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


Dutch weed: the sustainable protein of the future (seaweed, that is)

Dutch weed: the sustainable protein of the future (seaweed, that is)

The Netherlands is low on the list when it comes to protein self-sufficiency. Joshua Parfitt visits the seaweed enthusiasts who foresee a greener, healthier, and more locally-grown future. When you eat a chicken, you are not just eating a chicken: you’re eating whatever the chicken ate. No one really cares for this when crispy wings are coated in paprika, honey, and salt or roasted with grandma’s secret stuffing, but Martinus van Krimpen, a senior researcher in animal nutrition at Wageningen University, thinks about these things. 'Soybean meal is our largest protein source; half of all the protein [in poultry and pig feed] is from soy,' he says, pointing to the offending figure: the Netherlands produces just 5% of its soy. 'We are very dependent on areas outside Europe for our protein, which is a risk. Most [soybean meal] comes from Brazil and Argentina,' he says. 'We need to increase EU protein production.' Van Krimpen suggests that, globally, by 2050 we will need to produce 70% more food, including twice as much meat. In such a world, widespread dependency could make the Netherlands vulnerable to catastrophe, and subordinate to foreign regulation—though it’s illegal to cultivate genetically modified (GM) soy in the EU, 95% of the Netherlands’ imported soybean meal is GM. Organic 'f you are eating poultry and pigs in the Netherlands you are eating GMO products as well,' he says (unless you buy organic). For the best part of 10 years, Van Krimpen has been figuring out how to grow protein for animal feed that is closer to home, and does not need extra farmland nor extra cost. The most promising alternatives are insects, algae, leaf proteins, and synthetic amino acids. Van Krimpen and his colleagues discovered that, with a protein content of 40%, soy can yield between 1.5 and 3 tonnes of protein per hectare of land. Seaweed? 7.5 tonnes of protein per hectare. There is a big problem, though. Seaweed is packed full of protein, minerals, and anti-oxidants; it requires no land, no fresh water, and no fertiliser; it cleans the ocean water of heavy metals, it reduces the need for antiobiotics in poultry and pigs, and by sucking up CO2 into its fronds it has a carbon-negative impact on the environment. But you can’t eat a lot of it. Seaweed it too mineral-rich, too much of a superfood, to replace the dreary soybean. It would be like feeding chickens caviar. Which leaves us with a question: if it’s too lavish for poultry and pigs, can we eat it instead? 'Don’t feed it to animals,' says Jennifer Breaton, co-founder of Dutch seaweed pioneers Zeewaar, in the most gorgeously hip and antiquated Impact Hub Amsterdam. 'How many things would you want to share with a cow?' In 2013, her company became the first seaweed farm in the Netherlands. They are still the only 100%-farmed seaweed producer in the country, and in May became the first 100%-farmed, organically-certified seaweed company in the EU. 'The highest cost price [of seaweed] is for food,' she adds, suggesting that direct consumption would therefore benefit farmers too. But do you want to eat it? Seaweed is not some new-fangled trend that will have a minor explosion in the vegan section at healthfood shops. It’s been eaten for centuries in the Far East (think sushi, miso soup, etc...) and even in Europe, where in Wales it makes the traditional laverbread. 'Seaweed is the original umami,' says Breaton. 'MSG is designed after the umami of kelp. It’s a flavour enhancer—dashi [stock used in Japanese cuisine] is all kelp.' Zeewaar have managed to get their crops of royal kombu and sea lettuce into an impressive array of products: bath salts, regular salt, roasted peanuts, tea, chocolate, falafel, mayonnaise, wraps, chicken(less) nuggets, beef(less) burgers, and hot dogs. Their biggest customer, and the chefs behind the aforementioned meat alternatives, is The Dutch Weed Burger. 'You have to be a hardcore lover of seaweed to eat it raw,' says Mark Kulsdom, founder of The Dutch Weed Burger, in a houseboat-cum-office within a reclaimed industrial area of Amsterdam-Noord. 'But if you dose it nicely, as a supplement, you have the flavour from the sea without having any fish, but also without the, ‘oh ****, all that seaweed’.' True to van Krimpen’s earlier conclusion, Kulsdom’s Weed Burger only uses kombu for protein, nutrition, and flavour. The bulk of the burger is made up from non-GM soy, 75% of which Kulsdom sources from within the EU. It sounds unlikely, but the Weed Burger is not just a far-off idea: Kulsdom has just returned from a production facility where he made 30,000 patties to last him through the summer. Besides his own epoynmous restaurant and festival food truck, he stocks over 200 outlets, including every café in the Bagels & Beans franchise. 'Most vegetarian burgers are 6-7% as good [as a beef burger],' says Kulsdom, referencing to his team’s research on environmental impacts. 'But us, because we’re all vegan and use the seaweed, it’s over nine times [as good]. Its got more protein than meat, more calcium than milk, and it’s fatter than a fish.' Mainstream EU-grown seaweed has recently gone even more mainstream than Bagels & Beans, for you can now find it in over 170 Albert Heijn supermarkets. The Amsterdam-based company Seamore behind this progress are probably the most prolific seaweed company in the Netherlands, stocking 12 European countries with their range of three look-a-likes: Seaweed Pasta, Seaweed Bacon, and Seaweed Wraps. Both the Seaweed Pasta and Seaweed Bacon, furthermore, are 100% seaweed, and can be fried up and easily added to all kinds of dishes. However, there is a difference between Seamore’s products and Zeewaar’s. Where Zeewaar is Dutch-grown, Seamore source their seaweed from France and Ireland; where Zeewaar is farmed, Seamore is harvested from the wild. 'In Europe, farmed seaweed has such a limited scale that the very high prices do not allow accessible seaweed products to be created, which is why we have created this path of wild first, farming second,' says founder Willem Sodderland. 'The MSC recently introduced a programme for certification of sustainable harvesting and farming of seaweed [and] we are now helping our partners to become certified as soon as possible,' he added. Hand-picked Seaweed could be a panacea. If handled correctly, it could bring all the above benefits; if handled badly, however, over-harvesting could decimate wild stocks and stress native ecosytems. Seamore do ensure that their seaweed is hand-picked—Sodderland says that sensitive harvesting can even improve ecosystem health—but both they and Zeewaar lament the current high prices of locally-farmed seaweed. 'Many producers come to us, and they fall in love with our philosophy,' says Breaton, 'but when [our seaweed] increases their production costs by even €0,01, they say ‘we think we’ll go wild’.' Whilst still the only commercial seaweed farm in the Netherlands, Zeewaar hopes their model could be replicated. They want to create what they call a Seaweed String of Pearls all along the European Atlantic coastline, where environmental stewardship, profitability, and protein go hand-in-hand. 'Currently our foods require a lot of pesticides, and GM seeds, and we don’t really know what these do to us,' says Breaton, referring to the struggle to produce enough protein to go around. 'Seaweed is a very popular alternative, with healthy components across the board, but it should be produced correctly.'  More >


Gender pay gap: Meet the Dutch lawyer who is training women to ask for more

Gender pay gap: Meet the Dutch lawyer who is training women to ask for more

  Though the gender pay gap in the Netherlands is closing, progress is being made at a snail's pace and the country lags behind much of Europe. Expert negotiator Wies Bratby is helping international women take the issue into the own hands and getting great results, as she tells Deborah Nicholls-Lee. Wies Bratby does not mince her words. The negotiation coach and gender pay gap crusader is unimpressed with my question about positive discrimination at work. ‘It’s again us waiting for men to grant us a favour,’ she says witheringly. ‘I’m done waiting for others. Forget that. What I want is for women to pull that sh** for themselves.’ Bratby (36) has a lot to be angry about. Of 144 countries analysed by the World Economic Forum in 2017, the Netherlands was ranked a mere 32nd for gender pay equality despite coming first for educational attainment. For gender equality in wages for undertaking similar work, it plummets to a pitiful 50th position. CBS figures from 2016 identify household and care duties as one of the factors reducing women’s available working hours, income and access to senior positions (women make up just 19% of the board of directors or supervisors in the Netherlands’ 100 largest companies). But it is much harder to explain the 2% gender pay disparity for identical jobs in the same company – or 4.7% across multiple companies – identified in a recent study by Korn Ferry. Mindset With her background in corporate law and HR, Bratby realised she had the skills to help women narrow the gap for themselves. For four years she trained hundreds of women in workshops all over the world, before founding Women in Negotiation (WIN) in 2017, an online support group that now has 2,800 followers, and devising a group coaching programme that teaches women how to successfully negotiate their careers and salaries. Psychological empowerment, she believes, is the key to getting better pay deals for women, along with a toolkit of strategies and techniques. Two weeks ago, one of her clients achieved a staggering 45% salary increase after following her course. ‘The biggest mistake people make when they negotiate pay is that they don’t do it’, she tells me. ‘They don’t even start the process.’ But surely the straight-talking Dutch have no problem discussing money? ‘It’s not about the words they use,’ Bratby explains. ‘It’s the mindset.’ She says she sees this in clients of all nationalities. ‘Across the world, parents describe their newborn sons as more capable, more alert, stronger than their daughters,’ she says. ‘It’s encouraged that they stand up and speak up for themselves, [while] girls are communal thinkers; we have to think about others.’ ‘This upbringing makes it really difficult when we [women] hit the workforce – that is designed by men and for men – and suddenly we have to play a completely different game that we’ve not been prepared for in any shape or form.’ Lower expectations Women’s lower expectations of their value also play a role. A 2014 study undertaken by four Canadian universities, revealed that women graduates expected 18% less pay for the same job. A US study of Carnegie Mellon graduates (2003) showed that only 7% of women negotiated their first salary, compared to 57% of their male peers. Bratby failed to buck the trend when she was offered her first job in 2007. ‘It was a summer’s day. I remember it like it was yesterday,’ she says. ‘I was offered a job at one of the most prestigious law firms in the Netherlands and I was super grateful for that.’ The HR manager told her to take the contract home and have a think about it. ‘I looked at her and I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ The salary that they offered was very good; it was a high number - I’d never seen anything like that.’ ‘So, I was like, ‘I’ll sign here.’’ During the intake, she realised that some of her peers had been placed in a higher band. ‘I found out that I was making less than the others. I’d missed the boat. I had no idea – which was funny because negotiation was such a big deal for me; it was the reason I went into law in the first place and my specialty in the firm.’ ‘Someone [a male colleague] had asked for more money because they’d done a master’s abroad. I’d done a master’s abroad!’ she laughs, exasperated. Negotiation is good for everyone Bratby went on to become part of the team which negotiated one of the largest settlements in Dutch history. ‘When women are negotiating for their companies, they are in no way worse,’ she explains, but they ‘feel greedy’ when they ask for themselves. When she moved to Hong Kong in 2013, she negotiated the role offered, emphasised what else she could bring to the company, and agreed a 35% salary increase, creating what she describes as her ‘dream job’. ‘The moment I was paid what I was worth, I showed up differently. The company got so much more and I became a different person.’ ‘Women think that negotiating is like going into a fight or something, that is scuppers their chances and damages the relationship. What I teach my clients is that the relationship actually improves because you’re having a meaningful conversation around how you can best contribute to the organisation. These conversations are good for everybody.’ Life-changing Bratby’s clients, she says, are ‘kick-ass women’ and ‘insecure over-achievers’ from all over the world who are committed to putting in the time and energy required to transform their thinking. ‘You’ve changed my life,’ one Amsterdam client recently told her in tears. ‘Women come back [to thank me] and it’s never about the money – they are grateful for the change in mindset. They say, ‘I’m a different person at work. I take no sh**’. ‘That’s a lot more lasting than a quick and dirty 45% salary increase,’ she says. And then she pauses and laughs, ‘although that’s not to be sniffed at.’  More >


