The 13 best Dutch food and drinks to devour at Christmas time

Oliebollen stand outside Hilversum station

Oliebollen stand outside Hilversum station

Guys, is it even December if we don’t talk about food!?

It’s dark and cold outside, so you might as well use the excuse of Sinterklaas, Kerst (Christmas) and Oud en Nieuw (New Year) to sit indoors and get as fat as Santa. So without further ado, I present to you Bitterballenbruid’s 13 best festive food and drinks from the Netherlands…

1. Advocaat

Or eggnog… a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy. The Dutch love it because it’s basically boozy custard. And who can blame them?

2. Appelflappen

When anyone thinks of New Year in the Netherlands they think of oliebollen – but apple fritters / beignets (or apple turnovers as we’d call them in English) are v.popular too! My Dad used to be a baker and I loooooved apple turnovers when I was a kid.

3. Banketstaaf or banketletters

Pastry shaped into a log or a letter containing an almond flavour paste (known in the Netherlands as spijs or amandelspijs.) Absolutely delicious and about as traditional as you can get!!

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

4. Bisschopswijn

The Dutch version of glühwein (or mulled wine). Need I say more?

5. Bitterballen

Hahahahahahaha… not Christmassy at all. But fuck it – it’s my list! 😉

6. Boerenkoolstamppot

My favourite of all the mashed Dutch food.

Boerenkoolstamppot

Stamppot (meaning “mash pot”) consists of (lumpy) mashed potato with vegetables of your choice thrown in. My fave is with kale aka boerenkool. Stamppot is often served with rookworst (smoked sausage) and/or bacon lardons.

7. Erwtensoep (or Snert)

Pea soup. Typically made from dried peas, such as the split pea. A bit like English pea soup… but better!

8. Gourmetten

Technically not a food or a drink, but a popular way of cooking / dining especially during the festive period! Read more about gourmetten.

Gourmetten

9. Kerststol

Oval-shaped Christmas bread with dried fruits and more amandelspijs. The Dutch version of the German ‘Weihnachtsstollen’.

10. Marsepein

Marzipan, but in Dutch it’s pronounced something like mars-ze-pain (which makes me cackle every time)! Ewwww… I am not a fan, but a whole lot of Dutch people would disagree with me!

11. Oliebollen

(Literally: oil spheres) I got in a lot of trouble on a previous post for saying that they’re “basically doughnuts”! Dutch people are clearly very passionate about oliebollen and will defend them to within an inch of their life. So ok, I will amend my statement: they are similar to doughnuts…

The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas or raisins. They’re then sprinkled with icing sugar. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten at New Year but there are oliebollen stands around for the whole festive period (so basically the whole of December).

Oliebollen

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

12. Pepernoten and Kruidnoten

Pepernoten  literally ‘pepper nuts’ are small, round-shaped cookie like things made from flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and cloves. My friend bought me some glutenvrije pepernoten this year so that I can still join in the fun! (Thanks, M! xx)

Glutenvrije pepernoten

Glutenvrije pepernoten

Not to be confused with kruidnoten literally meaning ‘spice nuts’ which are harder, have a different colour and shape and contain the same ingredients as speculaas… which leads me onto last but not least…

13. Speculaas 

Spiced shortcrust biscuit, served around Sinterklaas time. Dutch people go wild for it. You can also get spreadable versions, with a peanut butter kind of consistency. Niet mijn ding (not my thing) but each to their own and all that.

And the most important question: which is your favourite?

Hayley x

 

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My 2017 Highlights

I’ve never written a post like this before (except perhaps this one) so please excuse the narcissism. Normally I keep things like this for my diary, but I think sometimes it’s good to share. I’m quite a private person, but do you know what… I’m grateful for this year and I aint afraid to show it. (And yup, I just referenced LMFAO. What have I become?!😂)

 Asia trip

Technically, the majority of this trip took place in 2016 – but I woke up in Thailand on 1st Jan 2017 (with a slightly sore head from multiple Long Island Iced Teas the night before) and boy was that a great way to start the year!

Thailand trip 2016

Yes, I took this photo. Monkey proud on myself!

We got back to Holland on 10th Jan, so we had a decent burst of sunshine before we returned to the cold, dark and wet weather here. Speaking of wet: we had torrential rain in Phuket for the last 48 hours of our trip, which was super annoying. However it did mean that I was able to reflect on the trip and write pages upon pages of my most memorable moments. (Something I probably wouldn’t have done had it been glorious weather – in that case we would’ve been out on a moped exploring and making the most of our last few days.) So although at the time we were disappointed, I think it happened for a reason. Something I’m a firm believer in.

