Friday, May 3, 2013

The Netherlands

Ventured to the land of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell a few weeks ago (okay more than a few weeks ago...) to see what all the fuss was about. I first traveled to Utrecht, a small university town that I would describe as Lund with canals. The first thing that struck me in the Netherlands was how easy it was to get around. Their transit signs were basically written in a "you'd have to be a moron not to understand me" kind of way which was a welcome change from the Italian "haha you can't understand me, you moron" manner.

My day in Utrecht was spent wandering the cobbled streets, climbing the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and purchasing/eating copious amounts of cheese from the market. Then took a quick train over to Den Haag and Scheveningen (not pronounced ANYTHING like it looks) which is a beautiful town right on the coast. 

As it was Easter Monday most everything was closed in Den Haag itself but the beach was hoppin' (and COLD) and I enjoyed walking along the boardwalk with an Easter brunch for one by the water. 

Then it was off to Amsterdam AKA my favourite place that I have been in Europe and possibly the world. I knew that I loved it the second I exited the train station and was greeted with the harbour and glorious sun. I really can't put my finger on what exactly I loved so much about the city but the whole energy and life of the city was just electric (SEWWW CLICHE but so true.)

Took a three hour bike tour (cue Gilligan's Island) of the city on the first day and minus a small bike accident incident (not involving me) it was a great way to get the lay of the land. As in any other trip (and day in my life) the main event was of course the food. I have come to the conclusion that the Dutch are of the philosophy "deep fry it and claim it as our own" which I can absolutely get on board with. Highlights included stroopwafels (wafer cookies with a caramel-like syrup in the middle), Patat met (fries with mayonnaise), Poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes) and cheese.

Spent a day at the Keukenhof flower gardens that were less "flower gardens" per se and more "empty flower beds because it's still effing cold out." However, the grounds were still beautiful and they had some really nice indoor tulip displays and exhibits that kept me entertained for a few hours. Still worth the trip (about an hour from Amsterdam) so I can't even imagine what it would look like in the height
of bloom. 

Queued up for the Anne Frank house (notorious for massive waits) and was pleasantly surprised when it only took about 25 minutes to get in plus added bonus of free Wifi while waiting in line. Seriously I would line up just to use the Wifi... This was another highlight of the trip (the house not the Wifi) in that it was fascinating to see something in person that I've only read about in books. 

Absolutely cannot wait to go back to this amazing city and see what else it has to offer as I know I only barely scratched the air above the surface.  


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