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


From flowers to ballet and Islamic art: 12 great things to do in September

From flowers to ballet and Islamic art: 12 great things to do in September

The new cultural season starts in the Netherlands in September, and here is a round-up of some of the great things to see and do. Smell the flowers Zundert, in the province of Noord-Brabant is getting ready to stage ‘the biggest flower parade in the world’. The 20 small communities which make up the town give their all to produce the best float in a fiercely fought competition. The result is a parade of some pretty weird and wonderful – and enormous-  flowery creations which are well worth seeing. September 2 and 3. Website Meet Turkish writers The Balie in Amsterdam is organising an English-language evening with Turkish writers whose work does not meet with the approval of the powers that be in their country and who are forced to live and write abroad. Writers Çiler İlhan and Burhan Sönmez explain how living in exile has influenced their writing and how they feel about the present climate in Turkey. Translator Hanneke van der Heijden shares what it is like to translate politically sensitive work and how even translators may end up in court. September 6. Website Rave about the ravens For years Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase's only subject was his (second) wife. When she left him, a devastated Fukase turned his attention to ravens of which he made a series of hauntingly beautiful photographs. Fukase's bouts with depression and alcoholism ended in a fall which left him in a coma for 20 years during which his work was largely ignored. Ravens and other series will be on show at Foam in Amsterdam, from September 7. Website Be blissful The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague has polished up 300 ornamental objects from its own collection exemplifying the magnificence of Islamic art. Splendour and Bliss - Art from the world of Islam - shows examples of calligraphy, lifelike depictions of animals and other intricate ornamental feats from the period between 900 and 1900.  From September 8. Website Celebrate monumental Europe 2018 is European cultural heritage year which is why the theme of this year's Open Monumentendag is 'In Europe'. International architectural styles, influences popping backwards and forwards over borders, you get the drift. And of course over 4,000 monuments will be opening their doors, from industrial monuments like the old Verkade chocolate factory in Zaandam to the luscious Huis Bartolotti in Amsterdam. There's a special treat for lovers of stage parafernalia: a recently discovered painted backdrop from the 1930s, on show in the Chassé theatre in Breda. September 8 and 9. Website Get your tickets if you haven't already 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 whose centenery it is this year. A triple bill features the European premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, set to Bernstein’s violin concerto of the same name. It also includes the Dutch premiere of Jerome Robbins’ 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 at Nationale Opera en Ballet in Amsterdam.  Website Say hello to Freek and Hella Comedian Freek de Jonge and his designer wife Hella are taking up temporary residence in the Groninger museum this month amid a collection of personal items, such as the costumes worn by De Jonge during his shows, previously unseen film footage and other memorabilia linked to their shared professional careers. In other words: Het Volle Leven (Life lived to the full). From September 15 Website Do some royalty watching It's Prinsjesdag on the third Tuesday in September and that means politicians are reluctantly coming back from their hols to start the business of governing the country again. The King will once again travel by coach to the Binnenhof parliamentary complex before telling the nation how it is doing, accompanied by Máxima of course. You too, can be there and a paltry €17.50 will give you a perfect view of the royals.  September 18. Website Venez voir mes etchings Rembrandt in Paris is the somewhat misleading title of a new exhibition in the Rembrandt Huis in Amsterdam. It's not about the Netherland's most famous painter strolling around the Quartier Latin munching on a baguette but about a group of 19th century French painters who admired the freedom of his style, particularly in his etchings, which they emulated in their own work. Rembrandt in Parijs. Manet, Méryon, Degas and the rediscovery of the art of etching (1830-1890) opens on September 21. Website Move with nature September is here and the leaves will be turning soon. Time to visit the Bomenmuseum in Doorn and the Waterliniemuseum Fort at Vechten where artists have created work inspired by movement in nature. There is a 15k cycle route between the two open air exhibitions and you are allowed to picnic among the trees. On the Move is on until October 28. Website Get fruity You may, after the endless school holidays, be heartily sick of  taking junior on yet another outing but here's one where you can actually put him to work. Estate the Olmenhorst in Lisserbroek is celebrating its 25th do-it-yourself fruit picking festival which will have you eating apple crumble and pear tart until well into November. Lots of other activities are happening for parents as well such as a bric a brac market and a wine festival with mussels. From September 15. Website See a Dutch blockbuster, with subtitles The Dutch Film Festival kicks of on September 27 in Utrecht and this year it has a special treat in store for English speakers. The organisers have put together a special programme ofsubtitled Dutch blockbusters, films made in Englsih by Dutch directors and a series of talks and events in English. The full lneup will be available on September 3, which is also when ticket sales start. Website  More >


