7 Reasons Why I Loved Living in the Netherlands


Over the past few weeks, I’ve really been trying to figure out what my next move is.  I’ve literally gone back and forth between options like teaching English in Vietnam, starting a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand, or moving to Prague to work for the Clock Tower Pub Crawl.  It’s exciting to know I have a few different options, but it really dawned on me recently that I just want to move back to the Netherlands.  I started my Master’s Degree in Leiden, and loved living there.  I was supposed to finish my degree there, but I realized I’d rather spend my money traveling Asia than living in an expensive place like Holland.  But the time has come for me to move somewhere for a bit, and it would be great if it were back to my favorite country in the world.

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When I was living in Leiden, and I told people I was from California, people would always ask why I moved to The Netherlands.  The responses were always something along the lines of, “Why would you move here?  The weather is so shit”.  Well yeah, Dutch weather isn’t ideal.  But when you grow in sunny California, perfect weather year round isn’t really a high priority to me.  It’s actually nice to have seasons.  So I decided to write down some of the main reasons why I loved living in the Netherlands…

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Dutch People are Awesome

Of course, just like any place in the world that I’ve found particularly amazing; the people are one of the biggest factors.  I love hanging out with Dutch people.  Yeah, I’ve met a few along my travels that aren’t the coolest or most interesting, but the majority of people from the Netherlands I’ve met are just really down to earth.  I got some really great Dutch friends spread throughout the country, from Maastricht to Groningen, Eindhoven to Amsterdam — it’d be great to move back and kick it with the homies again.  Oh, and just so it’s said at least once in the post…Eindhoven De Gekste! 

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Getting From Point A to Point B

Maybe it’s because I’m from Orange County, California, and never really used public transportation until my first trip to Europe, but I feel like the Dutch have gotten it down.  Getting ANYWHERE in the entire country is so simple.  I’ve actually heard that Dutch people don’t like the public transporation system, which I think is ridiculous, but it works so well.  One of the best parts is using the website 9292.nl.  This website will literally give you all the options of getting to any station or location in the country.  It’s so handy, easy to use, and works really well.  The trains are clean, some of them have free wi-fi, and they aren’t TOO expensive.  I just loved that about the country; every city is so well connected by trains, busses, trams, etc.


The English Factor

Everyone speaks (pretty much) fluent English.  As much as I’d like to think my Dutch is “okay”, it’s not.  In fact, it’s horrible.  It’s pretty great that everywhere you go you know you won’t have a problem dealing with a language barrier.  Not just that, Dutch people are proud of their English skills, and are more than happy to speak to me in my language.  It’s pretty great.  It makes things easy for me to when I’m hanging out with my Dutch friends, because I know they’re talking to me.  All of them speak great English, (except Stijn when he’s too drunk, haha).  I honestly shouldn’t even try to learn Dutch, as it’s rather hard, but I love the country so much that I do want to learn more.  I’ve always made the joke that one of these times I’m gonna fly back to Holland and speak perfect Dutch, and shock everyone out there.  That’s right, one day I’ll understand everything!

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The Music Festivals

Fact:  Dutch festivals are the best music festivals in the entire world.  I know I haven’t been to festivals in every country, but I can say with confidence that none are better organized and entertaining than in Holland.  My first event I ever went to was Sensation White in Amsterdam back in 2009.  (This was before it got lame and had them all over the world, this was the OG Sensation).  Since then I’ve been to Amsterdam Dance Event, Mysteryland, Valhalla, and Time Warp just to name a few.  The Dutch organizers know what’s up, but it make sense since they’ve been doing it for a long time.  It should be obvious, considering that the world’s best DJ’s are pretty much all Dutch.  Have you read my blog post 30 Music Festivals To Experience Before you Die ?  The most popular country is definitely The Netherlands…


Life is Better Abroad

Well, this just a personal preference.  I know lots of people who couldn’t fathom the idea of living anywhere else but the states — obviously not me.  I thrive abroad.  I thrived in the Netherlands.  I was only there for a brief time, and now it seems stupid to me that I left so quickly.  But I’m glad I did what I did, because living and traveling around Asia for the past year has been incredibly life-changing.  I am hoping I could move back though.


