New blog: Travel in Technicolour

Travel in Technicolour

I don’t need white leggings… I have white legs!

Hi everyone,

I already did this post in Dutch, but for my English readers and for those who don’t know yet: I have started a new blog! It’s called Travel in Technicolour – any ideas what it’s about??ūüėČ

I’m not going to stop writing this blog, ¬†I love writing about crazy Dutch people and their strange habits.

As long as you keep being weird and wonderful, I’ll keep writing about you. Pinkie promise.

But I need a new challenge. I love writing (one day I’ll write a book… ONE DAMN DAY!) and I love travel, so why wouldn’t I start a little travel blog?!

My mission is…¬†Glossy destinations & photos without glossing over the detail.¬†

When planning my adventures, I was often finding myself with the same problem: that I couldn’t find enough detailed information. Yes, I could find the Top 10 European cities to visit, or the Top Things to do on Malta… but what then? Which area should I stay in? Where are the best local bars and restaurants? What’s the best way to get around? How do I get to the key sights? How much is it all going to cost me?

I love reading travel blogs but I find that many gloss over the detail. I was left wanting more.

Sound like you? Well, then you’ve come to the right place!

My goal is to provide you with as much detail about a destination as is humanly possible!

When I go on a trip, I’ll tell you exactly where I stayed, how much it cost, where we ate and drank, what areas we explored, which we didn’t, the things that were worth doing and seeing and which weren’t, how we got there, whether we’d return and any other details I can possibly think of.

Most travel bloggers¬†give you the highlights ‚Äď I want to give you everything in vivid detail ‚Äď to let you Travel in Technicolour.

So, without further ado, here are some things I’ve been writing about over the past couple of months (yeah, I’ve been a lil busy!!)

 

24 hours in Brussels Рread the full posts: 24 hours in Brussels | Brussels Street Art

Grand Place, Brussel

Grand Place, Brussel

 

An afternoon in Antwerp Рread the full post: An Afternoon in Antwerp

Grote Markt, Antwerpen

Grote Markt, Antwerpen

 

Hoge Veluwe National Park – read the full post: Review: Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

 

10 things to do in Domburg Рread the full post: Things to do in Domburg

Strand Domburg

Strand Domburg

 

An afternoon in Oxford – read the full post: An Afternoon in Oxford

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

 

The doors and door knockers of Malta Рread the full post: The doors and door knockers of Malta

Door knockers, Malta

 

Gozo Photo Diary Рread the full post: Gozo Photo Diary

Azure Window, Gozo

*****

 

If you’d like to follow my adventures you can subscribe via¬†Travel in Technicolour¬†(subscribe to blog via email in the sidebar)

Travel in Technicolour Facebook Page | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

 

Hayley x

The best pubs & bars in Hilversum

I’m writing this because apparently no one else has. Seriously, pfffff. I even Googled it in Dutch, but zip. Nada. All I get is a Trip Advisor link SAYING it’s going to give me a list of the 10¬†best pubs & bars in Hilversum, but the link then goes to restaurants. Not cool man, not cool.

So anyway, if you want something done right… do it yourself. (This post isn’t necessarily¬†for you regulars, soz. It’s more for Googley people…)

*Waves at people actually looking for the best bars and pubs in Hilversum! HI!* 

This¬†list is¬†based on my personal experiences¬†and I haven’t visited every bar in Hilversum (I wish!) so if you have any others to add… hit me up.

 

1. Cafe ‘t Tolhuis

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

I kinda don’t want to tell you about this one, because it’s my favourite bar in Hilversum. But y’know, I’m a nice gal, so I’m gonna. But first a warning: it’s preeeeetty bloody hard to go here just for a drink without ordering food. Wanna know why? The menu LOOKS amazing. The food SMELLS amazing. The food TASTES amazing. I think we managed to go there once without ordering food and we both complained the whole way home.

They have fantastic wine and I have no idea about the beer. They serve beer.

Apparently there’s live music here every Thursday, I have no idea how, it’s teeny! But anyway, go check it out. Brilliant place! (Oh and make sure you book a table if you want to eat!)

Soestdijkerstraatweg 2, 1213 XA Hilversum | tolhuis-hilversum.nl

 

2. Karroesel

My second favourite pub is definitely an acquired taste. It’s rustic… and by rustic I mean it’s a shithole. But a nice shithole. It’s where the ‘alternative’ (for want of a better word) crowd go in Hilversum. Half of the bar is a¬†smoking room, complete with pool table and the music is loud and mostly aggressive.

As I say, an acquired taste. What I will say though – you’ll meet some interesting characters here!

Spoorstraat 44, 1211 GB Hilversum. No pics, no website. Proper old skool. 

