Our Trip to Holland: Part One

Belgian Beer in Leiden, The Netherlands

I just returned from a 2-week trip to Holland. And it was nothing short of magnificent.

My husband and I have not had a day all to ourselves since we went to Hawaii in 2009. Click here to see the photos from the Hawaii trip — and click here to see the food.

Needless to say, we have been desperately needing some adult time together. Time to enjoy leisurely meals without any children screaming or whining, time to just relax. Time to think, time to read. And time to sleep. Those of you who are parents — is there anything you crave more than sleep?

If you are a busy parent and haven't taken a vacation sans children in a while, I am telling you now: make the time. It will be the best thing you have done in years for yourself, for your marriage, and for your kids. You come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and in love with your life again. Find a grandparent or a trusted friend (you can return the favor for them if they have kids) who is willing to watch your tykes for a week or two — or even a couple days — and just do it!

The Itinerary

The plan was for Seth to fly to Amsterdam first since he had work to do there. I flew the same day with Kate to New York to spend Mother's Day weekend with Seth's parents. On Monday night, they drove me to JFK and I flew to Amsterdam. Kate stayed with Bubbe and Papa.

Seth and I spent 2 weeks in Amsterdam together, then flew back home and had one week in NY with Kate, Bubbe and Papa.

Bubbe & Papa were beside themselves at the opportunity to spend 3 full weeks with their precious granddaughter. And Seth and I were grateful to have some time by ourselves, as much as we would miss her (that said, Bubbe said photos and videos almost every day — so that helped a lot.)

Easy Flight, No Jet Lag

The flight over was easy. I got 5 hours of sleep on the plane. Getting sleep on the way over to Europe is key to reducing jet lag.

I popped a few melatonin and GABA and had a glass of wine to help me relax, and I wore headphones and a sleep mask. And boom! The next thing I knew, I was there!

Belgian Beer in Amsterdam

Seth greeted me with a long-stemmed red rose and we went straight to a pub where we had a refreshing glass of Belgian beer.

Herring Shop in Amsterdam

Then we went to get some herring. Herring is street food in Holland. You can find it on many street corners. It is raw herring, fermented in salt water. They serve it with raw onions and sometimes pickles, too.

Yes, it is delicious and yes, it is very good for you — it's a traditionally fermented food. If you go to Holland, you must try it!

After that, we went back to the hotel, he went out to do a business meeting and I took a big fat nap. Three hours straight.

Bike in Leiden, The Netherlands

That night, we went out for an amazing Indonesian dinner not far from our hotel.

Back to sleep for another 14 hours.

I had no jet lag whatsoever! My secret formula for avoiding jet lag: amino acids, a little alcohol (not too much), lots of sleep and fabulous food.


Amsterdam Boat Ride Along the Canals

The next afternoon, we went to meet some friends in their private boat for a ride along the canals. It is so fantastic to see all the boats in Amsterdam. If you do one thing while you are there, you must go on a boat ride.

Amsterdam Boat Ride Along the Canals

The weather was perfect. The food, wine and conversation were superb. I love touring foreign cities, but it makes it so much more fun when you have friends who can take you around.


Bikes in Amsterdam

I have never seen so many bikes in my life. They are everywhere all over Holland, but especially in Amsterdam. It takes some getting used to.

Our first day there I had trouble dodging the bikes — they come at you from every direction — and I almost got mowed down by a tram.

But I tell you what, I would trade this any day for all the traffic in L.A. It is so pleasant being in Amsterdam. There are very few cars, just bikes and people walking and the occasional train. It's quiet and the air is clean and it's just lovely.

Bike in Amsterdam

I especially loved the bikes that have extra seating for kids or cargo. This company, Bakfiets, sells these awesome bikes with carts.

Bike in Amsterdam

Whole families ride on their bikes together!

Bike in Amsterdam

They're not cheap, about 1,500 Euros — which is about $2,200 US. But man, if I lived in Holland, especially with kids, I would totally get one of these.

In De Wildeman

We spent some time working in Amsterdam, since Seth was there working and well, you know I always work.

