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


Number of energy suppliers in the Netherlands quadrupled since liberalisation

Number of energy suppliers in the Netherlands quadrupled since liberalisation

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Fishy business – heralding in the herring season in The Hague

Fishy business – heralding in the herring season in The Hague

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Blogwatching: Where to eat… Dutch food in Amsterdam

Blogwatching: Where to eat… Dutch food in Amsterdam

British by birth and Dutch by choice, Vicky Hampton is a writer, cook and avid foodie who has lived and worked in Amsterdam since 2006. Vicky launched her blog Amsterdam Foodie in 2007 and it is now an indispensable guide to the city’s eateries and beyond. In all honesty, I don’t eat a huge amount of Dutch food. Yes, I live in the Netherlands – but it seems that even the average Dutch person doesn’t eat that much of their national cuisine – especially those who live in Amsterdam. And yet, when I’m approached to write articles, it’s the topic I’m most likely to be asked to write on. A while ago, I wrote this post on Dutch food and drinks for Eating Amsterdam; they’ve commissioned a set of 'foodie maps' – illustrations of the national cuisines of the Netherlands, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and (soon) Italy, and where each dish comes from in the country. I thought the Dutch one was cute (it’s so orange!) and I was interested to teach myself about the origins of the various Dutch foods I take for granted. So I did a little research and this was the result. But then I wondered where I go in Amsterdam when I want to eat Dutch food? And I came up with this (albeit short) list… These restaurants range from traditional to modern, and from places you might eat just a lunchtime snack to those you’d visit to pick up ingredients for dinner. I say this all the time, but on this occasion the words are especially appropriate: Eet Smakelijk! Fine dining: Floreyn There’s very little Dutch food in Amsterdam that’s both sophisticated and true to its traditions. But Floreyn walks that line perfectly. Think bitterbal, but then filled with Messeklever cheese and served with smoked beetroot, radish, apple and fennel. Or mustard soup that’s been deconstructed into a clear broth with a cheese foam and three types of mustard. Even dessert uses local, seasonal vegetables: carrot and parsnip ice cream with a sweet hutspot and citrusy crème brulee. This is very accomplished cooking that stays true to its Dutch roots. It may not be cheap, but the quality of Floreyn’s food and wines, as well as its great location in de Pijp, is more than worth the price tag. Read my full review of Floreyn Traditional: Greetje The perfect place to take your parents to, Greetje serves charmingly translated dishes (pigeon’s hangover, anyone? Or perhaps the yoghurt marbles?) that are as tasty as they are endearing. Think pot roasts, mustard soup, and deer pâté, as well as some fish and vegetarian dishes. It’s not cheap, but the service is excellent – which is not to be underestimated in Amsterdam. Read my full review of Greetje Modern: Wilde Zwijnen Whether you choose to go to the original Wilde Zwijnen or the newer Eetbar Wilde Zwijnen, you won’t be disappointed with the modern Dutch cuisine on offer. I prefer the Eetbar personally – they serve small, shareable plates of creative, seasonal food prepared with care. Slightly disappointingly, neither restaurant generally seems to have wild boar on the menu, but perhaps I’ve just been unlucky. The quality of the other meats, however, is excellent. Read my full reviews of Wilde Zwijnen and Eetbar Wilde Zwijnen Local: de Kas You can’t get much more local than plucking your fruit, veges and herbs from your own garden or greenhouse. And that’s exactly what de Kas (meaning: greenhouse) does at their Amsterdam restaurant adjacent to the Frankendael Park. What they can’t source from their own grounds, they procure from nearby farms. The menu is heavy on vegetables (unsurprisingly) so dinner at de Kas leaves you feeling light and a little virtuous, too. Read my full review of de Kas Lunch: Gartine While Gartine also has its own moestuin (allotment), it’s not quite as close to the restaurant as de Kas’s – which is hardly surprising given that Gartine is sandwiched between the Kalverstraat and the Rokin in the centre of town. I should more properly call it a tearoom, as it’s open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, but not dinner. The location is delicate and classy, but in an old-fashioned way – as if your grandma had taken a degree in interior design. The food is likewise: eggs benedict with salmon for breakfast, crayfish rillettes for lunch, and a plethora of tarts and cupcakes at tea time. While the menu doesn’t exactly scream Dutch, everything is made with such local products that I think it classifies for inclusion. Read my full review of Gartine Pancakes: Pancakes! You can’t visit Amsterdam without trying the legendary Dutch pancakes (although the Honey Badger had been living here nearly four years before I finally remembered to pop his pancake cherry); and where better to try them than the place of the same name? Pancakes! (complete with exclamation mark) serves some of the best versions in the city, and while you will see plenty of tourists, locals do treat themselves to the occasional pancake there too. Of course, you can order the regular toppings (ham and cheese, apple and stroop, and so on), but you’ll also find some more adventurous combinations. I tried one of the house specials: camembert, ham, chicory and raspberry sauce – it sounds odd, but it was strangely addictive. The Honey Badger went for a sweet-n-savoury combo of bacon, bananas and chilli – it was equally tasty so I demanded we share. Shop: Landmarkt If you’re looking to buy Dutch (organic) produce and have a bit of time on your hands, hop on your bike and head over to Schellingwoude. As the name would suggest, Landmarkt sort of resembles a covered market (or perhaps just a very nice supermarket) filled with the best quality produce – including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, charcuterie and the rest. It’s not always Dutch (they do sell bananas that clearly don’t grow here, as well as some other produce that isn’t in season in Holland), but it’s still a good bet for finding truly local, top-quality food all in one place. Try some of the cheeses from the farms north of Amsterdam – heerlijk! They also have a café inside the Landmarkt store, so if you decide to make a day of it you can stop for lunch before buying your ingredients to make dinner. Their bread is excellent, and so are their sandwiches. This blog was first published on Amsterdam Foodie. 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 podcast – The Crunching Councils, Sleeping Lion Edition – Week 22

