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A morning in Haarlem, an evening in Heineken

Originally, we’d planned on spending four days in Amsterdam and one day in Bruges, Belgium. After realizing how much it would cost (in both time and, more importantly for grad students, money) to get to Bruge, we abandoned that idea for a substitute medieval town only 45 minutes from Amsterdam: Haarlem.

Note: if your first thought was Harlem, the New York City borough, you're not far off: America's Harlem was once called Nieuw Haarlem (New Harlem), named after this medieval Dutch town. New York was originally called New Amsterdam, and was primarily a Dutch colony before being seized by the English, who renamed it in honor of the Duke of York.

There are many other similarities, including Greenwich Village (present in both), Manhattan (present in both), 't Lange Eiland (Long Island), de Brede Weg (Broadway), Heemstede (Hempstead), Konijneneiland (means "rabbits island", translated Coney Island), Kromme Zee ("crooked lake", now Gramercy), Staten Land (Staten Island), and even Walstraat (Wall Street).

Although it was nothing like what we knew about Bruges, we had a good time exploring the town for a few hours that morning, albeit under the first overcast skies I’d seen since my first few days in Reims almost three weeks before.

We started with one of the most cliched scenes you would expect from Holland, sans the rows of multicolored tulips: the Molen de Adriaan, a working windmill on the outskirts of the town. We strolled through Amsterdamse Poort (ca. 1274), which was the original city gate complete with a picturesque moat for extra protection. Teylers Hofje offered a pretty view of a plant-ridden courtyard and the distant towers of the Grote Sint-Bavokerk (St. Bavo’s Church, ca. 1400).

Grote Markt was next on our list: a former meat (vleeshal) and fish market (verweyhal), now used as a central town square. The stadhuis, or Town Hall, opens off of Grote Markt, and looming far overhead was the grandiose gothic St. Bavo. Although its interior looks strikingly similar to the Old and New Churches of Amsterdam, St. Bavo is a particular beauty with its 165-foot steeple and 5,000-pipe Müller Organ. This organ, which is considered one of the most magnificent in the world, has been played by the likes of Handel and a 10-year-old Mozart. And unsurprisingly, we visited toward the tail end of an international organ festival, which was a cool sight.

Last, we swung by Kaashuis Tromp (Tromp cheese house), one of the most famous cheese shops in the country that is based in Haarlem, and picked up blocks of cheese we couldn’t pronounce. We grabbed loaves of bread from a nearby bakery and sat in the middle of Grote Markt, eating our spoils until we never wanted to see cheese again.

We got back to Amsterdam just after lunch and headed immediately for the Rijksmuseum, a famous art museum in the Museumplein district.

And as our 21st museum, the last thing I wanted to see was a towering palace of a building, roughly the same size as the Musée d’Orsay. If my feet could talk, they would’ve been screaming.

We hobbled through the museum at the speed of tortoises, sitting on every bench we passed and feigning fascination with whatever work of art sat immediately in front of us. The part that stands out most in my mind was a library that would have put the Beast’s (i.e., from Beauty and the Beast) to shame. I never wanted to leave…and no, not because I’d found a bench there.

To our defense, we covered almost every inch of that place -- all four floors, and almost every hall within. Ryan grabbed an informative museum guide separated by century that we’ve been looking through ever since when we’ve had a moment, which slightly quenches our guilt at not enjoying the place as much as we might have a week before.

I do, however, want to make a skeptical note about artwork in general: Social psychological research has so often looked at social influence in naturalistic settings when it comes to, say, crossing streets. If ten people are standing on a street corner and one strides confidently into the road, chances are, the other nine will follow blindly without bothering to look in either direction.

And speaking of crossing streets, if I make it through these last several days in England alive, it will be a miracle. I was overjoyed to see that London has painted ten-foot-long “LOOK RIGHT” and “LOOK LEFT” warnings on every street crossing, possibly to cover their own butts when tourists are run over by raging double-decker buses.

I’ve seen the same form of social influence in every art museum we’ve visited: If several people are standing in front of a work and simply gazing in quiet reverence, many, many more will follow suit, as if they think they’re missing some sort of underground masterpiece. When we strode into a room that held Rembrandt’s massive The Night Watch, at least 50 people were staring, pointing, and completely oblivious to the fact that half of their peers were part of a guided tour that just so happened to stop in front of it. Unfortunately for me, mademoiselle skeptical social psychologist, I muttered “What’s so special about it?” in a voice just loud enough for a guard to hear, which earned me a particularly acute death glare.

