We were greeted in Haarlem with a partly cloudy sky, cool breeze, and within 5 minutes of walking from the train station, a view of the De Adriaan windmill and a boat cruising the canal. Not a bad introduction to the Netherlands.
After checking into our boat-hotel (more on that later), we headed to Jopen brewery.
They had a great variety of beers with really interesting flavors and tasty bites including bitterballen, which we decided before devouring were basically fried gravy balls. Approved.
We ate a bit early so that we could catch an organ recital at Sint-Bavokerk. What, you've never made plans to go to an organ recital? I hadn't either, but after reading about the incredible organ in this church, I was pretty excited to go. I can't say I've seen a ton of organs in my day, but there's no way you could look at this sucker and not say "wow."
I love live orchestra concerts partially because there's so much to see. You can watch the conductor, let your eyes dance around each section, or stop on a soloist, then pick new focal points as the performance continues. But with an organ, you usually don't see the person playing. I kept looking at the pipes trying to figure out how the sounds were happening and wondering what the organist looked like while playing. There's definitely something divine to it.
That night we had a less divine experience and got a combined total of ~ 2 hours of sleep. Our boat-hotel was real cute with bunk beds in a tiny room and windows in the "lobby" looking out on the canal. The cute-factor quickly waned, however, when we could hear our neighbors get in late, settle in, and snore loudly, and more so when our other neighbors got in later after being locked out. They did not settle in as quickly, and I think by around 4am after hearing a couple hours of drunken banter, Chris had already found us a new place to stay. The next morning, we checked out and headed to a different hotel in Zandvoort.
There wasn't much happening in this beach town besides a lot of wind, but it served its purpose. We slept like rocks both nights there and they had a lovely breakfast which was an added bonus. I kind of love European continental breakfasts at hotels. You can always count on there being deli meats and cheeses, eggs, fruit, a variety of breads, and fun spreads like Nutella, Speculoos, Cookies & Milk, and jams.
On our last day, we checked out of our honeymoon suite in Zandvoort and went back to Haarlem for the afternoon before our bus left. It ended up being sunnier than expected, so we erased the boat-hotel debacle from our minds and spent time browsing the local shops and getting one more taste of smoked mackerel and Gouda cheese.
Amsterdam post is coming up next, but if you just can't wait, we cover our sleepless night, Haarlem, and Amsterdam in one action-packed podcast episode.