DutchNews podcast – The Crunching Councils, Sleeping Lion Edition – Week 22

This week's podcast brings you up to date on the process of forming council administrations after this year's local elections. Elsewhere, torrential rain causes havoc around the country, the Dutch government gets tough on Russia over the MH17 inquiry, opposition grows to reforming the 30% tax ruling, and a court makes a groundbreaking ruling on gender neutrality. We also look at how Tom Dumoulin narrowly missed out on the Giro d'Italia title and what happened when a purloined lion-shaped pearl went under the hammer. If you live in the Eindhoven area, you can now listen to the DutchNews podcast on Radio 4 Brainport at radio4brainport.org or on AM radio at 747 mHz. Ophef of the week: sad trampolines protest against new flight path over Lelystad Wij zijn er klaar voor! Doe ook mee onder de laagvliegroutes met deze actie!@hoogoverijssel@novliegrouteede@airportnee@liegveld@stildrenthe@2019NEE@reddeveluwe@hoogoverwezep pic.twitter.com/EiSnWhhMRd — Stg Red de Veluwe (@st_RdV) May 30, 2018 TOP STORY Heavy rain causes flash flooding around the country (NOS, Dutch) NEWS   Petition on 30% tax ruling for expats gets 30,000 signatures Dutch trade unions back campaign for transition period for 30% rule Netherlands and Australia blame Russia for shooting down MH17 Foreign minister Stef Blok calls on Russia to take responsibility for MH17 missile Adult wins case to be defined as gender neutral on birth certificate Cases of meningococcal meningitis on the rise Sleeping Lion pearl sells for €320,000 in The Hague SPORT Dumoulin happy with second place in Giro Promes strike saves Oranje from defeat in Slovakia (NOS, Dutch) DISCUSSION: LOCAL GOVERNMENT COALITION TALKS Amsterdam unveils plans to make city 'greenest in Europe' Groep de Mos and partners agree coalition deal in The Hague GroenLinks, D66 and ChristenUnie agree pact in Utrecht Leefbaar Rotterdam frozen out of city's coalition talks (RTV Rijnmond, Dutch) Labour MP Sharon Dijksma swaps The Hague for Amsterdam Amsterdam launches campaign against Brits behaving badly on stag weekends Rutte: 'Amsterdam has been lost to the left' (AD, Dutch) Municipalities across the country finalise coalition deals (NRC, Dutch) Survey shows older white men still dominate local government  More >