 

Addressing my health concerns with the doctor

Probably should be a negative, but I’ve got my Positive Penny pants on today, so let’s turn it around! I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I was ill in Asia. Like really ill. Not just Bali belly; well unless Bali belly lasts for 2 and a half months…

I won’t say it ruined the trip, because I had an amazing time… but it definitely hindered my experience. So when I got home I went to the doctor and had loads of tests. Turns out I’m lactose and gluten intolerant, so that’s been fun completely overhauling my diet. (I’m not celiac thankfully, so silver linings and all that.)

Now, I know that Dutch doctors don’t have a great reputation, but my doctor was an absolute star. She listened and gave me every test under the sun for the food issues, plus sleeping pills. (I’ve had insomnia on and off for about 10 years and tried everything!) I’ve got to say, I’m still not 100%… but I feel 100 times better than the way I felt in Jan / Feb of this year.

I’m waffling now – but my point is to remind you that doctors are there to help. Many people fear going to the doctor, but they shouldn’t. It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help and just means that you want to get better.

So if you’re twijfeling about going to the doctor – just do it!

 

Buying our 2nd house in the Netherlands

This one is a no-brainer. Of course this has got to be a highlight! Well, the actual selling / buying process was a bloody nightmare (obviously) but now it’s over we can reflect on it positively.

Quite significant too as it means we’re in it for the long haul. We loved our old house, but we love this one even more and we both feel really settled in Hilversum. So much so, that I’m applying for Dutch citizenship. I need to do my inburgeringsexamen… hopefully early next year and once that’s done I can officially apply. If anyone’s interested, I might do a post about this next year in case it’s useful for anyone who is in the same boat.

 

New places opening in Hilversum

This might seem like a strange highlight, but long-term followers of the blog will know about my love affair with Hillywood.

There’s a new foodhall, Mout which is SUCH a good thing for the town AND it means I don’t have to go all the way to Utrecht when I fancy Vietnamese food now. Biercafé de BarBier also opened, which is another of my favourite new hangouts! Presto coffee had a refurb – it looks awesome! Oh and VIDA opened a wine bar! I haven’t been there yet but it looks really cool.

Mout Hilversum

Basically Hilversum is the next Utrecht: you heard it here first! 😉

 

Janis the VW camper van

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen Janis, named after Joplin, obvs. I got the idea for her name after watching the documentary ‘Little Girl Blue’. Seemed like the perfect hippy type name for a camper van.

Janis the camper van

Having a camper has opened up so many more travelling opportunities for us in 2017! This year we visited Renesse and Noordwijk in Janis, we also went to the UK (Cornwall and Devon), plus a road trip to France and Spain (Île de Ré, Burgundy, Girona and Barcelona) and we have lots more trips planned for 2018 and beyond.

As we all know, the Dutch love camping and caravanning and I am very happy to have joined the club! 😀

Now it’s your turn! What have been your highlights this year?

Hayley x

 

The 10 best pubs & bars in Hilversum (updated Oct 2017)

I first wrote this list about a year and a half ago, but things have changed since then! So it’s time for an update. Here’s a local’s guide to the best pubs and bars in Hillywood:

1. Cafe ‘t Tolhuis

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

This is staying at #1 as it’s still my favourite pub in Hilversum. I kinda don’t want to tell you about this one… but y’know, I’m a nice gal, so I’m gonna. But first a warning: it’s preeeeetty bloody hard to go here just for a drink without ordering food. As well as standard borrelhapjes they serve platters, tapas and a variety of mains. Everything is delicious. I think we managed to go here once without ordering food and we both complained the whole way home.

They have fantastic wine and I have no idea about the beer. They serve beer.

Apparently there’s live music here every Thursday, I have no idea how, it’s teeny! But anyway, go check it out. Brilliant place! (Oh and make sure you book a table if you want to eat!)

Soestdijkerstraatweg 2, 1213 XA Hilversum | tolhuis-hilversum.nl

 

2. Karroesel

Karroesel, Hilversum

Karroesel, Hilversum

My second favourite pub is definitely an acquired taste. It’s rustic… and by rustic I mean it’s a shithole. But a nice shithole. It’s where the ‘alternative’ (for want of a better word) crowd go in Hilversum. They’ve taken down the smoking room wall (which used to take up half of the pub!) so it looks way bigger these days. So now there’s a tiny smoking room – or just go outside! Pool table is still there and the music is loud and mostly aggressive.

As I say, an acquired taste. What I will say though – you’ll meet some interesting characters here!

