A Very Dutch Weekend – The Hague and Zaanse Schans

IK BEN CATHERINE. HOE HEET JIJ?

Everybody, I’m going Dutch!! This week was my first week of class, and let me tell you, the work load here is quite different from what I am used to at USC. Not to mention, that I am not involved in nearly as many extracurriculars here in comparison to what I am involved in at USC (about 1, 200 orgs to be exact, but who’s counting). So three days of class minus extracurriculars equals a LOT of free time, but don’t forget to add in “Becoming a Woman of the World” (that takes up the remainder of my time).

So, I try to do all my readings and assignments on days that I do have class, so that I can take advantage of my days off. This first week, a group of us decided to use our free Wednesday to bike to a Belgian Castle!! ALDEN BIESEN CASTLE is about 8.5 miles outside of Maastricht, but on good ole’ gearless Taxi bike, the 17mile round trip journey equates to a a decent work out. However, the ride was absolutely GORGEOUS, and I would bike out to that castle again in a heart beat just for those amazing views. Funny enough, we Pennsylvanians all agreed the Belgian country side has some similarities to the Key Stone State. Who knew?

This weekend CES took us on a “Get to Know The Netherlands” trip.

Day 1: On Saturday we took a bus to Neeltje Jans where we learned about the construction of the Ooosterscheldedam (I love the Dutch language btw LOL). Most of the Netherlands is below sea level, so major dams were built in order to protect the country from flooding. There have been atrocious flooding in the country’s past that has completely wiped out numerous communities. The dams prevent these events from happening while still maintaining the local ecosystems.

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Following our NEELTJE JANS, we made our way to THE HAGUE, which houses the Dutch Parliament. We had the afternoons to ourselves, so in true study abroad fashion, we were determined to pack everything we wanted to do into the time we had in the city. After getting lunch, of course, we went to The Mauritschuis museum which is home to ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring.’ We also walked to see Noordeinde Palace (one of the palaces of the Dutch Royal Family), the Peace Palace (which will need to change its name once I obtain my first palace), the Eternal Peace Flame, Het Binnenhof (Dutch House of Parliament), and we ended our day at Scheveningen (basically Dutch Santa Monica…ha). Overall, we packed so so much into our time at The Hague, and while I enjoyed all we did there, I would suggest a day in Maastricht over The Hague if you are planning a trip to the Netherlands. The Hague was more urban in comparison to Maastricht’s quaint European Charm that I am in love with (just wanted to emphasize my bias. hahaha).

Day 2: We had the incredibly fun opportunity to tour the ROYAL DELFT museum. After learning about the lengthy process of making the intricate tiles, we had the opportunity to paint our own tiles. While I clearly enjoy creating, painting has never been my forte; however, I was pretty proud of my little (stenciled) windmill I painted. Everyone’s tiles looked amazing too, so I can’t wait to see them once they are fired and turn that gorgeous Delft Blue color. My absolute favorite part of the trip was our visit to ZAANSE SCHANS. We had a traditional Dutch pancake lunch where I learned that Dutch pancakes are an interesting savory and sweet crepe-like adventure that I’m glad I experienced but made me appreciate American pancakes even more than I already do. Trying local food is always so fun though, so whatever is on my plate, I’ll always have a smile on my face. We then toured around Zaanse Schans where we learned about all the quintessentially Dutch. Would 100% recommend this for a touristy day just outside of Amsterdam. Key word “touristy.” Key emotion HAPPINESS!

We covered a lot of ground in a little bit of time. Here’s the vlog capturing all of the fun:

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