Being Dutch – Part 10: Dutch Dingen

Yup, I know strictly it should be Nederlandse Dingen (Dutch things) … but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

When you’re in Holland, either living here, visiting Dutch friends or on holiday, you are bound to run into things which seem a bit strange or that you don’t have at home. As a bit of Friday fun, I’ve complied a list of some of these Dutch Dingen! How many can you cross off the list? Let’s play Dutch bingo!!!!!!!!!

1. Bitterballen!

C’mon… you know they had to be #1…

Read more about these little round balls of deep-fried deliciousness in Welkom op Bitterballen Bruid.

Any excuse for bitterballen...

2. Stroopwafels

Stroop = syrup/treacle, I’ll let you guess what wafel is ;-) Two thin layers of baked dough/batter/waffley stuff with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. LEKKER! 

Stroopwafels

3. Clogs

In Dutch = klompen. A wonderful Dutch stereotype…

When in Rome...

4. Bathroom Calendar

Oh yes… Dutch people hang their birthday calendars in the bathroom.

Birthday Calendar

5. Windmills

Iconic.

Windmill

6. Kaasschaaf

Meaning cheese slicer, the kaasschaaf is actually a Norwegian invention, but since their cheese is the right consistency (not too soft, not too hard) these scary devices are widely used in the Netherlands.

Kaasschaaf

7. Hagelslag

… or sprinkles as we call them in England. Not that weird, on top of your ice cream, but the Dutch eat this on bread, with butter, for breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hagelslag

 8. Steep stairs

Have you fallen down a steep Dutch staircase yet? (I must confess I have…  at least twice! Damn you, wine! I thought we were friends…)

Steep stairs

9. Wearing head-to-toe orange

Also known as oranjegekte (orange madness) … this strange act happens on King’s Day and at large international sport events.

Oranje spullen

10. Bakplaat

Cook your own food at the table on a bakplaat (lit: bake plate, meaning: hot plate) particularly popular in the holidays. Read more here: Being Dutch – Part 2: Gourmetten

Gourmetten

11. Stamppot 

Meaning “mash pot”. Potatoes mashed with vegetables, often served with rookworst (smoked sausage.)

Stamppot

12. Beer served in thimbles

A nice refreshing pint after a long day… think again! Ask for a biertje and you’ll receive a thimble of the amber nectar. Remember the glass your Nan gives you for sherry at Christmas? Yep, that’s it.

Beer

13. Smeerkaas sambal

Spread cheese with sambal (a hot sauce made from chilli peppers). If you’re thinking of moving to Holland: make THIS the reason. It’s worth it, I promise.

Smeerkaas sambal

14. Ja/Nee and Nee/Nee stickers

The Dutch solution to junk mail. Ja/Nee = Yes to the free local paper(s) but No, I don’t want leaflets, brochures and other crap.

Nee/Nee = no mail that is not personally addressed to them. Clever, huh?

Ja Nee

15. Slow signs

Supposedly a visual sign to warn you that should slow down and/or that kids are playing. I think they’re little aliens directing the spaceship where to land. (Good cover story, though.)

Slow

16. Drop

Dutch people love liquorice. They also think it’s a funny game to try and feed it to unsuspecting foreigners! You have been warned!!

Liquorice choices

© Autopilot / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

17. Wisdom tiles

Tegeltjes wijsheid: An old tradition where wisdom is shared through tiles often with a humorous twist.

Wisdom tiles

18.Cycle paths

We all know that the Dutch love to cycle… and many cycle paths are red, so that people (tourists) are warned to stay off them. But what happens now?!?!?! Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh!

Cycle path

19. Raw Haring

Ok, so herring isn’t that weird. But the Dutch like to eat it raw. Tip your head back, grab the fish by the tail and Bob’s your uncle! :D

Haring

20. Mayonnaise with a side of chips…

Remember the infamous Pulp Fiction quote?

VINCENT: … you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?

JULES: What?

VINCENT: Mayonnaise.

JULES: Goddamn!