That evening marked the most traditional Dutch meal we had in Amsterdam, which was also my favorite meal of all: Our AirBnB host directed us to the Restaurant ’t Zwaantje (the Swan), a dark pub that might have been pulled straight from a small village in Ireland. We enjoyed a beef stew that exploded with flavors, along with mash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, and a few unknown vegetables, all sprinkled lightly with cinnamon to cut the spice of the stew.

Our last stop for the night was the famous Het Concert-gebouw, where we saw Bruut! -- a jazz group -- as part of their Robeco Summer Nights. The show was excellent, and the venue intimate: a round, black-box theatre with small tables, candles, and free wine.

Side note about seeing concerts in Amsterdam: Although English is spoken almost equally, Dutch is the chosen language among all locals. It reminds me of Japan, where Kanji characters are used for advertisements and commercial purposes -- in this case, English is used in professional settings, and Dutch elsewhere.

So when performers take a break to chat with the crowd, chances are, it will be in Dutch. And it took us less than 30 seconds to realize that when the crowd laughed jovially, we should laugh, too. By the end, we were cracking up with our neighboring tables without having a clue of what was being said.

If this sounds funny, it was ten times funnier in person. By the end, I was simply laughing at the fact that I was laughing at jokes I didn’t understand.

In Amsterdam, the Louvre of Paris is the Anne Frank House. This house was her father’s jam factory and her family’s ultimate hiding place -- secret staircase door and all -- in the years before their capture. Over the course of our previous four days in Amsterdam, we’d passed by many a time while on our way to Yan’s apartment…and with every passing, we’d look at each other and laugh at the sheer length of the lines stretching from the front stoop along the side of the building to the next canal, around the corner and to a distant bridge, around another corner and back town toward Prinsengracht.

Absolute insanity.

And at 8:30 the next morning, this was precisely the line we joined.

Even though we arrived half an hour before it opened, we stood in line for more than an hour and a half before we even made it into the building. And even though we’d heard that the museum was overrated, we were pleasantly surprised at its size and depth of information.

Out of the eight in hiding, Otto Frank was the only survivor.

He returned to that very house, hoping to find his daughters there, and instead received Anne’s many notebooks and writings. After a few years, he published them in Amsterdam; several years later, he opened his factory and home as a museum in remembrance of the violence of the Holocaust.

We really enjoyed the experience, and it was well worth the wait. Although the museum wasn’t as interactive as many we’d seen, it was carefully and tastefully done, considering the seriousness of its subject matter.

Thanks to Taylor’s recommendation, we had lunch at the Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis (pancake house), the smallest restaurant in Europe. It boasts only four tables and one griddle, and is squeezed on a street that feels closer to an alley than an actual thoroughfare.

We split a salami-cheese and a bacon-apple pancake (the apples had a sprinkling of cinnamon, which should remind Dad of Finch’s)…and yes, the Dutch add syrup tho these savory masterpieces. We’re only talking the lightest of drizzles, not even enough to see after a few seconds, but syrup in Amsterdam is also quite different from your average Aunt Jemima: it’s thicker, has more molasses, and is less sickeningly sweet. So if you’re cringing at the thought of an Elf-like reference to syrup- and chocolate-covered spaghetti, never fear -- it was actually delicious.

Our last stop in Amsterdam was the Heineken Experience brewery tour, and I have no shame in admitting that it was one of my favorite museums out of the 21 we’d seen. Heineken, which personally isn’t my jam, was one of the first breweries to take a scientific approach to brewing beer: The director appointed in the early 1900s was a chemist, and formed laboratories, set up bottom fermentation methods, and used new strains of yeast to achieve the perfect beer.

The tour was incredibly interactive, beginning with beer brewing “lessons”, tours of the equipment needed, and opportunities to stir and taste various stages of the process. They’ve also embraced technological advances to give guests many opportunities to play. Each tour provided a chance to learn how to pour and taste beer, as well as two glasses of Heineken and a souvenir glass to take home.

