Celebrating the 100th Vierdaagse

The Vierdaagse - or four day march - is a very Dutch institution in which some 50,000 people walk en masse up to 220 kilometres over four days for fun and glory. This year the Nijmegen Vierdaagse is celebrating its 100th edition. Here's some key facts 1 The first Vierdaagse The Vierdaagse first took place in 1909 when 306 (male and mostly military) participants started from 10 different army garrisons around the country to walk 35k a day for four days - four day events being very popular in the day. The idea was developed by the Dutch League for Physical Education because, according to some reports we've read, there were concerns that the arrival of motorised transport would hit military fitness. 2 The Nijmegen connection In 1925 the big official Vierdaagse moved to Nijmegen where it has remained ever since. The marches have a different route each day through Gelderland, Brabant and Limburg as well as Nijmegen and its outskirts. There were no marches in 1914 and 1915 and during...  More >

A chat at the check-out is no answer

Five years ago, Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands as the wife of an academic for a short term project.. Now she's single, has fallen in love with the country and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. You can read the first part of her series here. You know how there’s always that kid who sits in the front of the class, always does the extra credit and is generally an annoying suck up? That was me at university. I’ve approached the inburgering exam with that same level of obsequiousness. Multiple textbooks, an online learning programme, two language apps. I’ve got flash cards and podcasts. I’ve got Donald Duck comics. Yet, I am pretty sure I am going to fail. Languages do not come easily to me. I’ve always struggled to retain pronunciation and grammar rules. I think working in communications makes me worse. I know I’ll never be able to convey myself as well in Dutch (or another language) as I can in English, so I’m easily frustrated....  More >

Dutch economy relatively crisis-proof

The gloom merchants were wrong: the Dutch economy did better than expected, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. At national statistics office CBS they work with a pencil in one hand and an eraser in the other. They meticulously enter the economic growth figures in their note books only to start adding and subtracting all over again. The old figures are erased and a new set is pencilled in ready to be erased again until, at long last, the figures are entered in indelible ink. It’s a bit of a pain for journalists who are trying to make sense of the figures for readers. The first so-called flash estimate of GDP growth which comes out about a month and a half after each quarter gets a lot of coverage in the media. Journalists interview economists about disappointing/promising growth figures, ministers are asked if they will impose extra cuts while the opposition prepares for a good moan about an ‘economy destroyed by cuts’. Fast forward another month and a half to the first proper...  More >

Nine weird things to do in the Netherlands

And you thought the Netherlands was just about tulips, windmills and clogs. Don't you believe it. There are some very strange places to check out indeed. Visit the mummies of Wiewerd Wiewerd is a tiny hamlet built on terps - raised mounds - in deepest Friesland. The story goes that in 1765, carpenters working in the church found a crypt with 11 coffins containing bodies that had become mummified. They are thought to have been members of an obscure Christian sect called the Labadists who lived nearby. Four bodies and several mummified birds are in the crypt today - the missing bodies are thought to have been stolen by medical students at long gone Franeker university. To visit ring a bell on the church and someone from the village will come and open the door to let you in. Get weighed to see if you are a witch The village of Oudewater near Utrecht features on most lists of the Netherlands' prettiest villages but we consider it to be seriously strange. Forget the cobbled streets...  More >

Dutch school pupils shine in column awards

Every year, the Netherlands-England Society (Genootschap Nederland-Engeland) organises a writing and a public speaking competition for Dutch secondary school pupils who don't speak English as their native language. Here are this year's three GNE writing award winners, who had to write a column of no more than 500 words on one of six different topics. First prize winner: Joris Bergman, Metameer in Stevensbeek (18) Looking Through a Different Window Topic: These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The end is near. A tsunami of refugees have swamped asylum centres and spilled onto the streets, where they wage a siege on western norms and values. Hordes of fortune seekers overrun borders, terrorise populaces and undermine authority. The end is near. The last calls for tolerance towards asylum seekers have been drowned out in a chorus of populism. Racists vandalise asylum centres, threaten lawmakers and dash any hope of an open debate. The refugee crisis has...  More >

'Don’t stick to expat groups to enjoy NL'

