A Travellerspoint blog

Antwerpen Around....

The throwing of hands..

rain 2 °C

So, I am ridiculously behind on my posts. So here is my trip to Belgium that I went on in January.

At the end of January my fellow American Au Pair Friend, Laura, and I decided to go to Belgium. We decided to ask around to see if we should go to Gent, Brussels, Bruge, or Antwerpen. about 90% said to stay away from Brussels because it was creepy. But, other than that people said they were all pretty amazing. So, we figured we would head to the closest one for now and go to Antwerp.

We headed out early Saturday to Central Station to catch our train. And of course, in true Michelle style, we missed our train. So, we got to reroute to a different station and catch a different train.

It was pretty smooth sailing from there. We arrived in Antwerpen, Belgium and stared in awe at the beautiful Central Station.


We walked a couple miles to our hostel and knew the second we walked in that we were going to have a blast. It smelled bad, the couches were falling apart, and the person at the front desk was missing half of his teeth. But, there were about 10 20-something guys in the lounge, a wall full of games, and 2 euro beer behind the bar. We were set :)

After we checked in and dropped off our bags, we headed out to grab some dinner. After getting lost (of course) we finally found an Irish Pub. We ended up wandering around for a bit, but ended up heading back to hostel because of some extremely chilly weather. At the hostel we sat down with a group of guys playing poker, or was it war? I unfortunately don't remember most of the names, but I do remember countries. One was from Estonia, one from Spain, one from Utrecht, NL , and the last from Haarlem, NL. After we got tired of the cards we switched over to the craziest game I've ever played! It is a Dutch game that has a deck of cards with random fruits on them. When you get certain combination you try to be the first person to slap the deck. Well, imagine four guys and two girls sitting around a tiny table smacking a deck of cards for two hours. It was fantastic. And we even had a little audience a couple times.

We finally called it a night around 3 am and headed up to our room to get a few hours of shut eye.

Sunday was our day of exploring!

We had to fulfill all of our fantasies of Belgium. Therefore we needed waffles. and beer.

(note the random hands on the glasses)



During our adventures we kept seeing hands everywhere. Random detached hands. Statues, shirts, paintings. It was the weirdest thing. So we finally asked a shop keeper why they were everywhere. Apparently when you translate Antwerpen in Dutch it means "To throw hands". Which definitely explains this statue of a guy throwing a hand.


We also found a statue of a random hand in the middle of the shopping streets. So naturally we did a photoshoot with it :)


We ended up making it home with no problems (surprisingly). Overall it was a great trip. We got to meet some great new people and see a beautiful city!

Posted by Michele530 06:06 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

New Years, Amsterdam,

and a bit of a riot...

overcast 4 °C

So! Imagine your craziest, wackiest, most outrageous New Years! Now multiply it by ten... and add fireworks. Not just any fireworks, but fireworks on crack. Then multiply it by 10 again. That. was. my. New. Year.

Europe goes all out for New Years. At home in the States we go all out for 4th of July. But, our "all out" doesn't even compare to Europe's all out. There were THOUSANDS of fireworks going off all week. Then WABAM! New Years evening sounded like a war zone. At the count down even more started going off. Everyone was lighting them. The sky was lit up in blues, greens, purples, reds. It was AMAZING! They didn't stop until 4 a.m.

At countdown our group made it to the beach and there were literally thousands of people there. Too crazy!

The next day we all reconvened at the beach to watch 15,000 nut jobs run into the icy waters for good luck. In speedos. And orange hats. We, being extremely smart, sat on the sidelines at a cafe drinking delicious coffee.

The day after New Years we decided to venture to Amsterdam.


You could definitely tell they had a crazy night there. The streets were littered with everything! Broken bottles and glasses, shoes, underwear, wrappers, and everything else you could think of!


Overall, the trip was pretty fantastic. We went into every kind of store and shop imaginable and just looked at all of the ridiculous things people sell. I definitely have to go back to explore some more!





Posted by Michele530 12:11 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Yummy Dutch Recipes

Eet Smakelijk!

sunny -1 °C


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

* 6 large mealy potatoes, like Idaho or russet potatoes
* 1 large celeriac
* 1 cup chopped celery leaves
* 3 tbsp butter
* 1 tbsp mustard
* Salt


Peel the potatoes. Peel the celeriac, using a knife to cut the thick skin away until you are left with only creamy white flesh. Cut the potatoes and celeriac into similarly sized pieces for even cooking. In a large soup pot, boil the potatoes and celeriac for 20 minutes in salted water. Drain, shake and dry with kitchen towels before mashing with a potato masher or ricer. Working quickly, add the butter and mustard. Season to taste. Stir through the celery leaves just before dishing up. Serve Celeriac Mash as a side dish or top with slices of smoked pork sausage and gravy as a main meal.




