This weekend it will be one year since I began blogging. I’ve written every day since I began, without missing a day or making an excuse why not to write. Some days it’s been after midnight when I’ve finally posted my daily entry. Some times I fall asleep mid sentence and some nights I wake up and my post has posted magically on it’s own before I actually intended to send it, spelling errors and incoherent sentences and all. I’ve become passionate about writing and I’ve come to enjoy the practice of reflecting at the end of the day. I think it has helped me to be aware of living in the moment and being present because I know that I’ll want to have something meaningful to share when the day is done, and knowing that I “have” to share, kind of inspires me to LIVE IT UP. And hopefully you’re doing the same thing where you are on your yellow brick road, even if you’re not writing and sharing about it. How are you living the best life you can at this very moment?
I found an expat blog community today (http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1882/here-i-am) and shared my blog with the Netherlands community, hoping that maybe my journey might help or inspire another family that sets out to do what we’re doing. They asked for contest submissions where you shared your top list about the country you write about. I spent this evening reflecting on a few of the many things and places I’ve loved so far while living in my new country. Here is the list:
TOP 25 WAYS TO ENJOY AMSTERDAM AND IT’S SURROUNDING CITIES
Come share Amsterdam with me – there is so much to see and love and spring is just around the corner. These are a few of my favorite things in no particular order.
1. Take a canal boat ride and explore the 400 years of canals. The Blue Boat Company is my favorite. http://www.blueboat.nl/imdex_en.html
2. Visit the House of Six – a private museum shared by the Six family featuring Jan Six’ friendship with Rembrandt. Make an online reservation here: http://www.collectiesix.nl/index.php/en/visit-collection-six
3. Bike ride through the Amsterdamsebos – and enjoy dogs playing, people running, rent a boat, play with the goats on the farm and eat a pancake with melted cheese and bacon at the Boerderij Meerzicht. http://www.boerderijmeerzicht.nl
4. Take a step back in time and visit the Zuiderzee where you can experience what life might have been like in the olden days. Walk through the fishing village, and cheese shops, discover what a gaper is, make a clog boat, sample cheese, make your own rope and more! http://www.zuiderzeemuseum.nl/
5. Make a friend with a farmer and learn how wooden clogs are made and sample cheese made daily on the farm. The farmer is playful and gives hands on tours and involves his guests to make it a meaningful experience. http://www.claramaria.nl/?lang=en
6. Wonder at the beauty and magic of the Keukenhof gardens. Spring time is supposedly magical with tulips carpeting the fields. At Christmas time, the gardens are transformed into a Christmas Market. http://www.keukenhof.nl/
7. Want to learn how to ski? Try indoor skiing with a private instructor for an hour or two at Snow Planet. Kids can ski and parents can sit behind the glass and watch and drink a coffee and have something to eat. http://www.snowplanet.nl/
8. Wander the quaint streets in Haarlem and maybe stop by the Corrie Ten Boom house and learn about the Hiding Place. http://www.corrietenboom.com/
9. Try enjoying a traditional Indonesian rice table at Sampurna in the Flower Market part of Amsterdam. http://www.sampurna.com/
10. Take the kids and enjoy being a kid yourself while exploring hands on science at the Nemo – science museum. Nemo http://www.e-nemo.nl/
11. If you’re lucky enough to be in town at the beginning of December, be sure to be present to see Sinterklass arrive by boat and the parade afterwards celebrating his arrival.
12. Ride your bike along the Amstel and enjoy sites of beautiful houses, row boats, windmills, and fields with cows.
13. Try standup paddling through the canals of Amsterdam for an upfront and different perspective of the city. http://www.mm-sup.com/
14. Visit a Friday market in Amstelveen where you can buy fresh meats, fish, cheese and rub elbows with the locals.
15. Stroll through the Albert Cuyp Street market – and enjoy fresh squeezed juices, flea market stands and fresh frites. http://www.albertcuypmarkt.nl/ac_english.html
16. Wander through Vondelpark and if you have small kids, stop by the Kinderkookkafe where kids can make their own food and have it cooked just the way they like it. You can rent bikes, roller blade, leisurely walk or run, people watch, sit for a leisurely lunch or play in a park. http://www.kinderkookkafe.nl/
17. Catch some sunshine when the weather warms up at the beach at the sea at Wijk aan Zee. We loved walking up and down the strand, looking for odd shaped shells, watching the birds dance in the sky and playing on the trampolines at one of the little beach front play areas. http://www.wijkaanzee.info/
18. Give yourself a rest while strolling around the city and have a drink and a snack while enjoying 360 degree rooftop view of Amsterdam from Blue. http://www.blue-amsterdam.nl/
19. Be a kid again and play with our without kids on the big rope swing in in Museumplein and take pictures on the I Amsterdam sign. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museumplein
20. Art, art, everywhere! Get yourself a museum card and pop into the Hermitage, Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum for an hour or two or three. With a museum card, you feel like you can visit for a short while or a long while http://www.museumkaart.nl/
21. Another fishing village to enjoy with old shops, photo booths, and souvenier shops is Volendam. http://www.vvv-volendam.nl/nl/welcome/
22. Watch the weather change hourly some days – sun, rain, clouds, snow, hail, and back again. And if the sun is out, all the Dutch locals are outside too, enjoying a pint of beer and maybe some bitterballen. There are lots of bars and outside tables to choose from in the Leidseplein. http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/about-amsterdam/areas/featured-areas/leidseplein
23. I love visiting the quaint towns and villages outside of Amsterdam like Naarden, Gouda and Delft, and Den Bosch, especially on the days when they have their street markets.
24. Visit the Dutch resistance museum that tells the history of the Dutch people during World War Two. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verzetsmuseum
25. And no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank house. http://www.annefrank.org/
Hope you enjoy Holland as much as I do and get a chance to slow down and enjoy life with the locals.