Haseeba Saban, 45, is a British national who lives in Rotterdam and works as a freelance marketing consultant. Her children are at Dutch schools, she would have liked to have discussed intolerance with Anne Frank and recommends everyone buys a museum card. How did you end up in the Netherlands? After returning to the UK from a 2-year work jolly in Dubai in 2010, we were hit by the recession and found that there were not many employment opportunities in the UK. My husband found a job in Amsterdam and we made a decision to move the entire family over over after three months of him being away. The boys found it hard to just see their dad on weekends so they were eager to move, even though we told them that they would have to attend local Dutch schools. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I am a globetrotter or if you would like a lovepat as such. I have lived and worked on three continents and have loved every minute of it. I love people...  More >

Amsterdam hosts best of European athletics

Thousands of athletes from all over Europe are descending on Amsterdam this week for the European athletics championships which kick off on Wednesday. Representing 50 different countries, 1,500 sportsmen and women will be completing in 23 different disciplines over five days, ending in a half marathon through the city on Sunday. The first edition of the European athletics championships was held in Torino, Italy in 1934 and now, 82 years later, the 23rd edition is taking place for the first time in the Netherlands, with Amsterdam as host. Most of the events will take place at the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1928 Olympics and since refurbished to meet modern standards. But the qualification rounds for the javelin and discus are taking place on the Museumplein in the heart of the city, where the half marathon and the mass start 10k fun run on Sunday July 10 will also take place. Innovation It was on the Museumplein way back in in October 1886 that provided the backdrop...  More >

11 great things to do in July

From crime scene photographs and circuses and from jazz to athletics, here's our pick of the best things to do in July. Check out the crime scene pictures This is the first exhibition to show how photography has been used as visual evidence. From Alphonse Bertillon’s metrical photographs, used in early 20th century murder cases, right through to the reconstruction of drone attacks in Pakistan in 2012, Crime Scenes presents eleven case studies illustrating the use of photography as legal evidence over the past century. Police photographs, records of mass graves, aerial photographs and satellite images: all have been used to identify the perpetrators or victims of crime. Netherlands Photo Museum, Rotterdam until August 21. www.nederlandsfotomuseum.nl Go to the theatre at the cinema Simon Godwin directs the highly expressive Paapa Essiedu (photo) in the title role in this largely black ensemble production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The focus here is less on politics than on the predicament...  More >

'Life is richer if you understand people'

Kenyan national Elizabeth Njeru, 39, came to Amsterdam in 2000 for love and now runs her own catering company. She is surprised by how willing successful people are in the Netherlands to help others, thoroughly enjoyed her Dutch lessons and is on a mission to make Kenyan food a household name. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Actually, I met a Dutch guy at the Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. He was an exchange student, that’s how he came to be there. I had two Dutch girlfriends who were friends with him. We were hanging out a lot. Then he went back for the Christmas holidays and I missed him like crazy. I suddenly realised dammit, I’m in love! How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I think of myself as a global citizen, I see myself as just Elizabeth. I believe I can live anywhere in the world as long as it’s peaceful and I can develop myself. How long do you plan to stay and why? Let’s put it this way, I am not planning...  More >

It's time for a new social contract

It’s time for a new social contract, says a former Dutch union boss The gap between the employed and the unemployed is growing and this division will cause serious problems for society. It's time for a new social contract, writes former CNV union boss Doekle Terpstra. The unemployment rate is down but not in a way that might be called significant. The CBS calculated that in April some 2,000 people found work. The total unemployment figure now stands at 6.4%, or 572,000. The economy is recovering but unemployment is still at double the number compared to the eve of the crisis in 2008. Recent research has shown that government employment measures are only minimally effective. The national audit office reports that €266m has been spent on creating employment for people over 50 but that the effects have been unclear. All in all hundreds of millions of euros have been spent on similar types of job creation and stimulation. The general expectation was that the economic recovery would solve the problem. That doesn’t appear to be the case. On the...  More >