* 1 lb pork tenderloin (500 g) --You can also use chicken instead of pork.
* 1/2 inch fresh ginger (about 1 cm), finely grated
* 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
* 6 tbsp ketjap manis (or soy sauce)
* 2 tbsp sunflower oil
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (90 g)
* 1/4 cup candle nuts (30 g), ground finely in a food processor
* 1/2 cup coconut milk (120 ml)
* 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised
* 2 kaffir lime leaves
* 1 tbsp sambal (or chile paste)
* ----------------------------------------------------
* Extra:
* Sate sticks

For the marinade: Cut the pork into bite sized squares and place in a freezer bag, along with half of both the ginger and garlic, 3 tablespoons of the ketjap manis and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Knot the bag, massage the marinade into the meat, and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight or for a few hours.

For the satay sauce: Fry the onion in the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Once the onion has caramelized, add the rest of the ginger and garlic, the peanut butter and the ground candle nuts. Add the rest of the ketjap manis, the coconut milk, the lemongrass and the lime leaves, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Now add the sambal and taste for seasoning. If the sauce has thickened too much at this point, add some warm water. Fish out the lemongrass and lime leaves and give it a quick whisk before serving.

For the grilled meat: Thread the pork onto the satay sticks. It is now ready to barbeque or grill. If you don’t have access to a barbeque, heat a griddle pan and grill the meat for about 8 minutes, turning regularly. Do not oil the pan. Top the meat skewers with the satay sauce and serve with fluffy white rice, a cucumber salad and crunchy prawn crackers. It’s very Dutch to serve satay with thick cut fries, and I rather love this combination. Of course, you can also make mini satays and serve them as an appetizer.


If you’re going to barbecue the meat, soak the sate sticks in water for a few hours or overnight. This will prevent them from catching fire.

If you can’t find ketjap manis or candle nuts (available at most stores selling South East Asian ingredients) simply use regular soy sauce and a teaspoon of sugar or regular roasted peanuts.


Rode Koel


1 head of red cabbage
2-3 tbps brown sugar
1/4 margarine
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
2 apples (cubed & peeled)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup raisins


Cook the cabbage with the margarine for about 5 minutes. Add the apples, sugar&
onion. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover the pot and lower heat.
Cook for about 20-25 minutes, and remember to stir occasionally. It's that easy!!


Pea soup


• 100 GRAM BACON, in cubes
• 1 LEEK, in slices
• 2 POTATOES, peeled and in cubes
• 1/2 TURNIP, in cubes
• 2 CARROTS, in pieces
• 1 SMOKED SAUSAGE, in slices

• 1/2 CUP DRIED WHITE BEANS, soaked overnight
• 100 GRAM CARROTS, cut
• 1 ONION, chopped
• 2 CLOVES GARLIC, chopped
• 100 GRAM CHEESE, grated
Put the pork and peas in a pan and add 1 liter of water. Bring to the boil and simmer 1 hour. Add bacon, leek, carrots, potatoes and turnip and simmer 45 minutes more. Take out the pork and cut it off the bone. Put the meat back into the soup and add the sausage. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve with rye bread.



* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/8 cups butter, melted
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
* 1/4 cup warm milk
* 1 egg
* 1 1/2 cups molasses
* 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, melted butter, sugar, yeast, milk and egg. When the dough becomes to stiff to stir, turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes. Set aside to rise for 45 minutes.
2. To make the filling, heat the molasses, brown sugar, remaining butter and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend, and set aside.
3. Preheat a pizzelle iron. Knead the dough briefly, and divide the dough into 2 inch balls, or a size compatible with your pizzelle iron pattern. Press the balls in the preheated iron, and cook until the iron stops releasing steam, or until the waffles are golden brown.
4. Carefully remove with a knife or spatula, and split in half horizontally (like pocket bread) while they are still warm. Don't wait too long, otherwise they will break. Spread filling on the insides, and put the halves back together.


Posted by Michele530 13:19 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)


I'm way behind on this one...

all seasons in one day -1 °C

Ok! So I decided I needed to go to the Christmas markets in Germany. They are supposed to be absolutely amazing.

The plan was to get up at 6:30am and be out the door by 7:00am. Then I would ride my bike and get to Centraal Station by 7:15 am. Next I would buy my ticket and be on the train by 7:35. I would then change trains around 8:30 in Utrecht and get on the next one around 8:45. Then it was a straight shot to Dusseldorf. I was supposed to be there by 10:35.

But... here's how it really went:

Accidentally turn of alarm. Time I got up: 6:45 am.
Leave house: 7:10 am.
Get to Centraal Station and park bike: 7:25
Buy ticket and get on train: 7:34
Time train left: 735 am

Good so far.

Train stops at Utrecht: 8:30
Train leaves for Dusseldorf Arnhem: 8:40.

Yup. I got on the wrong train. But, I can say this time that it wasn't my fault! The lady at the ticket booth told me the wrong platform number. Ugh.

So I got Arnhem about 40 minutes later and go look at the boards for times back to Utrecht. An hour and twenty minutes.


Land back at Utrecht: 11:00 am

Train leaves for Dusseldorf: 12:15

I finally got on the next train for Dusseldorf. I was really lucky because this was a nice high speed train, so I ended up finally landing at Dusseldorf around 1:10. I was supposed to get there at 10:30. Ridiculous.


