Vai Fabim

Meet Fabio from Brazil! His passions for food and travel have led him to explore Europe. With a keen eye for discovering new culinary experiences and a desire to capture the beauty of different cultures, he shares his adventures with us.

My vibrant journey through the Netherlands and Luxembourg

There are two relatively small countries in the center of Europe that genuinely pack a punch. The Netherlands and Luxembourg are filled with history, culture, and food that’s a heck of a lot better than anyone gives them credit for. But above all—and what interested me the most—was a series of smaller yet deeply creative and vibrant cities that aren’t typically on most travelers’ radars. What do they deliver? A mix of tradition with youthful and creative spirit gorgeous old architecture—and with far fewer tourists! Here’s my itinerary.

1. Haarlem, the Netherlands

Though it’s just twenty minutes from Amsterdam, Haarlem feels like a world unto itself. The city’s roots go back to the 10 century, which makes the scenery, buildings, and squares quintessentially and beautifully Dutch. Yet this place is not a ho-hum place stuck in the past. Here are the things I did in Haarlem:

The Frans Hals Museum

As a lover of art, one of my first stops was the Frans Hals Museum, dedicated to the works of Dutch Golden Age painters, such as Haarlem’s native son, Frans Hals. For me, Hals’ work captured each subject’s face and soul, using an innovative style that still holds sway in 2023.  

Biking to Keukenhof

Later that day, I rented a bike to experience every corner of Haarlem and ride toward Keukenhof, a town nearby. Keukenhof is one of the biggest gardens in the world. Over the years, the estate has grown to encompass an area of over 200 hectares. When I was seated in the garden, I felt transported to a world of bright colors and soft smells. I’d never seen so many flowers and such variation in one place before. It’s truly an experience of a lifetime. Here are some tips for a respectful visit: make sure to follow existing paths and not step on the flowers, respect the space by not littering or picking the blooms, and learn more about this fascinating history. One way to do that is to visit the Tulip Experience Amsterdam, which shares information about the history of these flowers, their significance, and their cultivation methods.  

Beer tasting at the Grote Markt

One great attraction of Haarlem is the beer, which has roots as far back as the Middle Ages. Today, young brew-masters are cooking up batches with flavors as unexpected as sriracha, cucumber, and chocolate chili! If you’re keen on a cold one (and I was after so much biking!), check out the Grote Markt, a historical market square with amazing bars and stunning architecture right in the heart of the city center.

Fabio, article in the Netherlands.
The kind lady gifted me a souvenir from the Netherlands!

2. Vianden, Luxembourg 

My final destination in mind: Vianden. This hidden Luxemburgish gem has roots as far back as the Roman era, which explains the winding streets, picturesque houses, and narrow alleyways. It’s also a place of great historical importance: did you know that the French author, Victor Hugo, once lived here and wrote some of his literary masterpieces in town? Here’s what I did in Vianden:

World class crafts

Vianden is known for its rich history of craftsmanship, especially in lacemaking, pottery, and glassblowing. That tradition endures today in many parts of town where workshops with decades of history still stand. I had a blast walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, popping into shops to watch artisans whittle or blow glass. It was also the perfect way to find gifts for friends and family back home.  

Architectural adventure

Vianden is home to make remarkable churches. I’m not very religious myself, but I love to view churches as a way to understand the past. So much of history has centered around these places of worship, so I enjoy exploring them just to feel the pulse of history. My favorite church in Vianden is St. Nicholas.  

A meal to end my day

Luxembourg does not exactly have a reputation for world class cuisine. But that’s an oversight! In Vianden, I ate a dish that’s local to the region called “Judd mat Gaardebounen.” This mix of salted or cured pork collar and broad beans is delicious—the creamy beans are a perfect match for smoky pork. I washed it down with a glass of cold beer and left the restaurant extremely satisfied.

Luxembourg food in Vianden.
‘’Judd mat Gaardebounen’’.

As I look back on my journey and the incredible experiences it offered, there are a few moments that truly shine. Here they are, along with some valuable tips for future travelers who wish to embark on a similar adventure:

  1. I loved my cycling route through the Netherlands. It is an incredible experience that makes you feel like a local. One of the most special things is that you can get up close to the flowers, as farmers open their farm doors to visitors. Two important tips for anyone visiting:
    a) Start your bike ride in the Netherlands early, as it’s easy to get distracted and spend hours admiring a single field;
    b) Respect the designated distance from the tulips to avoid damaging the flowers.
  2. It’s so incredible that you have the freedom to explore the Vianden castle on your own. Many of the rooms have been recreated, allowing you to experience what life was like for royalty, with kitchens and bedrooms adorned with authentic details. To top your experience, take the chairlift to Vianden castle for a panoramic view of the town and the castle. 

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