We may not own a Dutch oven, but there’s definitely a strong “touch of the Dutch” at our house, or at least so I’d like to think.
I’ve already started my story of us traveling with the boys to Europe. Now let me tell you about traveling to the Netherlands specifically. Some pointers and just – about our time there.
Holland is twice the size of the Bay Area. Or – technically Holland is just a part of the Netherlands, so – the Netherlands is twice the size of the Bay Area. And – twice as many people living there so – population density wise it’s about the same. And yet – it feels SO different. My number one word for describing Netherlands is – efficiency. It is the most efficient use of space (outside of IKEA) and land that I’ve ever witnessed. People had to really labor to be able to live there – not to make money, but to keep the water away and make land. And now – people really care about where they live. Everyone is always tending to their gardens. I love walking down the street and seeing all the thriving foliage. If people don’t have a yard – they place large pots outside their door – and they are just so vibrant and full… Really makes me feel inadequate about the joke of an herb garden I’ve got going on on my kitchen window…
Most people only know of Amsterdam as the place to see. I’ve actually only been there for half a day and so – it doesn’t have much of an effect on my interpretation of Holland.
I love Holland! I really do. It jives with my soul. =) But if you don’t have any family there, and you’re not like super into art and Van Gogh, or cheese making – I don’t know what would bring you there tbh… But in case you DO end up strolling through the Hague or sipping a beer in a sun light square in Delft, here’s my little “trip advisor” for visiting Holland as a family.
First thing I’ll tell you – stuff closes EARLY. So be prepared. Get your groceries ahead of time. Oh, and don’t expect things to be in English. Don’t know why, but – their packaging does not include the English version. However – all store employees are SUPER nice and all know English well- so ask them whatever questions you may have! Also – I bet Amsterdam is different, but most places we went to – did NOT take credit cards. Doesn’t matter what kind of chip you’ve got, most restaurants, stores, etc – nope. So hit that ATM or see what the terms and fees are for your debit card.
My favorite Dutch words: Winkel – a store. Korting – discount, and actie – special offer. The locals laugh at me, but my FAVORITE store is the Hema – it’s basically like Target, but European – so you know, fancier. Their skin care and make up are all great quality. I love their clothes, their kid stuff… I mean. EVERYTHINGGGGGG! =))) And everything is so CHEAAAAP!!! Btw – every Hema that I’ve gone to did take credit cards. And for grocery stores – Albert Heijn (how do I insert heart emojis here?). Something I was surprised by at first – the groceries – not only are they cheaper – they are more “prepared” than here – for example – potatoes that are peeled, or potatoes that are peeled and cut, greens that are not just washed, but washed and cut/shredded. Etc etc etc. At the grocery stores here I haven’t seen such a big variety of prepped produce, and if there is something prepped – it’s usually a good bit more than the “bag it yourself” stuff.
Oh and – if you ever do find yourself in the Netherlands or Belgium – please please please. Have yourself some Chocomel.
At a cafe or restaurant – you can order it cold or warm, and if you get it warm – you can get it with “slagroom” (cream). Personally I prefer the cold, but you should try it both ways. It is… I mean… It is unparalleled – I have never had anything SO good. I wish they were looking for a brand representative, that would basically be my dream job. Everytime I go there – my goal is to drink a tub’s worth… Then my life will be complete. =)
Noteworthy places to visit: Beach clubs in Scheveningen – this is a genius thing and I don’t know why it doesn’t exist in America. Our beaches are completely barbaric compared to Holland. They have these really nice places where you can sit, and have a drink, or some food, and enjoy the beach and the sun and have some wind in your hair – without getting sand in all your crevices. And instantly – you feel like a completely different species of human. The sand is still there if you want it, but – now you have the choice. And you don’t have to rent out any cabana, or stay at a resort… However – places like this are not open year around, closer to the summer and good weather. (All the more reason why I don’t understand why we don’t have something like that in California!!!)
Madurodam – this place is sooo cool! It’s basically a tiny version of Holland’s top landmarks. Half a day was not enough for us there. They have added a lot of hands on learning stuff that the boys could not be ripped away from. We didn’t even get to check out the Miffy (Nijntje) themed playground in the back! And this time we watched the video of the story of origin of the idea – it is a memorial set up by the parents of a young man – George Maduro – who was killed at the age of 28 in a concentration camp in WWII – 6 weeks before it was liberated. He ended up there after being taken prisoner, the prison was bombed, and instead of running away – he stayed behind to help rescue his fellow inmates. That’s when they got him and sent him off to the camp. Before that he was a commander in the army, and showed tremendous acts of bravery… Broke my heart… But it’s such a wonderful idea – such a great celebration and continuation of life, rather than just a statue or something.. This place is awesome for some cool pictures!
Efteling – it’s a magical place! It’s kind of like Disneyland, but without the commercialization. It houses all the classic European fairy tales that you might not even had heard of. There are some roller coasters as well, but mostly it’s “an experience” – getting to peek into and sometimes step into all these magical places. We didn’t take the boys this time yet – because they don’t really know too many of fairy tales, but that is definitely something we will be working on for next time. Little tip – sometimes you can buy tickets at a grocery store with a discount rather than at the gate.
Corpus – this is a museum that takes you through the human body. Personally – I think it is amazing, and sounds really really cool. However – my enthusiasm must not be infectious enough as – both visits I have struggled to find someone to go with me. I’ve read a couple reviews online saying that the information presented isn’t of great depth, but I think for a 5 year old – there’s plenty of depth and I could fill in any gaps if I had to. Corpus remains at the top of my to-do list, and next visit – I’m going. Can’t stop me!
Windmills – there are soo many of these. =)
This time we just made it for the windmill festival – windmills all over the country were open to the public, and we got to go inside and climb almost all the way to the top (quite a task, I gotta tell you!) And then we got to go to the miller’s “house” and have pancakes made out of the flour milled in the mill! And we’ve got some serious windmill enthusiasts on our hands (any time they see anything sort of similar to something that could turn in the wind they both yell MOLEEEEEEN!!!!!) – so we all had a blast! And on our first trip – it was not any kind of festival, but – people that were living in the windmill (in the picture above – there are people living in those windmills, not because they’re milling, but – that’s just where they happen to live… =)) saw us outside, admiring their “house” and invited us in!! It was so crazy! =) Too cool. TOO COOL!
So there you go. There’s my Holland for you. =) I may know only 11 people there (although I think after this visit it is at least up to 20! =) But they are all – incredible and amazing. And based on my experience with them I feel confident in saying – this is a great place to visit!
PS. Please enjoy this video that holds a top spot in the #nikolikes chart