Longer articles about living in the Netherlands, Dutch society, culture and travel plus third party content from our partners


Dutch destinations: enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek

Dutch destinations: enjoy suikerbrood and sailing in Sneek

Most famous for its Sneek Week, a week long sailing competition and festival, the Frisian city of Sneek (Snits in West Frisian) has plenty to offer during the other 51 weeks of the year. Molly Quell goes north (again) to check out to eat more suikerbrood and see what the city has to offer. The area around Sneek has been inhabited since Roman times and received its city right in 1456, joining the other 10 Frisian cities that make up the Friese elf steden or Frisian eleven cities. They may be more famous for the ice skating race, the Elfstedentocht. Or if your preference is for unfrozen water, Sneek Week. The city itself is the only of the Frisian cities to be walled, an expensive and difficult project due to the surrounding geography. Today, all that remains of the undertaking is one picturesque bridge which has become the symbol of the city. Sneek is now home to around 30,000 people and both C&A and Tonnema (a sweets factory known for its brand of King mints) were founded here.   Wander about town The city itself is lovely and offers your typical canals and cute canal houses. The city centre isn’t large so start your trip by wandering around. You will want to check out the Waterpoort, which is the remaining part of the original city wall as well as the symbol of the city. Then you can visit the fountain, installed as part of the European Capital of Culture, which Leeuwarden/Friesland is in 2018. Other notable architectural features include the Stadhuis, built with a Rococo facade in the 15h century, and the Martini church, whose bells were confiscated by the Germans during World War II. Take in some history and culture Sneek offers two museums, the Fries Scheepvaart Museum and the Nationaal Modelspoor Museum. Both accept the museum card and both are in the city centre. The former ostensibly focuses on the shipping, though it also includes exhibitions about the history of Sneek and the Elfstedentocht. If land based transportation is more to your liking, then the miniature train museum offers a lot of exactly what the name suggests. Both museums are kid-friendly and small enough to negotiate on the same day. Drink some Weduwe Joustra Beerenburg, an herb-infused gin, was created in Sneek and used to be popular with sailors. It was brewed originally at Weduwe Joustra which is now a liquor store and museum. There you can find plenty of versions of this local spirit for sale, as well as take a tour of the museum which, of course, is followed by a tasting. The building is one of the oldest in the city, dating from 1484. Take a boat tour The city is famous for its water and offers plenty of options for boat tours. You can see the city from a whole different angle and, if you choose a small enough vessel, even travel under the Waterpoort. Where to eat De Walrus is one of the more famous cafes in the city, with a beautiful terrace when the weather is nice and good sandwiches year round. The cafe offers both lunch and dinner as well as high tea and high wine. If you want a slightly more adventurous menu, Stadscafe Dubbels is a trendy spot with an interesting menu configuration: everything is the same price and you order two dishes. The portions aren’t large, so in total you end up with a good and varied meal. Friesland is famous for its suikerbrood and Sneek offers some of the best. Try it at Bakkerij De Haan, which also counts oranjekoek and vanillestafjes among its specialities. It’s famous enough that you can even purchase a miniature of the building for your Christmas village. If all that food has you thirsty, find your way to Bier Cafe 3B. They have 25 beers on tap and 200 bottles, including many local brews from the city and the surrounding area. It also offers from finger food, in case you need to balance out the beer. Where to stay If you don’t want to stray too far from the beer, you can try Logement 3B. Located directly next to Bier Cafe 3B, it’s a funky and modern hotel located in the city centre. Run by a family, it’s walking distance to the train station if you choose to come by public transport and as it’s connected to the bar, so plenty of good beer options. For a more traditional hotel option, there is the Hotel Stadsherberg Sneek. The building was built in 1845 and reopened as a hotel in 2014. It overlooks the water and is located about 30 meters from the Waterpoort. There’s a cafe on the premises should you get hungry. How to get there Sneek is small and easily walkable. You don’t need a car for the weekend and you can get there by train. Trains run regularly to Leeuwarden and Stavoren. However, if you go by car, you can see the Wooden Bridges, which were built to resemble old ships using sustainable wood.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Mosquitos Should Be Dead By Halloween Edition – Week 45

DutchNews podcast – The Mosquitos Should Be Dead By Halloween Edition – Week 45

The regular podcast team returns to discuss whether nuclear power will kill us faster than global warming, why there's been a rash of births among sports stars and whether filming at accident scenes should be banned. We also bring you up to date on the Pakistani lawyer fleeing religious persecution, Ajax's revival in Europe and a forthcoming feast of Rembrandt. In the discussion we ask why several hospitals were allowed to go bankrupt last month and how the government can prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes that followed. Ophef of the week: Emile Ratelband wants judges to fix his Tinder profile TOP STORY Asia Bibi may be heading for Netherlands after acquittal for blasphemy NEWS Red Cross launches campaign to stop filming at accidents VVD backs plan to bring back nuclear power De Bilt sets record for November 6 at 17 degrees Rijksmuseum to put all its Rembrandts on display to mark artist's death SPORT Ajax on verge of first Champions League knockout qualification in 13 years New dad Epke Zonderland wins world high bar title for the third time DISCUSSION: BANKRUPT HOSPITALS Up to 10 bidders in running to take over Amsterdam and Flevoland hospital operators Health minister Bruno Bruins says don't blame me after hospitals go bust Two more hospitals in serious trouble, says Trouw IJsselmeer hospitals ran up huge bills for imported cancer medicine (RTL, Dutch) MPs criticise Bruins for standing by and watching hospitals expire (Trouw, Dutch)    More >


From hospitals to dance: getting to grips with Virtual Reality

From hospitals to dance: getting to grips with Virtual Reality

No longer the terrain of developers and gamers alone, Virtual Reality has made its way into hospitals, architects offices, classrooms and the arts. Last month, hundreds of aficionados got together in Amsterdam and Esther O'Toole went along to find out what other realities are taking shape. It's still unusual and we're not quite used to it: watching people with strange contraptions on their heads, flailing their arms about, as if in the dark. But step into the seeming darkness and you´ll be surprised at how immersive it really is, how quickly you forget where you are and imagine yourself somewhere completely different. It remains true: with VR - you have to try it to understand it. In the four years since VRDAYS Europe started as a small assembly of enthusiasts, the once sci-fi technology has made the jump from expensive, early prototypes to more general access. This was the biggest version of the event to date with 1,800 registered visitors. Alongside VR, AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality) or as it is increasingly referred to XR (Extended Reality), are all coming together and changing how we perceive the world in unexpected ways. ¨VR is becoming more and more accepted as a medium that will have a serious impact in many industries like healthcare, enterprise, entertainment and the arts,' says festival director Benjamin de Wit.  ¨There are still a lot of big challenges to overcome, such as smooth user interaction, standardisation and quality of goggles but also many exciting developments,' he told DutchNews.nl.  'Content keeps getting better, applications keep getting more serious, like Virtual Human Agents, there is more integration of AI and some super exciting research.' Virtual Human Agents - like the recently unveiled personal assistant, Mica, from American AR company Magic Leap - are computer generated characters that combine AI algorithms, data about the physical room you are in and almost flawless graphics, to increasingly look and act like real people. Their uses can range from taking over where our current voice assistants leave off, to playing characters in games, cinematic experiences, and VR therapy. The first day, at the DelaMar Theatre, was a packed schedule of speakers from across the field and the globe. Many of them later fanned out across the rest of the festival at the Kromhouthal to lead workshops, panel discussions and hackathons. Topics covered everything from the latest research on the effectiveness of VR for treating phobias, for boosting mental performance, or understanding life in a different body; to tools for storytelling in VR and how to score venture capital for your startup. Passing through the small congress section, where technologists show off their latest hardware (think multi-user functionality, haptic gloves and bodysuits) there was the option to stop off at the Birdly stand and take a flight over a Jurassic world (on their simulator), or hang off the side of a skyscraper in The Impossible Leap experience from HP and Universal Pictures. Meanwhile, over at the 'Church of VR' a specially curated selection of the best international cinematic and artistic work from the last year, invited new visitors to take a leap of faith and explore XR's potential for creating empathetic experiences for audiences. A piece on digital shamanism sat alongside work that puts you in the centre of unfolding documentaries and prize-winning, poetic art pieces such as Hsin-Chien Huang and Laurie Anderson’s La Camera Insabbiata, and Where Thoughts Go from independent creator Lucas Rizzotto. Something more analogue was on offer in the yurt where attendees slipped off shoes for the Philosopher's Salon; here artists and thinkers such as Vesna Petresin led small, intimate discussions on the ethics and human presence needed to underpin real technological progress. 'I'm always asking myself what is the practical use of this,' says Tieres Tavares, CEO and co-founder of distribution company Quanta DGT, who was visiting the fair from Brazil. In the past year Tavares has been looking at ways to bring XR content to cinemas across South America. In doing so he also discovered an educational VR experience about prenatal health that originated in the UK. He is now organising the introduction of that experience into maternity hospitals back home to help mothers, and other relatives too, adapt to the arrival of a new family member. Another visitor was David Black, of Pitch Black Productions in Britain. Black specialises in immersive audio, working on performance and storytelling pieces. His new think-tank, The Human & Emotive Connection Assembly (HECA) is aimed at sharing best practice among current professionals while developing a complementary learning trajectory for young people. 'It’s very serendipitous how people get into this field at the moment,' he says. 'I’d like to create a channel that doesn’t exist yet for a new generation of makers to get into it too, one that gives a sense of community and support.' Someone else looking to create new chances for developing creators is Astrid Kahmke, creative director of  The Bavarian Film Centre. A lack of engaging content has long been considered a potential obstacle to mass adoption of VR and Kahmke focuses on helping to define VR/XR as a new art form. This could include, for example, combining dance with motion capture sensors and virtual environments or incorporating VR into theatre. 'There is something in the waters here that makes for a special, family-like atmosphere,' she says. 'An open-mindedness. I find it inspirational that at the end of a very, very long day, several hundred people come together to keep talking. Everyone is so curious. You see creatives blossom. We want them to get their projects made.'  More >


Write it down: why written notice is indispensable for employers

Write it down: why written notice is indispensable for employers

In a time when we accept VOIP calls, sound bites and instant messaging as standard work tools, it can be tempting to believe that a verbal discussion is sufficient – but this is not always true. In the case of ending a fixed term employment contract, written notice remains essential, writes lawyer Daniëlle van den Heuvel. As the end of an existing fixed-term employment contract approaches, employers have an obligation to notify their employee about how they wish to proceed. Whether the employer wishes to renew the contract or if they wish to end the working relationship, they must inform the employee of their intentions. This notice must be given more than a (calendar) month before the end of the existing contract, and – critically – that notice must be given in writing. Always put it in writing Under Dutch law, not only does an employer have an obligation to notify, it is also mandatory that they serve that notice in writing, whether this is done as hard copy (paper) or via a digital format such as email. In the event of a disagreement, the written notice can provide evidence of what was communicated and when. If the requirement to give formal written notice is not fulfilled, or is not done correctly, then the employer may find that they are liable to pay the outgoing employee compensation. Temporary or fixed term contract? The law still applies A fixed-term employment contract ends by operation of law by the end of the term. As such, employers do not have to take action to end the employment (unless otherwise stipulated in the employment contract). Nonetheless, they still have the same duty to inform the employee that the employment will end by giving them written notice at least a month before the contract expires. What happens when you get it wrong The following two cases give examples of the consequences of not adhering to the legal requirements for giving an employee notice in writing. In the first case, more than a month before the expiration date, an employer informed his employee verbally that they wished to extend the fixed term contract. The employee accepted this extension – but then subsequently changed their mind and gave notice to terminate the contract, informing the employer verbally of that decision. When the case went before the Court of Appeal in The Hague, the court could not determine if notice had been given on time, as it was not done in writing. Because the employer had not given written notice that they did not wish to extend the original contract, the court ruled that the employee was entitled to be paid compensation. In a second case, an employer notified his employee verbally that the existing employment contract would not be extended, but that the employee could continue to work for the organisation via a payroll system. When this case went to court, the court found that while the employee was aware that 'something' had changed his employment contract, the verbal notification did not make clear when the existing employment contract would end. As a result of the notice not being given in writing, and the resulting confusion, the employee in this case was also entitled to compensation. Employers, here’s how to get it right Do it on time, and do it in writing. At least one (calendar) month before the employment contract expires, give your employee written notice of whether or not you wish to extend or terminate the contract with them. If you do wish to extend, write down the conditions under which this will take place. If you are late in giving your employee notice, inform the employee in writing anyway and keep the original end date of the employment contract. You will then owe the employee a fee - but only for the number of days that you are late in giving notice. If you are unsure if you have fulfilled your duty to notify as an employer, get legal advice as soon as possible. Questions? More information? If you would like to know more about your legal obligation to notify your employees, or if you’d like to discuss one of the topics raised here, please contact us. About the author: Daniëlle van den Heuvel Daniëlle van den Heuvel works in employment law and property law at GMW lawyers and is a contributing expert on Legal Expat Desk. Within her employment law practice, Daniëlle is often called in to draw up or advise about settlement agreements between employers and employees. She represents both parties. Within property law, Daniëlle is mainly involved in rental disputes and procedures concerning real estate transactions, representing real estate entrepreneurs, project developers, housing corporations and private individuals. Daniëlle also gives regular advice on non-competition clauses, and publishes monthly in the legal magazine Rendement.  More >


Blogwatching: Opening night (a play about women, sex and porn)

Blogwatching: Opening night (a play about women, sex and porn)

