Staying true to making my blog more of a love letter, I’m starting a new blogging series called “InstaDutchland” posted (ambitiously) every Monday. Naturally, the hashtag I’m using is #InstaDutchland.
Inspired by my blogger friends Deepa from Currystrumpet and Esther from Urban Moms, I’m going to share with you guys my favorite new discoveries and regular places that nourish my soul. It’s also a special nod to one of my first readers who asked me to show her the Netherlands. There’s so many wonderful gems, especially hidden ones, scattered throughout this small Western European country. Hopefully it can ignite some wanderlust. Or even encourage locals to play tourist. At the very least, I hope it inspires people to simply step out of there homes and find beauty (nature, art, love, random acts of kindness) waiting outside of their doorstep.
On a more personal level, it’s a way for me to pause and to document the little things that bring joy to me and my family.
Here are my favorite “finds” for the week of September 22-28, 2014 (Yes, my “week” is from Monday to Sunday, at least for the first time around).
We were happily surprised to discover an artistic rendition of Utrecht’s historic Oudegracht at one of the most unlikely places – at the side of the Springweg garage. Graffiti artists Hendrik and Robert-Jan Brink, also known as the verfdokters (the paint doctors) painted the scene with the owner’s permission. It’s conveniently located right behind the Oudegracht and in close proximity to our favorite stores. We were absolutely thrilled and couldn’t resist a spontaneous photo shoot with my son.
The Zelfgemaakte Markt (ZGM) is basically an Etsy’s fanatic’s dream come true. It’s a market where handmade and handcrafted goodies made by local Dutch artists, designers, gourmands and anything else that falls within the artisanal category. The clever namesake “Zelfgemaakte Markt” is translated as “I made it myself.” Adding to it’s novelty is the location – the Mariaplaats, a historical market site since 1391. Staying true to the Dutch love of thrift, all the items were reasonably priced and many would be considered steals. I couldn’t resist buying my toddler son a whale and two pillows made by SpijkerGoed for €40. SpijkerGoed is a new initiative started by two sister-in-laws bringing some new life to old jeans in the form of pillows, stuffed animals, and bags. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have been their first customer!
When my dearest friend invited me to Baritimus Moestuin Doorn for a family date, I came with an open-mind. The website was relatively nondescript about the vegetable garden, leaving lots of room for imagination. In all honesty, I was more interested in seeing my friend and her family more than exploring a new place. Just entering the walled grounds where the garden was located was breathtaking. It’s possibly the most peaceful place I’ve ever visited for a while. We were completely awestruck to say the least.
It felt like a hipster’s fairy tale, the kind that you read in magazines, come to life. The inner geek in me was suddenly reminded of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a magical place where one goes to seek sanctuary among the blooms and with one another. I’m convinced that it’s one of those places that have to visit yourself to fully comprehend it’s beauty. The added bonus: it’s literally only a five minute bike ride from my own home nestled in the woods of Doorn.
Perhaps my favorite find in vegetable garden is Theehuis ’t Sand. It was by far the prettiest cup of coffee I’ve ever had. I felt so fancy. And it might be just the right place for me to occasionally get some writing done.
Next Saturday (4 October 2014) there is going to be the stekken-en-oogstmarkt (cuttings and harvest market) from 11:00 am to 3:00pm. Entrance is € 2,50 per person. Address: Driebergestraatweg 44, Doorn.
All photos taken on my IPhone 5s cause I’m “old school” like that. Come follow me on Instagram – I’d love and appreciate the company!