The Easiness of Nightlife

Want to grab a beer?  Of course.  And there are bars, pubs, and clubs everywhere.  Especially when I was living in Leiden, and the whole city was walking distance to just about everything.  Everyone is down to go out pretty every night of the week, which I actually turned out quite more often than you would think.  But it’s so lively, accessible, and entertaining.  I guess for me it’s hard to explain, but going out in Holland is just simple and fun.  Designated Driver?  L-O-L.  

Ah. I used to so damn chubby.

Ah. I used to so damn chubby.

Showing Friends Around Amsterdam

I’m a tour guide.  It’s in my blood.  Living close to Amsterdam was really great, and there were several times where friends of mine were coming to visit, and I got to show them around one of my favorite cities in the world.  It’s always nice when you can show someone around in a city you know well, and show them the parts that make that city special.


I could actually write a whole lot more about why I want to move back, but I think I covered the basics.  I did just discover a cool website called Undutchables which specializes in finding jobs for people who don’t speak Dutch…so who knows.  Maybe I’ll land myself a job there.

**If any of you good looking Dutch people out there could help a struggling Graduate Student with finding a job anywhere in The Netherlands…Let me know**

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Looking for a list of the best music festivals in Europe?  Look no further.  Europe is home to some of the biggest and craziest festivals in the world, and it will definitely take you some time (and money) to cross off all of these from your festival bucket list.

1.  Tomorrowland

  • When:  End of July
  • Where:  Boom, Belgium
  • Website:  http://www.tomorrowland.com/global-splash/
  • Why:  If you need a reason why you should experience Tomorrowland at least once before you die, you should probably stop reading this list.  Arguably one of the biggest and best festivals world-wide, Tomorrowland is a theme park for electronic music enthusiasts.  Everywhere you go you hear quality music, beautiful stages, and meet incredible people.  Put that together with an amazing Dreamville camping experience, and the biggest names in Electronic music; Tomorrowland lives up to it’s hype.


2.  Glastonbury Music Festival  

  • When:  End of June
  • Where:  Glastonbury, England
  • Website:  http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/
  • Why:  Another festival that needs no introduction, Glastonbury provides one of the largest and biggest line-ups throughout Europe.  Tickets are hard to come by, but if you manage to get your hands on one, you’re in for a treat.


3.  MELT Festival 

  • When:  Mid – July
  • Where:  Ferropolis, Germany
  • Website:  http://www.meltfestival.de/en/
  • Why:  One of Germany’s newer festivals, MELT is a 3-day camping experience that will have a little bit of something for everyone musically.  Each year they’ve had nothing but stellar line-ups and top-notch production.  It’s during the peak of festival season, but if you can make the trip to Germany, it’ll be well worth your time.

Melt 2013 - Samstag

4.  I Love Techno

  • When:  Beginning of November
  • Where:  Ghent, Belgium
  • Website:  http://www.ilovetechno.be/
  • Why:  One of the longest and most well-known festivals in Europe, I Love Techno is a must for electronic music fans.  Held just a bit outside the beautiful city of Ghent, it’s the perfect place to make a weekend trip to for this insane music festival.  Bringing in a wide variety of music, spread across 6 stages during one epic night, you’ll definitely love I Love Techno.


5.  Mysteryland

  • When:  End of August
  • Where:  Haarlemmermer, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.mysteryland.com/
  • Why:  Tomorrowland’s “sister” festival can not be overlooked when it comes to the best festivals in Europe.  The location is beautiful, there’s plenty of stages, and a wide selection of music to choose from.  Keep in commercial at the mainstage, or go hard at the Q-Dance stage for nothing but the best hardstyle.


6.  Sziget Festival

  • When:  Mid August
  • Where:  Budapest, Hungary
  • Website:  http://www.szigetfestival.com/
  • Why:  8 Days of camping and listening to amazing music in Budapest; yeah that sounds perfect.  Not only is Budapest an amazing city to visit, Sziget is one of the largest and longest festivals in Europe.  You definitely need to tick this one off your festival bucket list.


7.  Awakenings Festival

  • When:  End of June
  • Where:  Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.awakeningsfestival.nl/
  • Why:  If you haven’t been to an Awakenings party, then that’s a damn shame.  They provide nothing but the best of underground music, and this 2-day festival will leave your feet aching in pain from non-stop dancing.


8.  SONAR Festival

  • When:  Mid June
  • Where:  Barcelona, Spain
  • Website:  http://sonar.es/en/
  • Why:  Barcelona is easily one of the best cities in the world when it comes to electronic music, and SONAR is definitely the perfect evidence of this.  A combination of day and night events, mixed with a bunch of  “OFF SONAR” parties spread throughout the many clubs Barcelona has to offer, there is no better time to make a trip to Barcelona than during SONAR week.


9.  Time Warp 

  • When:  Beginning of April
  • Where:  Mannheim, Germany
  • Website:  http://www.time-warp.de/
  • Why:  The “Mecca” of Techno.  If you want to hear nothing but the filthiest, heaviest, and most insane techno; head over to Mannheim for TimeWarp.  They have events in The Netherlands as well as Italy, but you got to make it to Germany to experience the real thing.  Germans love their techno, and this is guaranteed to be one of the craziest parties you’ve ever attended.


10.  Sensation White

  • When:  Various Dates
  • Where:  Various Locations
  • Website:  http://www.sensation.com/world/en/
  • Why:  Sensation has become a world-wide phenomenon, with having events everywhere from Amsterdam, Bangkok, and South Africa.  A night where you dress in all white, and dance to groovy house music.  You’ll definitely get the chills when the lights go out, and you hear the words… “Welcome.  To.  Sensation!”


11.  SONUS Festival

  • When:  Mid / End of August
  • Where:  Pag Island, Croatia
  • Website:  http://www.sonus-festival.com/
  • Why:  Sonus has only been around for a few years now, but it has easily made it mark as one of the best festivals in Europe.  The ticket earns you access to the 3 main clubs on Zrce Beach, with all the big names playing all day and all night.  These 5 days are very intense, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing music in a beautiful place.


12.  EXIT Festival

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  Belgrade, Serbia
  • Websitehttp://www.exitfest.org/sr
  • Why:  With a line-up that has a little bit of something for everyone, EXIT festival is absolutely crazy.  With prices low in Serbia, an amazing line-up, you gotta make it out to Belgrade to experience EXIT for yourself.


13.  Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE)

  • When:  Mid October
  • Where:  Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.amsterdam-dance-event.nl/
  • Why:  This is more of an electronic music conference, but all the big names flock to Amsterdam.  The whole city gets painted up with yellow signs that say ADE, and every night there are endless options of which club to go to, and which DJ’s to see.  One recommendation, get yourself to an Awakenings event at Gashouder!


14.  Dekmantel Festival

  • When:  End of July / Beginning of August
  • Where:  Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.dekmantelfestival.com/
  • Why:  A 3 Day camping festival in the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  This festival can not, and should not be missed!


15.  Monegros Festival

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  The Desert (2 Hours from Barcelona)
  • Website:  https://www.grooveparade.es/
  • Why:  This is a non-stop 20 hour rave in the middle of the Desert.  “When I came to Spain, and I saw people partying, I talked to myself, What the F%&^?”  This will definitely cross your mind, because people go HARD at Monegros.  A very large festival, with many stages and impressive line-up, you’ll definitely have a blast at this marathon desert rave.


16.  Transmission Festival

  • When:  End of November
  • Where:  Prague, Czech Republic
  • Website:  http://transmission.cz/en/
  • Why:  Two words come to mind:  Trance + Lasers.  Transmission easily has one of the best laser shows in the entire world.  Mix that with thousands of trance music lovers, an amazing arena with perfect sound, and the biggest trance names– that’s the Transmission experience.  Oh, and it’s in Prague!  One of the most beautiful cities in Europe!


17.  Bennacassim Festival

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  Costa Azahar, Spain
  • Website:  http://www.fiberfib.com/
  • Why:  Benaccasim is another festival with a diverse line-up, awesome camping experience, and amazing atmosphere.  Definitely plan a trip to Spain one summer and check it out for yourself.


18.  Extrema Outdoor

  • When:  Mid / End of May
  • Where:  Kelchterhoefstraat, Belgium
  • Website:  http://xofestival.be/en/home
  • Why:  Located in the beautiful countryside of Belgium, this camping festival is 3 epic days of amazing music!  Every year they bring tons of amazing DJ’s and a terrific crowd.


19.  Valhalla Music Festival

  • When: Mid December (Before Christmas)
  • Where:  Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.valhallafestival.nl/en/
  • Why:  Half-Circus / Half Rave.  This one-day party is unique, beautifully decorated, and brings amazing talent!


20.  Creamfields

  • When:  End of August
  • Where:  Cheshire, England
  • Website: http://www.creamfields.com/
  • Why:  One of England’s biggest and well-known music festivals, you definitely need to find yourself in Cheshire at least once to experience this 3 day camping festival.  Boasting massive stages, with an even more massive line-up, you’re in for a damn good time.


21.  Defqon 1 Festival

  • When:  Mid June
  • Where:  Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://www.defqon1.nl/
  • Why:  One of the world’s biggest Hardstyle festivals.  Warning:  do not attend if you do not like extremely fast BPM’s, or have a pre-existent heart condition.


22.  Primavera Sound

  • When:  End of May
  • Where:  Barcelona, Spain
  • Website:  http://www.primaverasound.com/
  • Why:  Just at the beginning of festival season is this amazing 4 day festival in the great city of Barcelona, Spain.  Bringing in amazing live acts and DJ’s, you’ll love this experience.  There’s also one in June in Portugal if you can’t make it to Spain.


23.  Secret Solstice Festival

  • When:  Mid June
  • Where:  Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Website:  http://secretsolstice.is/
  • Why:  Iceland is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the entire world, and Secret Solstice provides the perfect reason for music festival addicts to plan a trip!  Known as the “midnight sun festival”, Secret Solstice always bring a top-notch line-up, fantastic production, and incredible atmosphere.  While it used to be one of the more difficult countries to visit, budget airlines like WOW Air have made this trek much more possible!  Do yourself a favor, and make sure you attend Secret Solstice at least once in your life!  Book tickets now!

24.  Hideout Festival

  • When:  End of June / Beginning of July
  • Where:  Pag Island, Croatia
  • Website:  http://www.hideoutfestival.com/
  • Why:  Another festival hosted at the beautiful located of Zrce Beach on Pag Island, Croatia.  Bringing in some of the biggest names at amazing venues, a trip to Croatia over the summer is a must.


25.  Roskilde Festival

  • When:  End of June / Beginning of July
  • Where:  Roskilde, Denmark
  • Website:  http://www.roskilde-festival.dk/music/2015
  • Why:  8 days. 130,000 visitors. About 170 acts. Spectacular art + events. International audience. Delicious food. Non-profit since 1972 – all profits donated to charity.


26.  Balaton Sound

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  Zamardi, Hungary
  • Website:  http://www.balatonsound.hu/
  • Why:  5 Days partying to a wide variety of commercial house and techno in Hungary.  Beautiful venue, amazing food, and one incredible atmosphere that is guaranteed to be a festival you’ll never forget.


27.  ULTRA Europe

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  Split, Croatia
  • Websitehttp://www.ultraeurope.com/
  • Why:  It was only a few years ago when ULTRA announced they would start a European edition in Split, Croatia.  This massive 3-day festival brings in the best mainstream trance & house artists at the mainstage, and thumping underground house and techno music at the Carl Cox + Friends tent!


28.  Dance Valley

  • When:  Beginning of August
  • Where:  Velsen Valley, The Netherlands
  • Website:  http://dancevalley.com/
  • Why:  If there’s one place that knows how to throw a proper music festival; it’s the Netherlands.  So many Dutch festivals have been listed already, but Dance Valley is a 1-day party that could not be left out.


29.  Lollapalooza Berlin

  • When:  Mid September
  • Where:  Berlin, Germany
  • Website:  http://www.lollapaloozade.com/en/
  • Why:  Lollapalooza has already expanded with two different festivals in South America, and their next mission is brining it to Berlin.  With a festival as big as Lollapalooza, you’d be an idiot not to check out their European edition at least once!


30.  T In The Park

  • When:  Mid July
  • Where:  Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland
  • Website:  http://www.tinthepark.com/
  • Why:  Amazing music festival in a beautiful country, T In The Park is held over 3 days and brings in some of the world’s biggest names in a wide variety of genres.  If you find yourself in Scotland over summer, it’s a party you’ll never forget.


So there ya have it!  A list of the top 30 music festivals, parties, and raves Europe has to offer!  How many have you been to already?  Do you think I’m missing any important ones I need to add to this list?  Let me know in the comments section!  Also, if you haven’t already, check out my post on 25 Music Festivals in America To Experience Before You Die.


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10 European Music Festivals To Experience This Summer

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For those who know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m a big music festival junkie.  The atmosphere, the music, the people; it’s just an all around good time.  I consider myself lucky to have attended some of the biggest festivals in the world like Coachella, Tomorrowland, Amsterdam Dance Event, Sensation White, Future Music Festival Asia, I Love Techno, Mysteryland; just to name a few.  If there’s one continent that truly crushes it with throwing proper music festivals, it’s EUROPE.  Every one I’ve been to out there is insane, well organized, and always bring stellar line-ups.  With the global expansion of electronic music and the growing popularity of music festivals, there’s no better time to visit Europe than in the Summer time, and hit up a couple of these amazing music festivals.  But enough talk, let’s talk festivals…

1.  Awakenings

Where:  Amsterdam, Netherlands

When:  June 28-29


2.  Benaccassim

Where:  Costa Azahar, Spain

When:  July 16-19


3.  DEKMANTEL Festival

Where:  Amsterdam, Netherlands

When:  July 31- August 2


4.  EXIT Festival

Where:  Serbia

When:  July 9-12


5.  Glastonbury

Where:  Somerset, UK

When:  June 24-28


6.  MELT! Festival

Where:  July 17-19

When:  Berlin, Germany


7.  Secret Solstice

Where:  Reyjavik, Iceland

When: June19-21


8.  Sonar Festival

Where:  Barcelona, Spain

When:  June 18-20


9.  Sonus Festival

Where:  Pag Island, Croatia

When:  August 16-20


10.  Tomorrowland

Where:  Boom, Belgium

When:  July 24-26


3 European Music Festivals To Experience Fall 2014

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If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with electronic music.  Having lived in Europe for several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many different electronic music festivals.  During the Fall 2013 when I was studying in the Netherlands, I went to all three of these festivals, and had some of my favorite nights in Europe.  If you get the chance; visits these incredible cities, and party all night to some of the best DJ’s in the world.    

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10 Things to do in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the world.  There are people who think it’s just a hedonistic city filled with marijuana and hookers — those people are morons.  There are so many amazing things to do in Amsterdam.  Check out these 10 ideas as a starting point for your visit.

1.  The Heineken Experience










This is one of the activities I think everyone should do in Amsterdam.  I’ve been through this tour at least four times now, and everytime I have a great time.  It’s much more than just a simple walk-through the old Heineken brewing factory.  There’s games, a virtual ride, a tasting demonstration, and a lot more .  You get two beers at the end, and one smaller beer during the tasting demonstration.  You can find coupons at hostels for 2 euros off, which should bring it down to an even 15 euro.  You can spend hours inside, and it’s definitely worth the money.  It will also give you a brand new way of looking at Heineken; if you don’t like before, I’m sure you will after you the Heineken Experience.