The writer of Amsterfam moved from London to Amsterdam nearly two years ago with three kids. She switched school systems, ditched the car and threw her children into the box on a cargo bike. She has also been known to swear. In my privileged capacity as Tulse Hill’s greatest export to Amsterdam, twice Mumsnet’s blog of the day, guardian of #stevethebakfiets, fair-weather Instagrammer, diarist, documenter of disaster, dealer in schadenfreude – ALL my stock is in schadenfreude, that’s my only horse in the race, if you start to yearn for some actual useful intel about Amsterdam then I am FUCKED, I tell you, FUCKED – I am often, these days, on the receiving end of a phenomenon that I believe is called reaching out. The people who reach out and find me in their unwitting grasp are public relations consultants, and they have googled Amsterdam Bloggers – or, worse, Amsterdam Mummy Bloggers (Christ) – and, look! They found Amsterfam! Here’s a woman with 1.4 more children than average. She’s made some weird decisions. Let’s see what else she’ll do! It’s usually clear that they haven’t read the blog. No, I won’t review a baby car seat. I don’t have a baby. Or a car. I am not the droid they are looking for. It’s a little depressing, though; mothers only appeal to other mothers, and mothers who write? Well, you’re WordPress’s bread and butter, ladies! You’ve got some stuff to say? Say it into the internet! Or scream it into your pillow. Your choice. No-one else really cares. But every now and again, something lands in my mailbox that makes me think I won’t end up having a fourth baby just so I can review chamomile-infused teething earrings, or womb-music CDs, or pelvic floor rehabilitation retreats. “We’d love to invite you to review a performance of our Dutch première of ‘WET’”, says an email from Screw Productions. “A play about women, sex and porn.” How many tickets would I like? Well! I will take ONE TICKET! For myself! This is what happens when you’re an artist in Amsterdam, I think to myself. People say to you, do you want to come to this sexy sex thing? And because you’re very cool and easy-going, you say, yeah sure. I’ll go to that, on my own. I can do this, because I am comfortable in my own skin, and also too embarrassed to ask any of my friends if they’d like to come to a porn play with me. HELLO! We haven’t known each other long, but I thought it would be nice to sit next to each other whilst we watch something called “Wet”, which is about women, sex and porn. Our elbows might brush against each other whilst the pornographic pornography play is happening in front of us and I would be FINE with that. ABSOLUTELY FINE. Okay I’m going on my own. As I cycle into central Amsterdam on opening night (OPENING NIGHT! NUDGE NUDGE! Because, you know, SEX!), it strikes me that this will be the first time I’ve ever been to the theatre alone. I’ve never even been to the cinema on my own. It’s strange, that these passive activities are normally associated with accompaniment. Since my father died, my mum has been to countless plays and films on her own. She knows all the tricks to get the cheap tickets; what time to phone, where to go, which days are usually available. She takes herself off into central London, which she now knows like the back of her hand. She takes in an afternoon show, thinks it’s good or shit, and then she’s home in time for Coronation Street. Tell me you’ve got better retirement plans? The theatre, Perdu, is at the bottom of De Wallen – the red light district. The sex for sale is a few streets up from here, and as I lock up my bike I see families walking in that direction, to tick it off on their Amsterdam To Do List. The odd lone man wanders in the same direction; he also has a To Do List, but it’s probably shorter. I look down at my feet and find a silver turtle, which I find incredibly funny. It’s just as well I came by myself. (AS IT WERE! HAHA! YOU KNOW, SEX!) Waiting for the show to start, I realise that I am the only person in the room who has, um, come on their own. This, I realise, as I sit drinking bad white wine, is why we enjoy company at the theatre. The vulnerability of being your own date, the apparent audacity of pleasing yourself, is embarrassing. I think again of my mum. What does she do at this bit, when the theatre is filling up around her? She will always be early, as I am now, for fear of last minute disruptions. People leave gaps either side of me, assuming that someone will join me. Does this happen to my mum? A funny thing, about being alone – you are afforded more personal space than you need, as if you are contagious. The play, Wet, isn’t really about porn. The starting point is porn – we see Holly flicking through some generic snippets of internet porn, unable to find anything that really turns her on; men deliver packages and then get to the real package, women have been very naughty and need to be spanked, a secretary wants to know if there’s anything else she can do for her boss. Meanwhile, Holly’s flatmate, Sophie, has just been dumped by her boyfriend in favour of an Instagram Influencer called Simply Saskia who, I’m sure, has never been asked to review a fucking baby car seat. Holly is The Sex One, with a long list of conquests, and Sophie has only ever slept with her ex. In order to stop Sophie internet-stalking Simply Saskia, Holly suggests that they make a porn film – a good one. For women. This is where pornography exits, stage left. Because it quickly becomes apparent that pornography as we know it – spanked, shaved, oily and badly acted – is predominantly made by and for men. The women are sex-bots, tongues hanging out of their mouths, nymphomaniacs, begging for it. Men looking for pornography do not want a challenge; there can be no suggestion of failure, because you know what failure means? VULNERABILITY! And you know what doesn’t like vulnerability? PENISES! But do you know what turns women on, as Holly and Sophie discover? VULNERABILITY! Messy sex, not knowing what will happen next, telling each other what you like, what you don’t like, having these desires accepted and fulfilled by a sexual partner who is listening to you. It doesn’t mean you have to cry, or be in love, or even know each other’s name; it means not having to pretend that your labia are extensions of your clitoris. It means embracing mistakes and clumsiness in order to get to a place that feels good. It means intimacy, with or without emotional dependency. The writers of Wet, Bryony Cole and Grace Carroll, discussed pornography with groups of women whilst researching for the play, and their conclusion is the same one that Holly and Sophie come to – female arousal is hard to bottle; it’s ours, and ours alone. Sorry, fellas. No package deliveries today. The house lights come up, and this the best bit about going to the theatre on your own; no-one immediately says to you, “WHAT DID YOU THINK?”, when you’re still not quite sure what you think and you also really need a wee. On the ride home, heading out of the red light district as more men head in, I remember the only porn film that I have ever watched, during my Masters degree in Gender and Sexuality in Cinema. 'According to the university’s safeguarding guidelines, I can’t tell you to watch porn,' said my tutor, 'but this will be a tricky seminar to participate in if you haven’t.' At the time, I lived in South London with a group of opera singers. If you know any opera singers yourself, you’ll know that they are salacious animals. Quite insatiable. They hooked me up, and I hid in my room, watching a man fuck a lady over some gym equipment. Occasionally, the opera singers would pop their heads around the door to watch me watching porn, because I’m really very sweet. I remember two things about this pornography. Firstly, that there was an extreme close up of the penis going into the vagina, like something from the Discovery channel. As if to say, 'Look! It is really going in! We didn’t pretend! PENIS CAM!' Secondly, that it was clearly filmed in an actual functioning gym. Imagine if that was your gym! It was on the thigh cruncher machine, if you really want to know. I guess the angle worked. My father found it very funny that I had to porn as part of my Masters degree, and he told many people about it, to show that I was cutting edge, unafraid, a modern woman. Imagine if he saw me now! Blogging to many tens of people about my life as an Amsterdam housewife. Imagine. Some would say it is strange to be thinking about my dead father after watching a play about porn; others would say it’s inevitable. Either way, I’m at Museumplein before I know it, smelling the Heineken brewery on the air and dodging drunk Brits and rich Dutch people walking their dogs before bed. I cycle past the giant Iamsterdam letters in front of the Rijksmuseum, and then I think I should have stopped to take a photo – the night is beautiful, and the letters may shortly disappear in a move to dampen down tourism in the city. I’m annoyed with myself that I didn’t stop. Two minutes further on, I turn back. You can do that, when you are on your own. You can please yourself. No one’s watching. This blog was first published on Amsterfam.   Every month we feature a blog post from one of our favourite bloggers. Interested? See if your blog meets the criteria to be included on the site.  More >


Dutch News podcast – The Feminazis Take Over Edition – Week 44

Dutch News podcast – The Feminazis Take Over Edition – Week 44

The Dutch News podcast this week moves to Amsterdam, ditches Gordon and Paul, and introduces a whole new host of characters behind your daily news site. Senay Boztas and Deborah Nicholls-Lee join Molly to talk about the latest in the story about an electric wagon maker filing for bankruptcy, what advice Mark Rutte is giving schoolchildren and a new turn in the case of a Dutch collector accused of owning a stolen mummy. Molly talks sports and the latest with Max Verstappen, under sufferance, and Deborah goes on an unusual fishing trip. In the discussion, Dutch News editor-in-chief Robin Pascoe joins the crew to debate the merits (or otherwise) of moving Amsterdam's red light district. TOP STORY Electric wagon maker files for bankruptcy after fatal crash Manufacturers call for greater clarity on new electric vehicles on the road (in Dutch) NEWS Who's the Daddy? Buddha with mummy in hands of new owner, court hears Rutte advises schoolchildren to just say no to cannabis Cabinet divided on junior health minister's 'nanny state' plans for booze and fags SPORT Kiki Bertens ninth in world rankings Ajax beats Feyenoord Boy racer: Max Verstappen wins Mexico Grand Prix PSV Eindhoven B team out of KNVB cup. (No news on its giant Asian hornets.) DISCUSSION: MOVING THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT Amsterdam councillors propose moving the red light district to combat tourists who look but don't pay Prostitutes ask for 'gawp charges' (in Dutch) Parool reader proposes moving prostitutes from De Wallen (in Dutch)  More >


From great women to drug dealers: 14 great things to do in November

From great women to drug dealers: 14 great things to do in November

November may be a gloomy month but there is much going on to lighten the day, or night. Catch a play about Brexit, check out some Dutch masters which live in England and ask yourself why a hair that fell of the head of Maradona is in an exhibition in Utrecht. Say hello to old friends Matilda, the BFG, the Enormous Crocodile and many more are all waiting for young and old fans to come and say hello at the Quentin Blake exhibition in the Meermanno museum in The Hague. Some150 drawings, sketches, miniatures and photographs show how the illustrator based his instantly recognisable characterisations on the written text. Until March 3. Website Admire the Dutch masters with an English accent In total 22 17th century Dutch Masters are travelling to the Mauritshuis in The Hague from their august surroundings in 12 stately homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland courtesy of the National Trust.  Among the paintings are Rembrandt’s self-portrait with a feathered bonnet and Gerard Terborch’s The Introduction or, depending how you interpret the look on his face, An officer making his bow to a courtesan.  Until January 6. Website  Catch, or be, a drug dealer An ‘experience/exhibition’ in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam reveals the extent of the criminal drugs trade that is conducted through the port. Visitors will be put through their paces as they take on the role of a port worker, customs officer, dealer or judge in a scenario by Chris Westendorp of tv series Penoza fame.  Will you be taking that bribe? ‘Dealing with drugs’ is on until October 2020. Website Go for a walk Now that the brrr is finally in the month Natuurmonumenten is organising (among lots of other things) a bracing winter walk in the Kennemerland. With a high tea at the end to replace any calories you may have lost on the way. November 11. Website Behold B The B Word – Strategies for a Graceful Exit - no prizes for guessing what the B stands for although Bastard would score points – is an original play about three people who no longer feel they belong in Britain and make their way to the Netherlands. Presented by the Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam, it explores the ramifications of B on personal lives. It’s a comedy drama so (hollow) laughter is on the menu too. November 9 (premiere)  and November 10, 11, 16 and 17 . Website   See two worlds collide Borders, a play by acclaimed playwright Henry Naylor, tells the story of Syrian artist Nameless who is trying to escape the Assad regime and photographer Sebastian who, to save his cynical soul, travels to Syria for a magazine. They meet in the middle of the Mediterranean. Presented by STET in The Hague on November 15, 16 and 17. Website Have a giggle at Easylaughs English-language improv theatre Easylaughs presents an evening of anything that pops into people's heads at the time at the CREA Cafe in Amsterdam. Will the improv actors and stand-up comedians dazzle you with their brilliance or will you need to bring a book? Find out on November 16. Website Get the Ehrenreich perspective De Balie in Amsterdam presents what should be an interesting conversation between Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk and American investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich about her life and work and her unflinching look at American society. November 23. Website Meet some extraordianary Dutch women The Amsterdam Museum is making room for 200 remarkable Dutch women most of whom no one has ever heard of. Typical!  Based on historian Els Kloek's book 1001 vrouwen in de 20e eeuw, visitors meet scientists, educators and politicans as well as a courtesan, a brothel keeper and a poisoner. Until March 3. Website Adore a hair on Maradona's head Fascinating stuff at the Catharijne Convent museum in Utrecht: the world of relics. From a richly decorated holder for a splinter of the crown of thorns to a little altar for a hair from Diego Maradona's head, the exhibitions shows the meaning people have always invested in the tangible (if often fake) objects connected with perceived greatness. Until February 3. Website Be swept away by Rubens 'Avid, lively, lushcious' is how museum Boymans van Beuningen in Rotterdam describes its exhibition of 65 Rubens oil sketches. Some people would add pink and podgy but that wouldn't do justice to the extraordinary sense of movement  and exitement Rubens infused in his sketches. 'Pure Rubens' is on until January 13. Website Compare different strokes The impressionists of the late 19th century discovered that their rough and ready brush stroke had much in common with that of the 17th century Dutch master Frans Hals and claimed him as one of the their own. 'Frans Hals, c'est un moderne,' they said.  The Frans Hals museum in Haarlem gives you a chance to compare styles. Until Februari 24. Website Don't miss 'Our problem is that we live in just about the most beautiful city in the world' said Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan (1955-2017). Van der Laan, who worked on the exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum until shortly before his death, takes visitors on a tour of 80 photos and objects illustrating the history of Amsterdam and the challenges economic growth and expansion have brought the city. Until November 4. Website You have just four days left to catch the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague where writers, artists and musicians from all over the world meet. Until November 4. Website  More >


