A great way to end a backpacking trip is getting to visit with family you don't have the opportunity to see often, and in this case family who live all the way across the Atlantic ocean. I stayed with family from my dad's side in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Though it wasn't my first time in The Netherlands, it was my first time staying in Rotterdam.
Our family has Jewish roots and so we visited the town of Strijen which has a monument dedicated to the Jewish families who died in the Holocaust, including ours. It happened that while on my vacation the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia took place. It was strange to hear about all the turmoil back home in the States, yet feel so distanced from it at the same time. Though our family had visited Strijen back in 2008, the recent events especially made me want to visit again. In 2017 it feels surreal that we have to still be dealing with Neo-Nazis and the KKK, but because of that, it's important to look back at reminders of the past to see how destructive hate can be and how important it is to stand up for what's right.
While also in The Netherlands I had the opportunity to see Madurodam. It is a popular attraction in The Hague that has a bunch of miniature replicas of various Dutch cities and landmarks and even has some Dutch history shows there as well. The tiny towns were great, especially since they made this short girl feel tall.
If you're looking for adventurous Dutch food, I recommend checking out the outdoor food market in Rotterdam. You can even eat Herring by the tail, but I don't recommend that portion for any first dates.
I had an incredible time getting to catch up with family over in The Netherlands, even though it was brief, and I am so grateful to them for allowing me to stay with them and for showing me such a fun time. The Netherlands feels like a second home whenever I go there. My only wish is that I would have gotten to experience it with my Oma, but I was lucky enough that she brought a piece of The Netherlands to me all my life with her stories and Dutch traditions.
That marks the end of my big 30th birthday trip backpacking around Europe. It was incredible and I'm so proud of myself for doing it on my own. I'm also proud of myself for also managing to sleep on the airplanes. Every accomplishment counts right?
If you're reading this and thinking I must have been nuts to go on my own, it's not nearly as scary as you'd think, and I met amazing new people along the way. Life is meant to be an adventure, and I definitely had a great one.
Next up, I'll be posting about my recommendations and things I learned along the way for Scotland, London, and Paris for any solo travelers on a budget, as well as specific tips for female solo travelers. If you're looking to head to any of these places in the near future and want some suggestions, check in on this blog and I'm excited to share what I've learned with you. 'Til the next adventure!
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com