Right now it’s the summer of 2018 and I believe this might be the best summer this country has ever witnessed. Well at least that I’ve ever witnessed in those 33 years that I’m alive, okay those 28 years that I’m fully aware. What I’m getting to is that coming to the Netherlands this year was perfect to really enjoy my country. Because sun = happy people.
So let’s back up 16 years ago to 2001-2002. By this time, I just finished high school in the Netherlands and went abroad for a full year to stay with a host family in the United States. That same host family finally came to visit me now. So I had to come up with a plan to make the most out of the week they were here. So let’s start!
Arrival day, let’s go to Delft!
Flying East always gives you the worst kind of jetlag. So when my host family arrived in the morning I had to torture them by keeping them awake for a full day. The best way to stay awake is to actually do something, so we visited the old city of Delft.
The first thing was a stop at my Dads favorite wine cellar (Wijnhandel Van Dorp) in the basement of a canal house, housing hundreds of different wines from all over the world. Next stop was the old and new St. John churches. The New St. John is right on the market square and we climbed all the way to the top, here we were rewarded with a beautiful view of not only Delft but also its complete surroundings.
View of Delft and surroundings from the New St. John church
My city, Amsterdam
The day in Amsterdam started at the Anne Frank House. To see this place you have to buy tickets online two months in advanced for a specific time slot. After some heavy WWII stories we walked along the canals; see the different facades of the 17 century buildings, but also stumbled upon a ship pulling bikes out of the canal. Apparently every year more than 15,000 bikes end up in the canals of Amsterdam.
After lunch we took the trolley to the Albert Cuyp market; the largest market in the city and right in the middle of my favorite neighborhood, de Pijp.
The best way to see the city is from the water, and I don’t mean on one of those lame canal tours, but on your private boat. I’ve rented an 8-person vessel at Mokumboot, invited some friends and brought some wine, drinks, fruit and several snacks on board to just relax and enjoy the view. Tip: anyone can rent and drive a boat in the canals, no specific license is needed, but luckily my friend Matthijs had no problem being the captain 🙂
View of the skinny bridge from our boat
Me enjoying the ride
Steam train from Hoorn to Medemblik and Enkhuizen
Day #3 arrived already and we got up early to drive up to Hoorn (about 50 km / 30 minutes North of Amsterdam). Here we went back to the past and hopped on the steam train, choo choo! Not only was this a special experience for us, but also people with cameras at every crossing were taking pictures of the train passing by. After 1.5 hours we arrived in Medemblik where we jumped on the ferry to another coastal town; Enkhuizen.
The small town of Enkhuizen is just great to just walk through, but also houses the ‘Zuiderzee’ museum; a fishing village from 100 years ago with houses but also shops and crafts from that time.
View from the steam train
The ‘Zuiderzee’ museum
Food in Rotterdam
The second largest city in the Netherlands is Rotterdam, oh and totally different than Amsterdam or any other Dutch city. Because Rotterdam was bombed during WWII, this place is modern with skyscrapers and modern architecture.
Although there is some underlying rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I love both cities. Studied in Rotterdam and now living in Amsterdam I get the best from both worlds.
From Central Station it’s a short walk to the post office and city hall which are the oldest buildings in Rotterdam. The nazis liked to keep everything on file, so the these were not a target. From there a visit to the foodwalhalla; ‘de Markthal’, which opened its doors just four years ago in 2014. Here you can try all kinds of food samples at the different stalls, oh and don’t forget to buy the Rotterdam Old cheese.
Earlier I talked about architecture, one of the odd buildings in Rotterdam are the yellow cube houses, interesting to see but unpractical to live in.
Talking about food, it was time for our high tea reservation at Hotel New York, to get there you can take the water taxi across the river. We enjoyed a delicious selection of sandwiches, scones and more yummie pastries.
Still got time left? Visit the Euromast for a magnificent view of the skyline, we skipped that and walked to the SS Rotterdam. A ship that used to bring immigrants from Rotterdam to the United States.
The harbor of Rotterdam
The Rotterdam skyline from Hotel New York
After a few days we took a 3-day trip to Paris and Bruges
Cultural The Hague
On the last day we visited The Hague; the third largest city and the place where all the politics happen. Therefor our first stop was the parliament building ‘de Binnenhof’. Not being able to see our prime minister Mark Rutte on his bike we walked to the famous cafe Dudok for a coffee. Maybe we could see some royalty at the Royal Palace? No luck there either, I guess King Willem Alexander had better things to do than to great us. Then time for lunch, now at a cute square called the ‘Anna Paulownaplein’ right in the middle of all the embassies. With new strength and energy we headed to the Peace Palace, the place where the international court is held. Usually free tours are being held, but not with some VIP’s in the building. At least it was pretty cool to see the outside.
At the end we took the trolley to Scheveningen, walked along the beach and put our feet in the North Sea. Relaxing!
Having lunch in the Hague
The Peace Palace
Scheveningen beach with the ferris wheel on the pier