My Vacation to the Netherlands, April 2014

  • Posted on: 11 May 2014
  • By: Anna

Even though I was able to visit the Netherlands in October and Mark was in the States in December, I was able to visit the Netherlands again in April of this year. I questioned the sanity of buying a ticket when we'd just seen each other and would be seeing each other again shortly...but I'm so glad we did. Don't get me wrong, I love spending the time with Mark and want to be with him every.single.second...but since he wasn't even going to be able to take the time off of work {due to taking so much time for our wedding}, I wasn't sure it was wise to spend the money on a ticket. But we talked about it and he told me he couldn't go that long without seeing me...and truth is, I felt the same way, so we planned a trip.

I arrived in the Netherlands on Friday and Easter was that Sunday. Mark had arranged for us to cook Easter dinner and while I'm not a horrible cook, neither am I a great chef. I can follow recipes...but that's especially the case when I'm using ingredients I'm familiar with and the recipes are in English...so needless to say, I was a bit nervous about this meal. I told Mark he had to be the main chef and I'd be his sous chef, so that way if his family hated the meal, at least I wasn't responsible! He planned the entire dinner and found the recipes and then we spent most to all of Sunday afternoon preparing the dinner. I must say, other than one *minor* catastrophe that we promised never to speak of {hahaha}, we worked pretty well in the kitchen together! I'm not entirely sure his family loved the meal {though they said they did}, but at least they ate it. ;)

In the Netherlands, not only do they have the 'regular' Easter day, but they also celebrate "Second Easter" which is the Monday following. So since this was going to be one of the few {if only} days that Mark had off work, we decided to take a trip to Keukenhof Gardens. Keukenhof was about 2 hours from Mark's home and we started out the day around mid-morning. We wanted a chance to sleep in at least a little...especially me with trying to recover from my jet lag/time difference. Before we got to the Keukenhof, we stopped at a McDonald's and Mark purchased Coke and I got some coffee. I must say, the amount of coffee you get from a European McDonald's is FAR less than what you get in the States and it costs more money...but seeing as how I frequent McDonald's for their coffee {my poor man Starbucks}, it was a nice little treat and reminder of home. The day had been fairly overcast up to that point...but right about when we stopped for drinks, the skies opened up and it started to rain. I truly thought this was going to ruin the day! But thankfully, by the time we got to the garden and got parked, the rain had stopped. We decided to carry an umbrella with us - not one that could be tucked in your purse but rather one that could be used as a walking stick - but we didn't need to use it once. What a blessing.

Since I didn't really explain other than to call it a garden, the Keukenhof is a garden surrounded by fields of tulips and then within the garden itself was all different types and shades of tulips and other flowers. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can check out my album filled with pictures of flowers! Let me tell you, this place was AMAZING. But really, words {and pictures} don't do it justice. Probably my favorite part of the garden was the windmill they had that you could go up in. It was set right on the outside of the garden overlooking a river and field of tulips...so once you climbed to the top of the windmill and walked out on to the deck, you had an amazing view of the tulip field. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. While we were overlooking the tulips, we met some ladies from New Orleans! It was fun to chat with people from back 'home.' And I can't deny, I loved their Southern drawl!

I was also able to experience "King's Day" while I was in the Netherlands. While this can be quite the party day for some people from what I gather, it was pretty low key for Mark and me. We walked into downtown Bergen op Zoom since he wasn't sure we'd find anywhere to park the bikes {or car} and then we did a bit of shopping and just general King's Day 'sight seeing.' So many people were dressed in orange and there were orange flags everywhere! After we'd had our fill of downtown walking, we went back home and watched another Harry Potter movie. An interesting note: we watched all 8 movies while I was there that vacation.

I know Mark has written a blog about it so I won't say too much...but one of the great things that happened on this trip is that we were able to look for and find an apartment! The set up of Dutch homes tend to be a little different than what I'm used to here in the States so it was nice to see a couple different floor plans and options and now I can stay here in the States and know what our future home looks like!

Another fun activity was that I was able to go to work with Mark one day while we waited for his {our} friend, Mare, to show up and then I spent the day shopping in Utrecht with her! We had lunch together and then did all kinds of shopping. After Mark got off work, he picked us up and we drove back to Mare's hometown, Gouda {interesting fact: this is where Gouda cheese comes from and it's called "How-da"}, and ate at a tapas restaurant there that we've been to previously and LOVED! Mare's flatmate joined in for dinner and it was fun evening with food and friends.

The rest of the trip was filled with low-key, normal stuff...and I loved it. Mark and I would go for walks in the evening on the beautiful days, we'd watch movies in the evenings, and we visited some friends and family. Some of my favorite days were the days when he was able to work from home. It sounds so lame...but we haven't been able to do these 'normal' things so it was fun to have the opportunity. I also had to do a bit of work, so we'd work together and have lunch together and just in general, hang out and be together.

Overall, it was a fun vacation even though we didn't do lots of grand, amazing things! It was a small picture of what life will be like once we're married and it was well worth the ticket cost. :)

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