Christmas in Holland - New Year´s in Iceland

Rotterdam and Gouda

This trip started by Gudrun and Benedikt going for a short visit to Brussels.  Some scheduled meetings with the top management of Nu Skin EMEA in the European headquarters in Brussels.  We also enjoyed visiting the Brussels center, Grand Place square, and seeing the magnificient Christmas light and music show that covered the whole square and all the beautiful buildings surrounding it.  There where also many Xmas markets with gluhwein and typical holiday mercentize. 

As it was Atli´s idea to spend Christmas in Holland, and him being very interested in architecture, we decided to try out some pretty “out there” architectural wonders.

Our plan was to stay one week in Rotterdam and the actual Christmas week in Amsterdam.  We chose Rotterdam, as it was close to being our “home town” for two years some twenty years ago.  We had lived in a suburb called Capelle aan den Ijssel when Benedikt did his MBA in Rotterdam School of Management and Gudrun did her studies in Erasmus University.

We set out to be reintroduced to the city and to show the “kids” where we had lived.  A lot has changed during those years but we remembered the Cube houses very well and when Gudrun had seen some time ago that some of them are rented out, we jumped to the opportunity and to test them out.

It was an eccentric and great experience as these houses are like nothing else.  We were pleasantly surprised by the house we stayed in which was well equipped and clean.  The house itself is on five floors with very steep and one could say dangerous stairs.  But Dutch people are used to these kinds of stairs, as most of the houses we have visited in Holland through the years are build “up”.

When you are interested in architecture, Rotterdam is definitely the place to be.  There is hardly a normal house in sight and you are surrounded with masterpieces that often show a very “out of the box” thinking.  But Rotterdam is so much more; it is also very friendly and warm with a very interesting and fun shopping and restaurant area.

One of the nostalgic things we did was to go for an evening dinner at Hotel New York.  This was the hottest place when we lived there and apparently still is.  Only now, the whole area where it is situated is very hip and cool – far from what we remember.  We also went to visit the Rotterdam School of Management, which was great for Benedikt to reconnect.  We met up with two Alumni relations staff from RSM.  It was also quite surreal that Maria in Maria´s cafe, this is the RSM canteen, did remember Benedikt from 1995.

Visiting our old neighborhood and street was also an experience especially as it took us some time to agree on what house we had lived in.  Benedikt was a bit out there in his memory but we blamed it on that he was much less present at home at that time as his MBA program had been pretty intense.

One day we drove over to Gouda, the town of the Gouda cheese.  This is a small country town and very cute and authentic with it's little streets, town square and small dikes.  We both remembered that we had been biking once to Gouda – that was when we had no car during the student years.

On our way to Amsterdam we stopped at a Pannekoeken house in Scheveningen near Den Hague.  It was a cold day so we did not stay long in the area but we just had to try out the Dutch pancakes and see if they were as good as we remembered – and they definitely lived up to expectations, especially when we were sitting in a warm beach bar with hot chocolate.  Very “Chrismassy”.


We also rented a house (from the airbnb site) for our stay in Amsterdam.  And as we had a mission on exploring the architectural side of the Dutch, we choose a house that was called Architectural Paradise.

This house was situated in the Northern part of Amsterdam only about ten minute trip by tram from the center.  This area, called IJburg, is very different from old Amsterdam.

That whole area is basically two big man made islands connected by bridges.

Some of the houses in the area are not even connected directly to a road, but floating docks.  We did enter our house from a street but the whole backside was only water and all the houses have small floating docks and many have boats by their side.

We took good time to explore the city.  Using Tripadvisor to find the best places to dine was very successful.  Other than that we just did what we usually do for Christmas, prepared a great Christmas dinner, played cards and games and just relaxed.  We brought a new game with us that gave us some really good laughs, called Disruptus.

We got some guests visiting us from Apeldoorn as Rob and Thea, Rebecca and Tionist came over to discuss Nu Skin.  We wish them well in their pioneering role in building the market in Holland and beyond.

We also took time and visited friends from the RSM times.  Eriko and Noud are living in the center of Holland.  It was like meeting friends you have seen just a few weeks ago.  Such a nice couple and the humor is still there very strong.  Loved to see your house and family.

We did not plan on having a Christmas tree but Dora surprised us with bringing up a “tree” that she had made at home and glued to the wall.  There we could place the few presents we had brought with us.  Most of the presents were waiting for us back home in Iceland but it was nice to open at least a few to get that part of Christmas feeling.

This was a very special time for the four of us, even if we missed having Björn with us.  This is a Christmas to remember but in a way it also makes you value the “normal” Christmas even more and we all look forward to a being in Iceland with all the extended family next year.

We did not totally miss out of the Christmas feeling with family as we did come back to Iceland to spend New Years eve.  This gave us time to time to relax a little and sit down to wine and dine with those family members that are in Iceland.

This is our final blog for the year 2013.  We like to thank all of you who have taken some time to follow our journey around the world so far.  Like we have said, we hope this will be an inspiration for you to follow your dreams – what ever they may be.

Our best wishes to you all for a healthy, productive, enjoyable and memorable 2014.  Where ever in the world your journey takes you.