Holland

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

Hi! *waves* ūüôā

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? ūüôā 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… ūüėČ

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

Hayley x

Advertisements

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 ūüíĀūüŹĽ

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 ūüėÄ

13. You take them to the SkyLounge for prosecco and more bitterballen, and pay, because the prices are eye-wateringly expensive! (We’re talking¬†‚ā¨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¬†‚ā¨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¬†‚ā¨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! ūüôā 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! ūüėČ

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 Рwe 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! ūüėÄ

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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! ūüėÄ

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 ūüôā ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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! ūüôā 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 ūüôā

Hayley x

The best pubs & bars in Hilversum

There’s an updated version of this post for October 2017 (original post May 2015): The 10 best pubs and bars in Hilversum (updated Oct 2017)¬†

I’m writing this because apparently no one else has. Seriously, pfffff. I even Googled it in Dutch, but zip. Nada. All I get is a Trip Advisor link SAYING it’s going to give me a list of the 10¬†best pubs & bars in Hilversum, but the link then goes to restaurants. Not cool man, not cool.

So anyway, if you want something done right… do it yourself. (This post isn’t necessarily¬†for you regulars, soz. It’s more for Googley people…)

*Waves at people actually looking for the best bars and pubs in Hilversum! HI!* 

This¬†list is¬†based on my personal experiences¬†and I haven’t visited every bar in Hilversum (I wish!) so if you have any others to add… hit me up.

 

1. Cafe ‘t Tolhuis

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

I kinda don’t want to tell you about this one, because it’s my favourite bar in Hilversum. 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. Wanna know why? The menu LOOKS amazing. The food SMELLS amazing. The food TASTES amazing. I think we managed to go there 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

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. Half of the bar is a¬†smoking room, complete with pool table 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 pics, no website. Proper old skool. 

 

3. Felix II

Felix II, Hilversum

Photo credit: Felix II Facebook Page

A Hilversum institution. So good they have a restaurant (Eten bij Felix) and a bar. They even opened a Felix 3, but unfortunately it has now closed.

Popular terrace outside, pool table inside. I have been known to dance on the table. (It was covered, we were allowed.)

Herenstraat 9, 1211 BZ Hilversum | felix2.nl

 

4. 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. Het café van Amstel 

Het Cafe van Aemstel, Hilversum

Cosy little pub on the Gijsbrecht. They’ve kinda rebranded to Brechtje van Amstel and now it’s a pub and a cafe/restaurant side by side but meh, I’m still gonna call it Cafe van Amstel.

Gijsbrecht van Amstelstraat 145, 1214 AX Hilversum | brechtjevanamstel.nl

 

7. Gastrobar KURK

Gastrobar KURK, Hilversum

I’ve only been here once, but this is a place I definitely want to go back to. Extensive wine list and¬†I love the concept of their menu. Diverse dishes broken down into different price points depending on how much you want to spend / how hungry you are.

We went here on the Wijnspijs Culinaire Wandeling last year and had a fantastic glass of wine and taster dish. (As you can see in the lil Instragram pic above!)

Kampstraat 22, 1211 GE Hilversum | gastrobarkurk.nl

 

8. Winebar Vintage 

Winebar Vintage, Hilversum

Photo credit: Winebar Vintage Facebook Page

Again, I’ve only been here once but I’ll definitely be going back soon. “Meer dan 100 open wijnen” ¬†– more than 100 open wines! That’s enough reason for me! ūüėÄ

Last time I only had a couple¬†glasses of wine at a Hilversum Ladies Meet Up, but I’d definitely like to check out the Hapjeskaart (snacks menu) too!

Spoorstraat 65, 1211 Hilversum | wijnbarvintage.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. Again, no pics, no website. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

 

10. Vliegveld Hilversum

Vliegveld Hilversum

Wine and flowers at Vliegveld Hilversum

Lovely place to go for a beer (for the Dutchie) and a wine (for me) and see the planes landing and taking off. They have good snacks, there’s a play area for the kids and they’re dog friendly. I only care about one of those things, but maybe you have ankle biters and furry friends… just looking out for ya!

For the cyclists / walkers amongst you Рthe surrounding area is a lovely place to explore (right near Loosdrechtse Bos and Hilversumse Hei).

Noodweg 43, 1213 PW Hilversum | restaurantflyinn.nl

Where’s your favourite place to go in Hilversum?

