The Netherlands!

{The lovely beach at The Hague!}

Ah, the Netherlands! I wish I had more time to explore you and to stroll along your canals and to devour more of your delicious croissants. Mmm, flaky croissants with Brie....

Anyway, Justin and I have returned from our whirlwind trip to the land of the Dutch! We spent two days at The Hague where Justin led a stability-and-development workshop for the IPSI Institute (my husband is so fancy pants!); and then we headed to Amsterdam for a day of eating, exploring, eating some more, and taking one epic nap.

Onto the pictures!

{The temps in the Netherlands hit record highs, thus everyone flocked to the beach!}

{A beautiful building in the Dutch Parliament.}

{Justin takes a break in between his workshop.}

Since Justin had a lot of work at the Hague, I donned my adventurer's cap and tackled the sightseeing on my own. The Hague is a fascinating city in that it is the governmental seat of the Netherlands—thus making it home to the Parliament and the royal family—but it also has a laid-back beachy vibe due to its proximity to the shoreline. Think boardwalks and bathing suits and copious amounts of French fries (served with mayonnaise! Nom!). 

Due to time limitations, I booked a guided tour of the city to catch as many sights that I could. I ended up on a tour with an old couple from South Korea who were hilarious and fun. (See photo above.) The wife didn't speak any English, and so whenever she wanted to thank our tour guide for something she would give him a boisterous round of applause. She and her husband also loved throwing their arms in their air for any picture-taking (see also above). In short, I would like them to be my grandparents! 

As a quick aside, I ate lunch one day at Clingendael, a 17th-century manor house where Justin presented his workshop. It's a stunning building filled with intricate woodwork and pastoral murals but it also has a dark past—during WWII the house was taken over by the Nazis for their city headquarters. The basement was even converted into torture chambers. Nowadays, Clingendael is used as a center for international relations but I couldn't help but think about its grim past as I tiptoed through its halls, especially as I start tackling revisions for my WWII alternate history novel....

{The canals in Amsterdam.}
{The city was especially festive for their Pride Parade!}

After Justin finished work, we hopped into a taxi and headed to Amsterdam for a day. It was our first time in the city—and one day certainly wasn't enough!—but we tried to make the most of it. Amsterdam itself was in a super festive mood for its annual Pride Parade, where participants decorated boats and floated down the canals. Basically, it was a city-wide party where everyone was smiling and toasting each other and having a grand ol' time! I kind of wished I was ten years younger... Alas!

In random news, I am obsessed with European Fanta because it is the MOST DELICIOUS DRINK IN THE WORLD. And so, for lunch I decided to order a large Fanta to go along with my steak. (Pfff, red wine!) When the waiter brought out my drink, I was presented with the following: Fanta in a huge Heineken mug! Keepin' it classy, Caroline!

Why yes, I did drink the whole thing. :)

Cheers, Netherlands! I'll try to be back soon!

{Fanta in a beer mug. Delicious.}