2.  Museums







The main three:

Rijk’s Museum

Van Gogh Museum

The Anne Frank House

3.  Stroll through the Red Light District


No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without taking a stroll through the notorious Red Light District.  It’s a relatively small area with one main long road along the canal.  Be ready to see lots of prostitutes standing in windows, advertisements for live sex shows, sex shops, coffee shops, and bars.  It’s a lively area, and obviously one of Amsterdam’s most well known tourist attractions.  There’s even a Red Light District Pub Crawl, but I’ve never been on it.  The RLD is located just a few minutes away from Dam Square.

4.  Coffee Shop Crawl










Wanna get high?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Amsterdam is a Mecca for marijuana lovers, and there’s not shortage of green and purple in this city.  Weed prices vary from different shops (normally between 6-12 euro per gram), with the cheapest stuff being found at smaller shops that are not big tourist hubs.  A great way to smoke in the city is to simply walk around and find a coffee shop, walk-in, buy a gram, roll a spliff, smoke, commence walking around the city, repeat.  A good starting point would be to take a look at some of these coffee shops.

5.  Drink in Rembrandtplein & Leidseplein Squares

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Amsterdam might be more well-known for it’s abundance of weed lovers and coffee shops, but it’s also an amazing place for nightlife.  There are tons of bars and clubs in both these main squares, and it’s an awesome vibe.  They are located just a short 10-15 minutes from each other, so it’s easy to start the night at one spot, then head on over to the other.  What I normally do is start the night at Satellite Sports Bar in Leidseplein square because they have a great atmosphere, and awesome drink specials.  I’ve been to practically every bar in Rembrandtplein square, and they are all pretty fun (but can be rather expensive).  If you are looking to club, check out Club Escape in the center of Rembrandtplein.  It’s an awesome club, and they’ll have big name DJ’s there during the weekends.

6. Ride a Bike

Amsterdam Bikes on the Bridge- Mahdi Shadkar-202









If you don’t know, there is a massive bike culture in The Netherlands.  Seriously, they bike everywhere, and it’s awesome.  They have parking garages for bikes only.  Everywhere you go in Amsterdam, you’ll see bikes everywhere.  There are plenty of affordable places to rent a bike for a day, and it’s a great way to live like a local, and explore the city on wheels.  Just be ready, Dutch people take biking seriously, so follow the rules, stay in the bike lane, and don’t crash into anyone.

7.  Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Canal Cruise









This can be kind of touristy and expensive, but it’s a great way to see the city.  If you go on the Heineken Experience, they include a free canal cruise (short 5 minute ride) to the Heineken Gift Shop.  They sell beer on the cruise for 2 euros, and give you some basic history of Amsterdam.  Definitely take advantage of that.

8.  Waterloo Plein Flee Market








I didn’t discover this place until my 3rd time in Amsterdam, and really fell in love with it.  It’s a really long stretch of two aisles that sell just about everything.  It’s a great place to go souvenir shopping and buy a few random items as well.  There’s some good food places in here as well.  Take your time, eat lunch, and buy some stuff.

Open:  Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 hours

9.  FEBO Vending Machine Food










When people come to Europe, they are often excited about trying all the different foods.  Well, the Dutch are not well known for the food, but they have some amazing snacks.  When you are walking around, you might notice little vending machines.  There’s a large variety of different stuff.  One recommendation; try a Frikkandel or a Kroket.  They are all over the city.  Also known as “Eating from the wall”.

10.  Cheese











Ohhh the Dutch make some quality cheese.  While exploring Amsterdam, you will most likely see a few cheese shops that have a wide variety of different cheeses to try.  If you have time, you can even take a day-trip outside the city to smaller towns where they make cheese.  But if you don’t, definitely take some time to sample and try some cheese.  I personally love some good Dutch Gouda.