Thank you and good night…

Sunset, Polzeath, Cornwall

Sunset in Polzeath, Cornwall

It has dawned on me that my teeny tiny thank you about the blog awards in my last post was rather lacklustre and fleeting, sorry. So let’s rectify that.

I have posted my thanks on my social media channels, but perhaps there are readers out there who only follow me via the blog and therefore have not received the appreciation they deserve.

You see, my parents brought me up well. When I was young it was all “manners cost nothing” and that’s still true. We English love to be polite and I’m no exception.

Thus, to all of the people who took the time to vote for me in the Expat Awards last month: a huge thank you to each and every one of you. I really appreciate your support and I couldn’t have done it without you. THANK YOU with whipped cream and a cherry on top!

Dutchies: Hartelijk bedankt dat je de tijd hebt genomen om op mij te stemmen. Ik waardeer jullie steun enorm en ik had het niet zonder jullie kunnen doen. DANK JULLIE WEL! Ook slagroom en kersen voor jullie 😉

English peeps: yes, I said slag 😀

And anyhoo, since I’m here I just wanted to say doei (bye) for a few weeks. As I previously mentioned, I’m popping off to the UK for a bit and taking a proper break from everything. In between seeing family and friends, we’ll also be visiting Cornwall and the Lake District (my first time in the latter!!) so I’m very excited! I might post a pic or two on Insta if I can be arsed… my main account is @bitterballenbruid and my travel account is @bitterballenbruidtravels if you can be arsed to follow along 🙂

So enjoy this lekker weer (lovely weather) en tot een paar weken! (See you in a few weeks!)

See ya!

Hayley x

 

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5 places I’ll be hanging out by the beach this summer

This weather right now is giving us a delicious taste of more sunny days to come in the Netherlands (I hope!!) and what better way to hang out in the sun than by the beach? Dutch people love terraces (terrasjes) when the sun’s out but I like to go one further when I possibly can. Being by the sea is probably my favourite thing in the world. And I know I’m not the only one. There’s something about the crashing waves, the fresh air and seeing the beautiful blue sea meet the sky on the horizon that makes me feel so calm and peaceful. After I’ve had my walk along the beach, I love going for a drink (and maybe some bitterballen!!) afterwards. Here a few of my favourite places:

Ubuntu Beach, Zandvoort

Ubuntu beach

Zandvoort is my favourite beach in the Netherlands. We’re lucky in that there are loads of beaches here and while I’ve not been to every single beach in Holland yet (a girl can dream, right?) I have been to a fair few. And of all the places I’ve been to in Zandvoort – since my first visit about 9 years ago – Ubuntu Beach is my favourite. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a view, Instagrammable shit (they have swings!!) and good bitterballen. Ubuntu beach has it all.

Bitterballen @ Ubuntu beach

Obviously if you go on a weekend when the weather’s nice, it’s going to be rammed – so if you can, try to go in the week. Or if you are visiting at the weekend, especially in summer – make sure you book. www.ubuntubeach.nl 

 

Hippie Fish, Zandvoort

Almost as good as Ubuntu but the interior is slightly less Instagrammable. My advice is to go to both! 🙂 Ubuntu for a drink and borrelhapjes, and then Hippie Fish for seafood.

Hippie Fish

Their seafood is the shit! www.hippiefish.nl

 

Beachclub de Branding, Noordwijk

My friend M introduced me to this place and I must say it’s quite similar to Ubuntu with the swings and the general vibe / Instagrammability… but then in Noordwijk. Last time we were here we had a delicious seafood platter (and bitterballen, obvs!) add a glass of chilled white wine and the view – you can’t get much better in my opinion!

Branding beach club

Branding Beach Club

As per the above, you’ll probably need to book if you’re visiting at the weekend! www.brandingbeach.nl

 

Key West Beach House, Utrecht

“Utrecht??” I hear you cry… and you’re right. There’s no real beach here, but to get to an actual beach from Hilversum (where I live) takes at least an hour in the car. However, this place delivers with a beachy vibe even though it’s only a lake. I love this place! Every time I come here it always feels like a little mini-holiday, if only for a few hours. You can get here by bus from Utrecht centraal or by car. There’s loads of free parking and depending on where you live you could also cycle.

Varied menu – we’ve only ever had hapjes but they’ve always been great! Not the cheapest place I guess, but you get what you pay for. In my opinion it’s really worth it for the holiday vibes.

www.keywestbeachhouse.nl

 

Dikke Muis, Loosdrecht

This one also isn’t a ‘real’ beach, but the lakes give you enough of a beach vibe to make it to this list – and it’s the one closest to Hilversum. Vuntusstrand (Vuntus beach) is mostly grassy, but there is a tiny patch of sand so you can get sand between your toes! Loads of Dutch people swim here in the summer, I did once but tbh I found it too gross and had to get out shortly afterwards. The water was so dirty / murky… not really selling it am I!! 😉

Vuntusstrand

I often come to Vuntus beach in the summer, the advantage of working from home is that I can do whatever I like on my lunch break and my hours are flexible, so I often cycle here on a sunny day and chill out and read a book. There are toilet facilities (if you’re desperate!!) but nowhere to get food / drinks so you can either bring your own or visit the ice cream parlour at the end of the street.

If you want a ‘real’ drink, I recommend the Dikke Muis (the Fat Mouse!). I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten more than bitterballen here but it’s all about the views! The interior décor is pretty cool too and the staff are always quite relaxed and friendly.

www.dedikkemuis.nl

 

Other places to consider:

Those 5 didn’t tickle your fancy? Or perhaps you live too far away… if so, here are a couple more which didn’t (quite) make it to my top 5:

Renesse – I loooooove Renesse but I’ve only been once and I’m not sure if I’ll make it back this year. It’s quite a long drive from where we live and we’d like to explore some new places this summer. However, if you do go I highly recommend: Bar Brut.

Domburg – Same excuses as above, but is is a fab place!! I recommend Oase Domburg  It’s right on the beach, expect to pay for the privilege 😉

Hoek van Holland – We’ve been here a few times now and love camping at Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee. I’ve already written about that, so click the link if you fancy reading more 🙂

Texel – or any of the Waddenzee Islands for that matter. At Cocksdorp (Cock Town, hahahahaha) we liked Paal 28.

 

Where will you be hanging out this summer? And do you know somewhere awesome that I’ve missed?

Hayley x

 

 

4 years in the Netherlands – am I finally feeling homesick?

Polzeath

Exploring Polzeath in Cornwall

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced homesickness before (hmmmm… except maybe when I went to Brownie camp when I was about 9 or 10). But since I’ve been living in the Netherlands? Nah! Not at all. Missing my family and friends, yes. Missing English pubs, definitely. English food in general, hell yes. But yearning to be in the UK. Never.

In case you haven’t noticed… I love Holland and I love living here. My 4 year expativersary (gasp!) was a couple of weeks ago and I also won an Expat blogger award last month!! Massive thanks again to everyone who voted! 🙂 But on a recent trip to the UK, I realised I actually missed it.

My Finnish friend, Senja, and I went over for the weekend for work and it made me see England with fresh eyes. She giggled at actually being able to wash your hands with hot water in bathrooms (in Holland they often only have a cold tap), she marvelled at the trees and all the greenery whilst we were on the train, and she was super-impressed by all the hills!

On said train – we were both beaming after the ticket inspector had been along to check our tickets. His enthusiasm and gorgeous English accent was infectious: “Good afternoon lovely people, please can I check your tickets on this fine day?” then each person got a different response for handing over their ticket: “Thanking you, cheers, much obliged, ta, thanks, excellent…”.

He really made a thing out of NOT saying the standard “thank you”, it was so cute.

I love my mother tongue and this was a perfect example of why. You can be so creative because we have so many words for everything. My inner geek was brimming with joy!

Then there was the food.

I introduced Senja to the delights of Scotch Eggs and proper British cider… not that Apple Bandit crap we get in the Netherlands!! (Where is that even made?)

We went to a typical English pub along one of the canals in Oxford and feasted on proper English pub grub.

