Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hup Holland!

I've now been back from Europe for a week and I'm experiencing the classic post-vacation slump. After looking forward to the trip for months, I miss....looking forward to it. But the good news is, it was everything I hoped it would be and I have amazing pictures/memories, some of which I will now share on this blog. Below are the highlights and insights from my week-long trip to the Netherlands and Belgium, in Top Ten list form!

1. Dutch sounds and looks like a made-up Muppet language.

It's very easy to read Dutch, because it looks like a hybrid of German and English. Some of my favorite words:

winkel = store
eethuis = restaurant ("eat house")
slagroom = whipped cream
graag = please

wijn = wine

Spoken Dutch sounds similar to German, but with more enthusiasm and inflection. German is kind of like Dutch, minus the joy.

2. Witnessing two World Cup victories (quarter- and semi-final) almost made a sports fan out of me. I mean, this is infectious:

3. Dutch is not one of the world's great cuisines. Though I did enjoy stamppot, a traditional dish consisting of mashed potatoes, endives, bacon, and sausage. And in Belgium, things improved culinarily:

Yes, that's a gigantic pot of mussels. The frites weren't bad, either, though I still prefer them with ketchup as opposed to mayo.

4. Sexual Chocolate (Coming to America):

vs. sexual chocolate (Bruges):

5. European train stations are about 3,000 times cooler than American train stations. Case in point: Antwerp.

6. You are not supposed to take pictures in the Red Light District, so sadly, I don't have any. I will, however, share this tidbit about prostitution from one of my guidebooks:

"If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women. Do not take pictures of the women. Out on the streets, do not shout or use bad language towards these women. Show some respect. If you have any problems with a girl or a pimp, do not hesitate to ask a police officer. We know why you are there and you can hardly surprise us."

Another guidebook gem, re: urinating in public: "A dirty habit, and always committed by men."

7. Hash + Van Gogh Museum = stellar combination.

8. The oldest gay bar in Amsterdam, Cafe 't Mandje, was opened by a lesbian named Bet van Beeren:

9. You can buy actual wooden shoes in the Netherlands

10. Everything is prettier when you're on vacation

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