When you moved to the Netherlands what is the one thing you wish somebody had told you about?

Dutch windmills

(It’s not all tulips, clogs and windmills.)

The idea for this post came from an expat group I’m in, so the question was originally: When you moved to Hilversum, what is the one thing you wish somebody had told you about?

But actually, many of the comments weren’t Hilversum based, they were just general tips for surviving in the Netherlands. So I thought I’d share them with you. Real tips from real expats living in this funny little country called Holland the Netherlands…

1. “Bring cold and flu meds and loads of strong pain killers just in case, because paracetamol just doesn’t cut it sometimes.”

2. “If there isn’t a queue don’t try forming one! Otherwise you’ll be waiting all day – follow the Dutch lead.”

3. “Watch out for mopeds & pindakaas is not peanut cheese but peanut butter!”

4. “The most important one – the online takeaway ordering service: Thuisbezorgd.nl!”

5. “I wish someone had told me (still would love to hear the logic behind it) how cars from the right automatically have right of way even when it makes absolutely no sense.”

6. “One thing I didn’t think about was the weather differences. I packed shorts and t-shirts, no real jackets. I wish I had brought warmer clothes for cooler temps.”

7. “That customer service is a rare find here!”

8. “That credit cards are rarely accepted as a form of payment. Or VISA debit.”

9. “Download a parking app for your phone – it makes life much easier!” (Try yellowbrick.nl or parkmobile.nl)

10. “It’s a ghost town on Sunday!!”

11. “There are many different rules for pets – in particular dogs. Dog tax. Rules for poop and leash etc. I only found all this out after someone said the dog tax inspector was knocking on doors.”

12. “Where is the nearest A&E? What’s the emergency number? (112) And the non-emergency number? (0800 8844).”

13. “Public transport apps / links to NS.nl and 9292.nl were a lifesaver.”

14. “The blue parking spaces at the supermarket, and where to buy the blue time thingy.” (Blue spaces are temporary parking spots and you need a parkeerschijf – a parking disk to indicate what time you arrived. Available from HEMA, Bruna and Halfords stores and at many petrol stations.)

15. “Dutch rudeness directness. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”

Can you tell that the last one was me? ;-)

When you moved to the Netherlands,  what is the one thing you wish somebody had told you about?

Hayley x

Things to do in Hilversum: WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling

WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling

The title of this post could also be: That one time in Hilversum when I ate loads of delicious food, drank loads of amazing wine and got so tipsy I cried about learning Dutch. But I guess the other title is more factual and Google probably likes it better… so…

First things first: What is a WijnSpijs Culinaire Wandeling? Wijn = wine. Spijs = food / dish. Together it means wine pairing, food pairing… the act of pairing food and wine together type thing. Culinaire = culinary. Wandeling = walk.

So: a culinary walk around Hilversum (other Dutch towns and cities are available) where you get to drink lots of wine and eat food that goes with it. In short, heaven for food and wine lovers.

Unlike the time when I ate Amsterdam – I can tell you every single detail of this trip (the stuff I remember anyway) because the Hilversum one is done, over, finished… for this year anyway!

However, WijnSpijs run dates all over the country – pretty much every weekend during the summer – so there’s probably one near you soon! Here’s the agenda. (Dammit!! Utrecht is sold out already! *Sad face*.) Anyway… without further ado…

Restaurant 1: Gastrobar Kurk

Wine: Gran Sasso. Food: squid ink risotto, gin & 7up foam, parsnip puree, peas and a prawn!

Gastrobar Kurk, Hilversum

Gastrobar Kurk

We both loved this place, including the very keen waitress (it was early in the day and she was super enthusiastic, bless her!) and we will definitely be returning. The menu looked very interesting and not over-priced, so I’m curious to see what else they have up their sleeves!

Restaurant 2: Zilt & Zo

Hot and cold smoked salmon, asparagus and asparagus foam, topped with a beetroot chip. Re: wine… I’m struggling to read my own handwriting, I wrote down something like Gruner Veltliner – Roshlitz. I remember it was nice ;-)

Zilt & Zo Hilversum

Zilt & Zo, Hilversum

The food was good, but not the star of the day. The presentation in a wine glass was funny, but quite difficult to eat! I would go back for the”beach” at the end of their sunny terrace, however, to sip a cocktail with my feet in the sand!