Oh… and the people… *swoon*! It wasn’t just the train inspector who made me miss home. All of the people in the cafes, pubs and shops we went to were all so friendly and welcoming. I forgot what customer service was actually supposed to be like.

Since that visit, I hadn’t been ‘home’ for 5 months – since just before Christmas. That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from the UK. Normally I go back every 2 months or so, but for a variety of reasons (including not having a passport plus other trips we had planned etc) it just didn’t happen. And I’m not sure it was good for me. I’ve been pining.

In a way, I’m glad I was away for that amount of time because it’s given me the chance to realise and appreciate that I do miss my home country. Quirks ‘n’ all.

I’ve really missed my friends and family too. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s just not the same… there’s something about meeting face-to-face and there’s also something about talking to people you have known all your life.

I have some great friends here in NL, I really do. I’m lucky. But there is something different about friends you have known for 3-4 years and people you have known 20+ years. The history, the gags, the nicknames, the days before Facebook and smartphones. We knew each other before all of that. Remember when you used to call each other’s house phones? Or a REALLY long time ago… knock on their front door!?

I miss those people. The people who know who I really am. Before I was a blogger and an expat. Just Hayley. Not Hayley, the one who moved abroad…

I realise that this isn’t one of my most structured or elegant posts (no shit Sherlock) and that it’s got a bit rambly so I’m wrapping it up now. I think I needed to write this for me, to acknowledge this feeling, and if anyone enjoys reading it then I’m glad I posted it here and not just in my diary 😉

I’m an expat who loves living in Holland. But I also love the UK. The eternal expat dilemma right…?

Luckily for me, in a couple of weeks I’m going ‘home’ for 16 whole days… and I can’t bloody wait!!

Have you ever been homesick? If so, how do you deal with it?

Hayley x

 

Weird things Dutch people do: hanging their duvets out of the window

I’ve caused quite a stir on my Facebook page today! And it’s all about the very exciting subject of… DUVETS! Hahahahaha! 😂

The Dutch Duvet Dangle

The Dutch Duvet Dangle

Lately, on my walks around the local neighbourhood I’ve noticed that loads of Dutch people are hanging their duvets out of the window and I’ve been taking photos purely for my own entertainment value. It’s not something that’s new to me, in fact I wrote a post mentioning it in Jan 2016 (15 Weird things Dutch people do) but today I decided to post some photos of what I like to call the “Dutch duvet dangle” and now there’s quite the conversation going on! 🙂

You can check out the discussion on my Facebook page but I thought I’d also write a quick post for my blog readers who may not be on the Book of Doom! So here goes:

Why do Dutch people hang their duvets out of the window? 

Apparently sunlight and fresh air kill bacteria and germs / bedbugs / dust mites… whatever. I haven’t actually Googled this yet but I have it on very good authority from LOTS of Dutch people so I’m just going to have to go with them on this one.

Apparently it also makes your sheets / duvet very fresh smelling. (Washing machine, no?)

Is it just a Dutch thing?

Hell no. According to my FB followers, they also do it in Romania, France, Greece and even Japan!

So why is it weird to hang your duvet out of the window?

Where do I start 😂😂

First, I think the thing that tickles me the most is that people do it out of their front windows for all to see. No shits given! As an English person, if we were to ‘air’ our duvets (which we don’t) we would at least hang them out of the windows at the back of the house or perhaps a washing line in the garden. We’re English: subtlety is key.

If our sheets are dirty, smelly, whatever then we just wash them! If the duvet is the problem… we wash that. And if it doesn’t fit in our washing machine we take it to the laundrette.

So who is right or wrong here?

No one. It’s just a cultural difference. And one that I personally find amusing…

I guess after all this discussion I’m going to have to try it myself (in the name of research, obviously!)

What’s your take on it? Do you hang your duvet out of the window?

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to dangle my duvet out of the window and see what all the fuss is about! 😉

Hayley x

 

 

Rokjesdag…?

Hi guys,

I don’t know about you… but looking at the weather forecast, I’m pretty sure tomorrow is going to be Rokjesdag in the Netherlands!