Hayley x

I have this thing with windmills

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already noticed my ‘thing’ with churches (not for religious reasons, I might add) street art, bitterballen (obviously…) and most recently: windmills.

Yep, I’m in the land of windmills, so they’re kinda hard to avoid… but in the past few months¬†I’ve been going out of my way to visit¬†them. Last weekend we legit took a trip to Kinderdijk for the sole purpose of looking at¬†molens.

Here are my favourites so far!

1. Kinderdijk

As I’ve already mentioned it, let’s start with Kinderdijk, Dutch for “children dike”. (WTF!?)

Situated close to Dordrecht and Rotterdam, there are 19 windmills here! They don’t just look pretty – they have a purpose – draining¬†the polder on which Kinderdijk is situated.¬†Don’t know what a polder is?

Kinderdijk

I say it’s situated close to Rotterdam and Dordrecht… but it is and it isn’t. (Look at this¬†map.) Due to its slightly offbeat location, you’re better off travelling to Kinderdijk¬†by car as it’s a pain in the arse to get there by public transport. Parking is¬†‚ā¨5 and you could spend 1-3 hours here depending on how much walking you want to do. There’s also a little cafe and gift shop, should you wish to partake in such activities.

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

Oh and if you fancy staying in the area, we spotted this ridiculously cute B&B called De Noord. I can’t vouch for it, but if you make this much effort outside¬†it’s probably alright inside too ūüėČ

B&B Kinderdijk

2. Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is my go-to tourist paradise for anyone visiting The Netherlands. Its close proximity to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport is also pretty ideal. We often take visitors here before dropping them off at the airport Рa lovely way to round off a trip to Holland!

IMG_5431

Dutch windmills

Zaanse Schans

View from De Vijf Broers, which sadly, is now closed ūüė¶

Unless you want to visit the Zaanse Schans Museum, it doesn’t take all that long to walk around, so it’s perfectly combined with a trip to nearby Zaandam to see this bad boy…

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

If you want more info, I have already written a post dedicated to Zaanse Schans, just to prove how much I love it!

Speaking of… we also bought a picture last time we were there:

Zaanse Schans

Which was marvellous until we got home and realised the black building is the toilet block! FAIL! You get one guess¬†where we’ve hung it!!

3. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

A modern brewery, set next to a windmill in Amsterdam… what more could you ask for?

Brouwerij 't IJ

Well, to be honest, it is a bit of a hag to get to – although totally worth it! Either get a train to Muiderpoort and it’s a 10 minute walk, or get a bus/tram. No advice on that… I’m not a bus wanker! (If you get that joke, you must be English and¬†have excellent taste in comedy! FRIEND!!!!!)

Brouwerij 't IJ

Brouwerij 't IJ

The beer is delicious, as are the snacks. There are (very) limited food choices… (NO BITTERBALLEN!!) but if you like cheese and Dutch sausage as much as¬†I do,¬†you’ll be well catered for.

4. De Molen, Ankeveen

This windmill is the closest one to Hilversum I know, so worth a mention.

De Molen, Ankeveen

We’ve eaten here a couple of times – the food is ok, simple, nothing to write home about (bar the French Onion soup which was really good!) It’s a cafe/bar though so you can just visit for a hot drink or a borrel, complete with bitterballen natuurlijk!¬†

5. Molen de Ster, Utrecht

(The Star Windmill.) Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know there was a windmill in Utrecht! It turns out there are two! The other is on¬†Adelaarstraat, named¬†Rijn en Zon¬†– Rhine and Sun.

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster is an¬†18th-century saw mill. It’s open¬†on Saturdays for guided tours and the rest of time there’s a cafe and¬†other cultural activities going on. A very cute place to visit; near central station, set alongside a canal and it’s also close to Lombok if you fancy stocking up on some fresh produce while you’re there. Ideal!

Next on my windmill-spotting list is Schiedam!

Where’s your favourite windmill?

Hayley x

 

Weekendje weg tip: Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee

This place is so friggin’ cool that I thought I’d share it with you guys, because¬†I’m nice like that.

Yesterday we took our second trip to¬†Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee. Technically it’s located in¬†‘s-Gravenzande but it’s very close to Hoek van Holland and a little town called Monster! (Yep, you read that right. Monster. Tee hee hee…)

And why is it so good I hear you ask? Let me show you ūüôā

If you bend over in front of me, I will take a picture of your ass and post it on the internet.