And this brought us to the end of our time in Amsterdam, which I already miss. We spent the rainy afternoon packing and resting our feet, and were up at 4:00 the next morning to make our way to London.

And of course, many things went wrong. Clearly the gods of transportation despise us.

But for now, that story can wait until my snarkiness level reaches its minimum required threshold.


Beneath the cobbled surface

Because our I Amsterdam cards gave us exactly 48 hours -- beginning with the very first swipe -- our first two full days in Amsterdam can be succinctly described as “museum hopping”. We started our morning in the Museumplein (“Museum square”) with the Van Gogh Museum and, right next door, the Stedelijk Museum, which was my first ever contemporary/modern art experience. It’s also the largest museum in the Netherlands, which became readily apparent when -- about 75% of the way through -- we had to fight to keep our legs moving.

The Van Gogh Museum, however, was absolutely stellar. One particular portion of the third or fourth floor described the science behind art examination, taking apart exactly what archaeologists look for to determine years, origins, and even the history of a painting. Van Gogh’s original Bedroom in Arles, one of his more famous works, was almost destroyed when Van Gogh’s house flooded. How do we know this? There are a few backwards letters, less than a centimeter in size, that suggest he wrapped up a wet canvas with print newspaper to preserve its paint. I was fascinated; it was like exploring People of the Book in a real-life setting.

By that point, we’d walked at least three miles and were starving. (Story of our lives these past few weeks.)

I mentioned earlier that due to Reims’s proximity to the German border but its obvious location in France, much of its food stems from the marriage of both cultures, such as pork-filled baguette sandwiches (croques) and pork-laden flammekueche. and French wines with a Riesling (i.e., German grape) twist.

Amsterdam is exactly what you would expect of the Netherlands and its surrounding regions: Its cheapest grub is sausage, bratwurst (the actual, moldy bratwurst), every kind of homemade roll of cheese the size of my torso, and Heineken.


So after a 3€ chicken hot dog with (what is either popular in Amsterdam or we had our legs supremely pulled by this guy) Sriracha sauce, curry sauce, onions, and tempura flakes, we headed up into the Plantage district for the Joods Historisch (Jewish History) Museum. This museum was constructed throughout four interconnected synagogues stretching back into the 1600s, and tells the story of the Jewish populations who have originated in, moved through, or remained in the Netherlands.

We then headed north to the NEMO Science Center, pictured in my previous post, where it sits along the shores of the IJ harbor. By that point our feet were aching so badly that we had to explore its many areas in five-minute segments, taking frequent breaks to moan and commiserate. It was a kid-oriented museum, very heavy on the interactive front, and just before we left we were able to catch a Rube Goldberg Machine demonstration that took up most of the entrance area and stretched almost two stories high.

That evening, we strolled through the Jordaan neighborhood, twisting through alleys and across canals, and by the time morning rolled around, our feet had mostly (sort of) healed. Before the rest of the city had woken, we walked to the bloemenmarkt (literally, “blooming market”), the largest floating flower market in the world.

When I read superlatives -- and there have been many on this trip (e.g., among the tallest cathedrals in the world, the largest museum in the world, the best-known landmark in Europe) -- I always giggle when the superlative is clearly a stretch. “The basilica with the most steps to reach it” is an example -- clearly something that an employee sat around pondering just to stick some hint of a claim to fame on their Wikipedia page.

In this case, I couldn’t help but giggle. Read it again:

The largest floating flower market in the world.

Since when have flower markets floated.

Forget “largest” -- are there any more out there, and if so, who thought that was a good idea?

Regardless, it was a cool sight. We stopped for Starbucks at one end of the market and took our time making our way through, looking through more kinds of tulips than I knew existed (after all, Holland is known as The Land of Tulips…they’re everywhere).

Just around the corner was the Rembrandt House Museum, which was a fun take on art exhibitions when exploring a rickety but grandiose 17th-century home. We wandered through Nieuwmarkt, an old square that once housed Amsterdam’s city gate, De Waag. The square sits in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, just around the corner from the Red Light District.

A few more turns, and we were standing before what might have been any other house in Amsterdam: a narrow (perhaps 15-foot facade), five- or six-story building attached to its neighbors, with a crooked stoop to invite guests inside.