11 pretty Dutch villages worth a visit

11 of the prettiest Dutch villages which aren’t too over-run by coach parties Cobbled streets, waterways, tiny thatched cottages covered with roses, secret gardens and wooden bridges - Dutch villages can be a delight. So this is a totally subjective compilation of places we think worth checking out - and which (we hope) won't be totally full of coach loads of tourists. Appingedam Appingedam first evolved on the banks of the Delf river in around 1200. With open access to the sea, it was somewhat prosperous and second only in importance in the region to Groningen. It enjoyed a resurgence as an industrial centre in the late 19th century and was home to the Appingedammer Bronsmotorenfabriek, which made ships motors until 2004. Appingedam's most famous attraction is the hanging kitchens above the Damsterdiep. Bourtange The leafy star-shaped fortified village of Bourtange in Groningen province has pretty houses, a charming central square and several museums and fortifications to poke around in. Totally renovated in the 1960s, Bourtange was built way...  More >

'Amsterdam's character is whittling away'

Federico Lafaire, a master's student in philosophy and self described ‘bookmonger,’ first moved to the Netherlands in 2007. He can often be found working behind the counter at The Book Exchange, a second-hand English bookshop in central Amsterdam. How did you end up in the Netherlands? The University of Amsterdam. I had to figure out something to do so I said, ‘hey, I’ll go study philosophy.’ That was in 2007. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I was born in Mexico. If that means I’m from there originally or not, I don’t know. I often get asked that at the store. I also spent 10 years in California. As I’ve learned during my studies, even the simple questions can be tough. I’d be reluctant to call myself an expat because it’s a word that’s so loaded. If I was a Nigerian guy, I wouldn’t be an expat, I’d be considered an immigrant. I’ve never really felt at home anywhere in particular, as far as nationality...  More >

The real role of Dutch dads in focus

Go to any park in the Netherlands on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and you are sure to find a good sprinkling of dads and their offspring, enjoying what has become known as a papadag. But despite the apparent popularity of daddy day, just one in four new Dutch fathers takes the unpaid paternity leave they are entitled to by law.  In April, Renske Keizer (32), made headlines when she was named the world's first professor of fatherhood or, to be more formal, she was appointed a professor of child development at the University of Amsterdam’s social and behavioural sciences department. Keizer's research focuses on the role fathers play in the early development of their children and how policy towards all parents can be improved. ‘As a professor of fatherhood, I aim to provide insights into the questions of whether, why, and in what ways, fathers influence their children’s development.’ Keizer told DutchNews.nl. Who gets the kids dressed? Earlier research by Keizer highlighted...  More >

Starry Night the wrong way round

For centuries, people have been intrigued by the Mona Lisa’s smile, but Brazilian artist Vik Muniz was more interested in her back. Muniz has just opened a show at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague revealing a side of the world’s most famous paintings that the public rarely sees: the back of the canvas. By Senay Boztas Talking his way into leading international museums, Vik Muniz photographed and then reproduced the flip side of paintings including the Mona Lisa (otherwise known as Leonardo da Vinci’s La Gioconda), Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (above) and Pablo Picasso’s Woman Ironing. Verso is his first ever museum exhibition of this 15-year project, and also has five works based on the Mauritshuis’s collection, including Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Johannes Vermeer’s View of Delft. Talking to DutchNews.nl on the phone from his next stop in Paris, he explained that in a digital world, seeing paintings as actual, physical objects...  More >

'Racism is like being touched up'

Television presenter Sylvana Simons caused a media storm when she announced she was getting involved in politics. She talks to Senay Boztas about why people would rather see her dance than hear about the dark side of colonial history, and why she believes the Netherlands is suffering a crisis of racism. ‘Somebody touches you as a woman. You say, “oh, I don’t like that”, and the guy says, “I was just trying to be nice”. People deal with racism in the Netherlands in the same way. Because they say they mean well, you’re not supposed to be offended.’ The 45-year-old television presenter has launched her own offensive now, against xenophobia in the Netherlands. She first announced that she will stand for the new ‘tolerance’ party Denk in the general election next year. Then she went to a police station in The Hague to report the worst of 40,000 instances of racist insults that followed. Simons lives in Amsterdam and was born in ‘one part of Holland’ known...  More >

