The Netherlands: A Small Detour

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that I’ve had to abandon my plans for St Petersburg and fly pretty quickly to Amsterdam to get a new passport. I’ve got to be honest; although this whole drama has thrown a spanner in the works in terms of my original goal of not flying until I got to The Netherlands, it’s been somewhat pleasant being in a place that feels like home for a few days.

It wasn’t my intention to document this part of my trip and I haven’t been too concerned with tourism as such over the last week or so. I’ve spent a lot of time catching up with family, seeing old friends and making new ones, relaxing and partying. However, I’ve got a few photos that I thought I’d share for the purpose of demonstrating how fantastic this city is, and I do want to record this detour for when I look back on my trip later.

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I imagine everyone’s heard of the Dutch and their bikes. If you haven’t, you have now. There are almost as many bicycles as people. The entire country is as flat as a pancake (we love those too) which is probably a contributing factor to bicycles being the primary mode of transport. This photo above is taken on a free ferry which operates 24/7 between Amsterdam and Amsterdam North. There was something about standing there on the ferry with my bike, in the midst of a bunch of friendly people speaking a familiar language, drinking beers and smoking joints, looking out at Amsterdam Centraal station which made me proud to call this place my second home.

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One of the first things I buy every time I come here is one of these bad boys: a Broodje Kroket, or Bread with Croquet (deep fried beef goulash, basically). So. Fucking. Good. Lather that sucker with mustard and down it. Then order another.

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Seeing as I’m going to be in and out of the country over the foreseeable future, it made sense to buy a bike as opposed to hiring one. I headed to a Saturday morning market and negotiated a sweet deal on this classic. Super stoked with it. Note the two separate locks; if you don’t lock your ride up, it’s going to become the property of someone else pretty quickly.

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Note: You’re not fully integrated in to society until you’re proficient at operating your fiets while written off.

One of the coolest things to do in Amsterdam during the summer is cruise the canals with friends and drink beer and listen to music. This is Renato. He’s a champion.

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The fella on the left in the photo above is my friend Jelle, who I’ve known since I was wearing nappies. Same for his sister Quirine below. So cool to catch up with these two 26 years later on the other side of the world.

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There are sweet little bars all over the canals, so you can just tie up your boat and stop in for a pint or five.

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After putting forward to application for my new passport, I took a train out to surprise my two Omas in Zwolle. Both of them have an obsession with red Fanta.

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Below is a photo of Zwolle, where some of my family live. More canals, more bikes, more boats and more cheese!

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Seeing as I haven’t been to a festival in some time, it’d be rude not to catch one or two in a country where parties aren’t done by halves. The one below is The Flying Dutch; a festival which is held in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam – on the same day. The DJ’s are flown by helicopter between the venues as the day goes on.

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Unfortunately Armin played a bit of a shitty set, but we still had a rad time.

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The day after The Flying Dutch, some of us went to Thuishaven, which is a small festival held on every Sunday during the summer in an industrial area near the centre of Amsterdam. They cover the place with sand and have a pretty sweet techno party. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of festivals held during the summer in The Netherlands. I fuckin’ love this place.

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Like I said earlier, I haven’t been too concerned with taking photos and being a tourist while I’ve been in Holland. It’s been cool to chill out for a bit. I forgot how much I love this place; to me it’s a perfect example of a well functioning, happy, liberal society. With great cheese. And parties. And deep friend food. And pancakes. And bikes. And nice looking girls. I’ll stop now.

I’m in Kiev, Ukraine at the moment and I’m looking forward to continuing on my original path. Heading to Chernobyl on Thursday, can’t wait!

Tips for Netherlands:

  • Get a bicycle
  • Learn how to ride it

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