In Holland I, the four year old, was our official family translator. Apparently, playing with Dutch children at preschool all day is a really great way to learn Dutch quickly. (I don't know if I would recommend this if you're over the age of, say, 6.) By the time we left Holland, I was fluent. But when we got back to the States, I think it took me approximately one Texas summer to ditch dank je vel for thanks, y'all. Suddenly, I was no longer bilingual.
I was hoping that when we landed in Amsterdam, all of my forgotten Dutch would come rushing back to me. But it turns out I remembered only four phrases:
dank je vell (thank you)
alst u blieft (please/you're welcome)
bent u klaar (are you ready)
zet 'm op slak (hurry up, snails*)
Let's rewind to four years ago, when Y and I visited New York for the first time. We were there for about four days, and were so frustrated with our inability to understand the Subway system that we gave up and walked for our entire trip. Subway maps, need I remind you, are in English.
It took us about 5 minutes to understand the public transportation in The Hague and Amsterdam, written entirely in Dutch. It was slightly trickier to figure out the country-wide biking maps, but we did it with only 1 wrong turn that deposited us in front of castle ruins.
And "hurry up snails" was not part of the directions.
I don't really know what my point is here. Maybe my pride was bruised in New York when I, a self proclaimed whiz with directions, couldn't navigate the public transportation. Maybe I just needed to prove to anyone who might have seen me angry in a Subway station that I've still got it, okay?
Now that that's out of the way...
A bike rack at the Leiden train station. (The one in Amsterdam was three stories and about 10 times as big as this one.)
From Leiden we rode through some picturesque countryside villages, complete with windmills and what was left of the tulips.
*My favorite game as a kid: