a wedding and fun days in Netherlands

After the first day I arrived in Europe for the first time, and got a surprise by my friend ( https://ayoeravenclaw.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/touchdown-at-brussels/ ) Let me continue the story of my 30 days of journey around Europe..  (Actually, it’s more like 12-ish days around Europe, because most of it I spent it in Netherlands). The first week was about my friend’s wedding, the Strawberry festival in Zundert, the city of Breda, the very touristic fisherman village of Volendam, & hunting the iconic windmill near Zundert.

The Wedding

My friend who is an Indonesian like me, was married to a Dutch guy, so the wedding was quite unique, because not only she will wear an Indonesian traditional clothes for the garden party, but some of her Indonesian friends who are attending the wedding will also wear it. These clothes really made impressions to the other guests as they never have seen such clothes, I can hear mumbles “it’s gorgeous”, “look at the details”, “so that’s the Indonesian dress, it’s beautiful”, etc. Well, it was surely one of the moments where I feel proud of my country, it sure is a beautiful country  😀

We’re the Indonesian ladies wearing our “Kebaya” for formal ceremonies. That’s me in Blue (I broke my heels right before the bride walked the aisle, so, yeah, lol)

For the ceremony, my friend the bride wore a white dress, but after the wedding ceremony, we had the garden party afterwards, and the bride changed her clothes into Kebaya also, in her favorite colour, purple.

Here are the newly weds, where the bride wore an Indonesian Kebaya. & It’s in her favorite color, purple

My mother felt proud to see the bride’s veil and the bride’s Kebaya, both looked beautiful on the bride. The wedding was wonderful, all of their guests and friends and family were filled with joy, enjoying their first dance with the music being played by the family band (the groom’s sister and brother play in it), the guests enjoyed some of Indonesian cuisines, saw some happy tears fell down from the groom’s parents too, it was a day full of blessing. The only things that are missing that day was the bride’s parents, well, I’m sure they’re both smiling down from heaven for her.

 

Zundert Strawberry Festival – Aardbeienfeesten

After the wedding day, the newly weds took us to see the local annual festival in their town of Zundert, which is the Strawberry Festival (Aardbeienfeesten). I guess we were lucky to be there at that time, so we can see this old tradition of celebrating the harvests of Strawberry in the heart of Zundert. Starting from the beginning of the central area near the town hall, up to the end of the main street, this festival was held. There were lots and lots of different kind of bazaar, selling handcrafts, vegetables, snacks & food (my favorite because we get to taste them all for free!), art performers, and of course, strawberries! Check out my photo in front of a big strawberry statue.

That’s me & mom in front of a big strawberry statue on an old truck! how iconic is that!

And seconds after I took that photo, some of the local band group was eagerly curious looking at my “selfie stick”, I guess they never really saw anything like it, because then they suddenly surrounded us and wanted to join us in the picture together, hahaha. What a pleasant surprise from the warm and lovely people of Zundert.

Suddenly these folks from the local band curious to join us in the picture, and I just called them “come on here!” ^,^

 

We continued on to stroll around the festival afterwards, many people are enjoying the sun on many tables scattered across the street, and since the theme of the Strawberry festival that year was Vincent van Gogh (a little history note, this town of Zundert is where Vincent van Gogh was born and spent his childhood), so there were many of his art was displayed around. There are also many art performers, one of them dressed and looked like Vincent himself, and a group of performer displaying themselves as a “dark”-living-painting ( I get to take a selfie with one of these “dark” people, hahaha).

That’s the “dark” living painting I mentioned, they are real people posing in it!

Some of the crowd enjoying the sun at the Strawberry festival

Here’s what happened when you take a selfie with a dark man from a painting, you’ll be amazed on how thoroughly he painted his whole surface in black! only his eyeballs are white!