 

3. Felix II

Felix II, Hilversum

Photo credit: Felix II Facebook Page

A Hilversum institution. So good they have a restaurant (Eten bij Felix) and a bar. They even opened a Felix 3, but unfortunately it has now closed.

Popular terrace outside, pool table inside. I have been known to dance on the table. (It was covered, we were allowed.)

Herenstraat 9, 1211 BZ Hilversum | felix2.nl

 

4. Guardian

Guardian, Hilversum

Photo credit: The Guardian Hilversum Facebook Page

I had to get an English pub on the list, right?!?!? A pretty standard pub, slap bang in the middle of the Groest (the main street for bars/restaurants in Hillywood).

Does what it says on the tin.

Groest 33, 1211 CZ Hilversum | the-guardian.nl

 

5. Café Moeke

Cafe Moeke, Hollandsche Rading

Photo credit: Cafe Moeke Facebook Page

Ok, technically not Hilversum… but Hollandsche Rading. I can get here on my bike in 15 mins, so close enough I reckon.

Another bar / cafe / restaurant. Fantastic food… like a gastro pub. Their slogan is “de vijfsterren kroeg met eetallures” which roughly translates to¬†“the five star pub with fine dining intentions”. Occasionally things sound¬†better in Dutch. This is one of those times!

Anyway, never had a bad meal here and¬†it doubles as a pub. Closest thing I have found to an English pub in Holland (and yes that even includes the “actual” English pub above!)

Utrechtseweg 263, 1213 TR Hilversum | cafemoeke.nl

 

6. Het café van Amstel 

Het Cafe van Aemstel, Hilversum

Cosy little pub on the Gijsbrecht. They’ve kinda rebranded to Brechtje van Amstel and now it’s a pub and a cafe/restaurant side by side but meh, I’m still gonna call it Cafe van Amstel.

Gijsbrecht van Amstelstraat 145, 1214 AX Hilversum | brechtjevanamstel.nl

 

7. Gastrobar KURK

Gastrobar KURK, Hilversum

I’ve only been here once, but this is a place I definitely want to go back to. Extensive wine list and¬†I love the concept of their menu. Diverse dishes broken down into different price points depending on how much you want to spend / how hungry you are.

We went here on the Wijnspijs Culinaire Wandeling last year and had a fantastic glass of wine and taster dish. (As you can see in the lil Instragram pic above!)

Kampstraat 22, 1211 GE Hilversum | gastrobarkurk.nl

 

8. Winebar Vintage 

Winebar Vintage, Hilversum

Photo credit: Winebar Vintage Facebook Page

Again, I’ve only been here once but I’ll definitely be going back soon. “Meer dan 100 open wijnen” ¬†– more than 100 open wines! That’s enough reason for me!ūüėÄ

Last time I only had a couple¬†glasses of wine at a Hilversum Ladies Meet Up, but I’d definitely like to check out the Hapjeskaart (snacks menu) too!

Spoorstraat 65, 1211 Hilversum | wijnbarvintage.nl

 

9. Barracuda

Another ‘acquired’ taste. This one’s a metal bar. There’s live music every Saturday. We went here late on Kingsday and the lovely bar lady let us play whichever songs we wanted. Good reason to go back in my book!!

Herenstraat 43, Hilversum. Again, no pics, no website. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

 

10. Vliegveld Hilversum

Vliegveld Hilversum

Wine and flowers at Vliegveld Hilversum

Lovely place to go for a beer (for the Dutchie) and a wine (for me) and see the planes landing and taking off. They have good snacks, there’s a play area for the kids and they’re dog friendly. I only care about one of those things, but maybe you have ankle biters and furry friends… just looking out for ya!

For the cyclists / walkers amongst you Рthe surrounding area is a lovely place to explore (right near Loosdrechtse Bos and Hilversumse Hei).

Noodweg 43, 1213 PW Hilversum | restaurantflyinn.nl

Where’s your favourite place to go in Hilversum?

Hayley x

Review: Frietwinkel Utrecht

I’ve been meaning to go here for months… so when my parents came to visit¬†a few weeks back, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to grab a cone of the best chips in town! (Apparently.)

Frietwinkel Utrecht

The ‘rents¬†had stopped in Bruges on the way to the Netherlands and had friet met mayo right in front of the Belfry tower – so the stakes were high. Frietwinkel had to deliver… and luckily for us they did! They’re number #1 on¬†Trip Advisor of places to eat in Utrecht – for very good reason.

But they’re *just* chips I hear you cry! Yes, they are just chips. But they are bloody good chips!!

A nice ‘gimmick’ is that they cut them in front of you, so you can see just how fresh they are. I made a little video, voil√†:

“De eerste BIOLOGISCHE FRIETWINKEL van Utrecht.”