No one would guess that the topmost three stories of this home conceal a hidden Catholic church known as Our Lord in the Attic (Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder).

In 1663, a Catholic man bought a home in the newly Protestant Amsterdam, which had outlawed the Catholic faith. Although city officials weren’t dim enough to ignore the wave of 150 parishioners filing into an inconspicuous home every Sunday morning, they were willing to turn a blind eye as long as they didn’t revolt against the Protestant churches nearby.

Next, we explored two Protestant churches (formerly Catholic), the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), built in 1203 and 1385, respectively. Although the styles of each are very similar, I much prefer wood-and-stone interiors to the common French designs of marble, wrought gold and iron, and other grandiose accents. (Maybe that’s just me. I might have been walking through the Chapel of the Cross, if I hadn’t known better.) De Nieuwe Kerk, right off Dam Square, is particularly important even in agnostic Amsterdam due to its political importance: It’s the site of royal inaugurations, royal weddings, and the burials of national heroes.

We wandered through two upscale shopping plazas (Magna Plaza and De Bijenkorf) that opened off Dam Square, I caved in and bought two small Holland-designed tins of stroopwafels (new favorite guilt), and we made our way to a southern reach of Centruum. I was in search of Begijnhof (not to be confused with Bijenkorf), a square lined with the oldest homes still standing in Amsterdam circa the 1150s…but after meandering around the busy streets, I had all but given up. It wasn’t until a woman emerged from what had previously been a locked doorway in a crumbling stone wall that I saw a snippet of sunlight behind her, and dove to catch the door before it closed.

Beyond it was the hidden Begijnhof, a slice of serenity in an otherwise bustling part of town. The homes, not quite as tall nor as narrow as homes from later centuries, seemed to block out all sound so that we might as well have been in another village entirely. A status of Jesus stood in the center of the square, his arms opened in welcome, framed by two churches on either side of the square. One, the Chapel of the Beguinage, was the result of Beguine retaliation against the newly Protestant rule in the 1660s. It, like Our Lord of the Attic, became a hidden church -- just as difficult to find as the houses around it. The other church, Begijnhof Chapel (ca. 1397), is a former Roman Catholic church that is now considered an English Reformed Church. Not sure what that means, but the Queen has visited in the last decade or so, and that’s pretty darn awesome.

Right around the corner of the square stands Amsterdam Museum, which is surprisingly interactive considering the nature of its content. (It’s easier to play with electricity in the NEMO Science Center than to play with snippets of the city’s history.) I can say that I learned one particularly interesting fact about Amsterdam: It was the first European country to establish an Internet connection, and was the first country in the world to set up a functional (and widely used) online community, which was called De Digitale Stad (The Digital City).

That evening, thoroughly museumed-out after making a half-hearted attempt at the renowned Biblical Museum, we wandered and haggled our way through Waterloopleinmarkt (and I scored a cute blouse and harem pants), gave into our sore need for Asian food (in my case, after more than a month without it) at an inexpensive Thai restaurant close by, and finished the night with free Wi-Fi at Café P 96, where we sat out by the canal and people-watched until the sun had set.

I’m going to end with the simple statement that Amsterdam residents have incredible calves. They have to: Each and every staircase is as steep as a ladder, with steps as narrow as rungs. (I have to descend them sideways, and my feet are only a size 7.) Each step is the height of two steps in America, and each turn -- which are inevitable in tall homes as narrow as these -- is a death wish.

I write this from St. Albans (Hertfordshire, a 45-minute drive from London), which is riddled with enough hills to highlight just how much the flat desert has spoiled both of us. With every ascent, our calves still ache from so many encounters with these Amsterdam stairs.

Mokum, Safe Haven, Venice of the North

My embarrassing superpower is rattling off random and pointless inspirational quotes I’ve picked up from my Pinterest surfings while riding the lightrail to and from campus. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved inspirational quotes; the invention of Pinterest has only fueled this unhealthy use of brain cells.

One such quote is as follows: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to be.”

I could mimic this saying with the simple substitution, “What screws us up most while traveling is the picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to go.”

Because travel never goes as planned.

Not even in 2014, with the aid of tools like Google Maps, online ticket purchases, and extensive planning over the last month.

