After a trip, it’s nice to be home! Last Friday we went to the Netherlands because my best friend since I was ten years old was there with his wife who is Dutch. They live in the USA but visit her home town often so her parents can see their cute grandchildren. I seized the opportunity to see them over here on this continent because it’s not often I can see them twice in one year. I last saw them in the USA in January. My partner and I also did Amsterdam in a day before taking a train west to Deventer to meet up with our friends. This was my first time in Holland and I’m sure it won’t be my last. I fell in love with the place.
To do Amsterdam in a day it’s essential to get a hotel room in the middle of the city. I found a good price for one that was just perfect for sightseeing quickly. My top two favorite museums we visited were the Rembrandt House Museum and the Jewish Historical Museum. They’re my favorite because I learned the most from them and for the ticket price you get a lot of good things on the museum tour that enhance the experience of seeing the exhibits. The Jewish Historical Museum, in fact, is like buying four tickets in one because it includes the museum itself, the Portuguese synagogue, the Holocaust memorial, and the Holocaust museum. The museum proper is just amazing with a solid audio tour to explain the history of the Jewish community in Amsterdam as well as their influence on the city, their daily life, and cultural artifacts. The audio tour that goes with the Rembrandt house visit is also incredibly rich and informative.
If it has never been obvious to you that Amsterdam is simply a fabulous city to wander around in, let me show you.
Walking around and along the canals is a beautiful thing to do. You can also take a boat tour if you wish.
The Dutch countryside is also worth a visit. First of all because it’s gorgeous and second of all because the infrastructure of roads and highways in this ecologically conscious country let you do it all by bicycle safely and efficiently. We went to the area surrounding the city of Deventer, which has lots of farms and historically important houses. We stayed in a bed and breakfast just 7 km away from the small city and the innkeeper lent us a couple of bikes so we could take in the full experience. The dandelions are in bloom there right now and the grass smells sweet. Old country homes dot the landscape as do cows, goats, sheep, and all other kinds of farm animals.
Dutch cuisine is also something one must try. I think it might be one of Europe’s best kept secrets. We tried everything, from the very traditional fare (bitterballen!) to some interesting creative dishes offered by some trendy restaurants. We also had the privilege of trying some fantastic home cooking and the fine delicacies that the immigrants have brought to the Netherlands (shoarma!). On my way home I got on my cell phone and started searching for Dutch recipes to find out how to make some of these things at home. I’ve learned that a lot of things we eat in the USA are influenced by the Dutch. I will never say “as American as apple pie” EVER again. It isn’t American. It’s Dutch!
My dear knitters and crocheters, you may be shocked, though, to discover that I did not visit a single yarn shop during my trip. I know, the sacrilege! The truth is I didn’t have much time because I was too busy riding bikes and exploring history, culture, and gastronomy. I actually did happen upon an LYS in Deventer, but it was yesterday, Sunday, so it was totally closed.
I also took a sock along with me to knit while traveling. I didn’t pick it up. It stayed in my bag. I actually fell asleep a lot on the planes and trains. This is very uncharacteristic of me but I guess I was sleepy!