Last weekend, I headed (initially as a surprise which didn’t turn out as a surprise) to the Netherlands to see Leigh, one of my bestest buddies who I met back at college in German class. Last year, she moved to Utrecht, or a little town nearby, and after seeing that there are direct trains from Frankfurt to Utrecht that take around 4 hours, I couldn’t resist to get a train booked. That was back in April. In the meantime, Leigh found out about me coming, but I was still very excited to see what the land of windmills and clogs had in store. And the best bit? Anna, another college friend, also from our German class, was coming the day after me – and Leigh still had no idea she was coming! Muhuhahaha.
So on Thursday I jumped on my 4-hour direct train to Utrecht. Which turned into a 4-and-a-half-hour non-direct train, because it’s just my luck. The air conditioning on the train broke so they announced that they were going to drop us off at “Denbusch” where we had to change. Confused, I looked on Google Maps to see where this mysterious place was. Couldn’t find it. Luckily, they told us the platform we had to go to. I got off the train, and saw this sign:
That’s not Denbusch! It turns out Denbusch is the nickname for this place with a wonderful name that I can’t pronounce, but I just thought it was strange that they would announce the nickname on a train, despite there being a good possibility that there were some people on the train who don’t know the place (me, for example).
After finally getting to Utrecht (it could’ve been a lot worse to be fair), Leigh and Kelly (or Ccchhhkelly as I like to call her ‘cos it sounds Dutch) picked me up in the car and they took me to their house. They cooked for me and we chatted and played Mario Kart and sweated our boobies off because it was ridiculously hot.
The next day, Ccchhhkelly went to work and Leigh and I stayed at home. We pretty much just ate and played Mario Kart, and it was damn fun. We were planning on going to Utrecht in the evening after Kelly got back from work to go for some dinner and a few drinks. Little did Leigh know, Anna was going to come along too. So we went to Wagamama (why does Germany seem to be the only country without a Wagamama?!) which was right near the train station. Just as we were about to pay and leave, Anna arrived and it was all very exciting.
After that, we went to a really cool bar/club on the sixth floor of what I can only describe as similar to a shopping centre. It’s called Park 6 and it’s at TivoliVredenburg. It has a load of arcade games and other games, all for free. There’s even a photobooth for free! We started off with a game of table tennis, where Kelly said “defect ball” when Leigh hit it wrong. That was misheard for “egg ball”. After a few egg balls, realising we weren’t really that good (though we got some good rallies going on), we went for a drink and noticed people crowded at the windows waiting – of course, it was the night of the blood moon! After looking outside every now and then for a good half an hour, all I can say is, what a massive let-down. You could barely see the moon due to the clouds. So after faking a picture with the moon, we had a walk around the place again, used the photobooth a few times and played some more arcade games before deciding to call it a night due to an early rise the next day. It was also still so damn warm! But we went home via KFC for an ice cream so all was well.
The next morning saw us go to Amersfoort. And it finally stormed and rained and we all cooled down! In the quaint little town of Amersfoort, Leigh and Kelly own a shop called Moledog, which is located in a kind of collection of shops called Vint; the name comes from “vintage”. There are a whole bunch of shops selling, well, vintage things. Moledog specialises in old vintage music, such as vinyls. If ever you’re in Amersfoort – go and check it out!
After Leigh and Kelly’s shift of a few hours there (and after we were fed with apple cake and coffee by the lovely owner of Vint), the two of them took me and Anna into Amersfoort itself. And it’s a really pretty little city! It’s quite Dutch, as daft as that sounds. Or at least, it’s kind of what you would expect a small Dutch town to be. We even got shown the exact centre point of the Netherlands (it’s in Amersfoort believe it or not!) to then realise that we had our photo taken at the wrong place. The centre is inside the small tower. Whoops. But we were pretty close on the photo, and then we went and stood on it inside the tower afterwards.
The afternoon saw us start to eat sushi and salad on a bench, getting wet in the rain, and finishing off in the car. We then went home and spent a good four hours playing Dutch Pokémon Monopoly (I came second which is at least not third or last, right?) which caused arguments, just as usual. Afterwards, Kelly and Leigh wanted to take us to a chip/snack shop for some proper Dutch food. The place was closed due to being on a summer break, so we went to Lidl and got some frozen pizzas instead. Ah well, we tried, right?
On the next and final day, Sunday, we headed into Utrecht to have a look around before Anna’s train to Amsterdam airport and my train back to Frankfurt in the afternoon. We just had a stroll around and took a look inside St. Martin’s Cathedral. After some lunch, we took a look in the arcade that Leigh and Kelly go to – I’ve never seen such a clean arcade! But then, I am comparing it to arcades on the seaside in England… But anyway, we didn’t have too much time there unfortunately, as it was pretty much already time to take Anna to the train station, and shortly after a drink and a chat with Leigh and Ccchhhkelly, I took my train back to Frankfurt, and I was even on time back in Frankfurt in the evening.
My general impression of the Netherlands from this short visit was: Dutch people are so damn friendly. And I absolutely love their language, purely because of the accent and the pronunciation of the words. I now want to learn Dutch. My favourite phrase still remains though: in de boom, which means “in the tree”. Weird, I know, but ask a Dutch person to say it to you or pop it into Google Translate and get it to say it to you.
So it was a wonderful long weekend in the Netherlands visiting and catching up with friends. And knowing that it’s just 4 hours away by train (if the travel gods allow everything to be on time), I’ll hopefully head there again some point soon! Hopefully when it’s not too warm…