Is it Spring already? Nope, its still freezing over here in Germany, as it is still winter here in Europe, but in the Netherlands, you can catch an early glimpse of Spring! As a yearly tradition in Amsterdam, once again this year, the TULPENDAG or the National Tulip Day is set! What makes this super exciting and colorful? You can gather your own Tulips, as much as you can, and yes—all for FREE!
In lieu of this year’s theme “Romance“, Tulips are such in tune with any romantic occasion. I ,myself love Tulips no matter what the occasion is. Most especially when it is given to me as a gift. Just last week, I got a bunch of Tulips and when I put it in the vase, I can’t help myself comparing the bulbs from the gorgeous Tulips I have seen back in Holland. They are totally in different genes !!
Tulips are such a nice token to give to someone you love.It has a universal symbolism of purity, love and beauty.Though it can be super expensive in other countries, in Holland, tulips has its own pride.
On January 20, the Dam Square will once again be filled with over 200, 000 Dutch tulips ! On this day, Tulip growers will wow the world once again by creating a temporary Garden right in the touristic Dam square. From 13.00 to 16:30, so if you are in Amsterdam or you have a chance to visit this beautiful city ( like I did!), then grab everyone along with you to see this event!
It’s probably bicycles and Tulips which are obviously one of the great statistics coming from the Netherlands, not to mention the Great Dutch masters and painters. But when it comes to Flower-mania, the pedestrian crowd in the Keukenhof gardens is something that I really find fascinating.Look, my photos maybe didn’t do justice but these photos says it all.
Few weeks ago, as a jump-start for Autumn, thousands of tulips bulbs were once again prepared for planting in the Keukenhof gardensin Lisse, The Netherlands for the preparation for the Spring Garden season opening in March 2018. Looking back from our last visit last Spring, these was my pedestrian experience when we are in this place, add the fact that it was also an Easter holiday! Tulips are as common as Biergartens here in Germany. It flocks everywhere, in gardens, balconies, along the road, and even on the wild outskirts.
But the most extravagant au-naturelle display of the tulips grandeur is along the side of the road, where flower enthusiasts and botanical addicts just like me, likes to wander and linger, for free. I’m telling you, the crowds are huge, the traffic is crazy. More than the crazy crowds I’ve seen during grand sale in Avenues in my life in Kuwait. People are in constant motion. Photographs are endless!
Wherever you go in the neighborhood in Lisse in the Netherlands, you are always guaranteed with a view. Tourists and locals, are rewarded with a scenic view of the tulip fields, acres and acres of flower fields, blooming like a rainbow plastered on the ground, which gives endless panoramic vistas even to passers- by or in-transit passengers.
Pedestrian lanes in the Netherlands has a signature of this. You can’t take your eyes off from the beauty of nature in front of you. Seriously, whether you are driving, cycling or walking, it really doesn’t matter.
It is a journey always guaranteed to be pleasant and any pedestrian is rewarded with a view !
How about you, Do you like crowds?
This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge : Pedestrian
From our recent trip to the Netherlands last Easter, I snapped once again some photos where mirror-like reflections of nature was so captivating and irresistible to ignore.This is one of my favorite subject to photograph in Holland, its water reflections. Be it from a small pond, dike, lake or in canals, the waters are ever-so-clear! As we walked through the woods, I found this little paradise, just in the outskirts of the old town.This is the thing about Holland, be it after the rain or not, beautiful water reflections of nature are just a normal thing. The waters are so clear that the images of trees, city landmarks, and the sky makes a great portrait!
The world seen upside down; but still so beautiful — or maybe even more beautiful!
The first known mirror in the world was perhaps a very clear and still water surface. There is an old Greek mythology about a beautiful boy, Narcis, who saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with himself. So deep was his love, that he didn’t want to do anything but watch his own reflection, and he did it until he died of lust. I don’t know if the water mirror really is that dangerous, but I’ve fallen in love with Amsterdam reflections especially the reflections of the gable houses along the canals. During sunny days, the houses are reflected in the canal water or in the windows of houses on the opposite side. In parks, the image of trees on the water surface looks like a Van Gogh painting.
Still-life or not, this beats any type of painting. The waters are crystal clear that minute details are clearly seen upside down.
Though the weather is not that perfect, but still with enough light considering I am only using my iPhone, I am still impressed by the images that I captured. This simple demonstration of beauty of nature needs no filter and no explanations. It is just perfect.
How about you, what are your favorite subjects to photograph in your travels?
This post is inspired by this week’s Daily Post : Photo Challenge | Reflecting
I know, I know, forgive me for spamming you with my posts about our recent trip to the Netherlands but I can’t help it, Keukenhof is just too gorgeous! One photo wouldn’t do any justice and a single post is an understatement of my amazing experience there. The flower arrangement , the garden shows and the different exhibits showcases the epitome of beauty of the flower-mania in Holland. For flora and fauna enthusiasts, it’s definitely a must-see during Springtime in Europe!
