I moved to the Netherlands in June 2014 and vowed that I would do my utmost to visit as much of the country as possible if I was going to call it home. I soon learned of a village called Giethoorn in the Overijssel province. It is inaccessible by car and has plenty of walking and cycling trails, but more excitingly, canals for boating. Now, you may be struggling to see the appeal for an Amsterdammer to go somewhere like Giethoorn considering that my home city is not exactly lacking in canal action itself and which also bears the moniker of ‘Venice of the North’ – why come up with a new name when this one can, quite frankly, be applied to almost every Dutch city? Anyway, I digress.
My boyfriend’s birthday was fast approaching and we had discussed going away somewhere for a few days. Respite was much needed having just spent four days in my one-bedroom apartment in the company of my mum, sister and nephew, so the pictures of Giethoorn conjured up what I thought would be the perfect tonic.
I approached a couple of Dutch friends and colleagues asking for recommendations and they were nothing if not consistent in their advice: “don’t bother going, it’s full of Chinese tourists”. Unbeknownst to the Dutchies, however, this was actually a draw for me having spent the last three years feeling like a midget in this land of blonde giants. It’s also why Japan remains my favourite holiday destination, that and, well, everything else. Although if I never saw another squat toilet it’d be too soon. I thought I had the requisite thigh strength, but the splash back confirmed otherwise. No wonder the Japanese live so long though; they’re super supple.