The 10 quirkiest locations to eat dinner in Amsterdam

The 10 quirkiest locations to eat dinner in Amsterdam

The Dutch have a long history of turning old buildings into something else. Think of the Kruisherenkerk (church) in Maastricht that is now a hotel. Or the old tram depot in Amsterdam that’s now the Foodhallen. So it’s no surprise that there are some weird and wonderful places to eat dinner in Amsterdam and its environs… Here are 10 of the quirkiest, for next time you feel like dinner with a difference: 1 Revolving office block: Moon When the old Shell building across the IJ River was transformed into the A’DAM Tower, restaurant Moon was one of the first new inhabitants to open. Any why? Because of the spectacular view diners are treated to from 360 degrees of revolving glass. Given that the restaurant is on the 19th floor, and the full rotation takes 90 minutes (just about long enough for a proper meal), it’s definitely a dining experience worth saving up for. And the food isn’t bad either: Chefs Jaimie van Heije and Tommy den Hartog have dreamt up a fine dining menu that presents classic dishes 'remixed' with international flavours. Dinner will set you back a pretty penny, but you’re paying for the view as much as the meal. https://restaurantmoon.nl/ 2 An island fortress: Pampus Forteiland Pampus is only accessible by boat – which is logical given that it’s a tiny island in the middle of the IJmeer that was built between 1887 and 1895 to defend Amsterdam against invaders. And while it’s no longer being used as a defence fort, the building itself remains largely unchanged save for what goes on inside it. Nowadays, you can take tours, attend festivals, and even get married there. But more importantly, you can reserve the Zomerlicht (summer light) experience during the warm months or the Winterlicht (winter light) experience during the cold months – both of which are culinary adventures in their own right. Either way, you’ll board an atmospheric boat in IJburg, and the rest of your evening will be taken care of for you – expect seasonal, local Dutch produce in a magical setting. https://www.pampus.nl/ 3 A moving train: Dinner Train Doing what it says on the tin, the Dinner Train is a restaurant housed in a train that runs from Amsterdam Centraal via Haarlem and Leiden to The Hague, and then back again via Gouda and Woerden. The entire experience takes around three hours, including a four-course dinner with wine. Although the food isn’t incredible, the kitchen does a decent job given the train’s obvious limitations, and freely flowing wine is certainly a plus. Whatever the time of year, you’ll look out over Holland’s fields and villages – although I’d imagine that it’s particularly spectacular in spring when the flowers are in full bloom between Haarlem and Leiden. http://dinnertrain.eu/ 4 A television studio on stilts: REM Eiland From the waters of the Houthavens, TV Nordzee broadcast to thousands of Dutch viewers for just a few months back in 1964. When the TV station was shut down by the government, the broadcasting station – essentially a platform built on stilts – fell into disuse until it was reborn as a restaurant several years ago. Nowadays, you can eat a modern European menu of meat, fish and vegetarian options while gazing out over the industrial terrain of the Houthavens (which is itself now being revived as a gentrified area to live and work). The terrace on the top deck is particularly sought after on sunny days – so long as you have a head for heights. https://www.remeiland.com/ 5 Water pumping station: Café-Restaurant Amsterdam When a city is four metres below sea level, water management is of paramount importance. So it’s no surprise that since the 1900s, the Westerpark area has had its own water pumping machine, water tower and engine room. While these have evolved in the intervening years, the disused engine room was converted into a café and restaurant in 1996. Unfortunately it seems they couldn’t think of a more creative name for it, but at least you know what you’re getting with Café-Restaurant Amsterdam. Nowadays, they serve a simple but well executed menu of sandwiches at lunchtime and classics like steak-frites or mussels at dinnertime. It’s also known for its child-friendliness. http://www.caferestaurantamsterdam.nl/ 6 An island: Vuurtoreneiland Yup, another island (that’s what happens when a city is built on water). This time, a lighthouse island originally built over three centuries ago and holding various functions since then. Now, you can take a boat from the Veemkade to the island just off Durgerdam for a Dutch fine dining experience that varies according to season. In summer, you eat in a giant greenhouse from which you can see the nature around you and (hopefully) the sunset. In winter, you eat in the converted fort – think open-hearth fireplaces, romantic candles and sheepskin rugs. As the island has no electricity or running water, food is cooked using old-school wood and fire, while cutlery and glasses aren’t changed between courses to save on water usage. And the menu has a clear local, seasonal message that’s heavy in vegetables and sustainable protein throughout its six courses. An intimate dining experience that’s well worth the waiting list. http://vuurtoreneiland.nl/ 7 The ground floor of a multi-storey car park: Waterkant Underneath a multi-storey carpark, Waterkant is now the place to be on sunny days in Amsterdam thanks to its expansive terrace stretching along the Singelgracht (the canal between Nassaukade and Marnixstraat, not to be confused with the Singel itself). Waterkant’s menu has much to offer in the realm of snacks and beers, but the focus of the main meals is Surinamese. Be sure to try one of their roti rolls (filled flatbread), gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce), or bakkeljauw (salt cod) – preferably washed down a Parbo beer. https://waterkantamsterdam.nl/ 8 A greenhouse: De Kas Housed in an enormous greenhouse and surrounded by plentiful gardens in the Frankendael Park is restaurant De Kas – a long-loved favourite in Amsterdam. The chefs pluck much of their menu from the greenhouse and gardens themselves, and what isn’t grown in their own backyard comes from nearby farms. So this dining experience is about as local as you can get. Dishes are small but you’ll eat five or six of them at dinnertime, and they change daily depending on what’s available. Expect Mediterranean flavours, impeccable service, and beautiful surroundings. https://www.restaurantdekas.nl/ 9 A ferry: Pont 13 Anyone who’s spent even just a day in Amsterdam will have noticed the public ferries that trek back and forth across the IJ River at various points. While most of these are for pedestrians and two-wheelers only, there are a couple of small car ferries – and what happens when one of these reaches the end of its ferrying life? It gets turned into a restaurant, naturally! Pont 13, just down the pier from REM Eiland, was one such ferry that’s now permanently moored for its guests. The dinner menu is simple – featuring a selection of antipasti to start, simple grilled fish and meal for main, and a few signature desserts (don’t miss the cheesecake!). It’s also an excellent option for group dining and large events. https://www.pont13.nl/ 10  A railway bridge: Wolf Atelier Housed on an industrial railway bridge from the 1920s that rotated to let boats pass through the Westerdok, Wolf Atelier may no longer move physically but it certainly buzzes with atmosphere. Chef Michael Wolf’s innovative cuisine has earned him a great reputation among the city’s gastronomes, and diners can choose from fixed chef’s menus as well as a la carte dishes. In fact, the bridge saw a few iterations of restaurants before its current version – but Amsterdammers are hoping this one’s here to stay. https://www.wolfatelier.nl/ Vicky Hampton blogs about the capital’s eateries on AmsterdamFoodie.nl – for more dining recommendations, download the Amsterdam Foodie’s Restaurant Guide.  More >


