Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Birthday!

Josh surprised me with a quick trip to Giethoorn for my 28th birthday. The village is about 2 and a half hours train ride from the Hague, plus a bus trip. Giethoorn is special because there are mostly no roads, only canals, meaning you get around by boat. It's referred to as the Venice of the North. I found out about Giethoorn some time ago via Pinterest, and when I found out I'd be moving to the Netherlands, I was excited by the prospect of actually going. Luckily Josh is amazing and made my dream into a reality (CORNY).

He booked a room at De Dames van de Jonge, a small hotel on the edge of the village. The moment we got there we were greeted with hospitality. The owner, Roelie (best name ever?), pictured above in a very true-to-life portrait, introduced herself and we sat and drank coffee in the hotel's small restaurant.

After getting settled in, we headed to South Giethoorn and made reservations for a tour boat ride through the village. We had some time to kill, so we walked around a little bit, found a sweet cat (seen above), and then stumbled on a small museum called 't Olde Maat Uus (Old Matt's House). It's in an old farm, and it's all about the history of living in the area. We were the only ones there, and therefore had a private tour guide, an old man named Wim who had shaky hands and pretty good English. He showed us everything from old ice skates to peat to reed cutters (houses in Giethoorn have always had thatched roofs, made with the reeds that grow in the area). Josh and I both kind of fell in love with Wim, he was just the sweetest man. He was a teenager during the occupation of the Netherlands by the Nazis, and to this day still doesn't like Germans all that much.

Our boat ride through Giethoorn was really nice. There were a lot of houses for sale, maybe because they're hard to keep up and it would be hard to live with no access to cars... Can you imagine lugging groceries home in a motorboat? Still I nudged Josh every time I saw a "Te Koop" sign in a charming house's window... Maaaaaybe???

We had dinner back at the hotel. We were one of three parties there during the evening, so it was very intimate and special. I had champagne, a red wine, and port to finish. Josh had an amazing French onion soup, pork with a lovely sauce, and coconut ice cream with chocolate sauce which was delicious. I chose the "surf and turf" as my main dish, and the steak especially was one of the best things I've had. Traditional Dutch dinners come with lots of fun sides. We got salad, Brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted potatoes, french fries, coleslaw, and bacon-wrapped sauerkraut. Ugh, so much food, so good, couldn't even handle it.

Then the next morning we were "forced" to eat more food. Roelie asked us how we wanted our eggs cooked, and brought us a silver kettle of hot coffee. Our table was strewn with fresh baked bread, croissants, rolls, fruit, yogurt fixings, and orange juice. Then our bacon and eggs were delivered. THEN Roelie brought us platters of cheese and meat. Why, Roelie, whyyyy. It was a beautiful breakfast, and there was actual SUNSHINE streaming through the windows, a rarity in Holland currently. 

After breakfast we went on a walk through the neighborhood, and as you can see, saw a lot of charming houses. Although it was chilly and the tree branches were bare, it was nice to be there during the winter season. It was quiet and uncrowded.

My 28th birthday is officially one of my favorite birthdays to date. A great beginning to what I hope is a wonderful new year of my life. 

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