This year I literally saw in the New Year with a bang, as I celebrated New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands visiting a friend in Den Haag. She had warned me about a few odd Dutch traditions for New Year, but I was unprepared for the level of crazy my New Year celebrations in the Netherlands would bring!
Here are just a few (insane) ways the Dutch like to celebrate New Year and my exhausting experience celebrating New Year’s Eve in The Hague:Read more
After booking a last-minute flight to the Netherlands to spend New Year with a friend living in The Hague, I found myself being roped into the Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen. So, while you were nursing your New Year’s Eve hangover, I was taking a plunge into the North Sea as part of Den Haag’s New Year’s Day swim!
This is the story of how I was peer-pressured into running down Scheveningen Beach in nothing but my swimming cossie and an orange hat on the 1st January, wondering how I’d wound up in Holland, throwing myself into the icy waves on Nieuwjaarsdag (New Year’s Day). Read more
Last December, I committed the cardinal rule of travelling. I went to a place and saw nothing. I didn’t visit the museums. I didn’t sample much of the local food. I didn’t pose outside the famous landmarks. (oh, except the Amsterdam sign, we at least managed to do that so that’s something!)
Yet, despite having committed the ultimate travel sin, I had the best time! How is this possible, I hear you ask? Because sometimes travel isn’t about ticking off a Top 10 list – it’s about exploring some place new with people you love. I was lucky enough to be in Amsterdam and the Hague with two of my oldest and best friends (over two decades and still counting), so even though we got too distracted by each other’s news, nostalgic memories and gossip to actually see or do anything remotely cultural, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So, in true blogger fashion, here is lovely ‘listicle’ about all the things we didn’t see, together, in Amsterdam:
1. Anne Frank’s House
We didn’t see Anne Frank’s House. You have to book in advance. Like, way in advance. We tried to book tickets online weeks ahead of time, but there were none left. We turned up first thing in the morning just in case and the queue was halfway to France. We came back near closing time and the queue was just as long. So, we took a selfie with the sign, wondered if it was appropriate to pull a duck-face pout in a photo in front of Anne Frank’s house, pondered history and one of literature’s bravest heroes, and had the best time.
2. A ‘Coffee Shop’
This is a white lie – we did go in one of those euphemistic ‘coffee shops’, but only because we actually thought it was a coffee shop! Woops! The naive innocents that we were, we were nattering away half-looking for somewhere to sit and have a proper chat, when we spied a place that had a neon ‘coffee shop’ sign outside the window. We went in, awkwardly looked at the menu, awkwardly realised where we were, then awkwardly walked back out again. Then we went and got an actual coffee in a Starbucks, because we figured they definitely sold coffee rather than ‘coffee’ there. It was awesome.
3. The Van Gogh Museum
We didn’t see the Van Gogh Museum. Both a rip-off at 17 euros and a pain to get into, as we had to wait in a queue that wasn’t moving, in the rain. Needless to say, we gave up, went to cafe that had a special Justin-Bieber-themed happy hour (had another coffee – there’s definitely a pattern emerging here…) and had the best time.
4. Canal boat tour
After a day of not seeing anything in Amsterdam, we were pretty run off our feet, so decided we would see it all via a canal boat tour. We bought the tickets and got on the boat, which was lovely and cosy and warm (the Netherlands is bloody cold). In fact, it was so cosy and warm that we fell asleep on the tour and didn’t see anything. An excellent napping spot though.
5. The Red Light District
We didn’t see the Red Light District. After an exhausting day of not seeing anything in Amsterdam we decided to skip the famous Red Light District and make our way back to the Hague, where we were staying. We ate pizza while watching Mystic Pizza – an appropriate film about three friends who grow up together and do a really bad job of pretending to be Portuguese-American (come on, Julia Roberts, you’re fooling no-one and your ‘Portuguese-American accent’ is a cultural sin worse than not seeing anything in Amsterdam). Oh, and we had the best time.
Travelling is great and places are beautiful, but if there was ever an example of how the people you’re with really make a difference, this is it. Friends for over 20 years, and now spread across three countries, we only get the chance to see each other in the flesh around once a year. So, I had the best time not seeing anything in Amsterdam, because I was busy catching up with these two lovely buckets! Miss you guys!