A bumper edition of entertainment: 14 great things to do in June

A bumper edition of entertainment: 14 great things to do in June

From beer tasting to bunkers, from posh frocks to a rather spooky sounding Pillowman - here's a round-up of 14 great things to do in June. Try the other Dutch beers Dutch brewers are opening their doors to the public with brewing demonstrations, beer tastings and presentations on June 1,2 and 3. Go to the website to find a brewery at walking distance and discover there is more to Dutch beer than a certain very big lager-producing company would like you to believe. Visit a bunker June 9 is national bunker day, a unique opportunity to visit the bunkers that were part of the World War II Atlantic wall defense line and which are normally not open to visitors. Website Watch a film on the beach There's open air summer entertainment beachside at cultural centre De Pllek (NDSM-werf on the IJ) with Films with a View Sunscreenings every Tuesday from June 5. Go to the website to find out about the programme and tickets. Bring sandwiches The Holland Festival kicks off again in June with a programme choc a bloc with theatre, dance, film, music and combinations of all four. Venues are spread throughout the capital. Keep an eye out for freebies such as the open air big screen presentation of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman by the National Ballet and Opera Company on June 21 in Park Frankendael (surtitled in French and English). June 7 to July 1 Website Be scared The English speaking Orange Theatre Company presents The Pillowman, a spine-  chilling and dark comedy about fiction spilling over into violence, or is it the other way around? The play, by Irish writer Martin McDonagh, explores the horrors of life in a totalitarian society. June 8 and 9. Website Think Pinkpop Pinkpop used to be held on Pinksteren (Whitsun) but has now shifted towards the summer. If you are lucky enough to find a ticket (we did warn you in May) the festival dates for this year are June 15, 16 and 17. The lineup includes Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars among many others. Website Come into the garden If you have ever wondered, and who hasn't, what lies behind the elegant canal houses of Amsterdam here's your chance to find out. Some 30 private owners and organisations lucky enough to occupy a canal house are opening their garden doors to the public. The theme of this year's Open Garden Days is garden design. June 15, 16 and 17. Website Have a look at the new Rembrandt The newly discovered Portrait of a Young Gentleman, widely attributed to Rembrandt, is on show at the Hermitage in Amsterdam for a short period before being sold for gazillions of euros. See it while you can. Until June 15. Website Behold the blob The Rijksmuseum entertains tourists and staycationers alike with a number of summer exhibitions. KWAB, Dutch design in the age of Rembrandt focuses on an ornamental style based on blobs. The Rijks describes it as 'syrup dripping from a spoon' and very delicious it is too. From June 30 Website Go to the park The Parkpop festival is really three in one: there is Parkpop Downtown on Friday June 22 in the centre of The Hague, Parkpop Saturday night on the 23rd and Parkpop proper the following day in the Zuiderpark. Parkpop Saturday night is the only bit you have to pay for and features Kim Wilde, Clouseau, Jason Donovan, The Boss UK, Kiss Forever Band, De Dijk, Martijn Fischer, Hot Chocolate, Gruppo Sportivo, 90's NOW!  and many others. Website Find a frock The Centraal Museum in Utrecht is celebrating a 'master of Dutch couture'. The master in question is Jan Taminiau whose creations are on show along with some of the things that have inspired him over the years, such as art, photography and design. How does a posh frock come into being? What lies behind Máxima's postal bag jacket? Until August 26. Website Bike your way around art The Hoge Veluwe Nature Park has plotted a two-hour cycle tour of a number of works of art which have all been inspired by their natural surroundings. How do works and nature influence each other? Should they be dynamited forthwith or are they an enhancement? Your are invited to ponder these and other questions on June 2 or June 30. Website Chill with Chillida The Rijksmuseum wants its visitors to get some fresh air as well this summer and has organised an outdoors treat: a stroll around the gardens of the museum where the museum's annual sculpture show features ten of Bask artist Eduardo Chillida's large steel structures. It's the first time the works can be seen together in the Netherlands. From June 22. Website Stop press: the Queen's English Theatre Company is putting on two short plays - 'A Chip in the Sugar' and 'Bed Among the Lentils' - by Alan Bennett this month, and they are touring the country. For dates see the website.  More >


DutchNews.nl destinations: go north to Leeuwarden

DutchNews.nl destinations: go north to Leeuwarden

It's the capital of Friesland, in which case its name is spelt Ljouwert . The elfstedentocht starts and finishes here. It’s home to Mata Hari and Escher and the 2018 European Capital of Culture. Molly Quell has been checking out Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden is north. Like any well-integrated person in the Netherlands, I consider any place more than 20 kilometres far. So the two hour train trip (from Amsterdam) seems like an eternity. But the trek was worth it to spend a weekend in this small city in Friesland with unexpectedly great cocktails and really interesting museums. Things to do People having been living in the region continously since the 10th century and Leeuwarden was granted city status in 1435. As such, it boasts a tremendous amount of history, as well as 617 national monuments. Walk Leeuwarden is a walkable city, so set out for a walking tour of the city centre. Visitors should start with the Blokhuispoort, a former prison. You can head inside to check out the prison cells turned artist spaces or just take a good Instagram picture. Then head over to the Kanselarij, a former hospital; the neo-gothic Sint-Bonifatiuskerk and end at de Waag, the former weigh station. Visit the Princessehof National Ceramics Museum This former palace was built in 1693 and occupied by Marie Louise, dowager Princess of Orange, who acquired a large ceramic collection during her life. Upon her death, the palace was split into three houses and, in 1898, MC Escher was born in the middle house. The houses were recombined in 1917 and turned into a museum. The permanent collection contains a variety of ceramic objects from around the world including a large assortment of Frisian pottery and a tempting gift shop. Check out the Fries Museum The museum's permanent collection brings you the history of the region through art, pottery, costumes and domesticity - check out the 'mother of all Hinderlooper rooms' for full-on Dutch tiles, chintz and hand-painted furniture. There's also a cinema, which regularly shows art house films. The museum accepts the national museum card but if you don't have one, you can get a discount on both tickets if you purchase a package for the ceramics museum as well. Climb the Oldehove.  After heaving yourself up the 183 steps, there's a nice view of the city from the top of Leeuwarden's own leaning tower. The 40 metre high medieval church tower was supposed to be 120 metres in the original planning, but started to sag and was never finished. The locals will remind you that it leans further than the Tower of Pisa and there’s even a saying about it: 'A'k de Oldehove niet siën ken, dan foël ik my onwennich' or 'If I don’t see the Oudehove, I’m uncomfortable' - meaning real locals don’t want to stay away for too long. Get in some cultural events Leeuwarden is the 2018 European City of Culture and has a packed programme of events. The blockbusters include exhibitions about MC Escher at the Fries Museum; a play involving 100 Frisian horses called De Stormruiter; French street theatre company Royal de Luxe which performs with 15-metre tall marionettes and the tall Ships Races Harlingen 2018. Welcome To The Village, a musical festival, takes place from July 19 - 22 while the Northern Film Festival takes places from November 5 - 9. Where To Eat Leeuwarden has a surprising number of very good restaurants. You can find a really nice bite at Sjoddy, a wine bar which also offers chorizo bitterballen and oysters. For a more substantial meal, try Eindeloos, which offers a prix fixe menu using seasonal ingredients. The fixed menu concept is popular in the city, as another highly regarded restaurant, By Us, offers the same concept. Skip the tearoom at the Princessehof museum and head around the corner to Barrevoets for a sandwich or a smoothie. And if you want a stroll before your meal, walk outside the city center to Wannee, which also offers a substantial and inexpensive breakfast. Where to stay The former post office has been converted into a hotel and restaurant, now known as the Post-Plaza Hotel & Grand Café. The hotel is lovely and includes a variety of room types, including some designed for parents. The hotel also offers spa services and has an excellent restaurant and bar, which will make you a tasty gin and tonic, among others. The aforementioned Wannee is attached to the Stenden Hotel which is located a bit outside the city center, but offers luxurious rooms. For something less expensive, ‘t Anker is an efficient and centrally located option. How to get there Leeuwarden itself is small and walkable, so go by train. You get to admire the countryside on the way.  More >


DutchNews podcast: The 8% is the Goldilocks Zone of Communism Edition

DutchNews podcast: The 8% is the Goldilocks Zone of Communism Edition

This week's podcast looks at the ramifications of the latest developments in the MH17 inquiry as the Dutch government and joint investigation team point the finger of blame squarely at Russia. We also find out about the Friesland community came up with an eye-catching additional member to the European Capital of Culture programme, why a soldier is being given a ceremonial burial four centuries after he died and who won the battle of the Dicks on the football field. In the discussion we ask if the Dutch system of holiday pay is a nice little seasonal sweetener or a paternalistic anachronism. Ophef of the week Nursery considers suing council over objection to 'striptease' birthday party Top story: MH17 Netherlands and Australia blame Russia for shooting down flight MH17 over Ukraine Rutte flies back early from India trade mission to chair MH17 talks News Illegal cannabis production boosts Dutch economy but could cause rift with EU Friesland locals crowdfund 230-penis fountain to subvert modern art project (Guardian) Watch a video of the fountain under construction and in operation (AD.nl, Dutch) New Amsterdam coalition unveils 'ambitious' programme for greener, more social city Eighty Years War soldier reburied with full military honours Sport Emmen win battle of the Dicks as Advocaat's bid to spare Sparta fails (AD.nl, Dutch) Giro d'Italia back in the balance as Dumoulin halves Yates's lead with late burst (Guardian) Discussion: holiday pay (vakantiegeld) What is vakantiegeld? (Wikipedia) Workers more likely to spend vakantiegeld this year (Telegraaf, Dutch) Nibud survey on how workers spend holiday pay  More >


10 ways Webster Leiden differs from Dutch universities

10 ways Webster Leiden differs from Dutch universities

Are you thinking about pursuing a degree here in the Netherlands? There are many things to think about while you decide which university to enrol in. From small class sizes to the ease of studying abroad, here are several reasons why you might want to consider studying at Webster Leiden instead of a more traditional Dutch university. 1 Smaller classes Many of the lecture halls you’ll find at Dutch universities can accommodate dozens of students, often more than a hundred at any one time. Attending a lecture can seem more like going to a TED Talk than a class. At Webster Leiden, the classes are much smaller, with an average of ten to fifteen students enrolled in any given course. ‘I’ve taught in both scenarios’, said Dr. Yang Fan, who teaches in the university’s Business & Management department. ‘A smaller class makes for a more interesting learning environment’. 2 More individual attention from professors Webster Leiden’s classrooms and curriculum allow for more engagement between students and educators. The university’s faculty enjoy not contending with hundreds of students during a single semester, whereas students appreciate not competing with dozens of their peers for a professor’s time. ‘The attention that a professor can give each single student is so much greater’, Dr. Fan said. ‘It’s very nice for both sides’. 3 Superior classroom discussions These smaller classes can also better facilitate discourse among students and professors. ‘They allow for better and multi-directional discussions’, Dr. Fan said. ‘You don’t end up with one-way lectures. Professors can ensure that they chat with everybody. They can also make sure that everyone in their class gets to share their opinions and is able to communicate not just with them but with each other, too’. 4 More versatile classes Attending classes at a traditional university can become incredibly routine and even tedious, especially in the liberal arts. Students attend lectures, write papers, and take exams, ad nauseam. At Webster Leiden, the smaller class sizes allow professors to become more versatile and creative with their syllabi. Students can participate in hands-on projects that will help them develop real-world skills that will prove valuable as they embark on future careers. ‘With only ten to fifteen students, things are much more flexible’, Dr. Fan said. ‘We can do seminars, workshops, case studies, study trips, or other projects. You can’t do these things in a lecture hall with a hundred students’. 5 Greater diversity At Webster Leiden, you could find yourself studying alongside someone from America, the Netherlands, or any number of other countries around the world. Students come from all across Europe and beyond, and so do the professors themselves. ‘We have over 50 nationalities represented among our students and faculty’, Dr. Fan said. ‘So students can get a broader perspective during their classes. They can get different opinions, and hear different thoughts and perspectives, which is very important in a university environment’. 6 More flexibility The currricula at Dutch universities can be quite stringent for undergrads, which can make switching majors difficult if a student has second thoughts. American universities tend to be more flexible when it comes to majors, especially during a student’s first year of study. ‘At Dutch universities, you pretty much need to pin down what you’re going to do from day one’, Dr. Fan said. ‘With a three or four-year framework at an American one you have more time to figure out what you want to study, and experiment with different majors and career options’. 7 All classes are taught in English This one should be a given. While many Dutch universities have begun offering classes in English, not everything in their course catalogue is available to those who don’t speak Dutch. International students have also reported issue with the language skills of many educators at these schools. A 2015 poll revealed that 60% of students had suffered through lectures that were downright incomprehensible. This isn’t a problem at Webster Leiden, where everything is taught in English by experts. 8 Even Dutch students study at Webster Leiden Believe it or not, many Dutch students have opted to enrol at Webster Leiden as opposed to Dutch universities. The reasons are many and it’s not just because of the diverse student body and curriculums. ‘They say they want individual attention from their professors’, Dr. Fan said. ‘They’re looking for more encouragement and guidance from faculty. They appreciate the additional help and don’t like to spend so much of their learning time just reading books in their room’. 9 Webster Leiden makes it easy to study abroad If you’re looking to spend a semester or longer in another European locale, Webster makes that fairly easy. The university has several ‘satellite campuses’ located around the continent in addition to its main one in Webster Groves, Missouri over in the United States. Students can study in vibrant cities including Vienna, Geneva, and Athens along with other destinations located around the world. 10 It’s more of a community At a traditional Dutch university, students often join fraternity or sorority-style ‘student houses’, where studying is often anything but encouraged, or live in apartments off campus. Webster Leiden offers student housing located mere footsteps from its classrooms. ‘Student life and classroom life are often separated at Dutch universities’, Dr. Fan said. ‘We offer on-site accommodation, which means that students can live together and have a social network with their peers. It’s more of a community experience. It also means they don’t have to worry about landlords and finding a place to live’. Would you like to learn more about Webster Leiden and the educational programmes it offers? You can do so by visiting its website.   More >