Rokjesdag

A dress, not a skirt I realise… but do you know how hard it is to get a pic of me in a skirt…!?

‘Rokjesdag’ literally meaning ‘skirt day’ is the first day in spring when women suddenly decide it’s warm enough to wear a skirt with bare legs. The term was coined by dutch writer and columnist Martin Bril who made the word ‘rokjesdag’ popular in the Netherlands. He died on 22nd April (in 2009) so for some people this is considered National Rokjesdag to honour Martin.

However, there is no official date for it, as it’s just collectively when people, or specifically women, decide to wear a skirt with blote benen (bare legs) en masse…

So, in preparation, I’ve shaved my legs and slapped some fake tan on as my legs are currently whiter than snow!!

Will you be joining me in getting your legs out tomorrow? Or in unfortunate Dunglish: haal je je benen eruit? 😉

Hayley x

 

If you go out for a walk today… funny things you might see whilst out and about in the Netherlands!

(Intro to be sung to the theme Teddy Bear’s Picnic – you’ll most likely know it if you’re English. If you don’t, check out this YouTube video.)

If you go out for a walk today…

You’re sure of a big surprise.

If you go out for a walk today…

You’d better go in disguise.

For every expat (that) ever there was, would gather there for certain because…

Today’s the day that Dutch people do their weird shit!!

New in Holland? I’ve devised a little game for you! Take a walk around your neighborhood and see how many of the following you can spot:

 

1. Duvet(s) hanging out of a window

Dutch duvets out of window

Photo shamelessly stolen from my Dutch friend M…

2. Kids being transported in a glorified wheelbarrow attached to a bicycle (it’s called a bakfiets)

3. A house with no net curtains, curtains or blinds

4. People enthusiastically advertising / celebrating the fact they have given birth or turned 50. (Bonus points for inflatables!)

5. Someone on a bike carrying something larger than themselves (for example: another person, a printer or a canoe. True story, bro.)

6. Beautiful chalk drawings on the footpath. Some of these kids have real talent!! 😉

7. Someone running with eye averting neon trainers

8. A trampoline in someone’s front garden. (I’ll also give points for a swing, slide or all three. They have to be in the FRONT garden though!)

9. A little community library. Love these things ❤

10. Someone riding a moped without a helmet on the cycle lane. (Let’s not get into it now… k?)

11. Impossibly long / hard to pronounce street names. Soestdijkerstraatweg anyone? In the words of Jim Jeffries “You f*cking what what?!”

12. A cyclist who is texting, calling or completely no handed. (Not condoning it… just saying what I see.)

13. Someone carrying an Appie bag. Good old Albert Heijn! (I even spotted some Dutchies in Bali once! Complete giveaway carrying their bright blue bag!!)

14. Clogs. If you see someone wearing clogs it’s actually pretty special. They’re a dying breed… unfortunately.

15. And lastly… how could I forget about dog shit?? Be careful not to tread in it!! It’s everywhere! (More about Hondenpoep.)

So, how many points did you get? And what’s the weirdest thing you’ve spotted whilst out and about in the Netherlands?

Hayley x

Expat Blog Awards

Lieve mensen!

Ik ben genomineerd voor een blogging award! Ik vind het super spannend omdat ik nog nooit een blogging-prijs heb gewonnen – behalve die Liebster-prijzen (die geen echte prijzen zijn) dus…

Bitterballenbruid

Kan je een meisje een plezier doen en op mij stemmen? Alsjeblieft met een kers op de top 🙂

Klik hier om te stemmen

Je hoeft alleen op mijn logo te klikken, dus je hoeft niet in te loggen of je aan te melden of zoiets raars. Het is gewoon heel makkelijk!

En ik beloof dat als ik win, ik meer blogberichten zal schrijven in 2018! Deal?

Dank jullie wel. Kusjes!

Hayley x

 

***

 

Hello lovely people!

I’ve been nominated for a blogging award! I’m really excited because I’ve never won a blogger award (except those Liebster awards which aren’t actually real awards) so…

Can you please do a girl a favour and vote for me? Pretty please with a cherry on top 🙂

Click here to vote

All you have to do is click on my logo. You don’t have to login or sign up or anything weird like that. It’s really easy!

