Monday, October 26, 2015

Castles and Canals in Holland

Even though I flew into Amsterdam, and had a day to spend there, I spent more time in the Eindhoven area than Amsterdam proper. And that was okay, because I actually think I liked Eindhoven better.

Though it's hard to argue with beautiful canal views.

Amsterdam was bustling, busy, people everywhere. I usually love bigger cities, but I felt so overwhelmed when I got there.

It was way more crowded than it looks in this photo.
Also, every train station I saw in Europe was super duper fancy. 
This one had a golden weathervane on one pillar and a golden clock on the other side.

I saw coffee shops (which don't sell coffee), and cafes (which do sell coffee), and walked along some of the canals.

You may think this looks like a nice place to get coffee, but you'd be wrong. This is where you go to buy weed.
(Dear Mom/Grandma/Nana/in-laws, no I did not buy weed in Amsterdam.)

I saw the huge multi-block line for the Anne Frank house and, sadly, decided not to wait in line (since my original plan of going first thing in the morning and getting in line before it had even opened didn't pan out due to Allie's panicky insanity). I also didn't manage to make it to the Red Light District, which I had heard such interesting stories about and wanted to see for myself.

Some people live in the canals on house boats! This isn't one of them.

So I guess Matt and I will just have to come back sometime so I can see the things I missed.

There were people on bicycles and little motor-bikes everywhere! In fact, I saw a four-story parking garage that was only for bicycles!

In comparison, Eindhoven felt much calmer, like it was a more moderate-sized city that people lived and worked in. It was greener, felt more peaceful, while still having plenty to see. (I went there to meet up with my co-worker and go to visit one of our company's European distributors.)

Of course, I may just be biased because my first morning in Eindhoven started with Nutella for breakfast, and my first morning in Amsterdam didn't.

I wish I knew what this castle was called! I didn't catch its name and I couldn't find it in a Google search! 

In addition to all the work stuff, the distributor asked me what I most wanted to see in Europe, and I said castles. So he took me to see one!

Dutch castle not open for visitors today, but it was still neat to see.

It had a moat and everything! (The distributor had actually gotten married inside it!)

Later, we all went to dinner at a really nice restaurant that used to be a brick factory.

De Steenoven Galerie, where I had tomato basil soup, salmon hollandaise and delicious red wine!

We also walked to lunch at a local hotel and I had a wonderful salmon-cream cheese sandwich. I got to see a Dutch windmill, and the distributor told me that it used to mill flour (and happened to be attached to a closed bakery that used to bake with that flour)!

Of course, jet lag was the worst. I took the train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven on the first day, and kept falling asleep on the train. I was in bed by 6 p.m., only to be woken up for dinner around 8:30 p.m. (pear and mushroom risotto), so I dragged myself up for that because I wanted to make a good impression.

Sorry if you're not interested in hearing about food. The food was one of my favorite things about this trip, especially in Italy.

After a day in each city, I packed up my carry-on and we took the train back to Amsterdam to catch our flight to Milan! Can I just say that I have never had a more chaotic airline experience than I did on the way out of Amsterdam? There were no seats near the gate, and when they said it was time to board the plane, everyone literally just surged forward and crammed down this little staircase and I got stuck behind a whole mess of people even though my ticket said Priority Boarding. It was insane. Apparently transportation in Europe is a free-for-all, because no one seemed to do any transporting in an orderly fashion.

Have you ever been to the Netherlands? Do you prefer visiting big cities or smaller ones? What's the most chaotic travel experience you've had?

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