Wednesday, 25 June 2014

bicycles, windmills, cheese & football

Well the title pretty much sums up my weekend in the Netherlands.

Windmills! So very Dutch.

Thanks to some complaining by other patrons on my Delta flight to the US last year (never would have done so myself!) I had a voucher that was enough for a return flight to visit my cousin who is on her own OE in the Netherlands. Score.

I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday (literally - dawn is at 4am at the moment!) and made my way to the airport for my fancy KLM flight. There is something to be said for free tea and biscuits, it just makes the flight so much nicer!

My good luck (read sarcasm) with transport started when I arrived at Amsterdam to find Bee couldn't pick me up because the government had decided it was an excellent weekend to commence major roadworks. Lucky me. After a bit of fluffing around I found the right platform and train and made it to a station nearer to Bee's house in Vlaardingen so she could pick me up. One unlucky couple got on the same train, sans tickets and thinking they were going to Amsterdam rather than south. Last I saw they were escorted off the train with security holding a tight fist around their ID cards. Don't mess with the Dutch when it comes to tickets on trains apparently...

So what does one do when they arrive in Holland on a Saturday? Bicycle into town and eat stroopwaffles of course! Probably the sweetest thing I have ever had in my life, but delicious also! It's kind of like two super thin waffles with caramel inside. 

Nom nom nom

Books at the fair by the canal

Daniel had a meeting at the rugby club he plays for so Bee and I went along for the ride and had a wine at the beach while we waited for him.

Just hanging out in the middle of a roundabout

Beach and sunshine...bliss!

Afterwards we took a train to Rotterdam for dinner and a drink at the pub. No train dramas this time, apparently that only happens when I'm alone..

Flags for the World Cup decorating Bee & Daniels Street

Sunday Brianna cooked us delicious pancakes for breakfast before her and Daniel took me on a tiki tour around some nearby places. Or I should say Daniel drove and Brianna and I napped. We went to Kinderdijk to see the old windmills built there in the 1740s to assist with draining the land. It was awesome to see all these in the same area.

Mmm pancakes

In Kinderdijk

Walking through the fields around the windmills

Windmills and canals!

And the sun came out just to make things better

Different old style windmill

Some of the 19 windmills in the area

Old windmill you can turn around the top of  the house


After that we checked out Gouda, which I found out is actually pronounced like How-Da. Although most of the shops were closed we looked around the little streets and I found the cheese hanging in the streets rather amusing.

Cheese hanging in the streets in Gouda

The town hall

Cheeeeeeese and dutch souvenirs 

Bee & I in the streets of Gouda

Monday saw me embark on my biggest transport failure. I was attempting to get to Utrecht to check out the city and possibly meet Bee. So I dashed out of the house later than I should have, and in my mind had the directions to the train station Brianna had told me the night before.

"It's really easy, you just go to the end of our street, turn right and keep going, you can't miss it."


Challenge accepted. I can definitely miss it.

Especially when my mind changes the word "right" to "left".

I have problems with left and right at the best of times (I wrote it all backwards in this blog and had to change them all around...), except this wasn't a case of thinking one was the other. I knew it was one of the two and somehow in my haste convinced myself it was definitely left. I hurried for a bit until I realised I had definitely missed my intended train (there were more so that was ok) and started to wonder if maybe it had been the other way. Nothing was familiar and I seemed to be walking an awful lot longer than 10-15 minutes...

After 25 minutes I could go straight no more and decided to turn back. I couldn't turn back until I for sure knew it was the wrong way...what if I just walk slow or something!

I stopped by the house on my way back to let Bee know I was on my way via wifi...for the second time. The perils of having no credit on a pre-pay phone abroad.

This time I made it to said train station in the alloted 10-15 minutes. Woohoo!


The ticket machine accepted coins or card. I did not have enough coins or the right kind of card. And there were no shops in the immediate vicinity. And I didn't want to risk having no ticket thanks to the above.

So I trudged back home again...

Luckily it was actually an amazing day so I wasn't bothered but at that point I decided I was done with it and was just going to relax at home! Unfortunately Bee had been waiting for a bit for me, so I felt bad, but luckily it was on her way home anyway.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing before heading into town to watch the Dutch football team play against Chile in the World Cup.

And what an experience that was!

Ready to support the Netherlands!

Everyone appeared normal until the Netherlands scored their first goal. Then mayhem started!

Step one: Half the crowd chucks their beer in the air (what a waste).

Step two: Someone runs and jumps in the canal behind us.

Step three: Another group let off orange flares and these huge tinned smokebombs which everyone proceeded to kick everywhere until we were surrounded by orange smoke and it had stained the pavement orange.

When the second goal hit home shortly after it was slightly more subdued since I guess they used up all their flares and smoke bombs the first time around, but about 5 or 6 people jumped in the canal and we narrowly avoided a beer shower.

Outside the pub watching the football

This guys hat greatly amused me

Flares and smoke bombs!

Craziness outside the pub

Some of the smoke bombs in the street

Seriously everywhere...

A girl getting ready to jump in the canal...they must come prepared because she was wearing togs!

I'm not sure any other World Cup game experience is going to live up to that one!

Unfortunately the weekend was all too short and before I knew it I was saying goodbye and taking the train (luckily I had diligantly sussed out where the train station was the day before) to the airport to get back to Edinburgh, the worst immigration line ever and work in the afternoon. Boo.

Thanks to Brianna and Daniel for such a great weekend away, just what I needed and I only wish it could have been longer!


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