Restaurant 3: Proeverij De Open Keuken

Here they served up a beef salad made with jodenhaas (beef shoulder tenderloin). Although I thought he said Yodahaas so I’m sticking to that! It was paired with a light, easy drinking red: Dornfelder Nahe 2014. Yum. Very, very easy to drink!

Proeverij De Open Keuken

There was a chip in my bowl (naughty, naughty!) so I had to switch plates with the Dutchie because I wanted to photograph it zonder chip. However, my beef was slightly chewy and the Dutchie’s was perfect… so it serves me right for switching I guess!

Proeverij De Open Keuken

Proeverij De Open Keuken

(The Dutchie getting arty with his wine ^)

We sat outside… because it was awesome weather that day! But FYI – the inside of this restaurant is gooooooorgeous! (My iphone camera, not so much.)

Proeverij De Open Keuken

Proeverij De Open Keuken.

Restaurant 4: Lust 

This beauty is meerval (which I think is catfish) pasta with samphire, tomatoes and a gambas (prawn) sauce. Definitely the dish of the day!! Served with Finca Constancia Altozano Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc. (70% Verdejo and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.) Result: yum-a-lum-a-ding-dong.

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Lust Restaurant, Hilversum

Restaurant 5: Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Monkfish with a fermented risotto (what the heck?!) an orange coloured sauce and a cherry tomato. It was delicious, but they didn’t do much explaining! Served with Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc.

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

They also had a DJ…

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

…and a dude playing saxophone who liked hiding in bushes.

Deja Vu Restaurant and Wijnbar

Restaurant 6: Heren Spyker

Zachtgegaarde runderwang (slow cooked beef cheek) with roasted tomato, pea cream and a cumin crisp. Served with a 2013 Cuvee Tradition Rouge – Corbieres from Chateau Beauregard Mirouze.

Heren Spkyer

Here it is, in Dutch (nice touch btw, they were the only restaurant to do this).

Heren Spkyer

This was probably the tiniest dish of the whole day. It was good, but not great. The crunchy cumin thing outshone the beef cheek, which is never a good thing. I love the fact that this place is connected with Spyker though and due to it’s brilliant sunny position, I’d go back for a glass of wine or three!!

Heren Spkyer

Restaurant 7: Rex 

Pulled pork with a chilli and BBQ sauce and mango chutney. I can’t remember what the thing on top was… a kind of prawn cracker type thingy. It was seriously good! (Sorry, Rex – I totally underestimated you. When I saw this place on the list, I was very surprised as I thought it was just a bar/club so my expectations were rather low.) But boy did they prove me wrong!! Served with a Beaujolais Nouveau.

Rex, Hilversum

Rex, Hilversum

Restaurant 8: Puur Smaeck

Last but not least: Puur Smaeck. (That’s the old way to spell smaak, meaning taste / flavour.)

They served rib eye filled with yellow and green courgette with a cream of goats cheese and white chocolate. Yes, you read that right. White chocolate. The Dutchie loved it… I tasted it together, ate the beef and then had the white chocolate cream as pudding! This was served with an Italian red: Salice Salentino.

Puur Smaeck

Puur Smaeck

After that, we didn’t want to go home straight away, so our friend joined us, we ordered a bottle of prosecco and then I cried. Nothing to do with the brilliant day, perhaps a little to do with the wine!

Result: if you didn’t pick it up already, I absolutely loved my WijnSpijs culinary walk. Wine, food, walking… what’s not to love? I think it’s a fantastic way to sample new restaurants in your local town/city… or a unique way to check out a brand new city! I will definitely be going on another one in the near future!! (Hopefully this time without the tears!)

THE LOWDOWN

COST: €55-60 depending on location, but to try 7 or 8 new restaurants in your area – that’s a bleedin’ bargain! Not to mention said number of starter sized-portions and glasses of wine. (Not all glasses are “full” measures by the way. It depends on the restaurant and how shaky the waiter’s hands are.)

MORE INFO: Wijnspijs.nl

Hayley x

The Dutch two-tone sigh

Due to popular demand, The Dutchie and I recorded a (very bad) sound bite of an English person sighing vs a Dutch person.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the Dutch two-tone sigh!

 

Hayley x

You know you’re definitely Dutch when…

1. You think it’s perfectly normal to transport another human being on a bike with you.

2. Your calves resemble Popeye’s biceps.

3. You get annoyed when people think the Netherlands is all about Amsterdam.

4. You get annoyed when people think Amsterdam is all about weed and prostitutes.

5. You own one of these:

Masher

6. On special occasions and at Christmas time, you dust off your gourmetten set and let everyone cook their own food on the dinner table.

7. You eat (and enjoy) frikandellen.

8. You manage to say hoor 10 times a day without so much as a stifled giggle.

9. You roll your eyes when someone refers to your country as Holland, then take a deep breath and prepare yourself to deliver your rehearsed speech about the difference between Holland and The Netherlands.

10. You fly a Dutch flag when camping so that people don’t mistake you for Germans.

100_Dutch

11. You’ve stepped in dog poo and then walked into your house with your shoes still on.

12. You will not allow people to say that oliebollen are doughnuts. EVER.

13. (Women) You think that white leggings are a fashionable option for summer.

14. (Men) You think that coloured jeans are a fashionable option, period.

15. You don’t know what the Dutch two-tone sigh is, because you don’t even realise you’re doing it.

Hayley x

Learning Dutch is f*cking hard

Dutch kissing

Yesterday I cried about learning Dutch. In public. On a busy pub terrace. Ummm. So yeah, that sucked.

Luckily, it was super sunny yesterday and I was wearing sunglasses so hopefully no one noticed… (I’m totally kidding myself, people definitely noticed.)

Anyway, I cried because learning Dutch is fucking hard.

I don’t really talk about it very much, and I purposely try to keep negativity away from my blog… but this isn’t negative, it’s just honest.

I’ve been learning Dutch properly for about a year. Before that, when we still lived in England, I had a few CDs which I listened to occasionally (Michel Thomas, in case you’re wondering). Occasionally – meaning listening to them for a few hours in blind panic directly before every trip to Holland and then not bothering again for a couple of months. Read: Until the next trip!

I’ve taken a Dutch course (which I didn’t complete because the teacher was a terrible teacher. Nice sweet lady, but seriously love – you’re in the wrong business) and I can have basic level conversations and understand about 80-90% of what people are saying to me. So considering I’ve only lived here a year, I reckon I’m doing alright.

So yesterday, fuelled by 8 glasses of wine (not all full measures – thankfully!! On the Wijnspijs Culinaire Wandeling – separate post on that to follow) I took the plunge and started talking to my Dutch friend in Dutch. They don’t call it Dutch courage for nothing! He speaks amazing English, I’ve known him for 6 years and we’ve always spoken together in English. But you know, I need to practice. And I’d been speaking Dutch all day, so it seemed natural to me.

It was all going fine until I made a tiny mistake, literally I said ‘heeft’ instead of ‘hebt’. I know it’s wrong, they know it’s wrong… but y’know, 8 glasses of wine, talking quickly, in my second language… I’m going to make mistakes. No biggie. But then… The Dutchie corrects me.

Ok – I think to myself – he’s supposed to correct me, that’s the only way I’m going to learn. (We have a deal – we correct each others language mistakes, except if we’re in a group. Then you have to remind them about it later, one on one.) So… deep breath, carry on…

Then The Friend corrects me. Again, something ridiculously tiny. And I lose my shit.

I just stopped talking and had a little cry, while they awkwardly carried on talking. Once I’d regained my composure… I went to the toilet to fix my face.

They’re blokes so they thought they were being ‘helpful’. I tried explaining to them that it’s not what you say, but the way you say it… but these are Dutch blokes, so that was no use whatsoever!

When I came back, I started talking in English, but after a few minutes, I thought nope. This is not cool. I WILL speak Dutch and I WILL make mistakes. So I gently reminded myself of my speaking Dutch mantra: fuck it.

I try really hard. Really bloody hard to speak the language. And I had a little wobble… but I bloody well picked myself up, dusted myself off and carried on. How very British of me!

