When I was 13, I moved to Belgium, living there for five years before coming back to Texas. During that time I was able to visit many countries in Europe, but of all the places I saw, my favorites were Belgium and the Netherlands. My advice to you: go there as soon as you can. To get you inspired, here are three must-see destinations.
Anne Frank House: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Anne Frank House is a must-visit. Prinsengracht 263 was where eight individuals hid during World War II, spending two years in complete seclusion before they were betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Only one of the eight survived the war. This was Anne Frank’s father, who tirelessly worked to have his daughter’s diary published. The house became a museum on May 3, 1960.
Reading about Anne through her diary or through online research is amazing in itself, but visiting the place that was her home, seeing firsthand how small it actually was, seeing the furniture, the marks on the wall, the pictures in her room—just as they were when she lived there—is an entirely different matter. Throughout the house, there are video clips of the workers who aided in hiding them and pages of her original diary showcased in glass.
Kinderdijk, located in South Holland, about 15km east of Rotterdam, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. This incredible destination is home to 19 beautiful windmills, all of which work to keep the “ever-rising seawater from flooding the land.” While you’re here, be sure to visit the Museum Windmill Nederwaard, the only windmill situated at Kinderdijk that visitors can enter and see for themselves how it works. Take some time to walk around—it’s a lot bigger than you’d think. Then, take a walk. Start at the first windmill and make your way to the final one. This will take you a good amount of time, but it’s so peaceful. The area is beautiful, serene and quiet, and a great place for families. Adults will enjoy seeing and learning about these amazing windmills and what they do for the area, while children will be amazed by their size.
Mini Europe: 1020 Brussels, Belgium
If you only have a short stay in Europe and are unable to visit all of the European countries, then Mini-Europe needs to be at the top of your list. This incredible attraction, located near the Atomium in Brussels, showcases a number of European cities in miniature form. I cannot think of any other place where you will see London’s Big Ben next to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. The park also houses a number of interactive models, including the eruption of Vesuvius.
You will want to spend an entire day here to marvel at all 350 models located in the park, not to mention eat at the restaurant located inside the park and visit the souvenir shop.
Oh, and one more thing: while you’re in this part of the world, be sure to try some of the amazing Belgian waffles. Whether you have them plain or covered with chocolate, you cannot leave without tasting them at least once.