Hilversum

Things to do in Hilversum: Beeld en Geluid

At the weekend we visited the Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid  (The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) in Media Park, Hilversum. The Institute collects, looks after, and provides access to over 70% of Dutch audio-visual heritage! It’s also a museum, offering an unprecedented amount of (Dutch) sound and screen history to its visitors. Lucky us!!

I’ve been wanting to visit since we first moved to Hilversum because 1. it’s where the Top 2000 cafe is stationed in December (!!) and 2. it has such great reviews on my beloved Trip Advisor!

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

But first of all, let’s just take a moment to appreciate HOW DAMN GORGEOUS this building is!! It was built in 2006, despite looking as if it was built in 2036, by Dutch artchitects Willem-Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk. I’m not sure how exactly they came up with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were on some mind-bending drugs at the time! 😉

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When you enter the building, it just keeps on getting better and better. This seriously has to be one of the most beautiful modern buildings in the Netherlands, or even Europe.

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Interior view, Beeld en Geluid, Hilversum

Interior view, Beeld en Geluid, Hilversum

Once we’d finished oohing and aahing, it was time to collect our entry tickets – which turned out to be interactive rings! How very modern!

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Space age rings!!

As you enter the museum there are a number of interactive stations where you scan your ring and enter your name and email address. The idea is that you then scan your ring on each of the interactive exhibits and at the end of your visit you are sent a special personalised page of your visit including photos and video clips. You can also elect which ‘tour guide’ you would like to take you through your journey of the museum, from a number of options. I assume they are all Dutch celebrities, but being English, I didn’t recognise any of them (oops!) so I chose “Rembrandt” the only English-speaking guide.

My tour guide, Rembrandt

My tour guide, Rembrandt

By the way… it’s worth noting at this point that apart from the tour guide, all of the other attractions and exhibits are in Dutch. So if you don’t understand Dutch, it will be difficult for you to fully appreciate the museum. I would therefore only recommend it for Dutch-speakers.

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The magnificent building is split over four floors (yup, it’s kinda like a tardis!) with the majority of the exhibits on the top two floors. The top floor is known as ‘Experience’ and is made up of 16 different themes including Animal Crackers, Sterrenshow (Stars Show – about Dutch stars of sound and screen), POP studio, Macht en Media (Power and Media) and Dit is het nieuws (This is the news).

My favourite was Ben ik in beeld  (I’m in the picture) because you get to do stupid stuff! There’s a ceiling mounted camera pointing at the floor (which is decorated like a living room) so you just lie on the floor and strike a pose – to make it look like you’re upside down in the pictures. Leuk! 

If you were to visit every single exhibit and log in to every interactive station, you could seriously spend the whole day here. Luckily, it’s open from 10.00am – 5.30pm (from Tuesday – Sunday) so knock yourself out!

Maak het nieuws - Make the news

Maak het nieuws – Make the news

A large area of the museum is dedicated to Tijdelijke tentoonstelling (temporary exhibition(s). Currently, it is Voorbij het nieuws (Beyond the news) a special exhibition showing personal stories from journalists and editors talking about the choices they made in the reporting of particular stories. Unfortunately, most of it went over my head!

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Checking out Voorbij het nieuws

Checking out Voorbij het nieuws

In total, we spent a good couple of hours at the museum, but I think if you were with kids, you could spend soooo much longer. There are so many things to see and do, for grown ups too (you could spend a whole day just watching old archived TV shows if you had the time or the inclination!) but I think the interactivity works particularly well for children. They were into everything and didn’t want to miss a thing. A brilliant place to take ankle biters, especially on a rainy day.

And if you get hungry or thirsty during your trip? There’s an ultra modern cafe – what else!?

Cafe, Beeld en Geluid

Cafe, Beeld en Geluid

We’d already eaten, so we just grabbed a drink and sat on the terrace (yup, even in January!!)

We also couldn’t leave without a quick visit to the gift shop, where we bought, among other trinkets… TOP 2000 PHONE CASES!!! Reasonably priced too, at just €6 each. My life is now complete! 😉

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Want to visit for yourself?