What makes the Dutch who they are? New book aims to unravel NL’s dna

What makes the Dutch who they are? New book aims to unravel NL’s dna

For a small country built on boggy ground, the Netherlands has punched well above its weight in global history. Foreigners, as outsiders, have written many books which aim to unravel the peculiarities of the Netherlands. Now local journalist Cees van Lotringen has written his own insider story about what makes the Dutch Dutch. There are three reasons why the Dutch have become what they are, says financial journalist Cees van Lotringen. 'Firstly, the landscape. We have built our country in a difficult environment  and that has forced the Dutch to be extremely inventive - not only in water management. They had to get their food from elsewhere as well because the marshy ground was not good for farming. And when they bought too much, they sold it on, which of course helped drive their business instinct.' The 80 Years War with Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries, which resulted in the provinces which then made up Netherlands toppling their ruler and winning independence was another major factor in making the country what it is. And the third factor, says Van Lotringen, is that the Netherlands has never had the top-down system of rule that other countries had. 'The Netherlands has never been in that situation, with a monarch and a population of serfs,' he says. 'The landscape meant that the Netherlands urbanised much more quickly than the rest of Europe. We had autonomous cities of 10,000 people in the 17th century which was pretty unique. Amsterdam was a city state, with a population of 175,000 and was the third biggest population centre in Europe.' Free will These city and provincial states created an independent people, who worked together out of necessity. So how did they become the free thinkers of the Golden Age. Much of it, says Van Lotringen, is down to the philosopher Erasmus, whom he sees as the founder of Dutch society and by far the most important person in Dutch history. This stems from his work alongside Thomas Moore on humanism and his development of the concept of free will, which was later adopted by Spinoza and helped drive forward the Enlightenment. 'The concept of free will and free thought ultimately stems back to Erasmus. The concept of tolerance as we know it today comes from him,' Van Lotringen says. The Dutch may have invented the stock exchange in 1602 and traveled the world in search of trade, but they also took good care of their poor. But this free-thinking approach to society began to change in the second half of the 19th century when Catholics were once again allowed to worship in public after decades of being forced into hiding after the Iconoclasm. The concept of verzuiling - a society made up of different pillars based on faith or belief systems which operate independently - dominated the country up to the 1950s and 60s but was broken down in subsequent years. Social segregation 'I know from my own youth how awful the effects of this type of social segregation can be,' Van Lotringen says. 'I lived in a street with some Protestants but you were not allowed to talk to them. And the same is happening again. Verzuiling is returning via immigration, partly because we don't have a national and inclusive story to tell about who we are and have a hard time encouraging integration. People with very different cultures have arrived here and they have been allowed to go their own way. Erasmus's legacy is at stake.' So how then, for example, can the foreigner become truly integrated into Dutch society. 'I think the Dutch should do more to help people to integrate,' Van Lotringen says. 'You are expected to join in, not to complain, to keep it business-like and add something to society. But the Dutch are not going to go to a lot of trouble to show you how you can get involved in the first place.' This sense of distance and 'just get on with it' attitude poses an increasing risk, given the arrival of so many people with different backgrounds, Van Lotringen points out. 'We've got no idea how to deal with this. The English, for example, have a much better story about being English, but what is our story? I think much of this is due to our economic identity. We are only interested in how we can make money, to put it bluntly.' 'There are advantages to this frugality, but I can imagine that from the perspective of foreigners, we are not probably the most interesting people.' Entrepreneurship and pragmatism Van Lotringen's book traces the story of the Dutch from the Golden Age to the present day, interweaving it with parts of his own family history. Then, as now, a period of growth and prosperity is being threatened by growing inequality, moral decay and shifts in the balance of power, he says. The Dutch and most Europeans may be living in a period of peace, stability and prosperity at the moment, but what is crucial now, says Van Lotringen, is to keep hold of what has been learned over the past 500 years. Entrepreneurship, pragmatism, free thinking - these are the concepts which, he says, we need to take with us into the future. So could the Dutch still fight together against a flood? 'If we are inclusive and continue not to involve people with different backgrounds then we have a big problem,' he says. What we need now, he says, is political leaders with intellect, vision and an inclusive story. 'However, there is more discussion between people from different backgrounds these days, which is a step in the right direction.' The influence of climate change, combined with geopolitical, social and technological developments, show the need for a change in mentality throughout Europe. The Dutch, he says, with their pragmatic, anti-fatalistic and 'get stuck in' approach, can make a real contribution to that. 'Tot hier en nu verder: Nederland op de drempel van een nieuwe tijd' can be ordered directly from tothierennuverder.net DutchNews.nl has three copies of the book (which is in Dutch but is an uncomplicated read) to give away. Email editor@dutchnews.nl, explaining why you would like a copy and including your address. The best three emails will win a signed copy. Cees van Lotringen is giving a talk on the Dutch dna at TEDxAmsterdamED on October 31.  More >


Visit beautiful Belarus in all its glory – without a visa

Visit beautiful Belarus in all its glory – without a visa

Belarus might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of a holiday abroad, but you'd be surprised just how much there is to do and see. The rich culture, outdoor activities and historical sites will keep even the most experienced traveller busy.  Some 40% of Belarus is covered by woodland and forests, so the colours in autumn are a sight to behold. And in winter the weather is crisp and cold with plenty of snow. Belarus has plenty to offer tourists, and now you don’t have to spend your time and money on getting your documents in order and applying for a visa. For tourists from 74 countries entering the country through National Airport Minsk-2, the visa-free regime has been extended to 30 days. If you are feeling a bit under the weather or could simply do with some care and attention, why not visit one of the Belarusian health resorts? Sanatorium treatment in Belarus is very popular with foreigners. Before the visa extension, tourists could only enjoy a two or three day spa visit, but now they can fully take care of their health! Most procedures begin to affect your body only after a course of 12 days. So thanks to the visa-free regime, you can relax, forget about the time and put yourself into the hands of professionals. More than that, you’ll have a chance to enjoy natural beauty of Belarus. Belarusian sanatoriums are located in the most picturesque places of the country: by rivers and lake shores, in the middle of birch groves and coniferous forests. What else can you do during your visa-free stay? Online travel guide VETLIVA will gladly advise you where to start and how to spend a couple of weeks getting to know the country better. It used to be that tourists could only briefly explore Minsk, go to Brest fortress or visit the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, but now you can visit amazing castles, ancient monasteries, temples and many other attractions on educational excursions and trips around Belarus. Travel guide VETLIVA also knows where to spend the night in comfortable surroundings, where to go to relax with the whole family and where to see the most beautiful scenery Belarus has to offer. Belarus is a small country in the heart of Europe. It has much in common with its neighbours but it has many unique places to visit as well. If you spend all 30 days exploring Belarus, you will not be bored. Stunning nature, great museums and memorials, national parks and reserves - this is Belarus in all its glory. Every year the country hosts great festivals as well. So discover the new Belarus and enjoy this exciting journey!   More >


