I arrived with Fabien in Rotterdam an hour early, around 6:30 in the morning. We were absolutely zonked. Having tried and failed to buy metro tickets, we decided to walk around and check out the city. First reaction: where is everyone ? 😅 The city was completely deserted even around 9am. That may be the only negative aspect I had on the city, which I can understand since we arrived on a Sunday morning 🙈 Otherwise, almost everything was bombarded and razed by the Germans during the War. I absolutely love the playful architecture that characterizes the buildings that progressively replaced the rubble (like the Markthal and the Kijk-Kubus). The church and old harbour represents everything, essentially, that was spared. It was very odd to find that there was both a restaurant and a bathroom inside the church. And the old harbour is absolutely gorgeous.
The next day, we went to Amsterdam. It’s a really pretty city, which seems like it would be nice to live in. Visiting it, however, was less nice. The canals are very pretty, Vondelpark is amazingly calm, and the houses very typical. However, I found that it was overly crowded and touristy. And to top it all off, the edibles and the Red Light District were both disappointing. I much preferred Rotterdam over Amsterdam (which I hear is an unpopular opinion, unless we’re talking about Rotterdammers) - Noah (a Dutch friend I met while he was in exchange in Ottawa) approved.
My time in the Netherlands, from this point on, constitutes, for the most part, of day trips. The first of which was to Den Haag, to escape the 40℃ weather again. We spent a couple of hours at Scheveningen Strand and De Pier. We also saw the Vreidespaleis (UN International Court), as well as the Binnenhof and Hofvijer. The Hague was a pretty town, definitely worth visiting.
Another day trip was to Gouda, where we parked next to the canal. When we got back to the car, we were blocked in by a German car. Noah tried to maneuver the car out but the back tire ended up less than 20cm away from the edge. Any further and his car would have to be fished out of the canal. We had to call the cops, only to have the Germans arrive as the cops were deciding whether to fine them. They didn’t get a fine 😤
Next day trip was to Kinderdijk. It’s as Dutch as can be: 20 windmills kept the surrounding area dry for nearly a thousand years; 19 remain and still work. That’s why it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s also really pretty, which is what makes it so appealing to tourists. That evening, we hung out with some of Noah’s and his sister’s friends at their student apartment and ate dinner on their rooftop.
Our last excursion was a rather lengthy one. We first stopped in Haarlem, which was a calm and pretty town. Found a windmill on the riverside, saw the old city gate, and visited the church. We then drove to Marken, a really Dutch fishing village on an island, accessible by car via a fairly long dyke. We ate some really fresh kibbeling (battered chunks of fish) there. We then drove through the incredibly beautiful countryside, seeing cows, irrigation canals, windmills and traditional country homes, to Volendam where we ate poffertjes (tiny Dutch pancakes) with butter and powdered sugar 👌 After that, bit of a drive to Afsluitdijke, which is a 32km long dyke that reclaimed part of the North Sea to make an artificial fresh water lake. We then drove to Delft to meet up with Noah’s sister and her friend to go to a chill house party in a fucking amazing student residence complex. Their apartment had 18 rooms 🤯 I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures at the party.
That pretty much wraps up my tour of the Netherlands, which couldn’t have been possible without my host and guide. THANKS NOAH, 🤞 we’ll cross paths in Asia. Next stop: Belgium to go see Sandrine 😁❤️