TBT: a quick trip to The Netherlands

Hmm… writing a blog post about vacationing in my own country feels a little weird. But this wasn’t just any vacation back to the motherland, this time I got to bring one of my best friends! Normally I would just hang out around my hometown with my friends, but this time around I had to play the tour guide as well! Continue reading to find out about the fun things we did and saw!

First a little backstory. I don’t normally go back to The Netherlands a lot because everything I know there has basically stayed the same the past five years, and living in the United States is too much of a privilege to step away from often. However, there are certain things in The Netherlands that you can’t get here. I’ll not go into too much detail, but what really made me want to go again was fireworks. Yep, you read that right. During the July 4th celebration of 2018 I thought “I should celebrate New Year’s in The Netherlands again.” Up till then I hadn’t for few years. Fast forward a couple of months and I meet my friend Nick, who happens to want to go to The Netherlands “one day.” Well guess what, “one day” happened on December 27th, 2018! A whole three months after I jokingly said he should come with me.

A fun fact is that I planned this two-week trip in a couple of hours during class. I passed the class, so no worries.

Even though I used to live pretty far from Amsterdam, we still wanted to start our vacation there. We booked an Air Bnb for two nights. We landed really early, so we had the entire first day to explore! We just walked around a lot and explored different touristy areas and took lots of photos! We also went to the Rijksmuseum during our stay. I’d surprisingly enough only been there once before, so it was really nice to go again and take our time looking at the different art works!

One of the main things I was looking forward to about being in The Netherlands was the food. Not like your traditional mashed potatoes and vegetable food, but bags of greasy fries with loads of mayonnaise! Hmmmmm… There’s just something about eating a paper bag full of thick cut fries while strolling through the city.

Our third day we went to the temporary ice rink that’s across from the Rijksmuseum. As an ice skater myself this has always been on my bucket list, so it was really fun to finally go! This was the last activity we were able to until we had to had south to meet my family.

In The Netherlands we travel by train a lot, so we packed our bags and got on the train to the city of Breda, which is where I was born! My cousin Audrey picked us up there and we drove to meet my grandma. It was really fun to see my grandma again; it had been at least a year since I last saw her. We had a nice dinner at my aunt’s place that night, so it was great catching up with her as well!

That night we decided to go out clubbing even though it was a Sunday. Going out in The Netherlands is always a lot of fun. Drinks are a lot cheaper and the going out scene is really nice. All the bars are all clustered together in the city square and it always looks like a good time. As per Dutch tradition, we finished our night with a good Turkish pizza!

The next day was New Year’s Eve! Like I said, this was kind of the reason I wanted to go in the first place. For the last couple of years, me and me high school friend group have had the tradition to come together on New Year’s Eve to drink and celebrate! This year was no different and it was a lot of fun to see all my friends again! There were tons of fireworks well into the night and overall it was a blast.

The Netherlands is known for its wide variety of beers, and a lot of breweries still operate there. One day we decided to go to La Trappe, which is a traditional trappist brewery. The beer there is still made by monks! We did a small guided tour where we learned about the history and making of La Trappe, and afterwards we had lunch in the adjacent restaurant. We had a ridiculous amount of food: carpaccio, wild boar burger, a cheese platter, a charcuterie platter, and bitterballen!

My hometown in the south is really close to the Belgian border, so we took advantage of that and decided to take the train to Antwerp one day. We didn’t really do any cultural things, but we strolled around the old city center a lot and did a little bit of shopping. The train ride was less than half an hour, and Belgian public transport is incredibly cheap!

During one of our last days in the south we went to our local theme park, The Efteling, with a bunch of my friends. I hadn’t been to The Efteling in years and I was so excited to go! In the winter it’s always extra magical. The entire park is based on old fairy tales, and there is a large part of the park dedicated to portraying these fairy tales. But there were also tons of rollercoasters and other thrilling rides! Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be and we didn’t have to wait in the lines very long. We ended the day by going to the on-site pancake house that they have!

During the last few days of our vacation we stayed with my other aunt who lives in The Hague. Both me and my friend Nick are very involved in politics, and The Hague is the political capital of The Netherlands. We checked out the office of our prime minister and shopped around even more. My aunt also lives very close to the beach, so we decided to take a walk there! However the wind was very strong and it was cold, so I had enough of that after ten minutes..

After two weeks it was time to go home. In between the highlights I mentioned here I also met up with a bunch of my old friends, and it was great fun! I was glad I got to show my home country to one of my closest friends!

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