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Netherlands

A Winter Wedding

Sandy's Wedding - Amsterdam & North Holland

rain 9 °C
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Our final holiday for the year was a weekend in Amsterdam, as my friend Sandy was getting married shortly before Christmas. As the wedding was on Monday 23rd, we decided to make a weekend of the trip as Chris had never been to the Netherlands.

With there being several flights a day, we headed on an early afternoon flight and arrived in the Dutch capital around an hour later. With plenty of time, we took it easy, and after grabbing some dinner popped over to the Westerpark area where an indoor Christmas market was being held - perfect for a cold December evening, before heading back to the hotel for the evening

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

The following day we headed into the city proper. Having been to Amsterdam 5 times before I knew my way around, but there were a few things I hadn't seen, so we started by visiting the Museumplein, with views of the Rijksmuseum and another Christmas Market.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

We then headed into the city itself, past the many canals and the flower market before arriving at Dam Square

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

We then made our way over to the Red Light District, where Chris got waved at by a lady. After grabbing food, we headed over to the Anne Frank House before finally making our way back to the hotel.

The following day we left the hotel and headed out of the city, as today was the day of the wedding. So far we had been staying at a hotel close to Sloterdijk station, so that it would be central to the airport, the city, and getting to the wedding - none of which being more than a 30 minute train ride away.

After taking the train we arrived in the small town of Castricum, from where we would need a taxi for the last 3km as there was no public transport. On researching prior to the trip it seemed we could just get an Uber when we arrived. However when we turned up this wasn't possible, so we ended up taking a stretched limo taxi for the 5 minute drive.

The wedding was taking place at a hotel just outside the town, and not long after arriving Sandy's parents came over to say hello, after having a nice catch up my friend Roel from the south of the Netherlands also arrived.

After having a quick catch up having not seen each other for over 3 years, it was now time for the wedding to start. We headed into the hall where Sandy's mum, who is a registrar was carrying out the wedding herself.

Waiting for it to start

Waiting for it to start

It was very much the same as a usual wedding, although longer than those I was used to - being full of many life stories and ending around an hour later. However as it was all in Dutch, we didn't know fully what was being discussed, except the lovely, but also slightly embarrassing moment when the language swapped to English to thank us for coming, and everyone else turned round to look at the foreigners!

After the ceremony finished and the couple were married, we then tucked into the wedding cake before mingling, and photos.

With the happy couple

With the happy couple

Room keys were then handed out as everyone was staying at the hotel overnight, before a half hour breather prior to dinner. It is interesting to see how even though parts of the ceremony are all the same, they take place in a different way!

We then went into dinner where we were sat with Roel once again, and we had another catch up. We weren't sure exactly what was going on and made sure we had our fill on the food before realising that this was only the starter, and more food was coming!

With Roel

With Roel

Being a relatively small wedding, we got to spend plenty of time with the happy couple as well, and felt very much part of the day despite an occasional language barrier.

Games

Games

After games, the party started! Sandy, Roel and I all know each other primarily as we are Eurovision fans, and I was pleased to hear some of the songs made the playlist. And even better, everytime one came on the dancefloor cleared, so I had free rein for dancing :D

Party Time

Party Time

Just before the party ended we all went outside to create a sprinkler tunnel for the couple to walk through, and then at midnight we had a countdown celebration as it was now 10 years to the day that they had got together.

After a long busy day we went off to bed and the following morning had a breakfast together with all the other guests, who by now we had got to know quite well.

Roel then gave us a lift back to the station and we headed back to the airport and finally home for Christmas.

Posted by kmmk17 07:17 Archived in Netherlands Tagged wedding city friends party christmas Comments (0)

The Dam '16

Amsterdam

sunny 13 °C
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After coming back from Copenhagen late on Sunday night, on Friday evening after work I returned to Luton Airport to take a flight to Amsterdam where I would once again visit the Eurovision in Concert with my Dutch friends.

Being met at the airport briefly by Sandy and her boyfriend, I eventually made it to my hotel and took a long lie in after the busy week before meeting Sandy again on Saturday afternoon in the city centre.

On a Boat Tour

On a Boat Tour

Having been to Amsterdam four times previously, I was not too fussed about seeing that much, as the holiday was mostly about having a nice catch up, but nevertheless, we still took a lovely boat tour around the canals with Roel and some of his other Eurovision friends, before visiting the concert itself in the evening.

