Key facts about Rembrandt, 350 years on

Rembrandt died 350 years ago this year: some key facts about his life Rembrandt van Rijn died 350 years ago this year and museums all over the land are commemorating the event. Here are some key facts about the Netherlands’ greatest – and most lucrative – old master. His early years Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in the Weddesteeg in Leiden on July 15th 1606. The 17th century building is no more but a plaque marks the approximate spot. Leiden remained his home for the next 25 years and while among his many siblings there is a baker and a cobbler, Rembrandt chose a different trade, that of painter. Painters belonged to the same guild as house painters and, on average, earned around twice as much as carpenters. Where he lived After studying with local painter Jacob van Swanenborgh, Rembrandt went to Amsterdam to study composition with Pieter Lastman. After six months he returned to Leiden to set up shop for himself. His reputation as an etcher and painter grew and his work started to sell. By 1631 it was time to go back to Amsterdam...  More >

Podcast: The Blame David Cameron Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Blame David Cameron Edition – Week 3 It may be winter outside, but there's been plenty to get hot under the collar about on the news front this week. Amsterdam's most infamous neighbourhood gets a less than clean bill of health, party leaders turn up the heat on the climate change deal and showbiz star Gordon (no relation) sees red over a spicy TV review. We also bring you the results of the Ophef of the Year vote, hot off the press, and discuss the ongoing nuclear meltdown that is the Brexit saga. Ophef of the week: Gordon's online tirade against with TV reviewer goes viral TOP STORY Amsterdam's red light district clean-up needs proper plan, says ombudsman Election campaign heats up as coalition leaders clash over climate deal Syp Wynia: Klaas Dijkhoff's yellow vest is losing its lustre Teachers plan nationwide strike on March 15 over pay and workload Government attempts to compile list of definitive Dutch icons SPORT Kramer wins 10th European skating title as Schulting claims short track...  More >

'Corporate lunch stereotypes are true'

‘I’ve frequently encountered the traditional sad raft of floppy Dutch broodjes’ Amsterdammer and comedian Greg Shapiro is 50 and has lived in the Netherlands for over half his life. He likes cooking boerenkool stamppot, would like to meet several Dutch kings who share the name Willem, and is surprised by how little Dutch people know about Het Plakkaat van Verlatinghe. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was the Boom Chicago comedy theatre that hired me to perform in Amsterdam for just one summer.... That was 24 years ago. A few years into my time in Amsterdam – the same year Seth Meyers came to work at Boom Chicago – I met the love of my life, a Dutch woman. She was very direct. She said ‘We’re getting married.’ I said 'yes'. We toyed with the idea of living in the US. One year, I took her to meet my family in Chicago for Christmas. And then we stayed on a bit, in January, in Chicago. I guess I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to move to a climate where – if you don’t wear the right clothes to go outside – you’d die.     How do...  More >

Dijkhoff's yellow vest is losing lustre

Wynia’s Week: Klaas Dijkhoff’s yellow vest is losing its lustre VVD stalwart Klaas Dijkhoff told the Telegraaf newspaper this weekend that he could not support the cabinet's climate agreement which was sealed at the end of last year. Despite the apparent split, Columnist Syp Wynia does not believe the coalition is in trouble. Klaas Dijkhoff, who leads the VVD in parliament, opened election year 2019 by launching a broadside on climate change ‘moaners’, including coalition partner D66’s Rob Jetten. Dijkhoff told the Telegraaf he did not feel bound by the climate agreement the cabinet entered into with a number of companies and organisations. Dijkhoff now thinks the ‘common man’ has had too little say in the matter and that there is no need for the Netherlands ‘to become a beacon of light for the rest of the world’. The VVD’s second in command, in so many words, is threatening to topple Mark Rutte's third cabinet. ‘If it’s a choice between the cabinet and the interests of ordinary citizens, I will always be on the side...  More >

DutchNews Podcast – The Bonfire of the Ophefs Edition – Week 2

DutchNews Podcast – The Bonfire of the Ophefs Edition – Week 2 The podcast returns after the Christmas holidays to blaze a trail through the opening week of the year. We ask why a 48-metre bonfire on a beach on a windy night surprised the authorities by setting things on fire, whether internationals are really responsible for Amsterdam's sizzling hot housing market, and what British nationals in the Netherlands can do if they want to escape the firestorm of Brexit. In our discussion we choose our 10 favourite social media micro-infernos in the inaugural Ophef of the Year Awards. Ophef of the week: Royal art collection goes under the hammer in London TOP STORY Number of arrests and injuries at New Year falls again NEWS Government to allow most British nationals to stay after Brexit even with no deal Brexit will cost Netherlands €34 bn in first 12 years and other dismal statistics Socialists revive calls for action to stop expats 'displacing' Amsterdammers VVD in Amsterdam calls for debate on expat numbers Discussion:...  More >

