Je maintiendrai; Ik zal handhaven
The Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam, and Amsterdam is more than just the green leaf and Red Light District. Stick to the latter and you are truly missing out what makes this country great: canals, architecture, shopping, and FOOD! From Amsterdam Centraal Station, you can head over to Haarlem or Zaanse Schans in less than 30 minutes or Rotterdam in a little over an hour. In Haarlem, rent a bike and don’t forget to try the pickled herring. Zaanse Schans is conveniently located within walking distance of the Zaandijk train station. Along the way don’t forget to stop at one of the local chocolateries. Rotterdam should be part of your itinerary. You could go to the EuroMast to check out the views, but I prefer to walk and take the trams. The Kubuswoningen (cube houses) located near the Blaak station is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture. On the other side is Oude Haven (old port) which is also home to one of the largest markets in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam: Beauty at Every Turn, Adventure at Every Sight
This city will leave you speechless.
Haarlem: Rick Steves’ Side Mission
A late night binge-watching session of Rick Steves’ Europe led me here. Just as he suggested, I rented a bike. I rode about 10+ miles that day. The day is mine to keep, hence the lack of pictures.
Zaanse Schans: Zaandam and Zaandijk
The owner of the herring stand in Haarlem recommended this place after I told him I was looking for windmills. Once I reached Zaanse Schans, I took a small boat across the Zaan River into Zaandijk for 1 euro. I was rewarded with a homemade truffle made with chocolate from the factory just 2 miles away, and a delightful conversation with another world traveler who also owned the chocolaterie and is on a historical society preservation board. What are the odds?!
Rotterdam: A Rose in a Concrete Jungle
This felt like home to me. It was just gritty enough for my liking without losing any of its charm. A beautiful balance between vintage and modern while remaining unapologetically Dutch.