VINCENT: I seen ‘em do it man, they fuckin’ drown ‘em in it.

Patat

© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The best of the rest (aka the ones I don’t have a photo for…)

21. White leggings – noooooooo! Just noooooo!

22. Bakfiets – for transporting cargo i.e. – children.

23. Lack of curtains – ever wondered what your neighbours do in the evening? Take a leisurely stroll down your street and find out!

24. Tiny sinks – with cold water. The Dutch – cheap? Naaaaaaaa.

25. Red trousers – see point 21.

So, how many did you get?

Anything you’d like to add to the list?

Hayley x

Dolfinarium Harderwijk

Yesterday I was looking through my photos of my time in Holland so far and realised I haven’t posted anything about the beautiful Dolfinarium in Harderwijk yet! AKA the largest marine mammal park in the Netherlands! It’s open from 28th March until 26th October, so if you want to go there this year you’d better make it snappy!

Harderwijk – almost at the geographical centre of the Netherlands – is in the province of Gelderland and is around an hour drive from Amsterdam. It’s a really fun place to take the kids… and since we don’t have any, we “borrowed” the Dutchie’s three nephews for the weekend…

Dolfinarium, Harderwijk

Up close and personal at the Dolfinarium, Harderwijk

Entrance to the Dolfinarium, Harderwijk,

Entrance to the Dolfinarium, Harderwijk

I’ve always been a big fan of dolphins since I was a little kid, so it was a real treat when I found out we had such a place in the Netherlands! There are three main shows and eight other “performances” so you can plan your day around the showtimes and it’s a great way to make sure you see all of the animals. The boys are at that age where almost everything (except computer games!!) is “saai” (boring) so the shows were a great way to keep them entertained!

De Snor(rrr)show

De Snor(rrr)show

Snor = moustache! This show was all about the largest mammal in the park: The Walrus!

Walrus

Walrus take 2

There were also some zeeleeuwen (sealions) on hand for extra tricks… and noise!!

Walrus show

After the Snor show it was time to head to het dolfijntheater (the dolphin theatre) for Aqua Bella 

Het dolfijntheater

Het dolfijntheater

Dolfijntheater

In this show the dolphins take you on a trip around the world and let you “discover the world through their eyes”. It was awarded best (dolphin) show in the world in November 2013.

In addition to the shows, there’s also loads to walk around and explore. My favourite photo from the day: a very smiley ray!

Dolfinarium ray

Het Roggenrif 

Het Roggenrif

Dolfinarium

Het Roggenrif  (Ray Reef) is where the sharks and rays live… you can even touch them! If you’re brave enough!

Starfish

A great day out for the kids, even though it is rather expensive in my humble opinion. (€25 euros for kids, €27.50 for adults.) Parking is also extra (around €7) but you can bring in food and drinks if you don’t want to purchase them at the park. If you have time to explore Harderwijk, there is more than just the Dolfinarium. We had time for a quick walk around before dinner and enough time to see the moody looking Harderwijk Harbour…

Harderwijk Harbour

… and a WWII monument for the 117 fallen airmen, designed by Arend Kleinpaste. (The man is not part of the monument, I just happened to capture him standing there.)

Harderwijk monument

This coming weekend we’re off to Efteling which is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest theme parks in the world.

Spannend!!

Hayley x

Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 3

The third installment is all about Lake Garda! Wooooo hooooo! What an incredible place! I feel so lucky to be able to have visited this amazing area of Italy and what better time to do it than on your honeymoon!? Idyllic is one word. Beautiful is another. Breathtaking, stunning, glorious… I could go on all day!

The first glimpse we got of Lake Garda was the northern shore at Riva del Garda. From there we had a short drive along the eastern shore to our first stop: Malcesine, or so we thought! The campsite we’d booked was advertised as being in Malcesine, but we soon realised it was also an “area” and we were miles away from the actual town of Malcesine. We were actually closer to the small town of Navene, with comparatively few bars and restaurants. Luckily it had a beautiful marina!