So people, if you happen to be around Netherlands in June, make sure to check out this Strawberry Festival in Zundert, traditionally held during the second weekend of June. It is FREE of charge, no tickets required to enter, and you get to taste & enjoy the local tradition & culture 😉

 

the City of Breda

The next day, my friend took us to see the city of Breda. Honestly, since the first time I heard the name “Breda”, it reminds me of a song by Tiesto I used to hear when I was in college called “Breda”. Come to think of it, “was that song named from this city? hmm.. maybe..? oh wait, Tiesto IS a Dutch, he IS from Netherlands, so I guess my thought was right, hahaha… right? (I’ll ask him someday if I meet him 😛 )

My friend took us to stroll around the central district in Breda (Breda Nassaustad). We went there by bus, it is very easy to get there because the bus stop is just in front of the shopping district near the nassaustad. We bought the day ticket (dagkaart) for the bus, which was 5 euro for 1 day from Zundert to Breda, for as much as bus use you want, back and forth, it is definitely cheaper than buying the ticket per trip (3 euro/trip). There are also other many choices of Dagkaart (day tickets) for farther cities, but mostly you have to buy it on designated stores such as Kruidvat, HEMA, Intertoys, or Albert Heijn (you can find these stores easily around Netherlands).

In front of the entrance to the shopping district in the central area of Breda

The shopping district consists of many fashion stores, like that one just behind me in the photo, Z*ra, or many other brands we know worldwide, such as H*M, Forever 2*, Pull & B*ar, Adid*s, etc, and also lots of Netherlands’ fashion stores & brands, such as Van H*ren, where I bought a pair of black suede boots, as I find it cheap (cheaper than the standard price of a pair of boots in Indonesia), and it has become my favorite boots ever since. After that we continued to walk to the center, and I started to see the point of a big church. I asked my friend, “Oh! is that a church over there?”, she answered, “yes, it’s the Grote Kerk”. (Grote = Big, Kerk = Church).

Welcome to the nassau town of Breda, that’s the “Big Church” behind me, named “Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk”, or the “Church of Our Lady”.

Here’s one of thing that fascinates me about Europe, the Catholic churches, they are all HUGE! I mean for me, seeing the biggest Catholic church in my country is a cathedral in Jakarta, which is like half or two third the size of all big churches I’ve visited throughout the big cities during my trip in Europe, and by having that as a comparison, I found myself always in an awe. Including this one, no wait, especially this one, because this was the first HUGE Catholic church I’ve ever seen! I mean look at my photo, I still look like “is this thing real?” (little that I know, that days later when I got to Paris, then Rome, oh man Rome, the “hugeness” for buildings, landmarks, etc, turned out to be “pretty normal” here in europe, lol)

I wanted to enter the church to see the inside, but too bad it’s already closed (it was around 4pm if I’m not mistaken). Here’s a little history lesson I got about that church, my friend’s papa in law said that inside that church, there are graves of the family members of the Lord of Breda, Henry III of Nassau-Breda, total is 17 family members. And also, turned out since 1637, this church is no longer a Catholic, but it is a Protestant church (hey! that means I can join the prayer in this one next time I visit Breda).

Since the church was already closed, so we continued to walk around and see some outdoor cafe nearby, then we decided to relax and order a drink. It is my (new) favorite drink, “chocomel”! Hahahaha, actually it’s just a hot chocolate, my friend introduced me to this simple yet yummy drink, especially with the slagroom (whipped cream), oh how I love it! the whipped cream is sooo good, not like the ones in my country, the whipped cream are tasteless. But here in Netherlands? the slagroom is sweet and soft and yummy! So, yeah, basically it’s a hot chocolate with very tasty whipped cream, lol. I remembered my friend was jokingly called by her husband as the “little girl” because she always orders chocomel. Well, I don’t mind being called that way too, because I also love warm chocomel, hahaha.

Look at the sky! it’s such a beautiful sunny day! after some walking & a little shopping, we found ourselves a spot to enjoy the ambience of this city central.

