21 Sep A love letter to Den Haag | The Netherlands
‘You never travel as a traveler’ I was recently told. ‘You simulate what it would be like to live there”.
The accusation is true and I’m ok with that. Yes, indeed that’s what I do. I don’t care about sightseeing, I don’t care about the main attractions, I care about the lifestyle, the grocery store prices, the eating habits of the locals.
Travel evokes a sensory response to me, it wakes me up and reminds me of all the beautiful things that matter and what’s important to me.
Every time I travel, I come back a little different.
These are 5 things I loved about The Netherlands
The Silent Train Carriages
There are designated silent sections on each train where you are not allowed to talk or make noise. The luxury of silence is priceless and the ‘stiltecoupe justice’ ensures a smooth, quiet ride. They will tell you off if you disturb the silence. You always have the option to hop on a regular carriage instead, if that’s your cup of tea. Best of both worlds.
Rules and Noaberschap
Dutch people are independent, busy bees, and they love strict schedules. They are well organized and engage in routines to stay grounded and productive. Unexpected changes to established plans are not welcome and avoided at almost any cost. However, this does not mean they are uptight or buttoned up. They highly value a sense of community and their neighbors play an important role in their daily life. ‘Noaberschap’ reflects exactly that. They would go to great lengths to help their neighbors as long as it’s written down in their agenda, planned, and scheduled properly. They are always smiling and they are not stingy to compliments. I was walking my friend’s dog and made a couple of friends in 15 minutes. An elderly lady came up to me and complimented me on my hair color even though being a redhead in the Netherlands is average and very common.
Architecture & Discipline of Art
Dutch people: they simply hate to waste anything from food to money or space.
“The Dutch are known to be the masters of architecture and the use of space. Also known for their out-of the-box-thinking, they have exerted more influence on the discipline of art and construction unlike anybody else over time.”
Functionalist designs thrive along with visual consistency creating a beautiful fusion of traditional design and practical functionality.
‘Waste-not’ gets a luxe facade with thrifting in the Netherlands. Hague is a fascinating, and electrifying destination to explore shopping pre-loved through. Thrift stores, often called Kringloops, focus on sustainability and take you tastefully off the beaten track. From vintage Levi’s and authentic Burberry trenchcoats to Dr. Martins boots and real silk bowties, you will, without a doubt, find something new (but old) to love for years and years to come. I can’t say that I’ve been impressed by every single one of the thrift shops that I’ve been to, but the vast majority was a success. Most of the shops offer a highly curated shopping experience.
The No-Curtain Culture
I probably shouldn’t admit that publically, but I do love a quick sneak peek into people’s homes while they are casually up to their daily tasks. There’s something utterly comforting and soothing that makes me feel less alone. Or less lonely. Curtainless windows, I think, are a mirror. You see who you are and who you want to become.
I felt creatively inspired in a different way than when I travel to Great Britain for example. Maybe it’s the smooth river that flows throughout the land, the crooked, narrow buildings tilting onto each other, or the slow-living lifestyle. Rainy, grey days feel cozy instead of gloomy, tucked into a small cafe with a cup of almond milk latte. Quintessential scenes blend seamlessly with the urban environment, back and front yards lovingly tended, bring a smile to my face.
Dear Netherlands, I miss you already.
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