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Five saving tips: For an eco-friendly date!

By: Phoebe Maddox 

Got a hot date this weekend? It doesn’t have to break your budget, or Mama Nature’s back. Here are some of my favorite date ideas:

1. Go on a bike ride to a nearby park or forest!
Biking is easy: we’re in the Netherlands, after all. Skip expensive and stressful trains, trams and cars, and instead find somewhere picturesque to bike with your date. From Utrecht, head to the beautiful Kasteel de Haar in Haarzuilens, where you can tour the romantic 13th century castle and stroll its rose gardens. There are also massive sand dunes in the Utrecht area – try the Soester Duinen in Soest for wide, stark vistas and dune surfing. This kind of date gets you outside and moving around, so any lapse in conversation can be rectified by a pretty view or a turn in the bend. Plus, it’s free!

Photo source: Kasteel de Haar (defotograaf.eu)

2. Cook a market meal at home.
Another wonderful aspect of the Netherlands is its markets. The fresh produce isn’t wrapped up in plastic and Styrofoam, the eggs are from a farm, the cheese stand has samples, and you can ask the butcher about sustainable practices. Most cities have all-day markets on Saturdays. Meet your date there and pick out your seasonal favorites. Try to stick to Dutch produce and meats. You could also have a vegetarian night and make a hearty vegetable stew with fresh bread and Dutch cheeses. What’s better than a delicious, home-cooked meal (that will probably end with a tumble in the hay)? Tip: Go at the end of the day for great deals on fruits, meat, and fish. Sometimes flower bouquets are on sale at the end of the day, too – everyone loves some fresh flowers in their house!

3. Have a candle night.
The challenge of a proper “candle night” is that you cannot use any electricity for light. None at all. This means you need candles everywhere, even in your bathroom. Sometimes you can find cheap candles at thrift stores, or out-of-season candles on sale (Think Christmas-scented candles in February). A bag of tea candles from Xenos or Kruidvat is usually quite cheap (less than 3 euro) and will do the trick. You can also try saving up your candle stubs and making your own candles. Just put your stubs in an empty can of beans, heat it up (adding wax bits as it melts), stick in a long, thin rolled up piece of cardboard – and voila, fancy candles! Point is, everything and everyone looks better by candlelight, and this romantic gesture will help both you and Mother Earth get lucky. Tip: Combine your candle night and market feast for an extra-sensual dining experience.

4. Weekend Getaway: Dutch “Glamping”
So maybe your dates have advanced a little and you’re ready for a weekend away. Rather than splurge on an expensive, carbon-footprint-heavy plane ticket or a cramped hotel room, try your own backyard and a tent. Well, maybe not quite your backyard, but places like Camping Warnsborn in Arnhem or Camping Batenstein in Woerden have gorgeous grounds with trails and lakes, and the journey will only put you out for train and bus fare. Spend your days frolicking through the Dutch landscape (the grounds around Camping Warnsborn even have some hills!), and give glamping a go. Hot beans and whiskey have never tasted so good.

Photo source: Trail around Warnsborn (bloeiinarnhem.nl)

5. Go Kayaking on Utrecht’s Oudegracht
One of the best ways to discover Utrecht’s “Hidden City” is a kayak trip on its canals. There are a few routes you can take, from an hour-long loop through the center, to a more extensive paddle through the countryside outside the city. The kayak rental is cheap (usually 5 euro/hour), and on a nice day there’s really nothing better. Bring a bottle of wine or cold beers for little stops along the way, and try not to fall in! Tip: If kayaks aren’t you’re thing, there’s always paddle boating!