Normandy, France – Day Two

The cloudy morning turned to sunshine as we had reached our first destination of the day, Pointe Du Hoc. Free to get in we walked past through to the viewpoints of the bunkers and monument. Amazing to see the view and how far along the coast you can see, how the Germans positioned themselves during the war. Here you could also experience the damaged bunkers (could go in a few) and the massive holes in the ground left behind from the bombs.

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We took the drive from Pointe Du Hoc to Carentan, in search of a place for lunch and our next destination the La Combe German Cemetery. It wasn’t very advertised with road signs so we had to use the sat nav and address, obviously not a place the French like to advertise. How strange it was to be walking among 22,000 graves of German soldiers, many of them aged between 16 to 22. Most graves consisted of two people, with too many that were unknown with no name.

Keeping other cemeteries in mind, we headed next to the American Cemetery & Memorial, which was the complete opposite of the German cemetery. This place seemed the busiest out of all of our chosen museums and places we visited during the weekend. The American cemetery is close to Omaha beach where most American soldiers lost their lives. The cemetery is filled with perfectly lined white crosses with one grave per soldier. It was all very touching with different graves having flowers placed in respect.

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DSC_2010The last museum on our list was the Overlord Museum. Greeted with original tanks situated outside we went in and looked at the big collection of items from June 6th, 1944. There was some interesting personal items and stories of witnesses and soldiers throughout the museum and compelling to see items like a tank full of bullet holes.

We finished the day with a dinner in Bayeux followed by a long walk around the beautiful city. Couldn’t resist a nutella pancake for pudding too!

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Check out Day Three here!

Dwingeloo, Drenthe Netherlands 2016

We booked this weekend away a month ago for some peace and relaxation. We picked a little rented house with a little kitchen and living space at the RCN De Noordster. It was easy to pick this area because Lennart had been there before with his family more than 10 years ago, so it was lovely to go back for him.

I did my research, as I normally do, about what we can do there. However this was no holiday abroad and the focus was to relax and go walking in the National Park Dwingelderveld. I printed out some of the recommended walking routes as well as knowing where the pancake house was!

It took us roughly 2.5 hours to get there by train and bus. We both had a bag each with warm clothes for a cold spring weekend in the North. We also took our brand new DSLR camera that we invested in a few days before the weekend. So I warn you now, lots of beautiful photos incoming!

We started the Saturday morning by 10am and decided to walk the 13km route around the national park. We started at number 7 where our little house was situated and walked anti-clockwise. On Friday night it had rained so we were happy to see the dry forecast for our weekend.

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It took as faster than we expected and we added on a few extra km’s to our 13km walk making it nearly 20km! It was dry cloudy weather was great for walking too, any sunnier and it would of been too hot!

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DSC_0139The Bospub was the pancake house we arrived at for dinner on Saturday. We had reached over 35 thousand steps on my Fitbit so it definitely was time for dinner, where I chose my favourite pancake with cheese, bacon and syrup!

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Saturday evening after a few hours resting in the warm, we headed back out to Planetron which was only 25 minute walk from our little rented house. We attended the 8pm showing which involved a museum and an interactive live planetarium. It was very interesting and got to see some fantastic photos of the moon and planets that had been taken with their telescope. Our showing followed lastly by being able to look through the biggest professional telescope in the Netherlands at the stars and a planet that was aligned with Earth. Luckily for us the cloudy sky had cleared up and the planet we could see was Jupiter with its 4 moons!

DSC_0205Sunday morning we decided to rent bicycles from the RCN park and make our way around the left side of the National park that went on further than the walking route. Cycling of course was much faster and easier as the national park had a bike path. We discovered the left side had some beautiful lakes and a better place to spot birds.

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DSC_0266By the evening we headed into Dwingeloo, the small local village with a supermarket, pharmacy and post office. Bought some delicious ice cream at Fanelli’s Ijs & Koffee and cycled back home, passing some tulip fields.

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DSC_0278We finished our enjoyable weekend with a late night cycle to watch the sunset. For the whole weekend we had reached up to 52 thousand steps on my Fitbit, which is interesting to see. Dwingeloo is the perfect relaxing place for a weekend away.

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Delicious Dutch (or not!)

I grew up as a very, and i mean VERY fussy eater. I would hate the texture, smell and even just the look of most foods. But over the years I have improved drastically and these days I still shock my parents with what I now love to eat. Moving to the Netherlands has definitely put me to the test with trying what the Dutch have to offer.

Crunchy Meat-based ball – “Bitterballen”

When I first tried a bitterballen for the first time, I thought it was absolutely disgusting. Biting into a fried crunchy ball with soft meat inside that had been dipped in mustard. It was burning hot and my tastebuds were going crazy at the idea that I was even trying it!

