European Christmas: The Netherlands

Kids,

To end our trip we had the pleasure of stopping by The Hague and seeing some friends that we met in Mumbai during our first year. Florens, Claudia, Charlotte, and Christopher lived in Mumbai for around 3 years, and left after our first year. But relationships made while on an Expat assignment are special. It’s hard to explain, it’s something you have to experience.

The Netherlands: Day 0: Monday December 31st: Arriving in The Hague

We arrived in Delft Station to our friends waiting there for us, and it was great seeing them again. We hopped in the cars and made our way to their house, about 10 minutes from the station.

Our first night in The Hague we experienced a proper Netherlands New Years. Much like the 4th of July in the US, there were residential fireworks all evening with a grand finale after midnight until about 2:00 am. We also set off some of our own fireworks to get in the festive spirit, but spent most of the night watching some very entertaining events at the neighbors.

People watching from their house was awesome. Houses in the Netherlands are very vertical, and their house had 4 floors in total. (A fun fact, this was driven by the tax laws that set residential taxes based on the width of a house and not the total square footage.) From the second floor we could see everyone lighting off fireworks and making some very bad decisions. Luckily no one was hurt in our area, although by 10:00pm there were already stories appearing on the news of tragic accidents. Please always be safe with fireworks.

The highlight of the evening was seeing people burning Christmas trees in the middle of the street, the police showing up, then leaving, then finding other fires in the middle of the street, more police showing up, etc…

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When the excitement had settled down, although not completed, we headed for bed to make sure we had at least some energy for our trip to The Hague in the morning.img_7593The Netherlands: Day 1: Tuesday January 1st: The Hague

The best part of the Netherlands was that Florens and Claudia planned the entire trip. They were amazing hosts.

We headed out around 11:00 am and made our way to Parliament and the surrounding area. Right outside Parliament there was a stand selling Herring. The customary way to eat herring in The Netherlands was raw with onions. Your mother and I passed.

We walked around to checkout the historic buildings, which were built in the 13th century, and grabbed lunch at a local establishment. I forget the restaurant, but this was when we learned about a specific treat made in The Netherlands that was really yummy. I took a hand full, and ran out of them two days after retuning to Mumbai.

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After lunch we headed back to the house since we were all running on little sleep.

The Netherlands: Day 2: Wednesday January 2nd: Rotterdam

Although very close to The Hague, Rotterdam was completely different. Buildings were new and modern instead of old and architectural. The story behind this goes back to World War II when Germany bombed Rotterdam prior to occupying The Netherlands.

Even more interesting, The Netherlands was a neutral country, so Germany could just walk into town without resistance.  They actually tried that, but after 4 days they hadn’t completely taken control…so they bombed a country with no defense system.

We got lunch close to the Maersk office where Florens works and I had my very first Turkish Pizza, recommended by Florens. It was amazing. The lunch area was really cool, with all types of vendors offering a wide range of cultural dishes.

Our last stop in Rotterdam was a needle with a platform 185 meters in the air. Much like the Burj Khalifa we paid to get into the tower and made our way to the top. Unfortunately it was cold and windy, and the waiting line was outside. We made it 10 minutes at 115 meters before we decided that we had the pictures we needed.

The Netherlands: Day 3: Thursday January 3rd: The Anne Frank House

On our last full day, we packed up our things and headed to Amsterdam where we would be taking a flight out the following day.  Within 200ft of the train station we ended up behind a group of people smoking marijuana as they checked out the sights. We wondered how long it would take, since it was legal, but even we were surprised it was the first thing we ran into outside the train station.

While in Amsterdam we had to check out The Anne Frank House and Museum.  Our tickets included a 30 minute presentation before the tour to give us more information about the Frank family and the events leading up to them going into hiding.

 

Our tickets were for 2:00 pm so we made reservations for lunch at the Pancake Bakery, which was close by. The menu was Dutch pancakes with all types of fixings, and they were delicious. You all loved them.  An interesting side note, the door to the restaurant was probably 5′ fall so naturally I had to get a photo next to it, being the giant that I am.

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The Anne Frank house was amazing, and humbling. First we sat through a 30 minute presentation on the story of Anne Frank’s history before heading into the museum. You three did as well as could be expected sitting still for 30 minutes while someone spoke.

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The museum was  very well put together and the free audio commentary was probably the one thing that kept you three on good behavior. You each got an audio device that would explain the room after you scanned the bar code. Anything with technology, but I’m guilty of that too.

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We were out of the museum by 4:00 pm and decided that we had better make our way to our hotel.

The Netherlands: Day 4: Friday January 4th: Heading Home

We were all ready to get home, and our flight left Amsterdam on schedule for London.  It would have been nice to have had a little more time to catch our breath, but we headed to the lounge for a bathroom break and quick snack before walking to our departing terminal.  The airport had a train that could take us to our terminal or a walkway under the taxiway.  We thought it would be a good opportunity to stretch your legs, and made the 20 minute walk (or run in you three’s case).  We were alone…apparently no one likes to walk.

After landing back in Mumbai at 12:15 am on the 5th we headed to a hotel by the airport to get some sleep and enjoy breakfast and the pool before we headed back to reality.

In total the trip was awesome.  So awesome that within three weeks we booked another stay at Santa Claus Holiday Village.  This time for 5 nights…and we can’t wait!

Love,

Mom and Dad

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