Betcha can't guess what I did today...
Thomas, my host dad came home from work and told me we were going for a ride on his motorcycle. RIDING A MOTORCYCLE THROUGH GERMANY HECK YEAH IM IN! As you can imagine I was very excited.
Susanne took me downstairs to get into the motorcycle gear which included padded leather jacket and pants, leather gloves, and a helmet. It was a struggle to walk up the stairs with all that gear on.
Once I got on the bike Thomas told me we were going across the border into the Netherlands. Incase you didn't already know Willich is about 30-40 minutes away from the Netherlands so it's easy for anyone to take a day trip there. Which is exactly what Thomas and I did.
The ride was awesome. We went on the country roads rather than the Autobahn so it was a really nice drive. We passed a lot of horses, cows and of course corn fields. I counted the corn fields (because why not) and came up with 43. Man those Germans and their corn (except I haven't even seen corn in stores???). We drove for about 40 minutes into a city right across the border called Venlo. Not much was different there. The city was bigger than Willich but the architecture was somewhat similar. I do think there were more bikes. Every street had designated bike paths or only allowed bikes. Plus there were areas where bikes had right of way so you had to pay extra attention.
Another thing I learned about on this adventure was Plattdeutsch. This is the dialect that used to be spoken in Northern Germany and Eastern parts of the Netherlands. Unfortunately this dialect has died out quite a bit and only the older generation knows how to speak it. It would've been so cool to learn because I might've been able to understand a bit of Dutch.
Betcha didn't know: What's the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?
I discovered that the proper term to use (in most cases) is the Netherlands and not Holland. This is because Holland refers to two of the twelve provinces in the Netherlands; North and South Holland. This is where most of the well known cities in the Netherlands are located (Amsterdam) so for a lot of people it is acceptable to say that you've been to Holland. But in my case I should say the Netherlands because the province I went into was Limburg, not one of the two Hollands. All in all, if you ever find yourself in the Netherlands. Play it safe and use the right term, wouldn't want to upset any locals;)
Now onto what I actually did in Venlo. Thomas and I were only there for about an hour. We went into a grocery store called "Die Zwei Brüder von Venlo" to buy licorice for Susanne. The name of the store is in German and translates to "the two brothers from Venlo." The fact that the name is in German just shows how much of a German influence there is in the Netherlands. When we went to checkout at the grocery store the woman said hello in a way I didn't recognize but when Thomas said "hallo" she immediately began speaking in German. It's incredible how people learn languages here, nothing like the US.
After the grocery store we walked around the city for a bit and then stopped for fries along the Meuse river. The fries were really good. The typical way to prepare fries here is a basket of cut potato goodness with a pile of mayonnaise and ketchup on top. Basically someone with OCD's worse nightmare. These fries were special (literally, we ordered the special fry). They had mayo, diced onions, and a red sauce on top. The red sauce wasn't ketchup it had some sort of spices in it. I'm not sure exactly what it was but it tasted good and that's all that matters.
On the ride home I got to watch the sun set behind us. Great end to a great day.