And I promise that if I win, I will write more blog posts in 2018! Deal?

Thank you in advance and big kisses!

Hayley x

 

7 ways living in the Netherlands has changed me

You're so weird

1. I’m bilingual… kinda. 

I think and speak in two languages and I can switch between the two. (Most of the time, anyway.) Apparently, I now talk differently when I speak English – so my friends from the UK tell me. More slowly. It’s probably not a bad thing. My best friend also says that my intonation is different but she’s the only one to comment on that. I don’t care though. I feel like speaking Dutch is a super power!

 

2. I travel more…

I travel more because everything’s new and exciting – and close by!! I actually feel bad for the Dutchie, because when he lived in the UK, we didn’t do that much exploring: we went to London of course… and Brighton, Bournemouth, the New Forest and Weymouth… but apart from that – not a lot. Now we’re slap bang in the middle of Europe, it’s so much easier – no flights, no ferries, no schedules – you just jump in your car (or in our case our camper van) and drive. It’s definitely made me (and us) want to travel more.

 

3. Fashion & grooming aren’t so important to me anymore… 

Last time I had my hair cut? December. In the UK it was every 6-8 weeks, except when I was a student… then it was whenever I could afford it. Last time I bought clothes? Also December, I think. I used to shop once a WEEK in England, seriously! Sometimes even multiple times a week! Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes slick on a bit of red lippy or very occasionally wear high heels (if I don’t have to walk or cycle long distances) but that’s about it. I’m a very toned down version of my English self – and I like it.

 

4. I rarely talk about money… (and I care A LOT less about material things in general!) 

Dutch people don’t talk about money. Not the people I know, anyway. No one asks how much you earn or how much your last holiday cost or how much you pay per month for your car. They just don’t. I find it refreshing. When I go back to the UK, I feel like everything’s a competition – who has the biggest house or the fanciest car/watch/jewellery. Here, no one gives a fuck. And the majority of Dutchies don’t use credit cards either, it’s all cash or bank card. They live to their means. (Very sensible in my opinion.)

 

5. I am confident on a bicycle… (and I don’t own a car!) 

I used to be confident riding a bike until I was about 16/17! (A BMX btw, I was a total tomboy.) Then I bought a car and didn’t cycle again until my late 20’s. These days, my sole mode of transport is my bike… or my own two feet! I work from home, so it’s not necessary for me to own a car. I occasionally drive at weekends, or in the evening if needed – but like a lot of Dutchies – cycling is my primary mode of transport.

 

6. I have a much better work / life balance… 

I work 4 days a week. So does the Dutchie. Last year we had friends over from the UK with their toddler, they both work full-time and were astonished that we both work part-time. “But how do you afford it?” Well, we don’t have kids for one…

We share a car, we have a mortgage we can afford (we don’t need lots of space because there are only two of us) and we have money left over for meals out and holidays. Why would we NEED to work more?

 

7. I have embraced deep-fried snacks… 

In a previous life, I would avoid anything deep-fried. “Too unhealthy, too fatty” etc etc. Now that I walk or cycle every single day, I can embrace the occasional treat. Why the heck not? I’m not a cake/sweet person… so Dutch deep-fried snacks are my guilty pleasure. Bitterballen for life ❤

 

How about you? How have you changed since you have lived in NL?

Hayley x

 

An alternative way to explore Amsterdam

I used to think that the best way to explore Amsterdam was on foot. In my opinion, it’s definitely not by bike! But since taking two boat trips in Amsterdam last year, my mind has been firmly changed!

My first proper boat trip in Amsterdam (excluding the drunken times late on Queen’s / Kingsday when it was dark and blurry) was in August last year when my English friend came to stay. One of the Dutchie’s best friends has a boat, so he offered to take us out for the day. Literally the best day I’ve ever had in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam by boat

Amsterdam by boat

Our friend is a born and bred Amsterdammer, so he navigated the canals with ease while we sat back and relaxed, enjoying the views and drinking chilled white wine! Absolute bliss!

