Bergen was a city I didn’t have on my radar. I decided to stay there because I reached out to someone on couchsurfing and it was the city they happened to live in. It seemed to be really close to the Amsterdam so I thought it would be cool to checkout a less touristy city.
It was a bus ride and a long walk away but so worth it. I stayed with someone who lived on the grounds of the hotel/resort he worked at in a old house.
Bergen was gorgeous, beautiful architecture, stunning beaches and quite forests. It was one of my favourite places that I visited. It is a small upper class village on the west coast in North Holland. Old buildings, small streets, close to wide open fields and beaches. Ahhh the memories and feels I am getting as I write this, if only I could step back in time.
I was able to spend time with the locals which isn’t what you get to experience when you’re staying in hostels. I was welcomed to a group of lads playing a drinking game all in bare feet, they felt like my kind of people. I spent the weekend exploring the city. The first evening we had a bonfire and ordered take out, burgers and some other side apps that I had never seen but they were so delicous. They also have delicious local strawberries, some of the best I have ever had. Then we went on a short hike to a great lookout to watch the sunset.
The next day we went to a local tennis club and spent the afternoon on the beach, who knew they had beaches in the Neaherlands! On my last day a friend I made, Tijn, took me to roam around the city. He let me drive his car, which was scary because the roads were so much smaller. He took me to see a windmill house, people actually can live in those. We checked out the beach, which I didn’t know existed in the Netherlands. He also took me to his apartment and we drove around the surrounding villages.
It was cool to learn about their culture and how they live, rather than what it’s like to be a tourist. It was interesting to learn that smoking weed even though it is openly sold wasn’t too common. Electronic music is also a huge part of their culture. So many International Dj’s were born in the Netherlands and it cool to learn that going to outdoor festivals was a regular event for them.
It was unlike any other experience I had on my whole trip last year. Staying in a non touristy place with the locals of a country I have never been to before. It stays close to my heart and the lessons that I learned in my travels. It reminded me how to be a good guest and go with the flow, allowing others to guide me and share the experience of someone else life.
I remember feeling scared and sad when I first arrived I really missed my friends. I was exhausted and didn’t know why I decided to visit someone I didn’t know. I felt depressed. I was so out of my comfort zone. But I am so glad I went. It was one of the most authentic experiences I had on my trip in 2016. It inspired me to try couch surfing again and workaway. I’m searching for that authenticity again.