This blue gem in Delft, Netherlands, is supposed to be good luck for lovers - as noted by our local tour guides Freek and Hester! More on them below.
In the past eleven months Dave and I have made some wonderful new friends. In many cases we will never see the people we encountered again, but when we decided to spend time in Europe, we opted to visit the homes of people we met along the way. All of our hosts were gracious with beds, meals, laundry and of course, great conversation! Dave and I were both exhausted from Africa, so home stays gave us the perfect opportunity to just curl up in a ball and watch a movie and do a lot of nothing.
Hostel Lucy and Mark. Putney Bridge, London.
In London, Dave and I enjoyed dinner with Lucy and Mark, who will get married in Australia next year. We met Lucy in Thailand on our hiking, biking and kayaking trip.
Hostel Kath. Fulham, London.
Kath and I enjoy some delicious cake and tea in London. She also helped me shop for birthday and anniversary gifts for Dave. We met Kath, a South African, in Argentina. She did a similar trip to us and we bonded immediately. We also stayed with her parents in South Africa.
Hostel Chloe and Roger. Chichester, England.
We headed south in England to Chichester to meet up with Roger and Chloe who we met before sunrise at the Bangkok bus station many months ago. We both crossed our favorite Cambodian border together and then visited Angkor Wat. We also met up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
While in Chichester we went on a beautiful country side hike.
Locals like to confuse the foreigners.
My new cottage is move-in ready!
We loved getting to see some of England's countryside. Chichester is a small town with friendly locals and almost every major amenity you would need. We could live there very comfortably. And as most of you know, my heart has always been in London. Ever since studying abroad there more than a decade ago, I have always loved the city's character, charisma and culture. While there I also had a chance to visit with some old friends.
Hostel Elana and Bruce. Clapham Junction, London.
Elana, a friend from Hebrew School, was kind enough to help me find lodging in Paris for my anniversary. She has lived in London for the past three years with her husband, but is now en route back to NYC.
Hostel Dana. Holloway Road, North London.
Dana was another fabulous host. She is a friend from the University of Rochester.
Boulder, CO, visitor.
Our friend Raj was in London with his son Rishi for a family birthday party. Raj's sister Puja lives in the city.
Welcome to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Hostel Hester and Freek. Amsterdam, Netherlands. (They quickly informed us with pride that the Dutch found New York. Why didn't we know this?)
Dutch waffles - yummy! Dave and I met Hester and Freek on a boat trip along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
I had been to Amsterdam before, but not to cities and towns around it. It was all new to Dave, and we both loved everything. Practically the entire country has bike paths, which makes getting around very easy, and makes the sport extremely safe and fun. Oddly, for the amount of biking the Dutch do, they tend to ride bikes circa 1950. We are told this is due to theft, but we think they just like the old fashioned wheels.
Hester and Freek took us to Delft, the college town where the two of them met.
The Netherlands is built below sea level, so many buildings are on soft foundations. As a result many homes and buildings are crooked like this church in Delft.
View of Delft from the top of a church in the center square.
Enjoying the view with Hester and Freek.
They took us to the Hague for a stroll on the beach where Hester wind surfs and surfs, and for a local treat. Freek eats Haring, a small, local fish that is enjoyed with its entire body in tact. I couldn't stomach this local delicacy.
I love supermarkets and buying local goods. In Amsterdam you get a personal zapper to tag your food as you shop. It was genius and a little too much fun!
While in Amsterdam, Dave and I took a tour on bike, the main mode of transportation for locals.
We stopped at a clog factory for Dave to get some new shoes.
After the ride we stopped for some local fast food at FEBO . . . croquettes right from a vending machine. The fried cheese and meat roll was oddly good.
Dave also toured the Anne Frank House, which I did many years ago. And we both took a trip to the infamous Red Light District where the sex industry is still booming.
Sorry....no pole dancing shots for public viewing. This is all you get.
In Europe, cars are small!
We have many more new friends we would have liked to visit, but time was against us. The good news is we are only a flight away!