One day he was speaking at a conference all day so I spent the morning at the Anne Frank museum (highly recommended — I was moved to tears; read the book first if you can) and the flower market, and then I did a 3-hour group bike tour (also highly recommended).

During our down time, we went walking, ate at fantastic restaurants, and we hung out at this pub, In De Wildeman, which was only a few steps away from our hotel.

They over 200 beers. Seth is a Belgian beer fanatic, and these are beers that you cannot easily find in the U.S.

In De Wildeman

We met a very nice older Scottish couple — we ran into them on two different occasions at the pub. It was a fun way to while away the afternoon hours. Sure, we could have walked around museums instead, but tasting different beers is so much fun, and I love meeting new people — especially people who live in other countries.


And did I mention that they serve liverwurst at this bar? (I found a number of cafes and pubs that sold liverwurst.)

In De Wildeman Whiskey Distillery in Amsterdam

It actually used to be a distillery. They would roll the barrels of whiskey down the street to the canal where they'd load them on to the ship. (This photo was hanging on the wall.)

Oude Genever

Here's a real barrel that they used to use in the back of the bar. Genever (juh-NAY-ver) is the word for Dutch whiskey. “Oude” (OW-duh) Genever is old (aged) Dutch Whiskey.

Oude Genever

We loved the Genever and brought a couple bottles home with us. I always like to bring back food and liquor that we can't get over here. Booze, liverwurst, cheese.

Speaking of cheese, have you entered this month's drawing yet? I'm giving away a selection of four different kinds of grass-fed cheese from Holland — an $80 value. Click here to enter now!

The Food

Oh, wait, you wanted to hear about the food?

Just kidding, I know that's what you guys really care about. You're like, eh, bikes, boats, beer — who cares! LET'S SEE THE FOOD!!!!

Here's my problem. I have so much to say about the food. there's just no way I can fit it all into one post.

So I'm going to do another post — possibly even two more — about the food in Holland.

Stay tuned for part two next week.

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

30 thoughts on “Our Trip to Holland: Part One

    1. Most everyone there speaks English. It’s very easy there! And the people are just wonderful. Very welcoming, kind, and of course, very tolerant and accepting.

  1. Yes, I love hearing about food, but I also LOVE hearing travel tales, especially Europe, so thanks for posting this!

    We’re making a trip to Italy this fall, and I had a question about jet lag-you say you didn’t have any, but I’m curious about your flights and arrival times and if that made a difference as well? We have a 9-hour time difference and will be arriving in Venice 9am local time (around midnight for us!). My plan currently is to try and sleep as much as I can on the flight, but we’re still essentially going to miss an entire night. What exactly did you take and how much? We do plan on just trying to stay awake that first day, but I’m sure it will still be a little rough (but of course worth it cause, hey, we’ll be in Italy!!!)

    1. I think it is harder when you have a 9-hour time difference (I only had a 6-hour time difference from NY) but you can still make it easier on yourself by getting extra sleep, eating well, and taking the amino acids (to help you relax and sleep).

      I had one glass of wine, a couple GABA and a few melatonin capsules just before the flight. That was enough to relax me enough to sleep (with the aid of my headphones with classical music, pillow, blanket and sleep mask — that said, I will be buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones because I did get woken up by the flight attendants talking from time to time).

      I normally do try to stay awake when I go to Europe but this time I let myself have that 3-hour nap (plus the 14 hours I slept that night) and it worked out great.

      Where are you going in Italy? I LOVE Italy in the fall! It’s truffle season!

        1. Great tips for the flight, thanks!!! I will be afraid to try napping that first day, though, as I don’t think I could keep myself to only a few hours w/o feeling like a train wreck, but we’ll see!

          We leave in mid-Sept thru early Oct (about 3 1/2 weeks total), flying into Venice, then Lake Como area (Varenna), Cinque Terre, Florence, Chianti (staying in a villa in the area outside Sienna), Cortona for a couple nights and then ending up in Rome. I was there in college for a semester, but hubbie has never even been to Europe, so this way we’ll be hitting all the major sites but still getting plenty of time in Tuscany and a couple places I didn’t make it to before, so I truly can’t wait to get on the plane and go!!!