So, to anyone out there who is learning Dutch – or any other language for that matter – good luck to you, hats off and a big virtual high five.

It’s hard fucking work – and I applaud you.

Hayley x

Eating Amsterdam Food Tour

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited along on an Eating Amsterdam Tour. They lured me with bitterballen, obviously.

I’ve never done a food / tasting tour anywhere before, so it was an exciting first!

Before I start: A few days ago, one of my fellow expat bloggers posted about her experience of the same tour… and while I enjoyed her post, she went into huge amounts of detail about every aspect of the tour along with pictures of every single food they tried. I’m NOT going to do that.

If I tell you everything that happens and everything you eat – there will be no surprises if you want to do the tour yourself!

So, here in Bitterballenbruid fashion, is a higgledy piggledy series of events that may have happened on the Amsterdam food tour – in no particular order. SPOILER: There were bitterballen.

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

Because I’ve already ruined that part: let’s start with it.

We went on the Jordaan Food & Canals Tour – so yep, you go on a canal boat! Woop woop!

Definitely one of the highlights of the tour. The captain is awesome, friendly and funny and you get to drink prosecco and eat cheese and bitterballen whilst cruising around the Amsterdam canals. Sweeeeeeeeeet!

Oh, speak of the devil! Here he is:

Hotel Pulitzer

Hotel Pulitzer

So yeah, you get on a boat and are greeted with this happy sight!

Amsterdam Food Tour Cheese

Amsterdam Food Tour

Eating Amsterdam Food Tour

And then, around half way into the one hour boat trip… this happens…

Bitterballen Delivery

Only in Holland, right? BITTERBALLEN DELIVERY!

Bitterballen

They get one of the best scores yet… a 9/10. Bravo Holtkamp bakery! Absolutely delicious! They’re definitely in my top two ever (the others were at the SkyLounge) but I always score including presentation, so they have to get a minus point for that. Foil tray indeed!

And you clearly can’t have bitterballen without yet more alcohol! YAY!

Brouwerij t IJ Beer

Amsterdam Food Tour

Hungry yet? So, boat tour over – let’s go to my least favourite part… LIQUORICE!

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje is owned by Mariska, who is very Dutch (I mean, very direct). I was a bit scared of her, especially when she told an American lady off for taking photos and not listening… but I’m a blogger, so I’m allowed to take photos? Right? Pleeeeeeease?

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

I hate drop… and (sadly) nothing changed. I tried it. I still hate it. The Dutchie tried it. He still loves it. We got a bag each to take away, so he was super happy as he got two bags!

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

I then tried to take some establishing shots, but people kept getting in my way… I like the way this one came out though. “Oh, do get out of the way with that silly camera, dear!”

Amsterdam Food Tour

Dude, please!

Amsterdam Food Tour

People, just a sec?

Amsterdam Food Tour

Nailed it! Grrrr, dammit… there’s still someone lurking on the right…

Amsterdam Food Tour

As you can see, it was a pretty dreary day in Amsterdam – but our tour leader Annamaria kept our spirits up!

Raw herring, anyone?

Amsterdam Food Tour

There was also kibbeling… Mmmmmmmm…

Kibbeling

In addition to all the delicious food, I also used the walking part of the tour to get some random Amsterdam shots… and of course, I had to stop every time I saw any street art!

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

I’m not even sure why I wanted to take a photo of this blue wall… but people just wouldn’t let me…

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Thank you, thank you very much.

Amsterdam Food Tour

Oh yeah, where was I…? Food.

Two words for you: APPLE PIE. But not like apple pie you’ve ever had before – this is Dutch Appeltaart. I am totally not a sweet person, but this appeltart was something else!

Amsterdam Food Tour

And… more food… remember that this tour is 4 hours long!! (And this part definitely isn’t in the right order…)

Then, the icing on the cake.

My first ever taste of poffertjes! I can confirm they are as good as they look – if not better!

Poffertjes

Poffertjes

Poffertjes on the Eating Amsterdam Tour

So, there you have it. Edited highlights of the Eating Amsterdam Food Tour. It is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done in Amsterdam!

