How a bicycle changes a culture

A cycling nation: how the bike impacts on Dutch society We all know that the Netherlands’ has world-leading bicycle infrastructure. But how does this affect us, the society that uses it? Joshua Parfitt delves into the benefits of being bike-friendly. Two mamils (middle aged man in lycra) arrive at a cafe in The Hague. The weather’s great and they proudly show off a digital map displaying bicycle routes, which when zoomed out makes the Netherlands look like a network of varicose veins. 'Ah it’s really nice here,' says Ivor, sipping his lungo. 'You’re separated from the cars, and it’s so flat. It’s impossible to drive on a country lane in England.' We’ve all heard the statistics about the Netherlands. Utrecht is building the world’s largest bike park, with 12,500 places. There are an estimated 1.3 bikes per person here, the most per capita in the world, and about 27% of all trips made are by bicycle — compared with 2% in Britain. Cycling can do wonders for the body. With 14.2% of the population classed as obese,...  More >


Get a taste of the south in Venlo

DutchNews.nl destinations: get a taste of the south in Venlo Venlo's strategic position on the river Maas, right on the border of Germany and the Netherlands, has made it a travellers' and merchants' crossroads since Roman times, and a central point in the final battles of WW2. Esther O'Toole has been checking out this very southern Dutch town. The urban regeneration after the war has allowed Venlo to grow into a bustling city today with a strong local culture and sense of place. And despite the wartime damage, it managed to preserve many historical buildings, like the imposing 'stadshuis' on the main square that dates from the end of the 1500s, and overlooks many welcoming cafe terraces in the summer. The city itself now has nearly 40,000 residents, with a similar number in the greater Venlo area since neighbouring Blerick and Tegelen were incorporated into the council region after the war. Currently, the city's most famous son is notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the town has brought forth many a politician over the years,...  More >


It is time for politicians to take action

The social partners have done talking, time for politicians to take action The social partners have mulled over all the main issues in the government accord. So now it’s time for the government to take decisive action, says economist Mathijs Boumans. In March 2017 we went to the polls. In October, following the longest formation period in history, we had a cabinet. We are now a year into a new government but we are still not really being governed. Voters have no idea where the country is headed. Of course there is the government accord, boldly ambitious about a climate friendly economy, a dynamic and fair labour market and the introduction of a shiny new pension system. But no sooner had these plans been put to paper than the government decided to let them be mulled over by civil society. Unions and employers’ organisations were asked to chew on pension reform and the cautiously worded labour market plans. A motley crew of representatives of the business world, local authorities, environmental organisations, knowledge institutes and – here they...  More >


The Word is out: spoken word poetry in NL

The word is out: Spoken word poetry in English comes to the Netherlands Spoken Word – a performance art where words are conveyed to an audience in poetry, rap or music – is powerful, accessible and diverse. Deborah Nicholls-Lee shines a spotlight on the emerging English-language scene in the Netherlands. In a curtained-off room lined with books and posters, in the back of a west Amsterdam bar, a blond woman in a floral dress bobs around the microphone nervously. She ties herself up in knots with disclaimers about the spoken word poetry she is about to perform. ‘It’s super short – no worries – and it doesn’t have a title. I don’t know, I’m not good with titles...’ ‘Do it!’, ‘Just do it!’ holler two voices from the audience – more supportive than impatient. The piece is heard, and there’s a cooing ‘aaaah!’, a cheer, and a warm, enthusiastic round of applause. Community This event, organised by Word Up, is one of a clutch of English-language spoken word events which have popped up in Amsterdam over the last...  More >


Podcast: Pitchforks and Pindakaas Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Pitchforks and Pindakaas Edition – Week 41 It's been a week of departures as D66 leader Alexander Pechtold handed over the reins to Rob Jetten, Mark Rutte pulled the plug on his dividend tax plan, Unilever rowed back from Rotterdam and the Zwarte Piet motorway blockers had to leave their clogs at the door. Plus Bibian Mentel hangs up her snowboard as she reveals she's been diagnosed with cancer for the 10th time. In our discussion we take a look at the ongoing efforts to reunite artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II with their rightful owners. SOUNDCLOUD TOP STORY Alexander Pechtold quits as D66 leader, Rob Jetten becomes youngest party leader NEWS Cabinet puts dividend tax plan on hold after Unilever turns back on Rotterdam Trial begins of motorway blockaders who stopped Zwarte Piet protest King regrets Brexit as Rutte holds talks with Merkel in The Hague Animal shelter seeks new home for lion cub abandoned in field SPORT Dutch women one step away from World Cup qualification after beating...  More >


