What she thought
Going to Arnhem is what started the talk of our European trip. Jason's friend Nate and his wife Annette and their kids live in Arnhem. I didn't really know what to expect, like many people when I think of The Netherlands I think of Amsterdam. The idea of Amsterdam isn't appealing to me personally, so I didn't add it to the trip. I was content to see what Arnhem had to offer. I also didn't research ahead of time or make any plans because we had locals to take care of us, which was so nice for a change! Our first day was full of things to do. We walked from our friends house to town to pick up something for dinner at the market and take in a few sites along the way. The market was fantastic, fresh flowers, meat, seafood, veggies and fruit, and..wait for it.... cheeeeeese..... the best cheese ever. I think the Dutch get the award for cheese. It's simply delicious. There was also a booth with bolts and bolts of material. We picked up stuff for dinner and headed into the
What he thought
Having friends on the continent proved invaluable. It was so nice to be able to see, up close, the daily life differences between us and our european extended family. We got to go shopping, prepare meals and enjoy recreational activities authentically.
So much was the same, but the differences were stark (if not alarming). In our three days together, we never watched tv. In fact, I don't remember seeing a set at their house. We walked most of the places we went. We prepared all of our meals -- together. And, most importantly, we never got bored!
In the states, perhaps you can get more shopping done in one spot. However, the quality and variety of goods available with locally owned and operated markets, bakeries, butcher shops and the like, more than make up for the loss of convenience. Furthermore, the personal attention you get when you have a favorite local market is invaluable. And the lifestyle modifications you have to make force you, in a very good way, to adopt a more healthful lifestyle. Walking or biking to the market means you are burning more calories and producing less pollution.
Having whole, unpasteurized milk products available, foodstuffs that improve your immune system, instead of milk from cows injected with growth hormones and antibiotics may mean a lot to some people. I know that as I learn more about the food practices of my own country that this is becoming much more important for me even though I don't drink milk.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Netherlands and though I do not partake in the use of cannabis, I am quite hopeful knowing that there are places in the world politically sophisticated enough to understand the importance of not criminalizing drug use/addiction and recognizing the hypocrisy of cannabis prohibition when alcohol is perfectly legal. American leaders could learn a lot from Europe.
We definitely did not get enough time in the Netherlands and I'm sure it won't be long before we return to see Amsterdam and to finally get to see some tulip fields. A bacon pancake would be nice too!