The full tour is 4 hours long with 7 stops and 12 tastings. It starts at 11am and finishes at 3pm, so take my advice and skip breakfast! Or if you can’t… have a VERY light breakfast.

You and your bellies will thank me later!

Hayley x

Note: I was hosted on the tour by Eating Amsterdam but all views and opinions – as always – remain my own.

20 More Amusing Dutch Words

About 6 months ago, I wrote a post entitled 30 Amusing Dutch Words. It was shared, A LOT, so I guess you were mildly interested in it.

Laura Frame, my partner in crime for that post, has come up with some more fantastic illustrations of Dutch words. It would therefore be a shame not to share some more!!

(For the eagle-eyes amongst you: Yes, there are a couple of overlaps… but this time there are also more pretty pictures.)

Heb een te gekke tijd! (Lit: Have a too crazy time!)

1. Eekhoorntjesbrood

Eekhoorntjesbrood

Eekhoorntjesbrood – literally translated as ‘little squirrel’s bread’ it actually means porcini mushrooms. Leuk, hè? 

2. Luipaard

Means leopard, but is literally translated as ‘lazy horse’.

3. Koevoet

This is the word for a crow bar, but the literal translation is ‘cow foot’. Tskkkkk.

4. Papegaaiduiker

Papegaaiduiker

Yuh huh, you got it – ‘parrot diver’. It actually means puffin.

5. Tuinslang

Continuing the animal theme… we have ‘garden snake’ – which is actually just a garden hose.

6. Brandslang

Brandslang

And for real emergencies… a ‘fire snake’!! Ok, ok… it’s really just a fire hose.

7. Paardenbloem

Paardenbloem (dandelion)

Crossing animal/flower genres, we have the ‘horse flower’. Which is actually a dandelion.

8. Madelief

Madelief (daisy)

Literally meaning ‘loveable maggot’ – madelief is the word for a daisy.

9. Vingerhoedskruid

Vingerhoedskruid (foxglove)

A foxglove is literally translated as ‘finger hat herb’. (Also an ideal candidate for a funny English word illustration!!)

10. Bloemlezing

Bloemlezing

‘Flower reading’ is the way you say anthology in Dutch.

11. Pindakaas

Pindakaas

Literally meaning ‘peanut cheese’, pinkakaas is the word for peanut butter.

12. Toiletbril

Toiletbril (toilet seat)

Where did I put my toilet glasses??? ‘Toiletbril’ means toilet seat!

13. Stofzuiger

Stofzuiger

‘Dust sucker’! Thankfully it means vacuum cleaner!!

14. Stembanden

Stembanden

Stembanden, meaning vocal chords. The literal translation is ‘voice tyres’.

15. Schoonmoeder

Schoonmoeder

Definitely one of my person favourites!! Mother-in-law is literally translated as ‘clean mother’. Schoon can also mean beautiful.

16. Feestneus

Are you a ‘party nose’? You might be better known as a party animal.

17. Buitenbeentje

A misfit is literally translated from Dutch to English as a ‘ little outside leg’.

18.  Badjas

A ‘bath jacket’ is the word for dressing gown. Yeah yeah, dressing gown is also weird! But not as strange as ‘house coat’ which (some) posh people in England refer to it as!

19. Ondernemer

I made this mistake myself whilst watching Masterchef Holland. One of the contestants is an ‘ondernemer’ which I (proudly and) literally translated as undertaker. Except that she’s an entrepreneur. Ooooops.

20. Brandweer 

Brandweer (fire brigade)

“Quick, call the fire weather!” Brandweer is the word for fire brigade…

In this instance, weer comes from weren which means to avert. So ‘Brandweer’ means fire defence or fire aversion. (And yes, that’s a map of Belgium – the illustrator has ties with Belgium.)

So, what have been your biggest fails so far whilst learning Dutch? (Or any language?) Ondernemer was a personal highlight of mine, plus “Ik heb mijn benen uit.” Totally normal to say that in English, but in Dutch it would insinuate that I have prosthetic limbs.

If you have any more suggestions of amusing Dutch words for Laura to illustrate – please comment below!

And if you want to give Laura some love (and congratulate her on her awesome drawings) here’s her Facebook Page.

Hayley x