Our Trip to Holland: Part One

. 6 min read
Belgian Beer in Leiden, The Netherlands

I just returned from a 2-week trip to Holland.  And it was nothing short of magnificent.

My husband and I have not had a day all to ourselves since we went to Hawaii in 2009. Click here to see the photos from the Hawaii trip — and click here to see the food.

Needless to say, we have been desperately needing some adult time together. Time to enjoy leisurely meals without any children screaming or whining, time to just relax. Time to think, time to read.  And time to sleep. Those of you who are parents — is there anything you crave more than sleep?

If you are a busy parent and haven’t taken a vacation sans children in a while, I am telling you now: make the time. It will be the best thing you have done in years for yourself, for your marriage, and for your kids. You come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and in love with your life again. Find a grandparent or a trusted friend (you can return the favor for them if they have kids) who is willing to watch your tykes for a week or two — or even a couple days — and just do it!

The Itinerary

The plan was for Seth to fly to Amsterdam first since he had work to do there. I flew the same day with Kate to New York to spend Mother’s Day weekend with Seth’s parents. On Monday night, they drove me to JFK and I flew to Amsterdam. Kate stayed with Bubbe and Papa.

Seth and I spent 2 weeks in Amsterdam together, then flew back home and had one week in NY with Kate, Bubbe and Papa.

Bubbe & Papa were beside themselves at the opportunity to spend 3 full weeks with their precious granddaughter. And Seth and I were grateful to have some time by ourselves, as much as we would miss her (that said, Bubbe said photos and videos almost every day — so that helped a lot.)

Easy Flight, No Jet Lag

The flight over was easy. I got 5 hours of sleep on the plane. Getting sleep on the way over to Europe is key to reducing jet lag.

I popped a few melatonin and GABA and had a glass of wine to help me relax, and I wore headphones and a sleep mask. And boom! The next thing I knew, I was there!

Belgian Beer in Amsterdam

Seth greeted me with a long-stemmed red rose and we went straight to a pub where we had a refreshing glass of Belgian beer.

Herring Shop in Amsterdam

Then we went to get some herring. Herring is street food in Holland. You can find it on many street corners. It is raw herring, fermented in salt water. They serve it with raw onions and sometimes pickles, too.

Yes, it is delicious and yes, it is very good for you — it’s a traditionally fermented food. If you go to Holland, you must try it!

After that, we went back to the hotel, he went out to do a business meeting and I took a big fat nap. Three hours straight.

Bike in Leiden, The Netherlands

That night, we went out for an amazing Indonesian dinner not far from our hotel.

Back to sleep for another 14 hours.

I had no jet lag whatsoever! My secret formula for avoiding jet lag: amino acids, a little alcohol (not too much), lots of sleep and fabulous food.

Boats

Amsterdam Boat Ride Along the Canals

The next afternoon, we went to meet some friends in their private boat for a ride along the canals. It is so fantastic to see all the boats in Amsterdam. If you do one thing while you are there, you must go on a boat ride.

Amsterdam Boat Ride Along the Canals

The weather was perfect. The food, wine and conversation were superb. I love touring foreign cities, but it makes it so much more fun when you have friends who can take you around.

Bikes

Bikes in Amsterdam

I have never seen so many bikes in my life. They are everywhere all over Holland, but especially in Amsterdam. It takes some getting used to.

Our first day there I had trouble dodging the bikes — they come at you from every direction — and I almost got mowed down by a tram.

But I tell you what, I would trade this any day for all the traffic in L.A. It is so pleasant being in Amsterdam. There are very few cars, just bikes and people walking and the occasional train. It’s quiet and the air is clean and it’s just lovely.

Bike in Amsterdam

I especially loved the bikes that have extra seating for kids or cargo. This company, Bakfiets, sells these awesome bikes with carts.

Bike in Amsterdam

Whole families ride on their bikes together!

Bike in Amsterdam

They’re not cheap, about 1,500 Euros — which is about $2,200 US. But man, if I lived in Holland, especially with kids, I would totally get one of these.

In De Wildeman

We spent some time working in Amsterdam, since Seth was there working and well, you know I always work.

One day he was speaking at a conference all day so I spent the morning at the Anne Frank museum (highly recommended — I was moved to tears; read the book first if you can) and the flower market, and then I did a 3-hour group bike tour (also highly recommended).

During our down time, we went walking, ate at fantastic restaurants, and we hung out at this pub, In De Wildeman, which was only a few steps away from our hotel.

They over 200 beers. Seth is a Belgian beer fanatic, and these are beers that you cannot easily find in the U.S.

In De Wildeman

We met a very nice older Scottish couple — we ran into them on two different occasions at the pub. It was a fun way to while away the afternoon hours.  Sure, we could have walked around museums instead, but tasting different beers is so much fun, and I love meeting new people — especially people who live in other countries.

Liverwurst

And did I mention that they serve liverwurst at this bar? (I found a number of cafes and pubs that sold liverwurst.)

In De Wildeman Whiskey Distillery in Amsterdam

It actually used to be a distillery. They would roll the barrels of whiskey down the street to the canal where they’d load them on to the ship. (This photo was hanging on the wall.)

Oude Genever

Here’s a real barrel that they used to use in the back of the bar. Genever (juh-NAY-ver) is the word for Dutch whiskey. “Oude” (OW-duh) Genever is old (aged) Dutch Whiskey.

Oude Genever

We loved the Genever and brought a couple bottles home with us. I always like to bring back food and liquor that we can’t get over here. Booze, liverwurst, cheese.

Speaking of cheese, have you entered this month’s drawing yet? I’m giving away a selection of four different kinds of grass-fed cheese from Holland — an $80 value. Click here to enter now!

The Food

Oh, wait, you wanted to hear about the food?

Just kidding, I know that’s what you guys really care about. You’re like, eh, bikes, boats, beer — who cares! LET’S SEE THE FOOD!!!!

Here’s my problem. I have so much to say about the food. there’s just no way I can fit it all into one post.

So I’m going to do another post — possibly even two more — about the food in Holland.

Stay tuned for part two next week.

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