The Atlas of Amsterdam packs in the facts

Discover Amsterdam from the comfort of your armchair with the Atlas of Amsterdam - a new book which contains hundreds of maps, graphs and photographs that bring the city to life. Curious about how many bikes are in the city or the main reasons for murder? Or perhaps you're interested in the city's international make-up or the fact the number of cannabis-selling coffee shops has halved to 176 in 20 years? Here's a selection of random facts There are 6,000 allotments in Amsterdam and its surrounding areas, and 3,000 people are on the waiting list for a space to grow their own veg. There are 3,800 cafes, bars and restaurants in Amsterdam, most of which are in the centre and Zuid. The Vondelpark was created for the Amsterdam elite who lived in the nearby mansions. Today the park is used by 10 million people every year. There are 145 football pitches in and around the city - yet Amsterdam only has one professional football team. Ajax players earn around €400,000 a year on...  More >

Helmut Newton takes over Amsterdam

A major exhibition of the work of photographer Helmut Newton (1920-2004) takes over the entire building of photography museum Foam on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht from June 17. Helmut Newton: A Retrospective features over 200 photographs, ranging from early prints seldom on display to monumental photographs. Most of them are vintage prints from the collection of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. There is also the opportunity to see Helmut by June, the film made by Newton’s wife June in 1995. Newton is famous for introducing eroticism to fashion photography and his output is considered one of the most iconic of the last quarter of the 20th century. To fill in the life of this colourful character, here are ten facts you might like to know. 1. Helmut Newton was born Helmut Neustädter on October 31 1920 in Berlin into a liberal, affluent and Jewish family. His father, Max, owned a button factory. Berlin in the 1920s was at the centre of the hedonistic and decadent Weimar Republic,...  More >

'Kapsalon is the best post exam food'

German national Florian Volz is a 22-year-old International Studies student at Leiden University's campus in The Hague. He would like to meet DJ Martin Garrix, has an eye for a bargain night out and has become so keen on cycling, he plans to bike from The Hague to Greece this summer to make a documentary about refugees. How did you end up in the Netherlands? The Dutch university system caught my attention when I was still at school. At the time, Leiden was (and still is, I believe) ranked more highly than all the universities back home. In addition, Germans pay the same tuition fees as Dutch students, so the high quality education that I receive here comes at a very good price! Besides, I am a world traveller at heart. I would not have been able to study for three years in Germany as my travel bug is just too strong. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc ? I'm not an expat or an immigrant because German and Dutch culture is quite close and...  More >

Dutch summer festival overload 2016

Regardless of whether your idea of a good time is listening to pulse pounding beats alongside 50,000 people or savouring an evocative couplet, there’s something for everyone at the Netherlands’ wide array of festivals (and other events) this summer. Here’s fifteen of the best. By Brandon Hartley Rotterdam International Poetry Festival – 7 - 11 June Poets from around the world will gather in Rotterdam for the 47th edition of this festival but this time around the organisers will be shaking things up by adding comic strips to the mix. Yes, you read that right. This year the fest will feature traditional performances, lectures and debates by poets in addition to events that focus on the genre’s crossovers into the worlds of film, music, art, and the funny pages as well. The 2016 programme also includes appearances by the Costa Rican poet Luis Chaves and Ireland’s Sinéad Morrissey in addition to plenty of others. PinkPop – 10 - 12 June This colossal music festival...  More >

Wait and see in earthquake-hit Groningen

Tens of thousands of homes in Groningen province have had to be shored up because of damage caused by earthquakes stemming from gas extraction. Graham Dockery went to the northern province to meet home owners and activists. Cans of spray paint rattle in the back of John Lanting’s van as we drive over roads pockmarked with cracks and fissures. ‘I’m a bit of a bad boy around here,’ he says with a childlike grin. Climbing over fences, obstructing work traffic, graffiti tagging multi-million euro machinery, and slashing tyres are all in a day’s work for the 55-year-old activist. The target of Lanting’s hooliganism is the conglomeration of energy companies exploiting Europe’s largest natural gas field in the province of Groningen. Natural gas drilling in Groningen provides 70% of the Netherlands’ gas supply, but has caused thousands of earthquakes, escalating in intensity over the last few decades. Residents of the area are angry at the structural damage to their...  More >