This Infernal Racket | my life, after cancer

A Toronto-based lifestyle blog by a 2x cancer survivor

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Destination: Holland

a post card from holland

If I could move and live anywhere in the world, it would be in the Netherlands. This place felt like it could be a home to me and I miss waking up beside Vondel Park and drinking my morning coffee on the balcony. I stayed and travelled the country for 10 days, staying in 2 different areas and planning a last-minute detour to Belgium. 

During my first week, I stayed beside the beautiful Vondel Park in the Oud Zuid district, close to the city centre, but far enough away that I wasn't right in the middle of the chaos. The city is beautiful and has a mix of modern and historical elements. Most of the original architecture and history were destroyed during the war, but the city has done a great job of restoring the Dutch aesthetic.

Where to Eat: Ron Gastrobar // Dignitas

The city centre is packed; the streets are lined with smooth cobblestones and cute boutiques. I walked 16km every day but took the metro to get home at night. It took a while, but I finally found The Fault in our Stars bench; it's actually a replacement bench because the original one was stolen after the movie was released. The food in the city is amazing. I stumbled upon this grungy hole-in-wall street fries booth and ordered a cone....they were crispy, golden, and tasted even better with a side of spicy mayo.

Amsterdam is home to some beautiful and classic museums; Rijksmuseum > Moca > Van Gogh, which showcases some classic Van Gogh, Monet, Bansky, Dali, Rembrandt, and Gaugain masterpieces. Most of these museums are all within the same courtyard, so it's easy to spend the day roaming through them and being inspired by some of history's finest.

Where to Food: Esprit Cafe

I took the train to scenic Leiden on the third day; Leiden is a small university town but stunning in its simplicity and quaintness. I would love to move here and sit beside the canals every evening. I visited De Valk Windmill for a tour and history lesson on windmills and how they were used as a business. The day was spent just walking and exploring the city and its nooks; you could find me sitting by the water, drinking and snacking into the evening.

De Pijp has a similar vibe to Kensington Market and Queen West, but better. An open market square littered with cafes, shops and places to sit and people watch. The street market is packed with fun foods like the famous stroopwafel. That evening, I spontaneously bought a ticket to Belgium.

I'll admit I didn't do any research on Belgium, I just bought a train ticket and left. I ended up in Antwerp; I spent the day absorbing all the Dutch and German-inspired architecture. St. Pauls's Cathedral was stunning; and for an art history major, I was literally in heaven. I did eat a Belgium Waffle and didn't get sick, so I am guessing that again, the flour was not contaminated. I also bought a lot of Belgium chocolates to bring back to Canada.

After Belgium, I travelled (new Airbnb) to De Jordaan for my last week. I spent the day in Wester Park people-watching and catching Pokemon (lol). To be honest, I had to rest a lot from the first half of the trip, I was tired and still recovering from my Stem Cell Transplant. The area is known as the 'hipster district' with indie boutiques, cozy cafes, organic shops, and fun places to eat (with lots of gluten-free options). On my second morning, I went to the Anne Frank House, something I highly recommend (but you need to purchase tickets in advance). It was a sombre experience but such a historical highlight.

Haarlemmerstraat is a great spot for shops, tea & coffee, and again lots of great grocery stores. I cooked a lot of my own meals on this trip and the shops were similar to Whole Foods but more authentic.

Where to Eat: Piqniq // D + A Humus // The Pancake Bakery // Saje

Giethorn is a little northern village that is known for its streetless town and cute fairytale houses. During the train ride up, I looked out my window and saw hundreds of wild horses running. I was so inspired and just sat and stared. I didn't feel too well this day but made the best of it by exploring the town, and photographing the canals and tiny homes.

My last day here went out with a bang. King's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands. The date marks the birth of King Willian-Alexander but was originally known as Queen's Day until the abdication of Queen Beatrix. Orange is traditionally worn, and everyone gets the day off to participate in the city events including flea markets, alcohol carts, live DJs and delicious street foods. It's basically a giant party in which everyone can participate.

So that is how I spent 10 days in the Netherlands! I genuinely loved it there and would love to live there one day. Thanks for having me, next time I am getting clogs.


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