how to get to kinderdijk the netherlands

My trip to Kinderdijk Molenkade – Making the trip from Amsterdam isn’t necessarily simple but it is definitely worth it to see the best spot in the Netherlands for beautiful windmills. Kinderdijk is located outside of Rotterdam in the quiet area of Alblasserdam. There are 19 windmills built in 1740 that can still be used to pump water in the case of an emergency, the highest concentration of windmills in Holland. Kinderdijk is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Netherlands is on the UNESCO world heritage site list. To make it out there from Amsterdam Central take the intercity direct to Rotterdam Central to Lombardijen station and the bus 90 to Molenkade. It is almost a 2 hour journey if you do it right and plan accordingly. Other routes may take up to 2.5 hours with extra stops that can add to the confusion. If there is a group of you going I recommend simple renting a car. The journey by train comes out to be almost 40 euro and will take longer than directly driving there.

Once you arrive you will see a restaurant with a souvenir shop and to the left a museum. There will be a long path where you can walk or bike with windmills on each side of you. Across the bridge at the turning point you can pay to access the interior of the windmill. There is also a ferry that can take you through the windmills on the water. I visited the windmills after all the boats, stores, and restaurants were closed down so I felt like I had the park to myself. I planned it so I could see the windmills at sunset and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint! On the way back I took the exact same route in reverse which was longer only due to a late train. It was nice to have the windmills mostly to myself but I did bring a picnic for myself since I knew everything would be closed and since Kinderdijk is off the beaten path, there is nothing else around to eat. I highly recommend an early or late trip, depending on the experience you want to go for at the windmills!

windmills in hollandkinderdijk windmills hollanddutch windmills in the netherlandskinderdijk windmills at sunsetkinderdijk windmills at sunset

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useful dutch phrases for tourists

Here are a few useful phrases to learn while in the Netherlands. 90% of people in the Netherlands speak a decent amount of English and are happy to speak it to you. However, we like to go the extra mile in any country we visit to impress to locals and show appreciation for their country that we are visiting.

1. Dank u wel – The formal way of saying ‘thank you’ in dutch, very very common!

2. Alsjeblieft – The informal, yet most common, way of saying ‘please’ or ‘you’re welcome’. Note that the J is pronounced like a Y.

3. Hoe laat is het? – ‘What time is it?’ but literally it translates to how late is it.

4. Goedemorgen / goedemiddag / goedenavond / goedenacht – ‘good morning’ / ‘good day’ / ‘good evening’ / ‘good night’ all complete with that hard [g] the dutch and german are known for.

5. Proost – This is important whenever you are at a bar celebrating, it means ‘cheers!’.

6. Ik begrijp het niet – Probably the first dutch phrase I properly learned how to say, ‘I don’t understand it’.

7. Hoeveel kost dit? – ‘How much does it cost?’

8. Spreek jij engels? – ‘Do you speak English?’ You probably won’t even need to use this much because most people will speak English!

9. Waar is de WC? – Always important to be able to ask where the bathroom is! ‘Where is the bathroom?’

10. Ik hou van je – One of my favorite dutch phrases, not because of what it means but because of how it directly translates. It means ‘I love you’ but since there is no actual word for the verb to love it literally translates to I hold you close. Liefde is the word for ‘love’ but it is not a verb.

11. Sorry! – If you accidently run into someone on the street, say ‘sorry!’. Although the dutch sorry is pronounced a bit more like a Z than an S.

12. Lekker – Possibly the most used word in all of dutch language. I am being a bit dramatic when I say that but I hear it all the time. Technically speaking it’s only supposed to be used for tastes & smells but sometimes you’ll hear it used in ways that could translate as ‘awesome’. There is no way to directly translate this word so I like to think of it as ‘delicious’. When the waitress asks you how your food is, you will say smaakt lekker! When you tell someone to sleep tight, you say slaap lekker! When you see someone attractive on the street, lekkerding!

13. Gezellig – This one is just for fun because I like it. Again, there is no direct translation but it is closely related to ‘cozy’ but not just any cozy, cozy with friends or family that are all having a good time.

 

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tips for biking in amsterdam

Amsterdam, probably the most bikeable city in the world but it can be difficult for people that aren’t used to the ways the dutch do things. I was beyond excited to bike here for the first time but quickly almost got ran over which traumatized me. There are a lot very different aspects of riding here but once you get used them you will appreciate not having to worry about taking a cab or needing to rent a car. Here are a few tips I want to share after experiencing biking in this wonderful city.

