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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Netherlands

I married a foreigner, which means I "get" to go to Europe more often than most. My in-laws live in the Netherlands, which most Americans refer to as Holland. (Technically Holland is a region of the country) One of our favorite things to do is go for a long bike ride out in the farm lands. The Dutch love their bikes, and it is totally normal for adults to ride their bikes to work, out to restaurant or shopping. Needless to say, there were plenty of family bikes around for us to borrow. It is so flat, the biking is easy. For the most part we were on dedicated bike paths or farm roads with little to no traffic, so we don't have to worry about the kids. We packed a little picnic and the hubby told us stories about his town as we biked. We went for miles, but the kids really loved it and it was really relaxing.


But I won't lie. After a week in Holland, my butt really hurt from all the bike riding.


You see the craziest bikes in Holland! Here are just a few of the custom bikes we saw. They have these big buckets attached to the front, or sometimes the back, of the bike that they carry things in (kids, dogs, stuff). We once saw a wedding procession completely on bikes, chasing the bride and groom in a weird tandem bucket bike. Instead of honking their horns, they were all ringing their bikes bells... we were sitting at a cafe when they went by, and nobody else even batted an eye at it. I was like "Is that normal" to which the Hubby responded "What do you mean by normal?"


Smoked Herring and Eel are a Dutch delicacy, usually sold at roadside stalls in seaside towns, or at the weekly market. The eel is pretty good actually, but I could do without the herring. The Dutch eat a lot of potatoes and have a dozen words for the different ways you can prepare them. The language lessons for the kids usually center around potato words "aardappel, patat, frites" and playing with their cousin's that don't speak English.

It wouldn't be Holland without lots of working windmills, right? Modern windmills and ones that are hundreds of years old dot the landscape. We made up a little song "I see a Molen, a Molen, a Molen!" for whenever we spotted one. 


Flowers are pretty cheap in Holland, lucky for me! I celebrated my 43rd birthday on our trip and my Mother in Law decorated the house for me! The Husband bought me a big bunch of roses (which apparently aren't sold by the dozen there, but by the 10s) and my MIL got me a beautiful little arrangement.The family took me to Afternoon Tea at my favorite place way out in the country at an old farm house. We sat outside and sipped tea and ate finger sandwiches for a few hours and decompressed.

I find the Netherlands to be such a dichotomy. How do you separate the beautiful countryside and farms, from the Red Light District and relaxed attitude toward "soft drugs"? They set the legal age recently for purchasing beer at 16 and hard alcohol at 18. There is a whole cafe industry setup to cater to 16 year old partiers - which seems crazy to me. But there is much more to the Netherlands than you see in a city. You have to get out to the countryside, where the landscape reminds me so much of my grandparent's farm in Kansas. 


I tried to skip the bread and potato dishes and just stick with proteins and salads when possible. Although cheese, sausages and coffee were abundant. Since I am in maintenance now and not in the losing stage, I was a little more lenient on the trip. Thanks for letting me share my vacation with you! Next up I'll share our visit to the Dutch island of Terschelling in the North Sea.  

9 comments:

  1. I would love to go there one way. Looks like your family had a great time.

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  2. I love all your pictures and you are lucky to experience that. Would love to go sometime. :-)

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  3. How interesting! I love, love, love the pictures! I only think of the legal drugs and the red light district when I think of the Netherlands, so it is awesome to see it through your eyes. I am definitely not for 16 year olds drinking. I guess since they mostly ride bikes around there isn't many drunk driving accidents?
    The bikes are way cool!

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  4. What a beautiful country! I married a foreigner too but I still haven't been any further out of the country than Canada! Bummer! Have you ever thought about moving to the Netherlands?

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  5. How cool! Thanks for sharing part of your trip with us!

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  6. So pretty. Thanks for sharing. I've only ever heard positive things about the Netherlands.

    Oh, and congrats to the Netherlands for their gold in gymnastics last night. How cool was that?

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  7. Love the photos and the history of the country. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for sharing! Sending love and hugs! XO

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  8. Wish I could go there some time! Not sure I could stick with a diet on such a great trip, but thanks for showing us it is possible. Do you still use My Fitness Pal?

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  9. Thanks for sharing part of your trip with us
    it is very great to whom asking for how to lose belly fat fast

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