Marina Navene, Lake Garda

Marina Navene, Lake Garda

Fisherman, Navene, Lake Garda

Fisherman, Navene, Lake Garda

After a one night stay at Camping Alpino and a meal at Locanda Navene (which was super-delicious and so authentic the waiter didn’t speak a word of English!) we decided to travel down to Sirmione which had been highly recommend by my boss (he’s a Lake Garda nut and has been 10+ times.) I REALLY don’t want to talk about lack of photos on this part of the trip (if you’ve read the previous posts, you already know!) Sorry!

The drive from Malcesine (or Navene!!) to Sirmione is sooo pretty!! (Tip: Just stay on the SR249 and follow the shape of the lake, no need to take the motorway route that Google Maps gives. Weirdos!)

When we arrived at Camping Tiglio in Sirmione we approached the Vacansoleil reception to book a “luxe Navajo tent” for a few nights. It was cheaper than staying in our own text (!) so, why not! Unfortunately, the grumpy woman at reception had no interest whatsoever in helping us. Big sighs, rolling her eyes and muttering “we’re very busy” as she scuffed her heels to another tent to get her book. I was so surprised by her rudeness I even commented on it (something I would never usually do!) “Well, if it’s too difficult for you, we can just book online…” (We’d already seen online they had spaces but thought it was “easier” to just turn up!) But then… just then, I realised something. How had she pronounced the word busy again??

So, I pulled out my secret weapon: “Bent u Nederlands? We kunnen het in het Nederlands doen, als u wilt.”

YESSSSSSS! Never in our lives have we seen so much of a turnaround in a matter of seconds. When speaking Dutch, this woman came alive, she loved us, we could do no wrong, we even got to choose which tent we wanted! We ended up staying for 4 nights and she was the friendliest, most lovely host you could wish for. In Dutch!

And in case you’re wondering what a “luxe Navajo tent” is, I’ll put you out of your misery now ;-)

Our home for 4 nights

Our home for 4 nights

Yep, in true Dutch stylie… we hired bikes! Without a doubt the easiest way to get around Lake Garda! (Ask at your accommodation / campsite where to rent bikes, there are rental places everywhere.)

View from campsite Tiglio

View from campsite Tiglio

While staying in Sirmone, we wanted to do a boat trip so we rode our bikes to the harbour in Peschiera del Garda which we were told had better connections than Sirmione itself. It was also totally pretty  – well worth a visit in itself!

Peschiera del Garda Harbour

Peschiera del Garda Harbour

And just to prove how popular this area was with the Dutch…

Hollandse Patat

Hollandse Patat

I only took a photo! Promise! Why eat Dutch chips when you can eat Italian food?! ;-)

And with the San Marco ready to set sail… off we went!

The San Marco

Boat trip from Peschiera to Garda

Lake Garda Boat Trip

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

Boat trip, Lake Garda

We hopped off the boat in Garda (town) because the Dutchie’s Mum had been to Lake Garda a few years back (ok, a lot of years back) and that’s where she had stayed.

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

Garda, Lake Garda

A gorgeous little town brimming with shops, bars and restaurants. We bought the majority of our souvenirs on this single trip!

If you’re lucky enough to visit Lake Garda, it would be rude not to do a boat trip! It was very reasonably priced, around 16 euros return from Peschiera to Garda. An absolute bargain in my eyes. You get to see so much of the lake this way, perfect for people who don’t have much time!

Or for those who want to spend the majority of their time chilling out…

Sirmione, Lake Garda

Sirmione, Lake Garda

Well, we had to rest, recuperate and relax before our car journey to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the San Marino MotoGP!!

Have you been to Lake Garda? Which places did you visit? Did you speak to the lovely Dutch lady at Camping Tiglio?

Hayley x

Bitterballen Bruid’s Bruiloft – The Official Photographs

Happy Friday! I’m **SO** excited to show you a selection of our professional wedding photographs which arrived this week! I was actually ready to post Part 3 of the honeymoon today, but I figure this is WAY more important. Hope you agree!

