With all the talk about Valentine’s Day and love, I thought I would jump on the band wagon! But I’ll be sharing with you what I love about the Netherlands. (of course, I love Jit too, but you don’t want to hear about that stuff!)
Firstly, if you are new to my blog or just getting to know me, it might seem a bit bizarre to have a love for somewhere you don’t live. Well, Let me explain a bit about where this love of the Netherlands stems from.
Back in 2016, when we were just starting out on travelling more and getting to new countries, we visited Rotterdam. Jit was there to speak at a conference and I tagged along with him. We booked some extra days there so that we could explore together too. During the time that I was wandering alone, I came up with my the idea for this blog.
I found myself an audio walking tour so that I could explore and learn about this wonderful place. Before I even made it to the starting point though, I had been drawn in by parks, sculpture and towers that just sparked my curiosity. I wandered, weaved and meandered my way through the city. I met people, exchanged ideas and learned about their visit to the city too. It was as though I was settling my way into a new home. And I liked it.
Getting to know it
The best way that I know to get to know a place is to stay there as though you live there. By that I mean get to know the neighbours, say hello to the people you meet and learn some of the language too. All while pounding the streets and moving in the areas the locals do. This is exactly what we did on our stay and I can honestly say that we got to know the area so well that it felt natural to get around on our second trip.
The funny thing about the Netherlands is that I don’t mind going out to the bars and pubs. Here I have a tendency to shy away from them because of the crowds and often drunkenness. In the Netherlands, however, they are much more civilised. And they play Jazz too. Of course it could have just been the places that we chose to go. (we did avoid the hen and stag dos in Amsterdam!) But overall, it was a much more pleasant environment.
So, what I love about the Netherlands
If the bits that I have mentioned above is not enough, let me share with you a bit more about what I love about the Netherlands.
Having grown up on the Wirral Peninsular, I have always had a love of being near water. In Manchester I have the canals and rivers and Rotterdam and Amsterdam have them too. It is that little bit of calm in the chaos of a bustling city that can be found within mere metres of some of the largest modern office blocks.
The old and the new
Even though Rotterdam was bombed badly in the war, it still holds a great deal of historical buildings that sit snugly next to the modern high-rise tower blocks. And Amsterdam proved that we could wander a few miles from the 1960s apartment blocks and be in a neighbourhood of traditional houses and boats.
The parks and green spaces
From the tiny shared back gardens in Amsterdam to the expansive parks that fill the horizon with green, there is always somewhere green to relax for a while. There seem to be plenty of trees lining the streets, flowers growing beside doors and disused land turned into a community allotment and meeting space. You’re never really far from something natural in the very built up world.
Street art and culture
And things to make you think. As someone who loves graffiti, street art and a good gallery or museum, there were plenty around the Netherlands to keep this culture vulture happy. I even found out about exciting night-time openings, which I am eager to experience. When a place nurtures local artistic talent and there are creative spaces like NDSM in the north of Amsterdam, I think it is a place where I fit right in.
During my wanders and exploring, I met some fantastic people. People willing to just idle a while and chat, those looking to share sights and sounds and those with tips of the local area. Each one friendly and interesting.
Whenever I travel and wherever I go, I love to learn a bit of the language. I think it is only polite to try, even if it a challenge to get what you mean across. Sometimes you just like a language a lot. Or you love a place enough to want to learn it, which is why I am learning Dutch.
A lot of people have told me that it is a pointless exercise as most Dutch people speak English, but I don’t see it that way. I like the language, love learning and think that if I were ever to move to the Netherlands, it would be better to speak their language rather than expecting them to cater to my needs.
And last but not least what I love about the Netherlands
The final thing (for this post, I am sure) on what I love about the Netherlands is the way I feel when I am there. I love the atmosphere, the adventure and the homes. The people, the streets and the animals too. But most of all, I feel quite at home there. And I certainly think I could make it my home one day.
Yes, you could say all of this about Manchester too. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Manchester for the same reasons, but there is something quite special about Rotterdam in particular that makes it that little bit different. Perhaps you could say that the similarities draw me in and the excitement of exploring somewhere new is what keeps that passion alive? Either way, these are some of the many reasons that I love the Netherlands.
Oh wait, I forgot one last thing. Something that you certainly don’t get in Manchester! Possibly the worlds smallest car, the Canta!
So this what I love about the Netherlands. Do you have a place or city that you love? What is it that you love about it?
Let me know in the comments.