Mieke visited Grandma Soff!

I’m a little belated with last weeks post but better late than never!

Mieke came to Haarlem last weekend and we had a fabulous time. After she arrived on Saturday we wandered around Haarlem. I showed her the Amsterdam Poort, market square and took her down the little alleyways. 

Just after lunch we went to the Corrie Ten Boom Museum, which is literally around the corner from my house. It is a lesser known hiding place but there have still been plenty of films and books made to honour the story of the Ten-Booms. All I can say is it’s worth a visit and it’s free but it’s very religious…

Then we cycled down to Zandvoort beach. What was a lovely cycle there turned into a battle of us vs the wind on arrival, so we rode almost straight back after snapping a couple of pictures by the coast ha! It was nice to get out but I think that’s my visits to the beach done until late Jan/Feb.

In the eve we decided to head to Amsterdam for dinner, drinks and a bit of dancing with Ellie and her friend Alice who was also visiting! After eating in a very nice restaurant I can only describe the nightlife as a smaller and colder Magaluf strip of sorts. We went into a couple of really cheesy bars, had some shots and jumped on the last train home to avoid figuring out the buses.

On Sunday we woke up at a reasonable time and went back to Dam for a free walking tour. We arrived a little early so went around the shopping centre and saw an elephant exhibition that had been in Nottingham when we were at uni so that was quite nice to see again!

I cannot express how cold the tour was…I broke my boots a couple of weeks ago and trainers just do not cut it. Once your feet get cold that’s it – your done! But I did enjoy walking about nonetheless. I’m addicted to the step tracker on my iPhone so was very proud of 24,000 steps.

After the tour we got chips and mayo from the chip stand I have eaten at far too many times now. (They’re awesome though it’s right by central station.) A repeat of the Anne Frank museum was our next stop before going to the slightly less cultural sex museum; although some would argue that point.

If you imagine anything and everything that is tacky and related to penises and prostitution, it was in there. For €4 it was worth a giggle but by the end of it we were ready to head home!

Sunday was date night in the Smedestraat household (that’s my street) and we cooked the traditional roast butternut squash. A year or so ago we spent near enough 5/6 hours cooking one in a broken oven so thought we’d pay tribute to that fond memory.

I had Monday off work so we went back to Dam to wander Vondelpark, Museum Square/Plein, get the standard “Iamsterdam” selfie and bought more chips with truffle mayo…26,000 steps later it was time to say our goodbyes most probably until the New Year.

I’m looking forward to this exam being over and getting my social life back now 😁😁😁. Every weekend in Haarlem should be an adventure! (At least that’s the plan).



My Friday the 13th

“You’ve wasted too much of your life in an airport if you’ve never missed a flight” – this is what the MD of my work told me a couple of weeks ago, and I think I took his words too literally.

Whilst trying to get back to the UK on Friday for our Saturday CIM session I managed to forget my passport…I didn’t want to give up without a fight so with 1 hour til departure I paid €120 for a taxi to take me home and back to pick it up – I still missed it by a matter of minutes. I watched them detach the plane walkway, it was painful. After running around the airport I found out it was the last flight of the eve but KLM took pity on me and let me switch to a morning flight for free (thank you kind lady!).

I went back home and tried to work out what time I needed to get the train to make the 7:15am flight. Safe to say my brain has not been functioning properly and I didn’t leave myself enough time…the trains weren’t running as regularly at 5am and I almost missed the second flight of the weekend.

Another €50 taxi later I was at Schipol waiting at the gate with my passport, boarding pass and 10minutes to spare. It’s been an expensive weekend but at least it was worth it!

Despite the drama I made it to Heathrow, then to Yateley to pick up my car and finally to Cambridge for the CIM exam prep. The day went relatively quickly after downing copious amounts of coffee and I feel slightly more prepared now.  Not wanting to risk travelling elsewhere when I was so tired, I went straight back down south post-CIM. We all had dinner at Robs (my brother) and I got to spend more time with my baby nephew! He’s so awake compared to my last visit and was smiling and giggling which was super cute 😊.

Sunday was my half chill day – I haven’t baked for months so spent a couple of hours making a stroop cake 👌🏼 but otherwise lounged about. Lisa brought Baby J over, we watched Finding Nemo, my Dad made homemade scones and then my he drove me to the airport nice and early so I wasn’t rushing about.

I thought it was all over but my taxi driver then didn’t show up in Holland. He’d decided to wait elsewhere but the message didn’t come through to my phone until I was supposed to be getting off the train Id decided to get…so I missed my stop and went to Amsterdam Central but eventually got home.

Thankfully Mieke’s visiting next weekend so I will be safe from travel fails!


I realised my Facebook account disconnected from WordPress so if you fancy a read the last two posts are also available via my blog 🙂

Museum night

most of this week was spent on CIM after George left. I had a lot of reports to complete at work so my evenings were engulfed in assignment amendments and revision with the occasional episode of Walking Dead…I’ve watched so many episodes recently every night I dream about zombies. My dreams think I would survive an apocalypse though so at least I now feel prepared.

Then because you have to do at least one fun thing a week a few of us booked tickets to Museum Night in Amsterdam yesterday. You pay 18 euros and join 35,000 people in a ‘crawl’ of all of the city’s museums from 7pm until 2am. They’ve just put up all of the Christmas lights so it was an especially pretty tour.

Obviously we are super organised and had no plan whatsoever – luckily we had Niels from the office to help navigate using his GPS! Starting at the Allard Pierson museum we wandered through a variety of Egyptian archeological discoveries whilst being followed by a singer. For some reason he had been paid to walk around with a guitar and took a liking to us.

Then we walked to the Museumplein/square, that I have managed to completely miss on every one of my Amsterdam visits, and went to the Stedijk Museum (the queue for the Rijksmuseum was like a mile long and not moving so we skipped that one). After signing up for a walking tour of the Zero exhibition we explored a little and had a drink whilst we had time to kill.

I can now say I am not a fan of modern art if the Zero exhibition is anything to go by. One section was an artist that had burned canvases, complete with a stack of empty match boxes that were clearly his leftovers. Then oh yerh one artist literally sold his shit in a can to “push the boundaries of art” – you mean to see who is dumb enough to buy it? Kudos to him though it’s now worth thousands.

The highlight of my evening was definitely the Van Gogh Museum. My parents had a replica of Sunflowers in our first ever house so it always brings back a sense of nostalgia for me, and the original was much more impressive than my memory of the fake! 

Now to get back to CIM, 4 more weeks until exams are over 🙌🏼


Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Zandvoort and Haarlem

  last weekend was a long and fabulous one. George came for his second visit so I took Friday off and we went to Rotterdam.

The weather was lovely and sunny so we spent hours walking about; visited the Markethal, the old harbour, hotel New York and enjoyed the views. The Markethal is a huge building with an intricately painted flower ceiling. The highlight was the stroop cakes I found, I would pay the 20 euros for the train just for the cake…

We had lunch in the old harbour, overlooking the canal and the White House (witte huis) – once the tallest building it Europe and now just a cute little skyscraper. It was so nice just walking about, being outside and exploring the Netherlands after two weekends of working.

Saturday we woke up late, cycled to the beach in Zandvoort for a bit and then went to Amsterdam for dinner. We may have walked around for 2 hours in the wrong places but I wasn’t overwhelmed by the Amsterdam restaurant choices…we ended up at a tapas place that was ok, but I won’t be returning.

As it was Halloween apparently it was normal for hundreds of people to parade through the city in their scary attire. I feel they either should’ve been at a party or not dressed like death…

Sunday was our chill day as George’s flight was at 3pm. After a walking dead marathon we said our goodbyes and then I was very happy that his flight got cancelled so he had to return…the only time the delays have gone in my favour!

The fog was so bad and the flights so messed up I got to keep him until this morning. We went to the Wolfhound last night for a drink and so he could play the guitar – it’s my favourite local and the staff are so lovely! 

Back to reality now until the weekend.