Rotterdam awakes as Amsterdam overheats

Rotterdam awakes as Amsterdam’s property market overheats Expats are shunning the crowded, overpriced capital and heading south to buy property in Rotterdam. We find out why house buyers cannot afford to overlook Rotterdam.    Richardo Cruz Fortes, mortgage advisor at Expat Mortgages, foresaw, like many others, what is happening in the Rotterdam property market today. ‘What I’ve been calling Rotterdam for years now is “the sleeping giant”,’ he tells me. Rotterdam has everything you’d expect a large city to offer, Richardo explains, but has long played second fiddle to Amsterdam. As the capital’s property market overheats and public and private investment pours into our second city, all eyes are on Rotterdam as the giant now awakes. Founded in 2007 in Amsterdam, Expat Mortgages has been expanding its offices across the Netherlands as demand for housing outside the capital has risen. The opening of a Rotterdam branch in 2018 is a sign that expat investors and home-seekers are becoming more aware of the huge amount the...  More >


'I was told that "no means no"'

‘I was told “even if you’re the queen of the Netherlands, no means no”‘ Seven years ago, Beena Arunraj said goodbye to her dental practice and, with her husband Eddie, who works for Philips, upped sticks and moved from India to Eindhoven. Beena has been shocked by home births and sales staff in Ikea, but says she would like to meet Menno Snel and talk to him about the 30% ruling. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was by a very normal route: my husband was with Philips, so he moved here for work eight years ago. I had never moved to another country before, but when you’re living in India a different state is almost a foreign country. We have a different language for every state, so it teaches you what it means to move to a new culture. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? I wouldn’t call myself an expat, because technically my husband is the expat; I would call myself an international. And I would call myself an international even if I was in India, because when you read a lot, and when you...  More >


Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree

Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree Dutch is no longer a popular choice for prospective students but universities are partly to blame, says Lotte Jensen, professor of Dutch cultural and literary history at Radboud University in Nijmegen. In recent weeks newspapers have been reporting on the alarming decline in the number of young people opting to study Dutch at university level. It is a worrying development which, if the trend continues, could land Dutch in the department of minority foreign languages. There are several reasons why this should not be allowed this to happen. Not only do we need academically trained Dutch language and culture graduates to teach at secondary schools, we also need specialists to conduct research into the Dutch cultural heritage. Johan Koppenol, professor of Dutch literature (1100 to 1800) at the VU University in Amsterdam, rightly said that a profound knowledge of the Dutch language, culture and history has never been more relevant: all current public debates are about language and culture...  More >


ING takes the money and the biscuit

ING takes the money and the biscuit, says VVD MP Society has nothing to apologise for but ING does, says VVD MP Roald van der Linde, who is the party's financial markets spokesman in parliament. ‘It’s MPs who are fuelling public mistrust,’ said Henk Breukink, a member of the supervisory board at ING, in a recent opinion piece in the Financieele Dagblad. When I read this I nearly fell off my chair and I don’t think I can have been the only one. For years ING has looked the other way as criminals laundered the proceeds of their criminal activities. Far from incidental, this was part of a structural policy which criminals were quick to turn to their advantage while the chic bankers of the ING pretended not to notice. The end result was an out-of-court settlement of €775m, the biggest settlement the Netherlands has ever seen. As MPs, we represent the people and it is our job to call out these bankers. We are not alone. The finance minister said the practices at ING were ‘extremely serious’. Ordinary citizens are...  More >


Podcast: The Barbies and Bonnetjes Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Blackface Barbies and Bonnetjes Edition – Week 41 It's been a week of comings and goings after Russian spies were ejected from The Hague, Pim Fortuyn's assassin was allowed to emigrate, and Zwarte Piet got a last-minute reprieve. Ajax returned from Germany with a point in the Champions League and Unilever looked poised to stay in Brexit Britain despite the Dutch government's offer of a tax sweetener. In our discussion we try to bring you up to speed on the national soap opera that is the Willem Holleeder trial. TOP STORY Russia condemned for foiled cyberhack at OPCW headquarters Dutch did not arrest Russian spies 'to avoid damaging relations' NEWS Unilever ditches plan to consolidate headquarter operations in Rotterdam Children's daycare centre plans legal action to stop ban on electric wagons Broadcaster clarifies stance on Zwarte Piet: 'Some will be black' Judges say killer of Pim Fortuyn can emigrate Dutch MEPs want to open up expenses claims SPORT Ajax 'deserved to win' Champions League encounter...  More >


