Normal people take the train between major European cities because it’s 1) quick, 2) easy and 3) affordable.
I am guessing you have figured out by now that I am not normal. In fact, while the train is a lovely way to enjoy the scenery and not have to do any work it has one big flaw… you miss SO much along the way!
It’s for that reason that Adam and I almost always rent a car when we travel. So much of the fun for us is the journey and bumping into the most lovely, unexpected things!
Of course, I am a planner at heart so we had mapped out quite the day for ourselves to get from Amsterdam to Brussels:
This town is everything you hoped it would be! An adorable small Dutch town in the countryside that is filled with CHEESE.
Pro tip: You’ve been saying the name of this cheese wrong you’re entire life. It is not pronounced “goo-da”, but actually pronounced more like “how-da”. I know, mind blown.
We loved walking around the town square, which had a GIANT Christmas tree and ice skating rink for the season.
We also loved seeing the Weigh House where all of the cheese was brought and weighed before it was sold and of course, sampling fresh Gouda cheese.
Pro tip: Local farmers around Gouda open up their dairy farms for tours and tastings. We unfortunately were there on a Sunday when they all were closed, but this is a MUST if you’re visiting during the week.
It also wouldn’t be a trip to northern Europe without some smoked salmon, so we had to indulge in my favorite way possible…on a bagel at Bagels & Beans. Props to the super friendly staff there – they were so sweet!
Many people go to Zaanse Schans to see the famous Dutch windmills since it’s so close to Amsterdam, but since we had a car we ventured to Kinderdijk. It happens to be a UNESCO world heritage sight and has 19 total windmills
Pro tip: It can get quite busy as it is a major tourist attraction (and a stop for many river cruises), but we drove past the entrance, pulled off to the side of the road and found a trail that led into the windmills which had a fraction of the people there. You don’t get the quintessential view of the windmills all lined up, but it sure was still quite remarkable!
The downside of renting a car is that parking can be awful in some of the smaller towns and we were a victim of this parking problem when trying to visit Bruges. However, I have been there before and can tell you that it is such a beautiful place. Like Amsterdam and Venice, it has beautiful canals that you can take small boats on. It is quite medieval with gorgeous architecture, delicious food, lots of chocolate and so quaint.
Here are a few photos from when I was there back in 2007 since I know you’re curious what it looks like! I’d say camera technology sure has improved since then 😉
I’m going to be honest, there’s only 1 reason we came here: Adam’s beer bucket list. In this town is the Sint Sixtus Abbey which brews what some may call the most elusive beer in the world. You can only buy it from the Abbey itself (by calling a cryptic telephone line to pre-arrange a pick-up…and you can only do this once every 60 days) or from the cafe across the street. It’s known as one of the best beers in the world, so of course we had to check it out. I am a HUGE fan of Belgian beers and this one was exceptional. The beer was absolutely, positively delicious!
Pro tip: This beer is delicious and VERY high in ABV. If you’re driving, make sure that you are safe 🙂
Our time in the countryside was short, but so delightful! We saw some beautiful sights, ate delicious cheese, drank delicious beer and even saw Brussels sprouts growing outside of Brussels! I loved seeing so much more of the Netherlands and Belgium and can’t wait to explore even more.
If you’d like to read more about our Adventures in Amsterdam, click here! Plus, stay tuned for more on our time in Brussels.