Plenty of people kept telling me to go to Rotterdam, but I didn’t understand really why. It wasn’t until I did my research before my trip to the Netherlands that I completely understood the significance of the city. Rotterdam was one of the devastated cities in the Netherlands by the second world war, and by many almost entirely demolished. What you see now is the courage and resiliency through its modern architecture and iconic skyline.
I kept seeing people with large, bright blue shopping bags with the initials OH, or so I thought they were OH. A group of girls almost got impaled by a BMW driving too fast right in front of me, and my stomach was less than sympathetic. The store location was about the size of a typical liquor store back in the States; however, it had Whole Foods quality items at Trader Joe’s prices.
“Where are you going today?”Haarlem. Thanks to Rick Steves, during a late-night PBS binge-watching session I came across the Netherlands episode, which included Haarlem. What stuck to me was eating pickled herring and how it would be foolish not to rent a bike for the day. Mental notes. The way he described Haarlem was that it was where you went to for more a small town feel, to get away from the bustle of Amsterdam, and where tourists rarely visit. That’s all I needed.
Besides to think that Dutch was merely German’s clog wearing cousin would lead to some serious conversational faux pas. I could only get about three pages in on a flight from Los Angeles to Copenhagen; yet, somehow I was going to learn Dutch by osmosis. It was wishful thinking at best.
Sleek and chic, still it’s easy to get lost when you are exhausted and disoriented. Although I had read about the many options one has for getting into town beforehand, it can be quite overwhelming just by seeing the little yellow boxes in the middle of the square. If you aren’t quick enough someone will swoop in, start punching keys and buy their ticket all before you even have the chance to say, “Excuseer mij.”
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