My trip to the Netherlands is a nostalgic one. It was my first time ever traveling and flying on an aeroplane. So with some money saved up from the weekend job I’d had a student and my folks buying me my flight as a 21st birthday gift, I embarked on my first travel adventure to The Netherlands in 2006. This was 10 years ago and the exchange rate was a mere R8 to 1 Euro! Good times.
I travelled with KLM, the national Dutch carrier. I was younger, really excited and knew nothing. My holiday was only going to be 2 weeks and I packed a HUGE bag full of clothes thinking that I was obligated to fill the suitcase up? I also wore a pair of jeans on a 12-hour flight, not thinking of the uncomfortable factor. Flying and traveling on general was all new to me at this point. I also learned the horrors of aeroplane food.
I loved this city. It was cute, fun and had a very friendly, relaxed vibe to it. I went on the tram for the first time, and took it to Central Station to explore the city centre. I went around the touristy spots, took photos and relaxed at some cafes.
The next day I went to the famous Rijks museum to check out my fave Dutch painters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt. I also checked out the Van Gogh Museum, which I really loved. Being an art history student, I really enjoyed his exhibition of works, and there was something special in actually seeing the real works up close for observation. My favourite was ‘Crows in the Field’.
On my 3rd day, I checked out the Anne Frank House. I read the book in high school and it made quite an impact on me as a teen. Seeing the offices and attic in which she and her family were hiding in had a very poignant and deep stillness that lingered amidst the old chairs and sparse furnishings in the rooms. This is one of those places that is memorable, and should be on your culture travel list.
It was summer, and there was a hot day in Amsterdam. I decided to check out the beach at Die Strand. I took a train from Amsterdam, and it took about 30 minutes to get there. The water was freezing but I had a fun day.
I went to visit and stay with a friend of mine studying in the quiet town. Here, I met lots of cool friends whom I was lucky to see again 10 years later when I moved to Paris. Leiden was idyllic and picturesque and I checked out the local Egyptian museum. Leiden was also home to the great painter Rembrandt whose work can be seen in the Van Rijks Museum. The town is very small, with cobbled stoned streets, pretty parks, creperies and pretty windmills.
From Leiden we took a train to Den Hague and spent a day on the cold windy beach and checking out the town.
I found Rotterdam pretty cool. It was a much more modern city in terms of architecture
and design. Most of Rotterdams’s original buildings were demolished during the war. The fun yellow Rubik’s houses are worth checking out. Apparently, the homes are perfectly normal inside regardless of their strange external dimensions. There’s also the pencil building of flats and flying saucer structure.
The Netherlands proved to be a great place to get bitten by the travel bug. The trip was full of good memories, great friends, fun shopping trips and unforgettable moments from the land of dykes, clogs and windmills!
- This trip was in 2006, when I visited the Van Gogh Museum I simply waited in a small line and went straight in. I’ve recently heard that going for a visit to the Van Gogh Museum today takes a bit more planning, and people usually pre-book their tickets before going.
- For those on a budget, the supermarkets have great selections of pre packaged fresh sandwiches. There are lots of places outdoors n the summer to sit outside and have lunch.
- The best and easiest way through the country to the little towns, was using the metro. It was fast and cost effective. In fact, I used public transport throughout my holiday here.
- I think summer is probably the best season to visit the NL. The summers here are not what South Africans consider hot, so walking around is quite bearable.
- I do recommend going up and looking inside a windmill. They offer great views of the towns and cities…and they’re different.
- If you want to get some shopping done, there are lots of outdoor flea markets selling foods, fashion and all sorts of goods for a fraction of the price of goods sold in stores.