Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moses Parents Visit Holland

April 3-13 2009

In April, my parent's were able to come out and visit us in Holland. I was excited to see them, because it had been an entire year! As expected, the overnight flight, combined with their busy schedule before they left, meant that they were very tired when they arrived. It was cute to see my mom falling asleep everywhere, in a matter of 5 seconds. After a couple relaxing days and a lot of sleeping in, they seemed to be a bit more energized.

The first day they were here we took a walk around Rotterdam near our apartment. We showed them the shoreline by the river with the Erasumus Bridge and Hotel New York, the beautiful park down the street, and the Euromast. Then we stopped by Chad's office, which is on the 19th floor of Erasmus Medical Center. They were celebrating moving into their new offices, so we had a glass of wine and chatted for a bit with his colleagues. The view from up this high was great, and you could see all around the city.

Next we went to Delfshaven, which we have described before in this blog. It's only a couple tram stops down the road, and it's really a cute little historic area with some great restaurants and shops. For dinner we went to El Gaucho, which is the great Argentinian restaurant near our apartment. You can get any type and size of steak you want.

On Sunday, we went to Amsterdam. And, as usual, we headed straight for our favorite pancake restaurant. These are not you normal pancakes, but savory ones with cheese and ham, and other tasty toppings. We strolled around the city and showed them a bit of everything: the red light district, the nice Jordan area, some churches, the boat tour of the city, etc. They had a good time, and found the city very interesting. For dinner, we went to a Tapas bar in The Jordaan area that was recommended to us by the bartender at the best Nederlandse Bier bar (good place to get a recommendation!). It was fabulous!

We experienced two very Dutch things with my parents: tulips and windmills. Haha. And unexpectedly, we experienced a third element: Dutch weather! We visited the famous Tulip gardens at Keukenhof. It is a large park with flower arrangements, ponds, statues & artwork. They have stands that sell ice cream, hot dogs, and beer. There was even an organ grinder by the front entrance playing today's top Dutch hits. There is a windmill which you can climb up to look out over the tulip fields. In the center of the gardens, there is a huge greenhouse which has every species of tulip blooming. This is really special, because you don't get to see all of the tulips in bloom, since they bloom at different times during the Spring.

We were waiting for a sunny day to go to Kinderdijk, the national park where there are 19 historic windmills. The nice, warm, sunny day did not come, so we decided to go on a day that was a bit chilly, but looked like it would be OK weather. We were wrong. To get to Kinderdijk, you take a boat from Rotterdam, which is a nice way to see the shoreline of the city. The boat ride was fun, but on our way there, you could see the rain start to fall on the boat windows.

When we arrived at Kinderdijk, it was rainy, cold, and windy. But… we persevered and still walked out into the fields to see the windmills. There is always one large windmill which you can go inside and tour. It is set up like a house, to show how the mill keepers family used to live inside the wind mill. Pretty interesting. In the end, it was a fun experience to walk around the windmills in the rain. It was truly Dutch weather that day. I was proud of my parents for being such good sports!

We went to Delft, which is a great little town (also described previously in our blog). Sort of like a mini-Amsterdam. It has all of the canals and churches and row houses, etc, but on a much smaller scale. We enjoyed looking through the Oude Kerk (Old Church, from the 1300's) & Nieuwe Kerk (New Church, from the 1400's). My mom and I went shopping in all of the little gift shops, while Chad and dad sat outside and enjoyed the Belgium beers. For dinner, we wanted to try to find a new place since we always seem to go to the same, great restaurant in Delft, De Waag (The Weigh House, an old building that actually used to be the weigh house for the town). We happened to pick a real hidden treasure. It was a Thai restaurant that had a set menu, meaning, you get whatever they are serving for the day. There was a fish/mushroom soup for a starter, and the dinner was four different dishes, served in a compartmentalized plate. It was a great way to get a lot of different flavors, and the food was excellent!

For their final weekend, we had booked a trip to Bruges, in Belgium. It's only about 2.5 hours from Rotterdam by train, so it's very easy to get to. We decided to stay one night in Bruges, so we could fully enjoy the city without rushing. It was a wonderful trip. It is such a small town, that it is really easy to relax and enjoy the old buildings and the great food & beer. I wrote a lot about Bruges in the February post of our Valentine's Day trip, so check that out for more details about the city. We were all really glad that we had made the trip to Belgium. I think it gave my parents a nice idea of another country near Holland.

It was really nice to see my parents again, and to show them around our new home. They enjoyed their time in Holland and Belgium, and hopefully they learned a bit how to slow down and relax (hint hint mom and dad). ;)


Pictures from their visit:

No comments: