The Netherlands2 Comments
Welcome back friends and confidants!
We arrived in the Netherlands healthy and recharged. Minor blips in our travel day caused it to run a little late, but not bad. We got to our apartment in Utrecht, and the property manager was already there to show us around. The place was quaint and “typical dutch” as we were told. Everything was just a touch smaller than normal, and the stairs were a cross between steps and a ladder. No problem, but the toilet was on the 2nd level and the bedrooms were on the 3rd, so it made the midnight bathroom breaks interesting. That evening, our friend from Denver, Kaleigh, came over to catch up over a few beers. Kaleigh is living in Utrecht and is studying Culture and Tourism at a university close by. We were thrilled to catch up and have some local insight into our days there.
The next morning we set out to explore Utrecht. We headed out on foot to tackle the day. Our stops included a wonderful park, beautiful and unique Utrecht neighborhoods, a “coffee shop”, the cathedral and adjacent square and the central area with copious cafes along the canals. The weather was sunny and warm, which we were told was not typical by multiple friendly locals we me throughout the day. We felt fortunate to have the nice day and we tried to make the most of it. We hung out at couple different cafes in the central area at the end of the day, and watched the controlled chaos of rush hour. We’ve never quite seen anything like it. The sheer number of bicycles on the road is astonishing. Hundreds rushed by the café with near missed catastrophes every few seconds. They must have a real system worked out, because we did not witness a single accident, but it was pretty amazing to watch. After adequate café time we hit the main transportation station for a bus back to the apartment. Then we rested up for our outing the next day to The Hague with Kaleigh.
We met Kaleigh at the train station mid morning, and hopped the first train. The Hague was a pretty cool place on the North Sea with beaches, a large pier, a long boardwalk and is also the location of the Dutch Parliament. We headed straight to the beach to get some much needed sea time. We hung on the beach for a bit while Meier went bananas playing in the sand, splashing in the water, and leaping off the top of large sand piles. He really needed the freeform play time. After a few hours of that, we hit a beach club for some typical Dutch cuisine. Kippling (pieces of fried white fish) and Bitterballen (fried balls of meat and gravy) were the highlight of the meal, but everything was delicious and deep fried. We washed the meal down with cold Belgian beers (and apple juice of course!) and continued our day exploring the pier, the boardwalk, and the central area around the Parliament buildings. Also worth mentioning are the huge sculptures along the boardwalk. The melancholy behemoths loomed over the beach and provided a perfect jungle gym for Meier as well. After another wonderful and busy day, we boarded the train back to Utrecht to retire to our apartment.
Our last day in the Netherlands was spent on a day trip to Amsterdam. There we paid a visit to the Anne Frank house (only to be shut out), the Van Gogh museum, Vondelpark, the central square, and the red light district (only for a couple blocks). The bikes were just as crazy as Utrecht, but the streets were even more narrow. The city was amazing and expansive and we wish that we had more time to hang out and explore. The Van Gogh museum was really fantastic with tons of pieces and the red light district was as you might imagine. It was by far the most crowded part of town. Cafés were packed with tourists and clouds of smoke billowed as scantily clad women mingled with the clientele. We scouted a café on the perimeter to watch the chaos unfold. After a beer, we had seen enough and made our way back to the train station. Our time in the Netherlands was really fantastic, thanks in part to Kaleigh, but it’s definitely a must visit place. The next morning we packed our bags and off we went…to Berlin!