Steven & I absolutely LOVED the Netherlands. 3 years ago on my study abroad we met an amazing bus driver named Patrick. He was from Holland and he told all of the students as we left “If you ever come to Holland, let me know and stay with me!” I messaged Patrick on Facebook and told him that Steven & I would be going to Europe & he said “come stay with me!” So we bought plane tickets from Paris to Amsterdam!!
Patrick & his wife Evelien met us at Schipol Airport – it was so great to see people we actually know! They had plans to tour the city center in Amsterdam and then stay in a hotel near the city so we can explore more at night. We went to dinner at and then explored the city. Patrick and Evelien took us to the city and the Red Light District (super weird!!) and we went back on the ferry to go to our hotel. Okay, if you’re ever in the area – stay at Amsterdam Forest Hotel – it’s new and so nice and very inexpensive!! Also, it felt so nice to sleep in a hotel bed instead of our ghetto airbnb’s!!! hahaha
The next day, we went to one of the biggest flower markets in Holland! Picture an empty Costco and you’re on the upper level looking down at this huge warehouse and there are little carts driving around everywhere picking up, putting down flowers! It was crazy! Patrick & Evelien took us to a little town call Volendam and it was a town right by the lake. It’s very touristy but everything was so cute! We ate raw fish AKA herring the Dutch way and i ate the entire fish and Steven did not! It was kind of gross but not too bad. Just super fishy. Then we went to the Stroopwafel museum and a cheese factory. & ate dutch mini pancakes. So much good food!
We drove an hour and a half to the city of Rijssen! It’s the cutest little town with the cutest homes and just huge farmland! Patrick & Evelien’s home is amazing. They were some of the best hosts ever. The bed was super comfy and it just felt so good to be in a HOME. That night, Patrick invited Steven to a men’s choir that he is a part of. There’s 150 men who sing in this choir and they perform regularly around Holland! While he was singing Dutch songs, Evelien invited me to the gym for a Dutch bootcamp and it was so fun!! & it felt good to workout! It’s cool how exercise is universal and I didn’t have to know dutch to do the workouts!!
One of the highlight of our trip to Rijssen was getting to meet all of Evelien’s students! She teaches 11-12 years olds and she invited us to come to class to speak English to them & have them meet “real life” Americans. It was so awesome. They already speak English so well because they start learning when they are young. They had the chance to ask us any questions – and they asked us fun questions like “Where do you like to shop?” or “What iPhone games do we play?” and “Do you know the Dab?” hahaha But then they asked us some serious questions like “Which Presidential candidate are you going to vote for?” and “Do you own a gun in your home?” that kind of took me back and thought wow – I wonder what they think of when they think of Americans and USA. I love the USA but it’s sad how we are portrayed as the “gun country” or a “violent country.” Anyways – overall it was a fun time being in a classroom full of Dutch kids. They had the chance to teach us some Dutch words! We took some group photos outside of the school (See below)
After school, Patrick took us all around Rijssen and i love it so much! We got lunch down town, ate ice cream, walked to Oosterhof (a castle), and just enjoyed our time in a wonderful town. It was our last full day in Holland and for dinner, Patrick made us a traditional Dutch dinner! Mashed potatoes with Kale and a sausage. So yummy! I’m so grateful for Patrick and Evelien’s hospitality. We loved our time in the Netherlands and we will definitely be back in the future and we hope they come to America!!
Lizzie Lin Johnson