Why Dutch entrepreneurs need to know SEO

Why Dutch entrepreneurs need to know how to do SEO Thousands of people in the Netherlands, including readers, are online entrepreneurs. But what do all of these people have in common? They develop and promote their business through a website. However, not everyone's website gets visitors from search engines. We’re going to let you in on a secret, but to do that, we need to dive into the mysterious world of SEO. As you may know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is basically a method that ensures that your website gets on the radar of search engines like Google or Bing and is then displayed on their search results for relevant queries. Just imagine, according to the Internet Live Statistics, Google processes over 40 000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Why your website appears in search results and what position it occupies Let's assume, you have a website (or are planning to have one) and you’ve...  More >

NL not to small to make big climate effort

The Netherlands not too small to make big climate effort: D66 With just 11 years to halve CO2 emissions, the draft climate agreement presented on the threshold of 2019 came not a day too soon. But defeatism is rearing its ugly head, says D66 parliamentary party leader Rob Jetten. The recent agreement bore all the hallmarks of Dutch ‘poldering’. There is no country in the world that includes so many parties and interests in the quest for a broad consensus. Hundreds of experts, social organisations, unions, and energy companies gathered around the negotiating table. Left wing leaders Diederik Samsom and Kees Vendrik worked cheek by jowl with former VVD leader Ed Nijpels on hundreds of measures to combat climate change. The last week of the year saw another typically Dutch phenomenon. Before the financial implications of the agreement could even be determined, opposition parties and opinion makers from left to right went into full attack mode. Their criticisms were partly aimed at the role of industry but then a new argument came...  More >

Blogwatching: Best restaurants 2018

Blogwatching: 10 best restaurants in Amsterdam – the 2018 Edition British by birth and Dutch by choice, Vicky Hampton, aka the Amsterdam Foodie, is a writer, cook and avid foodie who has lived and worked in Amsterdam since 2006.  Every December since 2014, I’ve looked back on my favourite restaurants of the year in Amsterdam. Not necessarily newly opened – but new for me. Usually, I base the list on my Restaurants of the Month – a revolving selection I make (unsurprisingly) once a month. But this year, for various reasons, a few of these restaurants no longer seem appropriate for this list – either they were temporary and have now closed down, or they’ve been replaced by something (to my mind) better. So for my 2018 list of best restaurants in Amsterdam, around half came from this year’s Restaurants of the Month, while the other half I discovered before or since. Also important to note: this list is not meant to be exhaustive. Firstly, because there are still a great many fantastic restaurants in Amsterdam that I’ve...  More >

Nijntje is Miffy in Des Moines

Nijntje is Miffy, not Fluffy and she’s also a statue in Des Moines What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband for six months, while your wife works in a high powered job? Visiting columnist Joe Weeg has been exploring his neighbourhood. Part 2: Miffy Henriette Priester is helping me learn Dutch during my stay in the Netherlands. Not such a big deal, one would think. I figured that with the right motivation and a little time I could learn just about any language. French in a weekend? C’est moi, mon cher. German before noon? Hah! Before you can say Ich bin ein Berliner. Learn Dutch over a couple of months? Please. I go Dutch all the time. Henriette is the wife of a husband/wife team that runs the gym, Absolutely Fit, in The Hague. She is a mother to many of us in the gym, she has her own adult children, and now has three grandchildren. Henriette knows how to teach. She began my informal Dutch lessons by only speaking Dutch to me. 'Hoe gaat het?' Henriette says very slowly with a lot of hand gestures. Cleverly,...  More >

The traditional Dutch bike is English

Traditional Dutch bikes: sit up straight, back-pedal brakes and a ring lock Dutch bicycles are a cultural icon and the classic Dutch bike has changed little in design for over 100 years. Joshua Parfitt finds out what makes them so enduring. The toilets at the National Bicycle Museum Velorama, in Nijmegen, are gendered. Any long-time resident of the Netherlands would quickly figure out the game: the diamond-frame bicycle is the men’s, the step-through-frame bicycle is the women’s. With or without a step-through frame, Dutch bikes are instantly recognisable. But ‘Dutch bike’ is actually misnomer. In the Netherlands the women’s version of this bike is known as an omafiets (‘grandma bike’), a men’s is known as an opafiets (‘grandpa bike’), and collectively they are called stadsfietsen (‘city bikes’). However, the English translation of stadsfiets however is not ‘city bike’ nor ‘Dutch bike’; it’s the English roadster. Yes - the traditional Dutch bike was English in origin. In 1895, 85% of bicycles traded in the Netherlands...  More >