Spoorstraat 44, 1211 GB Hilversum. No website. Proper old skool. 

 

3. Foodhall MOUT

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

A new addition to the list and to Hilversum! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I’m there quite a lot! It’s a great place to visit day and night – sometimes I go there to work, other times to eat and drink lots of wine. It’s an all-rounder and as many Dutch people would say, “een aanwinst voor Hilversum” – an asset to Hilversum. I couldn’t agree more!

Naarderstraat 8, 1211 AL Hilversum | mouthilversum.nl

 

4. The Guardian

Guardian, Hilversum

Photo credit: The Guardian  Hilversum Facebook Page

I had to get an English pub on the list, right?!?!? A pretty standard pub, slap bang in the middle of the Groest (the main street for bars/restaurants in Hillywood).

Does what it says on the tin.

Groest 33, 1211 CZ Hilversum | the-guardian.nl

 

5. Café Moeke

Cafe Moeke, Hollandsche Rading

Photo credit: Cafe Moeke Facebook Page

Ok, technically not Hilversum… but Hollandsche Rading. I can get here on my bike in 15 mins, so close enough I reckon.

Another bar / cafe / restaurant. Fantastic food… like a gastro pub. Their slogan is “de vijfsterren kroeg met eetallures” which roughly translates to “the five star pub with fine dining intentions”. Occasionally things sound better in Dutch. This is one of those times!

Anyway, never had a bad meal here and it doubles as a pub. Closest thing I have found to an English pub in Holland (and yes that even includes the “actual” English pub above!)

Utrechtseweg 263, 1213 TR Hilversum | cafemoeke.nl

 

6. Winebar Vintage 

Winebar Vintage, Hilversum

Photo credit: Winebar Vintage Facebook Page

I’ve been here a few times now and had some really delicious wine! They have “Meer dan 100 open wijnen”  – more than 100 open wines – so there really is something for everyone!

They also do hapjes and platters if you fancy a little something something next to your wine!

Spoorstraat 65, 1211 Hilversum | wijnbarvintage.nl

 

7. The Skiff

The Skiff, Hilversum

The Skiff, Hilversum

This place has to be on the list as they do FREE BITTERBALLEN for a couple of hours every Friday (6-8pm I think). Another pretty grungy place, but also frequented by hipsters.

Kampstraat 2bc, 1211 GE Hilversum | theskiff.nl

 

8. VIDA Vineria

VIDA Vineria, Hilversum

Photo credit: VIDA Vineria Facebook Page

I’m not sure if this one should be on the list because I haven’t been there yet… but I’ve heard good things and it has fab reviews on Trip Advisor, so 💁🏻

The people behind VIDA tapas restaurant have opened this second location next door to cater for those wanting wine and snacks rather than a full meal. I like.

Groest 16, 1211 EC Hilversumvida.nl

 

9. Barracuda

Another ‘acquired’ taste. This one’s a metal bar. There’s live music every Saturday. We went here late on Kingsday and the lovely bar lady let us play whichever songs we wanted. Good reason to go back in my book!!

Herenstraat 43, Hilversum. No pics, no website. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

 

10. Eetcafé Gulle Graef

Gulle Graaf Hilversum

Photo credit: Gulle Graef Facebook Page

Eetcafé technically means eatery but it’s going on the list because of their extensive beer menu! They also have cider which isn’t Strongbow or that sweet crap Apple Bandit, so they’re doing right in my book. Order a steak alongside your drinks and you won’t be disappointed!

Laanstraat 37, 1211 HG Hilversum | gullegraef.nl

 

Where’s your favourite place to go in Hilversum?

Hayley x

 

Leiden in pictures

I was looking through some old photographs last night and found some rather cute ones I took of Leiden in April last year. I’ve not got a lot to say about Leiden to be honest as I’ve only been twice. It’s a nice place to go and wander around for a few hours as it’s very pretty, but I personally didn’t think there was that much to do.

Still, if you’re in the area I think it’s worth having a look… but I’ll let the photos do the talking and let you decide for yourself:

Leiden, The Netherlands

IMG_8886

Leiden, The Netherlands

IMG_8878

Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands

IMG_8900

IMG_8908

Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands

IMG_8920

Leiden, The Netherlands

Leiden, The Netherlands

What do you think?

Have I persuaded you to visit Leiden?

Hayley x

20 things that happen when you have visitors over to the Netherlands

Trying hard not to trample the tulips...

Trying hard not to trample the tulips…

We’ve all been there. Your friends or family want to come over and visit you! YAY!

