vlaai!

Limburgse vlaai… An absolute must-eat in the Southern province of Limburg!!

During our afternoon in Maastricht we learned about the old city’s Roman influences, saw the Helpoort (Gate of Hell), the St. Servaas Basiliek and the red church St. Jan, after which we decided it was time for a beer. We met up with my cousin, and accompanied our drinks with some overly yummy “bitterballen”.

13th Century Helpoort

13th Century Helpoort and part of the Old City Wall

Beer with Bitterballen

Beer with “Bitterballen”: greatest bar food in the Netherlands!

Weekend Trip 2: May 8-10
Family drive up to The Hague where we first went to the miniature city of Madurodam. Read up on all the famous Dutch buildings and made notes on what we still needed to see. Then off to Scheveningen for a little beach and boardwalk fun, with some New York cheesecake to boot. Or, Dutch apple pie, as is the tradition. ;)
A quick drive by the government buildings, and then we were dropped off in Rotterdam. We got a spectacular night tour of the city from one of my friends, then met up with some other University buddies and had a number of drinks. Let’s say the beer tasted good and leave it at that. :) The guys invited Will to the local snack of choice, and most definitely the unhealthiest invention ever: de Kapsalon.

Madurodam: The Netherlands in Miniature!

Madurodam: The Netherlands in Miniature!

Rotterdam by Night

Rotterdam by Night: View of “Het Witte Huis” (The White House) – Art Nouveau style building from 1889

The next day we got a daytime tour of the city, and a water taxi across the harbor to see a special exhibit on the bombing of Rotterdam in WWII. We then crossed the Erasmus Bridge, walked back to the station, and hopped on the train to Nijmegen. It was really nice to see those friends again, whom I met in Nicaragua, and who have managed to already have two children in my years of absence from the Netherlands! ;)

Rotterdam Harbor: Erasmus Bride & New York Hotel

Rotterdam Harbor: View of Erasmus Bride & New York Hotel

After a good night’s sleep, we received a lovely Mother’s Day breakfast at my friends’ house. And then she sent us on our way through Nijmegen with a map and some snacks for the road! Oh those mothers, they think of everything… :D In the city center of Nijmegen we saw the old City Hall, the ancient Roman architecture, and the bridge from Operation Market Garden. Right after that, the history tour continued to Arnhem, of even greater Operation Market Garden fame. We took photos on the famous ‘bridge too far’, and saw parts of the medieval city.

Nijmegen City Square:

Nijmegen City Square: “Grote Markt”

A Bridge Too Far

A Bridge Too Far: The now famous John Frost Bridge that the allies could not reach in time to liberate the whole of the Netherlands in September, 1944

Day trip to Utrecht & Den Bosch
In Utrecht, we walked through Wilhelmina Park to see the De Stijl UNESCO World Heritage Rietveld Schröder House. More walking through the historic city center, where we saw the massive cathedral and the beautiful canals.

As soon as we made it to Den Bosch, first things first: we headed to a place where we could enjoy the real “Bossche Bollen”. A massive flakey dough ball, filled with whipped cream, and topped with chocolate. Simply the BEST.

With our stomachs all happy, we found new energy to keep exploring. First, the St. Jan’s Cathedral, we took a peek at the Hieronymus Bosch museum, and finally took a canal / sewer boat ride around and under the historic city on the Binnendieze. An amazing experience to be floating underneath main squares, landmarks and buildings!

Den Bosch: Boat Tour on the Binnendieze

Den Bosch: Boat Tour on the Binnendieze

Bossche Bollen!!

Bossche Bollen!!

Last Days
Although we no longer traveled during our last week in the Netherlands, days were still plenty of busy. We celebrated my mom’s birthday, giving Will a sense of what having a huge family feels like. A henhouse does not even begin to compare… ;)
A really fun party though, as the lovely weather allowed us to hang out in the back yard.

What else? Well, besides spending a couple of days thinking about, planning, deciding what to take on the trip, repairing, and finally packing the backpack, I tried to hang out with my friends from Deurne one last time. Also, Will and I got the necessary vaccinations for traveling Asia, and we went on one last excursion on top of the vaulted ceilings of the Deurne church, something neither of us had ever seen before. Amazing that they could already build these type of complex structures back in the day!

Meeting for drinks...

Meeting for drinks…

... and pastries!

… and pastries!

Sunday May 24, it was time to say our final goodbyes. One last breakfast together, a big hug for my mommy, and off on the train we went!

Bye bye Netherlands, hello Bangkok! :D

Catching the Train to Schiphol

Catching the Train to Schiphol: Bye Bye Netherlands, Hellooo Bangkok! :D

One Response to “Navigating the Netherlands

  • Dat heb je allemaal mooi omschreven. Heel veel plezier samen ik blijf je volgen kus voor jouw en will

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