11 great things to do in January

From black activism to blue movies: 11 great things to do in January So another year has gone by. We are all older and probably no wiser - especially those with a New Year hangover. Here are some jolly outings to escape the post festivity blues. Listen to the music The elegantly restored Oosterkerk in Amsterdam ushers in the new year with its annual New Year's concert performed by the 't Hart family and friends. They will be playing Bach, Brahms, Szymanowski and Shostakovich. It's free but a contribution would be appreciated. January 1, 12pm. Website Catch a Caravaggio The exhibition Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe does exactly what it says on the tin: it examines the influence of  Caravaggio’s brand of exuberant realism on Utrecht painters Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst and other European painters. The Centraal Museum in Utrecht has persuaded the Vatican to temporarily part with two Caravaggios. The monumental Entombment of Christ (form December 16 until January 16) and St Jerome in Meditation have...  More >

10 ways to celebrate New Year

10 ways to celebrate New Year in the Netherlands New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands is celebrated in a most untypically over-the-top  way. Here are 10 things you must do to fit right in. 1. Buy fireworks – lots of them and enormous ones – if you have not smuggled them in from Belgium or Eastern Europe months ago. You can only buy fireworks on December 29, 30 and 31 - and for some reason, garages seem to be popular licenced stockists. Start setting off your fireworks well before 6pm on December 31, which is when you are officially allowed to do so. Frighten dogs 2. Listen to the final fifty or so entries in Radio 2’s Top2000 which, for some bizarre reason, is listened to by millions of people every year and won every year (almost) by Queen’s Bohemiam Rhapsody. 3. Watch whichever comedian is giving this year’s televised Oudejaarsconference – a long and winding monologue wrapping up the year. 4. Buy an oudejaarslot – a lottery ticket – in the hope of winning €30 million. You and 17 million other people. 5....  More >

7 tips to keep your health premiums low

Seven tips to keep your health insurance premium to a minimum Health insurance premiums are rising by an average of €80 a year in 2019. Shopping for a new policy definitely pays off, considering the large premium gaps between insurance companies. But what things should you consider when comparing insurance providers?   Here's a list of seven tips to help keep your insurance premium as low as possible: 1 Consider a budget policy Budget policies are generally cheaper than the standard policies and will save you about €5 a month. The budget policy is similar to a natura policy in terms of cover. This means policy holders may undergo treatment in hospitals and clinics with which the insurance company has a contract. However, a budget policy has a much more limited selection of hospitals and clinics and if you decide to go elsewhere, you will have to pick up part of the bill yourself. Therefore, when your GP refers you to a hospital, it is important to check if that particular hospital is covered. Good to know: if you need emergency...  More >

Winter walks to work off Christmas dinner

Make the most of the Dutch countryside – a few winter walks The Dutch are keen on walking and the countryside is riddled with signposted walks to encourage you to get out and about. Here's a few suggestions to help you walk off the effect of all that festive food. De Rijp - 7 to 22 km The pretty village of De Rijp in Noord Holland is famous as a place to go boating, but it also offers several walks past tiny villages and, outside the breeding season, across fields into the big wide open. Pick up a map at the VVV in the heart of the village. De Rijp has plenty of choice for lunch at the end or start of your walk. Website Zwanenwater - 4.5 km In Noord-Holland province close to the Callantsoog seaside village, Zwanenwater is a small nature reserve. The walk takes you through birch woods and over dunes around the edge of the lake, with a stop-off at a bird hide. In the spring, the grass is full of purple orchids. Website De Zilk - 9.4 km There are lots of signposted walks in the dunes west of Amsterdam but this is our favourite. It's...  More >

'The Evenings', a Dutch Christmas classic

Why is ‘The Evenings’ a Dutch Christmas classic? Set in the period from Christmas to New Year 1946, The Evenings (De Avonden) is considered a classic of Dutch literature. Molly Quell wonders why De Avonden is so important and if you should read it. You could say The Evenings is about nothing, and nothing happens. The novel follows Frits van Egters, a 23-year-old office clerk living in Amsterdam and covers 10 days from December 22 to December 31 1946. Van Egters is bored, dissatisfied with his life and channels that unhappiness into obsessive behavior and, often, into being a jerk. Written by Dutch master Gerard Reve when he was just 24, The Evenings is divided into 10 chapters, each focusing on a day in Van Egters’ world. He lives with his parents in the Diamantbuurt, a poor neighbourhood which was built in the 1920s to house labourers. At the time of the novel, the country is recovering from the war, there are few entertainment options and Van Egters spends most of his time in the evenings getting bored. The book 'The...  More >