THE LOWDOWN:
ADDRESS: Media Parkboulevard 1, 1217 WE Hilversum
OPENING TIMES: Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00am – 17.30pm. Closed Mondays.
PRICE: Adults: €15, Children 6 – 12: €8, Children 5 and younger: Free.
PARKING: Underground car park. €1,50 an hour with a maximum of € 7,50 a day. Limited disabled spaces.
MORE INFO: Beeld en Geluid website (Also available in English.)

If you’ve already been – what was your favourite bit?

Hayley x

PS – for loads more photos I took at Beeld en Geluid, see my Pinterest Board.

PPS – we were given two entry tickets rings to the museum, but all other costs were covered personally.

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Japanese Restaurants in Hilversum

This weekend was my 5 month expat-iversary in the Netherlands… so what better to write about than another one of my passions… Japanese food! (Btw: yes, I get that most people would celebrate their 6 month “anniversary” but 5 is my lucky number and I am not most people!)

Before I start, I probably don’t say it here much (if at all… I’m not that kinda girl) BUT the last 5 months have been HARD! I won’t lie. Fellow blogger Sophie in Clogs summed it up perfectly in her advice to newbie expats: “…the first few months will be wonderful and frustrating and overwhelming and exciting and lonely and just plain weird – a true roller coaster of emotions.” True, true words! Thanks, Sophie – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

On Friday I was in desperate need of cheering up, so we decided to go out for a meal. And what better than a belly full of sashimi?!

Even before we arrived in Holland, I had already been checking out Trip Advisor to find the best local eateries… and lucky for us there are five Japanese restaurants in Hilversum! We’ve now tried four of the five, and who knows… maybe we’ll try number 5 this month! (Dutchie: nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

So if you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, here’s the lowdown of what’s on offer in Hilversum…

Sumo

A chain, yes. But don’t judge! We’ve eaten here once and had takeaway delivered 2 or 3 times. It is always spot on! The sashimi salad is the shining star of this restaurant: copious amounts of tuna and salmon with a delicious (and slightly spicy) salad dressing, crisp, salad, all finely sliced. The salad of champions! (Bottom right.)

Sumo, Hilversum

Japanese feast at Sumo, Hilversum

The portion of edamame beans is epic! Well worth the 5 euros. (We actually took half of them home in a doggy bag as there were so many!) The other dishes are crab and prawn “balls” (but more like discs) and spicy tuna maki! Yum!

Sumo restaurants offer “all you can eat” or  a la carte… as we are massive sashimi fans we went a la carte as sashimi isn’t included in the all you can eat menu. (You can buy it for an additional €12.50.)

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

Sashimi @ Sumo, Hilversum

A great restaurant and well deserving of it’s 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor.

Have you visited other Sumo restaurants in the Netherlands? How did they match up?

Tokyo

Located on Havenstraat, this restaurant has a great relaxed atmosphere and the staff are super-friendly. I love this traditional Japanese mural – beautiful!

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

Mural @ Toyko, Hilversum

They also get bonus points for the amazing wine glasses!

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Plum wine & Menu @ Tokyo, Hilversum

A big advantage at Tokyo is you can buy 4 maki rolls instead of the standard 8. This is great because it means you can two different varieties at once: a big advantage for us!

They also serve their sashimi platter ON A BOAT!! 😀

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Sashimi Boat! @ Tokyo, Hilversum

Simply fabulous! A great authentic restaurant… I can’t wait to go back!

Kimono

Sorry to say, but: best avoided. Truly disappointing. The staff were friendly but the food just wasn’t up to scratch. We ordered a sashimi platter which was said to contain 7 different types of fish. It arrived with four, one of which was crabsticks. The tempura was soggy and very basic (no fancy veg or prawns, just standard veg.) The wasabi was discoloured and weak. If the wasabi is good… you should NOT be able to do this:

Kimono, Hilversum

Kimono, Hilversum

…without getting the world’s biggest nose-kick. This amount: nothing.

