Saturday, July 2, 2016

Amsterdam and the Travelling Shus

Amsterdam is such a unique city. It has the famed red light district, the relaxed drug laws, the bikes, so many bikes, great artists, such fun food, and a long and interesting history. It also has The Travelling Shus. (Technically they are in Harlaam, but that's a minor detail I shall just choose to ignore.)

The Travelling Shus are Brian and Erica, an Edmonton couple who moved to the Netherlands just over a year ago. Though born in Canada, Erika also has Dutch citizenship. In a bold move, they decided to leave friends, families, and jobs in Edmonton to go Dutch.

With The Travelling Shus, ready to chow down on pancakes

Kerry knows Brian from the Edmonton cycling community, the #yegbike group on Twitter. We've been following along with their blog (check it out here) as they discover what it's like for Canadians to move to the Netherlands and figure the place out - to learn the language, to live life, and to travel to the many and varied nearby destinations. We thought it would be fun to meet up with them.

I'm so glad we did. We had such a fantastic time. We felt a bit like we had our own personal tour guides. They happily talked about life in the Netherlands, pointed out differences from home, and answered our questions. We learned so much, such as:
  • How Dutch people continue to bike in their everyday clothes even if it's raining. You get caught in a downpour, oh well, you go around wet because you'll dry off eventually;
  • How the Dutch like sweet things, such as extra syrup or icing sugar on an already sweet pancake;

  • How if you're liked at your job you're doing something wrong (or so someone in Erica's family believes);
  • How Saint Nicholas doesn't have elves, but rather Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). Those who portray this character put on blackface make-up and red lipstick, and wear colourful Renaissance clothes. Not surprisingly, this tradition has become somewhat controversial; and,
  • How people bike around with clunkers because so many bikes get stolen.

Kerry and Brian discussed biking, a lot: the everyday clothes people wear, the lack of helmets, the infrastructure, the parking lots for bikes, the fact that motorcycles are allowed to use bike lanes(!!), and quite likely much more than this.

Brian and Erica were generous with their time. We met for lunch at The Pancake Bakery. All sorts of pancakes, both sweet and savoury. So many options. The savoury options were more like a pizza menu, but using a pancake base rather than pizza crust.  

Stroopwafel cookies in the pancake with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate flakes. And of course, one had the option of adding more syrup if needed.

The next day they took us to Zaanse Schans, an area that shows the traditional way of life with windmills, cheese making, wooden shoes, and baking.

Despite the deluge of rain, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We entered one windmill used for cutting logs. Only 12 logs a day go through this windmill, but it provides the wood for other windmills (construction, refurbishment and upkeep) to help keep them going.

We ate cheese and speculaas (a yummy spice cookie), saw wooden shoes being made, and shopped a wee bit.

It was great meeting up with the Travelling Shus. The weird thing about blogging, I felt like I knew them quite well even though we'd never met - all thanks to reading their blog. Fortunately, in person they are just like, perhaps even better than, their blog.

So if you're looking to read a great travel blog, look them up!


  1. Thank you for all of your kind words! We truly enjoyed every moment with you and your family, we could have spent a week with you here!

  2. Arranging exercises uniquely suited for travel will help you review the get-away with affection and dreams of the nerve racking time you had won't cross your eyes each time you think back.imp source

  3. We felt a bit like we had our own personal tour guides.

  4. The blog gives you such feelings that it’s only written for you.