Our love for warm chocomel, hahaha. It’s perfect for a sunny cold summer day like this..

We had our chocomel at one of the cafe called De Colonie, it’s attached to a hotel named Hotel De Klok. The cost for our drinks was around 3 euro per glass.

We also walked around near the other side of the central, & that’s my mom posing beside the canal.

After Breda, we visited a very touristic area of Netherlands, it’s the fisherman village of Volendam! Where one of the “must do” thing there is to take photos wearing the traditional costume of the Dutch fisherman, complete with the iconic “wooden shoes”.

Wanna know how fun it was? Stay tuned as I will continue putting my journey into this blog soon! ;D

Touchdown at Brussels!

I finally start to write a “real” travel blog post, and it will be about the first time I ever step on the land of Europe!

OK,here goes..

I firstly entered Europe through Brussels, Belgium. It’s like more than 10,000 km from where I live! (it’s 11,429 km to be precise) it’s literally on the other side of the earth. It took me 16 hours of flight in total (I flew with Emirates, 8 hours from Jakarta to Dubai, then another 8 hours from Dubai to Brussels). Before this journey, my farthest flight was to Tokyo which took around 7 hours. So,yeah, I was pretty damn excited to fly to Europe! (hell yeah I was frickin’ excited!! who wouldn’t?! hahaha)

My main purpose to go to Europe was to attend my close friend’s wedding who married a Dutch guy. My friend is one of the kindest person I’ve known in my life, for me she was always there for me as a friend, as a sister, and even sometimes as a mother to me. I ‘m so happy to see how she is now with her family there in Netherlands, she deserves all the happiness she lives in now.

So, there I was, planning on going to Netherlands to attend her wedding. Firstly I didn’t really plan on going around the continent, but then she kinda whacked me in the head, “Ayu..? You’ll be in Europe and you’ll just gonna spend a few days in Netherlands? Are you kidding? You can go to Paris from here in the same amount of time you usually go to Jogja! (even less than that!) And you can go to other cool cities & countries around Europe!” so there I was, changing mode from “family visit” plan (actually, I don’t need any plan at all for this, just visa + flight and done) to “ultimate solo journey” plan mode (now this.. is a real detailed & long planning, because who wouldn’t want to make the most of every dime I spend on the entire journey?)

From a 4 days plan to visit, I extended it to 21 days, and I plan to visit Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, & Germany. Ambitious much? Hahaha well, yeah I guess I was pretty ambitious with the plan of how many cities & places I want to visit on those countries I’ve mentioned earlier. Plus, later on my mother also begged so she can came along,haha. So, yeah, I toned down the ambitious plan to a “mother-friendly trip” plan, lol. I decided that first we’ll visit my friend until the day of the wedding, then after the wedding we’ll start the trip around.

I book a round trip flight with Emirates for 2 persons, Jakarta – Brussels departing on June 10 2015, & return on July 2 2015, it costs me 1,484 USD. It was an economic promo flight, it was cheaper than usual, but the extra cost was to wait in transit in Dubai for 8 hours (yep, a looooong nap waiting for the next flight).

But Hey, I have no complains, Emirates surely is one of the best airlines in the world, the stewardesses are extremely friendly & polite, the service was amazing, all the foods were delicious, I didn’t feel it was an economic flight at all, any drinks you’d want they’ll provide if for free (as for me, I asked for some whiskey & coke, which made my Mom gazed me with anger & disgust for a second, hahaha). I also remember my mom “fell in love” with one of the stewardess because she is very very very beautiful (a miss universe type of beautiful, & I totally agreed with her), and asked me to ask her (my Mom can’t speak English at all) if she can take photo together with her, and she was all blushed and happy and tried to talk back with my mom, but since my mom doesn’t understand, so I become her interpreter (which is exactly what I am to her during the whole trip in Europe, lol).  The stewardess name was Imanuella, she talked a little about how usually people will like other stewardess more than her, then I asked her “which one?” then she pointed out one of her colleague there who was handling other passenger, then I exchange look with my mom and we both agreed and shook our heads “Naaah.. you’re a lot more beautiful than her” and she was so happy seeing our reactions.