1. Know the street signs and pay attention to them. Some are more obvious ones like the ‘yield’ sign but many will be in dutch. For example –  fietspad = cycle path. toegestaan = pedestrian zone, biking permitted. uitgezonderd or sometimes bijzonder = literally translates to ‘except’ or ‘particularly’ and will be next to a photo of a bike, both motorcycle & bike, or car & motorcycle.

2. Check your bike. Be warned, many bikes in Amsterdam come with few gears or none at all due to the lack of hills. Many also do not have hand brakes.

3. Avoid the obnoxiously branded rental companies. Maybe this is a pet peeve but if I see a few people in a group of bright yellow bikes with big signs on them I tend to avoid them like the plague and I imagine other locals feel similarly. There are plenty of less obnoxious looking bikes to rent.

4. Watch for the motorbikes and even small cars on the bike paths. This may change in 2015 but currently motorized vehicles below a certain speed, I think 30kmph, can ride on the bike paths. I personally think this is dangerous but it is what it is at the moment, so until the law gets changed, watch out!

5. Know where you’re going. I know that Amsterdam is lovely and it’s tempting to stop in the middle of the road and take photos or second guess your directions but it can really slow down traffic. Either pull off on the sidewalk or have the directions on your phone with headphones in one ear telling you where to go. I have found the headphones to be super helpful in getting me where I need to go. You can preload directions on google maps when you are on wifi and it will continue to work when you get off it, as long as you don’t go off track!

6. Lock it up. There is a reason all bikes come with ridiculously large locks. So make sure you always try to lock it up to something. During festivals and events it may not always be possible so I usually lock the wheel to the bike itself so that it is not easily moved, however, I would not do this for more than a few hours just to be safe.

7. Go with the flow. Some streets are for walking pedestrians only, so if you see people walking their bikes on a path, it could be for this reason. One way streets (for cars) may have an opposite path for bikes only. Be observant of what the locals are doing, it’s usually a safe bet to follow their lead (although some don’t follow the rules either).

 

bicycle parking garage at amsterdam centralbiking-in-amsterdam (1 of 1)

 

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I went to elementary school with Kelly almost 15 years ago! It is crazy to think about how much time has passed and how much has changed but when catching up it sure didn’t feel like it had been that long. Kelly & Peter had been traveling around Europe for almost a month when we met up in Amsterdam for their session. With a shared desire to experience the world with our significant others there was no shortage of things to talk about as we caught up over burgers and beers. While we shot a few photos along the way, we didn’t really start shooting near the Rijksmuseum until almost 10pm! As a photographer it is easy to love the late summer sunsets here in Amsterdam. I look forward to catching up with them again, whether it be in Europe, the US, or another exotic location.

~Caroline

I am Amsterdam portrait sessionamsterdam couple's session by the canalsholland portrait session by flowersstreets of amsterdam portrait sessionamsterdam portrait photographycouple's portrait session at the rijksmuseumrijksmuseum portrait sessiondam square portrait session

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dutch food in amsterdam

It’s true that the Dutch aren’t exactly known for their culinary skills based on the amount of Dutch restaurants you can find around the world. However, there are still plenty of tasty options available for people that want to experience more of the Dutch culture through their food. Here is some Dutch food in Amsterdam that I think every visitor should try.

Cheese – I think this is the most obvious and most common. The Dutch LOVE their cheese. At many cafes you will find many options for cheese sandwiches (kaas broodjes). Common Dutch cheeses that you can find in the states are edam and gouda.

The best places to buy cheese in Amsterdam : De Kaaskamer & Kaashuis Tromp dutch cheese in Amsterdam

Poffertjes – Probably my favorite dutch dessert. You can find these in street stands, at the market, even at the Schipol airport. They are mini sweet pancakes topped with butter and powdered sugar. Easy to eat a lot of so be warned!

The best places to get poffertjes in Amsterdam : The Pancake Bakkery & De Kroonprinsdutch-poffertjes (2 of 2)   Indonesian food – Yes, technically not “Dutch” per say but it is still very much a part of Dutch culture due to the large population of Indonesians that came over after the war and after the Dutch decided to no longer occupy Indonesia. You will find many Indonesian restaurants around town. Here is our meal from Katrika.

