It’s a Saturday morning in the Netherlands. It’s November and all of 4 degrees Celsius outside, but at least the sun is out. What is there to do?
Go to the beach, of course!
On a Saturday morning like the one I’ve just described, we bundled up in full winter gear and headed out to Wijk aan Zee, a small, pretty town tucked into the Dutch dunes on the North Sea.
That I can even conceive of this as an enjoyable activity is a testament to how far I’ve come since I moved to the Netherlands almost four years ago.
I arrived here a die-hard beach snob. Coming from a tropical country with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Philippine beaches—their white sands, warm turquoise waters, stunning sunsets and perfect weather—had spoiled me rotten.
Looking around for the nearest beach to sustain me, I turned to the North Sea—and was less than inspired by what I found.
I almost froze to death on my first trip to Texel, one of a chain of islands so far north it was practically nudging Denmark. I wrinkled my nose at the frigid, muddy-brown waters of Zandvoort, Bloemendaal, and the towns along the Dutch coast who all shared the same last name “aan zee”. (Although I had to admit the Dutch dunes were pretty.) Den Haag’s Scheveningen was mobbed and frenetic. And the city beaches of Amsterdam depressed me outright.
So what was a sun-starved, beach-loving tropical girl to do? Live with it. Tolerate it. Make do with what I had.
But somewhere along the way, something strange happened. I fell in love.