The first organic chip shop in Utrecht. I don’t care about organic tbh – but¬†maybe you do.

Frietwinkel Utrecht

Frietwinkel Utrecht

Cheap, tasty, instagrammable. I’m sold.

And do you want to know the best thing?? They have these clever cones with 2 compartments that keep the sauce separate from the chips!! (I really want to shout “yes lads!!” now.) Oh fuck it… YES LADS!!!

You know how annoying it is when you get a massive¬†blob of mayo or ketchup or whatever at the top of the cone… then you get soggy chips¬†at the top (with waaaay too much sauce) and then the rest of your chips (3/4) have no sauce… Bloody annoying.

But here,¬†the sauce is separate! (I would like to take this moment to personally congratulate the awesome human being¬†who invented these cones. I’m a little bit in love with you.)

And now for the downside… the service isn’t great. But remember you’re in Holland… customer service pretty much doesn’t exist here. So just deal with it.

At least whoever makes the signs has a sense of humour!!:)

Eet smakelijk!

Hayley x

 

THE LOWDOWN:

Klein portie ‚Äst‚ā¨2,50 | Groot portie ‚Äst‚ā¨3,25

Vinkenburgstraat 10, 3512AB Utrecht | frietwinkel.nl

 

This is not a sponsored post. I just really like chips. 

 

Nieuw blog: Travel in Technicolour (en mijn tweede Nederlandstalige blogpost ooit)

Travel in Technicolour

I don’t need white leggings… I have white legs!

Hoi allemaal,

Voor iedereen die het nog niet weet, ik heb een nieuw blog: Travel in Technicolour. Ik ga niet stoppen met Bitterballenbruid.com. Ik hou van mijn blog en ik hou van schrijven over jullie rare Nederlanders en jullie grappige gewoontes.

As long as you keep being weird and wonderful, I’ll keep writing about you. Pinkie promise.

Maar, ik heb een nieuwe uitdaging nodig. Schrijven is een grote¬†passie van mij, maar ook reizen… en ik wil de twee combineren. Dus, Travel in Technicolour is geboren.

Mijn missie is…¬†Glossy destinations & photos without glossing over the detail.¬†

Bij het plannen van mijn avonturen, vond ik vaak dat ik kon niet genoeg informatie vinden. Ik hou van¬†reisblogs lezen, maar ik wil altijd meer. Ik wil meer details, meer foto’s, meer handige informatie. Klinkt dit je bekend in de oren? Dan¬†ben je hier aan het juiste adres!

Wanneer ik op reis ga, ga ik je precies vertellen waar we verbleven, hoeveel het kostte, waar we hebben gegeten en gedronken,¬†welke gebieden¬†we hebben verkend, en welke niet,¬†de dingen die de moeite waard¬†waren om te zien… en welke niet, ¬†hoe we er kwamen en alle andere details die ik kan bedenken!

Most travel bloggers¬†give you the highlights ‚Äď I want to give you everything in vivid detail ‚Äď to let you Travel in Technicolour.

Dus, zonder verdere omhaal‚Ķ¬†hier is wat ik heb¬†gedaan de agelopen maanden (in maart had ik het nogal druk!! April ook… Ik moet m’n April avonturen nog schrijven… watch this space!!):

24 uur in Brussel 

Grand Place, Brussel

Grand Place, Brussel

Lees de volledige posts: 24 hours in Brussels | Brussels Street Art

Een middag in Antwerpen

Grote Markt, Antwerpen

Grote Markt, Antwerpen

Lees de volledige post: An Afternoon in Antwerp

Hoge Veluwe Nationaal Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Lees de volledige post: Review: Hoge Veluwe National Park

10 dingen om te doen in Domburg

Strand Domburg

Strand Domburg

Lees de volledige post: Things to do in Domburg

Een dagje in Oxford, Engeland

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

Lees de volledige post: An Afternoon in Oxford

*****

Ik hoop dat jullie het leuk vinden en ook van mijn tweede Nederlandstalige post ooit hebben genoten.

Als je Travel in Technicolour wil volgen:

Abonneren aan de rechter kant van Travel in Technicolour (Subscribe to blog via email)

Travel in Technicolour Facebook Pagina | Abonneren via Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Groetjes!

Hayley x

Ps – als er fouten in deze post zitten: blame the Dutchie’s proofreading skills!!ūüėČ

Rain rain go away… no, seriously, f*ck off… it’s King’s Day!

It’s raining today in some parts of the Netherlands. Not that weird. April showers and all that. But in other parts… it’s SNOWING.

Tulips in the spring snow.

Tulips in the spring snow. Photo: @VeningaHijken via Twitter

Snow in April!?! FFS.

Reports are saying “King‚Äôs Day itself will be cold, wet and windy, with the possibility of sleet and hail. Although it will be around 8 degrees, it will feel much colder, and could be the coldest King or Queen‚Äôs Day on record, weather forecasters say.” (Dutchnews.nl)

This cannot happen!!

No. Absolutely not. I will not accept it. This is King’s Day!

Well, actually, this is Queen’s Day in Amsterdam 2010…

Queen's Day 2010

Queen’s Day, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, 2011

Queens Day Fun

Hmmm. Not really sure what¬†happened in 2012.¬†It must’ve been sunny.

The last ever Queen’s Day in 2013 (we were in England at the time… but still… SUNNY!!)

Queens' Day 2013

First ever King’s Day, Amsterdam, 2014: shorts weather!!

King's Day 2014

King’s Day, Amsterdam, 2015

King's Day 2015

Kings Day 2015

So you see… bad weather is a big problem. It just won’t do.

Dear¬†Willem-Alexander, be a dear and sort it out, will you?¬†Otherwise you’re gonna get soooooo much shit when it’s beautiful and sunny on the 30th April…

Hayley x

13 Things I have learned in 2 years of living in the Netherlands

So, this is typical me… my 2 year anniversary of living in the Netherlands¬†was two days ago.

My Mum used to tell me “you’d be late for your own funeral” and although it pains me to admit it, she’s right. (How is it that my Mother is ALWAYS¬†right? So unfair!) Anyway, I digress.

2 years! Godver! How did that happen!?

I still feel like such a newbie: I still take 5 minutes to lock¬†and unlock my bike, I still don’t eat hagelslag, I still have to double-check with myself which way to look when crossing a road (and then still check both ways anyway), I still mix up de and het words… and I still get flustered when people ‘surprise’ me by talking¬†Dutch…

Just yesterday there was a knock on the door while I was working and I was expecting it to either be the Dutchie forgetting his keys or my ASOS delivery… but nope, it was my next door neighbour – who launched into a detailed account of our pipes and the inner workings of the plumbing on our road.

Me:

keanu-reeves-woah

I admit, it took me a second – but I managed to flick the switch, gather myself and have a conversation with her about our pipes (don’t ask!) life in general and forthcoming holidays.

In Dutch.

After closing the door, I did the above face again…¬†because y’know… I just fucking realised I’m (almost) bilingual.¬†Shit sticks. Who’d have thought it??

Anyway, apart from being able to understand and speak one of the most difficult and grammatically annoying languages in the world (according to me) – I learned some other things too…

1) Dutch people speak very good English. BUT…¬†that doesn’t mean they don’t want you to learn Dutch.¬†

I’ve said it before and I’m gonna keep banging on about it¬†until it’s¬†imprinted in your brain. Try to learn Dutch. Even if you suck – they’ll appreciate the effort.

2) They eat weird shit for breakfast (and lunch)

Breakfast: sprinkles which are clearly meant for ice cream – on bread, with butter and a glass of milk on the side. Lunch? Bread and cheese, with a glass of milk. You just gotta let it go. (Even though I clearly haven’t!!)

For dinner they eat pretty normally. If you can call a U-shaped smoked sausage and boiled, then mashed to a pulp veg “normal”.

3) The key to cycling confidently in the Netherlands? Fall off.

What is this mad English woman going on about now?? Nope, I haven’t hit my head – only my leg actually – but since I fell off my bike in Domburg a couple of weeks ago, I’ve felt really confident on a bike. Seriously. (How it happened:¬†I was a drunken English fool,¬†trying to knock the Dutchie off his bike. Note to self:¬†you cannot knock a¬†6ft tall, 15 stone, Dutch cycling robot off his bike.)

But it’s really helped me because now I’m like – what’s the worse that can happen? A little graze on my knee and hand. DISCLAIMER: Don’t come crying to me if you actually hurt yourself or break your neck or something. And I don’t condone or encourage riding a bike when you’re drunk. Unless you’re highly skilled or DutchūüėČ

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

4) Everyone in your home country will still ask you when you’re coming ‘home’¬†

BUT I DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE!! Also, you will disappoint people. When you do go over to visit you’ll have loads of people to see.¬†Too many people, too little time.

Some friends are going to be offended you don’t contact them/see them every single time you’re over. Some people will complain, even when you do see them – that it’s too short. Others will cancel or drop out at the last minute, which is kinda acceptable if you live 20 mins away but when you live 600¬†km away… Not so cool. The best remedy for moaners: just give them¬†stroopwafels, that’ll shut them up.

5) King’s Day is the best party in the world

Fact.¬†Dress in orange, drink your body weight in beer and join in with the¬†gezelligheid! It doesn’t get much better than this!! (More on King’s Day.)