Hopefully they were just having a bad day and a low-stocked kitchen… but it was enough for us to not want to go back again.

Sochi’s Sushi

This is the one we haven’t tried yet… but soooooon! Located on the Groest, next to Sumo! (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that!) They offer lunch, take out and dinner (but are only open until 8pm, which is why we haven’t been yet.)

It’s on the list!

Ai Uchi (situated within the Amrâth Grand Hotel Theater Gooiland)

This was the little gem we discovered on Friday! As you can see – the bar area is stunning!

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

Ai Uchi @ the Amrâth Grand Hotel Gooiland

We had two soups to start but they didn’t photograph well in the romantic candle light! 😉 Miso soup (simple, good) and a Japanese fish soup (highly recommended!)

Then we had tempura, sashimi, edamame beans (of course!) and Usuyaki (beefrolls met knoflook en lenteui = beef with garlic and spring onions) with udon noodles. Definitely the dish of the day!!

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Tempura and Sashimi @ Ai Uchi

Plum wine!

Plum wine!

The staff were welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. When we asked for more wasabi (heat fiends that we are) the waiter happily brought back a huge pot (well, huge for wasabi, anyway!)

Hilversum gets a big thumbs up for its Japanse restaurants! 

What great restaurants do you have in your neighbourhood?

Hayley x

Rondlopen in Hilversum (Walking around in Hilversum)

A (Dutch) friend told me last week: Ik vind Hilversum heel saai (I find Hilversum very boring.)

Oh contraire, my dear friend!! That’s because you’ve lived here for 6 years and have seen everything already!!

I, on the other hand, have lived here for 6 weeks. Everything is new, exciting, beautiful… Buzzfeed summed it up perfectly in 21 Life Struggles All Expats Will Understand – every day feels like an adventure!

That sounds totally cheesy with extra brie on top, but it’s true. Moving to another country is like being a kid again… everything is interesting, fun and well, NEW!!

Trip to the stadskantoor (council office) to do boring paperwork and get your Bull Shit Number (BSN = Burgerservicenummer = Citizen Identification number.) Oh no my friend! An expat sees an exciting challenge. Walk 30+ mins, navigate to City Hall without getting lost and marvel at Dudok’s finest and most famous piece of architecture…

Raadhuis van Hilversum

Raadhuis van Hilversum

View of Raadhuis from outside of the stadtskantoor

View of Raadhuis from outside of the stadtskantoor

Walk to the supermarket for milk and bread…

Summer snow

Summer snow

Find yourself in a summerwonderland!

Pop into town for a drink…

Street art in Hilversum

Street art in Hilversum

Discover amazingly talented street art, right on your doorstep!!

Trudge to the train station…

Dancing ladies

Dancing ladies

Find beautiful scupltures which make you smile from ear to ear!!

Walk to the gym…

Oranje gekkenhuis!

Oranje gekkenhuis!

Discover your local football hooligans 😉

Pop to town to print some photos…

Studio 54...

Studio 54…

KRO studio, Hilversum

KRO studio, Hilversum

KRO Studio, Hilversum

KRO Studio, Hilversum

Sint-Vituskerk in Hilversum

Moody looking Sint-Vituskerk in Hilversum

Stumble across Studio 54 and other interesting old buildings…

Go to buy wedding hair accessories…

Street art, Hilversum

Street art, Hilversum… if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it…

Another visit to Albert Heijn…

Cafe Zuid

Cafe Zuid

Post-dinner walk…

Getting our bearings with the local area

Getting our bearings with the local area

Early-evening borrel…

Blue lights in Hilversum

Blue lights in Hilversum

Open je ogen… Hilversum is mooi. (Open your eyes, Hilversum is beautiful.)

I can’t wait to discover more…

What’s the most underrated sight where you live?