13 English-language theatre companies in the Netherlands

13 English-language theatre companies in the Netherlands

From open-air Shakespeare to comedy classics like ‘Allo ‘Allo!, the English-language theatre scene in the Netherlands now covers a myriad of genres. Here are our top picks from this rapidly-expanding realm. Amsterdam Toneelgroep Amsterdam Soon to be known as the International Theatre Amsterdam (ITA), following a merger with Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg, Toneelgroep Amsterdam is the city’s largest theatre group and is over 30 years old. Historically, performances have been in Dutch, with English surtitles on Thursdays to attract a broader audience, but the English-language offer is likely to improve as the new alliance seeks a more international following. They kick off the Amsterdam theatre season with an adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic Scenes from a Marriage, surtitled in English, which will later tour the country. International Theatre in English (iTIE) Run by Greek national Theodora Voutsa, the iTIE has – unsurprisingly – a taste for classical tragedy, with previous productions including Antigone at the Stadsschouwburg and Oedipus Rex at the Theatre of the UvA, although January’s The Ingenious Mind, based on the novel The Fountainhead, demonstrated the company’s versatility. Each year, iTIE stages at least one small production and one large-scale piece with a cast of over 20 players. InPlayers Amsterdam’s oldest English language theatre group has been drawing on international talent here in the Netherlands since 1957. The amateur company relies on a team of enthusiastic volunteers to run workshops, organise play readings and stage a range of plays, including pieces by Brecht and Shepard and fast-produced musical-in-a-weekend productions based on favourites such as The Rocky Horror Show and Fiddler on the Roof. Mike’s Badhuis Theater Converted into a theatre in 1982, this former bath house makes a characterful setting for a thriving amateur scene in Amsterdam Oost. The Badhuis International Theatre company stage four plays a year, as well as fill the programme with other local talent. Recent crowd-pleasing productions have included adaptations of vintage TV comedy shows Blackadder and ‘Allo ‘Allo! Orange Theatre Company Formerly the Orange Tea Theatre, the OTC – now under new management – has taken a more professional turn and is performing to larger audiences in some of the city’s most charming theatres. Recent productions ART and The Pillowman – which received a standing ovation – were very well received and this autumn’s Brexit-themed production is sure to strike a chord with the expat community. Queen’s English Theatre Company Founded in 2002, QETC stages plays and musicals performed by a largely professionally-trained cast. Past shows include The History Boys, Talking Heads and Little Shop of Horrors. In November, they are performing Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the CC Amstel in Amsterdam Zuid. Groningen Groningen University Theatre Society Better known as GUTS, this theatre company is a product of the English department at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen but welcomes off-campus talent. Now in its 150th year, the company has staged over 70 productions and continues to perform at least one play a year. GUTS also organises open stage evenings, monthly workshops and weekly social events. The Hague STET Stichting the English Theatre (STET) is based in Wassenaar but works with theatre companies such as Illyria and Tusk to bring English theatre to a variety of venues – including open-air – across the Netherlands. The broad programme includes musicals, Shakespeare and kiddie favourites such as Doctor Dolittle, aimed at the 5+ group. The Anglo-American theatre group If you want to give the kids a taste of traditional British pantomime, the AATG can oblige, and this year it’s Jack and the Beanstalk. This amateur theatre company is based near The Hague, though many of their plays are performed at venues and festivals across the Netherlands and sometimes in Belgium. In addition to an impressive back catalogue of pantomime, previous productions include ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Educating Rita. Leiden Leiden English Theatre (LET) Linked to the university’s English department but open to all, LET performs richly entertaining and ambitious works such as Dracula, The Great Gatsby, A Christmas Carol and The Three Musketeers, interspersed with plenty of Shakespeare, as befits students of English literature. They will be staging 1984 this November and Cinderella in December. The company also run acting and stage production workshops and organise regular meet-ups and parties for members. Rotterdam Rotterdam English Speaking Theatre The city’s first English-speaking theatre group is now in its 6th year. The amateur company hold open auditions for their – mostly comedy – productions, but are venturing into Lovecraft-style horror in April. Previous venues have included Roodkapje, De Unie and Theater ‘t Kappelletje. They also organise free improvisation evenings. Utrecht English Theatre Utrecht New kids on the block, amateur theatre group the ETU are only in their second year but have already had success with a stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, performed at the Theaterhuis De Berenkuil, which sold out. Their next production will be Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which will open in February 2019. Theater Kikker Specialising in contemporary theatre, youth theatre and dance, the Theater Kikker is located on Utrecht’s Ganzenmarkt, close to the city centre. The theatre leans towards more experimental works and frequently stages plays in English, such as their recent English adaptation of Ionesco’s Amédée. Search for the ‘language no problem’ label to find upcoming entertainment suitable for an English-speaking audience.  More >