Our wedding took place in Hilversum at the Gemeentehuis (town hall) followed by a reception at The Haven van Huizen (haven = harbour) and a meal at Cornelisz Restaurant.

Zuiderkerk, Hilversum

Scissors – “bitchin’ haircuts”, Gijsbrecht van Amstelstraat, Hilversum

On the way!

Our wonderful registrar at the Gemeentehuis, Hilversum

Making it official!

My little sister was a witness AND bridesmaid

The Haven van Huizen

You know it had to happen!! BITTERBALLEN BRUID!

Cornelisz, Huizen

Wow! That was way more than I thought! Hope you like! :)

Photo credit goes to the amazing Katie at Indigo Images who flew to Holland and back for the day! An absolute star! Massive thanks.

Have a great weekend!

Hayley x

Japanese Restaurants in Hilversum

This weekend was my 5 month expat-iversary in the Netherlands… so what better to write about than another one of my passions… Japanese food! (Btw: yes, I get that most people would celebrate their 6 month “anniversary” but 5 is my lucky number and I am not most people!)

Before I start, I probably don’t say it here much (if at all… I’m not that kinda girl) BUT the last 5 months have been HARD! I won’t lie. Fellow blogger Sophie in Clogs summed it up perfectly in her advice to newbie expats: “…the first few months will be wonderful and frustrating and overwhelming and exciting and lonely and just plain weird – a true roller coaster of emotions.” True, true words! Thanks, Sophie – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

On Friday I was in desperate need of cheering up, so we decided to go out for a meal. And what better than a belly full of sashimi?!

Even before we arrived in Holland, I had already been checking out Trip Advisor to find the best local eateries… and lucky for us there are five Japanese restaurants in Hilversum! We’ve now tried four of the five, and who knows… maybe we’ll try number 5 this month! (Dutchie: nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

So if you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, here’s the lowdown of what’s on offer in Hilversum…

Sumo

A chain, yes. But don’t judge! We’ve eaten here once and had takeaway delivered 2 or 3 times. It is always spot on! The sashimi salad is the shining star of this restaurant: copious amounts of tuna and salmon with a delicious (and slightly spicy) salad dressing, crisp, salad, all finely sliced. The salad of champions! (Bottom right.)

Sumo, Hilversum

Japanese feast at Sumo, Hilversum

The portion of edamame beans is epic! Well worth the 5 euros. (We actually took half of them home in a doggy bag as there were so many!) The other dishes are crab and prawn “balls” (but more like discs) and spicy tuna maki! Yum!

Sumo restaurants offer “all you can eat” or  a la carte… as we are massive sashimi fans we went a la carte as sashimi isn’t included in the all you can eat menu. (You can buy it for an additional €12.50.)

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

A great restaurant and well deserving of it’s 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor.

Have you visited other Sumo restaurants in the Netherlands? How did they match up?

Tokyo

Located on Havenstraat, this restaurant has a great relaxed atmosphere and the staff are super-friendly. I love this traditional Japanese mural – beautiful!

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

They also get bonus points for the amazing wine glasses!

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

A big advantage at Tokyo is you can buy 4 maki rolls instead of the standard 8. This is great because it means you can two different varieties at once: a big advantage for us!

They also serve their sashimi platter ON A BOAT!! :D

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Simply fabulous! A great authentic restaurant… I can’t wait to go back!

Kimono

Sorry to say, but: best avoided. Truly disappointing. The staff were friendly but the food just wasn’t up to scratch. We ordered a sashimi platter which was said to contain 7 different types of fish. It arrived with four, one of which was crabsticks. The tempura was soggy and very basic (no fancy veg or prawns, just standard veg.) The wasabi was discoloured and weak. If the wasabi is good… you should NOT be able to do this:

Kimono, Hilversum

Kimono, Hilversum

…without getting the world’s biggest nose-kick. This amount: nothing.

Hopefully they were just having a bad day and a low-stocked kitchen… but it was enough for us to not want to go back again.