700,000 items dug up during new metro works feature in virtual museum

700,000 items dug up during new metro works feature in virtual museum

Some 700,000 objects, some old and some not so old, have gone on show on Below the Surface,  a virtual museum dedicated to the archaeological objects found during the building work on the Noord-Zuidlijn, Amsterdam’s recently opened new metro route. Connecting the north to the south of the city, the 9.7 kilometre route took 15 years to complete and was first a gleam in the eye of developers and engineers as long as 100 years ago. As the protracted digging continued, archaeologists were given the opportunity to go down into the bowels of the earth to find out about the development of the city along the route where once the Amstel river flowed. They objects they encountered along the way range from Neolithic and early Bronze age (2700-1800 BC) funerary gifts and tools and fibulae dropped by careless Romans to modern day objects such as flippos (remember them?), mobile phones and lost bicycle keys. Some 9,500 of the objects are on show in glass cases at Rokin metro station, one of the eight metro stations that make up the line. They can only be seen as you glide past on the escalator down to the platform so the virtual museum is an excellent source of information should anything interesting catch your eye. It could be the hearthstone from the 16th century found at Damrak, for example, showing the coat of arms of the emperor Charles V or the tin button of a coat belonging to a uniform of the schutterij, or local militia. Then as now, the Netherlands harboured immigrants from all over Europe and beyond. This particular button, found at Rokin, was made by an Italian tinsmith who made his home at Nieuwendijk. There’s also a 15th century skate made of iron also found at Rokin, illustrating the long Dutch tradition of getting your skates on when a proper winter permits. A large collection of boating hooks dropped by irate boatsmen shows just how awkward that corner in the canal was and you can just about imagine the swearing that went on as another one went overboard. Some of the finds shine a light on a very particular moment in time. The very beautiful radiator cap featuring Tutankhamun, which once graced a very exclusive American Stutz Model AA Vertical Eight motorcar, illustrates the craze for Tutankhamun related objects that swept the world as a result of the discovery of the pharaoh’s grave in 1922. Another car-related find is part of a model version of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird which broke the record for speed by whizzing up and down the Utah salt flats at 301 miles an hour in 1935. The toy was probably brand new when it fell in the Rokin which was filled up in 1937, and probably left a very disappointed boy in tears. The modern day objects – the antiquities of the future – are given the same careful treatment as the objects of centuries ago and they are just as intriguing. We can only speculate how a set of false teeth and the high heel of a woman’s shoe ended up in the water. Apart from offering hours of fun looking at all the finds, and even assembling your own collection, Below the Surface also explains in great detail how the archaeological work was planned and executed. And while it remains to be seen if Amsterdammers take the new metro to their hearts, visitors to the virtual museum cannot fail to be amused by all the items that were unearthed during the making of it. Some may even claim a bicycle key.  More >


Blogwatching: Zombie Town

Blogwatching: Zombie Town

Rebekah was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met her Cornish husband in Catalonia. They now live in the Netherlands, in Dutch suburbia, with their two differently wired, small kids. She spends her days parenting, writing and being amazed at all the Dutchness around her. She writes at Write Now Rebekah. Zombie town, Dutch suburbia. When we first arrived in Dutch suburbia, I was overwhelmed by intense culture shock. I had a toddler, a tiny baby and no one to talk to all day. I pined for my mama-circle back home and as I walked the quiet leafy streets with the kids in tow, I never saw a soul. My footsteps echoed off the well-kept Dutch homes. My toddler played alone in deserted playgrounds. I breastfed on every public bench around the lake and saw no one aside from a random jogger or cyclist. Were they running for fun or escaping? It wasn’t clear. It was downright creepy. Where the hell were all the people? I wondered if there had been a zombie apocalypse and for some reason we had survived. I asked the husband to confirm that there were actual people in his office. There were. He also clarified that none of them had tried to bite him. I was so tired I felt like a zombie, maybe I actually was one? I noticed that he took my wine away after I asked him about this. I had chronic urban loneliness, in suburbia. This strange isolation went on for a bit until I realised that I was actually beginning to consider the checkout lady at Lidl to be a personal friend. I was chronically oversharing with bus drivers. In truth, I was gone weird with alienation. How I could have felt so alone, I’ll never know. I had a toddler using me like a climbing frame all day long and a baby swinging off my nipples round the clock. It was like I was in a social sensory-deprivation tank, being mauled by the smalls. Because they were in there with me too. Of course. Why wouldn’t they be? When I went to the loo, everyone came. Even the husband was wont to follow along … to see what was going on. It was crowded loneliness. In desperation I decided to go to our local Dutch mum and toddler group. I knew a lot of friends shuddered at the very thought of these groups. Let alone a toddler group in another country, so it was with some trepidation that I went for the first time on a rainy morning. The toddler puddle jumped ahead of me in his red star wellies and the baby was conked out in her sling. As I walked into the playgroup, I wondered if the format would be the same as back home. It was. The Dutch mamas drank coffee, ate biscuits and talked a mile a minute. They fluidly switched between Dutch and English. Sometimes after talking in English, they would flip back to Dutch and it would take me a moment to realise what had happened. I was so sleep deprived, that the wall of sound simply washed over me and my non functioning, unfocused brain. The kids played with the boundaries of social acceptability, cried and snotted over everything. Every so often a mum got dragged up to resolve a fracas, issue kisses or clean something up. The Dutch sing-song time sounded mad Mc Mental, and who knew that the wheels on the Dutch bus’ horn went, 'TOOT', not, 'BEEP'? The group was perfect. We went every week. This first contact with real life people de-lonlified me and helped me settle into our Dutch life. It also gave me a gentle introduction to the inner workings of the Dutch. It turns out a mama is a mama, the world over. And the zombie apocalypse? I discovered that the entire of the Netherlands was on the same routine. It just didn’t match ours. While we were wandering the echoed streets, the Dutch kids were busy sleeping at home. Just as we headed in for our nap, they would wake up and go outside en masse. I still keep a stout stick in the buggy though, just in case I need to do a spot of lakeside zombie bashing while we are out for a stroll… This blog was first published on Write Now Rebekah.  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 >


DutchNews.nl destinations: go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside

DutchNews.nl destinations: go Dutch with a holiday in the countryside

Looking for good weather, green woods and excellent beer? Head to the Dutch countryside for a summer break. Esther O’Toole takes you south to the small towns of Overloon and Venray, on the Brabant/N. Limburg border. There is plenty of history down this neck of the woods. The St Peter ad Vincula church in Venray has a large collection of medieval wood sculpture and the area in and around Venray and Overloon saw heavy fighting during WW2, as it lies right next to the river Maas, by the German border. Now an area rich in natural tourist attractions it is popular with the Dutch for holidaying at home Things to do Overloon If you’re after outdoor activities, whether mountain biking, hiking, swimming or fishing then this is a great area for all of the above. Explore the Overloonse Duinen by bike or on foot, or head to t’Schaartven, a pretty, well-maintained swimming lake with amenities; there you can also climb up the ‘uitkijktoren’ for panoramic views. Museum Park, Overloon: In the woods of Overloon, once the frontline in WW2 where one of the biggest tank battles of the war took place, there is now a park. Here you will find the acclaimed War Museum (Oorlogsmuseum Overloon) with interesting, interactive exhibitions for international visitors as well as Dutch speakers, and an array of original war-time vehicles. During the summer months, you will also find family-friendly Open Air Theatre there. It has gained a very good reputation since its inception and, though most shows are Dutch language, you can enjoy a lovely summer’s evening in their secluded amphitheatre, in its shady woodland setting. This year they kick off the season with The Little Mermaid Zoo Parc Overloon is pretty well known down south. It’s a welcoming, open air park with large enclosures, excellent educational materials and is a good size - big enough to fill a whole day, not so big that you have to rush to see everything or have to skip parts. They have a wide variety of animals, 71 species in total including: red pandas, black-footed penguins, and big cats (cheetahs, lions and this year white tigers). Pretty affordable as wildlife parks go: prices start at €13.50 p.p when bought online, and the food on offer is good quality too. Venray Escape Room - These seem to have caught on up and down the country. Venray is no exception, if the weather is less clement, then head to their escape room which has three unique themes: Noah’s Ark; Forest Mystery and Mayan Temple. There’s options for both children and adults… but you’ve got only 60 minutes to get out! In search of unusual experiences or fun for the grown-ups instead? Then why not be daring and try a visit to Altocumulus Ballooning, who have regular balloon flights from Venray. If you’re scared of flying, stay grounded by soaking at the thermal spa in nearby Arcen or head to Venray’s beloved Oda Park; an open air art and sculpture park where you can enjoy the exhibitions and follow a workshop. Eat & Drink If you haven’t stuffed yourself on sundaes at Overloon’s international prize-winning ice cream parlour, Clevers, then there are really cosy, welcoming independent bars and restaurants up the road in neighbouring Venray.  Not open long but already an established favourite with locals and visitors alike is De Goesting. A haven for artisanal beer-lovers, it has over 300 different varieties, without the big city markup, and on Monday nights they now have live music. Alternatively, there is Het Klokkenluiden up the road, which is a cafe as well as beer specialist, and has a lovely, little terrace on the Grote Markt. For proper dining try BRL, or the Beejekurf in Venray for great food in a chic and relaxing atmosphere. Or Brasserie Anno 54 for something a bit more casual on the terrace, or with a set menu. You’ll find great ingredients in use lots of local produce in use at all of these places, as well as at the new restaurant in Overloon, De Boompjes, where local and seasonal produce is at the heart of their kitchen. Where to stay If you're tired of the industrial size campsites of the Med, or working to a budget, then like the Dutch you too can try something ‘gezellige’ closer to home. In the vicinity of Overloon there are plenty of laid-back options for staying in beautiful countryside, without the crowds or the massive drive. Small, often family run, well maintained campsites such as the Ullingsebergen would be a good start. This dog-free site in St Anthonis has large pitches, small playgrounds, some good organised activities for children and a pool. Other well-equipped, small scale sites in the area include: D’n Twist, who provide camping spots, B&B, group accommodations and cute little camping huts all in one place; and Bosrijk de Kuluut, which offers a small number of deluxe holiday homes, near to the golf course and village centre - if you’re looking for a bit more luxury. How to get there Overloon and Venray are both just off the A73 between Nijmegen and Venlo. If you’re coming by train, get a connection from either of those cities to Venray, it will only take an extra 35 minutes from Nijmegen and 15 from Venlo. From Venray, Overloon is easily reached by bus (the bus station is right next to the train station) or by bike. When to visit The schools break up earlier in the south of the country, so from the beginning of July the areas around Overloon and Venray are in full on holiday mode!  Alternatively, if you like things quieter, head over at the end of August; the weather is at its peak but the normal school schedule, both Dutch and German, has resumed.  More >


Holiday reading: if you missed them earlier, here are some favourite features

Holiday reading: if you missed them earlier, here are some favourite features

Wether you're heading back home to visit family, off to the Mediterranean beaches or just enjoying another part of the Netherlands, holidays are the perfect time to catch up on your reading. Here's a round-up of our favourite features so far this year. It's been impossible to avoid the fact that Dutch gangster Willem Holleeder has been on trial in Amsterdam for most of the year accused of ordering various gangland murders. Gordon Darroch went along for a day and wrote a piece explaining why this is currently the hottest ticket in town. Another hot topic so far this year has been the rise of English at Dutch universities. Are the Dutch now native speakers of English, and is Dutch-English a distinctive thing? Deborah Nicholls-Lee went to meet linguistics expert Alison Edwards to get some answers. Housing and the shortage of affordable homes was the big topic of the March local elections, but solutions are being found. For example, could a custom-made tiny house be your new home? If you are planning to use your summer holidays to brush up your Dutch, technology could be the answer. In January, we had a look at five different techie tools to help get your languages up to scratch. Also on the tech front, earlier this year we had a look at what the Dutch are doing to solve the problem of plastic soup. From dredging canals to turning waste into nifty new furniture, here are five Dutch initiatives to tackle the plastics crisis. If you are considering taking up a new sport, rugby could be the one... the sport is really starting to take off in the Netherlands, as Rachel Kilbee found out. Does money make you happy? One of our best-read interviews so far this year has been with Mundo Resink, who spent a year living without cash. And if you are spending time in the Netherlands this summer, you might want to drop in on some of the Netherlands' strangest museums. Brandon Hartley visited some of the oddest collections in the country. You could also go bison spotting. Hunted to near-extinction by the 1920s, European bison clung to survival in a handful of zoos, but now Europe’s largest mammal roams wild in one of its most densely populated regions: the Randstad. And if you are looking for some romance this summer – and what better place than the Netherlands to fall in love – our Valentine's Day piece on why you need a Dutch boyfriend should tick the boxes. And yes, most of the reasons apply to Dutch girlfriends too. Happy reading  More >


From butterflies to body art: 12 great things to do in August

From butterflies to body art: 12 great things to do in August

Hello? Anyone there? If you're not sunning yourself on a beach in Crete, here's what you can do in the Netherlands this month. On your bike Get to know Amsterdam by taking a guided bike tour around Amsterdam Oost, the Bijlmer and other bits of Amsterdam that you thought would not be that interesting but are. Pay Attention Please is the somewhat admonishing title of the tours. Throughout August. Website Listen to the human voice What better way to forget the 30% ruling and Brexit for a while than to listen to an opera about other people's troubles in the sedate surroundings of the garden of the Museum van Loon in Amsterdam. La Voix Humaine, based on a play by Jean Cocteau, is about love and heartbreak. And it's only a shorty with drinks afterwards! Dutch language only. August 9 - 14. Website Grab a gracht It will be difficult NOT to catch a tune during this year's Grachtenfestival as it will be taking place in 94 locations around Amsterdam. Some even take place underneath a bridge where the pidgeons have the best seats. It's music classical and modern from August 10 to 19. Website Find a fake We love a good story about fakes. In 1965 amateur archaeologist Tjerk Vermaning dug up some flint tools in Drenthe made by Neanderthals some 50,000 years ago. He was hoisted onto the nation's shoulders and carried around the streets in triumph until doubts began to emerge. Could Vermaning himself have been the creative Neanderthal? The Vermaning Affair is on at the Drents Museum until January 13. Website Get a crest There are lots of activities for kids in August and one of the classiest is a creative afternoon at the venerable Huis Verwolde in Laren. In the hour and half, when parents can neck a gin and tonic or two on a sunny Laren terrace, the children will be learning about the family crest of ye olde family Van der Borch van Verwolde and get to design a family crest of their own! August 15. Website Come on down to Lowlands Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar, Spinvis and Patti Smith are just some of the names that make up the line up of Lowlands this year. August 17-19. For information about tickets, camping and how to get to Biddinghuizen go to the Lowlands website Check out what's new The Uitmarkt proudly presents the next cultural season at the Oosterdokskade and Maritime complex in Amsterdam. Here is your chance to wander around and sample bits of some 300 theatre, dance, music and stand up performances which will be on offer soon. August 24 - 26. Website Get classical on the water The Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest is trying out its sea legs in another edition of the Veerhavenconcert, a floating classical music fest in the port of Rotterdam. Anyone who owns a boat, yacht or lilo is invited to amicably bump into each other. Or you could not get wet and attend from the quayside. The programme includes works by Verdi, Ponchielli, Britten, Dvorak, Puccini, Offenbach and Sarasate. August 25. Website Be scarified, very scarified From make-up to implants and from scarification to tattooed eye balls, what drives people to desecrate/beautify the temple? asks the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. It also gives you the answer: it's an expression of identity. So think before you get that tramp stamp. Body Art is on until August 26. Website Find out what matters The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam is also presenting Things that Matter, an exhibition featuring objects from all over the world centred around a number of themes, such as climate, culture, religion and migration. It includes such personal items as the keys to a bombed-out flat brought and treasured by a Syrian refugee. The exhibition is expected to be on until 2050. Website Behold the blue butterflies Enter the botanical gardens of Utrecht University and you will find yourself in a riot of colour and movement. The Tropical Butterfly Festival will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about exotic butterflies, including the gorgeous blue Morpho. Until September 16. Website That's the way to do it! The beautiful Schatkamer at the Stadsarchief in Amsterdam chronicles 125 years of Jan Klaassen en Katrijn (Punch and Judy) puppet booth shows on Dam square with some great photographs of Amsterdam in times gone by. Until September 9.  Website Early warning: The New Classics in Amsterdam The New Classics is the opening programme of the new ballet season of the Dutch Nation Ballet and a tribute to Jerome Robbins & Leonard Bernstein. 2018 is the centenary of the birth of two grand masters of American 20th-century art: choreographer Jerome Robbins and composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The New Classics is a triple bill featuring the European premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, set to Bernstein’s violin concerto of the same name. The programme also includes the Dutch premiere of Jerome Robbins’ masterpiece Dances at a Gathering. It is rounded off with a revival of Chroma, choreographed by Wayne McGregor. From Tuesday September 11 to Tuesday September 25. Website  More >


Five great vegan lunchrooms and restaurants in the Netherlands

Five great vegan lunchrooms and restaurants in the Netherlands

Even the most committed meat eater cannot fail to have noticed the surge in veganism in the Netherlands. Marieke Mills has been checking out some of the best Dutch vegan restaurants and lunchrooms. Vegan restaurants are not just limited to Amsterdam anymore. You’ll be a happy vegan foodie if you live there, but Rotterdam and Utrecht have a number of vegan options as well. Beer and vegan food: Oproer Brouwerij (Utrecht) Vegan food and beer go hand in hand in Oproer Brouwerij. This restaurant and brewery is the go-to place for a plant-based dinner and a pint. Oproer Brouwerij is a merger between two breweries - Rooie Dop and Ruig - and the current restaurant was founded in 2016. Oproer Brouwerij’s vegan journey was one they stepped into by accident. The owners found a great spot for a pub, but were told the space was meant to be food-oriented. They decided to establish a restaurant. Oproer Brouwerij searched for great cooks and found two female chefs, who had experience in the vegan food business. The owners gladly took on the challenge. ‘There’s always been a connection between beer and meat and we wanted to break that bond,’ owner Mark Strooker says. ‘By serving only vegan food, we are able to serve almost everybody, because it is also halal and kosher.’ The restaurant has employees with eight different nationalities and their chefs are from Italy and Finland. Best-selling dishes: desserts from the monthly-changing menu Personal service: Mooshka (Amsterdam) Mooshka is a small vegan restaurant in Amsterdam founded by Sarah Raymond. The restaurant was opened in 2016 and offers many different dishes. It has some burgers, but also an Ethiopian dish, which Sarah claims, has become very popular. Starting a vegan place was something that Sarah did out of her own frustration with finding vegan food. ‘I noticed when I went out to eat, the food was often pricey,’ Sarah says. ‘It was difficult to find a snack on the road.’ For her own place, Sarah sticks to a personal service. ‘It’s just me in the restaurant.’ She’s also taken it upon herself to lead by example: ‘I just think it’s very important to offer people healthier food, I want to show there’s a different way we could eat.’ Best-selling dish: Injera, an Ethiopian dish A brand-new vegan restaurant: SNCKBR (Utrecht) SNCKBR in Utrecht is the first fully plant-based restaurant in the SNCKBR chain. Floris Beukers and Naphassa Parinussa wanted to start a small burger company and ended up with a stylish restaurant. The motivation for opening SNCKBR is based on the founders’ own experience as vegans. ‘Me and my girlfriend went vegan two years ago,’ Floris Beukers says. ‘It was hard to find proper restaurants, order what we wanted and have a nice all-in experience.’ One of the places they did find was a burger company in Eindhoven, which had several vegan options on the menu. That burger company was SNCKBR. They were open to an all-vegan restaurant and collaborated with Floris and Naphassa for a franchise in Utrecht. ‘We’re going to start a revolution here,’ Floris says. Best-selling dish: the kapsalon (fries, döner meat, cheese and salad) Plant-based junk food: The Vegan Junkfood Bar (Amsterdam) The Vegan Junkfood Bar was founded in April 2017 by Edwin Streep after he became convinced that going vegan is the only ethical option. Everything on the menu is plant-based and they also have some gluten-free snacks available. ‘With us you eat vegan without missing the taste or structure of meat for a second,’ says spokeswoman Mireille Sanches. The restaurant is keen on being a place for both vegans and non-vegans. The junkfood bar has already expanded to three locations in Amsterdam and the menu changes regularily. Best-selling dishes: the burgers, loaded fries and shawarma Sweet vegan treats: Heavenly Cupcakes (Rotterdam) Vegan food comes in many shapes and sizes including cupcakes. Heavenly Cupcakes is a vegan patisserie and lunchroom in Rotterdam with a focus on sweet: their store is filled with cupcakes and pies. There’s, however, a little more to Heavenly Cupcakes. This vegan lunchroom also makes vegan cheese, whipped cream and meat substitutes, which you can purchase in the store. You can also enjoy a high tea in the lunchroom or have Heavenly Cupcakes set a high tea up for you at home. Best-selling dishes: the great variety of cupcakes  More >


Number of energy suppliers in the Netherlands quadrupled since liberalisation

Number of energy suppliers in the Netherlands quadrupled since liberalisation

The number of suppliers of electricity and gas has almost quadrupled since the liberalisation of the Dutch energy market in 2004, according to research by website Energievergelijk. Before deregulation there were only 12 suppliers for electricity, based in different parts of the country. Now, there are 47 which all want a piece of the cake. In total, 35 companies offer gas and electricity for consumers. The remaining 12 only offer energy contracts to businesses and multinationals. Energievergelijk has made a convenient infographic that shows all active energy providers in The Netherlands. Confusion Each provider offers different types of energy contracts and cashback deals. And with the immense increase in competition, consumers are finding it more difficult than ever to find the cheapest deal. Comparing energy prices and deals is definitely worthwhile, according to an analysis by the Dutch Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM). It recently pointed out that households can save up to €391 a year by switching energy supplier.  Consumers with a variable rate tariff in particular can save a significant amount on their energy bill. So, it’s a good idea to run an energy comparison to see if your deal is the best out there for you. Green energy If sustainability and the environment are important topics, it may be worthwhile choosing a green energy supplier. Thirty-one out of the 47 companies offer energy from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and biomass. Do keep in mind though, that some suppliers buy renewable energy certificates (REC’s) from other European countries, such as Norway or Italy. These firms are not really contributing to renewable energy capacity in the Netherlands. If you want ‘real’ renewable energy, produced on Dutch soil, you may want to look closely at the electricity label. Several suppliers offer wind energy, produced by Dutch windmills. Cashback A large number of the energy suppliers in the Netherlands also work with ‘cashback’ deals. Whenever you choose their energy contract, you will receive cash back at the end of the contractual lifetime. When comparing rates (in dutch called the: energievergelijker), don't look just at the actual tariffs for gas and electricity and do take the cashback amount into account. It often pays out to choose a more expensive supplier with a large cashback. This means you pay a bit more on a monthly base, but you will be more than compensated for this at the end of the contract.  More >


The Dutch dunes are more than just sand: they’re a source of drinking water

The Dutch dunes are more than just sand: they’re a source of drinking water

The drinking water in Amsterdam, the Hague and large parts of Noord and Zuid-Holland is cleaned and filtered in the sand dunes along the Dutch coast with the North Sea. Joshua Parfitt has been finding out how. It is early in the morning and I am trying to take the perfect picture of the sand dunes in Meijendel—a 2,000-hectare nature reserve just five kilometres from The Hague city centre. As I race down the sandy trail from a dune offering a disappointing vista, I glance up at my bicycle. Something’s wrong. There are figures silhouetted around it—horses. They curiously sniff out this odd-shaped arrival. Delighted, I hang back. Three horses become five, and then nine, and then three more come whinnying down the dune behind me. Unused to horses—terrified, even, after a frightful riding experience in childhood—I scarper up a nearby tree. A good twenty minutes of deadlock ensue, the horses toppling my bicycle and treading dangerously around my laptop bag. I send out a cry for help on FaceBook much to the ridicule of everyone. One acquaintance makes mocking allusions to My Little Pony. Soon after, a pickup truck comes to my aid. But this was no ordinary pickup; it was emblazoned with the logo of a frog - the logo of piped water company Dunea. 'What’s a water company doing out here rescuing me from horses?' I thought to myself. Coast The Meijendel dune reserve is under the management of water company Dunea. It is here where they process their water and yet most of the 2,000 hectares of dune landscape are open to the public. In the Dunea visitors centre in the centre of the reserve I meet Rebecca Wielink, an education specialist who coordinates school trips. 'We are both water company and stewards of nature,' she says. 'It all began with a cholera problem,' explains Rebecca. 'The growth of The Hague’s population in the mid-19th century led to problems with sanitation.' Citizens of The Hague were used to drinking straight from canals—including from the Hofvijfer in front of the Binnenhof—but in 1874 the city fangled a new solution to the growing problems of hygiene: they began pumping up fresh groundwater from beneath the dunes outside the city. A veritable buried treasure. 'But if you take too much fresh water out, brackish water starts to rise up,' Rebecca points out. By 1940 the city had to act on a new problem, salt in the groundwater reservoir. From then on, it began the system of piping river water from further inland to be infiltrated through the dune slacks. The river water sinks through the sand, filters itself from harmful pathogens, and replenishes the underground stocks with clean water. In essence, Dunea is using sand as a water filter—cleaning some 75 million m3 of H2O each year. Most water companies across the developed world do use chlorine as a disinfectant, and have done so ever since outbreaks of water-borne diseases the 19th century. While the World Health Organisation has set a guideline maximum value of 5 mg/l, below which consumption is deemed safe, three companies in the Netherlands have been pioneering a different technique altogether. By following in nature’s footsteps, Dunea, Amsterdam's Waternet and PWN forgo chemical disinfectants. Together, they supply The Hague, Haarlem, Amsterdam and most of the central urban belt with clean water—and some of them claim their product is better than bottled - by mimicking nature. Better than bottled 'I know quite a few people from abroad who don’t think our water is good quality,' says Sjakel van Wesemael. She is the manager of nature and recreation at PWN—the water company supplying the province of North Holland. 'They don’t like it because it doesn’t smell like chlorine—there are no chlorides in it,' she continues. 'They don’t think it’s clean.' PWN’s system of water infiltration—similar in principle to Dunea’s—sinks water to a depth of 60 metres, before pumping it back to the surface for final processing. Much of the water is free of bacteria by means of natural gravitational filtration, but PWN use a non-invasive method of sterilisation by ultraviolet light—another natural method that leaves no trace chemicals. 'Drinking water in the Netherlands must pass 700 tests to ensure quality,' continues Sjakel. 'The drinking water is much more controlled compared with bottled water—which have about 20 tests—but I don’t think [bottled water companies] would like it if I say so!' Of course, Sjakel might be representing her own company’s interests. I probe further. 'Do you ever buy bottled water?' I ask. 'No, never. Never. Never. And even—no, never ever! Never. Well, never in Holland, at least,' she responds. Sterilisation by ultraviolet light may have benefits of negating by-products and trace chemicals, but it is a costly alternative to chemical sterilisation. Perhaps PWN have an unfair advantage in that for one hundred years the province of North Holland has given PWN some 7300 hectares of dune landscape to manage—not an easy acquisition in the heavily densely-populated western Netherlands. Sjakel is quick to point out, however, that by being a part private and part province-owned company, PWN has a maatschappelijke (or social) duty as well as a financial duty. Though the burden is somewhat shared by the public, this means that the high-quality water is on the whole cheaper, travels less distance, uses less packaging, and is more easily accessible than bottled water at home and in public places alike. Stewards of nature Only 5% of the land under PWN’s management is used for water filtration. In fact, 3,800 hectares of their land has been gazetted as a national park—the Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland (NPZK). There is, Sjakel explains, a pragmatic reason for this. 'The drinking water companies make a better connection with nature,' explains Sjakel, because they wish 'to protect their sources'. Rather than hand back over the land they don’t use for filtration, PWN remain in charge because year-by-year the dunes are naturally accumulating a reserve stock of groundwater to be tapped in the event of a disaster. Since the dunes must be in peak ecological condition in order to facilitate this natural process, PWN therefore has a duty to keep the land in as pristine a condition as possible. In the meantime, PWN’s dunes receive over six million visits annually, and the land is unlikely to be used for any other activity in the distant future. What makes these areas even more important is that they are a threatened habitat. The unique ecosystem found along the western Dutch coast has led the European Union to designate the whole NPZK, as well as the dunes near Zandvoort  managed by Waternet, and the Meijendel dunes managed by Dunea, as Natura 2000 protection areas. (Natura 2000 is a network of nature reserves comprising 18% of the EU’s land area.) In essence, the money PWN receives for their water is literally funding conservation. 'The dunes are indeed very special,' says Dick Groenendijk, an ecologist and conservationist working as a consultant for PWN tells DutchNews.nl. 'The area of PWN’s dunes is less than 0.5% of the total surface area in the Netherlands. However, over 50% of the total Dutch biodiversity is recorded in our dunes. That is the main reason why we will increase the quality of the habitats.' The system is not perfect. In the late 1990s, the legacy of nutrient rich river waterand nitrogen precipitation from acid rain began to take its toll on the dunes. As a result, the landscape became overgrown. In an effort to keep the dunes true to their ecological identity, all three dune water companies began introducing grote grazers (large grazers) to munch away at the invasive greenery. By grazing down grasses and scrub, the large animals create ecological niches for specialised insects, birds, and lizards. 'Revitalising the dunes is a long process,' says Dick. 'The focus is to increase the area and quality of open dune grasslands, which is the main and most important habitat in the dunes—and also of European importance. In addition, we will complete a set of three green birdges in Zuid-Kennemerland in 2018 to minimise habitat fragmentation in the dunes.' Living together The most popular large grazers employed by the three dune companies are Highland cattle, Galloway cattle, and a semi-feral breed of horse called a Konik horse. These horses are the same breed that sent me leaping for the trees when this story began. It is a bitter recollection but, with mild embarrassment, I can’t help marvelling that such an encounter with wild animals could even take place so close to the bustling, 500-strong city of The Hague. The coastal dunes protect the Netherlands from flooding, they make some of the purest drinking water in the world, and they support 50% of the country’s biodiversity. They’re also just a kilometre from my house.  More >