“Where do you want to go?” (You’re hoping for aaaaaanything but Amsterdam.)

“Amsterdam…?”

*sigh*

“OK. You know there’s more to Holland than just Amsterdam though, right?” “Oh but I reeeeeally want to see Anne Frank’s House…”

So, you end up going to Amsterdam for the three-hundred-and-forty-first time. It’s lucky I fucking like Amsterdam, you think through gritted teeth. And then the following happens:

1. First they complain about how steep the stairs are. EVERY TIME. The buildings are narrow, stairs are narrow, that means they’re steep. Get over it you stair loving freaks!

2. “What would you like to see while you’re over here?” “Oh… nothing in particular.” LIES!! What they actually want to see: coffeeshops, weed, space cake, prostitutes, Anne Franks’s house, windmills, tulips… FFS Susan, it’s October!! There are no fucking tulips in October!!

3. You show them what they actually should see: canals, architecture, Vondelpark, the Skylounge, Jordaan, street art, Foodhallen, Brouwerij ‘t IJ and they realise you’re the Queen of everything and they should’ve just let you plan the itinerary in the first place.

4. They marvel at how good the public transport system is. Like, I know bitch… that’s why I live here 💁🏻

5. You make them taste bitterballen. They fall in love and want to eat bitterballen at every available opportunity from now on. Oh and kaasstengels.

6. They are in awe of how everyone speaks such good English, but still want you to order *everything*… in Dutch. They look at you like you’re from another planet and are hooked on you performing your wizardry in real life.

7. They think you know the answer to *every* question about the country. “What are Dutch roofs made out of?” Like seriously dude, I know I live here but I’m neither a builder, roofer nor an architect! Google it FFS. “What kind of tree is that?” Ditto being a gardener or a frigging conservationist! I just live here!

8. They fancy going on a boat tour, but you gently persuade them that sitting on a huge canal boat with 50+ other people just isn’t authentic, neither is hiring a pedalo (non-tourists would rather cut their right arm off!) and your mate who owns a boat is at work – so a walking tour it is!

9. You get them to try stroopwafels and they buy approximately 97 packs to take home with them.

10. They stare in wonderment at the poffertje man and his amazing flipping skills (and are slightly bummed by the fact they can’t take poffertjes in their suitcase).

11. You decide you’ve been too nice so far and make them try haring. Pure evil… wahahahaha.

12. Ditto licorice. But because you call it drop – they’re stupid enough to try it! Hee hee 😀

13. You take them to the SkyLounge for prosecco and more bitterballen, and pay, because the prices are eye-wateringly expensive! (We’re talking €4.50 for a WATER!!) But it’s all worth it for that Pretty Woman moment when you see the flash of excitement in their eyes as you get in the lift and push the button to the top floor. (Without the American prostitute, obviously.)

14. They want to go in every Bulldog and/or Irish pub they walk past but you distract them with promises of more bitterballen. Over my dead body!

15. You are constantly on suicide watch as they inadvertently stumble into cycle lanes – completely oblivious to angry Amsterdammers who want to knock their block off.

16. They casually suggest hiring bikes and you casually reply “HELL NO!” Ask me again when you’ve lived here 3+ years, can actually ride a bike AND you’re not full of hipster beer and joints.

17. To ease the pain, you take them to FEBO and they almost come in their pants.

18. They want to go to the sex museum so you roll your eyes and begrudgingly pay €4 to have your picture taken with the human-sized veiny penis AGAIN.

19. They also want to go to a live sex show but you draw the line at spending €50 for watered down vodka and ladies pushing ping pong balls out of their laa-laa.

20. On the train home, they declare that Amsterdam is the best city in the world ever. And you agree, wholeheartedly.

***

Do you have any to add? What funny things do your visitors do when they come over to visit?

Disclaimer: I’m actually a very pleasant and patient tour guide to all my friends who come over to visit. If you’re reading this, dear friends: I don’t think you’re stupid, just English. 

Love,

Hayley x

24 hours in Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden Street Art

Nope, I haven’t forgotten… the 12 provincies challenge is still firmly in action. I haven’t written much about it (yet)… but behind the scenes, I have been visiting more of Holland than most Dutch people probably have!

Last week we ticked Friesland off the list! 🙂 Ideally, I would have liked to go to one of the islands – I’ve only been to Texel so far – but we only had limited time (and funds) so decided to stay on the mainland and visit the capital of Friesland instead.

I’m probably going to offend a lot of Leeuwarders now… but I thought Leeuwarden was just ok. Average. Sorry guys.

It reminded me a little of Utrecht without all the cool shit. Read: hipsters.