Sochi’s Sushi

This is the one we haven’t tried yet… but soooooon! Located on the Groest, next to Sumo! (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that!) They offer lunch, take out and dinner (but are only open until 8pm, which is why we haven’t been yet.)

It’s on the list!

Ai Uchi (situated within the Amrâth Grand Hotel Theater Gooiland)

This was the little gem we discovered on Friday! As you can see – the bar area is stunning!

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

We had two soups to start but they didn’t photograph well in the romantic candle light! ;-) Miso soup (simple, good) and a Japanese fish soup (highly recommended!)

Then we had tempura, sashimi, edamame beans (of course!) and Usuyaki (beefrolls met knoflook en lenteui = beef with garlic and spring onions) with udon noodles. Definitely the dish of the day!!

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Plum wine!

Plum wine!

The staff were welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. When we asked for more wasabi (heat fiends that we are) the waiter happily brought back a huge pot (well, huge for wasabi, anyway!)

Hilversum gets a big thumbs up for its Japanse restaurants! 

What great restaurants do you have in your neighbourhood?

Hayley x

Being Dutch – Part 9: Soepie!

Another cute thing I noticed about Dutch people recently: they love soup. Erwtensoep (pea soup with smoked sausage) is a firm favourite and one of their most “traditional” (winter) dishes. And when do you serve soup? In England you eat a bowl at home on a cold winter’s night, as a quick dinner if you’re short on time (shove it in the microwave) and if you’re feeling ill… Heinz chicken soup is a must.

When do Dutch people serve soup? At parties! I kid you not. As if Dutch birthday parties weren’t weird enough already (start and finish times, cake on ARRIVAL, compulsory circular seating plan) then they go and serve soup!

Where’s the cheese and pineapple… the sausage rolls… the cucumber sandwiches? (Ok, English people are strange too…) But you’ve got to admit that our “finger food” is better suited to parties. Bite-sized pieces, nothing wet, nothing spillable, nothing requiring cutlery. How do you eat SOUP whilst holding a drink and a conversation at the same time??

Ok, ok, they don’t just eat it at parties. They also eat it at home. (But the party thing is still weird.)

According to The Dutch Table: “A traditional meal will start with a soup, continue with a main course and finish with a sweet dessert such as yoghurt, pudding or vla.”

They love soup so much that they affectionately call it “soepie!”

I asked the Dutchie why it wasn’t just “soepje” (Dutch people love making things small by adding -je, -pje or -tje onto the end of words) and apparently soepje is perfectly correct… But there was a 90’s advert by Unox in which the catchphrase is “soepie!”

I had to find it of course… so here is is!!

This makes me smile. A lot.

Hayley x

Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 2

It’s nearly 3 weeks since we got back from our honeymoon and I write this with serious post-wedding / honeymoon blues! BUT: time for Part 2! The Stelvio Pass. Oh My Life.

I would love to be mysterious, to build the suspense and keep you waiting but I just can’t! It’s too exciting! I now see what all the fuss is about on Top Gear,  motorbike forums and whatnot. It’s the best road I’ve ever experienced, a real drivers road and I will never forget it. (Yes, I am getting excited about a ROAD. You’ll see…)

The Dutchie summed it up perfectly… posting this panorama on Facebook with the caption “The drive of a lifetime”. Boy was he right.

Stelvio Pass Panorama

Stelvio Pass Panorama

Unfortunately, this is the only picture you’ll see from the Dutchie… while his photos can be restored, the price tag is ridiculously hefty… so for now at least we’ll have to go without. A massive shame that he has lost hundreds of photos (including the beginning of the honeymoon.) Damn.

The idea of going via the Stelvio Pass (in Italian it’s called the Passo dello Stelvio and in German: Stilfser Joch) came from one of the Dutchie’s work colleagues. He’d recently been on a similar road trip and said it was well worth a detour. Yep. Yep. Yep.

