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September 26th 2019
Published: September 27th 2019
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We left Utrecht for Zaandam a short 44 minute train ride away. Our last stop on our epic two month holiday, we decided to yet again finish our European adventure in Amsterdam and stay with my cousin Biab and her husband Douwe. Biab, who moved to the Netherlands 22 years ago from Thailand, and Douwe, live in Zaandam which is only 10 minutes north of Amsterdam. We had visited them twice previously and in 2003 I stayed with them for 3 months (I was 20). They met us at Zaandam station, then a quick break at their place before heading out to Amsterdam for the evening. We parked just outside Amsterdam and took the metro (very new it only opened a year ago) the rest of the way. We had some beers at a bar and then went around the corner opened up by King, who is the son of my aunty Punnee (also from Thailand). We had delicious REAL Thai food which we had been craving this whole trip. The restaurant is called Baibua and its really worth a visit whilst in Amsterdam. Later we had beers at a bar in Leidseplein – really inefficient service actually and they had hardly anything available! It was a fun first night.

The next day Bill and I headed into Amsterdam for the night. On previous trips we always wished we booked a night in the city so we didnt have to worry about catching a train back home or bothering someone to come and pick us up. We spent the day at a craft beer bar, taking photos and shopping (ok I shopped!) As we've been to Amsterdam many times before this was really a chill day, no museams, no rushing around. That night we ate at a Lebanese restaurant, it was just average but pricey and rather formal. We just had some mezza's and then headed to a different bar back in Leidseplein to have more (a bit more) drinks into the evening. The next day we checked out then went to the flower market to do a bit of souvenir shopping. It was a rather dreary day and after a late breakfast we checked our bags into a locker at Centraal station and caught a train to nearby Haarlem. Haarlem is a pretty town, only 15 minutes from Amsterdam. We visited the St Bavo church which is very pretty and is well worth the €2.50 entrance fee (proceeds go to the upkeep of this church). We then walked around the town centre, and as the weather started to turn very windy and rainy we went to a nice restaurant called the Grand Cafe for lunch. After a lovely tomato soup lunch (perfect for the weather) we walked to see the town windmill then shopped a bit before catching the train back to Zaandam via Amsterdam Centraal to pick up our bags.

The next day Biab and Douwe both had the day off so they could take us to visit aunty Punee who lives in Leylystad about an hour away. On the way there we stopped at Zaanse Schans, about 5 minutes from home. Zaanse Schans is a windmill villiage, very pretty with windmills, lush greenery and museums, clog workshops and a cheese factory. We always love visiting Zaanse Schans – yes of course we've been there before the perks of having family in the area! In Leylystad, aunty Punee made us the most DELICIOUS Thai feat! We also met her grandson Jayden (King's 6 year old son). Unfortunately we didnt get to see her daughter Penny this trip as Penny flew put to Spain that same day. We had a really nice last evening in Holland, eating and drinking (oh dear, just a little too much for me oops!!) And so, we woke up quite late today, and to our surprise Biab didn't go to work either and Douwe was home too so that was really nice we all had a lie in and later Douwe took me and Bill to Zaandam town centre (which is at the train station) so we could do some shopping. The shopping area at Zaandam is beautiful as in amongst the train station and shops is a waterway and the hotels and even Zaandam city hall is done up like traditional old Dutch houses. We shopped and had coffee (an Australian flat white surprisingly) before calling Douwe to come collect us. Home, and a final pack – it was sooooo difficult packing everything. 2 months of shopping, living out of a suitcase and souveniers galore but somehow, we got it all in! We were then taken to the airport and just like that 5 days had gone by and we were saying our goodbyes! I love my family, and Biab is so fun-loving we're like sisters!

Well, until the next adventure!! I can only say one word about this holiday – AWESOME. And epic (ok, two words!) The highlights? Too many to choose from but if I could name a couple, hiking the Caucuses mountains in Georgia, re-visiting Turkey after a 5 year hiatus, visiting the Joint Security Area in South Korea, eating Pixtos in San Sebastian etc etc. Travelling broadens the mind, takes you to many new and exciting places. I can't wait to start planning the next adventure!!

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