Hosts with Greta from Iceland

Hosts with Greta from Iceland

As ever, the concert gets just over half the acts of the year coming to perform their songs for an excitable crowd of fans, with some of the acts better than others. It was an enjoyable evening as always, and a nice taster of what to expect on my next holiday to Stockholm for the real event in a few weeks time.

Jüri from Estonia

Jüri from Estonia


Keukenhof

Keukenhof

The following day I once again met up with Sandy and we went over to the Keukenhof Flower Garden, where each spring the gardens are laid out beautifully with tulips. This gave my holiday a real nice feel as not only was the weather the entire weekend great, but I also got to experience some new Dutch things despite having been to the country many times previously.

Clogs

Clogs

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged boat flowers friends eurovision Comments (0)

Amsterdam again

semi-overcast 18 °C
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As is tradition, each year I meet up with my good friends Sandy and Roel, and this year I made yet another trip to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.

With EasyJet flying several times daily from Luton, I was able to juggle my flights around so as not to take off any annual leave from work, whilst maximising time spent with my friends. I therefore left work a little bit early after working through lunch to arrive at the airport in good time for my flight - which was just as well.

Bare minutes after making it through security, on my way to collect my free newspaper and get the cheapest drinks from Boots, off went a fire alarm and all the security staff were evacuated, with the whole area being shut down for well over 20 minutes. Anyone who was already running late for their flights had no chance! Nevertheless I still had good time and was the first person to be sat down and buckled up on the plane! Like. A. Pro.

Arriving after the short 45 minute flight, I was met in departures by Sandy, and her boyfriend Arnold, whom I had stayed with three years ago during their Erasmus in Leeds. After a brief reunion I boarded my bus to the hotel I had booked on the outskirts of Amsterdam, and I would see the guys later.

Arriving at the hotel it was already 10pm, and unfortunately the lights in my room had blown meaning I couldn't see my way around. However after contacting the reception they came and sorted it out and I eventually went to bed excited about the next day.

Begijnhof

Begijnhof

Getting up at around lunchtime, Roel had finally arrived and after dropping off the stuff we made our way to the city centre. Having been to Amsterdam numerous times already the holiday was going to be somewhat different to my usual trips - more of a social event. However there was one particular sight I had never seen - the Begijnhof. And with Roel not even knowing about it we made our way there to find a lovely sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with traditional Amsterdam houses.

Flower Market

Flower Market

Heading down towards the Flower Market, we eventually made our way back to Dam Square where Sandy had joined us. We sat down for a catch up before making our way to find somewhere to eat, which ended up being once again the same Italian restaurant on Damstraat. After finishing here, we made our way to the highlight of the trip - the Eurovision In Concert in the Melkweg.

At EIC

At EIC

Held every April, I had been to the event twice before and had thoroughly enjoyed it, being much cheaper and closer to the action than the Eurovision itself. And by getting to the queue just over an hour before the doors opened, we managed to nab spots right at the front of the stage.

Daniel from Macedonia

Daniel from Macedonia

This year, 24 of the 40 acts this year were scheduled to perform, as well as songs from the host, Edsilia Rombley and the winners from 30 years ago - Bobbysocks. As luck would have it, we were also stood very close to the backstage door, and as the night progressed, some of the acts came into the audience who we were able to meet.

Bojana from Serbia

Bojana from Serbia


In front of the stage

In front of the stage

After the event finished, we said goodbye to Sandy and made our way to the afterparty, which several of the acts from the concert were going to sing their songs again for a smaller audience.

Måns from Sweden

Måns from Sweden

We were fortunate enough to also be able to meet some of the artists more personally, as they were just floating around the venue. This included the German, Lithuanians and Norwegians, as well as hearing Måns from Sweden sing his Melodifestivalen songs.

Roel and I with the Lithuanians

Roel and I with the Lithuanians

Towards the end of the night I also saw the British guy standing around, and feeling sorry for him not being 'popular', I went to go and have a little chat about his career and how he got the gig. It was now getting on for half past 3 in the morning, and after some heavy partying, we decided to make our way back to the hotel.

With Alex from the UK

With Alex from the UK


Rural Holland

Rural Holland

The following morning we checked out of our hotel and made our way to the village of Spaardam, just outside Amsterdam, to Arnold's House for a catch up and to spend time with Sandy again. After having lunch and playing Mario Party I said my goodbyes after a great weekend and made my way to Schiphol for the return flight.

