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Beer And Bitterballen 2017

Making a local connection

Maria Smeirat


The year 2015 was for the Netherlands. It also happened to be the same year I used Airbnb for the first time, to search for our perfect stay at Utrecht, why Utrecht do you ask. Instead of Amsterdam? Let’s just say that Utrecht for us – That’s my sister & me – was the ideal hub for all our trips to the scenic Dutch villages itinerary we had planned, we also wanted the big finish to be in the capital. So where in Utrecht? From the hundreds of listings, we finally settled on a cozy flat in the center, with a great LP record collection that sold the deal for us & the wall of travels memories they had in their living room, those are definitely my kind of people. & so started the back and forth emails with Marlieke(our host), it started with the formalities of strangers, & then being me & having to sort every detail of the trip, we started texting about what cities to visit, does she think our plan of visiting 7 cities during 13 days is too crazy, should I take my rain boots or summer espadrilles, slowly we became friends & I couldn’t wait to meet her in person! In April, we arrived in the train station of Utrecht, Marlieke & her boyfriend Derek kindly offered to pick us, I didn’t know what to expect, how will they know us? This felt more like a blind date! & so searching for any 2 people that might look like the small picture on the website, I heard someone shouting my name, & they had found us! 2 girls looking completely lost & looking frantically around, & that was it, we picked up from where we left in our emails & texts, no awkward silence, we were rambling all the way to what will be our home for the next week, we talked about our travels, a passion for all of us, their upcoming trip to south America, a true inspiration story, they were leaving their desk jobs for a year to tour around the America, they showed us their Spanish flashcards & books, Derek put some of his favorite music on, while we set the table for our lunch of cheese, Gouda of course & wine, for dessert Liquorice sweets & a strong cup of coffee, & that got us all pumped up and excited to discover the city, would they mind being our guides for today? Sure they will, it was a gorgeous sunny Saturday, every Dutch person was out soaking up the sun with their beers to keep them hydrated, & we weren’t any different, we had our first local white beer & bitterballen which become our usual order whenever we met, they even got me on a bike after 15 years! For all those wonderful memories; The Netherlands will be Marlieke & Derek.

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