Hilversum

Things to do in Hilversum: Volunteering at Dierenasiel Crailo (Crailo Animal Shelter)

Dierenasiel Crailo

Vereniging Dierenasiel Crailo (“Association Crailo animal shelter”) is located close to Media Park in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Since the association was founded in 1925, more than 200,000 pets have been taken in, cared for and re-homed. A staggering number, which, according to the shelter, shows just how receptive the Gooi region is to abandoned and vulnerable animals.

From their website: “Why does someone renounce his pet? The owner’s illness often plays a role, house evictions and families with financial difficulties. Lack of space, allergies, or the path to a nursing home where an animal can not go. Or it just doesn’t work anymore. Painful sometimes, but whatever reason someone has, we will always respect it.”

Since my visits to LASSie Langkawi and Elephant Nature Park I’ve become rather obsessed with visiting animal shelters! (You’ll already know this if you follow me on Instagram!!) So obviously I wanted to check out my local haunt.

As you can probably imagine, the animal shelters in Holland are much better funded than the ones I have seen in Asia, but that’s not to say they don’t need help! They most certainly do!

Walking the dogs at Dierenasiel Crailo is a really fun and rewarding way to spend an afternoon 🙂

They currently have about 10 shelter dogs who need a nice long walk every day (appropriately an hour). I say every day, but the shelter is actually closed on Sundays so I assume the staff walk the dogs then. You can turn up Monday-Saturday at 1.30pm sharp, I’d actually recommend coming about 10 mins early as it can get quite busy – especially on Saturdays, sunny days and during school holidays! You will need to bring some I.D with you, for example a passport and also read and sign a 1-page declaration form (in Dutch) with some rules and regulations (i.e. don’t let the dog off the lead, don’t feed it treats without checking with staff first etc etc.)

Walking with Cisko, Dierenasiel Crailo

Walking with Cisko, Dierenasiel Crailo

If you have more than an hour to spare, they are currently looking for people to help with the morning cleaning shift. It’s from 8.30am – 12.30 pm but of course you won’t just be cleaning for 4 hours, there’s plenty of time for a coffee break and cuddles with the cats and dogs! See their website for more details (only available in Dutch).

Dierenasiel Crailo, with Zoe

Other ways you can help:

You can donate money via their website or sponsor a dog/cat.

If you’d like to rescue one of these beautiful animals you can also adopt! The cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs are all listed on their website. You can visit from 1.30pm – 4pm to meet your new potential furry friend! (Plus on Saturdays they’re also open 10am – 12.30.)

Adopt not shop and all that jazz…

Hayley x

 

The best Vietnamese food in Hilversum

Caphe Eij & Wijs, Hilversum

A couple of years ago, there were a total of zero places selling Vietnamese food in Hilversum! When I wanted rice paper rolls I had to go to Utrecht, to Kimmade. Hardly a chore, as I’m in Utrecht a lot anyway… but now we have 3 Vietnamese places in Hillywood! 🎉

This makes me super happy as I looooooooove Vietnamese food. On our “big trip” to Asia back in 2016 it was our favourite cuisine hands down!! Beating the food of Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia!! 

I just love the freshness and the use of herbs (think shitloads of coriander and mint) and it’s one of a handful of cuisines that is naturally lactose and gluten free, making it ideal for me! 😋

So, if I’ve managed to tickle your taste buds already, here’s where to get your Vietnamese fix in Hilversum: 

1. Viet Kitchen @ Mout

Viet Kitchen @ Mout, Hilversum

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m obsessed with Mout!! The best kitchen at Mout is Viet Kitchen and the best thing from their menu is the pork skewers (it’s called “gegrilde sate – Saigon pork” on the menu). Make sure you get some sriracha sauce if you like it hot! (They don’t serve it as standard so you have to ask.) 

2. Caphe Eij & Wijs

Caphe Eij & Wijs, Hilversum

This place has been a cafe for years (as in coffee), but last year they started serving Vietnamese food too! It’s good, but not amazing. The rice paper rolls are decent, better value than the ones at Mout as they have more meat and less rice noodles. The Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crispy pancake filled with beansprouts and meat) is also good, but I’ve had better (see below!) 😉 The Dutchie enjoyed his pho but I can’t comment as I never order it outside of Vietnam as I always find it so disappointing! The chicken skewers were just ok, not enough sauce!!

I’d therefore recommend this place for a drink and a bite (rice paper rolls) maybe not a full meal… plus, if you do go, the mural on the wall is hella cute! 

3. Mai Taste

In my opinion this is the best Vietnamese food you can get in Hilversum. The Banh Xeo is spot on! So crispy and delicious. They’re a little stingy with the prawns, but hey, no one’s perfect eh? The other stand out dish is the chicken curry – Ca ri ga. Superb. It tastes even better the next day, if you can restrain yourself that is!! Value-wise, this is also the best out of the three. But I guess that’s logical as they’re a takeaway place, not a restaurant. They also give you free kroepoek with orders over €20. Gratis is gratis, no?