I don’t want to upset people who love Leeuwarden, honest, but I’ve got to be real. If people came to Hilversum and were disappointed, I’d get it. I know that I view Hilversum with rose tinted spectacles because it’s my adopted hometown.

When I was searching online for things to do in Leeuwarden (in both English and Dutch) it was slim pickings. I get it now. There’s not that much to do!! Hence why no one has written about it!

That’s not to say that we didn’t have a lovely time. We did. The people we met were lovely. (They did have very funny accents though, like a mix of Dutch and Norwegian. Friesland has it’s own official language!) The wine and food we had was lovely… so do go there if you just want a lovely time. If you want a fucking aaaaaamazing, staggeringly awesome time – go somewhere else! Amsterdam, Utrecht, Renesse, Zandvoort… I’m looking at you.

I’m glad I went, but I wouldn’t be climbing over myself to go back, nor do I recommend it as a must-see in Holland.

However, *if you do find yourself in the capital of Friesland*… here are my tips:

De Walrus

Trip Advisor to the rescue, you little beaut. This place was rated highly and praised for its wine. Sold!

Delicious wine and Dutchman's elbow

Delicious wine and Dutchman’s elbow

It didn’t disappoint. To go with our delicious wine, we also ordered a lil side of chips. Which turned out to be frigging massive! I’m not complaining. They were delicious.

Gouverneursplein 37, 8911 HH Leeuwarden | dewalrusleeuwarden.nl

img_2684.jpg

Chips, jalapenos, red onion, pulled pork and cheese sauce. AKA chips on steroids. They were amazing!

Sjoddy wijn & spijslokaal

Definitely not shoddy! (Sorry, had to get that one in there! My Dad would be proud…)

Yummy mussels, friendly advice, trendy decor. A little pricey, but average for a wine bar in my experience. I’d go again (if it wasn’t in Leeuwarden!)

Druifstreek 55, 8911 LH Leeuwarden | sjoddy.nl 

Sjoddy wine bar, Leeuwaarden

Leeuwarden Lounge

I found out on TA that this place is owned by two brothers, with their Mum as the chef (she has now retired, but we were told the new chef uses all of her original recipes). One of Oma’s dishes is still on the menu too.

Leeuwarden Lounge

One of said brothers was our waiter for most of the evening, a very friendly chap who chatted to us in between courses. Highly recommended!! Excellent prices and the food is divine! Neither the Dutchie or I had ever tasted Afghan food before, but we will be looking out for it in future. Yum!! I can’t really recommend a dish in particular because everything was so good.

Also, voor de liefhebbers… they have shishas for after your meal.

Korfmakersstraat 13, 8911 LA Leeuwarden | leeuwardenlounge.nl

 

‘Sightseeing’

Top things to do in Leeuwarden: Fries Museum. We didn’t go because I already know everything there is to know about chips! 😉

De Oldehove is an unfinished church tower in the medieval centre which apparently leans more than the tower of Pisa in Italy. I couldn’t get the Dutchie to pretend to hold it up, so here it is in all its boring glory: De Oldehove, Leeuwarden

Boomsma Museum – we had planned on going here and tasting some of the brown stuff. (Beerenburger for you uncultured slobs out there.) But when we walked in it was busy and smelled like old people, so we went to the pub instead.

Canals and Historische binnenstad – does what it says on the tin really. It’s just nice to have a little mosey around the small streets and enjoy the architecture.

Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden

Red light district – no photos, obviously. (It’s illegal.) I was surprised to see that Leeuwarden even had a red light district! It was pretty ropey to be honest, as you might expect. But still worth a peek for the curious Englishwoman who still can’t get her head around legalised prostitution.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Leeuwarden by night. A photo NOT of the red light district.

Where to stay 

We stayed at the Bastion hotel, nothing fancy but it did the job.

It was super clean, had free parking, free wifi, a fridge and tea and coffee facilities and was only a 20 min walk from town. If you walk the right way that is!! It took us almost an hour because we are morons and went completely in the wrong direction! 😀

Have you been to Leeuwarden? Did you love it, hate it, or were you just a bit indifferent towards it like me?

Hayley x

First few months of the 12 Provincies Challenge and why I haven’t been writing lately

Hello and Happy Sunday!

I normally have my ideas (especially connected to writing/work) when I’m in the shower (TMI?) and today is no exception. My brain is literally buzzing with so many ideas. And I realised I haven’t written anything in like, forever.

My massage therapist (a newish addition to my life) says I have a creative block. As in I’m not creating anything so I’m blocked. That sounds way too hippy to me. But maybe she’s right.