After seeing all these beautiful spring flowers in the most beautiful spring garden in the world, my standard for nature has been elevated. My impression about Tulips in general has become so great that I have now high regard for this wonderful piece of nature. I didn’t know that flowers could have such an effect to humans in general, and not only to gardeners, landscape designers, and flower enthusiasts.I have great respect for the artistic mind and tremendous hard work and labor of the people who make Keukenhof a place to show this grand beauty.
To give credit to this amazing place, this time I’d like to share with you some photos from Keukenhof gardens once again, in pretty Pink floral colors and it’s symbolism to tell about your love to someone. Pink Tulips symbolizes the ” Awakening of Love “!
I have seen thousands of tulips coming in different shades of pink, from dark ones, almost purple, and with some bright tints of whites and red. Pink Tulips are a symbol of caring, attachment (not as strong as love, like the red ones) and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member.
Here are some snaps of my personal favorites so far!
Close up with ‘The Negrita” -Though it’s not as darkly colored as its name suggests (“nigra” means black in Latin), the purplish-pinkish color looks great in the garden with almost everything.
Pink tulips express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. It’s an ideal gift to have them sent to someone’s office as a warm first-day-on-the-job surprise. I was obsessing photographing them in layers because I just love how they are aligned with each other and how they create a striking sight!
Beautiful, isn’t it?
I must say that If you really have the chance to visit Holland in Spring, make time to get into Lisse, in the Netherlands to visit this garden. A day filled with colorful flowers can brighten anyone’s burden and who knows, It might change the way you see life.
Do you like Tulips? What is your favorite color so far?
If you’re interested to know more of different types of tulips, you can read it from here.
Even from my countless visits, I am still charmed by Holland. It has its endless enigma that is so unique, so complicated and yet so unforgettable. This country behind its countless dikes, polders, and gazillions of bikes, is enormous. There’s a lot to enjoy and really worthwhile to explore, especially for families and for all ages.
For the first time,we spent our Easter holiday with my parent’s in-laws and my husband’s relatives and as usual, it was a nice time, always ‘Gezellig‘. Though the sudden drop in temperatures dampen our moods for a while, the crisp winds, hail and rain came as a surprise but not for long, we managed to roll and live like a local.
This is Holland, the Netherlands, as I see it! Enjoy…
Easter egg hunt right in Opa’s garden!
Just like in Germany, Easter in the Netherlands was a blast. My daughter and her cousins had lots of fun hunting for eggs and of course, we had an overload of Osterhase ( Easter bunny) and chocolate eggs.
Talking about the wind and Dutch Cloudscapes
The photo below is a typical Dutch cloudscape. I snap this photo while I was in the attic and opened the window during dusk. You can almost feel the wind in the higher parts of the sky; the strips of clouds they call “wind feathers” . I know I am in Holland when the clouds makes an exhibition of their fluffy, airy, and colorful palette.The ‘cumulus’ type of clouds is as typical as the tulips and used as inspirations by artists in many classic paintings in the Netherlands. If you have time, Google ‘ Solomon Van Ruysdael’ and you will know what I am talking about.
The Kissing couple
I love everything Delft, and this one is far by my favorite second to the Tulip vase that I’ve seen from our visit to the Rijksmuseum. I can’t find any history of this but this little piece of a Dutch farmer kissing his wife in the fields is really something very-Dutch. It come in all sizes but they are typically in the blue and white color which means that they are made of Delft Blue (or Delftware) – a Dutch version of Chinese porcelain.
Crystal clear water reflections
I know that I am in The Netherlands when nature is visible in any bodies of water. The water is super clean and clear that you always have a mirror-like reflections. I am obsessed photographing all these reflections. I took this photo from one of our walks in the city center where the small river lies along the green trees and a castle. It always seems like just a few meters away and I am taken away to another place.
Flower power spectacle in full colors
Need I say more,when it comes to colors, the Dutch have a reputation to defend. This applies to famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of my favorite painters, whose work can be seen in several Dutch museums. One of my unforgettable experience was seeing the “Night watch” in Dutch –De Nachtwacht. But Holland is best known for its spring flowers, especially Tulips. They are gorgeoussssss!!!
My recent trip to the Keukenhof left me with a flower-coma but I’m telling you, by Springtime, a sight of tulips are seen ordinarily in every Dutch household. Actually the flowers are just a by-product, it’s the bulbs that counts and is exported all over the world.
The Dutch Tulips, and the season of Spring in the Netherlands is something that you should not miss if you are visiting this country. If you wanna know why these flowers causes the first financial crisis in Holland, you better read it Here.
