05 Oct I Love Holland and You Will, Too!
I Love Holland! Going to the Netherlands isn’t exactly visiting a foreign country and it isn’t exactly going home. It is both foreign and familiar.
I’m sure part of it is that my husband was born and raised in The Netherlands. He was twenty-five years old the first time he visited the United States. I’ve never kept track of how many times I’ve been to Holland. I suppose, over the years, it’s been dozens of times, my longest stay was six months in a rental trailer.
For much of my married life, my sister-in-law has lived in the same town of Driebergen, in the center of the Netherlands. It’s a great place to travel to and from. Utrecht is only nine minutes by train. Amsterdam: an hour. Here’s some of my favorite first impressions about being back again.
If you’ve never been to the Netherlands, You Are Missing Out. I seriously Love Holland and I think you will, too!
Small Town Main Street
I love the silly cow, on the main shopping street in Driegergen. She stands in front of Kaas en Zo, a cheese store. Today there are flowers on her horns. Each time we return, we greet her like an old friend. She makes me happy.
Cheese is definitely one of my Dutch Highlights!
Once a week Driebergen hosts a market day.The main street in town, closes down to cars, and vendors come with cheese, veggies, candies, clothes and miscellany. We’ve been going to the same cheese man for twenty years: van Dommelen Kaas. He knows my hubby and I by sight. We’re the ones who always buy a LOT and ask for it to be shrink wrapped, so we can bring it back home with us on the airplane. He smiles, grabs his big two handled knife, and starts cutting a wheel. Before we buy, we get a taste. Yup. Absolutely. Ten good sized hunks, please!
Dutch people buy flowers. All the time! It’s like part of the weekly grocery list. Fresh Flowers. They are a LOT cheaper than where I live now and there’s a crazy amount of variety. And, oh yeah, they’re fresh. Many cities even host weekly flower markets. In Amsterdam, they’re daily.
I love going to the grocery store and coming home with a bunch of flowers strapped onto the back of my bike. Ten bucks. For the whole bundle, not per piece. Okay. I love you, Holland!
Biking in Holland is like biking in Heaven: Perfect! It’s flat. There are specialized bike paths. Bikes get their own light signals at intersections. Nobody wears helmets, because, like I said. Everybody Bikes. Every car driver, was once a little biker. Cars respect bikes. It’s so great, I’m going to do a whole blog post devoted to Go Bike the Netherlands!!
I walked under the famous Cubic Houses in Rotterdam and the neighboring famous Pencil House. It blew me away. Looking at architecture in the Netherlands is like being a kid in the candy store. Everything from the tried and true to stuff you’ve never even dreamed of. 1500s castles to sky scrapers built on land just pulled from the Sea.
Holland houses some of the most amazing art collections in the entire world. The Van Gogh Museum (dedicated to the work and life of Vincent Van Gogh) the Mauritshuis House (home of the Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch) the Rijksmuseum (home to a vast collection of the Masters from the Dutch Golden Age). Tours of street art in Amsterdam. If you like art, it’s a crazy-sweet place to visit. My favorite this year: the Van Gogh Museum. Wow. Just wow.
I can travel by train, tram, or bus. Hey, you can even go places by water taxi! I pay for whichever one with a Chip Card. And there’s this great app. for my smart phone called 92 92 OV. It told me exactly which type transportation to choose, when, where, time of departure, time of arrival, cost. Clean, easy, efficient. There’s no reason to sweat it. I even taught a ‘lost foreigner’ how to use it one day in the train. It made me feel smart and happy.
I could go on and on. Really I could. I love visiting the Netherlands.
Dutch people are funny and articulate and smart. Their country is clean and neat and orderly but yet funky and modern. It just somehow gets under my skin. Each time I go, I want to go again. I should be a tour guide!
I’ll wet your appetite with one last thing.
One of the things that the Dutch do right is having local, fresh food. You can still go to the Vegetable & Fruit Store. There are Meat Stores. One of my favorites stores is a Brood en Banket: bread and pastry store. This lovely tart was purchased in Driebergen, at a small store on main street. I don’t know why … I hardly eat sweets when I’m home … but when I’m in the Netherlands I develop a sweet tooth. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back again.