Amsterdam by boat

So when the lovely Marcel from Mokumboot contacted me out of the blue shortly afterwards, asking if I’d like to use one of their boats for me and up to 7 friends, I jumped at the chance!

It was tough deciding who to take, but my parents came over in November with two of their friends, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to show them a different side to Amsterdam. They had all visited the city before, but none of them had been on a boat trip – so we set sail with Captain Dutchie at the wheel! (I was much too much of a wuss to drive the boat myself!)

Mokumboot

Mokumboot

We picked the boat up from Mokumboot Oost which is conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from Brouwerij ‘t IJ. (A brewery next to a windmill – an Amsterdam institution! I highly recommend that you visit! Maybe after the boat trip though, eh?)

It was a slightly different kettle of fish to our adventure in August… in that it was freeeeeeezing! So much so that my iPhone actually died halfway through the trip and we had to go to a pub to warm up!! But at least it mean the canals were empty! We only saw a couple of other boats during our 2-hour cruise.

Mokumboot

Mokumboot Amsterdam

The best thing about seeing Amsterdam by boat is that you get a totally different perspective! You can take photos that you just wouldn’t be able to on foot.

Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

At the end of our trip, we were treated to a spectacular sunset (*pats herself on the back for exceptional planning*)! The perfect way to end the day!

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Would you be brave enough to drive a boat around the Amsterdam canals? Or have you already done so?

Hayley x

 

Total blogger transparency: I was given complimentary boat hire without pressure to write a post. I am writing this post because I LOVED it. All opinions and witterings are entirely my own. 

 

21 places to visit in the Netherlands (that aren’t Amsterdam)

Hi! *waves* 🙂

So… my plan is to write about all these places individually, if I haven’t already, but that might take a while… and you know how I love a good list!! So in the meantime, here’s a list of my favourite places to visit in Holland! How many have you been to?

1. Amersfoort

I have definitely overlooked Amersfoort in the past, but this is soon to be rectified! It’s perfect for an afternoon of wandering and/or if you want to combine a city trip with some shopping. Make sure you visit Koppelpoort, the Medieval city gate. (I took my friends here last year and nearly forgot it!! Doh!)

Koppelpoort, Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Koppelpoort, Amersfoort

2. Arnhem

Arnhem is situated close to the German border – and that’s the precise reason we’ve been there – on the way to Germany! It’s also close to Hoge Veluwe National Park (see point 11.) and Nijmegen (point 15.) so it’s the perfect destination to combine with other trips!

3. Delft

Delft is sooooo pretty. I really loved my first visit here and I’ve been dying to go back ever since. You’ll probably recognise the name from the famous Delft blue pottery which comes from the area.

Delft

4. Domburg

Domburg is a seaside town in Zeeland which is probably about all the explaining I need to do. Beach, seafood, more beach, more seafood. It’s lovely. You should go.

5. Giethoorn

Giethoorn is a tourist paradise, so it can get pretty overcrowded… but if you go in shoulder season (April/May or September) you should miss the worst of the crowds. It’s mostly a car-free village, known for its boat-filled waterways! Hire an electric boat and go on a self guided tour around the “Venice of Holland”.

Giethoorn

6. Gouda

You’ll probably recognise the name because of the world famous cheese – and if cheese is your thing – get yourself there on a Thursday for the weekly cheese market. (Open from April until August.)

Gouda, the Netherlands

7. Groningen

I finally made it to Groningen!!! My friend Sophie from Feast with Sophie used to live here, so along with Senja from Little House in Utrecht, we went exploring there last Saturday. I’ve got to say: believe the hype! I liked it so much I want to go back in the summer once the weather is a bit better. It’s got a studenty vibe similar to Utrecht (I’ve never seen so many colourful bikes) but then with more canals and boats!

8. Haarlem

Come here if you want to go shopping! Cute town which seemingly always has a market going on! (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday!) Be sure to try Viqh wine bar and Jopenkerk brewery! The latter sells BEER BITTERBALLEN! Need I say more?

IMG_3295

9. Harderwijk

Known for the Dolfinarium, there’s more to Harderwijk than just a sea life attraction – so I’m told! This is somewhere I definitely need to revisit.

