Have you had unpleasant service by your local bicycle shop? I remember in our first year in Holland, we bought all our bicycles from a shop and when we went back for servicing, the staff were unpleasant and rude. They insisted that we had to drop off our bicycles by a certain time in the morning and return to pick them up at the end of the same day. They refused to store our bicycles for us until the next day even though we couldn’t return to pick them up the same day.
The good news is I have found a really pleasant guy called Martijn who charges €40 per bicycle (a reasonable price) for an annual maintenance and he comes to your house to do it for you. He works quickly and takes around 30 minutes to service each bicycle. He comes with his van equipped with all the tools to do the servicing for you. I admired how he just hoisted the bike in his van and began to work in such a compact work space.
I loved the fact that it was so convenient having someone come to your home to service all our bicycles and I could choose the day and time that suited me. Martijn works every weekday from 10:00-17:00 and will come to you if you are located in the Hague and its immediate surrounding areas such as Leidschendam, Wassenaar, etc.
He charges €9.50 for travelling to your house but if you have 5 bicycles for him to service, he doesn’t charge you his travelling cost. Martijn can be contacted on his mobile 06 3391 7510 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you been to Westbroekpark? If you haven’t, you should really check it out as it’s in the heart of Den Haag and it’s a beautiful park where you can picnic, stroll and chill out. I love the sculptures dotted around the park as it gives the park a little more character. Food truck festivals are held at Westbroekpark at various times of the year, usually in the summer. It has a large children’s playground with swings, slides and even a swinging monkey.
What I love about Westbroekpark is the beautiful rosarium which has over 300 rose varieties. It attracts avid rose growers even those from abroad during the flowering season. There is a information booth where you can get detailed information about the different rose varieties.
There are 2 food outlets in the park. My favourite is the Waterkant which is open daily from May to mid September. The Waterkant is located behind the rosarium and you can easily miss it if you are not looking for it. If you walk through the rosarium, you will pass a mound on the right which has a bunker underneath it. Walk pass the mound and turn right to find the hidden Waterkant which serves breakfast, lunch & dinner from 10:00-21:00. It serves simple food but one really goes there for the atmosphere and location.
Waterkant is set right beside a canal and people can go across to the other side with a hand-operated pulley system. I love the fact that you can rent a rowing boat from the Waterkant which is a fun activity to do in the summer.
A new exciting addition is an organic garden and restaurant that will be opening in Westbroekpark sometime in 2017. There is no information yet on exactly when it will be open but I will keep you posted once it is open.
If you are looking where to go for a day trip, I recommend Zaanse Schans which is less than an hour’s drive from Den Haag. It’s a lovely place to go to as you get to experience what it feels like living in Holland in the 17th & 18th century. All the shops, house and windmills are located close to one another, like a village. I love the authentic houses, windmills and shops. Even Albert Heijn’s first grocery shop is in Zaanse Schans!
There is no entrance fee but if you want to visit the museums such as the Verkade chocolate or windmills, you have to pay an entrance fee. You can buy a Zaanse Schans card which gives you free entry into the museums and entry to one of the windmills. The card gives you a 10% discount in restaurants, souvenirs and bike rental.
My favourite workshop is the clog workshop as it explains the history of clogs and you get to see both original & ornate clogs on display. There is a demonstration of how modern clogs are made and a huge variety of clogs & souvenirs to choose from. I think this shop has the largest range of clog related gifts that I have personally seen.
There’s a lovely cheese farm there too where you can listen to a short talk on how cheese is made and you can sample a range of their cow and sheep cheese and buy some home. I am not keen on Dutch stroopwaffles as I find them too sweet but I liked the ones sold here that were freshly made.
You can visit a number of original working windmills such as the spice mill, oil mill, paint mill & saw mill. It is a shame that you have to pay to enter them but I guess it’s because they need to maintain them.
You can explore the area by ferry or boat. The ferry ride to the other side costs €1 as it is run by volunteers who will give you an explanation of the village and the houses. You catch the ferry at the end of the row of windmills. There is another company that runs an open boat trip along the windmills that charges €5 per adult and €2.50 per child.
In my opinion, although Zaanse Schans may come across a bit touristy, I still feel that it is a more authentic option to explore or even take your guests to.
Are you stuck on what to do with your kids during the summer vacation? There’s a mosaic shop in Aalsmeer that you can buy mosaic kits to do. The kits come fully equipped with all the required material. There is quite a good selection of kits to choose from such as a tortoise, mirror, tray and a dolphin.