From the sea front to suburbs, here’s how to buy a house in The Hague

From the sea front to suburbs, here’s how to buy a house in The Hague

As the cost of rental housing continues to rise, buying your own home has become a very real alternative for expats – and no-where more so than in The Hague. The How To Buy A House events were created to help expats find their home in the Netherlands. The Hague is a welcoming city with a wide variety of places to live, from the rolling dunes in Kijkduin to the canals and gracious mansions of the city centre. You can live in an 18th century town house or a modern home in one of the many suburbs, a high-rise flat near the main railway station or close to the sea in Scheveningen. The first thing you need to do is decide where you would like to live, says Bernadette Willems, of estate agency BW Housing. ‘If your children go to an international school, you will want to be near them,’ she points out. ‘Otherwise, the Statenkwartier, Belgisch Park, Benoordenhout, Archipel and Duinoord are currently among the most popular areas. Price, of course is key and The Hague has homes for every budget. For example, a smart, four bedroom home on a new development near Kijkduin will cost you around €500,000 but while a seven-room flat in a 1920s house overlooking the sea will be nearer to €800,000. A family home in a popular area will cost around €1m, but there are large family flats to be had for around €550,000. Starter homes But if you are looking for a starter home at under €350,000, you have hundreds to choose from as well, especially if you are flexible about the neighbourhood. ‘€400,000 will get a young couple a good flat in a popular area,’ says Bernadette. So if you’ve decided to take the plunge, how to buy a house? Buying your own home in a foreign country might seem daunting, but it is perfectly possible – as long as you get proper advice. Currently in The Hague, properties are selling quickly and prices have risen to record levels over the past year. In fact, earlier this year, the Dutch real estate agent’s association NVM published a new report showing that house prices in The Hague are soaring, and have risen some 24% over the past 12 months. Nevertheless, there are still great buys around and a tuned-in estate agent will help you make the most of your money. There are plenty of legal ins and outs to deal with as well, so you will need to get good legal advice from a specialist notary too. To help more expats find out about the process, experts from across all aspects of the chain will be on hand in The Hague on Sunday September 30 to answer questions. This free seminar, organised by How To Buy A House, will take place at the Museum for Communications on the Zeestraat from 2pm-5pm . And you get free entrance to the museum as well! You’ll be able to talk to experts in getting a mortgage, an estate agent who understands The Hague market thoroughly, a notary to guide you through the legal process and a tax advisor. They all speak English, of course. ‘The event will guide you through the entire home buying process, including the roles played by the real estate agent, the mortgage advisor and the notary,’ says organiser Monique Burgemeester. ‘You can find out about getting a mortgage in the Netherlands, check out what the tax implications are and talk to a builder about renovations.’ Sign up here  More >


How to buy a house in Amsterdam and Amstelveen – don’t be afraid to take the plunge!

How to buy a house in Amsterdam and Amstelveen – don’t be afraid to take the plunge!

The housing market in and around Amsterdam and Amstelveen can be pretty complex but more and more international workers see owning their own home as the best answer to ever rising rents. The How To Buy A House events were started to help expats buying their own home in a foreign country. It might seem daunting, but buying a home in the Netherlands it is perfectly possible – as long as you get proper advice. Currently in Amsterdam and Amstelveen, properties are selling quickly and prices have risen to record levels over the past year. Nevertheless, there are still great buys around and a tuned-in estate agent will help you make the most of your money. There are plenty of legal ins and outs to deal with as well, so you will need to get good legal advice from a specialist notary too. On Sunday, September 23, a special event is being held at the Posthoornkerk on the Haarlemerstraat in central Amsterdam. to help expats find their way around the housing maze. ‘The event will guide you through the entire home buying process, including the roles played by the real estate agent, the mortgage advisor and the notary,’ says organiser Monique Burgemeester. ‘You can find out about getting a mortgage in the Netherlands, get get legal advice or even talk to a builder about renovations.’ Shortages ‘It's hard to buy a house in Amsterdam because there is so little owner-occupied property,’ says real estate agency Barry Burgemeester. ‘Just 30% of the city’s total property stock is privately owned. So finding and buying that house can be quite a challenge. That’s why it’s good to talk to someone who really understands the market.’ Of course, before you really get stuck into house hunting you need to find out how much you can borrow. ‘If you find a nice place it is crucial that you can act quickly and know your financial limits,’ says Henk Janssen of Expat Mortgages. ‘You need to know exactly what you can afford, so that you can make a bid and start negotiating. But you also need to know about the risks associated with a mortgage. We work with most banks and insurance companies so should be able to outline all the options open to you.’ Family law Once you’ve found your ideal home and secured a mortgage, it’s time to think about the paperwork. And that is where the notary – a type of lawyer who deals with housing contracts, wills and other family law issues – comes in. ‘All the official ‘moves’ for buying a home take place in the presence of a notary,’ says Dirk Kasper, of Kasper Notariaat, which specialises in helping internationals deal with the legal side of home ownerships. He too will be on hand to answer questions at the Amsterdam meeting. And if your dream home needs some renovations, Gisela Bakker of building company Bakker Bouw can guide you through the process. 'Getting the right permits can be complicated, but we can take care of that for you,' she says. 'It is our job to find out rules and regulations, before we start. 'Big renovation projects can take up a lot of time and research, and often requires a lot of patience, but the end result will be more than worth it.' In short, there is a lot to think about. If you’d like to find out more, or get answers to some of your questions, sign up for Sunday’s session and talk to the experts face to face. And if you’ve got the kids in tow, there will be a free nanny service to keep them entertained as well.  More >


Arnhem girls to Zeeland chatterboxes: here’s 11 Dutch regional food specialties

Arnhem girls to Zeeland chatterboxes: here’s 11 Dutch regional food specialties

There are lots of places in the Netherlands that have their own culinary speciality. And so as not to allow any misunderstanding as to their provenance, they tacked the name to the product. Here’s 11 local delicacies from all over the country in no particular order of preference. And before you mention it, no, we have not included cheese. There are simply too many of them. Amsterdamse uien Succulent yellow pickled onions, Amsterdamse uien are so named because they were a popular snack sold by Jewish street vendors in the working class areas of Amsterdam.The onions are pickled in vinegar and herbs and saffron or curcumin are added in, which gives them their distinctive colour. Bossche bollen They are the devil’s food, of course, or what else would you call a big puff pastry ball filled with whipped cream covered in chocolate. They were thought up in Den Bosch by a baker called Lambermont in the 18th century and are still going strong, selling in their thousands at Jan de Groot’s bakery in Den Bosch. Haagse hopjes This coffee flavoured hard candy is the brainchild of Baron Hendrik Hop who lived in The Hague in the 18th century. A coffee addict, he went to sleep (!) after a heavy night’s coffee drinking, leaving a cup of coffee with cream and sugar on a heater where it hardened. The taste appealed to him, his neighbour happened to be a confectioner and the rest is history. Texels lam  A breed specific to this Waddeneiland, the Texel lamb eats slightly salted grass and breaths slightly salted air which gives it its distinguishing taste. Rumour has it that former queen Beatrix is a fan and that she used to feed Texels lamb to visiting dignitaries. The lamb is allowed to frolic in a Texel field for 100 days, leading a happy, stress free life which, according to the local butchers, makes it taste even better and makes consumers feel better at the same time. Gelderse rookworst The origins of the Gelderse smoked sausage lie indeed in the province of Gelderland where 19th century farmers had to find ways of preserving the various bits of the pig they slaughtered and decided to smoke their sausages. Every year sausage makers, mostly from Gelderland, compete in the national Gelderse rookworstwedstrijd in Arnhem. Gelderse rookworst is not a protected name so everyone can make it and lots do. But consumer organisation Consumentenbond tested 16 and found they all contained too much salt and fat, so beware. Arnhemse meisjes We stick around a bit longer in Gelderland to savour the delights of Arnhem girls which, before you ask, are a type of biscuit made from yeast dough and sprinkled with sugar. They are called Arnhem biscuits in foreign parts and Roald Dahl liked them so much he put them in his Revolting Recipe cookbook. Zeeuwse boterbabbelaars A hard candy made with sugar, butter, water and a little bit of vinegar, the first Zeeuwse boterbabbelaars were commercially sold in Middelburg in 1892 by JB Diesch which is still churning them out today. A babbelaar is a chatterbox and the story goes that the sweet was much in demand at gatherings of chattering ladies who had them with their tea. Limburgse vlaai A Limburgse vlaai is a piece of a round bread dough of around 30cm in diameter topped with different fruits or rice and covered with a latticework of dough. The bakers of Limburg are lobbying for a European quality mark to ban inferior products which they say are bringing the name of Limburgse vlaai in disrepute. Zwolse balletjes If you want to buy Zwolse balletjes you will have to travel to the city of Zwolle in the province of Overijssel to buy them. It’s the only place that sells the real thing. Amazingly, these sweets are still made and sold on the same premises as when they were first invented in 1845. Made from sugar dough and with different flavours added to them, the Zwolse Balletjes’ exact formula is a closely guarded secret. Utrechtse Vockinworst So what is a Vockingworst except something that sounds rude in English? It is a dark grey coloured liverwurst named after one Paul Vocking who invented it in 1891. Groninger eierbal This one will be familiar to many: it is a Scotch egg. Groningen is famous for this deep-fried, egg and ragout filled breaded ball. It is typically sold in snack bars alongside berenhappen, frikandellen, kapsalons and other Dutch favourites.  More >


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? 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