The adventures of young Rembrandt; follow in his footsteps in Leiden

The adventures of young Rembrandt; follow in his footsteps in Leiden

Centuries before The Night Watch would go on to become one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Amsterdam, Rembrandt was just another struggling artist living down in Leiden. Here is Brandon Hartley’s rundown on his time in the city and various local attractions you can visit if you’d like to learn more about his early days. A stroll through the centre of Leiden can lead you past the historic Beestenmarkt, several picturesque canals, and more than a few friendly ducks that will happily relieve you of any unwanted bread you’ve brought along. If you point yourself in the right direction, you may also find yourself in a small square dominated by a solitary, enigmatic figure. It’s a boy standing in front of a bronze portrait of Rembrandt, perhaps contemplating his own ambitions and potential future as an artist. A few steps from the statue is the spot where his childhood home once stood. These are just two of the landmarks and other attractions devoted to the Golden Age artist that you’ll find in Leiden/ The benefits of a classical education Before we get started, there’s the spelling of Rembrandt’s first name. Scholars say he was born ‘Rembrant’ and later added the silent D for reasons unknown around 1633. He signed many of his paintings with this spelling but, oddly enough, several historical documents from his lifetime feature the original version. We’ll stick with the better known ‘Rembrandt’. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in Leiden on 15 July, 1606. He was the ninth of eventually ten child in the busy household of Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn and Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck. By all accounts, the family was solidly middle-class. Rembrandt’s father worked as a miller who specialised in grinding malt for beer breweries and his mother was the daughter of a well-to-do baker. This meant that they had enough money to send him to study at the nearby Latin School when he was 10, which served as a stepping for many of its all-male alumni (no girls were allowed) to attend university. Along with studying Latin and Greek, he likely received a classical education and would have become well versed in history and literature. Most importantly, it was here that Rembrandt received his first lessons in drawing. University He later enrolled at the University of Leiden at the young of age 14. Weirdly enough, most incoming freshman would have been 17 during this era. The reasons for Rembrandt’s perhaps premature enrolment have been lost to the ages but he may have never even attended classes. He had instead fallen in love with the idea of becoming an artist. But studying to become one was hardly cheap in those days and Rembrandt, even though he was still just a teenager, was no spring chicken when it came to art. Most painters got started when they were pre-adolescents. Nevertheless, his parents covered the cost of him becoming an apprentice to Jacob Isaacszoon van Swanenburg, a Leiden-based artist best known for some pretty grim religious paintings reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. Van Swanenburg was also pretty great at city scenes and depicting historical battlefields. Rembrandt studied and worked with him for three years. While he never wound up emulating his mentor’s hellscapes, scholars have theorised that the artist’s near lifelong fascination with replicating natural and artificial light may have been inspired by Van Swanenburg’s skills at painting some pretty fearsome flames. Sometime around 1624 or 1625, Rembrandt likely opened a studio in Leiden with a colleague named Jan Lievens, who was something of a child savant when it came to painting. He got started at the age of eight, nearly a full decade before Rembrandt, and had begun working as a professional artist at around age 12. However, Rembrandt's time at the Latin School eventually proved useful when it came time for him to choose some intriguing subject matter for his later paintings. The young Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam for six months to serve as an apprentice for artist Pieter Lastman. In those days, going to Italy to study was all the rage for artists-in-training. Curiously enough, Rembrandt resisted the urge, even though he might have been able to convince his parents to cover the costs. Whether or not he ever tried is now long forgotten. Perhaps stranger: Rembrandt never spent time outside of the Dutch Republic during his lifetime. Big break Fortunately, Lastman and Van Swanenburg had journeyed to Italy and brought the mastery of Italian Renaissance artists back north where they passed them onto Rembrandt. Rembrandt later returned to the studio in Leiden in 1625 to rejoin Lievens and even accepted his own students. They included Gerrit Dou, an artist who would go on to become one of the Leiden Fijnschilders, a group of Golden Age artists that strove to replicate everyday scenes as realistically and accurately as possible. Then Constantijn Huygens showed up about five years later and provided Rembrandt with his first big break. Huygens was a poet and composer who also spent time working as a secretary to two of the Dutch Republic’s princes. He helped Rembrandt arrange a series of important commissions for political leaders and royals in The Hague. In 1631, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam where his career, needless to say, really took off. Here’s how you can retrace Rembrandt’s early years in Leiden There are a few Rembrandt-related attractions and monuments in Leiden that fuel an interesting day trip to the city. You can start with a stop at the Young Rembrandt Studio, a new exhibition that opened earlier this spring. Located inside a 17th century house at Langebrug 89, the exhibit features a seven minute video projection that offers a whirlwind journey through the artist’s years in Leiden. There’s also a gift shop that features Rembrandt-themed products, in addition to information about other attractions around the city. There’s also the Rembrandtwandeling (‘The Rembrandt Walk’). This walking route will lead you past Rembrandt’s birthplace, the Latin School, and several more of the artist’s former haunts in Leiden. There are informational boards along the way that offer additional details about each historic site. Informational booklets about the route, which are packed with tons of facts about Rembrandt’s early years and what the city was like in the early 17th century, can be purchased at the VVV Leiden tourist centre at Stationsweg 26. Park The picturesque Rembrandtpark is a nice place to stop for a snack or a lunch if the weather’s cooperating after you pass over the Rembrandtbrug and snap a few photos of the Molen de Put, a nearby windmill. Be sure to check out the mysterious statue in the nearby Rembrandtplein. Is the boy looking at the portrait supposed to be Rembrandt himself? No one quite knows for sure. Sculptor Stephan Balkenhol made it for the 400th anniversary of the artist’s birth in 2006, but left the boy’s true identity a secret. Nearby, there’s the former location of Rembrandt’s childhood home. It was torn down in the early 20th century to make way for the extension of a printer’s office. A commemorative plaque can now be found on one of the exterior walls. You can also stroll over to view a large bust of the artist depicted in his later years along the Witte Singel. A wreath is placed on it at the stroke of midnight every year on Rembrandt’s birthday. Art Finally, Leiden’s Museum De Lakenhal is due to reopen after an extensive refurbishment in the spring of 2019. It will host an exhibit titled Young Rembrandt from 3 November 2019 to 9 February 2020. Along with works by the artist himself, it will also feature paintings by Lievens, Lastman, and Van Swanenburg. ‘It will be a quite large exhibition with over 120 works of art’, curator Christiaan Vogelaar said. ‘Some of them will be coming over from the UK, Berlin, and the Louvre in Paris. Visitors can also enjoy our historical collections and 20th century art. The De Stijl movement was founded in Leiden and we have a beautiful collection’.  More >


