I recently found myself at Liverpool Airport – with no family or friends – ready to jump on a plane to Holland. This little adventure came about during a drunken night last April in which myself and my friend Izzy decided I should go visit her at her parents’ house one summer. Back then it seemed like a bit of a pipedream, but after a lot of umming and aahing and a surprise financial increase, this crazy little idea became a reality. So, last week I somehow managed to navigate my way through an airport without getting lost (Go me!), and braved my irrational fear of planes to jet off to Holland!
The flight wasn’t too bad, it was a lot shorter than I expected, but then again I guess the gin helped (what? I was on holiday and it was an evening flight!). It took a while to sink in that I was in a different country – it did confuse me when I saw Izzy getting into what I thought was the driver’s side of her dad’s car – I didn’t quite get the feel of Holland until we arrived in The Hague. If it wasn’t the ridiculous amount of bikes (and there I was thinking it was just a stereotype) it was the abundance of trams that did it. I somehow expected them all to be yellow due to my various visit to Manchester but no, these were more traditional looking red and beige machines.
Holland is gorgeous, from the traditional Dutch architecture to the well-known windmills and canals it is so picturesque and beautiful. What I’d read about Holland or seen in photos or on TV were nothing compared to actually experiencing the place first hand. I visited a number of different places during my stay but here is a selection of my favourites:
Delft is such a pretty little town and full of history and culture. We visited Delft on a Sunday which turns out was market day. But it wasn’t like the tacky little markets we have in the UK, oh no, this was stall after stall of adorable handmade gifts, Delftware and various local produce. To top it all off they had one of those swing-merry-go-round rides that I hadn’t been on in a good ten years. Of course, being the mature twenty year olds we are we decided to have a ride, it was strangely terrifying, but maybe I’m just a wimp.
Ten to Three Bakery
Also in Delft was the girliest café I have ever set foot in. With an Alice in Wonderland tea party theme, the café was covered with an array of pink flowers and had no shortage of adorable mini cupcakes and delicious brownies. I tried the homemade cherry ice tea and an Oreo brownie and they were amazing. The place was surprisingly quiet, though we did go very near their closing time so this could have been why, but it had a lovely atmosphere and the staff were very friendly.
Van Gogh Museum
Probably one of the most visited places in Amsterdam (along with the Anne Frank House). I’m the kind of person that really enjoys art galleries so this really interested me. I’ve always admired Van Gogh’s work from a distance but never really delved far into his history beyond that one episode of Doctor Who. At the moment the museum has a special exhibition on Van Gogh’s mental illness which I found particularly interesting ‘cause I’m morbid like that. Seriously though it was fascinating to learn about the 19th century attitude to mental illness and how it’s progressed since then. There was only one thing that really confused me, one of Van Gogh’s most well-known paintings ‘Starry Night’ was nowhere to be seen, of course I know that clearly the museum did not have this painting but I still expected some kind of mention of it.
Bagels and Beans
Apparently a popular chain of cafés in Holland, we decided to give The Hague branch a go and ended up returning on the last day of my visit as we were so impressed. We made our first visit on my first morning in the country to grab some brunch, both being Bagels and Beans virgins, Izzy and I had no idea what to expect but we were definitely
impressed! We both quickly fell in love with the Parmabella Bagels and the flavoured lattes (I had hazelnut and Izzy had vanilla). I also gave the hot chocolate a try
and soon discovered that Dutch hot chocolate is so much better than at home, my God, I’ve spent the last week at the gym because of those hot chocolates. A funny discovery I made whilst looking down the menu was that they also did a ‘Dutch Weed Burger’. Of course I was too much of a chicken to try it but it made me laugh that they can so freely shove that stuff in anything.
There’s so much to talk about at Scheveningen but I’ll try to keep it brief. First of all, we visited the Sea Life centre located near the beach. It was very similar to a lot of aquariums back home but there were a few parts that really impressed me; the jellyfish that were in tanks with colour changing lights and relaxing music, I honestly want an entire wall of them in my bedroom, it would be so calming! They also had penguins and an otter enclosure, unfortunately by the time we went it was the otter’s bed time but we did sneak a peek at them… so cute! Also on the day we visited Scheveningen there was a fireworks display, from what I could gather it was a competition in which a different country competed each night, I think our night was Germany. Thousands of people were gathered on the beach or in the beachside bars and restaurants, huddled under blankets around fire pits built into the restaurants’ tables (the Dutch really know how to look after their customers). Despite the masses of people, we managed to get a pretty decent view of the fireworks, and some fireworks they were!
All in all my visit to Holland was an incredible experience and I hope visit again in the future!