I just recently had a wonderful opportunity to go back to one of my favorite places in the world. I was thrilled when I found out my brother was going to marry a Dutch girl in Holland and that I would “have to” travel (oh darn) to Holland. Yes, February/March isn’t the most beautiful time of year to go but I would take whatever I could get!! I hadn’t been to Europe since 2000 when I went to France with my French class in college. This was my 3rd time going to Holland. The first being when I was only 13 years old and it was in the summer. I LOVED it then too but had only gone to Amsterdam. I fell in love with the canals, the flowers and the people. My second trip was when I was 21 and was with my father on a business trip, he took me to get over my ex and to refocus my mind. The guy was totally wrong for me and was totally leading me on the whole time so Dad stepped in, so glad he did! I treated him horribly though on that trip but did so much more in Holland that time. I went to Utrecht and Amsterdam that visit and got around by myself in both cities while he attended business meetings. That was in the Fall that time. I also got to drive on the Auto Bahn and drive into Germany and Belgium. My poor mom wanted to go but felt like I needed to get away so she gave up a great trip for me. Love my parents! Now back to the reason for this post … this last trip.
This was a completely different trip in that I was staying with friends and family of my future Sister in Law. It was a completely different experience because of that. I fell in love even more because we stayed with Dutch people. You get a real feel for how they live. I love the simplicity of everything over there, there is no excess, the food is simple but fresh, (side note: they have the BEST chocolate sprinkles in the world that they put on bread, brought some back!)they bike everywhere and everyone is in shape because of it, they focus on relationships and not the petty every day things. People there are very forward but in a good way, they truly want to know how you are doing. More than once people I didn’t know in a crowded room came straight over to me and introduced themselves. There was never an awkward moment in the large group of people because they introduced themselves as soon as they walked in if they didn’t know you. I felt more at home in Holland then I normally do here in the US. I LOVED it! It was so freeing. It also helped that I just meshed with everyone over there. I felt like I knew everyone for years because of how open everyone was. I made a lifelong friend/sister in Petra who is a friend of my new sister in law. My husband and I stayed at her condo and she was so warm and welcoming from the instant we met. I MISS her so bad. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in quite some time. She was very generous with us and we stayed up and talked nightly! No time for sleep over there! I was soaking everything in and up. We had great conversations about how things are different here and there. She has never been to the US so she had lots of questions. I’m trying to IMPORT her over here!!! LOL She is a cardiac nurse at the hospital in Zwolle her town which was absolutely adorable.
I never realized how beautiful the countryside of Holland was, never really paid attention before. We only saw the sun when we landed in Amsterdam the first day, the rest of the trip was gray and had misty rain but it was still beautiful. Because of that fine mist the grass was green. It was foggy a lot of the time but you could still appreciate the beauty. You drive down a typical road and see very old thatched roof houses, open fields with dug out moats as I call them not sure what the name is but these moats keep the animals in their own fields. I didn’t see any fences. Everyday we would see HUGE swans in these fields eating from the grass, small Shetland ponies, cows, and storks!! There are HUGE stork nests over there and these birds are everywhere! I never knew storks were from Holland. Every now and then we would see an old windmill which I found out from Petra usually have pancake houses in them. The other wild but cool thing was that everyone biked over there, there were cars, small cars, but in the rain, fog, mist people were biking everywhere, together as families, with their laptops, their groceries, you name it, any reason we would use to go out in our cars they were doing on their bikes. It was amazing. I even saw a couple with a newborn car seat attached to the back of the mother’s bike, so wild!!
I loved the way the houses were over there they all had such LARGE windows!!! These super large windows let in so much light even when it was gray out. I would yell, BIG WINDOWS to Petra and Jason as we drove by some big ones. I loved them! They usually had a simple orchid in the window or tulips in a clear vase, simplicity at it’s best. The furniture was usually a bit modern but the rooms were still very cozy. I felt like redecorating when I came back. I still loved the Dutch architecture of the narrow but tall buildings, especially along the canals in Amsterdam. Places still had the ornate facades from decades past and the towns still felt medieval in parts. You’re in another world in Europe and I love it’s rich history.
Of course the reason we went was spectacular but I can’t post much about that now so I’m telling you about the rest of the trip. The last day we were in Holland we went to Amsterdam and got a hotel room near the airport then took the train in to Grand Central Station, from there we went on our adventures for the day. We got there and immediately rented bikes to bike around Amsterdam from Mac Bikes. The bikes took a lot of getting used to because we got the cheaper ones with the foot brakes and they were much heavier then the bikes we were used to riding. So we biked around Amsterdam with the locals on the designated bike paths and found our way to the Van Gogh museum (which I found out is pronounced Van Hoe). This was a dream come true for me as an artist! We saw the Colors of the Night exhibit and saw “Starry Night“! I started tearing up when I was standing in front of it (true artist, right?) It was amazing! I could have spent all day in there but we had to get going because we were only there for one day. From there we biked back to Central Station and returned the bikes since we rented them for 3 hours. We then hopped on a Canal Tour Boat and went for an hour ride around Amsterdam and learned about the canals and life in Amsterdam. It was a nice break from riding around all day. After that was done we wanted to try and sneak in a visit to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. We had to get there in about 7 minutes before they closed and there was no way we could make it so Jason pulled over one of those funny guys on a bike that takes 2 people in a covered part on the back. We paid 6 Euros to get there in 3 minutes and we were the last people to make it in. We took some funny shots in there and it was freaky in parts!! Great for photos. From there we walked around the museum and found a local restaurant that wasn’t for tourists and it was Indonesian food. OMG! If you’ve never tried Indonesian food you totally should. It was delicious! After that we walked around Amsterdam buying souvenirs. We then hopped back on a train at Central Station to go back to Schiphol Airport to catch our shuttle back to the hotel. It was about 10:30 at night and I was soooo tired. We had a very full day and full trip and were now going home the next day. I was sad and happy at the same time. I missed Lorelei really bad (my MIL flew up from FL to stay with her). The good thing is we Skyped with her almost daily and it was easier on her and us. I totally miss my new friends in Holland and the country itself, I can’t wait to go back again someday! It was mooi (beautiful)! If you ever get a chance to go, DO IT you won’t regret it at all!