Guys, I’ve made it three weeks without leaving the country. It’s my record here. As much as I love traveling it’s been really nice to chill out at home, and now that I have an apartment I’m actually planning on staying in for the rest of the year, I’m finally starting to feel settled and like I know the city more. Plus, I found a market that sells dried mangos like they have in South Africa (DON’T ADD SUGAR TO MANGOES, THEY’RE THE MOST GLORIOUS FRUIT IN THE WORLD AND NEED NOTHING), so I now essentially have everything I could ever need. And even though I haven’t been ‘traveling’ these past three weeks, I have definitely been exploring the area around Den Haag!
Last weekend, a few of us went to Utrecht, roughly 40 minutes away by train. It is home to the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, the Dom Tower, which stands at 112.5m in height. That is one and a half metres higher than my bungee jump at Victoria Falls.
The tower was built as part of the Cathedral of St. Martin in the 1300s, but the church was never properly completed due to lack of funds, and in the 1600s the nave was destroyed in a tornado (which I didn’t know were a thing in the Netherlands), so the tower stands separate from the current cathedral.
Fun historic fact: the tower stands in the spot where the city of Utrecht was founded nearly 2 000 years ago.
The cathedral is fairly impressive as well. Its construction was initiated in 1254, but continued into the 1600s. Dutch church-goers, not the most efficient bunch.
Like the tower, the construction of the church was hampered by financial issues… but it seems like it turned out pretty nice, regardless.
Obviously, when you see a tall building, you have to climb it, so we went up to the top of the tower (via 465 stairs, what up crosstraining)! It was a great view, and we were lucky to have clear skies (allegedly, you can see Rotterdam and Amsterdam from the tower, but neither city has a distinct enough skyline for me to know whether or not I saw them).
On our way to the top, we got to see the bells of the tower. In total, the fourteen bells weigh 32,000kg – the largest bell on its own, the Salvatore, weighs 8 200kg.
The bells still ring today, and it is pretty cool to hear!
Utrecht also has several museums, so I went to Centraal (I have a Museumkaart, which allows you free entrance into the majority of museums in the Netherlands for a year – I would highly recommend it if you are staying in the country for a while and plan on visiting a couple museums), which was hosting an exhibit of Miffy, the famous Dutch cartoon bunny created by Dick Bruna. Miffy celebrated her 60th birthday this year, so the exhibit was set up as her birthday party. Since I am a child, I really wanted to see this.
I thought the entire exhibit was delightful. I was the oldest person there without a child, obviously.
One great thing about living in the Netherlands is that there is always something going on. I think it’s a law in the country that there has to be at least one festival every weekend. Honestly, it’s frustrating at times because there is so much I want to do!
Scheveningen Firework Festival
Yesterday, though, I went to what may be the best festival I will ever attend in my life, Mysteryland! It’s the oldest dance music festival in the Netherlands, and guys, I don’t even have words. THERE WERE SEVENTEEN DIFFERENT STAGES.
It was incredible. I mean, it’s a massive festival with so many different acts to choose from, but there’s also so much put into organizing cultural venues, art installations, you name it. It was one of the cleanest festivals I’ve ever been to, and was so well-run. I think the longest I waited for a bathroom was five minutes, which is unheard of. Truly, one day is not enough, Mysteryland.
And, man. THE MUSIC. What a lineup. It was so overwhelming. We kind of limited the people we really needed to see, and spent a lot of time wandering from stage to stage to experience the different acts.
But clearly, a necessary act to hit was DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is now 50. Times sure have changed since he and the Fresh Prince were maxin relaxin in Bel Air.
You can all rest easy – Jazz DELIVERED! He incorporated some of his old hits with the Fresh Prince, some Jackson 5, and most excitingly (because Sarah and I literally had a conversation in which we wished he would play this song), HE MASHED UP PONY BY GINUWINE!!!!! GINUWINE!!!!!!! Kris Kross followed him, and was also fantastic, but we had to leave his set early to head to Alesso!!!
This set. Oh boy. My mind is still blown.
It was unreal. Sarah and I managed to shimmy our way front and centre; it was just wild.
And I now obviously have festival withdrawal and have zero motivation to go to work tomorrow. But, we have Major Lazer in Brussels to look forward to!