At this point I was cranky because 1. I spent 100 Euros on a train ticket to Dusseldorf. 2. The stupid train situation. And 3. Now I only had about 5 or 6 hours in Dusseldorf before I needed to get on the train to come back to Den Haag so I could work tomorrow.

I then hopped on a tram to get to the center of town to find the Christmas markets. Thank God I didn't get lost.


This was what I saw when I got off the tram. The lights are all of the booths. They have tons of goodies that they sell. Almost all of the booths are of handmade goods. Some have hand made wooden ornaments, blown glass, ceramics, wooden carvings, etc. etc. etc.


This booth sold Gluhwein (a hot mulled wine). It was pretty tasty.

I wandered around all day in the sunshine, rain, hail, and snow (yes, we really do have every kind of weather here. In one day, sometimes you even see all four in one hour.) My umbrella was shredded from crazy wind and hail.

But I enjoyed a nice giant cup of coffee from none other than Starbucks (which I haven't been able to find since leaving the states)


Around 6 pm I was actually pretty tuckered out and I headed back to the train station. I killed thirty minutes wandering around the giant shopping center connected to the station then I hopped on my train back to Utrecht.

Train leaves: 6:55.

Train is supposed to get to Utrecht at: 8:55

Hop on next train and arrive in Den Haag by 10:00 pm

Be home and in bed by 10:30.

I actually got on the right train! Woo! But were there seats available on said train? Why no, no there weren't. So I got to stand for the 2 hour train ride back to Utrecht. But, I wasn't the only one, so I got to be smooshed, too. Eventually I found a roomy space and sat on the floor with a twenty something Dutch guy and we talked about Nirvana, The Beatles, and music in general for an hour until an announcement in Dutch came over the speaker. When translated it went a little something like this: "Attention Passengers. A freight train has stopped in front of us and can't start again. There is no way to get around it so we are being delayed for at least an hour. So we sat in Emmerich, Germany for an extra hour.

We eventually got to Utrecht around 10:15pm.

Then I got to Den Haag around 11:15pm.

Then it started snowing. Fantastic. Just in time for the bike ride home.

Ride home and in Bed: 11:45.

Total worth of my Dusseldorf trip experience: Timeless and priceless

Posted by Michele530 12:27 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Wondering Delft....

And taking an unintentional night bike tour of The Hague..

sunny 4 °C

So today I went to Delft to explore. I have been told by everyone that Delft is more of the quintessential Netherlands than Amsterdam. So, I just had to check it out. This morning I headed out to Centraal Station in The Hague on my bike. I even made it there without getting lost :)
I bought my ticket and got on the train and popped in my headphones and listened to Nirvana as I watched the countryside go by.

A quick 15 minutes later I was in Delft.

Last night I mapped out where I was going today to avoid getting lost again. I wrote down directions from the station to the VVV (vay-vay-vay) which is the tourist centers in all of the major towns in the Netherlands. Then I wrote down the directions from there to the Markt. The Markt has a market day on Thursday where 50 or so little tents pop up and they have a swap meet type thing. Then I wrote directions from the Markt to a museum I wanted to visit and from the museum to the Delftware Factory and from the factory back to the station. Good to go right? Nope.

I started off wrong because I couldn't figure out which exit from the station I wrote direction from. Plus the Dutch suck at labeling their streets. So I looked off into the horizon until I found a huge church and walked in that direction. If their has been anything I have learned since I got here is that the Markt streets are often near the city centers and the city centers are often near the big churches. About halfway to the church little signs started appearing with arrows telling you where major attractions are. So I headed in the direction of the VVV and found it within 10- minutes or so. Once there I grabbed a historic walk map and headed out to find the Markt. Which was literally around the corner! Ok. Two stops down.


Oude Kerk


Nieuwe Kerk

I wondered around the Markt for awhile until I spotted a cute cafe with outdoor seating and found a nice little corner to set up shop. I took out my book, ordered a beer and yummy lunch and sat back and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of market day.


Outside of the Royal Delft Factory


Cute canal


Another view of the canal

I sprung for the audio tour for an extra two euros so i could listen to the history of Delftware as I looked at some of the pieces. The museum had Delftware pieces that dated over 300 years old and they were so beautiful.




After that I decided to go back over to the Markt and do a little shopping and stop at a cafe for a warm cup o' joe.

I finally got back to The Hague around 5:00 and headed to my bike. I hopped on and headed home....but it took me awhile to get there.

Once again my fantastic sense of direction led me astray and I somehow ended up on the other side of town. And I left my map at home.

So I rode around for an hour or so until I finally made it back! And boy, let me tell you my butt sure hurts.

Lessons learned:

1.Even if I map out every detail I still get lost.

2. Check the dates when museums are open online before you attempt to go to them.

3. Don't turn too early on your ride home.

Hopefully I will keep these in mind next time, but if not then at least I will get another adventure out of it.

Tot Ziens,


P.S. How is it that it was actually sunny for once, but its colder than when it was overcast? Burrrrr...

Posted by Michele530 11:11 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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