I have a kid who is obsessed with animals and in Holland, the wild animals are typically seen up close. You can see herds of cows, goats , chickens and sheep as you drive along the highway. There is always a country-farm feel like even in the midst of a busy city. I think I have seen so much horses and stable in my entire life every time I am in Holland. Here, deers are still 100% natural. In the Veluwe, a protected wildlife park, there’s always a chance to run into one. My daughter enjoyed her up close encounter with huge deers that she can feed and with the petting zoo in Keukenhof gardens.
Pfau ( Peacock )
At the Petting Zoo
Our lazy walks lead us to this castle, just a few meters away from the city center. Huize Almelo is a castle ( manor) in Almelo which is owned by the family Van Rechteren Limpurg. It is not open for public access but of course you can view it from a distance.We love walking around here as it has a beautiful greenery and clouded with trees with a nearby lake and ponds.
The taste of Dutch cheese
Need I say more? Gouda is the type of cheese that is known worldwide, but the famous cheese market is held in the town of Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam. I don’t know about my husband why he doesn’t eat cheese, but as for me, I adore cheese and I could eat this everyday!
My sweet tooth indulgence when I am in Holland is elevated to the max. I can’t resist the delicious goodies like the stroopwafels, gevuldekoek, kozakken, Dutch Apple pies and bonbons. Though the Netherlands is famous for its ‘Frites’ and bitterballen, you can never underestimate the Dutch homemade dishes. My parents-in-law always spoiled us with so many home-made cooking that I can’t describe farther than ‘Gezelligheid’. It is always served with lots of love. And yes, even in Holland, it is Spargelzeit!
Our visit to Holland is not complete until we had coffee and a slice of warm Krentenwegge ( raisin bread) and Dutch apple pie with a window view of spring violet pansies, for which is truly relaxing. This bakery which dated since 1867, is a home to my husband’s favorite- raisin bread and Kruidnoten.
If you see bikes everywhere, then you know you are in the right city and you are definitely in the Netherlands! Either tucked in the central station, if not on a bridge, they are firmly locked over a canal or in front of Dutch houses.
Her name is Miffy, and she’s older than Hello Kitty !
Nijntje, is a shortening of “konijntje,” which means “little rabbit.”Oftenly mistaken as Japanese because of it’s ‘kawaii’ features but actually she’s Dutch. Sanrio even got sued for copying her design; the court ordered them to discontinue their “Cathy the bunny” character.
Dick Bruna released his first bunny book in 1955, followed by over 30 more. This year, Dick Bruna passed away but left a legacy with this white bunny character loved by children all over the world, even adults. We were lucky to witness the Miffy Parade last August 2015 in Amsterdam for its 60th Anniversary where 60 artists decorated a life-size miffy (1.8 metre high) from creepy goth to rubber ducky. My daughter adores Miffy since birth, and I am thrilled that we brought home one of the limited edition’s design.
There’s still so much to write about but I don’t want this post to be a novel . But do you wanna know what’s my priced souvenir from this family trip? This…
You know you are completely Dutchi-fied when you have this in your kitchen!
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“Woowww!” This is my daughter’s word when we saw the bright, bursting colors of tulips last Monday in the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, in the Netherlands.
Visiting Keukenhof on the second day of Easter was totally overwhelming, but yes, for me, it is probably the most beautiful garden in spring in the whole world! I have been looking forward for this trip this Spring and I am so glad we had a great weather to witness this place. This year was the 68th time that the Keukenhof gardens ( literally translates as kitchen garden) wows approximately millions of tourists and even locals. My husband, who is a Dutch native, but a first-timer to see the flower-mania inside the Keukenhof gardens was surprisingly impressed by the beautiful landscapes. He thought only old people and tourists go there, but then he was mistaken.Seeing tulips grow as normal as weeds during spring in almost every backyard all over Holland, he saw the other side of its beauty.He was greatly enamored by the flower power as I did. He hates crowds but I must say that the traffic flow inside the park was still controlled and manageable, even with a 2.5 year old toddler with us. Since our visit falls on a holiday, we’ve seen visitors from all over the globe,different nationalities.Totally chaotic but then also so much fun!
We took the trip with Arriva tours and it was very pleasant, on time and smooth all the way. I won’t be surprised if visitors this year would surpass last year’s 2016 recorded 1.1 million visitors! As one of the highlight of our Holland trip, my feet was itching from the moment we book our tickets and kept on hoping that we had a great weather or else we will definitely cancel the trip.The time that I come face to face with the gazillions of around 800 varieties of tulips, I fell in love!
There is beauty everywhere I look! Have you ever heard of Tulips coma? There is never enough Tulips to see, and of course, to photograph!
