My last post got me thinking about my visit to the Netherlands (in summer of 04 and 06) and I decided to share some information with whoever you are about it. It was an awesome trip, and if you’re ever in Europe, you should go.
#1. Stroopwafels. (Pronounced strope-vafels) These are possibly the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth. It’s kind of a thin wafer sandwich, with these really buttery delicious wafers, and then a buttery caramel substance inside. Probably not great if you’re on a diet, but they’re excellent. (Note: I’m not a coffee lover, but those on the team that were would place a Stroopwafel over their steaming coffee, which would melt the caramel inside, and then they dipped it in their coffee. They said it was to die for.)
#2. Magnum Bars. You can find these in any convenience store in the Netherlands (and I’m pretty sure throughout Europe.) At first glance it appears to be just your everyday chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bar, but do not be fooled! I don’t know what it is, but you will never be the same. Eat one. (And probably just one, because rumor has it the bar has at least 20 grams of fat.) Seriously, please go to Europe and eat one and then comment my blog telling me I was right.
#3. Coffee Shops. Let me be very clear on one thing. You have your cafés. And then you have your coffee shops. Cafés are a nice place to sit down with friends, have a cup of delicious European coffee, perhaps a sandwich or a Magnum Bar. Coffee shops are a nice place to sit down with friends and have some weed or special brownies. Cafés = coffee. Coffee Shops = coffee and marijuana. The end.
#4. Drop. If a very excited Dutch person, whether in America or in the Netherlands, tells you to try some Drop because it is the best food ever, try it at your own risk. Certainly one huge cultural difference. The Dutch love their black licorice, and it comes in several different flavors. We received Drop as a gift at several of the churches we visited, and while I enjoyed some of the flavors, I wouldn’t describe it as my favorite. The flavors range from a mild honey flavored black licorice to an intense salty flavor. It’s weird. I’m not saying they have gross tastes, just very different. So you should try it to experience it, but don’t get your hopes up. 😉
#5. Beverage Sizes. One thing you will quickly learn about Americans (while in the Netherlands) is that we are a gluttonous bunch. Ask for a meal supersized in Europe, and you will get a blank stare. Ask for a large and you may get the same. The regular drink size with a meal (fast food or restaurant) is the size of America’s child size drink. Your best bet is to buy a bottle of water and refill it with tap water. But don’t go looking for a 40 oz Diet Coke over there. You won’t find it. (And we wonder why they’re so thin…) (Side note. About a year ago a couple from the Netherlands came to visit our church for a while. We went out to eat with them, and they were astonished at the size of the drinks. This was Steak n Shake, so it’s not like they were huge by our standards, but they couldn’t figure out how people were expected to drink so much.) Oh and don’t expect free refills.
#6. Advertising. If you are traveling with a church group or children, this is especially important. Here in America, our ‘sexual’ advertising is subtle at best. We may have a slogan on a billboard that some people understand but others don’t, or perhaps an image that leaves hardly anything to the imagination. Just note that in the Netherlands, well, let’s just say the marketing execs over there don’t really worry about that. You will see lots of posters, pictures, and interesting souvenirs that would be considered inappropriate in America, but are pretty normal over there.
#7. Orange Juice. If you come across a machine that looks like a gumball machine, except is filled with oranges, STOP IMMEDIATELY, go into the store that has it, and ask for some orange juice. You will buy a bottle, a small one or a large one, and then put it under the machine, which when turned on, slices and squeezes the fresh oranges so that you have a bottle of fresh squeezed oj. It’s to die for.
#8. Be prepared to get run over. Cars don’t stop for pedestrians. Bikes don’t stop for pedestrians. Busses don’t stop for pedestrians. Nobody stops for pedestrians. So stay out of the way!
Ok well that’s all I can think of right now. I completely loved the Netherlands, the people were wonderful, the weather was amazing, and the food…yeah I think I’ve talked enough about that. If you visit let me know so we can swap stories!