I haven’t been writing because I haven’t felt strongly enough about anything to write about it. I thought I’d come home from my Asia trip and be writing 100+ blog posts but they just haven’t come. They take sooooo much time and that’s something I haven’t had a lot of lately. Since we got back I’ve been working loads (to make up for my 2.5 month absence) we also bought a camper van (more travels coming soon!!) and a new HOUSE!! Yes, we are those crazy all or nothing people.

So, excuses excuses. But it’s not just time… My Britishness means I constantly want to apologise if things aren’t good enough and I’m a Virgo so I want everything to be perfect. My writing is FAR from perfect. I know that, but this quest for perfection is holding me back.

I have to take my own advice, like I did with speaking Dutch and just fuck it. (Old post: Learning Dutch is fucking hard)

I can’t always write about things that you want to read. Sorry. I mean Dutch people are funny and that, but there’s only so much you can go over the same ground. I want to write about travel and food and maybe a little interior design stuff here and there, seeing as we’re going to be redecorating a whole new home. You want to read about crazy Dutch people and expat struggles.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you are interested in other things. One of my favourite ever blogs (hannahgale.co.uk) covers lots of subjects. I read all of her mental health posts, travel posts and home decor posts. I always skip the fashion ones because it simply doesn’t interest me. We have completely different body shapes and tastes. I know lots of people do read (and love) her fashion posts, but they’re not for me.

So I guess what I’m asking is for you to do the same. For me to carry on writing, I need to do ME.

So please, if it interests you, carry on reading and if it doesn’t – skip it 🙂

Thanks in advance and here’s the post I actually wanted to write today…

First few months of the 12 Provincies Challenge 

I’m almost 4 months into my 12 provinces challenge and I’ve ticked off the following:

Groningen
Friesland
Drenthe
Overijssel
Flevoland
Gelderland: Arnhem 
Utrecht: Kasteel de Haar (Haarzuilens)
Noord-Holland
Zuid-Holland: Delft, Scheveningen, Lisse, Noordwijk, Katwijk
Zeeland: Renesse
Noord-Brabant
Limburg

I also went to Utrecht and Amsterdam multiple times but I’m not counting them as I go all the time… I’m also not counting Nuenen in Brabant (where we picked up the camper van from) or Zaandam, again – I’ve been there loads. Or Huizen, Laren, Loosdrecht or Kortenhoef as they’re all too close to home!

But 4 months down and 4 provinces ticked off sounds pretty good to me.

I may or may not get round to writing individual posts about all these places… but if not, here are some edited highlights 🙂

Arnhem – January 2017

Ok, Arnhem was a bit of a cheat because we had limited time there on our way to Germany… so I should definitely revisit Gelderland (and Arnhem) later in the year. But it does deserve a mention because I had my first bitterballen of the 2017 there! And also there was a snowman. So…

Bitteballen in Cafe Meijers, Arnhem

Bitterballen in Cafe Meijers, Arnhem

Snowman in Arnhem

Snowman in Arnhem

Kasteel de Haar – April 2017

Sooooooo pretty! And by far the most impressive castle I’ve seen. (I still need go to that Instagram-famous German castle too!) But really, if you’re in or near the Utrecht area it’s worth going for a stroll around the grounds. And FREE! 😀

Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht

Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht

Delft & Scheveningen – February 2017

We went to both places in one day when my sister and niece were visiting back in Feb. I’m not gonna lie… I don’t like Scheveningen. It’s so busy/touristy and overpriced! There are lots of better Dutch seaside resorts. (Coming up…)

I loved Delft though!! And want to go back asap! If anyone has Delft tips for me… please leave a comment below. I’d be extremely grateful 🙂 🙂

Oude Kerk, Delft

Oude Kerk, Delft

Delft

Delft

Lisse – April 2017

We also had tourists, I mean friends, over in April… so we took them to see the flower fields in Lisse.

Tulip fields, Lisse

Tulip fields, Lisse

Don’t be a dick and trample the tulips or pick them! Pretty please.

Noordwijk & Katwijk – April 2017

Two lovely seaside towns (which are both a lot nicer than Scheveningnen!!)

In Katwijk I had the best kibbeling I’ve ever tasted in my 3 years of living here – from a seafood stand along the promenade.

Kibbeling in Katwijk

Kibbeling in Katwijk

Garnalen kroktjes in Katwijk

Garnalen kroketjes in Katwijk

Rose garnalen in Katwijk

Roze garnalen in Katwijk

Not the best pic… but here’s the food stall in question 🙂

Katwijk

Katwijk

And we had to take this one for the Dutchie’s Mum, Willy!