I think this is how I’ve felt when I saw the bright tulips fields, the tripartite layers of colors, gorgeous landscape filled with different colors, unique artwork, inspirational gardens and flower exhibitions!
This year’s theme is “Dutch Design“. Dutch Design is characterized by Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions.The Mondriaan Garden with its primary square color patches was crowded and so as the Roses flower show in the Oranje Nassau pavillion was a great crowd pleaser. Surprisingly, my daughter had a blast in the petting zoo, in the Miffy house ,spacious playpark and running around the garden. The restaurants were crowded but there were plenty to choose from.You will have something to eat and drink depending on what you want.Don’t forget to try the Dutch , Bitterballen, and yes, the Kroket sandwich to have a taste of Dutch foods.
Personally, seeing this garden up close and personal was a dream come true!
Gazing at the tulips made me appreciate nature even more and I was just overwhelmed by how beautiful the flowers are.From this, the Dutch people should be very proud because they have this heritage. It’s no wonder people travel across the world just to see flowers, especially this Tulpen-Mania!
This spring,we are lucky to see the new amenities of the park, like its beautiful grand entrance hall, with geometric design ceiling, visitors luggage deposit area, restaurants, souvenir shops, and a car park where 4,500 cars and 1,000 coaches can park. If you like to gaze at the Tulips fields, you can walk a few meters from the park and just be amazed by horizons painted in red, yellow, violets, and pink tulips!
I am so glad that I had the chance to see this place in person. It was totally worth it. This place fueled my love for nature even more, flowers and the inspiration behind the art. I think its not just the tulips but there’s really a creative art behind these landscapes.
Here are some interesting facts I’ve learned while researching about this amazing garden.
1. 2017 is Keukenhof’s 68th opening to the public.
2. Keukenhof is only open eight weeks each year and, in that time, welcomes 1.1 million visitors ( as of 2016 records).
3. Nearly 50 million people have visited Keukenhof since it first opened and, nowadays, 75% come from more than 100 countries abroad.
4. More than 7 million bulbs are planted in Keukenhof’s 32 hectares (79 acres), which are supplied, for free, by 100 bulb growers.
5. The gardeners dig out these bulbs, at the end of each open season, and destroy them (by order of the growers). Most are used as food for livestock.
6. There are about 30 full-time gardeners, who work year-round at Keukenhof.
7. Each autumn, the gardeners plant the bulbs, by hand, in a completely new design. It takes about 3 months. The bulbs are selected to bloom throughout the eight-week opening period.
8. The bright green grass, around the park, is a special quick-growing variety, needed to cope with the shady trees. It is reseeded each year.
9. In addition to the tulip gardens, Keukenhof also hosts a Japanese garden, an English landscape garden, a spring meadow, a natural garden, a historic garden, a garden maze, and seven inspiration gardens that are different each year.
10. Although known for tulips, Keukenhof is home to the world’s largest lily show, during the last ten days of the opening season.
11. Keukenhof began, in 1857, as an English landscape garden, designed by the Zocher firm, who also designed Vondelpark in Amsterdam.
12. Keukenhof’s name has even older origins. Countess Jacoba van Beieren owned the land in the 15thcentury. The uncultivated land was used for hunting and gathering herbs for the castle’s kitchen, hence Keukenhof, or Kitchen Garden.
13. The striped tulips, so popular in the 17th century, got their colouring from a virus, transferred by aphids, only discovered in 1931. These days, multi-coloured tulips are bred to look that way.
14. Growing 4.2 million bulbs a year, the Netherlands is the world’s largest producer of tulip bulbs. Half of which are exported.
15. The main bulb-growing region of Holland stretches from Leiden to Haarlem. The number of hectares for bulb production has increased from 10,000 hectares in 1960 to more than 23,500 hectares in 2007. However, the number of growers is decreasing, from 13,000 in 1960 to only 2000, in 2007.
16.The website travel guide, Lonely Planet, opens with a feature on Keukenhof. Wikipedia has just one photograph of the Netherlands: of Keukenhof. More recently Keukenhof was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
If you have the chance, you need to give it a go to visit this amazing garden, you won’t regret it. Keukenhof is definitely a family & kid friendly place and there’s so much events and activities inside Keukenhof for all ages!
If you are planning to explore the off beaten attractions in Holland, you might want to check out why Dutch clouds, especially the Cumulus clouds are long time inspiration from artists and depicted in famous paintings. Read more in Holland, as I see It!
Even before I’ve met my husband, seeing Amsterdam is already on my bucket list. I love how different this city is and how unique the architecture you’ll see once you walked through the narrow cobbled-streets of Amsterdam. Oh yes, the bikes are another thing ! The first time I’ve visited Amsterdam and looked from the plane’s window, I was totally surprised by how different the landscape compared to the “brown, desert scapes” I saw when I first I came to Kuwait. Holland is flat as Kuwait, but at least with green landscapes.