Find out what it takes to get started in the tech industry at Move It Forward

Find out what it takes to get started in the tech industry at Move It Forward

While many employment sectors are becoming increasingly co-ed, the tech industry remains predominantly male. One upcoming event seeks to encourage more women to pursue careers in the field. During Move It Forward: Female Digital Starters, participants can attend hands-on workshops about digital technologies that will help them develop projects and acquire useful real-world skills. The two day event is a collaboration between the Digital Leadership Institute, the Women Entrepreneurship Platform, Women’s Business Initiative International, and Webster University. It will take place on 10 and 11 November 2018 at Webster’s Leiden campus and is open to both students and members of the public. ‘The focus of the event is to find ways to help women improve their IT skills and test out their entrepreneurial ideas,’ said head organiser Dr Yang Fan, who is programme coordinator for the Business and Management department at Webster Leiden. ‘Our goal is to encourage more of them to consider careers in the industry or assist them as entrepreneurs with their own businesses. It’s a great event for starters who have absolutely no or very basic knowledge of technology.’ Learning curve There are many careers currently available in the tech industry that cover everything from designing websites to programming mobile apps. Unfortunately, many women often avoid career opportunities in the field for many reasons that include the perception that the learning curve is just too big of a hurdle to overcome. Move It Forward: Female Digital Starters hopes to help those interested in entering the industry smash through these barriers. It’s also a great opportunity for those looking to boost their tech skills in order to work as entrepreneurs outside the field and/or start their own online businesses. ‘We want to bring technology closer to our female audience,’ said Charlene Lambert, the interim president of Women’s Business Initiative International which is also serving as a co-organiser. ‘Too many women think these careers and opportunities are too difficult or too far away from them. We want to show them that it’s actually possible and that’s the motivation behind this whole event.’ One of the workshops at the event will offer participants the opportunity to learn what it takes to come up with a ‘killer app’ like Instagram or Snapchat that will keep users glued to their smartphones. It will be hosted by Cheryl Miller, an app inventor who works on digital content for the MIT Centre for Information Systems Research. Miller’s workshop will offer participants the opportunity to gather into teams and come up with a concept for their own smartphone app while instructors walk them through all the steps involved in a typical design process. They can later have their project reviewed by a panel of judges and earn prizes that include free coaching sessions at inQubation, a training service provided by the Digital Leadership Institute that helps beginners and professionals improve their IT skills. An additional workshop, hosted by Katja Legisa, a director from the Digital Leadership Institute, will focus on how to design an online presence for a start-up business or another online project by using Wordpress, AWS, and cloud technology. A third workshop will be hosted by trainers from top tech companies with offices here in the Netherlands, including Google. Webster alumnus Ebere Akadiri, a seasoned entrepreneur and the founder and organiser of the Women Rise & Lead Summit, will appear as a guest speaker as well. The schedule is packed with activities that run from 8:00 to 22:00 both days with project pitches and awards on Sunday evening, followed by opportunities to network. Needless to say, catered meals will also be provided for everyone in attendance. Move It Forward: Female Digital Starters is free for Webster students. Admission for members of the public is €20, all inclusive. You can learn more about the event’s schedule and activities by clicking here to visit its page on the website for Webster Leiden.  More >


The IamExpat Fair makes it three in a row in The Hague

The IamExpat Fair makes it three in a row in The Hague

Looking for the perfect place to live, a career shift or even mates to hang around with? You'll find all the answers at the third edition of the IamExpat Fair in The Hague, which takes place on Saturday November 10 at the Grote Kerk in the city centre. The IamExpat Fair was set up to support internationals in the Netherlands and connect them with local businesses and service providers, and the organisers are delighted to be back in The Hague for a third edition. This year the fair will host over 70 exhibitors and welcome more than 2,000 visitors. 'This event is an exciting opportunity for internationals to find everything they need under one roof in one day,' says co-organiser Nikos Nakos. 'For example, finding time to make an appointment with a mortgage or financial advisor, can seem daunting, but here we've got them all under one roof,' says his colleague Panos Sarlanis. From companies and services in the areas of career, housing, education and expat services, to family, health and leisure - the IamExpat Fair has it covered! 'There’s something for everyone: from finding a job, house or childcare for your kids, to choosing a legal advisor, accountant or MBA and so much more,' says the third member of the team, Charalampos Sergios. Since launching in 2015, the IamExpat Fairs in The Hague and Amsterdam have hosted more than 260 companies, run 125 workshops and welcomed more than 15,000 visitors from 150 countries. Free workshops and presentations will also be running throughout the day. Visitors to the IamExpat Fair in The Hague can: - Get assistance with finding rental properties or understanding Dutch mortgages - Learn about advancing your career through professional development - Attend workshops about living and working in the Netherlands - Benefit from many special offers - Find local health and lifestyle organisations - Connect with like-minded locals and expats from around the world Book your free ticket now   More >


Expats in remote areas of the Netherlands – How’s life for you?

Expats in remote areas of the Netherlands – How’s life for you?

Not all internationals live in the Randstad with expat services at their fingertips. Deborah Nicholls-Lee speaks to readers in remote locations across the Netherlands and asks, ‘What’s it like when you’re the only expat in the village?’ Sicilian Nicola Sirchia (32) is in love with his trees. ‘I have apple trees! I can see them grow, make apple cake and do all those kinds of things. That makes me happy!’ he enthuses over the phone from his home in the rural Hoeksche Waard, an island in Zuid-Holland.  ‘I don’t need a house that costs a million euros in the city centre. I just need a simple house where I can have my trees.’ The online digital manager lived in Amsterdam, Breda and Rotterdam, before moving, in 2017, with Dutch wife Shirley (29), a mental health counsellor, to the village of Goudswaard, where the population is under 2000 and the only other expat is the owner of the local Chinese restaurant. ‘My work is quite intense, so we decided to move somewhere where our brains had the opportunity to relax a bit,’ he says. ‘We bought an amazing house with a big garden that can give us and our two German Shepherds all the peace, freedom and tranquillity that we never find in big cities.’ Sushmita Jha (29), an account coordinator from India, is equally enthusiastic about her new home in tiny Westerbork in the heart of agricultural Drenthe, which could hardly be more different from her previous life in an apartment in New Delhi. ‘It’s just a good feeling,’ she says. ‘After a busy day, I go back home and there’s so much peace and greenery … When I come to Amsterdam for work, I really find it chaotic.’ Compared to Amsterdam, she says, people in Drenthe really make time to see their family, much like in India. She has been stunned by the help and support of her Dutch in-laws. ‘I didn’t expect that you would see that kind of bonding in the family in a country like the Netherlands,’ she says. Sushmita admits that it’s not always easy, though. ‘You really have to speak good Dutch as people don’t tend to speak very good English,’ she says. Though she has no desire to be part of what she calls ‘an expat crew’, she likes to kick back with other Indians every so often. ‘We have ‘Indian time’,’ she laughs, ‘and we speak a lot of Hindi!’ Elena Lomo Melian (46), a Spanish-Australian who moved to Ulvenhout in Noord-Brabant from Sidney in 2009, agrees. Though her more isolated location meant she integrated faster and learnt the language quicker than expats like her sister in the Randstad, she found she had to put more in each day too, and that could be tiring. ‘Sometimes you need respite and you just need to hang out with a group of people that get you – whilst you’re still working on integrating,’ Elena explains. When she arrived in the village, she worked hard on assimilating, but during those exhausting months when her first child was born, she found that she ‘couldn’t hold it anymore’. ‘I didn’t want to think – which you need to do when you’re speaking Dutch! Then, I really reached out to the international community,’ she says. She created a women’s circle of like-minded people and she spent a lot of time with the ‘Women with Dutch Partners’ group in Breda, who understood what it was like to have a foot in both camps. Rejection Finding a niche made all the difference for British couple Sandra (50) and Mark Stanbury (54), who struggled to fit into parochial Egmond aan den Hoef in Noord-Holland. ‘There are two or three couples who are well-travelled and pretty chilled and we get on really well with them,’ says Sandra, but, beyond that, the couple spend most of their time in nearby Castricum, where they have found a great social life surrounding the rugby club, which Mark describes as ‘a life-saver’. In the 90s, they lived for four years in Utrecht. ‘In Utrecht, they didn’t make us feel like outcasts. They would talk to us, invite us to their street party,’ says Mark. Egmond was different. ‘We had kids outside our house saying, ‘go home English people’.’ he says. ‘In Utrecht, they were more ‘interested’ in us; they didn’t really see us as a threat, whereas up here, I think they did,’ explains Sandra. Mark wishes they had bought a home in Castricum. ‘When we put our youngest boy in Castricum [school], he thrived,’ he tells me. He recommends renting in an area first to see if you are comfortable there. A Canadian reader, who moved to an idyllic village in Limburg and has asked for anonymity, also found it hard to find acceptance. ‘Even our estate agent asked me more than once, ‘Are you sure you want to live here? It’s very small.’,’ she says. The children of this family and the family in Noord-Holland both experienced bullying in school and both families found themselves the subject of local chit-chat. Learning Dutch ‘It’s a relief my Dutch was so bad – I wasn’t able to offer up much fodder for gossip!’ jokes our Limburg expat. But Dutch can only take you so far below the big rivers: ‘Even though I’d learned enough Dutch to get by in the shops, social situations were still sometimes difficult as every village has its own version of the Limburg dialect,’ she says. The family have since moved to Maastricht, where, she says, ‘it’s much easier’ and her children are ‘happy and thriving’. Egyptian dentist Sameh Elgendy (30) also found language an issue. He contacted us from Zwolle, in Overijssel, where he lives with his Polish wife, Kamila (27), a job coach. ‘It took my wife some time here to find a job, mainly because of the language,’ he told DutchNews.nl. ‘Outside of the Randstad there were almost no part-time Dutch language courses available,’ he says, and though Zwolle is a city – albeit a small one –  Kamila eventually travelled an hour south-west to Utrecht to take lessons. The couple did find the Expats Zwolle group, though, and enjoy joining other internationals for trips, pot-lucks and picnics. Zwolle, says Sameh, is ‘a nice city’ but ‘lacks the big city luster’, and they are now considering moving west to The Hague or Rotterdam. Back in sleepy Goudswaard, Nicola has found native speakers to be very patient. ‘People have time, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the same language,’ he says. ‘The thing that is beautiful is how we understand each other because we want to communicate.’ When everyone knows your name The slower way of life requires a bit of planning, with shops closing on Sundays and expat advice centres miles away, but Nicola enjoys the human contact this brings about. ‘I don’t go to buy food at the big shopping centres any more – I go directly to the farmer to buy what I need,’ he says. Far from finding it stifling, he likes the way everyone knows everyone else. In Goudswaard, he tells me, ‘people are not a number, they are people.’ Nicola has found people to be really friendly. ‘The perception that other people have of you depends also on the perception that you have of other people,’ he says. He has even taken the unusually orthodox step of abandoning Italian cuisine as part of his assimilation into Dutch life. ‘Every country has its own traditions and as an expat we have to respect it,’ he says. His advice: ‘Be open. Really, be open.’ Sushmita, over in Drenthe, has found being the only expat in the village has its advantages. Recently, at a local beer-tasting festival everyone realised immediately that she must be ‘Stefan’s wife’ and came over to introduce themselves. She has found her Dutch neighbours to be ‘helpful and accepting’. Like Nicola, her ‘biggest tip’ is ‘to be open’. But unlike Nicola, Sushmita is not giving up her native cuisine and mostly cooks Indian food at home. ‘I keep India in my heart and soul,’ she says. Her Indian heritage has even helped her adapt to her new way of life. ‘Westerbork is not really a village,’ she regularly teases her husband. ‘If you want to see a village, go to India and see a village.’  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Crime Doesn’t Pay Dividend Tax Edition – Week 42

