On my way back to Kuwait I join two of my friends Baraa and Fatuma to visit two countries – the Netherlands and Belgium. In those two countries, we went to five different cities, Ghent in Belgium and Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Maastricht in the Netherlands. The whether really shocked my system since I was coming from the Caribbean, but I took some Claritin and I was fine. I also found public transportation to be interesting.
I finally comprehend the difference between trains and subways. Even though I have been on a couple of train rides in New York and London I still thought of it as the subway because I stayed in the general area. Trains usually travel to different countries or states while the subway is intercity. This is not to say the trains do not travel intercity because they do and this is why I was so confused.
Anyway, the biggest difference between the subway (or the metro if your from D.C) and a train is that the subway is usually underground. They may go above the ground at times, but mostly underground. Also, the structure is different, trains have comfortable seating and bathrooms. I think you can connect to free internet on both depending on where you are. Lastly, there is the tram or streetcar very similar to a trolley and the bus. There you have it the different types of public transportation just in case you didn’t know.
I arrived at Amsterdam Airport in the afternoon. By the time I put a travel alert on my cards, got my bags, and stood in line for a sim card, but didn’t because the line was too long, my friends were just getting to the station. It was perfect timing and we didn’t spend time looking for each other. It was nice because things like this rarely happened. We hopped on the train and headed to Rotterdam, the home base. Rotterdam is a nice quiet city with little shops and housing. One dreary morning, we went to this popular place called Bagels and Beans that are all around the country. I saw a couple in every city that we went to. It is a cute place with good tea and tasty bagels. I had a Chai tea latte and it was perfect. After we ate, I wanted to take a nap. It was overcast outside and I just had delicious tea. Everything about that morning was screaming stay in bed and watch movies, but we pushed past those feelings and took a train ride to the Hague.
Most people know a couple of things about a city before they go, but I usually learn about the place and it’s the significance when I go. Here is what I learned about the Hague and why I like it so much. I learned that it is the home to parliament and international courts. I also learned about the wonders of a store called Primark, which I was able to get a slew of much-needed items. After the train ride and walking around are stomachs were talking so we found a food stand that sold raw and fried fish. I never thought once in my life that consuming raw fish seemed appetizing and that wasn’t the day I would try it. Instead, we shared a batch of fried kippeling with a special tartar sauce.
The man that sold us the fish told us to be careful of the seagulls and we laughed because we thought he was joking, but he was serious. Very serious. We took our chances to eat outside anyway because there wasn’t a lot of space in the stand. There was a little seagull walking around us and the whole time I was thinking to myself “I wish a seagull would, I will fight for my food”. So the little seagull flew over us because it knew I wasn’t playing, at least that is what I like to think. I was happy that I got to eat all my food in peace. It was delicious. It was so good that if my taste buds could talk they would say “Thank you, you are the best human taste buds could ask for”. You are welcome little taste buds, you are welcome.
The day before we went to the Hague we went to Ghent in Belgium. Belgium is known for chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer. The only thing I tried was the fries and while I prefer french fries, they were still good. I just love potato products in any form so I’m easy to please. We ate lunch at this place called Manhattn’s that had burgers and fries. Each burger was named after a borough in New York. The place didn’t make me think of New York at all, but it was a nice attempt. Now I understand how people from other countries feel when American restaurants try to replicate their country’s aesthetic. Another question you might be asking is why would I go to a basic American restaurant when I have plenty of local restaurants. The choice was simple, we were hungry and we wanted something quick. The restaurant gave us to have a view of the canal (even though we ended up eating inside because of a bee and the wind).
That is what we did in the first couple of days. Next week I’ll tell you about the other things I did in Ghent and my time in Amsterdam and Maastricht.