[If you bend over in front of me, I will take a picture of your ass and post it on the internet.]

The End.

Just kidding, the view is equally as good without rollerblading chicks. Right?

 's-Gravenzande

The gorgeous beach is only a 10 minute walk from the campsite (and no, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love it here!)

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd, 's-Gravenzande

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd

If you enjoy a borrel –¬†there are three bars on the beach:¬†Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd, De Pit and Elements Beach. Especially for you, we went to all three! (Only for testing purposes, obviously.)

Strandpaviljoen Zomertijd is the classiest (read: most expensive) of the three, and De Pit and Elements both have a more relaxed, hippie vibe. At the first two, we only had drinks… but we tasted the food at Elements, including bitterballen!

Bitterballen at Elements Beach

It was a mixed bag. The bitterballen scored a¬†7/10 because they were slightly overcooked and they were tiny! (Except one! I think that one came from a different bag…)

The kibbeling was good, the mussels were average. I would avoid the groenten tempura (vegetable tempura) as it was super greasy!!

The service was also really (really) slow at Elements but they were busy, what with it being a Saturday afternoon in August and all… so I can forgive them. Totally worth a visit for the atmosphere and cool setting. Good vibes is no understatement!

Elements Beach, s Gravenzande

Elements Beach in 's-Gravenzande

Elements Beach in 's-Gravenzande

I love the wood carvings too!

Oh… and let’s talk about the beach again…

Hoek Van Holland

In the background you can see the¬†Hoek van Holland ūüôā

's-Gravenzande strand

I was doing my Instagram / blogger thing here… and the Dutchie thought he’d do the same…

's-Gravenzande strand

Hup Holland indeed! And speaking of… how Dutch is this next photo!?

's-Gravenzande strand

Thank you cycling Dutch person for coming into my shot at the exact right moment!

Back to the campsite… it’s definitely one of the better ones: well organised, clean, fantastic location and well priced! Just beware though, the reception operates limited opening times. On Saturday that was 10am – 3pm, we didn’t know this and arrived at 3.15pm. Luckily there was a member of staff still there and she happily helped us. Phew! It also closes for lunch (12 – 1pm) so just make sure you check the opening times in advance to avoid disappointment!

There’s also a pancake restaurant on site. We didn’t go there but it has good reviews on IENS (a Dutch restaurant review site similar to Trip Advisor).

He pannenkoek, 's-Gravenzande

Leuke naam, hé?

's-Gravenzande strand

If you love camping, the beach and being a hippie for a day… you should totally go here. It’s brilliant.

Do you know any other awesome campsites that you’d like to share with me?

Hayley x

Things to do in Hilversum: WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling

WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling

The title of this post could also be: That one time in Hilversum when I ate loads of delicious food, drank loads of amazing wine and got so tipsy I cried about learning Dutch. But I guess the other title is more factual and Google probably likes it better… so…

First things first: What is a WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling? Wijn = wine. Spijs = food / dish. Together it means wine pairing, food pairing… the act of pairing food and wine together type thing.¬†Culinaire = culinary. Wandeling = walk.

So: a culinary walk around Hilversum (other Dutch towns and cities are available) where you get to drink lots of wine and eat food that goes with it. In short, heaven for food and wine lovers.

Unlike the time when I ate Amsterdam¬†– I can tell you every single detail of this trip (the stuff I remember anyway) because the Hilversum one is done, over, finished… for this year anyway!

However, WijnSpijs run dates all over the country – pretty much every weekend during the summer – so there’s probably one near you soon! Here’s the agenda. (Dammit!! Utrecht is sold out already! *Sad face*.) Anyway… without further ado…

Restaurant 1: Gastrobar Kurk

Wine: Gran Sasso. Food: squid ink risotto, gin & 7up foam, parsnip puree, peas and a prawn!

Gastrobar Kurk, Hilversum

Gastrobar Kurk

We both loved this place, including the very keen waitress (it was early in the day and she was super enthusiastic, bless her!) and we will definitely be returning. The menu looked very interesting and not over-priced, so I’m curious to see what else they have up their sleeves!

