Work Ethic, France

Now, this is pretty solely about small town south of France.  And though I am speaking of specific experiences in general terms, I by no means, mean to imply that this is true for everyone.  Though I wouldn’t be surprised….

I spent three days in Limoges, France; trying to buy a birthday gift for my mom.  I had originally only wanted to spend one day there, but it turned into two, which then turned into three. Why?  you ask.  Was it because Limoges was so beautiful/interesting that I simply couldn’t take it all in in one day?  No.  I simply couldn’t take any of it in in one day, because that day was Sunday, and everything was closed.

Ok, but everything opens back up on Monday, right?  Right.  Except.  Monday, it rained.  Now after having survived monsoon season in Korea, and weeks on end of rain in the UK, I wasn’t about to let a little rain keep me from my objective.  My outlook was apparently not the same as most of the shop keepers in Limoges however.  When the rains came, most of them went home.  Just closed up, no note.

So we waited until day three, desperately looking at the weather forcast, hping I would not be delayed another day.  And I wasn’t.  Finally, I got into stores!  And then I ran into a new problem.  All stores close from about noon to 2pm.  Which in my book means 12-2.    In the shop keeps of Limoges books however, that means about 11:30-3.  And sometimes, for fun, a long nap is taken, and the shop doesn’t reopen that day.  And little Julie is left, standing on the sidewalk, looking at the posted opening hours in confusion, as her eyes dart to the sky to ensure it isn’t raining, and then to Tabitha to check what time it is.

Needless to say, I was not too happy, and when I finally (finally!) found what I was looking for, the hand painted box looked like it had been hand painted by a kindergartener.  And it was over priced.

I Love, The Netherlands

Alrighty Ireland… you’ve got some competition for my favorite European country.  The Netherlands pretty much blew my mind for the last three weeks.  Reasons why it’s awesome:
Great cheese.  To know me, is to know my love of cheese.  And boy is the Dutch gouda fabulous.  And it’s everywhere.  Cheese shops sell dozens of varieties, supermarkets too.  A toastie is ridiculously cheap most places, and you can get a kaassouffle right out of the FEBO machine.  Delicious.

Cycling.  Being in the Netherlands made me think to myself, ‘wow, cycling is great.  I’m definitely getting a bike when I move back home, and that’s how I’ll get around.  It’ll be fabulous.’  And then reality sets in.  Cycling is awesome in the Netherlands because everyone does it.  And there are full on seperate lanes for cyclists.  Back home, I’ll have to deal with traffic, and avoid getting run over.  I was so fun to bike all over though.  Only downside?  As a pedestrian, I was nearly run over by cyclists several times, one simply cannot cross the road in Utrecht.  When I cross the road, I automatically think I am on the sidewalk… but in the Netherlands, I am now standing in the middle of the bike path.  And they go fast.  The little brrrring brrrrring chime of the bike bell makes me jump out of the way… even in my sleep.

Great shopping. Super cute little funky stores line the streets of the shopping districts.  Chock full of interesing and unique items such as voodoo doll kitchen knife holders, and giant lego stacking shelves, walls of incense, tons of recycled products, and just about the cutest housewares anyone could want.  Add to that the abundance of great restaurants of all kinds, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Speaking of food.  I woukd like to pause for a moment to acknowledge one food item, that may in fact outrank everything else that I love about the Netherlands-  ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the stroopwafel.  Two thin waffels, filled with a caramel syrup.  Absolutely delicious.  They can be purchased just about anywhere, but my personal favorite would be getting a fresh super stroopwafel at one of the Netherlands many many farmers markets.  Still warm.

Flowers.  Now, I know I have already dedicated an article to Keukenhof, but I want to talk more locally.  Buying flowers in the Netherlands was beyond amazing.  Beautiful bouquets of flowers were almost ridiculously inexpensive.  A person can get a bouquet of tulips in the Netherlands for the same price as a person buying a bouquet of mangy looking wildflowers that look like they were cut from the side of a highway somewhere, in France.  And you can buy them everywhere.  Truth be told, I was there for three weeks in the middle of tulip season.

Attractive and genuinely nice people.  When they say ‘have a nice day!’ as you’re leaving a shop, there’s just something in their voice, and the look in their eye, that tells you they actually mean it.  It isn’t just an empty phrase.  Also, I met up wit a couch surfing group in Utrecht, and every person was so nice and inclusive.  It was a great night.

So.  I love the Netherlands.  And I am so happy that I came to visit, because originally it was not in the plan.  Also, I realized when I got there that my brain had seriously confused Dutch and Danish, so at least I’ve got that straightened out now!