If We Were Having Coffee & Apple Pie

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Holland

My favorite book blogger, The Perpetual Page Turner, has a reoccurring post series called If We Were Having Coffee and I thought I’d borrow her format for this post. So grab your favorite cuppa and join me!

If we were having coffee and apple pie, I’d tell you…

I’ll actually have tea instead, thanks. English breakfast with milk. I’m still hooked on the same Dorset Tea I discovered during my last trip to England. It’s delicious and totally worth the pain of trying to order it from the United States!

Worth Matravers Tea Room
Afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream at Worth Matravers Tea Room in Dorset, England

Speaking of England…

“But wait! You hadn’t quite finished with Holland yet!” You’d say.

Right. I was getting there. In England each afternoon every restaurant’s billboard reads “Tea & Clotted Cream Here.” In Holland the signs read, “Coffee & Apple Pie.” I’d then tell you I wasn’t thrilled with the food in Holland. Every museum cafe had the same three cold sandwiches, restaurants were stingy with the tap water, and none of the dishes really wowed me. But the two things Holland does right are coffee and apple pie. (And cheese. They do three things well.)  I’d then tell you that eating apple pie in a refurbished coach house and warming your hands around a hot mug while looking through the windows at a beautifully manicured garden is hard to beat, so you should really visit the Van Loon Museum just for this experience.

Van Loon Museum Apple Pie
Apple pie & hot chocolate in the coach house at the Van Loon Museum, Amsterdam

Then I’d tell you that the best apple pie can be found at Winkel 43. Just a few blocks from the Anne Frank House, this cozy bar serves up their famous hot chocolate and apple pie with a mound of whipped cream. And let me tell you, after the Anne Frank House emotionally drains you and flips your stomach, there is nothing better to bring life and warmth back into you than a slice of apple pie, a warm beverage, and a relaxing atmosphere!

Winkles apple pie
Apple pie & hot chocolate at Winkles

“Not all the food could have been terrible!” You’d say, incredulously.

You’re right, I’d admit. Thanks to Nomadic Matt’s Amsterdam Guide we were able to find a few decent dinners. My favorite was an indoor hall of various vendors, aptly named “Foodhallen.” The night we went it was already dark, rain was pelting sideways, my phone battery was minutes from dying, and we just slipped into the warm hall filled with good smells and happy chatter before my phone map blinked out. I ordered fish and chips, not realizing I’d get an entire fillet of fish! I don’t really know how we found our way home, but I do remember watching locals bike home in the dark in nothing more than office-wear as if sideways rain wasn’t drenching them in the least.

Foodhallen
Fish & Chips at Foodhallen

If we were having coffee & apple pie, I’d tell you…

My first impression of Holland wasn’t all that favorable. I’d been expecting quaint and rustic but rather it was fast-paced and modern. Once you get the hang of it, however, it takes on a kind a charm. For example, there are three lanes: one for cars, one for bikes, and one for pedestrians. The bike lane pavement, at least outside of Amsterdam, is red and the bicyclists won’t stop for pedestrians that find themselves in the wrong lane! In the old part of Amsterdam where the streets weren’t built for cars, there’s not enough room for a vehicle to pass another parked car. In this case, the moving vehicles use the pedestrian lane, which is only demarcated by a line of contrasting color bricks rather than a raised sidewalk. So even if you’re in the right lane, you still have to watch out for cars, bikes, and scooters, who won’t be stopping for any hapless pedestrian who might be in their way! In November, with hoods up to combat the cold rain, constant awareness of your surroundings was more challenging. Eventually, the success of getting from A to B in Holland provided a sense of giddy exhilaration. On the bright side, in warmer months you’d be combating mosquitoes by the canals, and I’m glad this wasn’t a factor in an already tenuous task.

red bike lane
Note the sidewalk for pedestrians, the bike lane in red, and the road for cars. Don’t be in the wrong lane!

If we were having coffee & apple pie, I’d tell you…

I learned a little something about traveling alone during this trip. An hour after arriving in Holland and taking the train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven where we stayed for our first three days, I became violently ill for 24 hours. I couldn’t keep anything down! I was so glad my mother was with me so one of us could run across the street to the store for food. Unfortunately there were no Saltine crackers or anything akin to Ginger ale to be found! I really should look into popular indigestion cures when I travel. This episode made me a little more wary of independent travel.

Eindhoven street lights
Eindhoven street lights

While my mother attended a 3-day conference, I was left to make day trips on my own. After recovered from the stomach bug, I used one day to explore Eindhoven, staying near the apartment in case I suddenly relapsed. Convinced I was on the mend, I spent the next couple days taking the train to first Delft and then to Zaanse Schans. While alone, I found that I rushed through the museums and skipped lunches because I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough time to see everything! Next time I need to slow down, take the time to actually take things in, and if I don’t see everything, at least I’ll have retained some knowledge rather than a blur of sights without learning their context.

If we were having coffee & apple pie, I’d tell you…

The English are more polite than the Dutch and the British streets are cleaner. Oops…we’re back to England again! Maybe this is because I’m super over-the-top excited about my summer plans! I’ll be spending three weeks in England with the Open Palace Program! This program will be taking our class to several heritage places where we’ll learn everything from preservation of the building itself to the artifacts inside to create a period place presentation. We’ll be learning through hands-on projects and lectures with preservationists and conservationists! Our tour will start in Bath, so for the next few months I’ll be burrowing into the world of Jane Austen. I can’t wait to share more British literary haunts with you this summer! Truthfully, I’m a little nervous about traveling solo until I meet up with my program, but I’m more excited than worried about the coming adventure!

Let’s Talk!

If we were having coffee & apple pie, what would you tell me? Have you just wrapped up a good trip? Do you have exciting summer plans? Let’s catch up in the comments below!

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