DutchNews podcast – The Crime Doesn’t Pay Dividend Tax Edition – Week 42

Fireworks and firearms are to the fore in this week's podcast as we rake over the ashes of Rutte's dividend tax debacle, find out how police blew open a suspected terrorist cell in Arnhem, and reveal how Amsterdam plans to make New Year a less explosive occasion. Plus the Night Watch gets a very public makeover and for once there's plenty to cheer about in the sporting arena. In our discussion we look at how local mayors are increasingly being driven into hiding by mobsters. Ophef of the week: Twitterstorms and talking at concerts #hetisfokkingADE TOP STORY Rutte survives no confidence vote triggered by dividend tax debacle NEWS Details emerge of undercover police operation to infiltrate terror cell in Arnhem Dutch integration exam scrapped after questions are shared online Number of euthanasia deaths falls for first time since regulation began Rembrandt's Night Watch to be restored in full public view Amsterdam city council proposes banning New Year firework sales SPORT Oranje future looks brighter after results against Germany and Belgium DISCUSSION: MAYORS IN THE FIRING LINE Hundreds turn out for rally in support of threatened mayor of Haarlem Mayors to be given preventive security checks following wave of threats (Volkskrant) Rotterdam's mayor steps up security after serious death threat Geldermalsen drops plan for asylum seekers' accommodation centre after riots  More >


A cycling nation: how the bike impacts on Dutch society

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, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of obesity in Europe, only marginally up on Italy and Romania. In 2018 the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis published a report which concluded 'cycling is an efficient way to prevent obesity', and can even prevent emotional conditions such as depression. Air quality But is it on the whole better for us? What use is it if we boost our cardiovascular health only to inhale poor quality air? Other research shows that replacing just 12% of short car trips with bicycle trips would add three to 14 months to one’s life. The effect of increased inhaled air pollution, however, would knock just 0.8 to 40 days off. And traffic accidents would claim just five to nine days. 'Societal benefits are even larger because of a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents,' the report said, referring to the subsequent reduction in cars on the road by drivers choosing the saddle. Connectedness Cyclists are self-made adverts. You are tall, in full-view, and it doesn’t cost much energy to stop and have a natter. At least this is what the academic director of the Urban Cycling Institute (UCI) thinks — the UCI is a research platform within the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In a 2017 paper titled Travelling together alone and alone together, Marco te Brömmelstroet and co-authors investigate how one’s mobile experiences influence the ability to 'develop a sense of connectedness' to society. He examines four modes of transport — driving a car, riding transit, cycling and walking — to see how they foster or curtail interaction with people and places. Compromises 'A car limits opportunities for interaction with the social and spatial environment for those inside,' Te Brömmelstroet told DutchNews.nl. Bikes, however, create far more  potential for interaction and connectedness, he says. 'This is because two-wheelers must constantly make compromises with other road users, which include pedestrians, unwitting tourists, taxi drivers, elderly cyclists, children on tricycles, lovers on mopeds and sometimes even ducks. We must engage with them all.' A Dutch cyclist has no hesitation to swear at a tram driver for getting in the way, which reflects something about social interaction and perhaps even democratic values: on a bicycle, everyone is visible and everyone is answerable or within earshot, no matter who they are. Democracy 'Cycling is part of the Dutch DNA,' says Shirley Agudo, photographer and author of Bicycle Mania Holland and The Dutch & Their Bikes. 'It's ingrained in the culture. The Dutch live and breathe cycling, from the time they are able to walk — starting with the 'loopfiets' — until very old age.' The Dutch, she says, literally grow up on bikes. They go out to dates on bikes. They go shopping, to school and to work on bikes. They go on holiday on bikes. They put their kids, dogs and groceries in baskets or into cargo bikes. Police even patrol the streets on bikes. And the Dutch enjoy their cycling long into retirement. 'Anybody can afford a bike [...] And as the Dutch are not ‘into’ status games, cycling becomes a very egalitarian means of transport,' argues Jacob Vossestein in his book Dealing with the Dutch. 'Exposed to wind and rain on a regular basis — drudging against gale force eight on unsheltered dyke roads [...] any difference in status or social stature between cyclists is soon eradicated... Whether an office clerk, bricklayer, captain of industry, prime minister or royalty — all cyclists have to bow to the elements.' King Perhaps this is why Mark Rutte caused an online sensation earlier this year when he arrived by bicycle at a meeting with king Willem-Alexander at his offices in The Hague. Does it have something to do with cycling, with it being visible, down-to-earth and among the people? Is it a conscious PR stunt, or intrinsic values finding two-wheeled expression? Either way, the bicycle stands proud as a symbol of health, connection and democracy. And with recent government plans to cut air pollution and traffic jams in the Netherlands, such as urging companies to pay employees 19 cents a kilometre if they travel to work by bike, this bike-mad country is likely to add environmental responsibility to the benefits of the bicycle.  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: 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, alongside singers, poets, footballers and philosophers. Things to do There are a few good museums in Venlo. The biggest, with a good range of activities for young and old, is the Limburgs Museum. Here you can take a deep dive into the cultural history of the borderland region from neanderthal times to the present day. The High Tech Romans interactive exhibition is on until January 2019. For something on a more intimate scale you could also try the beautiful Jean Laudy Museum Chapel - housed in a former orphanage chapel, the museum showcases the fine art of one of the city's most well-known portrait painters. For small adventurous types, all sorts of things to climb on and get into can be found at Playpark Little Switzerland*, an amusement park just to the south of the city, including (according to the Guinness Book of Records) Europe's highest swing and longest tubular-slide. It's large, affordable and they have special Halloween activities on all through October! So, for all those Halloween fanatics who think Sint Maarten just doesn't cut the spooky autumnal mustard - this could be just the thing. Open till the end of the first week of November. Want to make the most of the late autumn sunshine? Then head out of town to the south-east and, just across the border, you enter Het Brachter Wald. An area of natural, wooded, beauty that crosses between Holland and Germany. It is shut off to cars and perfect for a long walk, bike or horse ride. If you want to stick closer to town, then you can also try a nice long stroll along the river in the some 70 hectares of walking and biking terrain between Venlo and Velden. Theatre and music Alongside the touring Dutch theatre shows, de Maaspoort has a good range of musical acts for non-native speakers including regular appearances by the South-Dutch Philharmonic. This large, modern theatre, right in the centre of town, was completely renovated in 2013 and offers bars, restaurants and even overnight stays via the Theaterhotel If you're after something a little more contemporary you can head over to Poppodium Grenswerk* on the Peperstraat where, in addition to their workshops and regular dance parties, they have a lively performance scene with blues, jazz and rock acts. You´ll get visiting international artists such as US Blues/Rock icon Popa Chubby, popular Dutch radio stars like Nielson and er… the odd Rage Against the Machine tribute act. Eating Out There are plenty of options for dining, to suit all budgets. If you're making the most of the city shopping centre, then take a quick break at Beej Benders*, a boutique restaurant where all the produce is purchased directly from local farmers/producers. After eating you can buy ingredients in their grocery shop to take away and replicate your lunch at home. In-house pizza and sushi are some of their specialities. Looking for a craft beer and accompanying bite, then try De Klep*; in local dialect a so-called Preuf and Praotlokaal (taste and talk bar). You will definitely hear more of the local dialect around you while you sample some of their more than 100 beers. If however, you're looking to escape the bustle for a bit, or if you want to go upmarket, then you could try the Michelin star Hotel and Restaurant-Brasserie Valuas. Right on the riverside, just between the city and a nature reserve it´s a high-end, family run place with a lovely sunny terrace over the water; and, they too specialise in regional ingredients Where to Stay In addition to the two hotels already mentioned, the Maashof, Hotels & Suites just across the river in Blerick offers a range of different kinds of rooms, including family rooms; and you can book trips to amusement park Toverland (Sevenum) as part of your stay. For reasonable, comfortable and well-looked after b&b you could try Het Venloosplekje which has some modern twin rooms, also in the town centre; or the considerable offering on Airbnb if you like staying with locals. How to get there Venlo lies just off the A73 motorway, which runs south from Nijmegen to Maastricht. It's about an hour's drive from either of these. By rail: it is on the line from Nijmegen to Maastricht, and the stop-train in either direction also takes about an hour. When to visit The famous German beer festival, Oktoberfest (which usually runs in Munich from around 22nd Sept - 7th October turning the city into a mecca for lovers of beer and Bavarian hats) also means many spin-off events in the south of both Germany and the Netherlands. Between October 19 and 21 there is a massive Oktoberfest party in nearby Arcen for instance, and in Venlo itself there is a big, Oktoberfest, pub-crawl on October 20. If you are a craft beer enthusiast with a loud singing voice it may be for you, if not… you have been warned!  More >


