Allow me to preface this post by stating that unlike most things in my life, this trip was severely unplanned. Typically, I'm somewhat of a planner (a control freak, if you will) when it comes to vacations in new cities; I prefer to have my days and to-dos laid out well in advance of my arrival with room for spontaneity if need be. But this trip was planned in haste, not very long, and was different from any other trip because I went sola (solo/a = "alone" in Spanish). Also, half of this trip was for business (the Netherlands) and the other was for pleasure (Spain). Anyways, I digress. Let me know show you how I spent the first of my 6 day trip in Den Haag, Holland.
I spent two and a half days in Den Haag (The Hague), a coastal city in North Holland, mainly dropping some Euros on a new wardrobe in the shopping district, taking in the sites of people enjoying eating outdoors, wandering through the neighborhoods, and eating my body weight in gourmet chocolate. I had every intention to leave the city for Amsterdam everyday of my stay since I didn't know much about it until I became intrigued by the beauty of the city center via an infomercial that replayed all day on one of the local channels.
My first stop in the city center was the outdoor mall, The Passage, which gave Paris passageway shops a run for their money. Although I only purchased chocolate there, I went to other shops in the area and enjoyed the only warm and sunny day of my time in the Netherlands while perusing restaurant menus and avoiding being him by a bicyclist and/or trolley. The warm sunshine coupled with the busy restaurants full of locals enjoying a gorgeous Sunday afternoon made my stroll through Den Haag feel like the budding of Northern European spring. It was a great city to spend the weekend in, but I wouldn't recommend it for weekday exploration since the city center dies down quite a bit and shops close earlier in the day.
Although it was an hour away by train, I couldn't travel all the way to Holland without taking in the sites in Amsterdam for at least one evening. The city is so uniquely beautiful with its canals, boat homes, and bustling touristy streets. I went on a Saturday evening and Amsterdam was nothing short of live; people were spilling out onto the streets from bars and "coffee shops", there were a ton of bachelorette parties around, and I stumbled upon the Red Light District (which is a total dude zone - I've never seen so many men in one neighborhood in my life) by accident.
Even though I was only there for one evening, the sun didn't set in the city until after 10PM(!) so it didn't feel late when I left to return to Den Haag around midnight and I got to take a decent walking tour of the city to hold me over until the next time I return.
My explorations in Holland were between my business ventures so I didn't get to wander around as much as I would like, but my interest in returning has been peaked and I can't wait to come back (preferably in the summer) to finish up my site seeing and see what else this beautiful country has to offer.
In my next few blog posts, I'll share my trip to Madrid with you all and my travel tips for my ladies traveling solo dolo.