For sale in Amsterdam, very green homes

For sale in Amsterdam, family homes in a very green building A family home in one of the greenest buildings in Amsterdam and which won't set you back more in mortgage payments than you would pay in rent? A home with its own garden and great views, which is just a few minutes from Schiphol airport and the city centre? Too good to be true? Next year, developer Heijmans will start work on Vertical, a new residential project in Amsterdam west, which, the company says, is the place for modern families who want the convenience of city living but are interested reducing their environmental footprint as much as possible. The first tranche of homes has already been sold but the second batch is now up for grabs. You can sign up via the Amsterdam Vertical website. Bike-friendly A short bike ride from Amsterdam's Westerpark and the 'real' countryside, Vertical will have 144 homes ranging from compact garden lofts to family homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. So far, so good. But the Vertical project is special for a number of reasons. Firstly...  More >


13 things about the 80 Years' War

13 things you have to know about the 80 Years War It is 450 years since the start of the 80 Years War (1568-1648) and the Rijksmuseum has made it the subject of a major new exhibition. Here's what you need to know about why this was such an important event in Dutch history Who was fighting who and why? It was Netherlands versus Spain. The Netherlands of the 16th century was a patchwork of 17 gewesten ( areas ruled by nobles) stretching to the French border and including what is now Luxemburg and Belgium. It formed part of the Catholic Spanish empire and the Dutch, already chafing at the bit, became more contrary by the minute as freedom of religion was reigned in - ie Protestantism was under attack. Rumblings of war To begin with the Dutch nobles, led by William of Orange, asked the local Spanish powers nicely but the persecution of Protestants continued. In 1566 a group of protestant started smashing up Catholic churches in the south of the Netherlands, in what became known as the ‘Beeldenstorm’ (‘storming of the images’)...  More >


Blogwatching: Flex work spots in Hilversum

Blogwatching: The best flexible work spots in Hilversum for freelancers The Bitterballenbruid moved to Hilversum in 2014 and has been living there with her Dutch husband and her cat ever since. She writes about about Hilversum and ‘t Gooi area, eating too many bitterballen, getting married in Holland, learning how to be Dutch… and the language on her blog The Bitterballenbruid.  Freelancer? Remote worker? Me too! (The latter.) I often work from my office at home, but sometimes you need to get out of the house! Maybe you need some human interaction… or even just a good coffee! Enter the coffee shop… no, not that kind!! We’re in the Netherlands but I’m talking beverages here!! Freelancers need a good cafe where they can hang out and work… somewhere with strong wifi and equally strong coffee… I’ve visited A LOT of cafes in Hilversum over my 4 years of working from home, so let me share my favourite spots with you: 1. MOUT If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I’m here, A LOT. And why? Because it’s so damn good....  More >


A sticky workfloor is why women stay put

Glass ceiling? It’s a sticky workfloor that makes women stay put It's not the glass ceiling that keeps women from the top positions but the sticky workfloor of part-time jobs, says Barbara Baarsma, director of knowledge development at Rabobank and economics professor at the University of Amsterdam. If, like me, you think quota are a paternalistic panacea for the lack of women in top executive positions, you are duty-bound to monitor the labour market for women with an eagle eye. Unfortunately, the last 15 years do not make for happy viewing. The good news is that in 2018 over six in ten women are in work, half a woman more than in 2003. Having children is, apparently, no longer the hurdle to employment it used to be. Some 29% of working women have jobs in management, which is a good sign as it paves the way to the top. Compared to the 26% of women who work full time, women are not doing badly at all. The ratio is much lower for men: 73% work full time while ‘only’ 71%  of managers is male. But apart from this not much has changed since...  More >


Podcast: The Smoke-Free Bubble Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Smoke and Terrorist-Free Bubble Edition – Week 39 Partnerships made the headlines this week as Sigrid Kaag answered Rihanna's call to invest in education, Mark Rutte called on the UN to secure justice for the victims of the MH17 disaster and new fathers were given more time off work to spend with their babies. One baby that stirred more controversy was Morgan the orca's calf, born in Tenerife despite a 'no breeding' clause in the contract that regulated her move to Spain. And police and security services claimed to have thwarted a major terrorist plot in Arnhem and Weert. In our discussion we take a closer look at Groningen's plan to become the Netherlands' first smoke-free municipality. Top story Seven arrested as police foil 'major terrorist attack' News New gun licensing rules under fire for making owners disclose race and religion Paternity leave to be stretched from two days to five Rutte urges UN to help secure justice for victims of MH17 disaster Rihanna nudges Kaag to invest €20m in educational development Morgan...  More >