Stelvio Pass 2

Stelvio Pass 11

Stelvio Pass 4

There were tons of insane brave cyclists tackling the pass. At 21.5 km long with 48 hairpins… that’s no mean feat!

photo 179

Stelvio Pass 5

Stelvio Pass 6

The pass is located in the Ortler Alps in Italy between Stilfs (“Stelvio” in Italian) in South Tyrol and Bormio in the province of Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy. It has an impressive elevation of 2,757m (9,045 ft) above sea level!

Stelvio Pass 7

Stelvio Pass 8

Stelvio Pass 8

The views are absolutely breathtaking! We stopped to admire them at pretty much every opportunity we could! There are several parking places for cars, some more hairy (scary) than others! The advantage of cycling is that you can stop wherever you like. Maybe not so insane after all.

Stelvio Pass 9

Just WOW.

… and out the other side! This was taken just after the small town of Bormio, a popular skiing destination in the Alps.

IMG_8995

An amazing start to the trip and highly recommended if you’re going to Northern Italy!

I’ll end with a couple of tips if you’re going to the Stelvio Pass yourself:

  • When driving the pass: don’t be a dingbat! The road is narrow, there are lots of other road users present. On certain hairpins, cars in front of us were blindly taking corners without looking what was coming the opposite way. This just causes a traffic jam as the road isn’t wide enough for two cars. I repeat: don’t be a dingbat!!
  • On that vein… I wouldn’t recommend driving this road with a camper van. Too big, too slow. We didn’t see one truck on the pass. There’s a reason for this ;-)
  • There is no need to stay in a hotel on the pass itself. The prices are at least double! We stayed at La Baita which was a 10-15 minute drive from the “beginning” of the Stelvio Pass. More than close enough! (If you do stay here: the food in the restaurant next door is LEKKER!! I had a seasonal mushroom dish and the best pizza I tasted in Italy. Prices are great, too! 10/10.)

Phrasebook

Oh, and if you don’t speak Italian… take a phrasebook or a dictionary!! Few people speak English so if you want to be understood, you’ll need a little help! (You’ll thank me later.)

Part 3: Lake Garda! Have you been?

Hayley x

Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 1

I was hoping to share the official wedding photographs with you – before the honeymoon pictures – but I’ve only just received the “sneak peek” myself… so in the meantime… let’s crack on with our beautiful huwelijksreis!

My dream honeymoon destination has always been Thailand. The clear water, the blue sky, the perfect beaches… it’s just ideal honeymoon material! However when my friend got married in Bali in October last year, we thought – “heck, we’re going all that way already – let’s go to Thailand as well”. It was everything it was cracked up to be and more… and I would LOVE to go back, but for our honeymoon, we wanted to go somewhere we’ve never been before. (If you’re new to the blog and want to read about our Thailand trip, you can do so here: 10 things to to do on Koh LantaKoh Lipe: Thailand’s secret island?Thailand Packing List.)

So we decided on… ITALY! (There is actually a significant reason for this, but it’s better to explain that in a later post… it will all become clear later – I promise!)

As we wanted to visit several places in Italy, we did the Dutch thing (they love camping and caravaning!) loaded up the car and decided to turn it into a road trip! A mix of hotels and camping, keeping the plan flexible so we could stay in places for longer if we liked them… and move on if we didn’t. But first stop: Basel in Switzerland! We left for our honeymoon on my birthday, so didn’t want to spend the whole day and evening driving. Basel is around a 7 hour drive from home so it seemed like the ideal location for a stopover. We were right.

En route to Basel

En route to Basel

We arrived quite late in the evening, so only had time for a quick shower, change of clothes and then went out for dinner: a cheese fondue! Of course! We’d done a bit of research prior to the trip and found a highly recommended restaurant on Trip Advisor called Elsbethenstubli, serving the “absolute best fondue you’ll ever have” – according to one reviewer. They were right. It was delicious. The best we’ve ever had! Another reviewer thoughtfully added “Remember, it IS Switzerland”… so we weren’t too surprised when the bill came. It was expensive… but hey, it IS Switzerland.

