The Netherlands

I only spent about four days in The Netherlands, but the trip was jam packed with exploration of popular and remote Dutch charm.  My aunt, uncle, and cousins have been living in The Netherlands for years and were incredible hosts and tour guides.  My cousin, Elisa, speaks Dutch, which was a tremendous help in getting around, translating for us, and showing us the local and mainstream spots she knew we would enjoy.

Before I go on, I can without a doubt say that I want to live in The Netherlands one day.  It’s definitely a place for me to put down some roots (when I’m ready to do so). There’s a distinct daintiness to the country that comes alive in the detail of the architecture, the food, the art and the museums.  Everyone appears to be happy and is very easy-going there.  Even with comprehensive historical influence, the country feels like a balance between modernity and practiced tradition.  Each city we visited had its own identity and charming air to it that defined it from the rest of the country, but you had to be mindful that the differences lay in the details.

Delft and The Hague were my favorite of the spots we explored.  Every tree was strategically placed to give off an inviting let’s-go-for-a-stroll feeling.  Each café had a welcoming vibe that made you want to stop for coffee at every single one.  And the shops were so adorable that I happily forgot what it was like to solely exist in the corporate chain world.

While in The Hague we went to The Prison Gate Museum, which brought shivers to my skin, especially because it’s situated near the International Criminal Court and not far from The Peace Palace.  I’m a sucker for that stuff seeing as I studied International Disaster Psychology and love learning about International Law and Human Rights developments.

Along those lines of history, we also visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam, which brought tears to my eyes and provided a very sobering experience.  That is…until we went to the Heineken Brewery later that day.  The order of events was not coincidental. 

First, the Anne Frank museum was worth the wait in line and was an emotionally heavy trip through time.  My cousin said that every time she goes to the museum, she still feels tremendously for the experience Anne Frank endured.  She’s been there multiple times and still cries each time.  It’s a powerful place and captures the story beautifully.

Secondly, after coming down from the emotional part of our day, we traipsed through the Heineken Brewery treating ourselves to a fun afternoon of learning how the beer process works, playing interactive brew games, and ending, of course, with the taste testing.  We had a lot of good laughs and I have to say, I was extremely impressed with this brewery.  It’s at the top of my Amsterdam recommendation list.

The rest of the trip included windmills, tulips, bike rides to the beach, bench chats along the rivers, and strolls through cobblestone adorned towns.  It's a place that seems to makes you slow down and appreciate the beauty in life, even if it’s just the design of the foam on your coffee.  I’ll be back again one day and for much longer than four days.  Count on it.