Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back from the land of the wooden shoes, tulips and windmills

Hello everyone! I know I haven't posted anything for a long time and I apologize for that. I will be writing more blog posts from my trips to the Netherlands and Paris in the next few months and if I have enough time to bake, I'll put in a recipe or two. =) Since I got back, I've been spending most of my free time studying Dutch language so I hope you will bear with me.

It feels so strange to be home again. Even though I was only away for 3 weeks, I have a feeling of being "misplaced". Home almost feels unfamiliar to me like I don't belong here. My life in Cebu is the complete opposite of the what I experienced when I visited my boyfriend for 3 short weeks in the Netherlands.

At home, I pay rent that is a bit too high for an old apartment with a broken toilet that the landlady refuses to fix so I have to manually fill it with water to be able to flush it. EVERY SINGLE DAY. The only thing that I really love about it is the location, being near to supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies and malls. But in the Netherlands, I was living in a nice apartment that was comfortable, spacious and very clean. I felt safe walking in the middle of the night from the cinema in Amersfoort.

I never thought that I'd be able to visit Europe. I was hoping that maybe someday in the far future I can but not this year. Funny how the universe works. You ask for something you really want and when you least expect it, it happens! It was truly a wonderful blessing from God and I will cherish those memories forever.

Before I left for my vacation, I didn't know much about the Netherlands except for wooden shoes, tulips, weed and windmills. I was so busy at work that I didn't have time to think much about my vacation. I didn't expect much.
wooden shoes from a souvenir shop in Utretch
All my life, I've always dreamed of going to Paris. I even made a vision board about it after watching The Secret and many times, I used to fantasize standing in front of the Eiffel Tower and saying to myself, I am going to visit Paris in 2012. Funny enough, my dream came true on this trip. Ironically, I wasn't as ecstatic as I thought I would be when I was there. Yes, Paris is a very beautiful city, big and majestic with all its glory. But I saw that it's not just all that. There was also a bad and dangerous side to the city.

If you were to ask me which I love more a few months ago, Paris or Netherlands, I might have given a different answer but now, I know without a doubt that I prefer the beautiful cities in the Netherlands more than Paris.

Netherlands may be small compared to its neighbors in Europe but I fell in love with it. It is such a beautiful country and I would highly recommend anyone to visit it if they can in their lifetime. The  Dutch people are also polite and kind.

I miss a lot of things already. The fresh clean air, the clean streets, the nice safe neighborhood  warm greetings from friendly people you pass by on the street or you meet in the elevator or even people just sitting on their balconies, kind drivers who stop to let you cross the road, strawberries and blueberries (since they're very expensive in the Philippines, I never buy the better, imported ones.), beautiful crooked houses (or apartments) standing next to each other and a perfect weather that feels like autumn in the summer.
These houses in Amsterdam remind me of the shops in Diagon Alley.
I never had to break into a sweat, not one day that I was there. In the Philippines, however, my clean shirt is already a bit damp with sweat 10 minutes after a cold shower.

There were no malls in Amersfoort but the city center was full of shops lined up next to each other. Small streets intersect each other brimming with cafes, boutiques and people sitting at tables, slowly enjoying their meals outside.
city center in Amersfoort
French fries (or 'Patat' in Dutch) are cut thick, made fresh and fried perfectly with a nice crisp on the outside, tender and moist inside, served with mayonnaise or pindasaus (peanut sauce) and eaten with a small fork. Sometimes, it's also served with a nice stew called Stoofvlees.
On Saturdays, the square at the center in Amersfoort comes to life with the weekend market. Everything from huge wheels of Dutch cheese, beautiful flowers, fish, meat, clothes, bags, bread, dried fruits, mixed nuts and tapenades are sold at the market.
Say cheese!
Fresh stroopwafels are baked in front of you. How I miss those stroopwafels! If you ever visit the Netherlands, Stroopwafels are one of the things you should really try, along with the famous Bossche Bollen at Jan de Groot in Den Bosch. A Bossche Bol is like a giant puff pastry much like profiteroles filled with sweetened whipped cream and coated with chocolate. Mmmm, het is heel LEKKER met thee!
As you can see, I was a bit clumsy cutting my Bossche Bol.
 If you put too much pressure with the knife, you'll end up squashing it. 
 Mr. C hardly made a mess on his plate!
It was truly the best three weeks of my life!  Time surely flies fast. Before I know it, it was already time to go home (sob) but I will go back soon without a doubt.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.  =)