The word is out: Spoken word poetry in English comes to the Netherlands

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 couple of years and are edging their way to other parts of the Netherlands. With many located in the back rooms and basements of lesser-known venues, there is an underground feel to this small-scale scene and an intimacy between the sympathetic audience and the – often novice – participants. Founder of laid-back Word Up and of Outspoken, its more curated big sister, Evelina Kvartūnaitė understands the special relationship between audience and artist at these events. She once saw members of the crowd flock to the stage to hug an artist who had just shared for the first time her traumatic experience of rape. ‘That was the catharsis for me,’ she says. ‘It’s the moments [like that] that really open you up and make you feel like a community.’ As they sat side by side on the kitchen floor at 3am, it was a friend’s heartfelt and unexpected recital of his personal poetry that kickstarted the venture: ‘He kind of bloomed, you know?’ she explains enthusiastically. ‘Let’s make you a space to perform - you’re amazing,’ she told him. And when she found that no such platform existed for English speakers, she decided to start something herself. Inclusivity With most events donation only or charging a minimal fee, spoken word prioritises inclusivity over profit and aims to attract a diverse line-up and audience. Alongside co-organiser, rapper and spoken word artist BLESZ, who hosts the nights, Kvartūnaitė tries to create a ‘living room feel’ and put newcomers at ease. ‘If someone is scared I’m not going to put them on the spot,’ she says. ‘I’m going to make sure they feel comfortable.’ Artists’ treatment of the genre is skilled and varied. On the nights I attended, performances included raps about social history and racism; candid, hard-to-hear lines about loneliness; and celebrative narratives about rampant love making - one executed with jaw-dropping brilliance by Margo van de Linde. Performers were men and women of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. Being able to speak across all the things that we look at as separation within such a diverse group, says Kvartūnaitė, helps show how universal our experiences are. ‘We have people who come from abroad; we have people who are born in Amsterdam, who live in Amsterdam or who just arrived in Amsterdam: students, workers, mothers, stay-at-home mothers, business people. It’s a wide variety. I really appreciate that,’ she says. English Communicating in English, Kvartūnaitė believes, is also a pathway to inclusivity. ‘The audience we have is so diverse; you lose half of the room when you start performing in Dutch.’ Spoken word artist Sydney Lowell (21) is Dutch but prefers to write and perform in English. ‘I don’t connect with Dutch as much as I do with English,’ she tells me. ‘Creatively, I feel way more limited writing Dutch and I feel like the language doesn’t serve what I want to say as much as English does.’ Though she has been writing poetry since the age of 16, she has only been performing for a year. ‘I didn’t see why I should [perform] before. I didn’t really think of it. And then, last year, I realised that I had such a huge urge to share it because I’m such an expressive person and I felt like I was holding myself back by not sharing this piece of myself.’ Lowell discovered poetry and Shakespeare through the Twilight movies when she was 11. Later, when she was bored in class, she would jot things down to document the moment. ‘Those were just random thoughts, just words, not even sentences sometimes,’ she says. ‘I kept on doing that and those turned into poems eventually.’ Self-expression On stage, Lowell is unusually poised and calculated for someone so young. She unpicks patriarchy and calls out racism, creating unease, while still her strong stage presence makes it hard to look away. ‘When I take that stage,’ she tells me, ‘or whatever place it may be, it just feels like I am utterly myself … I feel excited. I feel very rooted as well. I’ve never been nervous, I’ve always been excited just because I know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing … I just feel that I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.’ Kvartūnaitė understands this. Her events were born of ‘a deep longing to give space to people to express themselves.’ Spoken word, she says, is ‘about people being supported while vulnerable’.  ‘It’s a means for people to accept themselves and grow’. Spoken word events in English in the Netherlands AMSTERDAM ABC Open Mic A forum for artists to go public with their poem, song or book. Located in a bookshop in central Amsterdam. Labyrinth A cocktail bar in Amsterdam Zuid serving Caribbean food which runs a variety of poetry events including open mic night on a Monday in Dutch, English and French. Mezrab Located on the IJhaven, the venue hosts storytelling on Wednesday and Friday nights and Verso, a live literary magazine, five times a year. Outspoken A curated line-up of more established artists alongside one selected emerging talent. Performances involve visual art, beats or music. PoeTree A meet-up for young, ethnically diverse spoken word artists in the Vondelpark. Hosted by Sydney Lowell and Jemairo Scoop. Soul Food Poetry Organises a regular event called ‘Knock Knock’, hosted in the UK and in Amsterdam West at Volta. Word Up An evening where anyone can sign up to perform whatever the level of experience. THE HAGUE Crossing Border Festival An international Spoken Word festival taking place in The Hague 29/10/18-4/11/18. ROTTERDAM Poetry International A great information source for poetry events, many of which are in English. Organises an annual festival in May/June where many international poets perform. ARNHEM Slamtastic These performance poetry championships or ‘slams’, take place once a month in a café in the small town of Wageningen, just outside Arnhem.  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Pitchforks and Pindakaas Edition – Week 41

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 Denmark Bibian Mentel announces retirement as cancer returns for 10th time DISCUSSION: REDRESSING THE NAZI ART HEIST Dutch museums find 170 works of potentially stolen art in national audit Full list of works suspected of being stolen between 1933 and 1945 Website of the Restitutions Committee Lynn H. Nichols: The Rape of Europa (bol.com)  More >


