I am very fond of traveling, but my budget sometimes doesn’t allow me this luxury. I try to save a percentage of my income every year for an international trip for the following year. This takes a considerable effort and if you want some tips you can check my most read post on budgeting here.
The goal for 2019 was the Netherlands! As a matter of fact, Holland is the name of a region in the Netherlands. There is even a North Holland and a South Holland. Dirk and his dad were going to be there for a month visiting their family and I was going to join them for two weeks. Since his father was born in the Netherlands this was my chance to meet my boyfriend’s family from his father’s side. We were extremely lucky as the weather was on our side with sunshine most of the days and very little rain.
We stayed in the city of Leiden located in South Holland, since most of his family live nearby and it is also where he went to University for his masters. In preparation to this exciting meeting Dirk lent me a ‘Learn Dutch’ CD but I’m sorry to say my dutch is terrible. I only learned how to say “Ik ben Melissa” and “is mooi” which is not very useful. Nevertheless his family was very welcoming and kind. They made me feel at home and it was a pleasure meeting them.
In Leiden we took a boat tour around the city canals during a lovely sunny day. We visited local pubs and had a lot of fun. We also went to the local market and tried freshly made stroopwafels. I also tried the Herring, which got me extra points with Dirk’s family. We walked to historical landmarks like Burcht van Leiden, Pieterskerk Church, and the National Museum of Ethnology, among others. We walked the Haarlemstraat street countless times. I think I fell a little in love with this city and I’ll remember our days here very fondly.
We took the train from Leiden to tour around other cities. In the Hague we visited the Binnenhof, the Royal Palace which is now the government office. Here you can find the monument Fontein graaf to Willem II, great for a photo spot. We went to a very peculiar museum called Panorama Mesdag, which features the 19th-century artist Hendrik Mesdag’s panoramic beach painting. You go up into a circular room and around you is a gigantic painting of The Hague in such a detailed proportion that it looks real, and it feels like you are standing in the dunes. The painting is 14 meters tall and 40 meters wide, and if you look into the horizon you might forget you are indoors. They have many exhibitions on the topic of proportion and angles.
After a nice stroll and a small break for some herring, we took a bus to go to a place I really wanted to see: Madurodam. It is a miniature park of the Netherlands and an obvious tourist attraction that I couldn’t miss. They even have a scale to measure your weight in the cheese wheel! I am one and a half cheese wheels in weight. It’s a very fun park, the details on the buildings and miniature people are amazing. I would definitely recommend it.
On a rainy day we visited the city of Delft. It has the last remaining porcelain factory built in the 17th century, Royal Delft. I remember I had read the book “The Blue” by Nancy Bilyeau and was very interested in visiting the factory. We had a nice walk in the light rain and saw the City Town Hall (Stadhuis Delft) and the Nieuwe Church. To finish the day we had a lovely indonesian dinner at Redjeki.
We also visited the city of Katwijk on a perfect sunny day. It was very hot so we stopped for a beer by the beach. After that, we had a nice walk and later got some gelato. We took some photos by the Old Church, when a seagull tried to steal my gelato but I was victorious. Then we walked to the Katwijk Lighthouse and the Schiff which is a tourist spot with a big model boat.
The last city we visited was Amsterdam. My flight was late in the evening and we decided to power through and get a full day of tourism on the same day. We walked by the canals and saw all the cliché sights: the entrance of the red light district and lots of cannabis and sex shops. Sometimes what you hear about a place turns out to be true. But Amsterdam has much more to offer, it’s a city full of history. We went to the Rijksmuseum to admire both art and history and got the opportunity to see the Night Watch by Rembrandt.
I was on a personal mission in Amsterdam. Let me share a personal family story. My mother visited Amsterdam in her youth with a friend and bought a small golden pendant with the letter of her name. So I wanted to start a family tradition by also getting a pendant here. We went jewelry hunting, but alas when I found the perfect shop I realized my budget was too low. Of course, gold prices are way different from 30 some years ago. But with my modest quantity, I was able to purchase a tiny pearl pendant. And so the tradition lives on. I might not be the girl with the pearl earring but I am the one with the necklace!
My adventure in these lands ended faster than expected. I enjoyed my time there and would love to return one day. We made the best of our time and saw a lot in our two weeks together, but there is still plenty to see. Next time I’ll make sure we visit the Van Gogh Museum.