10. Hilversum

Ha ha ha. It had to be done! So, I’m 100% biased on Hilversum. But if you find yourself in ‘t Gooi, come and have a look at the nature and the Foodhall (MOUT) at least. There’s also a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the main market square. Plus loads of bars, restaurants and shopping… we even have a Primark!!! ❤

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

11. Hoge Veluwe National Park

One of my favourite places to go when I’m in a nature mood! Which these days, is quite often. As part of the park’s entry fee, you can hire bikes at no additional cost. It’s a great way to explore and you can cover much more ground than if you were on foot. The bonus is there are no cars or any other traffic, you only need to avoid pedestrians and other bikes – so it’s perfect for tourists or those less comfortable on two wheels!

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

12. Hoorn

Hoorn is so pretty! But then again, aren’t most places near water? 🙂 This place will always have a special place in my heart as it’s one of the first places I visited in the Netherlands on my own.

13. Kinderdijk

With a whopping 19 windmills (that’s 6 more than Zaanse Schans) this is without a doubt my favourite place to see molens! You can easily spend a few hours walking around and then relax in the friendly on-site cafe afterwards.

Kinderdijk

14. Leiden 

Predominantly a University town, Leiden is a nice place to visit if you’re in Zuid (South) Holland. As well as Molen de Valk, there are botanical gardens plus a lively food & drinks scene. The best way to explore is on foot, or via a canal tour. It’s also close to Katwijk aan Zee if you fancy combining it with a beach trip!

Leiden, The Netherlands

15. Nijmegen

Another one on my ‘places to go back to’ list, Nijmegen’s Grote Markt is one of the prettiest market squares I’ve seen. And I’ve been to lots of Belgian cities!!

16. Renesse

We visited Renesse in April 2017 over the Easter holidays and immediately fell in love. The beach is 13 miles long and is dotted with bars and restaurants so you can walk and bar hop to your heart’s content. The town itself is picturesque and has a great vibe to it. Over the summer it becomes packed with holidaymakers, but visiting off peak will ensure a more pleasant experience! I recommend Grand Cafe Helder (seafood) and Wijnbar BRUT (everything)!

Foodie delights in Renesse

17. Texel (or any of the Frisian Islands really…)

The Waddeneilanden (known in English as the Wadden Islands, Wadden Sea Islands or Frisian Islands… come on people, pick one!!) are popular and with good reason! Texel is the biggest and most popular island, but my aim this year and beyond is to visit at least one of the other islands: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland or Schiermonnikoog. The Dutchie used to go to Terschelling loads when he was a kid, so that’s my first priority!

18. Utrecht

I love Utrecht (as you might have heard!!) and I visit all the time. Probably once or twice a month. It’s Amsterdam’s cooler, younger sibling! My fave places to go: Kimmade, Beers & Barrels, Konnichiwa, Daen’s, Blackbird Coffee & Vintage, Jozef, Sla, Bagels & Beans… I could go on… or I could get my arse into gear and write a whole post about it…

19. Zandvoort

The best beach I’ve been to in the Netherlands so far. For drinks and a chilled out vibe head to Ubuntu and for delicious seafood go to Hippy Fish. A dedicated post about the best beaches in Holland is coming soon! (I hope!)

20. Zaanse Schans (and Zaandam)

Totally touristy, but fun! Lots of windmills, clogs and cute Dutch houses. And if you’ve travelled all the way here already, you might as well visit Zaandam briefly as well to see the ridiculous looking Inntel Hotel!

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

21. Zwolle

It’s tiny, but good things come in small packages, right? My nephew studies here, hence why it was on our radar. Known locally as Zwollywood, this is another vibrant student town. (Actually I just Googled it and it’s a city.) Anyhoo, if you go make sure you make a stop at Brasserie Jansen for “de lekkerste bitterballen van Zwolle” (their words – the tastiest bitterballen in Zwolle). I haven’t tried all the bitterballen in Zwolle (yet) so no comment… 😉

Where else would you add to the list? (Maastricht.. I know, I know, I *HAVE* to visit this year!!)

Hayley x