Ex expats from NL:  Dutch repatriates – how does it feel to be home?

Ex expats from NL: Dutch repatriates – how does it feel to be home?

For Dutch repatriates, returning to the Netherlands after many years abroad is not always the homecoming they envisaged. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on the ups and downs of resettling. Arriving back in Amsterdam in 2013 after 15 years abroad was a huge shock to the system for Daniëlle Bos (45). ‘Ever since I’m back, I’m feeling like a legal alien,’ she explains. After six years in Portugal, a career on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and spells in South Africa and New Zealand, she decided to come back but, she says, ‘this whole settling thing has made me more miserable than ever.’ Over 150,000 Dutch nationals left the Netherlands last year, almost twice as many as in 2000. Two-thirds moved to Europe, but North America and Australia are also popular destinations. Between 5 and 6% of Dutch people currently live abroad. Most will return within seven years but coming home is not always easy. Loss Reverse culture shock is not talked about enough, says relocation psychologist Kate Berger. ‘The biggest thing is unresolved grief or loss … You come back from having diverse experiences but there’s this part of yourself that’s changed.’ For Daniëlle, it was not just her that had altered – her home city had been disfigured by tourism over the passing years. ‘It’s not the Amsterdam that I knew when I left. It’s become a circus … All the shops that I knew from back in the day around the centre, they’ve all vanished and turned into fast food places and cheese shops.’ Daniëlle had also lost her connection with Dutch popular culture and felt she had ‘nothing in common’ with Dutch television or music. Her Dutch was rusty and, culturally, she no longer felt at home in a Dutch-only workplace. ‘I don’t feel like a Dutchie anymore,’ she told DutchNews.nl. ‘I feel like a total expat … I need international people around me.’ Yuhai Chu (48), originally from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, agrees. He relocated to Amsterdam after 17 years in Singapore when an opportunity to play for Ajax came up for his son. ‘I definitely do need an international environment,’ he says, though, in his case, he still feels ‘very Dutch’. The biggest change he noticed was how multicultural his country had become, which actually made re-adapting easier for him. For Daniëlle, who had travelled more widely, the acculturation process is ongoing. ‘I’ve never been able to put my feet back on the ground for some reason,’ she reflects. ‘I think that’s the problem if you live abroad and you travel a lot. You see so many other cultures, people and places…’ Uprooted Edmée Schalkx, a cultural awareness coach from Rhenen, says Daniëlle’s experience is typical of many repatriates. People who’ve lived abroad for a long time, she explains, learn to look at the world from a different perspective. ‘You have seen a lot. That uproots you from your own country.’ Born in Venezuela in 1958 to Dutch parents and then studying and working all over the world, Edmée finally settled in the Netherlands in her 40s because she didn’t want her daughter ‘to grow up without roots’. Like Daniëlle, she found she got on better with her more culturally flexible international colleagues, who seemed to understand her better than the Dutch ones. ‘They saw I was Dutch and had this Dutch surname, but I couldn’t fit in their ‘box’, therefore they didn’t know how to handle me,’ she says. Edmée also identifies the need to ‘squeeze back in’ to society. ‘The world has changed because people were not waiting for you. Your roots are really, really shaking at that point and sometimes you have to find your place again in the family and with your friends.’ A calling However big the challenge, the call to come ‘home’ for some Nederlanders is irresistible. ‘I think as you get older, you do become more curious about [your] roots,’ says Leo Sweers (56), a retail sales representative from Leusden, who returned to the Netherlands in 2016 after 42 years in Toronto. For Leo, the story has a happy ending. ‘[I] never felt very Canadian,’ he told DutchNews.nl. ‘There was always a feeling of missing something in my life. I have found it now.’ Leo admits, however, that the transition was sometimes hard. His Canadian driving licence was not valid, for example, and doing a driving test again and dealing with the RDW was, he says, ‘not a lot of fun’. He had kept his Dutch passport, which made it easier to get a BSN number here, but finding employment in his 50s took a while, though he is now ‘very happy’ with his new job. Chameleons Flexibility, advises Leo, is key to successful repatriation. ‘I think you need to be open and accept the differences in societies, and if you do that then everything will come fairly easy.’ ‘This is by far the biggest change that I have made in my life,’ he continues, ‘and I do not regret anything about it.’ The Dutch, Edmée tells me, are natural chameleons, but are often surprised by how difficult the repatriation process is. Quick to learn languages, well-liked and respected, they adapt well to life abroad, she says. ‘But the expat who comes back to Holland has to learn to use the chameleon to recreate a new life rather than coming back to the old one, and I think that’s the hardest.’  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: there’s more to Delft than blue and white china

DutchNews.nl destinations: there’s more to Delft than blue and white china

Best known for its pottery, the city of Delft offers plenty of quaint streets to wander through and some delicious places to eat. Molly Quell lives there and tells you why you should visit. Delft's reputation is one of polar opposites. It’s picturesque, quaint and adorable, but it also boasts the oldest and largest university of technology in the Netherlands and the largest start-up incubator in Europe. You can’t walk through the city centre without bumping into houses from 1500 and multiple PhDs. With a population of just over 100,000, Delft teeters between being a city, like its close neighbours The Hague and Rotterdam, and a village. You’ll bump into your boss, your friend and the dentist's assistant in Albert Heijn, but you can always get home from a late night in Amsterdam with the night train. With its rich and interesting history, Delft's beautiful cityscape offers plenty to look at as you wander. But there’s also an active nightlife, interesting museums and lots of good beer. Five great things to do Take a boat tour To get an overview of the city, start off with a boat tour. Unlike the impersonal tours in Amsterdam, the only boat company in the city employs local students as guides, which can mean you pick up some interesting tidbits about the city. The tour passes through most of the old city centre and even takes you on a jaunt out onto the Schie. You can find the Rondvaart Delft on the Koornmarkt; tickets costs €8.50 for adults and €4 for children. The tours operate every day from April to October. Walk Once you have familiarised yourself with the layout of the city and taken in some of the basic history during the boat tour, disembark for a stroll. Delft received its city charter in 1246 and was mostly untouched during World War II, leaving the centre as quaint as a Vermeer streetscape. Speaking of which, checking out the location of The Little Street is a good first stop on your tour. Take a picture in front of the Delft Blue Heart and move on to the Markt Square, where you can see both the New Church and the old city hall. Other highlights include the Oostpoortbrug, the last remaining city gate; the still functioning windmill; and the statue of Hugo Grotius. Climb the Nieuwe Kerk The Nieuwe Kerk, built between 1396 and 1496, is the final resting place of the royal family. You can walk through the church itself and, if you can screw up the courage, climb the 376 steps to the top of the tower. On a clear day you can see both Rotterdam and The Hague. The new church is the newer of the two large churches in Delft, the other obviously being the Oude Kerk - that's the church with the leaning tower. The tower is closed to visitors are not permitted to climb that tower, but you can go inside and see where Johannes Vermeer is buried. Tickets for both churches and the tower cost €8 for adults and less for children, depending on their age. Visit the Prinsenhof The next stop is the Prinsenhof Museum, where William of Orange was assassinated. Yes, you can still see what they tell you is the bullet hole in the wall. The museum also has a collection of Delft Blue pottery with a good explanation of its history. For a more in-depth view and to see craftsmen hand painting the pottery, head over to Royal Delft. After a tour of the museum, take a stroll in the garden, which was formerly the garden back in the days when the building was used as a convent. Then venture across the courtyard to the Shop van Kouwenhoven, an old-fashioned candy store. Drink beer You might think the whole craft beer thing has taken over, but the number of breweries is nowhere close to its 15th-century peak, when Delft had some 200 beer producers. These days, there's an extensive choice of beer cafes. De Klomp is the older cafe in the city, and, though it specialises in the most famous Dutch drink, jenever, it also offers a wide selection of craft beers. Other options include the Doerak, the Klooster, Proeflokaal or Locus Publicus. If you’re looking for something to take back home with you, check out Flink Gegist, which has one of the largest selections of beer in the country. If you’re looking to combine your drinking with something a bit more educational, Bierhistorie Delft offers tours explaining the history of the industry in the city. Where to eat Delft has a pretty good selection of restaurants, so long as you stay away from the tourist spots on the Markt Square. For an inexpensive dinner, Malee, a Thai restaurant, serves a delicious prix fixe menu, while De Beierd has a daily menu option ranging from around €8.00 to €18.00, with generally Dutch cuisine plus the occasional Indonesian dish. Stick to the daily menu there, it’s better than the regular menu. For a more formal meal pop into Cafe Einstein, just outside the city centre, which offers an Italian-inspired menu, or De Pelicaan with its Mediterranean menu. Both are delicious. Try the fish at the former and the meat at the latter. If you really want to treat yourself, Le Vieux Jean is a French restaurant in the shadow of the Oude Kerk with an amazing French menu and a fabulous wine list. For lunch or a coffee, Kek is a local favourite. It’s also a great place to get a gift for someone back home.  Michel’s, a French bakery is another top tip. Delft even has its own cat cafe, the Kattenkop Cafe, which has some very sunny outside seating if the weather is nice. Where to stay At the Hotel de Emauspoort you can have your pick of any number of themed rooms, such as the Johannes Vermeer, the William of Orange. For an even more unusual experience you can stay in one of the hotel’s two caravans. There are also more conventional rooms, all of which are cosy and come with breakfast included. An alternative is the Hotel Grand Canal, which, as you can guess from the name is located directly on a canal (though Hotel de Emauspoort is located on a canal as well.) The rooms are a bit more modern and spacious. How to get there Parking in Delft may not be quite as bad as the city centre of Amsterdam, but it is not easy. The city has a number of parking garages on the outskirts, which are your best bet if you’re going to drive. However, now that the renovation of the train station is finished, the most convenient way to reach the city is by train and on foot.  More >


