The first location that comes to most people’s mind when they think about Holland? Amsterdam. Great clubs and pubs, cool sights including the infamous Iamsterdam sign, sex shops and just a couple of totally discreet and tucked away coffee shops draws thousands of tourists into the heart of the capital every year; but what about the rest of the Netherlands?
Half an hour outside Amsterdam is the idyllic, and totally stereotypical, city of Leiden. If seeing the more touristic side of Holland is what you want then Leiden is your first stop. Working as a PR Intern here for the past three months I’ve seen my fair share of windmills, clogs, markets and bikes…bikes everywhere. You can’t expect to go to the Netherlands and not ride a bike, or in my case ride face first into a row of shrubbery after one Heineken too many.
The weather can come and go but being Scottish a little more rain won’t hurt us! Leiden is located in the South of Holland and has three suburban areas, Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp and Voorschoten, and is home to student pubs, clubs and nights for those attending Leiden University. There are more than just canals and bikes in this city.
Asian Palace – All the Far Eastern cuisine that you can eat without splitting into two buffet loving mirrors of yourself (it happened to Sheldon it can totally happen in real life!) Heaven in the shape of a restaurant. For €30 you can drink wine and taste the orient with five servings of anything you want. I opted for Japanese because, in my humble opinion, sushi is the greatest food ever. Noodles and sushi, prawn tempura, miso soup and spring rolls with a twist. Every single dish will leave your mouth watering for more…trust me I had three portions of tempura it was that good. Japanese, Thai, Chinese or Indonesian whatever you want to eat Asian Palace is there to send you into an Asian food induced coma but before the eating starts you can watch the house chef make your dinner right before your eyes. Love it!
Our desserts were out of this world too:
Den Haag – (The Hague) Near Leiden, The Hague area is a a must if you’re visiting Holland. Taking a stroll along the beach on a warm sunny day is like walking along the Jersey shore: live piano shows whilst having dinner, cuisine from Spain and Italy, to name a few, rides and bungee jumping, casinos and nightclubs if sand and sea aren’t your things then there is something for everyone at The Hague beach. Walking in the city center there are a multitude of bars and restaurants to entertain you or you could see the sights including the Knights Hall or Dutch Parliament which is the political capital for the Netherlands. Entertainment or touristic sights The Hague has everything you’re looking for, unless it is true party life you’re looking for then that’s where House of Bols comes in.
House of Bols (18+) – Obviously you’re going to go visit Amsterdam, but why not try something a little different? The House of Bols Cocktail and Genever Experience is a must for cocktail enthusiasts, history lovers and everyone who loves to have fun. The interactive tour lets you learn the history behind fermenting alcohol, the different flavours that go into each bottle with individual taste and smell tests and the use of Genever, the Dutch spirit. The interactive tour lets you watch how the alcohol is made, smell the different flavours that go into every bottle and, my favourite part, drink your very own cocktail after it has been made in front of you by the Bols bartenders. If you ever wanted to pretend you were pre-drinking for a Gatsby party the mirror room bar is your prime location. Tickets start at €13 with one free drink included and €6,50 for every cocktail after. Private functions with personal bar tending lessons are available.
Holland is a fantastic country with lots of different cities and culture. The food is outstanding, when in Amsterdam you have to get chips from Manneken Pis (voted best chips in Holland) just make sure you don’t get the large unless you’ve got at least three people sharing, local market cuisine is great for creating your very own Dutch home made meals or picking up fresh fruit and meat, the people are friendly and welcoming helping you make the most of your time there. I cannot wait to continue my internship here and learn more about this wonderful country.