With Roel and Sandy

With Roel and Sandy

After seemingly no problems, before I knew it, my plane was delayed almost 4 hours and once again the airports were seemingly out to get me. Luckily I was not very affected by the delay, the only disadvantages really being that I would get home late, and could have spent some more time with my friends or in Amsterdam - but there are many times when it would have been a real problem.

Eventually arriving home safely I had fond memories of a great weekend, and am already looking forward to the next time!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged airport city friends party eurovision Comments (0)

Under The Sea

North Holland

overcast 10 °C
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On Friday afternoon (12th April) where I took a nice break from studying to go and visit my friends Roel and Sandy after a long time. Flying into Amsterdam Airport once again I was (eventually) met by Sandy to take me to her village in North Holland, lying 1 metre below sea level, where I met her lovely family who were so kind to let me stay for the weekend.

Windmill under sea level

Windmill under sea level

On Saturday we took the car to visit a windmill, close to a dike behind the Markermeer - part of the inland lake system in the centre of the country. We then visited Sandy's sister in the café next to the mill before heading back to the house and preparing for the main event of the weekend, Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam. Taking the bus into Amsterdam, we met up with Roel and his two Belgian friends, before taking a mini-tour of the city (including the Red Light District) and followed by a meal at a restaurant. Afterwards we made our way to Melkweg where we joined the queue to enter the concert.

Finland

Finland

At the event, me and Sandy nabbed spots pretty close to the stage, where we saw over half of the acts who will perform at the contest next month, as well as special guest - Carola, who had won the contest 22 years ago. We also met up with many Eurovision friends from across Europe, before making our way to the after party, where after an entertaining night made our way back to Sandy's village in the early hours.

Carola

Carola

The following day we travelled to Volendam (via Edam, where the cheese is from), a traditional Dutch port town on the Markermeer, and involved seeing all the typical Dutch attractions - Clogs, Tulips, Bikes, Dikes, and all-round flatness. This was my final full day in the country, and the next day I took my flight home to carry on with my final round of studying (and recover from my sore throat due to talking Dutch!)

Wearing Clogs at Volendam

Wearing Clogs at Volendam

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged culture friends party eurovision Comments (0)

Eurovision In Concert

German Adventures - Amsterdam


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Hi everyone!

So these last two weeks have been rather busy, as usual!

Welcome Night

Welcome Night

Last week we had the Welcome Night, which was a party organised for international students, where I got to meet up with many of those who I had not seen since last semester, as well as some of the new people who have just arrived. Then this weekend I travelled to the Netherlands to visit Roel and Johan. On Friday I took the 6 hour/4 train trip to Helmond, passing through some of the West German cities like Osnabrück, Essen & Düsseldorf. On Saturday we, along with 2 more of Roel's friends drove to Amsterdam, where we walked around the city seeing all the sights, as well as having a few drinks - including one café where the waiter had the most peculiar English accent (despite being Dutch he sounded like a true Londoner!).

Donny Montell

Donny Montell


Jedward

Jedward

In the evening we went to Eurovision In Concert, where 23 of this year's acts were singing at a pre-party before the main event in May. The event was a sell out, with over 1,300 people in the audience seeing the singers from Latvia, Turkey, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Ireland (Jedward again - What the hell???) and the Netherlands amongst others, with San Marino being a particular highlight. (The video I took is here.) Who needs Baku now?!

Pastora Soler

Pastora Soler


Compact Disco

Compact Disco

After the show finished, there was an after party at a club round the corner, and we had free entry with our tickets. As we were walking there, I met Pastora from Spain and Trackshittaz from Austria (with whom I managed to get a photo). Some of the more 'party people' singers also went to the club, and we saw Trackshittaz again.

Trackshittaz

Trackshittaz

We then left Amsterdam at 4am, and got home about half 5, which meant we were all absolutely shattered! And so the next day was rather lazy, taking Johan to the airport, whilst me and Roel went to the cinema - my first time outside the UK (Dutchies just have subtitles). On Monday I left back for Bremen, again a 6hour/4 train affair though Dutch cities like 's-Hertogenbosch and Arnhem, where I got to see dykes!

This week has been the first with my German lessons, and they have not been going too badly. The lecturer seems to think I am one of the best in the class (she clearly hasn't seen my grammar), and I had a nice chat with her about why Geography is such a great subject to study. Yesterday I did my first lot of online shopping here, which wasn't as hard as I had feared due to it being all in German. Last night we had a little party in the dungeon with the Swedish and some others which was really nice, whilst tonight we are having the first Party House party of the semester!

Viel Spaß! Kevin.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged city friends concert party erasmus eurovision Comments (0)

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