Adventures in... the Netherlands

{The North Sea near Bloemendaal}

I was going through my hard drive the other day to back up my files, and I found the photos from my Easter Break trip to the Netherlands. It seems ages ago; almost like it happened in a dream. Even though it was so long ago, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite pictures, or else they'll keep gathering dust inside my MacBook. 

At the time I was newly pregnant, and suffering severe nausea.  I tried my best to make the most of the holiday and enjoy being a tourist, but to be honest, most nights I ended up curled up in bed wishing I were home.  

Having said that, the Netherlands is one of my favourite countries in Europe.  I love how small it is, and that you can cover its terrain from one side to the other easily in a day; practically any town is accessible as a day trip.

My mom and I stayed with a good friend who lives in Bloemendaal, a small town just outside Haarlem, and a short train journey from Amsterdam.  It is a gorgeous community nestled beside the blustery North Sea. In the evenings we took long drives along the coastal roads to admire the sunsets, the swaying beach grasses, and the brave kite surfers. 

A few of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam...

Amsterdam is not my favourite place in the world.  Every time I visit the Netherlands I resolve to find something to love about the city, but aside from the museums, I always find it hard to warm to the place. As far as I'm concerned it's full of noisy tourists, hippies and teenagers that reek of weed, street trams and bicycles racing in every direction (so you never know when you might be run over), drifts of litter, and annoyed dutch people (I'd be annoyed too, if I had to deal with all the aforementioned).  

If you want quaint canals, gorgeous dutch architecture and tulips, there are much more beautiful places to visit than Amsterdam.  

However, if you're in Amsterdam...


The Rijksmuseum.

It has a stellar collection of Vermeers and Rembrandts, and much more. Plus a great cafe if you want to rest your eyes, feet and sample some nouveau dutch cuisine. 


The Van Gogh museum.

 Van Gogh's paintings are so full of life and emotion; seeing them always leaves my heart both full of joy and a little raw.  


The Amsterdam Flower Market.

 This is the only floating flower market in the world.  It blooms with fragrance and colour in any season. 

A few of my favourite day trips... 

These are the small towns and cities that epitomize everything I love about the Netherlands: glittering canals, gracious city squares lined with cafes and restaurants, amazing museums, and friendly people.  



 Visit the Frans Hals museum and wander the narrow streets tracing webs around the wide canals. 



Visit the Vermeer museum and buy some stunning blue and white Delft ware china.  The central square is long and narrow, and has a tall tower to climb so that you can see the whole town laid below you, as well as the all horizons of this small, flat, little country. 



A bustling university town filled with trendy students and great restaurants and cafes.  It was the birthplace of Rembrandt. 


Den Haag:

The centre of Dutch government. Every street is lined with chic boutiques, gracious palaces and government buildings. 


. Keukenhof gardens.

 In the spring, this is the ultimate place to see more tulips than you could ever imagine.  We happened to go on the day of the flower parade, which made the gardens and nearby town very festive. Go early in the day to avoid the crowds. 



 A gorgeous university town with lovely cafes, boutiques and a church tower near the main square that plays a full carillon (a song played on the bells) at midday.  It's the perfect place to sit for lunch while listening to the pealing bells and water lapping in the canals. 

What to eat... 

1. Make sure you try a stroopwafel with your coffee.  This is a small biscuit or cookie made with two thin layers of waffle filled with caramel.  To soften the caramel you lay the waffle on the rim of your cup so that the steam warms the sugars.  There's no need to dunk. 

2. Vla.  This is a dutch version of pudding or custard, but so much better.  

3. Go to a Pannekoeken Huis.  The dutch serve their pancakes almost like pizzas, with numerous sweet and savoury toppings.  The best pancake houses are in the smaller towns and rural areas. 

4. Cheese.  There are cheese at every corner with windows stacked with delicious looking blocks and wheels of cheese.  Make sure you pop in and sample some of the local delicacies.  

Have you been to Amsterdam or the Netherlands? What's your favourite thing to see or do?

Or, Do you have a favourite holiday destination that you keep going back to time and time again?

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Adventures in...



{Blooming trees in Bloemendaal}

{Delft cheeses}

{the clear, slanting light of the Dutch masters was everywhere}

{Delft from the tower}