Yes, The Netherlands is a flat country same as Kuwait, no mountains or valleys. Literally, about 27% of the country lies below sea level and tracing back the history, very prone to flooding.This fascinating country of my Dutch man falls into three natural topography, the dunes, the lowlands or “polders” , and the higher eastern section of the country. But Holland is not only world renowned by bicycles, colors, thru Van Gogh and Rembrandt, or from its Tulips spectacle, but also with its capital landmark ; the remarkable Gable, and leaning houses along the canals of Amsterdam.
“A leaning standpoint “, this is my first impression when I saw how crooked and odd the houses looked in a row. Some houses appear not to be standing straight, some really are!
When I explored Amsterdam and walked along the canals,even with a toddler in a tow, I really noticed that some of the houses are tilted, and wondered why. Maybe they just follow the previous pattern of houses. I know that it’s not only me, most of the tourists observed this. It was hard taking a decent photo if you follow an aligned perspective.Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. The vibes in this beautiful city is really wonderful, very diverse and totally laid-back. I could spent hours and hours walking on the small alleys, admiring the quaint cafe and shops, and the details of the houses. Everything is just so pretty!
Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometers of canals and its charming Canal District holds the city’s hidden gems; elegant canal-side mansions. From research, I’ve learned that the cost of living in Amsterdam is high, let alone renting an apartment along the canals. Amsterdam is known for its luxurious canal houses and it’s famous for the series of canals that encircle and crisscross each other throughout the city. From 17th century, locals built their houses along the canals which also served as their business offices, the basement and attics are used to store goods to be sold.
The architecture of these houses is very unique and particular and the intricate style shows the talent the carpenters had when building them many years ago. The 17th-century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
These Canal houses are known for being slim, high and having interiors that run deep. Due to the danger of flooding, the front door was usually built higher up and only reachable via stairs. The floor of the main story was a few steps above street level for this same reason. One of the things that stands out in Amsterdam are the big windows and charming gabled façades, many houses that seemed tiny from the outside opened up into beautiful spaces within.
It is these very gables that are an exclusive Amsterdam design! When looking up at these majestic houses, you can see that many of the gables are adorned with a hook. Although it may look like a decoration, the hook is there to enable tenants to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the top floor. Canal houses were built slightly leaning forward so that the gable was further out into the street, in order to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window. A special beam or pulley installation would be located in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. You can see this method being used today as the pulleys are still used for moving furniture in and out of houses.
Also,many old Amsterdam houses are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Amsterdam was a typical ‘staple port’. This is a place where merchants make money by trading all kinds of goods that enter into the city, usually by boat. And speaking of boats, there are so many boat houses in the canals, most were privately owned and adding to the “charm” of the rings of canals flowing all throughout the city.
The thing about Dutch houses is that the large open windows don’t have any curtains, which guarantees zero privacy. The sheer size of them and complete lack of drapes illustrates the openness of Dutch society and how its people show that they have nothing to hide. Having one’s possessions out in the open for everyone to see isn’t very common, with many closing their curtains at night for privacy or security reasons. This idea of transparency is a key social element and shows how comfortable they are with being completely open.
Throughout the centuries, the phased expansions of the city of Amsterdam were thoroughly planned. The plots of land along the 3 main 17th century canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) were initially quite small. Each plot was 5 to 7 meters in width. Probably they chose to divide the land this way because that way, a maximum amount of houses has an entrance on the waterfront, the most important means of transportation in the late 16th century.
Amsterdam houses might seem narrow, but they are quite deep. In the back there is a large garden hidden from view and often the rich had a carriage house in the back.If you want to experience a chance of “Dutch’s Gezelligheid”, take a peek of their lifestyle the next time you roam around and walk through the small alleys. Amsterdam sure thing is a busy city and literally never sleeps, but you can’t afford to miss the beauty that this city holds!
Have you visited Amsterdam? What do you like from your travels?
Now who among you parents out there would bring out your little ones in the Red Light District or locally known as “De Wallen ” in Amsterdam?
Nope, it’s not the Disneyland of Amsterdam, and if its your first time to see Amsterdam sure thing it has many attractions that might catch you off guard! I have written before how to enjoy the free things in Amsterdam but this one is totally different. Different in a way that the Netherlands is a country more than sex & drugs! You really need to see the country for you to have an impression since what you read in the internet is not always true. This country is totally laid back and relaxed, highly tolerant and the Dutch people are very liberal. No wonder that Dutch Teen pregnancy rates the lowest in world standing, and as what the experts and studies shows, Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world.