Damn, this is making me hungry!!

Where’s your favourite place to eat Vietnamese food in the Netherlands? 

Hayley x 

 

The best flexible work spots in Hilversum for freelancers

Freelancer? Remote worker? Me too! (The latter.) I often work from my office at home, but sometimes you need to get out of the house! Maybe you need some human interaction… or even just a good coffee! Enter the coffee shop… no, not that kind!! We’re in the Netherlands but I’m talking beverages here!!

Freelancers need a good cafe where they can hang out and work… somewhere with strong wifi and equally strong coffee…

I’ve visited A LOT of cafes in Hilversum over my 4 years of working from home, so let me share my favourite spots with you:

1. MOUT

Mout Hilversum

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I’m here, A LOT. And why? Because it’s so damn good. Food halls are fantastic concepts in general but here it’s done really well. Drinks are ordered at your table by waiting staff, and food is ordered at each individual food stall using your table number. A lot of food halls require queuing and waiting for your food, but here they will bring it to your table as soon as it’s ready. Simple and effective.

The choice is massive, from Vietnamese food to salads, Italian to fish and chips, to Latin American food and Dim Sum. They really have it all. My personal tip: the sweet potato fries with Parmesan and basil mayo are THE ONE!!

Oh and there’s free, open wifi, a water dispenser, and the place is massive so there’s loads of seating to choose from, inside and out. (They also do bitterballen, but not very good ones unfortunately… )

Mouthilversum.nl | Naarderstraat 8

 

2. Bagels & Beans

It can get a little noisy in here, so it depends what kind of work you’re doing. I can’t go here when I’m working on spreadsheets!! But other than that, it’s a good bet. The food is delicious, the wifi works and it’s split on 3 levels so you’ll almost always find a place to sit.

The best thing on the menu is without a doubt the Paddo burger (mushroom burger). They have gluten free and low gluten bagels and there are lactose free options too. Everyone’s a winner.

Bagelsbeans.nl | Kerkstraat 3

 

3. Presto Coffee & More

This is a cute little place slightly out of the centre. Which is good, because generally it means it’s quieter than the other places I’ve mentioned so far. The wifi is good and the interior is really cool – industrial meets homely. Bag yourself a seat on the turquoise sofa if you can!! There’s also plenty of outside seating but unfortunately not much view to speak of.

They have gluten and lactose free options and a page of specials, so there’s always something new to try. The banana bread (gluten/lactose/sugar free) comes highly recommended! 😀

Presto Facebook page (no website) | Herenstraat 20

 

4. Your Coffee

Your Coffee Hilversum

I think everyone in Hilversum knows this place… hence it’s always packed! But you can usually find a table as there’s loads of seating inside (2 levels) and out. There’s also a section / play area for kids upstairs… but this post is about remote working, so moving swiftly on!!

If you’ve built up an appetite whilst working they do an excellent Buddha bowl and the chicken thighs with spelt bread is also really good!

There’s no service upstairs, but if you can’t be bothered to walk downstairs to order they have these little notes where you can write your order and then put it inside a ball and drop it down a drainpipe-esque chute! A fun way to order and it works!!

Yourcoffeehilversum.nl | Kerkstraat 38A

 

5. Doppio Espresso

I went here this week and had a Bountyccino!! OMG. And it’s lactose free… WIN! There’s a terrace outside and plenty of space to sit inside. It’s actually quite deceptive just how large it is inside, so I doubt you’ll ever struggle to find space. Lots of staff so service is attentive. Recommended!

Doppioespresso.nl | ‘s-Gravelandseweg 14

 

So, those 5 are all in Hilversum but if you fancy going a bit further afield I can also suggest the following:

 

6. Heidezicht

Heidezicht

This place has also featured on my Instagram account a fair few times recently! To be honest I haven’t worked here yet – but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t! The location is great, in the middle of the Hei (heathland) hence the name… and it’s just a lovely, peaceful place to hang out.

Not too many food options on the menu, but the charcuterie platter (pictured above) is pretty good. In terms of borrelhapjes (for once you’ve finished working, as it’s open til 8pm): the garnalenkroketjes are good (8/10), bitterballen are ok (7/10) but unfortunately the groentekroketjes are decidedly average (5/10).

Heidezicht.nl | Randweg 203, Bussum

 

7. Theehuis ‘t Bluk

This place also has a great view. It’s *technically* located in Laren but from Hilversum it’s a nice walk or cycle through the Hei to get to it!

Good wifi and menu – the borrelplanken are very good – especially the cheese one! Service can be a bit hit and miss… but hey, we’re in Holland remember!

Bluk.nl | Zuiderheide 2, Laren

 

8. Brambergen

I’m a sucker for a view!! What can I say!? This place is also located a bit out-of-the-way in ‘s-Graveland. But it’s well worth the drive or cycle as you’re surrounded by nature! I wouldn’t recommend walking from Hilversum because it’s too far, about an hour walk according to Google.

