This day last week I was preparing to head into Amsterdam after spending a wonderful few days visiting my friend and her family in the city of Almere. This friend is why this trip (and most likely all future trips to Holland) is referred to as a book trip.
I met Susan on Goodreads on 2014. We buddy read a very strange book together and then both entered the world of fan fiction at the same time. The rest as they say is history. She has been to visit me in Ireland and this was my second trip to her. My first to her actual home. I had such am amazing time, I got to meet her three gorgeous boys and her fabulous mum and her two beautiful cats Sam and Bo.
Her cat Bo obviously wanted to come home with me so he put in a lot of effort opening my handbag so he could make an escape. She wouldn’t let me take him though. Apparently she and the kids are attached to him or something.
One of my favourite things about this trip was the gastronomical adventures we were taken on. Steengrillen is something Dutch people do for special occasions. The first Christmas I knew Susan she sent me pictures of her mum and her having it and I was instantly intrigued and knew I had to do it. She totally set us up on our first night there, which was also St Patrick’s Day, so warranted the special occasion meal. It was so much fun and such a wonderful way of eating.
It took us a few hours to eat but it felt like we were only there for an hour and at the end of it we weren’t stuffed and uncomfortable. I personally think that doing this for Christmas dinner is genius. Christmas dinner in my house usually consists of everyone stuffing their face and falling into a food coma afterward. Eating this way seems like a much healthier and fun way of celebrating. Even though he loved it, I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince my boyfriend to do this for Christmas dinner. I do think it could be a fun and easy Christmas Eve dinner though.
The next day there were some sore heads (we were celebrating St Patrick’s Day after all) and we spent time drinking tea and chatting followed by lunch at a fabulous little restaurant on the lake where fried food and wine cured us. Why mention this at all you may ask?
Barbeque boats people. Barbeque boats!
It was -3 while we were in Almere so obviously we couldn’t go out but these boats have caused much excitement and have ensured that we will be visiting again during warmer months. Apparently the restaurant provide you with all the Steengrillen fixings and you take yourself and your food out on the lake and grill on a boat. This could all end in tears but it’s barbeque on a boat so we have to do it. I can’t wait to go back.
I have been very lucky with the friends I’ve met online. I’ve not met a huge amount but I have made a few great friends and I think as long as you are careful and safe it’s just like meeting people in person. I communicated with Susan for well over a year before I met her and at that, when we met, we met in a public place and had people with us. That’s the careful and safe part. The amazing thing about finding a friend online this way is that you will most likely meet that person in a space where you have shared interests. In our case books. None of my real life friends back in 2014 had the same passion for books as I did so I found a place where I could talk about them. That place was Goodreads. I chat to Susan almost every single day, and our friendship has transcended just books, although we do still talk about them A LOT. She has become one of my dearest friends and for me it’s a friendship that yet again proves the spectacular power of books.
Some more book things to come from our Amsterdam visit in A trip to the Netherlands – part 2!