Katwijk

Meanwhile over in Noordwijk we went on our first camping trip in Janis. (Named after the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue.)

Camping in Noordwijk

Camping in Noordwijk

We stayed at Camping Op Hoop van Zegen which was one of the closest to town but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a silver fox. Literally the dullest/quietest campsite ever!

Bitterballen in Noordwijk

Bitterballen in Noordwijk

Noordwijk itself was great though and I recommend Branding Beach Club which is currently #1 on Trip Advisor. Average bitterballen but the seafood platter was great, if a little overpriced. You are sat ON the beach though… so 100% worth it. Oh and make sure you book a table! They’re rammed!!

Sunset at Noordwijk

Sunset at Noordwijk

I never used to get sunsets when I was younger (my friends berated me one summer in Ibiza) but now I am fully on board!! Stunning!

Renesse – April 2017

Last, but certainly not least is Renesse… we went here for 3 nights over Easter and loved every minute of it. I’ve heard it does get very crowded in peak summer, so maybe best avoided during that time, but over Easter it was pleasantly populated 😉

De Haven van Renesse

De Haven van Renesse – nice place to go for a drink

Oh, and guys… I have seen the future!! Mosselen kroketjes! Of course, I wish they were bitterballen, but they taste the same. So, so good. 11/10 seriously. Believe the hype. It’s worth going to Renesse just to eat these in my opinion…

Mosselen kroketjes at Grand Café Helder

Mosselen kroketjes at Grand Café Helder

And what trip would be complete without a chocomel and a slice of appeltaart after a long walk on the beach?

Chocomel and appeltaart, De Branding, Renesse

Chocomel and appeltaart, De Branding, Renesse

I hope the rest of the year measures up to these adventures! I love exploring Holland! 🙂 If you want to join in, please use the hashtag #12provincies and if you have any tips for me for the remaining 8 provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland, Noord-Holland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg – please do let me know!

Hayley x

12 Provincies Challenge

nederlandseprovincieslarge

© Erik Baas / Creative Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Hello and a belated Happy New Year! How is everyone!?

After my Asia trip, I’m not loving Holland to be honest – sorry, but it is soooo fecking cold here!! And anyone who knows me will know that I’m NEVER cold. I must be broken!

Anyway, in the spirit of being English, I’ll shut up and carry on. And I have just had an idea… inspired by the #Take12Trips challenge that lots of travel bloggers have been doing for a few years now…

This year I’m going to visit all 12 provincies (provinces – or regions if you’re English) of the Netherlands.

Here they are along with the Hoofdstad (capital) and town/city with the most inhabitants:

Groningen ~ Groningen ~ Groningen
Friesland ~ Leeuwarden ~ Leeuwarden
Drenthe ~ Assen ~ Emmen
Overijssel ~ Zwolle ~ Enschede
Flevoland ~ Lelystad ~ Almere
Gelderland ~ Arnhem ~ Nijmegen
Utrecht ~ Utrecht ~ Utrecht
Noord-Holland ~ Haarlem ~ Amsterdam
Zuid-Holland ~ Den Haag ~ Rotterdam
Zeeland ~ Middelburg ~ Terneuzen
Noord-Brabant ~ ‘s-Hertogenbosch ~ Eindhoven
Limburg ~ Maastricht ~ Maastricht

In January, I already visited Arnhem, Delft and Scheveningen – so that’s Gelderland and Zuid-Holland ticked off – but I reeeeeally want to go to Nijmegen this year so maybe I’ll do Gelderland twice. Why the heck not!

So far in February I’ve only been to Utrecht, but I don’t think that counts as I go there all the time! What other gems can I find in the Utrecht region?

I need your help please! It would be pretty ‘obvious’ to just to go to the capital of each province… so do you have any suggestions? What are your favourite towns/cities from each province? And most importantly, where can I get the best bitterballen in each place?

Doe je mee? Please feel free to join in! And if you do, use the hashtag #12provincies so I can follow along 🙂

Hayley x

Doei… for a little while…

Hi!

It’s been a while, I know. I’ve not been a blogger lately.

I could make a gazillion excuses and I could apologise for my absence (it’s taking every fibre of my being not to apologise… being English ‘n all), but I hate bloggers who do that… so let’s not be one of them!

Um, so yeah…

We’re going on an adventure!! 😀 😀

Bali

This is going to be me for 10 weeks, except the fact that this photo is of a dude…

For 10 weeks.