It’s situated right next to the visitor centre for the Natuurmonumenten – “Nature Monuments’ (jeez, how do you translate that?!) Here it is in Dutch anyhoo: Bezoekerscentrum Gooi en Vechtstreek – Natuurmonumenten)

It can get a little busy at times, but usually it’s quiet enough to work. (Tip: avoid Wednesday afternoons as many kids are off school then and it does get rammed!) The kaasstengels are excellent and they also do gluten/lactose/sugar free banana bread!

Brambergen.nl | Noordereinde 54d, ‘s-Graveland

 

I hope you enjoy these work spots! If you try any of them out, please do let me know what you think!

Did I miss one? Please let me know! I’m always looking for cute new hangouts! 🙂

Hayley x

 

The 10 best pubs & bars in Hilversum (updated Oct 2017)

I first wrote this list about a year and a half ago, but things have changed since then! So it’s time for an update. Here’s a local’s guide to the best pubs and bars in Hillywood:

1. Cafe ‘t Tolhuis

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

Tolhuis, Hilversum

Photo credit: Café restaurant Het Tolhuis Facebook Page

This is staying at #1 as it’s still my favourite pub in Hilversum. I kinda don’t want to tell you about this one… 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. As well as standard borrelhapjes they serve platters, tapas and a variety of mains. Everything is delicious. I think we managed to go here 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

Karroesel, Hilversum

Karroesel, Hilversum

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. They’ve taken down the smoking room wall (which used to take up half of the pub!) so it looks way bigger these days. So now there’s a tiny smoking room – or just go outside! Pool table is still there 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 website. Proper old skool. 

 

3. Foodhall MOUT

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

MOUT Foodhall, Hilversum

A new addition to the list and to Hilversum! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I’m there quite a lot! It’s a great place to visit day and night – sometimes I go there to work, other times to eat and drink lots of wine. It’s an all-rounder and as many Dutch people would say, “een aanwinst voor Hilversum” – an asset to Hilversum. I couldn’t agree more!

Naarderstraat 8, 1211 AL Hilversum | mouthilversum.nl

 

4. The 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. Winebar Vintage 

Winebar Vintage, Hilversum

Photo credit: Winebar Vintage Facebook Page

I’ve been here a few times now and had some really delicious wine! They have “Meer dan 100 open wijnen”  – more than 100 open wines – so there really is something for everyone!

They also do hapjes and platters if you fancy a little something something next to your wine!

Spoorstraat 65, 1211 Hilversum | wijnbarvintage.nl

 

7. The Skiff

The Skiff, Hilversum

The Skiff, Hilversum

This place has to be on the list as they do FREE BITTERBALLEN for a couple of hours every Friday (6-8pm I think). Another pretty grungy place, but also frequented by hipsters.

Kampstraat 2bc, 1211 GE Hilversum | theskiff.nl

 

8. VIDA Vineria

VIDA Vineria, Hilversum

Photo credit: VIDA Vineria Facebook Page

I’m not sure if this one should be on the list because I haven’t been there yet… but I’ve heard good things and it has fab reviews on Trip Advisor, so 💁🏻

The people behind VIDA tapas restaurant have opened this second location next door to cater for those wanting wine and snacks rather than a full meal. I like.

Groest 16, 1211 EC Hilversumvida.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. No pics, no website. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

 

10. Eetcafé Gulle Graef

Gulle Graaf Hilversum

Photo credit: Gulle Graef Facebook Page

Eetcafé technically means eatery but it’s going on the list because of their extensive beer menu! They also have cider which isn’t Strongbow or that sweet crap Apple Bandit, so they’re doing right in my book. Order a steak alongside your drinks and you won’t be disappointed!

Laanstraat 37, 1211 HG Hilversum | gullegraef.nl

 

Where’s your favourite place to go in Hilversum?

Hayley x

 

The best pubs & bars in Hilversum

There’s an updated version of this post for October 2017 (original post May 2015): The 10 best pubs and bars in Hilversum (updated Oct 2017) 

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! 😀

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 – the 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

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

Sunflowers in Hilversum – Remembering the victims of flight MH17

A year has passed since the MH17 air disaster. It happened on July 17th 2014 and Hilversum was one of the towns hardest hit. Fifteen residents were killed among the 298 passengers on board.

To commemorate one year since the tragedy, Hilversum is in bloom. The town is awash with bright yellow sunflowers.

According to some news reports, the seeds were taken from a field near the Ukrainian town of Torez, where the plane crashed, and were given to a victim’s father by a journalist who covered the disaster. They state that some were passed on to St Vitus church and others were entrusted to the city’s chief gardener, Hans Roon, who planted them in Hilversum’s botanical garden. (Sources: RFE/RL and The Guardian)

Hayley x

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum.)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum)

 

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