Okay, I’m sure most of you who have traveled in the Netherlands specifically in Amsterdam knows the “Red Light District “that I am talking about. But for those of you who are clueless, here’s a brief description of what Red Light District is all about. Before I had our trip, my vision of the Netherlands is mainly of Tulips, clogs, cheese, canals, and beautiful architecture of the leaning gabled houses. Even the taste of Poffertjes and Stroofwafels are unknown to my taste buds so imagine my surprise when my husband & I with our 1 year -old daughter took a walk along the streets near the Zeedijk up to the Oudekerksplein.My husband is Dutch and visited Amsterdam frequently but He rarely went to the Red Light District. So for people who think that Dutch people are fond of taking drugs and fooling around in the RLD, on any given day, then you are completely wrong! I noticed that this place really thrives on tourists and visitors and not the locals!
We decided to pass by the streets of the Red Light District in the morning, where there are less crowds. We had previously explored the city and thought of having a break from the Museums since my daughter easily gets bored and in dire need of playtime.So then we found ourselves strolling through the alleys where its best known to be a public display of prostitutes and marijuana! Yes, prostitution and drugs is legal in the Netherlands! It is also came as a surprise to me knowing that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize gay marriages. The red-light district in Amsterdam consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who display their goods and offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These “kamers” are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction. I have read about it but seeing these girls , totally made up as early as 10am in the morning still gives me a different experience. In the broad daylight,they all looked bored and there’s so much in their stares, some are just playing with their phones and fidgeting with their shiny underwear.
De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these, De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum,brothels, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, legally. My 1-year-old certainly had no idea what these are all about and doesn’t pick up anything about what is in the billboards and signage. Taking photos of the ladies is highly prohibited and the whole area is on surveillance of camera so every visitor is expected to be discreet.
So, am I a bad mother for dragging my innocent daughter into this place?
After we’ve seen the Miffy (or Nijntje ) exhibition in Museumplein, then we took her into a place full of things she doesn’t even have an idea of what it is. Well, as shocking as it may look to the world that a toddler can have a glimpse of ladies parading their almost naked bodies, I find the whole experience normal.Just like in other cities. Of course we didn’t get inside of those Sex museums or lounge in the Coffee shops, we merely passed by to take a look. Strolling around the Red Light District with a toddler was peaceful, calm, and safe. The only disturbance we’ve had is my toddler’s whining and wanting to run all over the place.
Although the Red Light District is for adults, its only after dark that there are throngs of people just walking around to soak up the atmosphere, I too, as a visiting tourist have spent some good times just watching the world go by.Most of the tourists there are actually not there to indulge in those activities,they’re just there simply to watch. I found it a very relaxed friendly place. Although I don’t recommend to go in there at night , and yes, not even with a baby with me.
Amsterdam city centre has a romantic image. I truly enjoyed the cozy strolls along the city center and now I know why Amsterdam is such a vibrant city. The city is gorgeous and a place for kids to enjoy. Sure it has its seedy and naughty parts of the city but its a beautiful place to explore and I am even grateful that my daughter experience the benefits of traveling at such a young age. The neighborhood is full of interesting shops, pubs, fantastic restaurants, leaning gabled houses and the city’s most charming canals. It is the same location of the Nieuwmarktsquare, the gothic Oude Kerk and just a stones throw away,you will be in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, the Zeedijk (also home to an impressive Buddhist temple). It is unbelievable that after a few minutes strolling along the RLD, you will be in another place, a totally different atmosphere.
Our trip to Amsterdam became a memorable one, and not because of the things we’ve seen in the Red Light District, but because, it is a beautiful city that is rich in culture. More than the bike culture, Amsterdam will always be special for us. It was our first trip as a family and I am sure, I can tell stories to my little girl that during the first year of her life, she had been there…through the secrets of the Red Light District!
If you want to visit Amsterdam and have a look in the RLD, this page might give you some interesting information.
Would you stroll along the Red Light District with your baby if given the chance?
If there’s any inspiring quality out of being married into a Dutch family that I could share here with you, it is the Dutch’s habitual element of surprises.You might wonder why, but aside from their lifestyle full of ‘Gezelligheid‘,up to their unbelievable generosity despite of the infamous ‘Going Dutch‘. I found Dutch people, particularly the family I’ve married into, to be very good in making surprises.