I think around the 5th time of trying it (as well as waiting till it was not burning hot!) I started liking them. Even going back to the mustard for an extra dip! It’s not something I eat often, but if I’m out for an afternoon at a nice bar or cafe then they are a perfect snack with a beer. You cannot come to the Netherlands without trying them!

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Caramel Waffels – “Stroopwaffels”

These delicious caramel/cinnamon waffled biscuits are to die for. You can buy them in the supermarkets as a pack of little biscuits, but the best way to try it is fresh, which are also made more than twice the size. We used to buy one to share on the way to the shops in Rotterdam.

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The little ones are good, as you can warm them up on the top of your cup of tea at home, but biting into a large warm biscuit with caramel oozing out the middle while visiting the market is way more dutch. Perfect to eat all year round too.

Cheese – “Kaas”

How to start this? I love cheese. I eat cheese toasties, cheesy pasta, cheese on pancakes (with bacon) and grated cheese on food such as cauliflower or courgette for dinner. I eat too much cheese. In England I would eat rich strong cheddar all the time, but in the Netherlands that same cheese is three times expensive! These days I’m eating ‘jong kaas’ which is just mild cheese, or occasionally their ‘oud kaas’ which is their stronger/older cheese.

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One thing I still need to visit is Gouda on a Thursday morning (June to August) when up to 300 farmers bring their cheese weighed, tasted, and priced. However I have been to De Goudse Waag cheese museum, which was good for a rainy day to learn the history and machinery used in making gouda cheese.

Chips – “Patat”

Chips are very popular to eat when walking around the market, grabbing some chips on the go as you shop for your fruit and veg (or if you are too lazy to cook and you walk to the snack bar for dinner!). The Netherlands have some very strange combinations though and I definitely don’t like them all!

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The most popular is patat mayo, basically chips that you drown with mayonnaise on top. If your feeling adventurous, some raw sliced up onions on top is delicious. Another is patat oorlog, which translates to chips war. The sauces are practically at war with each other to be eaten first. The sauces are mayonnaise and peanut sauce and it includes chopped raw unions on top. There are also others including ketchup, mustard and curry too, but for now i’ll just stick to mayonnaise.

Mini Pancakes – “Poffertjes”

These mini pancakes “poffertjes” are usually served with a thick layer of icing powder and a pile of butter, which slowly melts on top. During the winter months they are delicious with a cup of hot chocolate. During the summer months it’s delicious to add some fresh fruit, as it makes a great combination of warm pancakes and cold fruit. My favourite is with strawberries!!

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I took this photo of my poffertjes at Seth Poffertjes. They are definitely not the healthiest treat to eat in Rotterdam but perfect to eat on a sunny afternoon! During the summer period it’s always a challenge to get a seat here so good luck!

Pancakes in general are popular in the Netherlands, with hundreds of combinations too. A recommendation from me: A large pancake with bacon, cheese and syrup… Mmmmm!

Herring – “Haring”

This is a popular treat for those who love fish. It is to be eaten raw and often with chopped onions (occasionally pickles too). The traditional Dutch way to eat it is to hold one end above you and bite into the other end.

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This is something I extremely AVOID. I hate fish and I am glad Lennart doesn’t like fish either, so I never have to cook it!

Chocolate Sprinkles – “Hagelslag”

When I first saw these in the supermarket I knew what they were due to having them back in England to decorate cakes with. Being placed next to the jam, peanut butter and nutella it wasn’t exactly the cake making section. Well that was exactly where they belonged because the Dutch eat them in a sandwich or on some toasted bread! Popular for breakfasts and lunch.

My best breakfast combination of hagelslag is on some round crackers “beschuit” with butter and some strawberries.

10413933_676413115746784_2065284304_nI could really go on with other Dutch treats as there is quite a list. Here’s some extra:

  1. Oliebol (round donuts with raisins covered in icing powder served only for New Years)
  2. Drop (liquorish sweets, with loads of different combinations like with mint or honey)
  3. Appeltaart (Apple pie is very very popular, especially if you buy the best apple pie in the Netherlands from Dudok)
  4. Stamppot (Fresh potatoes mashed together with ingredients like endive and bacon)
  5. Tompouce (a puff pastry cake filled with pastry cream and icing on top)
  6. Vla (a cold custard pudding in many flavours like chocolate and vanilla)
  7. Speculaas and Pepernoot (spiced shortcrust biscuits served only during November when the Dutch Santa “Sinterklaas” arrives)
  8. Kapsalon (a full calorie meal mostly served at snack bars. In the tin you get a layer of chips, then meat, then cheese and on top some salad. Mostly served with garlic sauce and sambal)
  9. Erwtensoep (This is pea soup thats very popular in winter, okay you can likely get soup like this in every country, but you can also get soups with mini meatballs here, yum!)
  10. Kaassoufflé (a yummy cheesy fried snack thats covered in breadcrumbs and filled with melting cheese)

Any more I have missed off my list?? Add a comment below!