          I’d LOVE to hear recommendations on food, although I have to admit that I’m not quite as adventurous an eater as you are… :o)

        2. And oh yeah, CANNOT WAIT to eat the food! We’re pretty much planning on eating our way thru Italy! πŸ˜€

          1. How fabulous!!!!

            If you have not already booked up all your stays in Tuscany, please consider going here:


            The rooms are perfect, the hospitality is excellent, and the food is out of this world. They do cooking classes and REAL LIVE TRUFFLE HUNTS! With dogs and a real truffle hunter.

            They also arranged a wine tasting tour for us. Seriously, it was the best vacation of my entire life.

            This is the NY Times article that my sister found — and how we found Ankhura.


            1. Thanks for the link cheeseslave! We actually got everything booked several weeks ago, but I’ll keep it in mind for future reference-a truffle hunt sounds like fun! We actually found a winery in Radda in Chianti (Livernano) that looks promising, also with cooking classes and a tour of the winery available.

              The funny thing is actually that I just can’t seem to learn to like wine, so I’m not sure at this point what the wine tasting will be like for me, but my husband will just love it, I’m sure! I’ve even been making a more concerted effort lately (in light of our upcoming trip) to keep tasting wines, trying to develop a taste for it, but yeah, always just tastes bad and bitter to me, as they all taste pretty much the same! (much to my husband’s chagrin :-)). I think I am to the point now though that I can taste it without making a face, so that’s progress, right??? πŸ˜‰

  2. You’re making me “homesick” for Amsterdam! I visited Holland for a week or so years ago and just loved it. I missed the chance to try Belgian beers with liverwurst when I was there, in my pre-WAPF days! Can’t wait to hear about the food. Did you try rijstafel?

  3. My goodness, I think the really important issue here is that Anne Marie has an incredibly large handsome husband….Who cares about the food πŸ™‚

  4. How lovely you got to go to Amsterdam. How do you have friends there? We just came back from a week at the beach and you are so right about not taking the kids. In our case the kid was our dog. We were going to take her, but I really wanted to relax there. My hubby and I really needed a break from our usual routine. I look forward to reading about the food next.

    1. My husband met them through his work. He is a media consultant. Both of the men in those pictures are media executives in Holland. Both of their wives also came on the boat.

  5. It was wonderful. we had a great time. Glad you have enjoyed it. I LOVE to travel and discover new countries and cities. itο»Ώ is so amazing and great for our creative minds.

  6. So cool! You are right, there is nothing like getting away for a while with your beloved! Roberto and I go to Quebec province as often as we can get there – it is so close to us, but so different from the US – the people are friendly, the streets are clean, and the food is remarkable! Can’t wait to hear more!

  7. How fun! Thanks for sharing… My grand parents are from the Netherlands, I would love to visit someday.

  8. liverwurst… I should try making that or something… lol. I tried liver just recently for the first time and wasn’t a huge fan… I need to try it in a few different ways and learn to like it.

  9. Holland sounds like a wonderful place. Do you think that food in Europe is generally done more traditionally than here or is it also being modernized?

  10. How great you liked Holland and made a travel-post! It was nice to read. I am from Holland and I love your website. In Holland people traditionally ate a diet which consisted a lot of saturated fat. In the 1950’s Ancel Keys left Holland out of his conclusions about saturated fat and heart disease, because the dutch ate a diet filled with saturated fat and didn’t have much heart disease.
    Nowadays people are very afraid of saturated fat and you can buy low fat cheese, yoghurt, margarine etc. But Holland luckily remains a dairy country, in love with cheese. When I am traveling abroad, the food I miss is dutch cheese. Like you said, herring with onions ( fermented raw fish, called ‘haring’ in dutch) is a street food. The ‘haring’ season (june-july) just started, so you see lots of people eating this fish on the streets. There are even queues of people in front of small fish shops buying the first fresh ‘haring’ of the season. By the way, people in Holland love to talk English. πŸ™‚

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