I’m slowly getting back to my daily routine and momentum, so please bear with me. One thing’s for sure, it’s taking a long time and I’m having a hard time summarising my long vacation into one post (it’s my first time to Europe). Gosh selecting the photos takes forever. There will be another post as it’s too much to fit in a post. Look out for it soon. I don’t like lugging my DSLR around on holiday (too heavy for my shoulders), so it’s the good old iphone photos.
Most of us are most likely to know the Netherlands as Holland with images of windmills, tulips, canals, milkmaid and cheese with Dutch citizens. Pretty confusing huh? North and South Holland is one of its 2 provinces and Nederland in Dutch literally means Low Country, as country is a geographically low-lying country with most of the land below sea level.
Visiting the country in Autumn means there’s no tulips (to many of my friends’ dismay). There’s more to The Netherlands than just tulips and windmills. My excitement when I see my first windmill seems to amuse the Dutch. or the free roaming ducks, geese and swans everywhere. or a mother with 2 babies on her bicycle. I still get excited when I see thousands and thousands of bicycles parked. Yes I’m very easy to please.
I’m indeed very lucky to stay with a local Dutch. Getting to know the local people and go to their hang outs gets me more excited than seeing a historical building or a scenic view. Do what the locals do. Like cycling around the city, it’s the best way to know any city in Netherlands. I was so captivated with how the Dutch (young and old) have integrated biking into their country and their lives, cycling even during freezing winter months. I think I understand a little about their love. As weird as it sounds, there’s something liberating about the wind blowing into my cold freezing face.
Our stay with Michel, an Airbnb host in Alkmaar is gives me a sneak peek into their daily Dutch life. Alkmaar is an old Dutch town with lovely canals, great shopping and famous cheesemarket.
I would usually skip the touristy places, but how can I not visit the famous Amsterdam. A few Dutch people advised me against visiting Amsterdam unless I had to (it reminds me of telling people not to visit Kuala Lumpur). With so much hype about the city , I’m rather disappointed. Maybe because Amsterdam was the last city I visited. Amsterdam is a metropolitan capital city crowded with loads of tourist everywhere I turn. Yes, Amsterdam has its charm but I prefer small quaint towns like Alkmaar and Valkenburg where I don’t have to fight with others for a good photo spot.
To me, one of the memorable part about Amsterdam is stumbling into Metropolitan Deli – an organic chocolate, ice cream, espresso, dessert studio. I still can’t get over their Cacao Mint Tea (made from cacao shell) and Cacao Beer. The other thing that caught our eyes is the Sniffing Cacao station at the end of the studio. Amsterdam is definitely famous for sniffing, but sniffing cacao? There’s a hill of cacao powder and small plastic straws. Both of us hesitate because we thought we would end of sneezing cacao. I asked the owner what does it do, he say it’s free, just try it and you will know. It was a weird sensation, a sudden jolt of intense cocoa into the head. It was weird that only my right nostril filled with cocoa, so I snorted the left side too. Strange as it may be, I highly recommend to try this different way of tasting cacao.