It’s been too long since I’ve written, so this post may be a bit jam packed. I’ll start with some trip/travel updates in this post.
The Netherlands/ Holland
In February I had the chance to visit some old friends who I knew from Bradford Woods. Sjaack and Dawn were counselors when I was just a camper. But as I grew up and they continued to come back to camp we got to know each other. The nice thing about camp friends is you know you will always have a connection with those people. Even if you haven’t seen them in many years you can reconnect easily. They were gracious enough to host me in their home in the tiny town of Andel, Holland (western Netherlands). We also traveled to Amsterdam for a few days.
Holland/Netherlands is a beautiful country! It reminds of Indiana with all the farms and flat land, but they have a bit more green grass. They also have a lot of dykes that are raised roads on a large hill that protects from severe flooding. You can drive on them and look over all the tops of the houses which makes for a nice view. Biking is also very visible. Kids and families ride their bikes all over the countryside and it’s no big deal. Obviously in Amsterdam you see tons of bikes, but even outside the city you see people riding. The interesting thing is that people aren’t all decked out in fancy bike gear, but they are in their work clothes, high-heals or have 3 kids riding in the front buggy. It’s more of an everyday lifestyle thing. They use biking for more of a means of transport than for fun or exercise specifically.
Holland is known for it’s windmills. We saw quite a few driving around. This one was still in operation and we could go inside and see it grinding spices.
In general, I found Holland to be fairly accessible. Most stores and houses were built level with the ground and rarely had a step up inside. Amsterdam was a bit more of a struggle, but again usually not more than a few steps. We were lucky to find an Air bnb type place on the first floor of a building in central city. Unlike Copenhagen and Istanbul, bathroom doors in the Netherlands tended to be much wider and feasible.
Of course, the food really whats happening in the Netherlands. One night we went out to a pancake pizza house. In other words it was a dutch style pancake (very thin like a crepe) topped with traditional pizza toppings. You could also get sweet toppings. Like many cities you can get a variety of ethnic food in Amsterdam. We had Indonesian one night and it was very delicious! Lots of sweet treats like Stroopwaffles and pastries!
One of the best parts was visiting the Anne Frank house. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go on the tour as their were many stairs, but they had just purchased a 3-D glasses program. I could wear the glasses and feel like I was walking through the house. I was really impressed that they went this extra mile. And of course it was also free!
Amsterdam was a nice walkable city with many streets that created a visual maze. The canals ran all along many streets and it was easy to get turned around. It was a beautiful city though. A few nice parks and many old buildings that made it very visually appealing. We also found a breakfast place with Salmon Eggs Benedict!! I haven’t been able to find that much in Germany, so I was in heaven. It was very relaxing to drive around the country side and be in the city. We’d take coffee/drink breaks and often times just people watch. The people were very kind and friendly too. I liked the vibe of calmness the overall country gave off. The city wasn’t too hectic and no one seemed too stressed. I’d like to go back in the summer or when the tulips bloom to experience the outdoors even more!
My sister’s visit to Berlin and England
I was very excited for my sister to visit because I had just finished all of my essays for class and was ready for the whole month of March off. I was also looking forward to having an excuse to get out and discover more. The winter was pretty cold here. In between school and staying warm, I did’t explore as much as I’d like, so I’ve been looking forward to spring and summer. Thankfully we she arrived the weather was unusually sunny!
We spent the first and last part of her trip exploring Berlin. We hit every major site and ate the best foods. I took her to a lot of places I hadn’t been and we were lucky to have great food. That’s the nice thing about Berlin. At first, it may not seem that food is all that good or the city may not have anything exciting to offer. But once you begin to look around you can find the best cafes and restaurants serving everything from Beet Burgers to Dumplings. My sister realized just how big the city was when we had to sit on the train for 45 mins to get to some places. I’m sure sometimes she thought I was taking her on a wild goose chase.
A few day’s into the trip we flew London and then Bath to visit my boyfriend’s sister and her husband. I had been to London, but I wanted my sister to see it to see one of the most influential cities of Europe. It’s crazy like New York, but a lot better looking. When in London for a few days it becomes a glazed over tour. You try to see the outside of as many buildings and sites as possible to really get the feel for the city. We stayed in a Hostel and took the bus into the main part of the city (great accessible bus system!). When I visited before I didn’t get to see Soho, so we went to a fun Mexican place there for dinner. Actually in a way it reminded me of Amsterdam because of all the tiny streets winding and little shops and cafes. It was of course very trendy! Hip food places, cocktail bars and more. Like New York, London has many areas (Burroughs) that each have their own vibe. It’s nice for a because you can see how so many diverse people can live in in one city. It allows for a one to never be bored looking at the same things.
While we enjoyed London, after 2 days we were ready to move to the countryside the historic roman built city, Bath. I’d heard wonderful things about this UNESCO city, but had no idea how intriguing it would be. For starters, this is a hilly city. I don’t mean a few little hills – massive hills! Our hosts lived at the top of a hill too! My sister and Tom got a great workup pushing my butt up the hill every evening. Going down was a bit more scary, but we survived.
We started the weekend off with some delicious ciders and pizzas. If you know me, I love cider and it’s a bit difficult to find many places in Germany. Bath is cider country with over 30 ciders on tap at this bar – heaven. From sweet and bubbly to dry and something that tastes like an old shoe. Ha that sounds odd but some of them are a bit odd even for me. We also got to attend a Bath Rugby match. This was a great way to spend a sunny Saturday with 2 pints of cider in hand. Let’s just say there are lots of thighs showing in this game.
One of the best part of the weekend was the day trip to Stonehenge. This had been on my bucket list but to be honest I wasn’t sure if it would be one of those sites that was over-hyped. I mean they were just some rocks right? The Henge is in the middle of a huge field and part of a massive land burial plan that stretches a few Kilometers. Looking at the stones gives you a bit of a mysterious feeling. It’s still pretty unknown as to why they chose this area and what they were used for. But, it shows how it must have been important since they drug them from Wales over many decades. This was a project that took years – It was amazing to think about what kind of a master plan they had. Overall, worth the visit and completely accessible!
We finished off the trip with a trip to the Roman Baths Spa. The old baths are now a museum, but they have built a new fancy spa that uses the same ground spring water that is like a hot tub. Hannah and I really enjoyed relaxing there!
I could say tons more about each, but this will have to do for now. I’m still working on writing immediately after the trips to capture my best thoughts. 🙂 Enjoy!