Travel, Food, and Photography is such a big part of my life. These travels and adventures inspired Toffee apples for Eve. By completing my Grade 12 year, I decided to dive into a gap year. The easiest way to go abroad was to be an Au-Pair. That’s how I found myself working for one year in Naarden-Bussum, in the Netherlands.
I had the opportunity to see many European countries, like France, Switzerland, Italy, and even the Greek Island of Corfu. Corfu was a must after reading the book, “My family, and other animals“, and it did not disappoint. I also took a ferry over to London for a few days.
I will use my pictures and photos where possible, but bear with me. Those years we still used film, and the quality of the images will never stand up. The digital world took over. We had to wait patiently for our prints to develop. The struggles were real. At least today, Toffee apples for Eve got a beautiful full-frame camera. The photos are just breathtaking.
After my gap year, I went on to visit Zanzibar and Bangkok. I almost forgot about my Scuba Diving experience in Mozambique. There is something so captivating going to another country, experiencing their cultures, food, and living ways.
I will start my writing and experiences as I traveled, from the first country to the most recent. We’re going to get on our virtual plane and fly to Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.
Being an Au pair in the Netherlands was maybe why I was not fond of this little gem of a country in the beginning. Being South African, the Netherlands seemed like perfection and no room for errors.
Naarden was an affluent district, and the people were very wealthy. The houses were massive with big yards. Not like your typical three-story houses in the cities. For them being an Au-pair was not about getting experience but rather to send money home.
Already then, Africa was not for all of them. They would much rather travel to Indonesia or America. There were a lot of Polish Au-pairs and they were always a lot older. That’s how I found myself doing gardening, ironing, polishing shoes. Washing clothes, making beds, cooking, shopping, and just running a household at eighteen.
The oldest child I took care of then was eighteen years old. Yeah, that was weird. As I said, that was my experience of where I stayed and who I interacted within that one year.
But it is true when you start looking into this rich country as small as half of the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The Netherlands got the 17th-largest economy globally, including shipping, fishing, agriculture, trade, and banking. The leading sectors of the Dutch economy.
Although very impressive, I will instead write about the things that made me enjoy the Netherlands. As a tourist/Au pair, what I liked most about this cheese and tulips paradise.
Let me begin with my ultimate favorite of the Dutch country. Drum roll, please. The Cheese!!!! How bizarre this may sound, the one fetish that I can still not sacrifice. Yes, the windmills were nice, the clog’s cute. But the cheese was so damn good.
I literally and figuratively took it all in and, in the process picked up about 10 kg in one year. From the Old Amsterdam, Boerenkaas, Maasdam, and Edam, all such sensational tastes.
I loved the pub vibes they had, which were very intimate. Beer was flowing from a tap. However, at exactly midnight, the police will make sure you go home. That was something so ridiculous driving home on a bike after a pint or three and that in the ice-cold rain with your little bicycle lamp.
Amsterdam was probably the city I enjoyed most because of the diversity in people, shops, and arts. De Wallen Straat was my highlight with the Coffee Shops and famous Sex Museums. In the 90s, this was quite an experience for an eighteen-year-old.
Being more of an adventurous spirit, I would make an effort to take a bus tour to the tulip fields and savior the perfect landscape. There were millions of tulips at Keukenhof in all colors with clog’s dangling around. Windmills were turning around all day long.
You would see little green fields filled with Friesian cows roaming around. Also, I noticed a lot of markets everywhere. You can buy fresh bread, cheese, and even different cuisine like Asian food.
If I must name one highlight of this journey for me in the Netherlands, it must be my visit to the Ann Frank House.
Very powerful and just as she described in her diary. Reading this book as a young girl had an enormous influence on my writing. I understood the world and its extraordinary history. A remarkable story never to be forgotten.
My journey through the Netherlands comes to an end. From seeing snow for the first time and eating French fries with mayonnaise. So I did enjoy this country at last.
I will love to make an effort to go back since I was very young. I might experience it in a completely different way now. Did I tell you about my bike? Never mind.