After an extremely lazy and self-indulgent recovery period from overseas travel, we think we might just be ready to put a post together about our recent trip to the Netherlands. That’s right — gather the children around and get comfortable in your seats: it’s vacation slideshow time!
We started our trip on the hottest day of the year, and much to our delight, Philadelphia Airport was in full “we are making frequent announcements that we’re being all green and shit, so you can’t complain that the air conditioning isn’t on” mode. But despite the swelteringness, we kicked off our vacation with an impromptu photoshoot, in which we tried to do “surprised” the way Tyra coaches girls to.
Our basis for vacationing in the Netherlands is our sister Kate the Great. KtG has been living in Scheveningen, right on the beach, and after a few years of resisting, we finally had to admit that it’s not often that life gives you the opportunity to vacation in Europe without having to pay for a hotel. As it turns out, KtG is a fantastic hostess, and we probably should have done this years ago! With very little input from us, KtG put together a jam-packed, endlessly fun, super-photogenic itinerary for us, with plenty of sight-seeing, beer-drinking, and World Cup spirit-soaking to go around.
Did we mention we were there during the World Cup final? The entire country seemed to be bedecked in orange during our visit; despite their flamboyant show of team spirit, though, Dutch soccer fans come up way short in arrogance and swagger. They could totally learn a lot from Philly and New York sports fans.
Our tour included sightseeing, museum-going, and cafe-sitting in The Hague, including visits to the charming Mauritshaus (a fantastic intimate setting for some serious masterpiece paintings) and the shockingly delightful Panorama (where they didn’t let us take pictures. Assholes).
Our biggest outing of the vacation was a visit to the Cheese Market at Alkmaar (required viewing for tourists) and the Zuiderzee Museum (a living history museum that made us think it would be like our childhood field trip destination, Old Bethpage Village). It happened that day to be the hottest of our vacation, with temperatures in the 90s, and Pookie discovered the hard way that she is virulently allergic to something that grows near Alkmaar and the Zuiderzee Museum. But despite the sweltering heat, Pookie’s eyes burning with the pain of a thousand spike-filled fires, and our post-airplane dehydration, it was a ton of fun.
Alkmaar is an utterly charming town, and well worth the visit to see the city. Just don’t necessarily go there just to see the Cheese Market. Now that you’ve seen this picture, you’ve seen the Cheese Market.
The Zuiderzee Museum didn’t have quite as much “living history” as we were expecting (although maybe we’d had more than our share in the Cheese Market…), but it was indescribably charming.
Perhaps our most special outing was to Haarlem, where KtG’s friend Emily gave us a walking tour of the hofjes (almshouse gardens) all over town, and we visited the Teylers Museum.
The hofjes were these perfect little gems — courtyard gardens surrounded by the historic tiny almshouses that are still in use today as low-income housing for single women.
The Teylers Museum is essentially a museum of museuming. It’s a magnificent, ornate, rambling townhouse filled to the brim with exhibits of ye olde sciencey equipment and whatnot. Basically, a person could take pictures there for days.
Not every day was full to the brim with walking in the sweltering heat, though. We had a deliciously restful World Cup Final Sunday in Delft, where we photographed the shit out of the Oude Kerk and Stadhuis and enjoyed the finest fries any cafe anywhere has ever had to offer.
This trip was when Pookie became a Lensbaby virtuoso, and also where we discovered that it has a tendency to make its subjects look like little toy versions of themselves.
The single coolest thing we saw during our week abroad was the Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer, or the Flower Auction in Aalsmeer. Every day, apparently something like 90% of the cut flowers in the world are sold at this auction, and they have the facility set up for visitors to be able to watch the entire process. It is utterly, wholly staggering, and one of the most awesome places we’ve ever been.
The true capper for a completely extraordinary week was our last day, in Amsterdam. We finally got to meet our dear friend Mags in person, and after a great canal tour (replete with Hup Holland Hup debris from the previous day’s “victory” parade) and lackluster trip to the truncated Rijksmuseum, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around the beautiful city, sitting in charming cafes, and handcraft shopping (Den Haan & Wagenmakers is a quilt shop well worth the trip to the Netherlands all on its own). Then Mags raced off in the suddenly cold rain to get on the train to her parents’ for dinner, and we found our way to the most delicious, beautiful, perfect Indonesian restaurant of all time.
Sometimes it’s not the best pictures that have the best memories attached to them.
It was not easy to cull our photo collection down even to this unwieldy amount; if you want to bask in the awesomeness that is our zillions of shots of flowers, charming townhouses, orange bunting, and cheese, the complete set is here. Meanwhile, we’re counting our vacation days and sizing up our travel budget to figure out how soon we can visit KtG there again.