Our wefie with Imanuella, the kind & beautiful stewardess of Emirates which made my Mom her #1 fan

Our wefie with Imanuella, the kind & beautiful stewardess of Emirates who made my Mom her #1 fan. (I guess those guys in the back also wanted to join our wefie! lol)

Then we took several photos together, and she lend me her iconic Emirates hat to me & mom to wear for the photo, my Mom was too shy to wear it so she said I should wear it. Those laughs & blushes between my Mom & Imanuella, for me it has become a sweet “opening moments” for the entire trip.

This is above somewhere in France, 20 minutes before landing in Brussels

This is above somewhere in France, 20 minutes before landing in Brussels

My friend and her husband lives in Zundert, which is near the southern border of Netherlands & Belgium, so I decided we better enter the continent through Brussels airport than Amsterdam, because it is much nearer from Brussels (plus the price of the flight is cheaper to Brussels than to Amsterdam, lol). It took around 40 minutes of driving from Brussels to Zundert, while if from Amsterdam it will took around 2 hours of driving. We landed in Brussels around 8 PM, but since it was summer, the sun was still shining bright. For me & my Mom who never really experienced any summer or winter before, we were super confused, “why the heck is it still daylight here while it should be already dark now??” Apparently, in northern Europe, the dusk is at around 10:45 PM in the summer, and around 4:30 PM in the winter. Both of mine & my mom’s mind & body were so confused. We usually eat dinner around 8 PM because we will be hungry by then, and now there I was, 8.30 PM in the airport, a bit hungry for dinner, but it’s not even “night” (yet?!) For people who always lived in tropical atmosphere, experiencing what we had on those first 2-3 days in Europe really is unforgettable. Silly, but unforgettable.

When the plane finally touchdown the tarmac and made the screeching sounds, I can feel the joy filled me up immensely that I dropped a tear out of my eye out of happiness. This similar feeling I also experienced when I first arrived in Tokyo in 2007 (here’s some of those memories if you’d like to know https://ayoeravenclaw.wordpress.com/category/tokyo-nov07/ ).

My friend and her father-in-law picked us up at Brussels international airport, after a long 24 hours of journey (16 hours of flight + 8 hours of transit), at that moment we only think of getting a shower and relax. But turned out that my friend and her father-in-law already have a surprise for me, they took us to a spot where it’s the border between Zundert (Netherlands) & Antwerp (Belgium). I asked her, “Umm.. what is this..?”, she answered me “Do you remember, that one of your wishes in life is that you’ll be able to be in 2 different places at the same time?”, then I responded slowly and almost excitedly “Yes….. wait a minute, is this… the border?”, her father-in-law answered “Yes, Ayu, this pole right here is the mark that this is the border between Belgium & Netherlands”. The next thing I know is that I just screamed excitedly and hug my friend real tight and thank her for that, it’s one of the silly wishes I have in my life but she have made it came true!

 

That's the pole border between Antwerp (Belgium) & Zundert (Netherlands) where I made come true one of my silly wish "to be at different places at the same time". Thank you my dear friend and her papa-in-law for the surprise!

That’s the pole border between Antwerp (Belgium) & Zundert (Netherlands) where I made come true one of my silly wish “to be at different places at the same time”. Thank you my dear friend and her papa-in-law for the surprise!

 

So there I was, spreading my leg beside the pole, putting my left leg on Netherlands & my right leg on Belgium at the same time! Aaaaaaah… (pardon my screams but yeah, I just can’t help it, if I’m happy I can’t just have a smile about it, I’ll jump and scream and laugh about it 😀 )

 

What a first day! (^0^)/

 

Until next post about the next day of the trip! ;D

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