So last year was my 30th birthday. I told S i wanted to turn 30 somewhere, i didn't care where, but somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be a glorious 10 days in the Netherlands, and 2 days in Belgium. Squeal!!!! Remember that post where i answered about the best day ever? Well, it was the best 12 days ever.
We stayed with S's coworker who was living there for business for a year. He had a fantastic 2 bedroom apartment in Leiden, which is about a half hour south of Amsterdam. That was our starting point, and everyday we went somewhere new. I love being immersed in a culture, and travelling like a local. After a few days, we could maneuver pretty easily on our own.
So we started in Amsterdam, which is actually more adorable than i would have thought. I couldn't get enough of the old, really old, really really old houses. They are totally out of whack with one another, i don't know how they all remain standing. Some are completely pitched forward, or really slanted to one direction. Major points for charm, tho.
I was so impressed with the greenery and plants out front of people's houses. There's a lot of trust there-i can't even have a scarecrow in my yard b/c ignorant people steal them, but these people have nicely potted plants and things that you are literally walking right by.
This is Arnhem. It is an open air museum, and it's where i milked my first cow.
Granted, it's not a real cow, and it was in the children's area, but that ain't enough to keep me from doing it. This was an incredibly soggy day, and we were at an open air museum. Good times!
Delft. Home of artist Ver Meer and Delft pottery. Delft is so flippin cute, I can't even take it. Look at that Delft pottery Flava Flav style!
Haarlem-Finally, finally, a place that will let me sample cheese. And sample cheese i did! The most expensive in the shop, the best seller in the shop, the newest one, the oldest one. We bought pounds and pounds of cheese to take home. I was going to be really pissed if customs wouldn't let it in, but thankfully they did.
Leiden, our home base. I loved it there. Smaller, college town, great sites.
Stroopwaffel guy! Freshly made, warm and gooey caramelly goodness inside, have mercy this was fantastic. It was literally the size of our heads!
DeValk windmill that we were able to walk through.
Bruges, Belgium. Full of tourists, but not touristy. It was ok to whip out the map here, b/c it is a popular destination for weekend holidays in Europe. Apparently a lot of Londoners come for long weekends, which means much of the menus were translated into English. That tiny little building up there is Dumon chocolate, much thought to be the best chocolates. Bruges is where my leaf table coverings were from-so glad to have those memories for Fall, now.
Bell Tower at night-we were able to climb this tower and see and hear a carillon concert that takes place once a week. Once a week, for one hour only, and totally unplanned and unknowingly we happened to be there. Seeing the machinery start up and being able to look up and see the bells as they were hit, literally moved to tears. It was just so right day, right time.
Reflection of bicycle wheels, the dominant mode of transportation in both places. You'd think that means all sweet and slow, but NU-UH! You'd be wrong. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way over there. You will get hit by bikers, and you will be in the wrong.
My artsy shot!
The tiniest little house in Bruges. Thanks to Rick Steve's guidebook i was able to locate it, and really conduct our own tour of the cities and sites. It was like my bible, i carried it everywhere, i consulted it at every turn, i went to it for guidance. Where should we eat for dinner? Let's see what Rick Steve's says. It would not be exaggerating if every sentence i uttered during these 12 days started with "Rick Steve's says...."
Rick Steve's said to eat pasta here, and Rick Steve's was right! It was really cheap, considering, and you had a heaping bowl of delicious home made pasta.
We took the train from Holland to Belgium, stopping in Antwerp for lunch on the way there. When we took the train back to Holland we stopped in Brussels for lunch. I wouldn't have not traveled there, but let's just say Rick Steve's was right about gypsies begging for money, and sending their kids to do it. They had no problems coming into the restaurant and asking patrons for money-while you are sitting at your table eating-and it totally turned me off to the city.
Let me tell you about some of the other things we ate...real hot chocolate with Belgian chocolate in it, white hot chocolate (above), white chocolate covered Belgian waffles, bitterballen (fried meatballs, which was yum!) lots of goat cheese croquettes. Once i discovered them i ordered them everywhere.
So there you go, that was my once in a lifetime extended trip to Holland/Netherlands/Belgium where i turned 30. Have you gone on any trips you consider once in a lifetime? Don't forget to come back tomorrow for my birthday giveaway to CSN!
know what, i'm going to link this up to it's a blog party and fave things fri!