Restaurant 2: Zilt & Zo

Hot and cold smoked salmon, asparagus and asparagus foam, topped with a beetroot chip. Re: wine…¬†I’m struggling to read my own handwriting, I wrote down something like Gruner Veltliner – Roshlitz. I remember it was nice ūüėČ

Zilt & Zo Hilversum

Zilt & Zo, Hilversum

The food was good, but not the star of the day. The presentation in a wine glass was funny, but quite difficult to eat! I would go back for the”beach” at the end of their sunny terrace, however,¬†to sip a cocktail with my feet in the sand!

Restaurant 3: Proeverij De Open Keuken

Here they served up a beef salad made with jodenhaas (beef shoulder tenderloin). Although I thought he said Yodahaas so I’m sticking to that! It was paired with a light, easy drinking red: Dornfelder Nahe 2014. Yum. Very, very easy to drink!

Proeverij De Open Keuken

There was a chip in my bowl (naughty, naughty!) so I had to switch plates with the Dutchie because I wanted to photograph it zonder chip. However, my beef was slightly chewy and the Dutchie’s was perfect… so it serves me right for switching I guess!

Proeverij De Open Keuken

Proeverij De Open Keuken

(The Dutchie getting arty with his wine ^)

We sat outside… because it was awesome weather that day! But FYI – the inside of this restaurant is gooooooorgeous! (My iphone camera, not so much.)

Proeverij De Open Keuken

Proeverij De Open Keuken.

Restaurant 4: Lust 

This beauty is meerval (which I think is catfish) pasta with samphire, tomatoes and a gambas (prawn) sauce. Definitely the dish of the day!! Served with Finca Constancia Altozano Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc. (70% Verdejo and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.) Result: yum-a-lum-a-ding-dong.

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Restaurant 5: Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Monkfish with a fermented risotto (what the heck?!) an orange coloured sauce and a cherry tomato. It was delicious, but they didn’t do much explaining! Served with Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc.

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

They also had a DJ…

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

…and a dude playing saxophone who liked hiding in bushes.

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Restaurant 6: Heren Spyker

Zachtgegaarde runderwang (slow cooked beef cheek) with roasted tomato, pea cream and a cumin crisp. Served with a 2013 Cuvee Tradition Rouge – Corbieres from Chateau Beauregard Mirouze.

Heren Spkyer

Here it is, in Dutch (nice touch btw, they were the only restaurant to do this).

Heren Spkyer

This was probably the tiniest dish of the whole day. It was good, but not great. The crunchy cumin thing outshone the beef cheek, which is never a good thing. I love the fact that this place is connected with Spyker though and due to it’s brilliant sunny position, I’d go back for a glass of wine or three!!

Heren Spkyer

Restaurant 7: Rex 

Pulled pork with a chilli and BBQ sauce and mango chutney. I can’t remember what the thing on top was… a kind of prawn cracker type thingy. It was seriously good! (Sorry, Rex – I totally underestimated you. When I saw this place on the list, I was very surprised as I thought it was just a bar/club so my expectations were rather low.) But boy did they prove me wrong!! Served with a Beaujolais Nouveau.

Rex, Hilversum

Rex, Hilversum

Restaurant 8: Puur Smaeck

Last but not least:¬†Puur Smaeck. (That’s the old way to spell smaak, meaning taste / flavour.)

They served rib eye filled with yellow and green courgette with a cream of goats cheese and white chocolate. Yes, you read that right. White chocolate. The Dutchie loved it… I tasted it together, ate the beef and then had the white chocolate cream as pudding! This was served with an Italian red: Salice Salentino.

Puur Smaeck

Puur Smaeck

After that, we didn’t want to go home straight away, so our friend joined us, we ordered a bottle of prosecco and then I cried. Nothing to do with the brilliant day, perhaps a little to do with the wine!

Result:¬†if you didn’t pick it up already, I absolutely loved my WijnSpijs culinary walk.¬†Wine, food, walking… what’s not to love? I think it’s a fantastic¬†way to sample new restaurants in your local town/city… or a unique way to check out a brand new city! I will definitely be going on another one in the near future!! (Hopefully this time without the tears!)

THE LOWDOWN

COST: ‚ā¨55-60 depending on location, but to try 7¬†or¬†8 new restaurants in your area – that’s a bleedin’ bargain! Not to mention said number of starter sized-portions and glasses of wine. (Not all glasses are “full” measures by the way. It depends on the restaurant and how shaky the waiter’s hands¬†are.)

MORE INFO: Wijnspijs.nl

Hayley x