Even here in my own Blogging community , I have met Dutchies who are worth mentioning. When I was a newbie in Blogging (Still I am..!) here and made my first 5 posts, Frank Jansen ofDutch goes the Photo is very supportive through his meaningful comments. He took time to comment and give me encouragement, even boost my confidence by giving me my very first Blog award– the Liebster which I really find to be a kind gesture. His Yoga tree photos are total stunner and if you love fine photography in your own wall, check it out Here. There is also my good friend Ann, of Grubbs ‘n Critters , a fellow Expat-Mama, who is actually married also to a Dutchman.She made a wonderful surprise to me when she sent over a box full of spices! How cool was that? Now everytime I cook, I remember her. It was just purely coincidental that we have met here and shared common parenting stories and I often steal her luscious recipes! Finally, I was really thrilled when Diana,a total congenial person, a Book Author by heart, and the soul behind Myths of the Mirror became one of my reader,we’ve beautifully connected and eventually I felt I belonged, to the right circle in internet. I love the fact that I have these people in my life. All of them came also by surprise, along with all my friends here, as fate leads me to know them through their Blogs. If you have time,make sure to check out their Blogs and if you are a bookworm and still thinking of a gift to give to someone you love, you should check out Diana’s books that will leave you in trance!
Now back to my subject, who doesn’t like surprises, I guess everybody does. I am talking about a good kind of surprise, not the prank type, obviously a good kind of surprise is always great, personal, always unforgettable and lastly, full of fun.
On the side note, I can only talk about my own experience with my own Dutch family. I don’t know how is it with other Dutch interracial marriages so this post really doesn’t intend to do a rationalization of Dutch people.
“Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting! “
My Parents in Law (PIL) are really unique and one of a kind individuals. First, my FIL (Father-in-Law) subscribed and reads my Blog so obviously He will read this post and how cool is that?! They are two people who loves to plan out surprises for us, without giving us the hassle of waiting.
There’s something about having a surprise from unexpected people and time. It is the element of surprise that keeps me on high and really appreciate the thought of it. Since I was married into this Dutch family, my life was full of surprises that made me fall in love with them even more, each day. Here I wanna share with you why my Dutch family are people who have a thing with habitual surprises and their surprises keep on blowing my mind away each time they do it. Call me old fashioned, but I find this a rarity.
“Surprise them once in a while and let them know how special
My PIL surely knows how to let us feel loved. They gave us special surprises on their visits while we are still living in Kuwait. I find it special when they surprised us in coming over to our wedding with such a very short notice from us. Once we came back from our short stay in our hotel, we found out that our flat was fully decorated with colorful buntings and balloons! Something that I never expected because I wondered how they got the key. Later on, they gave us a photo book of our wedding photos which came from all the photos which my MIL took. She really loved taking photos and wrapped up a beautiful surprise and of course, a film made by my FIL.
Then again, they brought another strange yet unique Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes when my daughter was born. Far away from Holland, they have made us so close to home. They are not that young anymore, but they are full of vigor, strength and vitality. They have brought 2 suitcases full of gifts for my daughter, they have collected cards from our relatives in the Netherlands prior to going to Kuwait. I was amazed with their organization skills when they lay out all the gifts that fit the whole couch ! Their effort was worthy of appreciation.
“Surprises are better than promises ! “
When my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday here in Germany, they came for a week- long visit. The surprise came in later when they asked us to check out the door and my face was full of delight to see my husband’s sister and her whole family came by to join my daughter’s birthday!It was totally unexpected,even my husband is clueless. It was such a crazy surprise for me because we don’t even have enough plates for more than 5 people, I haven’t even prepared enough food to feed them ! Despite the frenzy preparations, in the end, it turned out a great day because indeed, surprises are better than promises!
Last week, we were planning to go to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market, also to have a weekend trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was planned from last month but was postponed when my daughter got sick. We were still having second thoughts because my daughter still had a bad cough and the weather is always grey, and gloomy, it’s not just the mood to do some sightseeing. While taking a walk before we do our grocery shopping, a car pulled down in front of us and there they are again–my PIL smiling and waving at us! They did it once again. Totally out of the blue, they came to join us to celebrate the weekend with us for my husband’s birthday. We spent a great time in theChristkindlmarkt ,drank Glühwein, visited the Nativity or the Krippenweg, and devoured Schnitzels and curry wurst with delight.
“Expect Nothing. Live Frugally on Surprises! “~Alice Walker
Again, they filled our home with their sunshine and made everything better.I know that they can always come over to our place from 6-7 hours drive from the Netherlands but still, they do it in a beautiful surprise. When I saw the face of my husband and the delight in my daughter’s face, I couldn’t agree no more because I am, too, was overwhelmed. They know how to bring us cheer, and they are so good at it.Also, every time they bring tons of goodies which we all enjoyed, then who am I to complain?
The surprise continues when they brought Sinterklaas to my daughter in line of her celebrating her first St. Nicholas here in Germany. My MIL packed a handful of my favorite spices like Gehakt and Spekulaas which I really find it sweet. We are so overwhelmed with the Sinterklaas goodies they’ve brought like the Chocolate letters,Kruidnoten, Stroofwafels,Gevuldekoeken, so much more. They know that my husband adores these things and I am a convert now myself. At the end of their visit, I was surprised again to see another ornaments in our little tree. I was so busy that I didn’t notice it hanging in there. They adorned it with their love. Another lovely surprise.
