Before I started my studies here in Leeuwarden, I had never been to the Netherlands, even though it only takes me a three-hour road trip from where I used to live in Germany. Why I never came here? I don’t know, maybe because I thought as close neighbours of Germany, the Netherlands wouldn’t be so different andtherefor uninteresting. But only my very first visitprovedme wrong. I was really surprised on the first sight and never stop discovering habits, behaviours, traditions, and places that are different from Germany.
Pretty tiny houses
The first thing I recognized when I came here were the unique, tiny, yet typical Dutch houses. Even though they are built in a certain style, each single one of them seems to be different and stand out from all the other ones around. It reminded me a bit of the houses in London.
Even today, after two years in this city, I love to walk through the streets just look at the houses, and enjoy how pretty they are. My future dream house definitely is a Dutch one, no matter where on this planet I will live.
I got to realize that Dutch people are not only extremely outgoing and friendly but also like to live a more open lifestyle than the Germans. This explains why the term “gezellig” is from a high value for the Dutch culture. For example, in almost every restaurant or café you can find huge tables as it is very common that groups of more than ten people meet up for just a coffee or dinner. Also, many of the houses have huge windows without curtains basically inviting everyone to be part of their life. Maybe itis not exactlythe intention,but this certainly creates a really warm and welcome atmosphere in the streets.
But what still surprises me the most is that Dutch people can make themselves comfortable everywhere they want. I remember one of my first days here when it was really warm outside. Everywhere I went people started to carry out their furniture building up their own living room ON THE STREETS. They just sat there with a bunch of friends, enjoying the sun and some of them even started to make a BBQ. Awesome!
Water, Water, Water
I love water! The more I love the grachten(canals) going through the whole city of Leeuwarden. They look so pretty with all the nice houseboats or just regular boats passing by. These water streets give me the feeling of being connected to the whole world. This might sound funny but when I see boats with a German or French flag I realize that it’s still absurd to me that you can travel to small places like Leeuwarden without a train, plane or car.
Definitely one of the coolest things is to rent a tiny boat on a sunny day, ride through the city with a group of friends, listen to music, and have a beer on the water. That way you can experience Leeuwarden from a whole new perspective.
My favourite place in Leeuwarden is de Kleine Wielen. I am not sure if I have ever seen another areawith so many lakes connected to each other of this size. There, you can find pure nature. In summer, it is an awesome place to chill with friends, go swimming and have a BBQ. Due to the fact that this area is so big it never feels crowded and you can always find a quiet spot away from any other people.