We woke up Tuesday morning knowing that we had to do the following:

  1. Walk from our AirBnB through a neighborhood still showing clear signs of the recent (and very close) Pro-Palestinian riots to Gare du Nord, one of Paris’s main train stations;
  2. buy overly expensive tickets to one of the airport terminals at Charles de Gaulle (which one? we had no clue);
  3. check into a flight with non-European-sized baggage (what is it with European efficiency?);
  4. make it through a security line without any knowledge of non-TSA flight regulations; and
  5. figure out the line-up and boarding process for European flights.

And as the unpredictable nature of travel would have it, something went wrong at every step of the way -- including:

  1. Broken entrances to our needed train area and trying to find a roundabout way solely from French directions;
  2. not having enough Euro coins to pay for two one-way train tickets to the airport (who outside of a nonexistent Parisian casino has 20€s worth of coins?);
  3. having to wait awkwardly around for a Frenchman to accept our cash and use his/her chip-graced credit card because of American Magnetic Strip Discrimination (let's call this AMSD)...but alas, this Frenchman never came;
  4. making a 50/50 decision on which far-spread stop to disembark when arriving at Charles de Gaulle because we sure as hell didn’t know what was going on or where to go;

  5. finding out that trying to carry an American-recognized “carry-on” onto a European flight is like trying to sneak an elephant into a dog shelter;
  6. realizing too late that the French don’t like it when you push, shove, and sit on your backpack to make it fit in the briefcase-sized carry-on restrictions, gesture with a grandiose sense of success, and declare that it does in fact fit;
  7. getting snapped at multiple times for blundering through security; and
  8. waiting around for an announcement of the boarding process and ending up last in line for a major AirFrance flight.

If you’ve seen Argo with Ben Affleck, you might remember the emotional scene where, after 90 minutes worth of planning and strategizing to get onto an America-bound plane, the characters finally succeed. There are hugs, tears, ear-to-ear smiles…all of the things I would have shown when we finally boarded our flight, had I not realized early on that I’m far too expressive for the Europeans as it is.


When we arrived in Amsterdam, even the airport felt more welcoming. The people smiled, they greeted, they welcomed, they offered assistance.

They even had a Starbucks.

A real Starbucks.

Forget American expressiveness; I thought Ryan was going to cry from ecstasy.

We hopped on a quick train to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, buckled our bags around our waists and chests, and headed out into the humid sunshine outside.

Extensive research suggests that redheads are not only missing a gene that results in their fair complexions and ginger-hued hair: they are also missing (or perhaps have) a gene that dictates pain threshold. We’re more sensitive to heat, but require 25% more alcohol and/or substances compared with non-ginger equivalents. We also register pain in a stunted manner.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t complain when we’re uncomfortable.

And when you’re carrying a 30-pound large backpack and 10-pound smaller backpack, your feet are throbbing and making clicking sounds with every footfall, you’re thirsty and hungry and smelly and gross and don’t know where you are, and the 91% humidity reminds you that you’ve adapted to desert climates -- whether redheaded or not, you need a babysitter.

Poor Ryan.

I griped, grumbled, and groaned our way through several blocks of Amsterdam’s most touristy streets, until we finally turned into a narrow (and thankfully shaded) alley to avoid the crowds and direct sunlight.

And glory be, we found some luggage lockers just waiting to be put to use by a pair of grumpy, complaining Americans.

And just as Reims transformed into a completely different city when armed with a map and sunny skies, so too did Amsterdam transform as we made our way down the alleys, maps in hand.

Earlier I mentioned the Paris Museum Pass, which saved us quite a bit of money on admissions around the city, as well as time that would otherwise have been spent in line.

Well, Amsterdam’s got Paris beat.

The I Amsterdam card was our first purchase in The Netherlands. It not only afforded us unlimited admissions into any (with the exception of the Anne Frank House) museum in Amsterdam, but also free public transportation, a free canal cruise, and dozens of 25% off deals and free gifts from participating restaurants and organizations. (Read: We now have Amsterdam house-shaped metal tins filled with Dutch sweets and four Heineken glasses, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.)

So after sitting outside at The Five Bells pub while planning our five-day stay and enjoying the breeze that played off the nearby canals, we set off for the IJ -- a waterway that runs along the north of the city and provides access to many of its hundreds of canals.

