Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break in the Netherlands

As the semester goes on, I find myself with less and less free time to write a blog post.  Thankfully today I found some time!  I can finally share my Spring Break experiences (Part 2).

For the second part of spring break, a few of us (Nate, Frankie, Katie, Nicole, and I) went to Amsterdam.  Thankfully we were only there for a few days, because that city is a tourist trap!  It was SO beautiful, but everything was really expensive.  Our trip included stops at some very cool touristy things such as the Van Gogh museum, the Heineken experience, and a canal tour.  It was amazing seeing the city from the canal and to understand how the canals work.  The city had more landmass devoted to canals than to actual land it seemed!  While Amsterdam was certainly a lot of fun, I particularly enjoyed the second half of our stay in the Netherlands. 

Between March 7-8, Nicole, Frankie, and Katie all left.  For the rest of our time in the Netherlands, Nate and I decided to bike around the country and see some of the smaller cities that aren’t necessarily as famous as Amsterdam.  Our tour planned on Den Haag, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.  Our first day was a grueling 70-ish km bike from Amsterdam to Den Haag.  Of course, we rented the cheapest bikes available in an attempt to conserve some money, but in hindsight, we should have splurged for the better bikes.  When we finally got to Den Haag, after roughly 7 hours of biking, we were far too exhausted to do any exploring.  It was also very dark, so sight seeing would have been rather difficult. 

The second day was much more enjoyable.  Den Haag to Rotterdam was only 30 km, so a much lighter trip.  The bike path led us along a beautiful canal splitting Holland’s countryside.  On our way, we got lost in the town of Delft, one of the most beautiful places I have seen.  Here, we explored some beautiful Gothic churches.  We finally got into Rotterdam early afternoon with enough time to explore the city.  Rotterdam was very interesting because it was completely leveled in WW2, so it was completely rebuilt during the 1940s.  Compared to the rest of Holland, it was a very modern city.  However, it still clearly had its Dutch roots.  Nate and I found a restaurant in the city center that had typical Dutch bar cuisine.  We ate cheeseburgers with a fried egg on them (something that seemed to be the case with every Dutch hamburger). 

                                                    The City Center of Delft

Our next stop was in Utrecht, but we stopped in Gouda on our way to get some famous Gouda cheese.  It turns out that Gouda was also a very beautiful town that we never would have explored had we not gone on the biking adventure.  For lunch, we bought a sausage stuffed with Gouda cheese.  All I can say about this is DELICIOUS!  Since we took the train to Utrecht (it was misting all day), we had plenty of time to explore.  Utrecht is very popular for students, so it was a relatively cheap place to stay.  Nate and I, along with an Australian named Jesse from our Hostel wandered throughout the streets and canals of the city and went into a museum with many exhibits.  Our favorite was a punk-rock exhibit explaining the roots and rising of punk music in the 1970’s.  Unfortunately, our trip had to end, but before it did, we had one last day in Enkhuizen, a city in northern Holland.  Again, a beautiful landscape and beautiful architecture really attracted us to this location.  Our final Dutch meal was, of course, pankokken (pancakes).

                                                          Utrecht's Tower

I really enjoyed my stay in the Netherlands, and my spring break as a whole.  Although it was crazy at some points, dare I say even stressful, it was a nice change of pace from the Sicilian life.  I really look forward to the rest of the semester as spring break signifies the time when I start traveling more!

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