Near or far, they always try to bridge the gap and cross the distance to let us feel loved. Habit or not, my Dutch family has certainly a trait that I’ve learned to appreciate. Beyond gifts and everything, it’s their thoughts behind it that really matters. I have learned to appreciate surprises but right now, I am enjoying the Dutch’s life habitual element of surprises!
And how sweet that this post falls as my 200th post here ! Surprising that I have made it this far, Thank you my friends for following and reading my posts!
How about you, when was the last time you’ve made a surprise ? Or the last time you’ve been surprised?
Well, some of you already knows that I’m married to a Dutch guy , Oh Yes, the Almighty Dutch syndrome is in my system and I can’t deny it. My daughter is even growing up more and more like Dutch , and no one’s to blame, she’s Dutch for a fact. It’s in her genes. I have tried feeding her more rice and Adobo but she prefers bread (Brood ) of course with chocolate Sprinkles –Hagelslag! What a way to raise a chocoholic, don’t you think?
Over the years, I found myself turning into somewhat like my husband. I couldn’t believe it’s happening before my eyes.I am Liking what He likes, and end up doing what he normally does. Does this sound weird?
But NO– I would never be converted into eating the raw Haring and Drop.
Anyway, here I’d to share with you 7 top signs that shows you’re becoming like Dutch, what has become of Me-like I am slowly being Dutchie-fied!
You eat potatoes. Everyday– Fried. Smashed. Boiled.Baked. Name it all. Friet. Frieten.Patat. Pommes. Goodness gracious, If we don’t have potatoes in a week, we are going to be doomed. Even for the chips snacks, we preferred potato chips, but only Paprika flavor simply because in The Netherlands, the only flavor of chips that Dutch most adored is Paprika! I’ve never eaten so much potatoes in my entire life since I’ve been married to a Dutch guy.
You cycle everywhere you go. No matter what.- It’s universal truth-the Netherlands is the cycling capital of the world. Nothing beats them when it comes to cycling. You are practically married to your bike or in Dutch they call it ‘Fiets’(pronounced as ‘feets’). Every Dutch has a bike, even more than one. The first functional gift you could ever give to a Dutch toddler is a wooden bike or a walking bike. Only the Dutch parents can prove to the whole world that it is both legal and alright to transport another human being along with their bags and groceries, plants, & pets at the same time. Talk about genius when you see their ‘Bakfiets’. Everything goes in two wheels. When you move to the Netherlands, you will definitely buy a bike. When my husband moved to Kuwait with me, his bike also fly to Kuwait to be with him. Best Buddies eh!
You give Three (3) Kisses Right cheek, left cheek, right cheek. This is the right way to give Three Dutch kisses. If a Dutch like you, they give you three kisses. Today I met a new German friend,she was so nice and we had a great time chatting and as we part ways and say Tsüss, I found myself giving her 3 kisses. She just looked at me smilingly and I thought, I just really like her.Period.
You can run in steep stairs even in pitch dark nights – Ja, I did it and I don’t mind. I could run and climb these stairs without vertigo. You need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s in the 2nd floor-No problem! My daughter climb these very steep stairs from my parents-in-law when she was about to turn 1. Wonder how in the world Dutch people put those furniture up there in the upper level of the house? It runs in the family. Have you seen steep stairs of Dutch houses yourself?
You own one of these. A Dutch staple during showers.- A washcloth or Washandjes. Don’t panic, this is only a piece of a towel which Dutchies use in showers.While I grew up using Loofa, sponges and stone, my husband introduced to me the use of these wash cloths. They are very handy,hygienic, easy to use and don’t easily fall, easy to wash, and great if you have babies. You can use it as long as the threads doesn’t fall off, not like the sponges that you need to toss after 2-3 weeks of use, or else, it’s Yuck!
You memorized the Dutch’s Birthday congratulations and song – Ever been to a Dutch’s birthday party? One of the first things I’ve memorized so far and sing in Dutch. This is probably one of my culture shock since I got married and learn about Dutchiness. It’s totally different from the Birthday celebrations in Philippines or in Kuwait. I have never attended a birthday party before eating only cake & coffee.Yes- Only in the Netherlands!
On any given occasions, you put balls in your mouth– Why it’s round I don’t know, the Bitterballen, Ollieballen, Meatballs, ( Gehaktballen) Kroket etc. Dutch tends to loved deep-fried good old balls and sticks. It’s always a clean plate whenever we have these. My daughter’s personal favorite is the Krentenbollen.Yum! Anything I have missed? I must say that I mastered the art of making ‘meatballs’and ‘Gehakt spices’has become a mainstay in our kitchen.
What Dutch things you have loved yourself? I’m curious, what do you use during your showers? 🙂