going dutch

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One week and a half ago I was in the Netherlands. It was peak tulip season and a magical place to be. My parents brought me along on their journey, and I was so grateful to get a chance to see this tiny unique country, and a few of its neighbors along the way.

We flew into Helsinki Finland, where we did have a chance to hit up the town, albeit with jet lag. I noticed this white hippo like creature everywhere, in the airport, in the shops, he even had his own store. Thats when I fell in love with Moomin and the Finn Family Moomin Troll. What better place then the Helsinki airport to discover the amazing artwork and characters of Tove Jansson?  Moomin has since inspired me to begin working on some small illustrations of my own. Thanks Moomin.

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When we arrived in Valkenburg, near Maastricht we settled into our home base, an adorable  apartment above a brasserie, called the Valkenhof Hotel. The whole place was filled with friendly Dutch, amazing cheese, and lush greenways and canals. On the hunt every morning sat two big bushy cats at the base of  Castle Valkenberg which we could see from our window.  The castle itself was beautiful and what you would imagine of an old fortressed hill town; old pock marked ruins and full views of the surrounding town. A weathervane  depicting an angel slaying a dragon sat at the pinnacle of the castle.

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Amsterdam was unbelievable.  In a stream of consciousness about this city, I would sum it up as; movement, methodical chaos, beauty in small corners, wild and lived in, the harmony of nature and humanity.

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My overall take aways from my European travels this time around were how beauty is appreciated just a bit more there. Art, culture and happiness intermingle and are given a higher importance than money. I also appreciated the way they view transportation, although unnerving at times the way bikers do whatever they want. Obviously they have their priorities a bit more in line with the good of humanity overall. Also, whats with all the ponies in the Netherlands?

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A few more vignettes of nooks and crannies I discovered in Maastricht, Haarlem, Lisse,  Valkenburg, and Mainz Germany...

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 and Valkenburg

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Oh and also...THE TULIPS!!

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