Expats in the Netherlands want to stay longer and live like locals

Expats in the Netherlands want to stay longer and live like locals

The expat profile is changing and the property market is evolving accordingly. One operator is adding long-stay apartments to its portfolio to meet the needs of today’s international newcomers. The highly-skilled worker who comes to the Netherlands for a few months and then flies out again is on the decline. Today, expats are more eager than ever to adapt to Dutch life and live like a local here. Expats stay longer in the Netherlands, with around half remaining for more than five years (CBS, 2015). In Amsterdam, ICAP’s 2017 survey found that expats were twice as likely to send their children to a Dutch school, rather than an international one; while other research has shown 38% plan to take Dutch lessons within a year. One thing that hasn’t changed is the popularity of Amsterdam, which is still the Netherlands’ most popular expat destination. The capital offers interesting employment opportunities for foreigners as big-name companies and organisations, seeking a hub within the Eurozone, establish offices in and around the city, many in the expanding Zuidas district to the south. But while the job market is booming, the housing sector has struggled to keep up and the shortage of accommodation in Amsterdam can be a headache for newcomers. Corporate but cosy Corporate Housing Living, the newest strand of Corporate Housing Factory (2013), which until now has focused on the short-stay model, is answering this call for longer-stay solutions with a new development: Falcon Living, in Amsterdam. The smart, three-bedroom, serviced apartments, close to the Waterlooplein, all have balconies with a canal view and are available to rent for a period of between six months and two years. Offering a corporate solution that still feels like home, CHL links up with companies to provide high-quality, fuss-free accommodation for international employees as soon as they arrive. If people decide to stay on, then these stress-free early years in professionally-managed apartments give them time to find their feet and familiarise themselves with the way of life here – as well as the complexities of the housing market – before making a decision about buying or renting in the longer term. A soft landing The concept behind the new long-stay apartments, explains marketing and communications manager Eva Valkhoff, is to offer both ‘a more homey experience for people who would like to stay longer’, and ‘a springboard to life in Holland’. The fully-furnished, fully-equipped apartments – you name it, they’ve thought of it – means that when expats arrive, they land on their feet, without the usual hassle of connecting utilities and arranging wifi. Tenants are greeted on arrival and shown around the apartment and the shared courtyard. The team can even arrange the airport transfer. The idea is that people feel immediately at home. There are no distractions from their new job and they can settle into life like a local as quickly as possible. Hotel-style perks such as weekly cleaning and linen change give newcomers more time to explore their new surroundings, integrate into their community, and make the most of their time abroad. Central location Situated in the heart of the city, Falcon Living is a great base for taking in many of Amsterdam’s most famous sights. The Rembrandt House, the Stopera, and the Hortus botanical gardens are a short walk away, as are the canal-side cafés and restaurants intrinsic to the Amsterdam experience. Residents can shop alongside the locals at the bustling market around the corner, open six days a week, or venture further afield using the tram, metro and train links nearby. ‘What tenants particularly love is the fact that there is lots going on in the neighbourhood,’ says Eva, ‘and the apartments themselves are really quiet and peaceful even though you’re really in the centre of the action.’ Another reason to stay longer in the Netherlands. Time to book those Dutch lessons. To find out more about Corporate Housing Living’s Amsterdam apartments, contact the team here.  More >


Blogwatching: Five places I’ll be hanging out by the beach this summer

Blogwatching: Five places I’ll be hanging out by the beach this summer

Hayley, aka the Bitterballenbruid, is originally from the UK and mostly blogs about Hilversum and ‘t Gooi area, eating too many bitterballen, getting married in Holland, learning how to be Dutch… and the language. This weather right now is giving us a delicious taste of more sunny days to come in the Netherlands (I hope!!) and what better way to hang out in the sun than by the beach? Dutch people love terraces (terrasjes) when the sun’s out but I like to go one further when I possibly can. Being by the sea is probably my favourite thing in the world. And I know I’m not the only one. There’s something about the crashing waves, the fresh air and seeing the beautiful blue sea meet the sky on the horizon that makes me feel so calm and peaceful. After I’ve had my walk along the beach, I love going for a drink (and maybe some bitterballen!!) afterwards. Here a few of my favourite places: Ubuntu Beach, Zandvoort Zandvoort is my favourite beach in the Netherlands. We’re lucky in that there are loads of beaches here and while I’ve not been to every single beach in Holland yet (a girl can dream, right?) I have been to a fair few. And of all the places I’ve been to in Zandvoort – since my first visit about 9 years ago – Ubuntu Beach is my favourite. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a view, Instagrammable shit (they have swings!!) and good bitterballen. Ubuntu beach has it all. Obviously if you go on a weekend when the weather’s nice, it’s going to be rammed – so if you can, try to go in the week. Or if you are visiting at the weekend, especially in summer – make sure you book. www.ubuntubeach.nl  Hippie Fish, Zandvoort Almost as good as Ubuntu but the interior is slightly less Instagrammable. My advice is to go to both! 🙂 Ubuntu for a drink and borrelhapjes, and then Hippie Fish for seafood. Their seafood is the shit! www.hippiefish.nl Beachclub de Branding, Noordwijk My friend M introduced me to this place and I must say it’s quite similar to Ubuntu with the swings and the general vibe / Instagrammability… but then in Noordwijk. Last time we were here we had a delicious seafood platter (and bitterballen, obvs!) add a glass of chilled white wine and the view – you can’t get much better in my opinion! As per the above, you’ll probably need to book if you’re visiting at the weekend! www.brandingbeach.nl Key West Beach House, Utrecht “Utrecht??” I hear you cry… and you’re right. There’s no real beach here, but to get to an actual beach from Hilversum (where I live) takes at least an hour in the car. However, this place delivers with a beachy vibe even though it’s only a lake. I love this place! Every time I come here it always feels like a little mini-holiday, if only for a few hours. You can get here by bus from Utrecht centraal or by car. There’s loads of free parking and depending on where you live you could also cycle. Varied menu – we’ve only ever had hapjes but they’ve always been great! Not the cheapest place I guess, but you get what you pay for. In my opinion it’s really worth it for the holiday vibes. www.keywestbeachhouse.nl Dikke Muis, Loosdrecht This one also isn’t a ‘real’ beach, but the lakes give you enough of a beach vibe to make it to this list – and it’s the one closest to Hilversum. Vuntusstrand (Vuntus beach) is mostly grassy, but there is a tiny patch of sand so you can get sand between your toes! Loads of Dutch people swim here in the summer, I did once but tbh I found it too gross and had to get out shortly afterwards. The water was so dirty / murky… not really selling it am I!! 😉 I often come to Vuntus beach in the summer, the advantage of working from home is that I can do whatever I like on my lunch break and my hours are flexible, so I often cycle here on a sunny day and chill out and read a book. There are toilet facilities (if you’re desperate!!) but nowhere to get food / drinks so you can either bring your own or visit the ice cream parlour at the end of the street. If you want a ‘real’ drink, I recommend the Dikke Muis (the Fat Mouse!). I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten more than bitterballen here but it’s all about the views! The interior décor is pretty cool too and the staff are always quite relaxed and friendly. www.dedikkemuis.nl Other places to consider: Those 5 didn’t tickle your fancy? Or perhaps you live too far away… if so, here are a couple more which didn’t (quite) make it to my top 5: Renesse – I loooooove Renesse but I’ve only been once and I’m not sure if I’ll make it back this year. It’s quite a long drive from where we live and we’d like to explore some new places this summer. However, if you do go I highly recommend: Bar Brut. Domburg – Same excuses as above, but is is a fab place!! I recommend Oase Domburg  It’s right on the beach, expect to pay for the privilege 😉 Hoek van Holland – We’ve been here a few times now and love camping at Vakantiepark Vlugtenburg aan Zee. I’ve already written about that, so click the link if you fancy reading more 🙂 Texel – or any of the Waddenzee Islands for that matter. At Cocksdorp (Cock Town, hahahahaha) we liked Paal 28. This blog was first published on Bitterballenbruid.  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 >


Castles to classical music in a greenhouse: 11 great things to do in July

Castles to classical music in a greenhouse: 11 great things to do in July

If you are in the Netherlands over the summer, there is no shortage of fun or thought-provoking things to do. July's entertainment ranges from a visit to Hotel New York to classical music concerts in the Netherlands four botanical gardens. Work up an appetite The private museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar presents the first European retrospective of American painter Wayne Thiebaud (1920). His colourful paintings of cakes, ice creams and hotdogs are bound to make the enamel on your teeth crack by proxy. The show also includes new work especially made for the exhibition ( but not of a stroopwafel or Bossche bol unfortunately). Until September 16. Website Bring a torch A guided tour of the bat bunker in Wassenaar won't actually bring you face to face with any bats, but it will teach you about the role the bunker played in the defence of the Netherlands during World War II. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a torch. The tours are organised by Staatsbosbeheer and take place every Saturday in July and August. Website Come to New York When the former head office of the Holland America Line was turned into the trendy Hotel New York 25 years ago, one of the dodgier areas of Rotterdam became hip and happening. The Rotterdam museum chronicles its history with photos, film footage and objects. Until November 1. Website Listen to music among the greenery The botanical gardens in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Wageningen are the perfect backdrop for a civilised afternoon of chamber music from July 25 to August 8. For tickets and a full programme for the ‘greenest summer festival’, go to the Hortus Festival website. Rotterdam is also included in the show this year, with music in the city's Swedish church. Visit a painted garden More gardens, but of the painted variety at the Singer museum in Laren. Artists Leo Gestel, Max Liebermann, Claude Monet, Emil Nolde, Gustave De Smet, Charley Toorop and Carel Willink all tried their hand at painting gardens, with vastly different results. Until August 26. Website Get moving The North Sea Jazz festival is about to hit Rotterdam Ahoy for another celebration of jazz, both modern and traditional. Also check out North Sea Jazz Round Town, with performances in various locations around the city, and North Sea Jazz for Kids on July 8. July 13,14 and 15. Website Be proud The Pride Festival kicks off in Amsterdam on July 28 with a PrideWalk in the Vondelpark, followed by a raft of activities around the capital and the annual Canal Parade on August 4. Go to the website for the complete programme. Until August 5. Experience Africa in The Hague The line-up for The Hague African Festival's tenth anniversary edition includes performances by Tabanka (Cape Verde), Refugee All Stars (Sierra Leone) and Wiyaala (Ghana). The main music event is in the Zuiderparktheater on July 15 but the festival offers many more activities on various other dates. Website Check out a castle Wijchen Castle, a Renaissance-era jewel in Gelderland, makes for a jolly outing in itself, but the castle also has a museum. Its latest exhibition centres on a Roman villa in the town of Wijchen, which dates from the time when the Romans held sway over this part of the low countries in the first century AD. Objects found nearby shed more light on the Roman influence on local culture. Until October 28. Website See the art in Artis Amsterdam's Artis Zoo and MOAM art collective has invited 18 young artists to explore the parts of the zoo that ordinary visitors cannot reach and be inspired. The results are on show on the Artisplein, adjacent to the zoo proper. Until August 26. Website Feel their pain The much lauded CARNE y ARENA (Flesh and Sand) tries to convey the experience of being a migrant on the border between Mexico and the United States. A virtual reality interpretation of these people's experiences is a novel way for visitors to get to know their stories at first hand. Until August 26. Website  More >


Fishy business – heralding in the herring season in The Hague

Fishy business – heralding in the herring season in The Hague

The herring party is a very Dutch tradition, held every June to mark the start of the new herring season. Molly Quell takes the next step in her ongoing inburgering process. When the editor-in-chief of this esteemed publication sent me the press release for The Hague Herring Party and told me to go and write about it, I assumed I was being punished. Was it the typo I’d made on Facebook that week? My foul language on the podcast? The puns? Taking the bait I agreed to write this story for two reasons. One, I was permitted to address the fact that I loath herring. Two, I knew, afterwards, I could stop by my favorite burger place in the Hague and enjoy a juicy cheeseburger, fries and a coke and then go browse the used book selection at the ABC. I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel in the Hague on a gorgeous sunny Tuesday evening and quickly realised I was grossly under-dressed. In the group of around 300 people who turned up to this 20-something year tradition, there was only one other person wearing jeans. I was also lacking a fancy handbag and a sufficient amount of contour. No worries, before I could even enter the event, I was handed a glass of champagne. Plenty of fish in the sea The Dutch eat something like 76 million silvers of the sea a year, second only to Germany at 90 million. But our German neighbours have nearly four times as many people. I knew it was herring season because my lovely Dutch boyfriend had insisted I accompany him to the market this past week to get his first hollandse nieuwe. He ate three. I had kibbeling, a much more delicious preparation. As this herring party was billed as an 'international event' the organisers thankfully had more than just herring on offer. There was a fresh oyster bar and charcuterie stand. The tables were piled with hummus. There was grilled chicken. There was lobster. Everything was delicious. Especially the lobster. Everything was going swimmingly. The offishial line I spoke to the hotel’s general manager, Patrick Aarsman, who confessed he is not a big herring-with-onions eater either.  So he had ensured there were some more creative interpretations of the fish on the menu, including herring sushi, tartar of herring and asparagus salad with herring. He also mentioned the hotel’s monthly food festivals. The hotel brings in an esteemed chef from another country to cook food that would appease their local crowd. Previous versions have included Peruvian ceviche, Georgian wine and Cuban mojitos. Not wanting to leave the herring festival without consuming a single bite of the aquatic animal, I circled again through the sea of people to check of the offerings. Perched on a higher spot, slightly above the crowd, I noticed something curious. The attendees were queuing for lobster, while the two men preparing the herring stood idle. For once I decided not to swim against the stream but to doe normal. I joined the line for the lobster. After a second glass of champagne and a few more oysters, I caught the train home. My only regret? I was too full for a burger.  More >


So you think you know the Netherlands? Here are 13 Dutch ‘streken’

So you think you know the Netherlands? Here are 13 Dutch ‘streken’

The Netherlands has plenty of well defined provinces, towns, cities and regions. But there is also such a thing as a streek, an area whose borders are very often much more difficult to pinpoint. Here’s a list. Achterhoek Many people only have a vague idea about the Achterhoek (literally back corner) except that its main export was a band called Normaal whose performances usually ended in total mayhem. It lies at the eastern end of the province of Gelderland, with Germany to the south and east, but its borders are fluid and local spats are rife. So ‘that bit in the corner of Gelderland’ it remains. Refoband The Bijbelgordel, or Refoband, is the Dutch Bible belt. It roughly cuts a swathe across the centre of the Netherlands, beginning in Overijssel and ending in Zeeland. It is defined by the voters of the fundamentalist Protestant political party SGP, the party which believes women should not vote and the Netherlands should be governed by the word of God. Randstad The Randstad! At least here we know exactly where we are, don't we? The Randstad includes the Netherlands' four biggest cities, Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam and all the towns and villages in between. The cities have started promoting themselves abroad as the Holland Metropole, to further complicate the issue. Kop van Noord-Holland The Kop van Noord-Holland, or simply the Kop (head) is conveniently bordered by water on three sides: the North Sea to the west, the Wadden Sea to the north and the IJsselmeer to the east. The Wadden island of Texel, more like a bump on the Kop, is also part of the area. The local authority boundaries have been redrawn and the area now consists of Texel, Den Helder, Schagen and Hollands Kroon or Holland’s Crown (which sounds historical but is actually a newly invented name). Westland For many Dutch people Westland, in the province of Zuid-Holland, is synonymous with the city of glass, as it is home to the Netherlands’ vast array of greenhouses. Fly over the Netherlands at night and that orange glow is Westland. But it is actually a combination of the municipalities of Westland and Midden-Delfland, plus Hoek van Holland, Monster and Loosduinen. Westland itself forms part of another streek called Delfland. Well, it's somewhere near The Hague anyway. Veenkolonieën The Veenkolonieën or peat colonies refer to the communities that sprung up in the peat cutting areas – the most important of which are in the eastern parts of Groningen and Drenthe and an area called the Peel, on the border of Noord-Brabant and Limburg. The turf that came out of these areas was instrumental in turning the 17th century into the Golden Age by allowing the Dutch Republic to produce its own energy. The Veenkolonieën later became famous for their workhouses, where antisocial families were sent to be reformed. Duin and Bollenstreek The Duin and Bollenstreek, or dune and bulb region, takes in the Zuid-Holland municipalities of Katwijk, Noordwijk, Noordwijkerhout, Lisse, Hillegom and Teylingen. Lisse rings a bell with most people because it's the home of the Keukenhof, with its world-renowned flower shows. If you come in spring you won't be able to miss the endless fields of brightly coloured blooms, especially if you're stuck in the traffic jams that build up around Lisse in the flower season. Kleistreek De Kleistreek is named after its soil: clay. It’s in the province of Friesland and refers to a band of sea clay on the coast to the west and north of Leeuwarden. It’s mostly used for agriculture and tourism. The expression ‘Uit de klei getrokken’ or ‘formed from clay’ refers to people from rural areas, implying that they are sturdy, no-nonsense types. Twente Most people have some idea about where to locate this very picturesque corner of the Netherlands. It is the easterly bit of the province of Overijssel that backs onto the border with Germany. The Tukkers, as the inhabitants of Twente are called, are famous for their dry wit, their university, their football club, based in Enschede, and their dialect, which is part of Dutch Low Saxon, an officially recognised streektaal. Groene Hart You'll have heard of this one: it's the patches of green in between the cities of the Randstad (see above) that property developers and local councils are always itching to get their hands on. The Green Heart is protected against too many encroachments by law, but local councils strapped for homes are constantly trying to see how far they can push the boundaries. A famous Dutch poet once said that what is left of nature in this country is a strip of woodland the size of a newspaper, and that was in 1945. Heuvelland Meaning 'hilly land', you can't go far wrong with this one: it is in the province of Limburg, the only area of the Netherlands with any hills to speak of. Heuvelland in Limburg is not to be confused with Heuvelland in Belgium, which is just over the border. In order not to confuse the two the Dutch version also goes by the name of Limburgs Heuvelland. We could also mention the Utrechtse Heuvelrug – the ridge of low sand dunes near Utrecht – to further confuse the issue. Streek Last but not least is a streek which is actually called the Streek, in the province of Noord-Holland. The Streek is the epitome of a streek because it is the most ill-defined of them all. It started out as an area east of Hoorn in the late Middle Ages, then took in the area between Hoorn and Enkhuizen and now encompasses the villages of Blokker, Westwoud, Hoogkarspel, Lutjebroek, Grootebroek and Bovenkarspel. Poor old Lutjebroek, has become synonymous in colloquial Dutch with 'any insignificant speck on the map'. A bonus streek: HollandCity HollandCity is really a streek but in the other sense of the word, ie a bit of a prank which is being played on unwary tourists. It is, simply, a marketing trick to try to lure tourists away from Amsterdam and into other parts of the country. The HollandCity strategy basically involves promoting the Netherlands as a single metropolis with lots of districts, such as Lake District Friesland and Design District Eindhoven. Bona fide streken such as Twente, the Groene Hart and the Bollenstreek don't get a look in.  More >