Rotterdam awakes as Amsterdam’s property market 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 city has to offer. Headquarters Hosting the headquarters of big players such as Robeco, Eneco, Van Oord and Shell Downstream, and Unilever's Dutch operations, Rotterdam is an established business hub with great job opportunities. Centres of innovation and excellence, such as the TUDelft and Erasmus University, help support the demands of industry and attract young talent to the area. Tourism is also flourishing. Drawn to the museums, the night life and the iconic modern architecture, visitor numbers increased by 18% between 2017 and 2018. With an estimated cost of living at 11% lower than Amsterdam, it is unsurprising that expats are now turning to Rotterdam to find a home. ‘I’m an Amsterdam guy myself,’ laughs Richardo, ‘I lived there my whole life, but you need to step out of the bubble … to see the potential of living in another city with all the same facilities that Amsterdam has.’ His clients at Expat Mortgages receive comprehensive guidance through the process of buying a house in the Netherlands, including an assessment of their eligibility for a mortgage, both for buy-to-let and for personal use. Since Rotterdam properties cost on average just €2-4,000 per square meter – cheaper than The Hague and Utrecht, and around half what you can expect to pay in Amsterdam – expat customers seeking more space close to Rotterdam city centre or in striking distance from The Hague are getting much more for their money. Even Amsterdam is just a 40-minute commute by train. ‘More and more people are considering Rotterdam as a better opportunity for a family to live,’ says Richardo. Highly-educated clients with a good salary and decent savings are still finding themselves priced out of the capital, he explains. An influx of expat families is anticipated in Rotterdam and the municipality is currently discussing plans for more international schools. Supply The supply of housing is also good in Rotterdam, meaning more choice and less competition when bidding on a house. ‘There’s a lot available.’ says Wil Jansen of Rotterdam-based estate agency @WORK Makerlaardij. ‘There are houses, there are apartments, there are skyscrapers – everything is there and it’s on the market.’ Just east of the centre, and popular with expats, is the upscale neighbourhood of Kralingen with its smart villas, leafy streets and boating lake. In Noord, the up-and-coming Blijdorp district, best known for its zoo, is quieter and more affordable than the Stadsdriehoek (city centre). Further out, Hillegersberg is surrounded by lakes and green spaces and offers accommodation to suit all budgets. Katendrecht, on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas river, was once famous for its brothels, but redevelopment has transformed it into a popular spot for culture and dining. But the smart money is heading even further south, where a new stadium, music hall and conference centre are indicative of a huge investment in an area which is gentrifying fast. House prices in Rotterdam increased by 27% in the last two years and continue to rise. The giant has woken, and now expats begin to do so too. Prospective buyers may need to act fast. To find out more about the services offered by Expat Mortgages, contact the team here.  More >


For sale in Amsterdam, family homes in a very green building

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 it is extremely green, in terms of both energy efficiency and plants and nature. The homes will be kept warm by geo-thermal heat pumped from under the ground, while the 19th floor roof has a wind turbine and solar panels. Then come the vertical gardens. Each home has its own outdoor space and these spaces are linked together in a single planting scheme covering the complex. These vertical gardens will be kept watered by a computer-driven automatic system, using rainwater that has been collected via the green roof. The building will also include 200 nest boxes for swallows and other wildlife. 'The aim is to get as close to nature as possible,' says landscape architect Fred Booy of DS Landscape Architects, who designed the planting. 'It will create something substantial for the city in the form of a new ecosystem.' Mixed population Unlike many new developments focusing on housing for 'young professionals' or 'starters' Vertical is attracting a wide variety of people, including many internationals. 'What makes this project so special is that it has been designed by four different architects and a landscape architect,' says Heijmans' Raymond Raadtgever. 'This means we have so many different types of home, from studios for starters to family homes and apartments specially designed for people who work from home. We are creating a really mixed community.' The project is the first of a number of new developments close to Sloterdijk station which have been sanctioned by the city to try to ease the shortage of homes. In total, the Haven-Stad project will have up to 70,000 homes when completed. In line with modern trends, Vertical will also have shared community spaces on the ground and sixth floorsl making the complex an inspiring and pleasant place to live. In total, 800m2 has been set aside for shared facilities, including restaurants and cafes, small businesses, flex-working spaces, an area for fitness and yoga, and cooking or dining in a private setting. Friends and family can even stay the night in two comfortable 'hotel rooms', and there is space to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. The building is just 50 metres from Sloterdijk station which has connections to all over the country, including Schiphol airport (11 minutes) and Zuidas (14 minutes), soon to be home to the European Medicines Agency. The garage under the property will have space for 65 cars as well as two electric cars which can be rented by residents, and, being the Netherlands, space for 200 bicycles. After all, Vertical is also an easy bike ride from the city centre. Of course, all this comes at a price. Family homes with all the facilities cost upwards of €495,000, but the payback comes in the form of lower energy bills and, points out Raymond Raadtgever, the mortgage payments will be no more than the rent of a family home in a less convenient location. 'The housing market is booming and, however you look at it, a home in Vertical is a good investment,' he says. 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.  More >


13 things you have to know 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’) or Great Iconoclasm. The Spanish then unleashed the Duke of Alva and an army of 10,000 on the Netherlands. Taxes and revolt More Protestants bit the dust under the Spanish duke who also imposed punishing taxes, a move that may perhaps have infuriated the Dutch even more. When two Dutch nobles pinched part of Groningen from the Spanish throne at the Battle of Heiligerlee in 1568, the war started in earnest. Geuzen By then the anti-Spanish resistance fighters had a name: the Geuzen. Originally the French word Gueaux meant good-for-nothings but the name soon became a badge of honour. There were Watergeuzen and Bosgeuzen, depending on their sphere of action. The Watergeuzen won the first sea battle and went on to take a number of cities, among which Den Briel on April 1, 1572. Spanish Fury A back and forth of battles ensued with territory gained and territory lost. Meanwhile Spain had run out of money and mutineering Spanish troops ransacked Antwerp. The Spanish Fury of 1576 killed 8,000 people and burned down most of the town. That was it: the nobles proclaimed William of Orange their leader and vowed to chase off the Spanish oppressor. Unie van Atrecht/Utrecht But not all nobles agreed. The southern Netherlands wanted some peace and quiet and signed the Unie van Atrecht in 1579 which entailed jolly tapas and vino with the Spanish and Catholicism as the only religion. The northern nobles could not accept and signed their own treaty, called the Unie van Utrecht. That meant the southern and the northern Netherlands were no longer one. Plakkaat van Verlatinghe Here we come to a document that the present king sees as the true Dutch ‘birth certificate’. In exchange for French help to reunite the country, the northern nobles signed the Plakkaat of Verlatinghe (document of leave taking) declaring their separation from Spain. It is seen as a precursor of the Dutch constitution. The year is 1581, still almost 70 years to go. Murder and mayhem The French efforts came to nought and the Spanish declared William of Orange an outlaw. He fled to Delft where he was shot by Balthasar Gerards, a Frenchman with strong Catholic sympathies. Gerards was caught and tortured horribly but refused to say if he acted on anyone’s orders. Republic In 1588 statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and his supporters decided that the country did not need a king but should be ruled by the Staten-Generaal, the body in which representatives of the gewesten were united. This was the beginning of the Dutch Republic.  Prince Maurits, second son of William of Orange was nominated stadtholder and turned out to be a very canny and successful military leader. Turfschip van Breda One of his most famous exploits is a version of the Trojan horse, in 1590. The Spanish in Breda in the south of the Netherlands needed fuel desperately and a peat dealer obliged, except that the ship that dropped anchor in the port also carried 75 of Maurits’ soldiers. They escaped detection even when one of them was seized by an uncontrollable cough. He asked his companions to run him through with a sword but they refused, presumably preferring to thump him on the back. The ruse was a resounding success and Breda was taken. Truce In 1604 the war stopped for 12 years. But there was trouble at home. Van Oldenbarnevelt, founder of the East India Company, wanted the truce to hold to further trade while Maurits wanted to carry on fighting. Maurits then staged a coup and had Van Oldenbarnevelt stand trial on trumped-up charges of treason. As he mounted the scaffold to be executed the 71-year-old used a stick to lean on. The stokske van Oldenbarnevelt later became the subject of a poem by Vondel and a symbol of the injustice of his trial. Zilvervloot In 1621 the war started once again but by then Maurits was dead and his place taken by Frederik Hendrik, the stedendwinger, or enforcer of cities. One of the reasons he could take one city after another - and carry out some necessary maintenance work on a couple of estates - was a coup by East India captain Piet Hein who boldly captured ‘La Flota’, a fleet of Spanish ships  laden with silver, hence Zilvervloot. Hein’s name lives on in a song that every Dutch child knows: Piet Hein, zijn naam is klein, zijn daden benne groot, hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot. (His name is small, his deeds are great, he won the silver fleet). Treaty of Münster On May 15 1648, Spain recognised the Republic. The war was finally over (as was the 30 Years’ war that had raged in Europe at the same time). From 12 October 2018 to 20 January 2019, satirical cartoons, items of clothing, weapons and paintings by Bruegel, Rubens and Ter Borch will be our tell the story of how the Dutch nation was born at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.   More >