The best Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam : Kartika, Blue Pepper, & Blauw indonesian-food-in-amsterdam Pancakes – Somewhere in between a traditional American pancake and a crepe. Many of them have delicious toppings ranging from sweet to savory. You can find many pancake restaurants around Amsterdam but our personal favorite is the Upstairs pannenkoekenhuis (pancake house). It is a VERY cozy restaurant only able to host around 20 people at a time with a kitchen the size of my closet. You should probably make reservations in advance if you would like to go there but we went on a Friday around 12:30pm and there was only a 25 minute wait. It’s worth it.

The best pancake restaurant in Amsterdam : Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis pannenkuekenhuis

Apple Pie (appeltaart or appelgebak) – I would consider this to be more of a pie-cake rather than a pie often topped with whipped cream (slagroom). It is a dessert you will see often at cafes and restaurants, definitely worth a try.

The best apple pie in Amsterdam : Winkel 34 & de taart van m’n tante dutch-food-in-amsterdam (3 of 3) Bitterballen – It’s hard to describe exactly what bitter ballen is but in short it is bar food, an appetizer that you will find at many pubs. It is a concoction of meat and various ingredients to form a mushy goodness in a fried ball. Typically containing a mixture of beef or veal, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper, resulting in a thick roux. (the ones below are home made!)

Best places in Amsterdam to eat bitterballen : Cafe de tuin & Cafe Amsterdam bitterbalen French Fries (patat) with Mayo – A Netherlands staple. At first some people may think this sounds less than appealing but mayo here is, generally, not like your American helmens or miracle whip. It is a million times better. The fries are fresh and fried on the spot and the mayo has spices and flavor and is some times home made. Assuming you go to a good place that is. Our favorite place was recommended by friends and was amazing. Friet hoes, I know it’s tempting to pronounce it like the common chip brand “fritos” but it is actually pronounced “freet hoos”. They serve nothing but cones of french fries (patat) and are located right across from Haarlem central station. There are also a variety of condiment combinations you can get, including patat oorlog, which literally translates to war fries. Patat oorlog consists of fries topped with a little bit of everything, onions, ketchup, mayo, curry, and peanut sauce, dependent upon where you get them from.

The best french fries in Amsterdam : Friethoes (Haarlem) & Vleminckx Sausmeesters friethoes fries in haarlem

Soup! (zoep)- Holland is really cold most of the year, especially from a Texan’s perspective; 88 degrees Fahrenheit and dutchies think they’re going to melt. This makes soup a very popular dish for their cold climate. Pea soup is the ‘most dutch’ soup you will find but tomato soup is also very common. Soups often come in what looks like a mini-dutch oven and are scolding hot. I have no idea why they are always so hot but I have nearly burned my tongue on them many times, so be careful!

The best soup in Amsterdam : Soup & zo

soup in amsterdam

Coffee (koffie) – If there is one thing the dutchies love more than cheese… it is their coffee. You can find many fancy coffee shops around Amsterdam that only serve the best coffee. Definitely go for a koffie verkeerd, it’s like a dutch cafe latte. I am personally not a fan of too much caffeine so I stick to chai lattes and tea, which have less caffeine and more sugar. Their chai lattes are among the best I have ever had as well though.

The best coffeeshop in Amsterdam : Moods Coffee & Headfirst coffee roasters dutch coffee

Chips & Chili Sauce – I don’t think this is anything monumental but I felt that it was worth mentioning. Instead of your typical stateside chips and salsa, they have an appetizer with an Indonesian flare, chips with a sweet/sour chili sauce.

The best hang out spot for beer and appetizers in Amsterdam : ‘t Blauwe Theehuis (the blue tea house) dutch-food (1 of 1)

Herring – On the streets of Amsterdam you can find this salty and fatty fish typically served on a bun with onion and pickle everywhere. Herring season is in June so during the summer months you will see signs stating “nieuwe haring” which just means that it is fresh. Fair warning, herring is not for everyone, proceed with caution. I can compare it to sushi but the texture is very different. I thought the flavor was decent along with the onions and bread and it is supposed to be very good for you but I am not sure I will seek it out again. 🙂

Best haring in Amsterdam : Rob Wigboldus Vishandel & Stubbe’s Haring dutch haring in Amsterdam 

Kroketten – Meat ragout covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. I ordered this for the first time without having a clue as to what it really was. I can relate this fried goodness to a bitterbal but this is usually found on a sandwich (broodje) rather than individually.

Best place to eat kroketten in Amsterdam – Van Dobben dutch-food-in-amsterdam (1 of 3)

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