Amsterdam Canals

By Carmelrmd (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

6) Think King’s Day is weird? Other Dutch parties and celebrations take it to another level!¬†

Does this sound normal to you? Celebrating 12.5 years of marriage, eating aniseed balls on rusks when a baby is born and making a life-sized doll of your friend when they turn 50. Nope, me neither. (Read more on Strange Dutch Celebrations.)

Insider tip: avoid circle parties at all costs!

7) Deep fried snacks don’t count as calories

You just have to¬†ride them off afterwards. The best Dutch snacks are bitterballen (duh) followed by kaasstengels (I’m a new convert) and vlammetjes (if you get the good ones – it’s a bit of a Russian Roulette). For more food-related goodness,¬†I wrote a whole post about the 22 Dutch Foods you must try.

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

8) You have to learn to accept Dutch Directness

Or you’ll end up crying / being angry all the time. (I’m still working on this one.)

Just remember, it’s their culture and it’s not Dutch to mince your words. They’ll tell you how it is, whether you like it or not… so the only thing you can control is how you react to it.

(Hint: try not to cry.)

9) Customer service is pretty crap here

And yet Dutch people don’t tip that much. Certainly not as much as the English do – and definitely not as much as Americans!

Coincidence…?

10) Doe normaal is probably the most annoying thing you’ll hear¬†(closely followed by tsjonge, jonge, jonge!)

Telling someone to “Doe normaal” (“just be normal”) is like telling someone to calm down.

Unless it's a fat black woman telling me what to do. I do whatever they say. (@thesoberstruggleisreal)

A photo posted by thefatjewish (@thefatjewish) on

 

(By the way, if you’re not following the Fat Jewish, why not? He makes me laugh, every single freakin’ day!)

11) Technically, it’s the Netherlands

And if you live here, you know this because you’ve been told approximately 326 times.

But if you’re anything like me (and Invading Holland) then you just carry on saying Holland anyway because you’re basically a brat. (Calling myself a brat, not you, StuartūüėČ )

12) You can make a Dutch person extremely happy with the words: Lekker terrasje?

Or lekker biertje, or lekker anything really! The Dutch love many things… but the sun, terraces and booze feature at the top of the list. (Throw in some borrelhapjes and gezelligheid and basically life cannot get any better…)

Bitterballen Loosdrecht Trivio twitter

13) You can’t do it on your own

I left the soppiest til last…

Yes, you probably have your partner and your partner’s¬†family and friends¬†to help you settle in… but you also need to find YOUR people.¬†The first few months can be like the scariest roller coaster you’ve ever been on. Some days you’ll be isolated and lonely and could happily say “Fuck this shit! I’m going home”. Other days you’ll feel on top of the world and moving to Holland (or wherever you are) was the best decision you ever made.¬†It helps to have people who are on the same roller coaster as you.

To meet people,¬†I joined a blogger group where I met the wonderful Sophie of Feast with Sophie, Senja of Little House in Utrecht and Alison of A Flamingo in Utrecht¬†(if you haven’t read these blogs yet, please do check them out! They’re awesome!)¬†I’m also a member of two Hilversum groups via Meetup.com¬†as well as having met a few friends at Dutch classes. It really helps to have people who are going through all the same craziness as you.

What have you learned from living in the Netherlands?

Hayley x

Being a new expat in NL (and learning Dutch!)

I’ve noticed that a few of my new followers are also new expats… so first: Welkom in Nederland en welkom op Bitterballenbruid.com!

Zaanse Schans

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for nearly two years now and jeeeeeez has it flown or what!? It seriously feels like I moved here a couple of months ago. I was reading another expat blog over the weekend, someone who has actually only been in the Netherlands for 2 months. Stories of rude¬†direct Dutch people, language confusion, homesickness and missing certain things from home (mostly food!) It really stuck a chord with me… brought back all the feels… but it also let me know how damn far I’ve come. 2 years… woah!!

One thing before I start:

“The term ‚Äúexpat‚ÄĚ derives from the Latin prefix ex (out of) and the noun patria (home country, native country, or fatherland). In today‚Äôs globalized world, as the reasons for going abroad become more diverse, it‚Äôs no longer easy to find a concrete definition for this term. That said, the word ‚Äúexpat‚ÄĚ is generally used to refer to people who temporarily or permanently live in a different country than the one they were born in or whose nationality they have. Expats usually choose to leave their native country for a career boost, or to fulfill a personal dream or goal, rather than as a result of dire economic necessity.”¬†(InterNations)

So just to set the scene: as expats we’re already lucky, privileged, whatever you want to call it. I just wanted to point out that I’m not¬†whining about how hard, lonely or what a culture shock it is moving to the Netherlands… I’m really not. Comparatively, we expats have it so easy!

But back to being an “expat”

I’ve been in your shoes, really I have. And sometimes it’s tough, especially if you don’t speak Dutch. Before I moved here, the Dutchie and I would come to the Netherlands for family holidays, to a Center Parcs or something. We’d spend 3-4 days in a holiday home¬†with his family – so me and seven Dutchies. (That should be the title of a Tarantino film.)

Seven Dutchies speaking Dutch 24/7 and me having no idea what was going on most of the time!

It was horrible and I cried. (In the bathroom, obviously, so no one knew – not even the Dutchie.) This happened for a good few years in a row, my Dutch got better each year of course, but still – all those people talking Dutch for days on end – not fun if you don’t understand everything!! It stopped when I moved to Holland. When I actually moved here, I kicked my learning up a gear. I took a local course (something I couldn’t do in England). I got my hands on everything Dutch I could and immersed myself as much as I could. (Despite still working in English.) Anyway, I wrote a whole post about learning Dutch¬†for beginners¬†so check that out if you haven’t already.

I also wrote a post about learning Dutch being fucking hard¬†and sorry to break it to you… but it is.

However…¬†it‚Äôs also really rewarding. Some people are assholes ‚Äď and they‚Äôd be an asshole in any language. But other, nice people, will be really encouraging of you learning Dutch (especially as ‚Äúeveryone‚ÄĚ speaks English ‚Äď let me just call¬†bullshit on that one by the way!! NOT EVERY DUTCH PERSON SPEAKS ENGLISH – and even if they do… maybe they don’t want to speak to you in their non-native language.)

You are living in their country after all. Try to learn Dutch. What’s the worst that can happen? You might get upset, or cry or someone might laugh at you.

I’m actually laughing at myself now for how ridiculous I can be sometimes. Getting offended because someone corrects me… yes, it’s hurtful at the time, but ultimately: they’re trying to help.

So… laugh at yourself, or have a little cry. Whatever makes you feel better… we all have bad days. But then: put your big girl panties back on and get on with it!!

I speak Dutch now, to a reasonable level (as in: I can get by in supermarkets, bars, restaurants etc and have a basic conversation with you)‚Ķ but I still have the occasional blip. I was paying in a restaurant last weekend (which should’ve be a breeze for me) but the waitress had a really strange voice/accent ‚Äď I couldn‚Äôt understand ANYTHING¬†she was saying!! I kinda just smiled and nodded¬†and felt like a complete IDIOT (two years!! two frikkin’ years!) but y’know. Shit happens.

You‚Äôll get there. Practice is key‚Ķ I swear my Dutch is going backwards as I don‚Äôt practice enough! (I work in English and the Dutchie and I speak English to each other… which is so stupid, I know!)

My sister has a very good quote for this:¬†“If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.”

So: I’ve picked up Duolingo again and the Dutchie and I are going to do “Nederlands uurtje” a few times a week. (We’ve tried speaking Dutch the whole evening before and it just gets too frustrating… so an hour is a good compromise.) I’m also trying to get enough people on the speaking course at my local college – I signed up to a Dutch speaking course in January to further improve my Dutch, but it was cancelled because they didn’t have enough people. So I’m going to rally up some friends and see if I can get this Dutch-learning-train back on track.

What are you doing to learn Dutch? Any tips?

Veel plezier in Nederland en succes met Nederlands leren! 

Hayley x

Debunking Dutch Stereotypes

I’ll be the first to admit: I love a good stereotype (especially when it suits me)! But a lot of them (sadly) just aren’t true!¬†From writing this blog I have discovered that most Dutch people can laugh at themselves, in fact, they actively encourage it. From time to time though, the Dutch do get a lot of flack – and often for the wrong reasons. So, I’m here to debunk some myths about the Netherlands and its wonderful inhabitants.

Dutch Stereotypes

(“Typical Dutch” credit unknown.)

1. Dutch people live in windmills, grow tulips, wear clogs and eat lots of cheese. 

I wish! It would be so cool and quaint, wouldn’t it! But nope, it’s a load of rubbish. There are about 1,200 windmills in Holland and nearly 17 million people, so…

Yes, some people grow tulips, but most leave it to the professionals. (And by the way, although the Dutch are synonymous with tulips, they actually originate from Turkey.)

The only person I know who wears clogs is my brother-in-law, when he’s gardening. If you see a Dutch person wearing clogs: they’re in the minority.

Ok… the eating lots of cheese thing could be true… it’s estimated that the Dutch eat 21 kilograms of cheese per year per person. (Source: Amsterdam Tourist Info) Some Dutch people even call themselves ‘kaaskop’ (cheese heads).

2. Everyone is stoned, constantly. 

Absolute nonsense. It is true that the Dutch have a fairly relaxed policy on “soft” drugs compared with some other countries, but that doesn’t mean everyone is smoking weed. Despite its reputation,¬†The Netherlands isn’t¬†even in the Top 10¬†weed-consuming countries. (Source: LeafScience.com)

The percentage of the population ‘who have consumed the herb at least once in the past survey year’ is said to be as little as 5% in the Netherlands. (Source:¬†United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.)

And from personal experience – I know a handful of Dutch people who speak weed. About the same amount of English people I know who smoke it.

3. Dutch Tolerance

Euthanasia, gay marriage, prostitution. Alles kan, toch?

Holland was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia in 2002. They have allowed same-sex marriage since 2001 (and were the first country to do so). Prostitution is also legal in the Netherlands.

BUT… Are the Dutch really that progressive?

“First and foremost, they are pragmatic.

Take prostitution. The Dutch tend to think that it will happen anyway, whether they prohibit it or not.

So they legalise it ‚Äď to prevent prostitution from going underground, to have access to the prostitutes, promote condoms and hygiene and to prevent mistreatment of women forced to work as prostitutes.

The logic is simple ‚Äď tolerate it, rather than prohibit it and subsequently lose control.

The same line of reasoning applies to soft drugs and euthanasia: people will smoke soft drugs, so it might be better to educate them about it openly; doctors will be faced with requests from people who would prefer to end their suffering, so perhaps better be realistic about it.”

‚Äď Source: Yashe Lange, BBC¬†News

The tricky bit is when you get to tolerance vs acceptance. I’ll let you debate amongst yourselves on that subject!

4. Going Dutch

‘Going Dutch’ =¬†when you split the bill 50/50 (on a date, for example). Or in groups when parties pay for their own bills.

Dutch people have a reputation of being¬†tight. Stingy, mean… whatever you want to call it.

But is it true? From my experience – certainly not! Frugal might be a better word. Dutch people tend to live within their means and only buy what they can afford. Credit cards are rare here, many supermarkets, garages and shops¬†don’t accept them.

True, Dutch people like things that are goedkoop (cheap)¬†but then again, who doesn’t like a bargain? They also like to maximise on¬†their spending, for example ‘all you can eat’ deals in restaurants or making sure they get every last drop out of a jam jar with a clever contraption called a flessenlikker (bottle scraper). But cheap? No. Just sensible, thrifty and economical. Clever clogs, eh?

Still not convinced? I have two more facts for you: The Dutch are the most charitable country in Europe, with two-thirds of people in the Netherlands contributing money to charity every year. (Source: Daily Dutch News)

Dutch people also blow around 65 million euros on fireworks every New Year’s Eve (ok, they’re not frugal with everything!!)

5. Dutch people are rude 

I really want to say that this one is true and be done with it… but even I have to admit to myself that the Dutch are¬†not ‘rude’… or at least they don’t mean to be anyway. Dutch people are direct. So direct that often it comes across as rude to other cultures… even though that’s not (always) the intention. Example of a text conversation with a Dutch friend:

Me: Hoi, ben je vrij op zaterdag? Wil je koffiedrinken? (Hey, are you free on Saturday? Wanna do coffee?)

Dutch friend: Nee, kan niet. (No, I can’t.)

Comparable response from an¬†English/American/Canadian friend: Hey! How are you? I have plans on Saturday, shame! But I’d love to meet up, how about Thursday? xxxx

(Side note: Dutch people don’t do kisses in text messages.)

So it’s isn’t that the Dutch are rude per say… they just don’t mince their words. If you ask a colleague if they like your new top/haircut/shoes, don’t be offended if they reply “no”. You did ask… and all they did is give you an honest answer!

6. Dutch Courage

Dutch people are a bunch of drunks, right? Well, I’m from England so it’s hard for me to judge…ūüėČ But the main difference I find is that English people drink *to* get drunk.

Dutch people drink *and* get drunk. Mostly by “accident”… they blame it on gezelligheid.

I was listening to the radio (100% NL – in case you’re interested) just this week and I heard a segment about the most popular emojis for different countries around the world. Guess what Holland’s were? Party and red wine glass.¬†I’m just gonna leave that there and move on…

7. Crazy Dutch Bastards

Crazy Dutch Bastard

Other cultures seem to think that Dutch people are crazy… and why on earth would they think that??ūüėČ

This reputation around the world mostly comes from their drinking, ahem, I mean gezelligheid and sports games.

Dutch supporters are EXTREME.¬†You only have to Google “Tour de France Dutch Mountain” to see what I mean. A sea of orange. Football matches, same thing. The Dutch are proud and they looooove wearing orange!¬†It‚Äôs all a¬†show of pride for the Dutch Royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.

Orange has become the nation’s symbolic colour, their national pride. You just have to look at King’s Day¬†to see that.

So crazy? Nope. Orange-wearing, Dutch and proud!!

What did I miss? What other (false) Dutch stereotypes have you got for me?

Hayley

Where to eat the best Bitterballen in Amsterdam

For obvious reasons, I’ve been wanting to write this post since FOREVER… But I’ve been putting it off because I hadn’t yet had the chance to visit the Ballenbar. And y’know… they call themselves ‘de¬†Ballenbar’ so either they know their shizz¬†about bitterballen or they’re big fat liars¬†and have built a brand based on selling rubbish bitterballen…¬†Thankfully, it’s the former!! So much so, that they go straight to #1 on the list.

So here you go folks, here are my top 5 places to eat bitterballen in Amsterdam:

1. BallenBar

Inside the Foodhallen, Bellamyplein 51, Amsterdam | deballenbar.com

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Let’s get straight to the point. All of the bitterballen here are good… but head and shoulders above the rest are the¬†bouillabaisse ballen. OH MY OH MY OH MY! It’s no wonder really – as the filling was created¬†by Michelin star chef Peter Gast. They’re fishy but not too fishy with a nice hit of prawn flavour; so good you don’t even need a dipping sauce! Forget what you think about bouillabaisse and try them – you won’t be disappointed!

Simply divine. De beste bitterballen ooit! (The best bitterballen ever!)

Price: Proeverij¬†‚ā¨6.50 for 5 bitterballen (Tasting board with 5 different types of bitterballen: beef, chorizo, bouillabaisse, goats cheese and Tom Kha Kai).

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Proeverij plank

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Bouillabaisse bitterballen

 

2. SkyLounge

Top floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam Centraal Station, Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK Amsterdam | skyloungeamsterdam.com

Previously my number one place in Amsterdam to feast on tiny deep fried balls of heaven…¬†Seriously posh bitterballen!

Good size, decent chunks of meat inside and tangy mustard mayonnaise as an accompaniment. Oh and the view is alright too!ūüėČ

Price:¬†‚ā¨8.50 for 6 bitterballen.

Bitterballen SkyLounge Amsterdam

 

3. Cafe Loetje

Loetje¬†have 9 branches in the Netherlands, most of them are located in Amsterdam. The one I’ve visited is:¬†Johannes Vermeerstraat 52, 1071 DT Amsterdam. |¬†loetje.com

The two types of bitterballen look the same in the picture below, but in fact: the bitterballen on the left are kalfs bitterballen (veal bitterballen) and the ones on the right are garnalen bitterballen (prawns). Both delicious but the prawn ones definitely have the edge!

Price:¬†Kalfsbitterballen (veal)¬†‚ā¨5.25 for 6 and Garnalen (prawn)¬†‚ā¨5.50 for 6.

Cafe Loetje Amsterdam

 

4. Eating Amsterdam Tours / Cafe Luxembourg 

Eating Amsterdam: Herengracht 124, 1015 BT Amsterdam | eatingamsterdamtours.com

Cafe Luxembourg: Spui 24, 1012 XA Amsterdam | luxembourg.nl

These guys are sharing position 4 simply because they serve the same bitterballen! They¬†come from the famous¬†Holtkamp bakery. In 2012 their kalfsvlees (veal) bitterballen were awarded the title of ‘best bitterballen in Amsterdam’ out of the¬†140 cafes, bars and restaurants¬†tested!

Price: Eating Amsterdam Tours start from ‚ā¨70pp for a 4 hour tour.¬†Cafe Luxembourg:¬†‚ā¨6.50 for 6 bitterballen.

Bitterballen at Cafe Luxembourg, Amsterdam

Cafe Luxembourg

Amsterdam Food Tour

Arrival of the bitterballen on the Eating Amsterdam Boat Tour

Holtkamp bitterballen

Bitterballen on deck!

 

5. Gewaeght Cafe 

Nieuwmarkt 16, 1012 CR Amsterdam | gewaeght.nl

Picking number 5¬†was a hard choice as there as so many contenders on Nieuwmarkt (it’s a popular square in Amsterdam, close to the red light district). However the ‘gezellig‘ atmosphere swayed it for me.¬†Gewaeght Caf√© is an old-fashioned pub, jam packed with¬†paintings, records and memorabilia relating to¬†50‚Äôs, 60‚Äôs and 70‚Äôs music. The fact that they serve great bitterballen is just one more reason to go there!

Price:¬†‚ā¨5 for 6 bitterballen.

Also recommended in Nieuwmarkt: Cafe del Mondo, Café In de Waag and Cafe Stevens.

Amsterdam Bitterballen

Eet smakelijk!!!

Hayley x

15 Weird Things Dutch People Do

I don’t like to generaliseūüėČ … 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!ūüėČ ‘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