Seven Deadly Dutch Sins in 2018

Review of the year: The Seven Deadly Dutch Sins of 2018 The New Year beckons and with it a slate mercifully wiped clean of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth and anything else you swore you would stop indulging in last December. But where does the Netherlands stand as a nation when it comes to the seven deadly sins? We have gone through the archives to gauge the nation’s sinfulness in this darkest of months.  Read it and repent, ye sinners. Pride Pride come before a fall and Camiel Eurlings’ has been an exceptionally lengthy slow motion tumble. The former CDA golden boy, who, after a glittering career in politics, went on to do an ignominiously short stint at KLM, found himself underperforming at IOC*NSF when he decided to beat up his girlfriend in 2015. Amid protestations of innocence, he clung on to the job until January this year. The Dutch love a survey especially when it shows them to be the best at English, the tallest race on the planet, or in possession of the happiest children in the whole wide world....  More >

Podcast: The Top 2000 Bonus Edition

DutchNews bonus podcast: The 2000 Problems But Zoutelande Ain’t One Edition The podcast team is taking a break over the festive season to stuff themselves full of rollade, kerststol and Advocaat, but we have a special bonus discussion for you on one of the Netherlands' most enduring traditions, the Top 2000. Every year the nation casts its votes for its favourite pop tunes, which are then played in reverse order during the week after Christmas, inevitably culminating with Bohemian Rhapsody in the final minutes of 2018. As Gordon bemoans the whole idea in a doomed bid to sound sophisticated, Paul takes a look at an intriguing political spin-off and Molly explains why you're not fully ingeburgerd until you've picked out your favourite numbers and written them in your agenda. See also: Old, white men dominate Top 2000 but there is some new blood   More >

'I cooked local food because I had to'

‘I got into local cooking because I had to. I knew I was going to stay’ Aileen Enda Jansen Dawson, 83, will be spending her 59th Christmas in the Netherlands this year. She moved here in 1959 to marry a Dutchman she met while working at a hotel in Germany. Now widowed and with four sons, she still gets het and de confused, has learned to eat Dutch vegetables and knows every museum in Amsterdam. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was doing hotel management at a hotel in Ireland. It was a six year course and for the final year we had an exchange system with either Germany or Switzerland. I ended up working at a family hotel in Heidelberg with a friend. I was 21 and she was 20. The local paper wrote about us when we left for Germany because we were sort of trailblazers. My future husband was studying at the hotel school in The Hague and he and a friend were also working at the hotel. So you can tell what happened. When I told my family I was going to marry my Dutchman, my father said 'not only is he a Protestant but he's a bloody Orangeman'. Once...  More >

Christmas events, from skating to stars

Christmas is coming, and here’s some special events to get you in the mood The festive season is almost upon us, and whether you're looking for cosy, cultural or culinary, we have Christmas holiday highlights to suit one and all. Amsterdam Amsterdam Light Festival If you're in the capital during the holidays, make sure to give yourself time to tour the canals and take in the many exhibits of this year's Amsterdam Light Festival. Special highlights include light artworks inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night and, for the first time, a specially commissioned theatre piece during a canal cruise of the festival sites - The Light Code by Chris Bajema. The festival runs all the way through December and into January. Website  Eye Film museum Too cold outside? Then head over to the EYE in Noord. Escape the wind, and the general state of the world, with the joy of the upbeat 50's classic White Christmas, or a screening of the Royal Opera House's (UK) spectacular version of The Nutcracker (2015), complete with sparkling prosecco.  Website Utrecht Nijntje...  More >

Podcast: The Commercial Breakdown Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Commercial Breakdown Edition – Week 50 Our last podcast of the year features a helter-skelter game of red cards, own goals and penalties that ultimately changed nothing, while away from the Brexit negotiations Ajax qualified for the next round of the Champions League. We ask why girls are more likely to move up the educational ladder then boys, whether stints will ever be allowed back on cycle paths and why a group of Chinese villagers were told to Buddha off by a Dutch court. In the discussion we look at the catchiest – and the most irritating – adverts in the Netherlands and how they have affected cultural life. TOP STORY Rutte has May for breakfast as EU rules out reopening Brexit deal MPs denounce no-deal emergency powers bill as undemocratic NEWS Electric 'stint' wagons still not allowed back on cycle paths Girls more likely than boys to move up secondary school ladder Dutch court throws out Chinese villagers' claim on Buddha statue Boyan Slat says ocean clean-up plan is still on despite...  More >