Eindhoven offers great opportunities for would-be home owners

Eindhoven offers great opportunities for would-be home owners

If you are looking to put down roots in Eindhoven, buying a house could be the perfect investment. The city is proving so popular with internationals that the experts behind the Expat Housing Seminars are holding an event in the city on May 29. Just last month, the Eindhoven region was revealed to have the sharpest increase in economic growth in the country, thanks to its numerous high tech industries, many of which have sprung up around Eindhoven University of Technology. The city is surrounded by rolling countryside, its football team PSV Eindhoven has just taken the league title for the 10th time this century, it has its own airport and you snap up a big new family home in a nice area for under €500,000. Hardly surprising then, that more and more international workers are opting to stay on and settle down in this Noord Brabant city of 230,000. Settling down Olivia van den Broek-Neri, the project coordinator for communications and events at the Holland Expat Center South, says she has noticed a rise in the number of people settling down in the region and buying a home. ‘A lot of people are choosing to live in Eindhoven for longer, for example, PhD students settle down and get a job after they’ve finished their research,’ she says. ‘We want people to stay and invest in their future here.’ So where to look? ‘It can be hard to find a place to rent here, but of course, house prices have also risen a lot,’ says Olivia. ‘Meerhoven is one place where homes sell very quickly and has a lot of expats. But I’d recommend people get on their bikes and look at other places too. ‘Eindhoven has a lot of great places to live but you need to think about where you work as well. Can you cycle to work easily, for example? Look north as well as south and check out the villages.’ Chris van Maasdijk, one of the founders of Expat Mortgages, which has just opened an office in the city, agrees. ‘Look at places like the suburb of Veldhoven and the village of Waalre,’ he says. ‘It is always worth looking at more rural areas, when you are still so close to the city centre. In fact, the whole south of the Netherlands is becoming more popular with international workers.’ Son en Breugel, Best, Nuenen and Helmond are other towns worth checking out when you are looking for a new home in the area, and want to avoid the overheating which has hit the city centre itself. Knowing the best places to look requires research, says Van Maasdijk. ‘That’s why it is always good to talk to experts on the ground.’ The popularity of the south of the country among the international community is one of the driving forces behind Expat Mortgages’ decision to open up its own office in the region. Now, local expats can benefit from the team’s years of expertise in helping international workers get the best possible deal. ‘I was born and raised in the south of the Netherlands and I know almost all the estate agents, valuation experts, construction companies and civil law notaries in this area,’ says Roy Schreurs, who heads up the Eindhoven operation. ‘Eindhoven provides more value for your money and offers a different way of living. It is more laid back, more Bourgondian. But there are also lots of concert venues, cinemas and theatre. My secret tip – if you like water sports, then you must head for nearby Roermond, where there are several beautiful lakes for boating, windsurfing, or simply relaxing.’ If you are in the Eindhoven region and are thinking about buying a house, feel free to get in touch with Roy Schreurs via info@expatmortgages.nl Find out more about the Expat Housing Seminar here You can also meet the Expat Mortgages team at the I am not a Tourist expat fair in Eindhoven on June 10.   More >