Hallo! That's the Dutch coming out in me. I've just returned to London town feeling refreshed and rejuvenated from a whole lot of travel across two months. First, it was off to The Netherlands, next, all the way to the other side of the globe to visit my home town Melbourne, Australia for two weeks.
Then, I returned to London for a few days, swapped my woolies for bikinis and headed off to Italy for a while! I will share with you all of my adventures, but for now I'm going to spill the beans on my Netherlands trip.
My partner and I started off in Amsterdam of course, some of the key highlights being the charming canals in the Jordaan area - picture perfect and quite a contrast to the hustle bustle of the centre square.
The Anne Frank house - this was quite an intense and haunting sight but having read Anne's diary myself, it felt really authentic, like the story I read came to life. Be sure to book tickets in advance for this to avoid lining up for hours. €9.50 for a standard ticket or €30.00 for a guided tour.
There must be a food related highlight of every trip and Amsterdam was no exception; dinner at a local Italian restaurant named La Maschera Lillotatini. They offer a lovely wine selection, stellar Eggplant Parmigiana and some excellent pasta dishes (Ravioli for the win). It's a cozy and unpretentious venue with a small amount of tables, so you must book ahead or you might find yourself staring through the window, waiting, with your tongue up against the glass!
How could I be in Amsterdam, a bucket-list destination and the capital of late night mischief and and not go to an infamous 'show'! Casa Rosso is voted the best show in the city (not sure what means are used to measure that). This is where my partner and I went, for research purposes only and to give you, the readers, some insight into the weird world of Amsterdam after dark.
Lordy lord, I hope my mother doesn't read this post.
It was one of those things where you're absolutely mortified and shocked, but can't look away (in the most non-pervy way possible). We sat about half way down in the audience hoping to blend in, plus you certainly don't want to be too close to the obscenities. With a drink in hand and feeling very awkward we sat through an hour of the show.
I won't go into too much detail, you'll have to see it for yourself, but basically we witnessed three different 'acts' with three sets of people.. or should I say weirdo-sex-robots. What I can say, I left with horrific, graphic images etched into my mind, but at least I can say I've done it! Standard tickets are €40 or €50 with two drinks (trust me, you'll need them).
There is quite a lot more to this capital city than flashing lights and canals, and we wanted to really soak up the culture so we went out into the Dutch countryside to visit a few small towns and explore.
Volendam was our first town visit, known for their fishing boats and stunning water side sceneries. We actually met an Australian couple named Andy and Suzie here and ended up having a lovely seafood lunch by the water together, if we ever visit Townsville we will be sure to visit them. Ah, the spoils of travel.
Zaanse Schans was another stop in the countryside, this is where you will see the prettiest and most iconic collection of well-preserved historic windmills. We spent half a day here relaxing, trying on giant wooden clogs, admiring the windmills and mostly, scoffing an entire bag of Stroopenwafels. If you don't know what these are, do yourself a favour and investigate. A traditional Dutch sweet; imagine thin wafers with a layer of gooey caramel on the inside, even better dipped into a cup of hot tea. You'll thank me later.
Our final country side destination certainly was unique and provided its own slice (literally) of culture. Henri Willig Cheese Farm; For over 40 years, the Henri Willig farms have been giving demonstrations of the crafts of the wooden shoe maker, the cheese dairy and cheese-making.
Watching the process is intriguing but the true sight to behold are the walls and shelves stocked with endless amounts of cheese in an offensive range of flavours. Did I mention you can taste test all of them? (as many times as you like..)
Much to the relief of the workers, I went away with the truffle cheese, garlic cheese and herb flavoured cheese. My intention was to bring these back to London, feast for the next few weeks and reminisce over the awesome trip we had, and that I did.