Our visit in Nijmegen was probably my favorite stay during our Netherlands excursion. Greg served here for 6 months on his mission and he really loved the area. They have a lovely, bustling downtown area, rich history, and a great soccer team.
We stayed at an AirBNB that was a little unusual compared to our other stays. It was a big mansion on one of the big streets in town, and every room was filled with a different guest and we all shared one big bathroom! Here are a few pictures of our AirBNB there:
It was nice having the rental car there, but in hindsight, we wished we would have rented bikes here. Luckily, the walks were fabulous and we only hit a light bit of rain.
We had a busy day when we were. We woke up early and took a drive around town to see Greg's old apartment. Then we went back to the city center and met Job, the ward mission leader. He had been the ward mission leader when Greg was on his mission as well. We got to walk around the church and then Job took us on a fabulous walking tour of the city.
We stopped at this amazing store in the city center called Flying Tiger. It was a lot like Ikea merged with Paper Source for dollar store prices. Needles to say, I was in heaven. I saw these paper flowers out front and I knew I would love this store. I picked up a few things here as souvenirs for my sisters.
Our walks around Nijmegen were beautiful! The architecture was stunning and I just love, loved all the little Dutch details. We had to allow plenty of extra time when we planned to walk somewhere because I would stop so much to take pictures. But can you blame me?!
I was captivated by the bike lane! This was the first video I took of the Dutch bikers. This next video is of a guy using a pressure washer on a scaffolding to clean the brick of an old home. I LOVE pressure washers and I LOVE cute Dutch houses, so we spent a good couple minutes just watching this guy. It was so cool!
Job led us to some great restaurants in Nijmegen. It was seriously my favorite food we experienced on the trip, probably because it was more familiar to me than most things we tried, but still different enough that it was exciting. I got vegetable soup, Greg got a sandwich, we shared this lovely danish, and of course Greg ordered chocomel whenever we could find it.
We found another restaurant a little later that was so good, we went twice.
We also got to see a quick view of Germany! Nijmegen is very close to the German border, specifically the town of Kleve, Germany. We drove the rental car over, excited to cross the border and see some Oktoberfest celebrations. But being late in the afternoon, we were rather sleepy. We got to Kleve, but we were so tired, that we pulled to a parking lot and took a nap for 30 minutes. We drove a bit around town and ran into some beautiful gardens and walked around a bit. We wanted to explore a bit more, but we needed to get back to Nijmegen for a soccer game!
(Sad, but interesting fact: Nijmegen was the first city captured by the Germans in The Netherlands during their invasion in 1940. Later in the war, the allied forces were trying to bomb Kleve, but miscalculated and dropped a bomb on Nijmegen. They also saw a lot of fighting later in 1944 because they have so many important bridges. But the operation failed and the Allied forces lost the bridge, which is considered one of the worst losses of the war.)
Miraculously enough, we were able to go to a Nijmegen soccer game on our first day of the visit. When we were first planning our trip, I told Greg to look up the schedule and see if we could plan our stay around a game. He looked it up and couldn't find anything. But then we switched our flights so we would start in London and end in Amsterdam, which changed pretty much everything. In our last few days of planning the trip before we were going to leave, he looked up the schedule again and realized that there was going to be a game on the day we had planned and booked to be there! It was a Christmas miracle! I wish I had caught Greg's reaction on film. He was pumped to say the least! He loved this team on his mission and has followed them ever since on his ESPN app. The missionaries weren't allowed to go to sporting events so he never got to go to a game.
We tried to buy tickets online and learned that they don't use credit cards in The Netherlands unless you have a local bank. So we hoped and prayed it wouldn't be sold out if we just showed up the day of the game.
I asked Greg if we should drive our rental car to the soccer match, but he worried that there wouldn't be a parking lot for cars, so we walked. It was about a 20 minute walk from our AirBNB and it was one of the most fascinating walks we've had. We weaved through suburban neighborhoods and most of the houses didn't have window treatments so you could just see inside their house. We saw families eating dinner, people watching TV, kids playing, cool furniture, etc. It was a great little peek into how people in families live there.
Because everyone bikes, there was no traffic. Well there was bike traffic, but no car traffic. EVERYONE biked to the game! And then just lock up their bike near a tree. It was so fascinating to see! I'm used to seeing a huge flood of cars after leaving a BYU football game, but this was just hundreds and thousands of bikes spread all over the lawn surrounding the stadium. And then the roads and paths were "wheel-to-wheel" on our walk home. Instead of honking horns, there were little friendly bells.
The game itself was also really fun! It was very different than soccer games in the U.S. I think I only saw 3 females in a crowd of 10,000. EVERYONE stood up and sang the team song. People in the stadium were smoking tobacco and marajuana (totally legal) from their seats. The players could get up in the referee's face in an argument, but wouldn't get a yellow card. The fans from the opposing team were sitting in a special section with tall plexiglass surrounding them to minimize confrontation between fans. And there were 6 security guards surrounding their area at all times. All in all, it was a very entertaining match! And our first time watching a soccer game together in a stadium. Hoping for many more to come!