15 Weird Things Dutch People Do

I don’t like to generalise ;-) … but Dutch people are weird. In a good way, of course! And I have proof…

1. Hang their duvets out of the window, with the covers still on, to ‘air’ them. Washing machine, no?

Dutch duvets out of window

(Photo shamelessly stolen from my Dutch friend M…)

2. Can’t decide whether to say ‘doei’ or ‘dag’, so say ‘doeg’ instead.

3. Give you three kisses. (But only if they like you.) Right-left-right. If you get three kisses, you’re in!

4. Think almost everything is gezellig and/or lekker.

5. Eat shitloads of deep fried snacks without getting fat. (It MUST be all the cycling, right??)

Borrelhapjes

6. Cycle. Everywhere.

7. Complain about the weather. (Ok, ok, English people do this too. I fit right in…)

8. Base their lives around sunshine. If the sun is out, Dutch people are out. In full force.

9. Wear white leggings. Why…? Why…?

10. Have a day dedicated to skirts! ;-) ‘Rokjesdag’ meaning Skirt Day is ‘celebrated’ on the first day of spring when women suddenly decide it’s warm enough to wear a skirt with bare legs.

11. Say ‘Tsjonge, jonge, jonge!’ A LOT. (Possibly the most annoying Dutch phrase ever.)

12. Let their dogs take a shit on the footpath and don’t clean it up.

Poep sign

Yes, love. I bet you do!

13. Talk English to you, even though you’ve clearly expressed your desire to practice Dutch. (Flippin’ show offs.)

14. Eat ALL the dairy. Cheese and milk for lunch, anyone?

15. Think that chocolate sprinkles on bread for breakfast is a good way to start the day. I will never get over this. Really, never.

What other weird stuff does your Dutchie do?

Hayley x

2015: The Year The Travel Bug Bit Me Reeeally Hard

Wow, what a year. Seriously, how quickly has it gone!? It feels like only yesterday I was watching the Top 2000 on TV with a glass of prosecco and counting down to midnight, then boarding a plane to start the new year in Spain! (Ooh, and I’m rhyming!)

But now it’s 12 months later… and boy, what a year the Dutchie and I have had! Personally, 2015 will go down in history for me as the year I travelled every month. Yup – in 2015, I left the Netherlands at least once, every single month. Not sure how or why this happened exactly, but I’m so glad it did.

Disclaimer: Normally I try not to make posts all me, me, me. But this one kinda is. (Sorry. Ish.)

January

Trip to Torremolinos, Spain. (If you’re thinking of going… and you’re under the age of 65, you may need to rethink your plans. It is absolutely overrun with silver foxes!) We still had fun though! And it was so nice to be walking around in shorts in the first week of January!!

Dutch tree

Clearly a Dutch palm tree! Torremolinos, Spain

February

Trip to England to meet my best friend’s baby boy, H. He’s awesome. Managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the pub with some other friends… (For obvious reasons!)

English pub

March

March was a month of many firsts! Not only did I travel abroad, but I visited some places in the Netherlands for the first time too: Haarlem, Hoorn and Gouda.

We visited Brussels (another first) and went to France to visit my parents, with a quick stop to Le Mans on the way home. (The place where we first met *insert cheesy heart emoji here*.)

Atomium, Brussels

Atomium, Brussels

April

Stuttgart, Germany – for work. Yep, I left the country, but apparently it was the most boring trip ever. I don’t have a single photo.

May

In May one of my brothers got married, so a trip to the UK was in order! We also visited France (again) to see my parents along with The Dutchie’s whole family!

Mont St Michel, France

Mont St Michel, France (complete with random man)

June

France – AGAIN! This time for the wedding of two of our best friends in Ernes. We also visited Cancale which is famous for its oysters. Well, we couldn’t just take their word for it…

Oysters at Cancale, France

Oysters in Cancale, France

Closer to home, we visited the tiny village of Watergang in North Holland. Mooi!

Watergang, The Netherlands

Watergang, The Netherlands

July

In July we had two weddings to attend in the UK. My other brother and one of my Uni friends. I already wrote a whole post about this trip, so if you’d like to read it it’s here: Being a Tourist in my Home Country

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Whitchurch

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Whitchurch

August

More exploring Holland. In August we went to Enkhuizen, Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch) and the Hook of Holland. (Post here: Weekendje Weg Tip)

We also went to Malta for our first wedding anniversary! I’ve tried and failed multiple times to write a post about that amazing holiday. Jammer! But in a nutshell: GO TO MALTA! IT’S AMAZING!

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Malta

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Malta

September

The Malta trip crossed over to September and I also went to the UK to visit my beautiful new niece, who is affectionately nicknamed Turtle. (Don’t ask!)

(And yes, I know what you’re thinking! This has probably been the busiest, most expensive year ever!! 4 weddings and a baby! What the actual fuck!?)

Blue Lagoon, Malta

Blue Lagoon, Malta

October

First visit to Kinderdijk. There’s a post about that: I have this thing with Windmills

Ooh, ooh and don’t forget Zandaam!

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

Inntel Hotel, Zandaam

We also went on an epic road trip to Portugal, Spain and France. It was the Dutchie’s first time in Portugal! Again, I probably should write a post about that, but I just haven’t had time. (And I know you guys aren’t the biggest travel post fans, yeah – I check my stats sometimes ;-))

*Realises she’s currently writing a travel post. Oops!*

Beautiful Lisbon

Beautiful Lisbon

November

First time at a German Christmas Market. EPIC. There’s a post about that: Kertmarkt(en) Koblenz

Kerstmarkt, Koblenz, Germany

Kerstmarkt, Koblenz, Germany

December

Trip to England for work, fake Christmas with my family and my niece’s first Christmas! Cannot wait!

What a year! Phew! I’m kinda tired just thinking about it!

On top of everything I’ve mentioned above – I’ve also visited Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans and Utrecht more times than I can possibly count! We had soooo many visitors this year! :) :) :) Hopefully this continues into next year! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

And what does 2016 have in store? Possibly not as much foreign travel as 2015, because boy, that racks up! But I do want to visit as many new places in NL as possible, including the Frisian Islands. (Still so annoyed I haven’t visited any of them yet!!) And there might be a cheeky trip to Thailand too! Fingers crossed!

What are your travel plans for 2016?

Hayley x

Kerstmarkt(en) Koblenz

We went to Koblenz at weekend and it was AH-MAZE-ING.

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

If you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t) then it’s in Germany, between Frankfurt and Cologne. If it had been up to me, we would’ve just gone to Cologne as it’s slightly closer to us and better known… but The Dutchie had visited Koblenz once before, years and years ago, and assured me it was worth revisiting. (We had also toyed with the idea of stopping there on the way back from our honeymoon last year but ran out of time, so that was another good reason.)

After it was decided that Koblenz was the one – we also discovered the Christmas Markets would be in full swing at the end of November. So definitely enough reasons now!! As we were travelling by car, we had space for passengers – so we invited The Dutchie’s mum and sister along for the trip :)

From Hilversum it’s a 3 hour drive, so we booked a couple of apartments (Järgen Ferienappartements – 8.5/10 on Booking.com – and well deserved) and away we went! After a (happily) uneventful drive, we checked into our apartments and then got a bus into town. Once we got our bearings, we then walked along the Rhine towards the Festung Ehrenbreitstein (Ehrenbreitstein Fortress).

Festung Ehrenbreitstein

That side of the river was extremely moody looking, as you can see, though on our side… blue skies!

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

 Seilbahn Koblenz

And to get to the fortress? A cable car! The Seilbahn Koblenz to be precise (cable railway, funicular, cable way… whatever you want to call it…)

 Seilbahn Koblenz

The lovely chap from our apartments had already told us that number 17 had a glass bottom… but we’re all scaredy cats, so we agreed we’d avoid that one!!

The cost was €11.80 pp return, including access to the Fortress. The cable car on its own was around €9 but we were told you couldn’t get good views without going into the fortress… so not a lot of choice there! (Cheeky buggers!) Anyway, without a doubt, it was worth the price tag! What an experience!

Ehrenbreitstein

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Car number 13… unlucky for some!

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Once at the top, prepare to be confused.

The signage was terrible and the map they gave us was also terrible. (Once we finally found the restaurant we asked the waitress to show us where we were on the map and she couldn’t tell us… go figure!)

Anyway, if you visit the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, just make sure you have plenty of time and you’ll find everything… eventually!!

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

After a 3-hour drive, bus ride, walk and cable car ride… our bellies were rumbling! So we made a stop at the only place we could find in the fortress: Restaurant Casino.

Restaurant Casino, Koblenz

Restaurant Casino, Koblenz

Restaurant Casino, Koblenz

Restaurant Casino, Koblenz

Mulled wine, vegetable soup and something resembling a super-thin pizza. My veggie soup was boring as hell but the pizzas and mulled wine were delish!

An hour or two later, suitably watered and fed, we headed back to the Seilbahn… not realising how well timed we had planned it!! Pure luck – but the sun had just set, so on the way up we had beautiful bright sunshine and on the way back down we could enjoy Koblenz by night!! Perfect!

Koblenz, Germany

(Congrats to the Dutchie for this photo!)

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Absolutely stunning! If you visit Koblenz and don’t have a fear of heights, the Seilbahn is an absolute must!!

Once back on dry land, it was time for the Christmas market, or as we soon found out… markets! They were everywhere! Not that we were complaining…

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

All the normal stuff you’d expect: mulled wine, bratwurst, any other type of wurst (sausage) you can imagine, beer, market stalls selling Christmas paraphernalia… So if you’re anything like me = heaven!

We spent hours walking around, drinking mulled wine and generally feeling festive. We all kept our mulled wine glasses as a souvenir (just a €2.50 deposit each for the glasses – so well worth it!)

The atmosphere was great and we even managed to stumble upon the ‘Schangelbrunnen’ – a statue of a little boy spitting water. Germany’s answer to Manneken Pis, I suppose! (Unfortunately, it was turned off that day, so we didn’t get squirted!)

Schangelbrunnen

Koblenz, Germany

For dinner, we’d done our research and picked the #6 restaurant from Trip Advisor: Dormont’s Restaurant. Unfortunately, because we didn’t know our timings, we hadn’t booked and they were full. Doh! We ended up going to Gretchens instead (#78 on Trip Advisor). It showed. We all had schnitzel with various sauces and they were all nothing to write home about. Moral of the story: book ahead!!

Day 2: we decided to hit the Christmas Markets again before heading home. And we also decided to have meat for breakfast!

Koblenz, Germany

Yee ha!

We had to wait about 20 mins for this Schweinesteak (pork steak) because they said they weren’t ready. I get it and it’s about 20 mins overcooked… typical! Anyhoo…

More wandering around Koblenz ensued… (most of these photos were taken whilst waiting for my flippin’ Schweinesteak!)

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

After devouring my overcooked pig, we went to Adaccio for coffee (good), wandered some more and then had more coffee in Hoefers (bad).

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Before getting back in the car to drive home (we parked in the city centre on Sunday as we didn’t want to be messing about with buses – good option as Sunday parking was only €3!) there was just one last chance to eat some more German sausage…

Koblenz, Germany

I took it – and I wasn’t sorry. Chilli wurst with chilli sauce… ooh yeah!

A fantastic weekend: I highly recommend Koblenz and there are only 2 pearls of wisdom I can offer you – as there are only 2 things I would do differently: book a bloody restaurant! And order a Weissbier. (Pesky mulled wine made me forget! ;-))

Are you going to a Christmas Market this year? Or what’s the best one you’ve ever been to?

Hayley x

Bitterballenbruid.com turns two

Bitterballen

So that’s actually a massive lie… my “blogiversary” (ugh, is that even a word?) was on 14th November, so I’m late… no surprise there.

I feel like I should acknowledge this milestone, as I’ve just renewed my WordPress subscription for another year after about a month of debating. Funny, this time last year I was also unsure if I would continue. I guess that’s just my personality – I can be extremely indecisive at times. So much so that I even annoy myself!

Also, I’m pretty much the anti-blogger, which is why I was having so much doubt… I hate selfies, I hate self-promotion, I hate all the “look at me, aren’t I brilliant” crap. I can’t stand the thought of every aspect of my life being public and everyone knowing my business. *Almost* everything about blogging makes me cringe.

Especially when people tell me they read my blog! I physically wince with embarrassment! (This actually happened on Saturday, I was talking to one of the guys from The Dutchie’s ping pong club and he casually slipped in to the conversation that he reads my blog. <Waves at J> Thanks, dude! I’m massively flattered you actually read my wittering, but also seriously embarrassed!!)

I just think blogging is so fucking narcissistic and as much as possible, I try not to make it all me, me, me…

But I like writing. That’s the problem. (And occasionally helping people with the things I write. I hope!!)

Hence why I chose the anonymous-ish route.

Anyway, I did renew it, so I guess that means I’m going to be sticking around for at least another year ;-)

To “celebrate” in big bloody air-quotes… I guess I should list some of my personal blogging highlights of the past 2 years. But that’s what a proper blogger would do.

So instead, I’ll just say thanks for reading.

With the odd troll-shaped exception… you’re a pretty awesome bunch.

Hayley x

How to Learn Dutch: For Beginners

Over the last year and half I’ve received quite a few emails asking me about how I learnt Dutch. Note: I am still learning!!

But anyway, I thought I’d share how I am learning Dutch with you guys. I hope it’s helpful for any of you who are being challenged with this difficult language. I feel you!

1. Michel Thomas CDs

My first port of call was Michel Thomas because my Mum and Dad were learning French at the time via the Michel Thomas method and had highly recommended it. (As do I!)

Learning Dutch materials

Both the Foundation and Advanced course are very good, however they will not suffice (alone) in teaching you Dutch! But they’re great for beginners to get a feel for the language and the pronunciation etc.

Oh and because I’m a food nerd, my sister-in-law cleverly bought me “Your 1000 Most Important Words: Food and Drink”.

2. Dutch textbooks

Secondly, I got my hands on EVERTHING Dutch I could. Dutch textbooks, grammar books, children’s books. I mostly ordered these from Amazon UK as I was still living in England at the time. As I was buying so much, I got the majority of them second-hand.

Learning Dutch materials

For me: the “201 Dutch verbs” is an absolute must! I use it loads. Hugo “Dutch in 3 months” is also a pretty good textbook, except that I’m not even halfway through it. If you are more dedicated than me, it’s a good ‘un!

3. Children’s books

Most of these were lent to me by my schoonmoeder (mother-in-law). I also bought a few myself at Bruna (a chain in the Netherlands – a bit like WH Smith).

I use the really simple ones for pronunciation – I read to the Dutchie and he corrects any errors. Then I read the slightly higher level ones with a dictionary next to me! (The same as I do with magazines.)

Dutch learning materials

4. Online courses

The two I’ve tried are Duolingo and Babbel. I recommend both of them. Duolingo is free – but it does have a few annoying quirks. I see people complaining all the time on the FB group… things which they think are right but Duolingo says are wrong and about the speaking/microphone settings. I found that speaking slowly and loudly helps with that! (Typical English person, eh?) But really, you have to otherwise the programme marks your answers as wrong. I’m pretty sure they have an app too, but I haven’t used that.

Babbel is more visual/text based. You pay 20 euros for 3 months and you can use it as often as you like. They also have a phone/ipad app which I found useful on the go.

5. Dutch courses

I did an intermediate course at my local college as soon as I arrived in Holland. This is obviously one of the best ways to learn – as you’re thrown in at the deep end! Unfortunately… our teacher was rubbish. Sad face.

It did mean that I had to speak Dutch in class for an hour and a half each week though… and do homework every week. So that was great for continuity… (even though every single bloody week I did my homework in a rush – half an hour before class – whilst eating dinner. Some things never change!!)

Dutch learning materials

At my local college they used the “Delftse methode” which is a pretty good course, though the books are VERY old fashioned, despite being published in 2007…

6. Dutch TV

As I’ve already mentioned before, there’s not a lot to write home about with Dutch TV. But pick a subject you’re interested in and hopefully you can find something tolerable. For me that’s MasterChef Holland. (UK Masterchef is the still the best, Australia second and Holland third. The rest suck.)

I used to watch Pim & Pom, a children’s programme about two cats. There are tons of kids programmes available on cable (we have Ziggo) but I couldn’t stand most of them as the voices are too annoying. However, if you can – watching kids programmes is a really good way to learn basic words, sentence structure and pronunciation.

7. Subtitles

I have Dutch subtitles permanently on, no matter what I’m watching. So even if I’m watching an English/American series, I’m still learning. This is easy for people who already live in Holland, but if you don’t – check all your DVDs, you might be surprised how many have Dutch subtitles.

8. Films

Kinda the same deal as with TV, but there are a few gems: Gooische Vrouwen (also a TV series), Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!), Jackie, Alles Is Liefde, Alles is Familie.

9. Radio

Even if it’s on in the background, you’re still exposing yourself to the language. My favourite stations are 3FM, Sky Radio and Radio 538. And at Christmas time… NPO Radio 2! (Because of the Top 2000.)

top2000crop

10. Practice with Dutch people! 

This seems so obvious, but of the whole list… this is the hardest one to pull off!

Here’s the thing with learning Dutch: you speak Dutch, they hear an accent, they switch to English.

There’s only one way to rectify this. You have to be more stubborn than a Dutch person… and believe me, they’re pretty stubborn.

The whole switching to English thing doesn’t happen to me that much anymore (thankfully!!) but occasionally, it rears its ugly head. When this happens you have three options:

  1. Politely tell them (in Dutch) you’d like to continue in Dutch as you need to practice.
  2. Carry on in Dutch and hope they get the message.
  3. Only for the very brave: If they’re winning the stubborn contest and you’re getting frustrated… act like you don’t understand them when they speak in English. “Sorry, wat zeg je?” or “Wat zei je?” whilst looking surprised is rather effective. It forces them to pause and rethink what they are doing and speak back to you in the language you are using. (The Dutchie finds this particularly annoying, but it gets the point across and forces him to make the switch.)

I do find stubbornness wins out… most of the time anyway!

Anything else you’d like to add to this list?

Hayley x

 

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Yesterday, Sinterklaas arrived in Hilversum and because my curiosity was getting the better of me… I had to go along and find out what all the fuss was about!

If you don’t know who/what Sinterklaas is… start with last year’s post about my first Sinterklaas experience: Mijn eerste Sinterklaas (as I already did a lot of explaining there… and I don’t like repeating myself unless I’m drunk!)

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum – Zaterdag 14 November, Oude Haven 

First, all the Zwarte Pieten arrived…

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

There were tons of them, more than 100 I’d guess.

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Traditionally they hand out pepernoten, but I heard one little boy ask a Zwarte Piet “Mag ik pepernoten?” (May I have some pepernoten?) and the response was “Nee, ik ben een gezond Piet. Ik heb alleen ballons of mandarijntjes”. (No, I’m a healthy Piet, I only have balloons or mandarins.) He opted for a balloon ;-)

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Some Piets went traditional though…

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Then there was lots of music and dancing…

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Before Sinterklaas arrived on this steam boat from Spain, along with this faithful horse Schimmel.

Sinterklaas' horse, Schimmel

(The horse’s actual name is Amerigo, but many Dutch people refer to him as Schimmel – the type of horse. Schimmel also means mold/fungus so prepare yourself for lame jokes like “There’s Sinterklaas with his schimmel between his legs.” Hawhawhaw.)

The crowds were huge and we weren’t early enough to get a prime spot, so I don’t have a photo of the boat. Dammit.

The Dutchie and I did get a fair few of the big man himself though :)

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

His entrance was followed by more music and dancing, before Sinterklaas made his procession around town.

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

Intocht Sinterklaas in Hilversum

A lovely time was had by all and I’m glad to have experienced this tradition first hand. Though I must say: now I’ve seen a Sinterklaas Intocht (arrival/entrance), I don’t really have to go again. It’s definitely just for kids.

So now the only thing left to do is leave my shoe out for the next 3 weeks and see what happens ;-)

Hayley x

A Newbie’s Guide to The Netherlands

Seeing as I’ve been living in Holland for a year and half now, I’m practically an expert, right?? ;-)

On that basis, I’d like to share some things you need to know if you are planning on moving to the Netherlands, or have just arrived.

Welkom in Nederland! 

IMG_9753

1. First things first, go get your BSN (Bullshit Number)

Kidding, it’s short for Burgerservicenummer – a citizen service number. You pretty much can’t do anything without it (rent a house, open a bank account, sign up with a doctor, buy a beer) so go do that first. To get your BS number you need to make an appointment with your local Gemeentehuis (town hall) and turn up with as much ID and paperwork as you can. The Dutch love paperwork.

2. Accommodation

We found our house through Funda.nl (other house search websites are available… the other big one is Pararius.nl though not quite as catchy, right?)

3. Health Insurance

This is mandatory in the Netherlands and basic packages start at around €100 per month! There are a gazillion health insurance companies out there so I would a) get a Dutch person to help you b) try comparison websites Independer.nl or Zorgwijzer.nl c) refer to the Government website.

Dutch

4. Learn Dutch

Obvious, you might think… but so many people live here without speaking the language. I’ve heard all the excuses… “they’re so good at English you don’t need to speak Dutch” or “I try but they just keep speaking English back to me” blah blah.

Time for some tough love: if you’re going to live here, you need to make an effort to speak the basics – at least.

In the beginning, I got my hands on everything Dutch I could. Dutch textbooks, grammar books, children’s books. I used Michel Thomas CDs and online courses: Duolingo and Babbel are both good.

I put Dutch subtitles permanently on, no matter what I was watching. (I still do this now.) I also listened to Dutch radio (my faves are 3FM, Sky Radio and Radio 538), Dutch TV (in the beginning I loved Pim & Pom) and Dutch films… start with kids films and work your way up.

I also did a course at my local college as soon as I arrived.

Most people will love the effort you are making and will applaud you. Yes, some will speak back to you in English – but just do what I do… BE STUBBORN! Keep talking Dutch back to them and they will soon get the picture!

5. Shopping

If your closest supermarket is Albert Heijn (most likely) then make sure you get a store card so that special offers / discounts are applied to your bill. (Btw – it’s often known as AH or Appie because really, who can be bothered to say Albert Heijn every time?) Take your own bags, otherwise you will need to pay for bags. If you’re buying large drinks bottles be aware that statiegeld will be applied. It’s a deposit so that you bring the bottle back for recycling. Statiegeld is around 25 cents per bottle and you get your money back when you return the empty bottles back to the store. Statiegeld also applies to crates of bottled beer and the machines to recycle your bottles look a little something like this:

Statiegeld

© Romy2702 / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

6. Cycling

You will need to buy a bike. Dat is zeker. Without a doubt, it is the absolute best way to get around in this lovely flat country…  especially after enjoying a few beers in your local kroeg! *Inserts generic I do not condone drinking and riding disclaimer*

The best place to find a bike is on Marktplaats (the Dutch version of Ebay). Read more about riding a bicycle in Holland in The Dutch Guide to Cycling

7. Bank account

I bank with Rabobank.  The other big ones are ABN, ING and SNS. When I first went to open an account, they asked me why I didn’t just go to the same bank as my husband! Not sure why I let them take my money after that… but I did.

Similar to point 1 – take I.D. and lots of paperwork.

8. Getting support & meeting people

Most of the large cities have some sort of expat community group. For example, in Hilversum there’s a Facebook group. Others have websites or blogs. The Hilversum expat group is a great forum for questions and recommendations. I’ve found out lots of cool stuff there, hidden gems and so – like discovering there’s a small beach 20 mins from my house! (Vuntus strand, in case you’re wondering.)

You can also try Meetup.com. I’ve been to the one in Hillywood and met several lovely ladies, expats and Dutch!

For further reading on this subject: When you moved to The Netherlands what is the one thing you wish somebody had told you about?

What else would you add to this list?

Hayley x