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon a fantastic bar called Zum Kuss. (It means “The Kiss” in German.) Again, it was expensive (10+ euros for a double gin)… but so, soooo worth it. Their gin collection was one of the most impressive we’d ever seen! The second shelf down is ALL gin. I shit you not. AMAZING!! The Dutchie had one with cucumber and pepper. Yum!

Zum Kuss, Basel

Zum Kuss, Basel

And now for some “real” photos, from my “proper” camera!! (The above were phone photos… Sorry!) The next morning, we wanted to get on the road by lunchtime, so we had a couple of hours to explore Basel:

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall (known locally as Roothuus) is over 500 years old and dominates Marktplatz (market place) in the centre of Basel.

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall, Marktplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Beautiful! You must go there if you visit the city!

On the subject of recommendations… a place to avoid is Restaurant Zum Alten Stockli. It looks great from the outside and has a lovely terrace, but the waitress was unbelievably rude, slow and unfriendly and one of the locals was even worse! A terrible dining experience, we wanted to get out of there as fast as we could!! Later we discovered it’s the #346 worst restaurant (out of 411 restaurants) in Basel!! Lesson learned… ALWAYS check Trip Advisor first!!

I’ll end on a positive note, however, of a cool mural we spotted… plus some street art! (The Dutchie had a better picture of the mural… an amazing panorama… but since his phone ended up drowning in a swimming pool in Italy – the less said about that the better – this will have to do!)

Music mural

Music mural, Basel, Switzerland

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Part 2 coming soon: Italy and the Stelvio Pass!! Now I’m off to relax before my first ever Dutch lesson! Nervous? Me…? Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!

Hayley x

Bitterballen Bruid’s Bruiloft

Wow, that’s a mouthful. As promised… I said I’d share a few snaps of the day! Well actually, days: we were married in a small, intimate ceremony on Friday and then on Saturday we had a huge party with around 130 guests! Suffice to say it was the best weekend of our lives! :D

Bride mug

The service was beautiful and very personal… we only had 11 guests. Just our closest family. <3

At the Gemeentehuis

On Saturday I had partymaids, rather than bridesmaids! With orange flowers, of course… Go Holland!

Party maids

It was an emotional day to see friends and family, many of the UK contingent I hadn’t seen since I moved here, so a few tears were shed!

Welcoming a friend to the party

Everyone had an amazing party and we danced the night away until 4am or so!

Sweets

Now it’s time to finally relax after months of planning… we leave on our honeymoon tomorrow! Italy for 2 weeks… Can’t wait!!

Professional photos to follow – the above were taken by family and friends. And of course… I will be sure to blog about our amazing honeymoon too!

Have a good couple of weeks!

Ciao!

Hayley x

Wedding Card Post Box

Today I have mainly been drawing… with a sharpie… on a cardboard box.

When looking for a “wedding card post box” online, I couldn’t find anything I liked. Except for a real English post box… but being in the Netherlands means it’s practically impossible to hire one here and getting one from the UK would be extortionate. Even adding the words “customized” or “alternative” to my Google search didn’t help a bit… I then got results for card boxes with ribbons round them, or diamantes… or badly printed lettering with the bride and groom’s name on them.

Nope. This just wouldn’t do. So I ordered a plain white cardboard post box and decided to decorate it myself…

With a sharpie!

Card post box

1. Take one boring white wedding card post box, purchased online from Amazon for around £10 including delivery (around €12.50) plus 2 black markers. One thick, one thin (around €2 each from local stationery store.)

Wedding card post box

2. The lettering is the most important bit, so I used a pencil and ruler first… just to be sure.

Wedding card post box

3. Once you’re happy… fill in with the marker. (This was the most annoying bit and I ended up having to re-do it twice because all the letters didn’t fit in!!)

Card post box

4. Then… get creative!! I had the idea a couple of weeks ago, so while I was waiting for the box to arrive, I spent some time practicing and using the world wide web for inspiration!!

Wedding card post box

It’s sure as hell not perfect… but it’s personal… and that’s what matters. No one else in the world will have the same post box as me on their wedding day!

Wedding card post box

5. The finished result…

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Wedding card post box

Hayley x