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Adventures in The Netherlands

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Before we left for The Netherlands, and during our travel adventures, friends and family asked us: Why the Netherlands? What made you want to visit the country?

Here’s why:

1. We were car-free from 2008 to 2013, roughly five years. When we moved back to Siskiyou County in 2013, we bought a used car because living in a rural area without a car is very challenging. Cycling is still part of our daily routine, and that habit led us to an interest in walkable and bike-friendly cities and countries like The Netherlands. As a side note, if you’re interested in learning more about the history of cycling in The Netherlands, read In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist by Pete Jordan.

2. Before this trip, we hadn’t been to Europe, and we’d been thinking of traveling overseas for years. The Netherlands seemed like the perfect place to visit because I have friends who live in the country.

3. In 2012, Flow Magazine emailed me with an interview request, and I said yes. Thanks to that interview, I’ve connected with Dutch readers online, guest blogged for Flow, and they even bought some of my photos for their German edition. In essence, Flow Magazine sparked my interest in The Netherlands. And, while we were in Amsterdam, I had coffee with a writer from Flow Magazine. It was lovely!

Today, I thought I’d share some notes and observations about our adventures in The Netherlands:

Packing

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Based on reader recommendations, I bought a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 in 2016. I’m obsessed with this travel bag, and I use it for both short and long trips. It also forces me to pack lightly. For my two-week trip, I packed five outfits, one jacket, one vest, one pair of walking shoes, undergarments, and too many journals and books. On my next travel adventure, I won’t bring as many books or journals because they added too much weight to my bag. In addition to the Aeronaut 30, I brought along a small day backpack for outings.

As a side note, Logan entered a giveaway hosted by Shepherd’s Dream, last month, and we won two Contour Sleep Pillows! Before leaving for The Netherlands, we picked our prize, and the staff gifted us a small travel pillow to review. The pillow was perfect for our trip. It was easy to pack and lovely to snuggle with on the plane.

On trip planning and leaving work at home

Photo by Tammy Strobel

I’m happy we didn’t plan every moment of our vacation. We had a few aims for the trip which included hanging out with friends, cycling, eating delicious food, drinking coffee, and hosting my reader meet-up. We purposely crafted a flexible itinerary so that we would have plenty of time relax, wander, and nap.

During our trip, we explored Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, and Katwijk. Two weeks didn’t feel like enough time to see the Netherlands; I want to go back for another trip. It’s a small country, but there’s so much to explore!

In addition to having a loose itinerary, one of the best decisions I made for the trip was leaving my laptop at home. I did a tiny bit of work on vacation (which I did on my iPhone 7 Plus). If I’d brought my laptop, I would have been tempted to edit photos, write longer essays, and check my email frequently. Also, my iPhone was a great tool for taking photos, texting, sharing travel images on social media, and the Google Maps app helped us not get lost.

No tchotchkes

Photo by Tammy Strobel

I didn’t shop on vacation because I don’t like to spend my money on tchotchkes, clothes, etc. Instead, we put our dollars toward delicious food, museum fees, bike rentals, and public transportation. However, about an hour before we left Amsterdam, we walked by a cute little stationery shop called De Posthumus Winkel. They’ve been open since 1865! I bought a bike-themed journal for work and a stamp. I can’t wait to stamp my snail mail correspondence.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

All the bikes and coffee!

Photo by Tammy Strobel

The biggest difference between daily life at home and in The Netherlands is the transportation system. In the States, the transit system is car centric, whereas the Dutch have created a system that’s focused on cycling, walking, trains, and buses. I loved cycling in The Netherlands, and the public transit system was easy to use and clean.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Also, the average cup of coffee in The Netherlands is better quality than the average cup of coffee in the States—that alone makes me want to move overseas.

All the museums!

Photo by Tammy Strobel

We tried to visit as many museums as possible, including:

  • Rijks Museum
  • Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the national museum of antiquities in Leiden)
  • Mauritshuis in Den Haag
  • Museum Van Loon
  • Moco Museum that featured Banksy and Dali’s art
  • Seeing Escher’s art in Het Paleis (this was crazy cool, and was probably my favorite museum)

Looking at 5,000-year-old Egyptian art and artifacts, Rembrandt, Van Gough, Vermeer, among many many other artists made my heart happy.

Meeting friends

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Back in 2012, I meet my friend Katie through my blog, and since then we’ve been corresponding via email and snail mail. Honestly, I can’t believe we’ve been writing each other long-form letters for five years! One of the best parts of my trip was meeting Katie in person. Katie lives in France (most of the time), and she traveled to Amsterdam to hang out with us.

We also had a lovely time cycling, walking, and trying to eat all the food with our friends Dave and Trina. I love these two humans, and I’m grateful I got to spend time with them on our vacation.

And last but not least, I hosted a reader meet-up in Amsterdam at the end of my trip. I couldn’t have done this without Sarah’s help. She found the location and is a lovely person. About fifteen readers attended the meetup, and I was honored to meet everyone who came out!