The cruise was a perfect way to orient ourselves to the city as we wound under arched bridges; sailed past serene cobbled streets filled with bicycles and thin, spindly trees; and looked up at the five-story buildings sandwiched between one another, stemming from as early as the 1500s. We admired the architectural juxtaposition of medieval cathedrals against the NEMO Science Museum’s far-reaching copper exterior, and marveled at the sheer history of the city around us, which was established in 1306 but occupied much earlier still.

The rest of the day was spent wandering, which in all seriousness is my favorite way to travel. Each street is so closely bordered by a canal on one side and a series of towering homes on the other that it’s easy to get lost: there is no Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or Sacré Cœur on the horizon to point you in the right direction.

And so when we emerged onto a large square bordered by the Royal Palace on one side and De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church…because 1408 is, after all, quite new) on another, as well as a WWII national monument, two upscale shopping centers not unlike Galleries Lafayette, and -- just because it’s Amsterdam -- Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.

This was Dam Square, first mentioned in records in 1270, and as roll-your-eyes funny as the name might sound (indeed, the shops lining the square have played along, such as Dam Good Ice), its history is quite solemn. It has seen much destruction, fire, and murder in the past, the most recent of which occurred two days after the German surrender in 1945, when German soldiers began firing machine guns into the cheering crowds from a balcony above.

But although its history does include much solemnity from the German occupation during WWII, Amsterdam is rarely known for its history. So I’ll go ahead and answer two questions now that I’ve been getting from friends since I arrived:

Yes, certain substances are legal here, and yes, some streets reek of it. We learned very quickly which streets to avoid. All too often I’ve headed toward a coffeeshop before remembering that the last thing an Amsterdam coffeeshop would sell is coffee.

And second, yes, there is a Red Light District. It’s overrated, tourist-ridden, and filled with equal parts men and women, all of whom are quite nonplussed as they make their way through the streets. Would I want to bring a small child down those streets? Probably not, unless I was willing to answer a few questions that would probably deserve accurate answers.

Sure, these two factors draw unwanted tourists just as Vegas, N’awlins, and Colorado might. But the Amsterdam we’ve come to know over these past five days is so, so much more.

We had a first taste of this fact that evening, when we picked up two small pies with gravy and mash from a Bristol-based restaurant and carried our goods to the edge of an adjacent canal. We sat on the worn stones, legs dangling toward the water, and watched ducks circle hopefully beneath us as boats passed by. There were friendly waves and welcoming smiles, and with one turn of the head we could take in the view of the arched, bike-laden bridge to our left and the rows of slanted brick homes as far as we could see to our right. The sun was setting somewhere beyond the many rows of buildings, and we watched as the sliver of light trailed its way up the many floors of distant homes before vanishing into the evening sky.

Because Yan, our AirBnB host, wouldn’t arrive until midnight, we killed some time that evening by strolling down Prinsengracht, regarded as one of the most beautiful streets of Amsterdam. Not only does Prinsengracht house Anne Frank’s hiding place, but it’s also the dividing line between Amsterdam’s city centre (Centruum) and Jordaan, one of Amsterdam’s “most romantic” neighborhoods with its quaint streets, sunny corners, sidewalk cafés, and leafy trees. And luckily for us, our AirBnB was located right on Prinsengracht, overlooking a lovely stretch of canal three stories below.

Several blocks north, we found Café P 96 (Prinsengracht 96), which quickly became our favorite haunt: It boasted an almost Scottish pub feel, fun and laid-back people, unbelievably low prices, and the city’s only boatside terrace.

Our AirBnB is just astounding. A lovely, old building with a CD/record shop on the first floor and only one resident per floor above, it sits in a quaint, serene part of the city. Lazy guitar chords and airy runs on a flute drift out of the houseboat (one out of more than 2,500 in the city) that sits out front. And the apartment itself is large, with creaking hardwood floors, great interior decoration, large windows to let in the sunlight, and a great sense of character.

My next two posts will be about Amsterdam -- our shenanigans, our explorations, our love for this place, my adoration of traditional Dutch food (who would’ve known?), and our day trip to the medieval town of Haarlem. We've very much enjoyed our time in Mokum ("Safe Haven" and nickname of this city), our Venice of the North.