It took my daughter just a few hours to mosaic this tortoise.
For those who know how to mosaic, it is a haven of mosaic supplies. It took me a good half an hour on my first visit to take in the large variety of mosaic material it had to offer.
It’s located near Schipol airport so you could pop by on the way to the airport or if you are on the way to Amsterdam. You also have the option of ordering online but in my opinion, it’s worth going there once to explore what it has to offer.
With the warm summer days, there are times when I don’t feel like cooking! I am so glad that I discovered Yoshi Bento as he delivers authentic Japanese bento boxes and donburi to your home or office! He delivers lunch from 11:30-14:00 and dinner from 17:00-21:00 from Mondays to Fridays. To secure the delivery time you want, it is better to order the day before.
His bento boxes come with rice, salad and a few small side dishes. As the food is freshly made, the bento boxes are still warm when you receive them. What more can you ask for!
My favourite bento box is the chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken) bento box. I tried his salmon shio-kouji yaki bento as I love ponzu sauce and it was delicious. He also does a good chicken teriyaki donburi.
I recommend Yoshi Bento if you are looking for good quality Japanese food at great value.
Have you been to the Leiden market? If you haven’t, it’s worth going. There is something about a market along the canal that gives it so much more character and charm. I can’t think of a better way of spending a Saturday morning than strolling in the market to the hustle and bustle of the vendors and the smell of food.
The market takes place on both sides of the canal and is held twice a week: Wednesdays and Saturdays. However, I recommend going on Saturdays as the market is twice the size of the Wednesday one. I like the fact that it is a much larger market than the Wassenaar market and hence, you have a bigger choice of fruit, cheese, fish, florists and nut shops to choose from.
There are also regular shops running parallel to the market. For example, there is Mamie Gourmande Boulangerie. It is quite comparable to Michiel. It sells quiches, all types of bread & pastries such as croissants, etc. It’s very popular and there is often a queue outside the shop.
In case you are wondering which shops in the market are good, here are my favourite shops.
There are several fish shops in the market and they are all in a row next to each other but I love Klaas Hartevelt for the its excellent quality and great value. There is always a really long queue at peak hour but it’s well worth the wait. He sells at different markets from Tuesday to Saturday and you can find more details from his website. Attached is a photo to help you identify his shop.
The market has my favourite chip shop called Karels Bio Friet. It’s organic and chips are fried with their skins on, just the way I like it, The chips are freshly cooked and not refried like some chip shops. It has 10 different sauces to choose from. My daughter’s favourite sauce is Flip which is a peanut butter and mayonnaise. It sounds like an odd combination for a sauce but it works. It’s quite nice. You can’t miss this shop as it is a distinctive yellow and green caravan.
There is an amazing cheese shop in the market called Holland Kaascentrum which has several award winning cheeses. The staff are really friendly and happy to let you sample as many cheeses as you want.
I have explored several markets in Holland and I would still say that Leiden is my favourite market!
As I have not been to a food truck event in the Netherlands, I simply had to go to this sushi festival. My daughter and I went on the first day and as we approached the entrance, we thought we might have to pay an entry fee as there were attendants standing at the entrance. It turned out entry was free and the attendants were there to check people’s handbags and bags which I thought was good idea in light of the recent terror attacks in England.
It was an enjoyable evening with numerous food trucks, music in the background and bars to buy drinks. It wasn’t too crowded and there were tables for you to sit and enjoy the food you bought. A food truck that I particularly liked was “Pass the peas” truck which had Korean style fried chicken with Asian pickles and it was really delicious. I wanted to try his veggie tempura but that was sold out.
That was a takoyaki stall and numerous sushi trucks. There was even a sushi sit down place where you could pick up sushi from a conveyor belt. I tried the “Crispy Sushi” stall that had an incredibly long queue. You had a choice of 3 fillings: salmon, California and vegetable. I loved the way the soya sauce came in a pipette!
Another interesting truck was the Yokohama truck that sold ramen. You could choose either their pork or vegetable ramen. Two guys literally prepared the ramen by hand while singing along to the music at the festival. Meanwhile, the chef prepared the ramen bowl with fastidious care. I loved the fact that they were clearly enjoying making the ramen.
There were some food trucks that didn’t really fit the “sushi” theme. For example, there was a brownie stall but as it was the only stall that sold dessert, it had quite a long queue. All in all, it was a fun experience and I am glad we went to the festival. On 10 & 11 June, it is open from 14:00. For more details, you can check out http://www.festival-joy.nl/