Make no mistake about it, the Netherlands is an absolutely beautiful place! I'm partially bias because a good amount of my heritage is Dutch so I obviously think it's awesome here, but really, the countryside of Holland is a truly special place.
I arrived in the Netherlands a few days ago after flying in from Copenhagen to the Amsterdam airport. A good friend of mine from Madison who now works for our company's Dutch office lives in Den Bosch, but works with the hospitals up in the capitol region. We decided before I came over to Europe that we were going to meet up in Amsterdam and rent a car to travel the countryside for a week. So, upon getting to the airport, I picked up our rental car for the week and headed downtown.
I met up with Brendan at his hotel and we grabbed some dinner before crashing early for the night.
Brendan had to work Thursday so I spent the day wandering the city, roaming into different coffee shops and museums that I thought might be interesting. I took the train into the central station and spent the first couple of hours in the city just trying to navigate my way around. Amsterdam is a pretty confusing town if you don't know how it's laid out, so I felt it was necessary to do a canal tour right off the bat.
The tour was an easy way for me to get a sense of how the city was organized. Even if I had known how to get around, this tour was still a great addition to my day, and I learned a lot of the construction of the canals, districts of the city, and some history of Amsterdam.
After the canal tour and throughout the rest of the day I stumble up the Royal Palace Amsterdam, the Heineken museum (I wouldn't recommend visiting this as it's not the real brewery, much to my surprise), the Van Gogh Museum, and the Reich Museum.
I'm not really one for museums in general, but both of these were really impressive spots. The Reich Museum, recently reopened to the public after several years of renovations, was really superb, with art from Vermeer, Pienemam, and Rembrandt, just to name a few.
The Van Gogh Museum, as you guessed, was mainly Van Gogh painting, ranging from all periods of his life. Like I said, I'm really not much for classic art museums, but these ones were a must see just for the history of the art they contain.
After Brendan finished work, we picked up the car and drove to Den Bosch, a short 60 minute drive. We stopped at his apartment there and grabbed some dinner with his friends before heading out for the night.
Friday I spent the day touring Den Bosch on my own and found that, similar to Amsterdam, is also very confusing to navigate and has a number of canals that run through it.
After Brendan finished work on Friday, we again got dinner with some of his friends in the area and then headed out for some clubbing action, classic Euro-style. What I've found from a few nights out now in the Netherlands is that the Dutch really know how to club. I am not much of a "clubber" back home (more of a bar kind of guy), but with the right group of people, these kinds of nights can turn out really fun.
Saturday morning we all slept pretty late and then made our way up to the city of Utrecht, about halfway between Den Bosch and Amsterdam, and the fourth biggest city in the country with just above 300,000 people.
Utrecht, so far, is my favorite city we've been in. It reminds me of some places back home in Michigan with a busy downtown area and a lot of cafes and shops to stop into and grab a quick bite to eat. It's, again, on a river/canal, and has several spots of entertainment along the water. While in Utrecht we met up with some other friends who work for our same company (but just live in Utrecht rather then Den Bosch), and had a nice night out at a local restaurant and some bars around town.
The morning was a bit rough, but nothing that a delicious Dutch brunch couldn't solve. Some delicious coffee and potato balls with gravy later and I was feeling like a new man.
Today we're heading out for four days through a number of different towns through the country. We'll be hitting up Rotterdam, The Hague, Wassenaar (my Mom's family is from here), and finally Amsterdam to close out the week. Until then, tot zo.