The Glories of Dutch Junk Food

Dutch Junk Food

I am aware there are many, many things that people Do Not Understand about my home country, the United States. Some of them I can explain (tax rates are different everywhere! that’s why we add the tax at point of sale and don’t include it in listed prices!); some of them I can’t (but that’s a post for another time).

Somewhere in the middle, there are things that I “get,” myself, but can’t seem to articulate to people from other countries. King among these is the American art of terrible, terrible junk food.

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How I Wound Up in the Netherlands

How I Wound Up in the Netherlands

As a foreigner in the Netherlands, I’m asked quite frequently what I think of this country — often by people who don’t seem to like it all that much themselves.

In fact, the question I probably get more than any other is, “Why would you want to live here?” (Usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and that generally unimpressed tone the Dutch have when they speak in English.)

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Sunset at Cable Beach — Broome

Sunset in Cable Beach, Broome

I can’t speak for everyone (to the shock and chagrin of many, I’m sure). But I would imagine we all have a place that, despite our open minds and best efforts, just didn’t “wow” us. Somewhere we don’t hate, or associate with a terrible experience, but merely wouldn’t think to recommend to our friends while there are so many other options in the world.

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Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach

Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach

I’m not gonna lie: this whole day is kind of fuzzy in my memory.

For one thing, it happened over five years ago. (Insert obligatory can’t-believe-it’s-been-so-long noises here.) For another, it was my very first weekend in New Zealand–in other words, my first weekend as a solo traveler in a foreign country. I probably still had jet-lag, not to mention I left a blizzard in Minnesota and arrived to incoming summer. Basically, everything was kind of a mess.

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Hauptkirche St. Michaelis — Hamburg

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about Hamburg.

Hauptkirche St. Michaelis - Hamburg

To start with, let’s talk about the time I thought I would never, ever make it to the top of Hauptkirche St. Michaelis (St. Michael’s Church–or, as it’s apparently known by the people of Hamburg, Michel).

From the entrance of Michel to the top of its tower, there are 453 steps. Now, maybe you read that and thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of steps!” Or maybe you read it and thought, “So what? I once climbed 5,000 steps with a broken leg!” If it’s the latter: you’re kind of a douche (though, let’s be fair, a mildly impressive one). However, if you’re anything like me, you see 453 and think, “Oh, it just sounds like a lot, it’s not so many.”

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Detour to Lübeck

You know you’re still kind of naive about blogging when you think, “Hey, next week I’m going to Hamburg. Maybe when I come home, I’ll write a post about Hamburg.”

Lübeck, Germany

For one thing, “when I come home” is an unprecedented deadline around here; currently, my record for longest time elapsed between experience and blog post is something like four years (though that becomes a lot less dramatic when you remember I only started this blog nine months ago).

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A Ride on the London Eye

London Eye

You may be wondering what I have to say about the London Eye that a) hasn’t been said a thousand times before, or b) you couldn’t discern for yourself by simply looking at it.

The honest answer to that is, not a lot. But that’s the thing about the London Eye: it’s pretty much exactly what, uh, meets the eye (so to speak). There’s not a lot of surprises — which, when it comes to a big metal contraption that lifts you hundreds of feet into the air, some might consider a good thing.

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12 Hours In Cologne

12 Hours in Cologne, Germany

When you originate from a giant country like the U.S. and then move to Europe, it’s practically mandatory to go online and gush about traveling to different countries in a single day without breaking a sweat. (Check.)

What no one talks about (and by “no one,” I mean “me, up until this point”) is how, once the novelty of crossing borders wears off, all you’ve really done is spend hardly any time in a foreign country. And while that can be fun, it can also leave you feeling like you’ve hardly seen anything.

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Kawarau Bridge Bungy – Queenstown

If I’m going to give anyone a tip about bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, let it be this: do not do it if you’re hungover.

Bungy Jump - Queenstown

Of course, we all handle our hangovers in different ways. I prefer to drink copious amounts of Coca-Cola and stay as still as possible. Other people might like to hang upside down over rushing water, slowly spinning in circles, waiting for people to release you from a giant rubber band and take you back to solid ground. Whatever. As the kids seem to say these days: do you.

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My First Year in the Netherlands

Autumn in Dedemsvaart

Despite my best efforts (which, admittedly, were quite pathetic, and generally restricted to “wishing and hoping summer would last forever”), autumn has arrived here in the Netherlands. I am of two minds about it.

On one hand, I have never been a fall person. You know fall people; they’re the ones who start posting about pumpkin spice lattes on August 15th and hold big leaves up for instagram photos. Other than my geeky affinity for school, fall has always represented one thing to me: the imminent onset of winter. Which, in Minnesota, means several months of ice and snow, and around three people per day telling you, “What, this? Nah, it’s gonna get way worse.”

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