Interview with an expat

Tracey Martin

Where do you come from and where do you live in the Netherlands?
Travis: I’m from Texas, specifically Houston, and now live in Leiden.
Tracey: I’m originally from Upstate New York, moved to Houston, and now live in Leiden.

What’s your job/business?
Travis: I’m a specialized project manager, and part-time YouTuber, of the T and T Go Dutch Channel.
Tracey: I’m a freelance writer and blogger, and also a part-time YouTuber.

What was your first time in the Netherlands?
Travis & Tracey: We visited Amsterdam in late 2019 and fell in love with the city, and on our way up to Germany had the opportunity to drive through the less touristy parts of the country.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands?
Travis: How safe I feel here; I feel like I can walk through the streets late at night and feel completely safe.
Tracey: How picturesque the cities are here. So much beauty and history!

What’s the worst thing about the Netherlands?
Travis: The lack of air conditioning during the summer heat waves!
Tracey: Lately, Schiphol Airport and the massive lines!

Do you have Dutch friends?
Travis & Tracey: Yes, we made friends with our Dutch neighbours. They have been so welcoming and lovely!

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?
Travis: Dutch people are curious about our experiences here in the Netherlands, which I like. I don’t like some of the rudeness we’ve received masked as Dutch directness.
Tracey: I have grown to love the directness of the Dutch, although, much like Travis, when rudeness is masked as directness, that’s hard to handle.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in your city?
Travis: Just Meet – I find the quality of the food is great and the majority of their beef comes from Texas!
Tracey: Wijnbar Goeswijn for incredible dishes and wine, and for the best fish and chips in town, The North End.

Where do you prefer to relax in your city?
Travis: Polderpark Cronesteyn, because it’s so lush and green. Stopping by De Tuin Van De Smid is always a great time.
Tracey: I love visiting De Burcht van Leiden. Some of the best views in the city.

What’s your favorite Dutch store?
Travis: Cave de La Lune, a natural wine shop in Leiden. The owner, Tareq, is super knowledgeable and very helpful in finding you the perfect wine pairing.
Tracey: Dille and Kamille. We both love to cook, and it is truly a paradise for anyone who loves their kitchen. They also have the best souvenirs to bring back to the USA to loved ones!

What do you like to do on the weekends?
Travis: I am usually either shooting a new video for YouTube or playing with our Mini Husky Tabasco.
Tracey: I’m always up for exploring new cities – some of my favorites are Gouda and Delft. For such a small country, there’s still so much I want to see!

Who is your favorite Dutch person?
Travis: Herman Boerhaave. After visiting Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden, I felt that so many of the modern advances in medicine and technology started right there.
Tracey: As we are undergoing IVF treatment, our fertility nurse Monique is just incredible. She is so patient, understanding and excellent at communicating what can be a difficult process.

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city in the Netherlands?
Travis: I would recommend going to visit the Botanical Gardens in Leiden.
Tracey: I would recommend just grabbing a coffee from Borgman & Borgman, and walking around the beautiful canals early in the morning. It’s so peaceful.

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
Travis: I love pannenkoeken because there are so many different varieties to make with different ingredients. Bacon, apple and cheese is my favorite combination. I dislike drop because it can be so salty.
Tracey: Dutch cheese is so excellent. The last time we were in the US, having American cheese was so jarring. Least favourite food: Dutch herring – just not for me.

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? What is your favourite?
Travis: We do; my favorite holiday to celebrate thus far is King’s Day.
Tracey: Yep, loved King’s Day, looking forward to celebrating a Leiden-specific holiday, 3 October.

Where do you like to go out?
Travis: I really enjoy exploring around and have been finding many things to do in Rotterdam lately. My favorite recent stop has been Rumah, a rum bar that has some of the best cocktails in the Netherlands.
Tracey: We both love cocktails, so I have a special place in my heart for a speakeasy in Amsterdam called Door 74. For a great beer, Vi-Kings in Leiden is spectacular. They have a huge selection of unique beers and will sometimes play NFL games during football season.

What famous Dutch place should you really go and see
Travis: Kasteel De Haar; it really invokes the ideas of what an 18th-century castle could be, and looks like something out of a movie I would have watched as a child.
Tracey: Mauritshuis in Den Haag is just incredible. Seeing “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” is a must-do. And it’s on the Museumkaart!

Best-kept secret in your city?
Travis: Wijnbar Goeswijn; it’s down a little side alley, and has delicious food and lovely natural wines.
Tracey: Exploring the hofjes (courtyards) in Leiden is so interesting, it feels as though you are stumbling on little secrets tucked away from the main streets.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew before you moved to the Netherlands?
Travis: I wish I had learned more Dutch before moving here.
Tracey: I totally agree with Travis.

What are one or two things you recommend to new expat here in the Netherlands?
Travis: Start learning basic Dutch because people will be much more accepting if you are trying to speak their language.
Tracey: Get a Museumkaart! It covers over 400 museums and landmarks in the Netherlands, and there’s something for everyone.

Thank you for the interview!
Written by Marla Thomson