Rijsttafel Dinner in the Netherlands

Rijstaffel-DinnerWhen I first found out that I was going to eat at an Indonesian style buffet for the first time in the Netherlands, I was confused.  Won’t I be eating herring, fries with mayonnaise, gouda, or something like that?  Thank goodness our planner knew what she was talking about.

If you are visiting the Netherlands with a group, this is a great option to feast on and enjoy each others’ company.  The variety of options will please even the pickIndonesian-Restaurantiest eaters.  It is a rich experience to taste multiple dishes and realize they are all good.  I would tell you what I ate if I could remember the names of all the dishes.  I was too swept up in the flavor to think too much about what it was called.  Just know that you will find rice dishes, meats, shrimp, veggies, and flavorful sauces.

You may be wondering how Indonesian cuisine meshes with the Dutch culture.  In the past, the Dutch colonized in Indonesia, and their food influenced those that came back home.

Have you ever been surprised by the variety of cuisine in a countGroup-1ry?

Arnhem Open Air Museum

Arnhem3If the name Arnhem sounds familiar to you, it may not be for the Open Air Museum, but the historical reference.  The Battle of Arnhem was fought in the second world war.  Today’s focus will be on the museum.

The museum provides a glimpse of pre-industrial Dutch life.  You walk through history as you see the typical homes, trades, and gardens of the time and place.  We had an organized lunch of Dutch pancakes.  They offered several flavors of sweet and savory, and I think I can say I’ve had my fill of pancakes for awhile.

Visiting the Open Air Museum is like visiting living history.  It is similar to Williamsburg back home.  I enjoyed watching the animals and walking past the enormous wind mills.  During our visit, a few of us made our way to the brewery before returning back to the bus.  I am not a beer drinker, but of course I had to do the tasting. If you are driving through the area, take a break from the road and dive into the Dutch culture.

Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

Anne-Frank-HouseEveryone always comments on their claustrophobia in the Annex that Anne Frank and seven others lived in during the Holocaust.  The challenge for me was trying to comprehend how someone could survive in such little light . I felt the darkness was symbolic of the dark times.  I can’t imagine staying inside for 25 months.

Visiting the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam can be an emotional experience.  So many are familiar with the story of the young girl growing up during the Holocaust.  As I walked through the museum, I wished that the rooms could have been recreated to look like they did while she was there.  It would have helped me understand the size, and how confined it would have felt.  There is power in seeing the table where they would have had whispered conversations, or beds where they slept through fearful nights.

In the museum, you wind your way through each of the areas as you learn more about her life.  You see photos of celebrities pasted on the wall.  She wrote in her diary, “I have transformed the walls into one gigantic picture. This makes it look much more cheerful.”

Another hall leads you to a room with videos.  I was impacted by an interview with a survivor.  She was a friend of Anne’s on the other side of the fence.  There was a moment in the interview where she reflected on whether or not Anne would have had the strength to survive if she had known that her dad had survived.  Could the power of hope have saved her?  I think it would be nearly impossible to survive in a world where all hope seems lost.

One image that struck me was of Otto Frank.  The photo was taken after surviving the concentration camp.  In this Day-2-2postcard you see Otto Frank with the weight of knowing he was the sole survivor of those that resided in this room for two years and one month.  How troubling for a father.  Mies Giep was a savior for the families during the war, and I think she was for Otto after the war.

If you are interested in visiting the museum, I highly recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time.  Otherwise, you will be spending more time outside the museum than in.  If you’d like information, please visit the official site.

Haarlem, Netherlands

HaarlemWhen I first arrived in Haarlem last summer I wondered if I was the only one that had survived the apocalypse.  I came in through the train station and there was no one around.  I reached some civilization in the main square where the remains of a book market were closing up.  Where was everyone?

The weather was nasty, so I retreated to my hotel.  I know you aren’t supposed to take a nap your first day abroad, but I had to.  Of course I paid for it later that night.  After awaking later in the afternoon, the sun had come out and so did the people.  They stayed out and partied into the night.

Haarlem is a great place to stay in the Netherlands, especially if you want to visit Amsterdam, but don’t want to stay there.  Just a short and scenic train ride away, Haarlem is a beautiful town worth investigating.  I fell in love with the town an early morning before departing.  The light accented every color, and the still water reflected that beauty.

I’ll be adding more about Haarlem soon.  Check out the photos to see if it looks like a place you’d like to see.  I’d love to hear your experiences if you’ve visited Haarlem.