We’re going to be visiting Singapore, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

It’s going to be a bit hard to write about mildly amusing Dutch shizz when I’m not in the country… so I guess I’ll be taking an ‘official’ break.

I’ve never had more than 3 weeks off work since I started my first job, so I’m really bloody looking forward to it!! We’ve been saving and planning for the past 3 years… so I guess you could say it’s the trip of a lifetime!!

If anyone has tips for us on the places above, they will be gratefully received!

And if you don’t give a flying fuck about travel and only want to read / talk about Dutch stuff… that’s fine too! Are there any posts or topics you want me to cover next year?!

Have a fantastic couple of months everyone! Happy Sinterklaas / Kerst / Oud en Nieuw in advance and tot 2017!!

Hayley x

PS – if you do give a flying fuck and would like to follow our adventures on Instagram, my travel account is Travel in Technicolour.

 

Can everyone please stop telling tourists to hire bikes in Amsterdam

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0 (Take note: this woman is clearly Dutch.)

I’ve had this as a draft post since 24/05/2016… I checked. So when I saw a post on Facebook this morning “Geef toeristen geen fiets meer” (Don’t give tourists bikes anymore) I was like… damn, Gina! Someone got in my head!!

I agree with Sarah Ouwerkerk, the author who wrote the post, completely. But also “Damn, Gina! Why have you written it in Dutch? How are tourists ever supposed to read it??”

So here’s my post, from 3 months ago, which offers some of the same points as the article above, but with a little more ranting! 😉

I’ll say it again: can everyone please stop telling tourists to hire bikes in Amsterdam!!!

It annoys the living shit out of me.

I work for a travel publisher, and mentioning no names, in our Amsterdam guide on page 6 the first thing it says to do… and I quote: “Cycle through the city on a fiets. Rent a bicycle and peddle through the Grachtenring, the narrow streets in the Jordaan district, across the Dam or along the banks of the IJ at your own pace. Do as the locals: cyclists are allowed to ride side by side and the wrong way down one way streets here.”

No, no, no, no, NOOOOOO!!

I love the company I work for and I love our guides, but this is the most idiotic tourist advice I’ve ever heard. I was so infuriated, I emailed our editorial department immediately and asked them to remove it from the next edition of the guide.

It’s not just us though, I’ve seen the same advice offered in other guidebooks, on countless blogs and even on the official Iamsterdam website.

Seriously people!! What is wrong with you?

The average tourist probably hasn’t ridden a bike since they were 15, they also don’t know their way round Amsterdam (because, duh… they’re tourists) they probably want to take photos and they might also like to drink some Heineken (other beers brands are available) or maybe even smoke some weed.

I know what! Let’s give them a bike!

Why, why, why?

Quite simply: it’s dangerous, and above all: stupid.

So, they’re riding along on bright red (or yellow) pristine bikes, at a snails pace, with a map in hand or perhaps a selfie stick (personally, I prefer to call them wanker sticks) with no idea where they’re going… and they’re probably also tipsy and / or stoned.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of accidents and near accidents I’ve seen, and I only visit Amsterdam about once a month! I cannot begin to imagine the amount of carnage that tourists cause on a daily basis. I’ve seen them holding up traffic, just because they’re cycling so damn slowly… or because they’re fussing with a map or phone, holding up other cyclists and just generally being a nuisance to other road users (and pedestrians for that matter!!) I see this as a visitor myself, so the locals must be tearing their hair out!

Who thought this was a good idea again?

 

So, here is my plea to tourists visiting Amsterdam:

Unless you are a highly competent cyclist and you are with someone who knows Amsterdam well – PLEASE do not hire a bike in Amsterdam.

You are a liability!

Amsterdam isn’t that big, but you’re gonna get lost. You know why? Because a lot of places look kinda the same… even if you’re sober. And if you’re drunk, or stoned, or both? Much, much worse.

Do yourself and everyone else a favour and walk. Please. Pretty please… with a cherry on top!

Walking is so much more fun! You’ll be going at a slower pace, so you’ll see more, it’ll be easier to take pictures and selfies – if that’s your thang. It will also be SO much easier to navigate because you can hold your map or phone in your hand and not have to worry about wobbling, crashing or falling off your bike.

For your own personal safety and for others around you, it’s just not a good idea.

And d’you know what else happens when you don’t hire a bike? Happy Amsterdammers. It’s a beautiful city, Amsterdammers are proud of their city… but do you know what they’d like even more?

If you get the fuck out of their way while they’re trying to get to work, pick up their kids, or are running late to meet a friend.

Make Amsterdam happy. Stay on two feet.

Hayley x