Delft is heating up this summer with the Sizzling Summer of Space

Delft is heating up this summer with the Sizzling Summer of Space

A two month long international space university might not be your idea of a summer vacation, but for experts in the space industry, that’s exactly what they will be doing in Delft during the upcoming months. With them come a summer-long series of events with a space theme, open to every would-be astronaut or astronomer. Some 110 space professionals from 25 countries will pack into Delft later this month to learn about the latest in space technology, advancements in research and to boost cooperation between institutions and universities involved in exploring space - as part of the International Space University's space studies programme. The ISU was founded in the US in 1987 and is headquartered in Strasbourg but moves to a different location for its summer school every year. This year, Delft has the honours. ‘Space is increasingly important for society worldwide. I think the Netherlands is an excellent place for educating the next generation of space professionals,’ says Ger Nieuwpoort, director of the Netherlands Space Office which is hosting this, the 31st edition of the ISU, together with Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and the European Space Agency (ESA.) Astronaut ESA, of course, is the hub of space research in Europe, comparable to the US’s NASA and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, who spent over six months on the International Space Station, is a household name. Space, in the Netherlands, is a popular topic. Seeking to make the most of this influx of space experts, the ISU has organised a series of events open to the public with a focus on space. The programme officially opens on June 25th at ESA in Noordwijk and king Willem-Alexander will be present at the ceremony. While ISU may focus on education and networking, the public calendar is full with events ranging from entertaining to weird. Alumni, students and staff of both TU Delft and the University of Leiden can listen to Jeff Hoffman, known as the Hubble repairman, speak on June 27. Films The Filmhuis Lumen in Delft will show a space-themed movie each week during the summer, all presented by academics from TU Delft with knowledge of the specific issues covered in the movies. Interstellar, Alien and Moon are among the highlights, so if you’ve ever had doubts about life on other planets or wormholes, this is your chance to ask an expert. In addition, space fans can meet astronauts from ESA and NASA during the Astronaut Panel while the Science Cafe Den Haag will host three experts who will talk about the practicalities of space travel, ranging from space law to what it’s like to live on Mars. The programme also offers a number of child-friendly events, including the presentation of the Lego Moon City, built by 300 school children from Delft. ‘Lego is a versatile toy that sparks the imagination of kids and adults alike. Children can imagine and build their own future,’ says Ellen Pennings, owner of De Bonte Bouwplaats, which is organising the Moon City event. The villages will be on display in Delft town hall during the summer. Robots The course also organises a robot building competition for university students and Kuipers will be present for the finale of the competition, where the students will pit their robots against those designed by experts. The public is welcome to attand. Children are also welcome to watch a rocket launch, as the course participants build their own rocket to launch during the summer.. You can find the full programme online at the Sizzling Summer of Space website  More >


DutchNews podcast – The Did You Spill My Coffee Edition – Week 23

DutchNews podcast – The Did You Spill My Coffee Edition – Week 23

This week's podcast asks if Amsterdam can hold back the rampant spread of tourism in the age of Airbnb and stag weekends. We also look back at a week in which Mark Rutte's handiness with a mop broke the internet, universities once again asked if English is taking over on campus, AD's fishy judging panels kicked up a stink and two fallen giants of world football went through the motions in Turin. Ophef of the week Frosty reception for Leidschendam ice-cream salesman's 'healthy option' AD scraps 'taste tests' in row over alleged bias and vitriol Top story Rutte to meet Trump at White House in July – reports Prime minister goes viral after cleaning up own mess \   News Minister says English at Dutch universities 'must not compromise standards' Deal struck on teachers' pay but strikes will still go ahead Dogs and cars top list of neighbourhood nuisances Sport Netherlands and Italy play out 1-1 draw in battle of World Cup absentees (FourFourTwo) Dumoulin will be on start line for Tour de France Ajax 'rejects offer from AS Roma for Justin Kluivert' Discussion: Too many tourists spoil the capital Amsterdam faces radical measures to reverse 'theme park-isation' Tourism sees fastest growth in 10 years (CBS) Tourism in Netherlands increases by 40% in 15 years (2015) Economic benefits of tourism in Amsterdam are overrated, say experts Tourists spent nearly €40 billion in Italy last year (The Local Italy) Madrid brings in Airbnb restrictions to curb mass tourism (CNN)  More >


Dutchnews.nl destinations:  explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen

Dutchnews.nl destinations: explore 2,000 years of history in Nijmegen

Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, started life as a Roman military encampment in the 1st century BC. Esther O'Toole spent a weekend exploring. Despite its location on the Waal river, Nijmegen is not the prettiest of Dutch cities - much of it was bombed in World War II and planners in the 1960s and 70s helped finish the job. So, although the charming main square retains a sense of history and the centre is welcoming to visitors, if you are after long strolls through medieval streets you will be largely disappointed. However history buffs, whether young or old or favouring ancient or modern periods, will have lots to explore. Politically Nijmegen is a progressive stronghold in the Netherlands, so much so that it’s sometimes referred to as Havana on the Waal. Its liberalism is tangible in the laid-back, terrace culture that has developed over time; a strong vibe of intellectual curiosity in the events scene, which has lots of ties to the student life of the Radboud University; and the great independent shopping scene. If you've had enough of the city itself, nature lovers can hike, cycle and join the forester for tours of the many surrounding national parks and forests: check out The Ooijpolder-De Vlietburg nature reserve, the Overasseltse and Hatertse fens and,half an hour south, the Maasduinen National Park. Things to do Experience war For visitors whose countries didn’t experience occupation in World War II, the Dutch wartime experience is a revelation of practicalities that you may not have been taught in high school back home. For surprising exhibitions and workshops, in espionage skills or radiography, head to the beautiful grounds of Nijmegen’s Liberation Museum. They have a large permanent collection and also a series of special events throughout the year. Or, head over to the Radboud University's newly opened Escape Room. A unique educational experience for groups, it uses the wartime stories of then rector Bernard Hermesdorf (who shut the campus rather than work with the Germans) and Jozef van Hövell (leader of the student resistance) to give visitors an experiential understanding of life under occupation. If you’re particularly interested in this period of history, you may also want to go a little further south to the War Museum at Overloon too. Experience blindness Another curious museum to see, or in fact not see, is the muZIEem. A unique place dedicated to sight, muZIEM offers you the chance to actually experience for yourself what it is to be blind. They provide tours in English as well as Dutch which are guaranteed to be eye-opening. Go dancing If you’re looking for nightlife the legendary Doornroosje is still going strong. A breeding ground for youth culture since 1968, the venue has expanded in recent years but still has the intimate feel that first made it popular. They have independent indie gigs, dance nights and more. Shop If you want a range of shops and activities all in one place, you could head to the Honigcomplex. The old industrial building is full of independent traders and concept stores. Or try Hezelstraat. It’s a little gem, the oldest shopping street in the entire country! Full of gorgeous independent shops and cafes. You can find anything here; art from around the world, herbs and spices, artisanal cheese, vinyl records - you name it! Stargaze If you should visit in the winter months, head to the Huygens building at the Radboud University, which now houses the biggest telescope in The Netherlands. In the winter months (up to the end of March) they host regular star watching nights. With the telescope’s exceptionally large lens, on a clear night, you may be able to see planets or other galaxies with your own eyes and it’s free! Where to eat After you have shopped yourself silly on Hezelstraat you can rest up at The Yoghurt Barn. No it’s not just yoghurt - though their range of yoghurt-related treats is truly exceptional! They have super quality coffee, uber-healthy lunches and brunches, high tea and even picnics (available to order). Catering or hiring their food truck for your event is also possible. Burger lovers rejoice! Restaurant Wally’s has everything covered for you. It’s local! It’s sustainable! It’s beefy, or veggy or occasionally wild goose! Very child friendly and yet trendy too, Wally’s near the river is a great spot for a late lunch or long dinner. Open 15.00 - 22.00. Ice cream parlours are popular throughout this sunny, summertime city; whichever part of town you’re in you shouldn’t be too far away from a good gelato. Try Vincenzo, Ghiani, or Spinnato which also does good Italian meals. If cocktails are your thing then you will get as far as Cafe Demain and go no further. Every sort of cocktail imaginable can be shaken or stirred for you here, you can learn to do it yourself with their regular workshops, compete with the best in the land in one of their cocktail mixing contests, and do all of this while listening to great live music. Where to stay Prikkels and Blue are hotels located bang in the middle of town, with gorgeous details in the rooms and restaurants full of local produce. If you want to have your own space though, try and get a spot at luxuriant little B&B, Le Charme. They have two very comfortable apartments and both are perfectly situated to enjoy all of Nijmegen’s city-centre charms, or use as a base for exploring the region at large. How to get there Nijmegen is a central train hub for this part of the country, so there are direct trains to Amsterdam, Utrecht and other major cities. By car it is about an hour and a half from Amsterdam, and is connected by the A15, A50, and A73 to other parts of the country. If you’re prepared to do some long distance trekking you could even arrive on foot! The Pieterpad, the longest uninterrupted walking route in The Netherlands (498 km) also passes through the woods outside of town. When to visit Recently Nijmegen has branded itself as The Summer Capital of Holland, and with good reason. There are masses of things to do all throughout the summer months. The city boasts a wide range of summer festivals between July and September including Festival De Oversteek (The Crossing), on the river island of Veur Lent, which offers a rich and eclectic mix of music, literature, theatre and kids stuff. However, unless you are a fan of enormous crowds, avoid the second week of July, when the Nijmegen Vierdaagse, or four-day march, takes place.  More >