15 great things to do in October

Buy bulbs and spot bare bums: 15 great things to do in October The nights are drawing in and the autumn half-term holidays are approaching - but there are lots of great things to do in October. Why not listen to a Pulitzer prize winning journalist or go mushroom spotting, or even take in a play? Look at a Leonardo The Teyler's museum in Haarlem proudly presents the first big exhibition featuring Leonardo da Vinci's drawings in the Netherlands. The museum has squirreled together 30 drawings from various museums around the world for an exhibition focusing on how far Leonardo was ahead of his time. From October 5. Website Chase some (vicarious) thrills If you are the sporty type you will enjoy the European Outdoor Tour, a travelling series of films on mountaineering daring-do and other dangerous feats involving skis and wingsuits. October 10 -30 in theatres all over the country. Website Get your bulbs at the Keukenhof Where would you go for bulbs but the Keukenhof. And they’re not your run-of-the-mill bulbs either, the Keukenhof promises....  More >


'Dutch families celebrate events together'

‘Dutch families have dinners together, celebrate special events and holidays together’ Sheetal Shah originally moved to the Netherlands with her husband while she was finishing her PhD and pregnant with their second child. She now lives in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, teaches psychology at Webster Leiden, and works with Bridge 2 Hope, an organisation that helps the victims of human trafficking.   How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was born and brought up in Mumbai and I moved to the Netherlands 12 years ago as a trailing spouse. My husband was working at ABN Amro and then he joined their global team. At the time, I was completing my PhD and was working, studying, volunteering, was a mother, and was soon to be a mother to a second son. I thought we would come to the Netherlands, I would finish the PhD, and we would eventually move back, but that never happened. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? This is a very interesting question because this has been a journey for me. I moved here as an expat but I’m very often...  More >


How safe is buying a car online?

First Dutch online second-hand car dealership cleans up industry image You can now buy a second-hand car and have it delivered to your door with a few clicks of the mouse. We find out why expats are embracing online car shopping. It sounds counter-intuitive to spend thousands of euros on a car you haven’t seen, but Bynco, the Netherlands’ first 100% online second-hand car dealership, has seen sales soar since it launched in 2017. ‘I was genuinely amazed when it turned up outside my house. Right until the last moment, I was thinking, ‘this is an internet scam’,’ says British expat Paul Hoban, a project manager from Groningen, who bought his Audi A4 Station Wagon on Bynco in May. Family members were also dubious. Paul’s mother-in-law told him that his money was as good as lost. But Paul had seen that the funds went into a third-party account hosted by GoCredible, which reassured him. All cars are independently inspected by DEKRA and the Thuiswinkel symbol on the website also demonstrates that the business meets high standards...  More >


The Dutch fi

The Dutch Film Festival goes English: blockbusters with subtitles galore The annual Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht, which culminates in country's most prestigious film awards, is making a big drive to attract an international audience this year, by subtitling many of the film screenings, including several box office hits. Here’s what you should know about the upcoming festival and a selection of what's on offer. 1 The Nederlands Film Festival is a Dutch institution and has been around since 1981. Cocking a snook at Amsterdam, Utrecht has traditionally been the venue for the film fest. This year the dates to save are September 27 to October 5. 2  The film festival is taking the English speaking contingent seriously: there are over 50 subtitled film screenings – including a number of blockbusters, prize-winning documentaries and festival premieres. Here’s the complete programme. 3 One of the must-sees is De Bankier van het Verzet  (The resistance banker, 2018) directed by Joram Lürsen, which follows a long tradition of Dutch wartime...  More >


Podcast: The King's Belgian Horses Edition

DutchNews podcast – The All The King’s Belgian Horses Edition – Week 38 In this week's podcast we bring you the latest news on the tragic accident in Brabant that cost four young children their lives. As it was budget day we also analyse the government's financial plans, including controversial measures on the dividend tax and the 30% ruling, as well as who wore the best hats and how government statisticians and Belgian horses made up the numbers. And while Dick Lawyer returned to the field for a last hurrah, a group of hot air balloonists got into hot water with a disgruntled farmer. Top story Town in shock after four children die when train hits electric wagon News Finance minister says budget will make Netherlands 'stronger, safer and more prosperous' Government rules out transition period for 30% ruling as expats plan legal challenge Dijkhoff's 'punishment by postcode' plan condemned on all sides Farmer denies holding hot air balloonists hostage on his land Sport Advocaat returns to FC Utrecht to settle unfinished business...  More >