On gratitude and language

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Everyone I interacted with in The Netherlands was friendly and spoke English (with an American accent) and other languages like German or French. This made navigating The Netherlands as a tourist easy because I only know a few words and phrases in Dutch.

Parting words

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Interestingly, I didn’t experience bad jet lag when arrived in The Netherlands. Coming home was another story. Jet lag kicked my ass, and I felt foggy and sleepy for eight days. Thankfully, I gave myself buffer time to reintegrate into my daily routine. For example, I only worked half-time the first week we were back, prioritized sleep, and went to CrossFit every other day.

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing stories and lessons I learned from our travels in The Netherlands. I couldn’t fit everything into one post, so stay tuned for additional updates and travel photos.

With gratitude,
Tammy

19 comments… add one
  • Donna September 5, 2017, 7:16 pm

    I loved reading about your travels, please tell us more and with pictures.
    I have done some traveling in the past but now I prefer to stay at home and love reading about other’s travels. Thank you.

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2017, 9:22 am

      Thank you! I’ll post more photos soon. 🙂

  • Mary Ann Gonsalves September 5, 2017, 7:21 pm

    Your photos are just gorgeous! Thank you Tammy for sharing them!

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2017, 9:27 am

      Thank you! I love taking photos with my iPhone. It’s so much fun. 🙂

  • Anne-Marie September 5, 2017, 10:27 pm

    It looks like you had a great trip!
    It’s been quite some time since I visited the Netherlands but it is definitely different than the US. 🙂
    It is nice to be able to bike and to not have to use a car.
    Will look forward to more Netherlands posts!

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2017, 9:23 am

      It was so amazing! Thanks for reading Anne-Marie.

  • Sylvie September 5, 2017, 10:49 pm

    Thanks so much Tammy for this beautiful essay, really to the point. I was happy to meet you even if it was very short 🙂 I’m so happy you loved the Netherlands. As bike lovers and coffee lovers, Netherlands are perfect 🙂
    I wish you to go on with your life on the best way and am sure you will come back 🙂 hugs, Sylvie.

  • Sundee H. September 5, 2017, 11:18 pm

    Love the pictures, ideas and your thoughts. I am also fascinated with the Netherlands: architecture, bikes, happiness aspect of life. They have got it going on. Planning a big trip for my “50” birthday. You have to check out the website LeBoat.com
    I really want to travel through a canal system with your own private boat, pack your bikes on and go.
    Maybe we can plan a trip with other like minds…
    All the best to you and keep up the great work you are doing.
    Sundee

  • Sasha September 5, 2017, 11:33 pm

    Sounds a great place to visit ( or live ! ) Their transport system sounds very forward thinking… would love to ditch the car but live in a rural area in the UK. It has inspired me to visit!
    Thank you Tammy.X

  • Jill September 6, 2017, 4:40 am

    Loved hearing about your trip and look forward to more …..Welcome home…..

  • Joy Sussman September 6, 2017, 7:57 am

    Gorgeous pics, as usual, Tammy! We were in the Netherlands one week after you were there, and traveled to many of the same places, so it’s nice to see your travelogue (especially because I’m still too jet-lagged to go through my own stash of hundreds of photos!). My favorite stop was the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I cried the whole way through it; it was surreal and deeply impactful to be in the same small rooms where she had hidden with her family for two years. I applaud you for bicycling. It seemed too daunting to us to try in Amsterdam because we were barely managing to cross the street without getting hit! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your trip!

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2017, 9:26 am

      Thanks Joy! We didn’t make it to the Anne Frank House. I’ve heard from so many people that it’s a moving experience. Next time. 🙂

      We actually didn’t bike in Amsterdam. We did the majority of our cycling in Leiden and in the countryside. It was amazing!

  • Olivia September 6, 2017, 8:35 am

    That is such an adorable picture of you two! Sounds like an incredible trip: great inspiration to plan one of our own.

  • Jasmin V Brackenbury September 6, 2017, 1:37 pm

    Hey Rowdykittens,
    you are refreshing! I love your blog post about The Netherlands, it makes me want to travel there myself.
    Looking forward to reading about your simple lifestyle and travel.
    From British Columbia in Canada,
    Jasmin

    • Tammy Strobel September 7, 2017, 9:24 am

      Thank you! Make the trip. It’s worth it. 🙂

  • Emily September 7, 2017, 3:47 pm

    I read this post and had a little chuckle. I too have a longing to travel to the Netherlands just because of Flow magazine! I pretty much haven’t travelled anywhere out of Australia and this is my dream location.

  • Eva September 7, 2017, 11:12 pm

    It was so fun to meet you and Logan in Amsterdam! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your time here and I look forward to reading your stories and lessons from the Netherlands. I find it very interesting to hear your perspective as an outsider looking in.

  • Lana September 8, 2017, 9:22 pm

    This gave me the travel bug! I loved seeing your photos and it sounded like an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

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