Hayley x

Uit eten in Hilversum (Eating out in Hilversum)

I’ve lived in Hilversum for a month now, and although we haven’t eaten out much (moving to another country is bloody expensive!!) … I have had the pleasure of dining in the 2nd and 3rd best restaurants in Hilversum (according to Trip Advisor.)

“The 3rd best restaurant in Hilversum” is Chiang Mai, a cosy little Thai restaurant on Havenstraat. We stumbled upon it on the Sunday afternoon after King’s Day whilst my younger sister was visiting. Obviously, we had hangovers from the biggest party of the year and had already attempted to cure them with Turkish pizzas, but we were now looking for something semi-healthy. Chiang Mai didn’t disappoint! The food was awesome and the staff were very friendly and attentive. As newbies to Thai cuisine, my sister and her friend opted for Pad Thai. It looked and tasted just like the Pad Thai I had eaten on Koh Lanta in Thailand. A very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Chiang Mai: Pad Thai (left) Pad pak (right)

Chiang Mai: Pad Thai (left) Pad pak (right)

The Dutchie only looked at things on the menu with 3 stars = the hottest! He opted for Plamuk pad krapau (Squid with basil, chilli and garlic) while I went for the thing with most vegetables Pad pak (Beef with soy sauce and lots of veg!!) Both delicious and terribly authentic! We also had soups for starter (Tom yam kai Chiang Mai and Tom ka kai) but in my excitement I forgot to take pictures!

Chiang Mai: more Pad Thai (left) Plamuk pad krapau (right)

Chiang Mai: more Pad Thai (left) Plamuk pad krapau (right)

Although the restaurant itself is very simple, the food is what matters… and it’s fabulous! All the tables were full on Sunday evening, so if you were to go on a Friday or Saturday night – it’s probably an idea to book in advance! I would give it an 8/10 – excellent tasting food, good value and they even let us take a doggy bag home!! Minus points for a decidedly average dining experience and no “wow” factor.

“The 2nd best restaurant in Hilversum” was recommended to the Dutchie by a work colleague. Last week we were both craving a curry – so it was the logical choice! Surya, on Langestraat in Hilversum serves Indian and Nepalese cuisine. It’s not cheap (especially compared to curries in the UK!) but the food is excellent quality and we enjoyed every bite. (Actually we couldn’t finish it all seeing as we had starters AND mains! Piggies!)

It’s another small, cozy (or should I say gezellig) restaurant so probably advisable to book at the weekend. We’d read on Trip Advisor that service was a bit slow, but that wasn’t our experience at all. We waited a little while for our menus but for the rest of the meal the staff were very helpful.

The Dutchie had the hot and spicy chicken wings as a starter – delicious, but not that spicy. (He’s a heat freak so it’s difficult to get things hot enough for him the majority of the time!!) I had the lentil soup, yummy, but we both wanted a crack or 10 of black pepper!! I’m no John or Gregg, but it was definitely lacking seasoning.

Surya: lentil soup and chicken wings. Love the bird shaped lemon squeezer!!

Surya: lentil soup and chicken wings. Love the bird shaped lemon squeezer!!

For the main course I stuck with old faithful… my favourite ever curry: Lamb Dhansak (also to compare it to a Lamb Dhansak at home in the UK!) Spot on! The Dutchie ordered a King Prawn Vindaloo (surprise, surprise) and it was extremely hot. Perfect for him, a touch too hot for me – but the perfect combination! (We always order one hot and one mild/medium dish for balance.) All in all a very satisfying curry!

And now for a picture of a toilet!!

Blacker than black bathroom

Blacker than black bathroom

Bit random… but I felt the need to take a picture of the bathroom! I’ve never seen one decorated completely in black like this before and it was a shock when I walked in. Very cool and chic!!

The bill

The bill

De rekening (the bill) was delivered with pizzazz in the form of a beautifully decorated treasure chest and dinner mints. Shame there was no treasure in it!!

I’d also give Surya an 8/10. Fantastic food, but you pay the price!! A bit harsh maybe, but I’m comparing it to curry houses in the UK where you can get curry and rice for under £8 (compared to 16 euros+ here!)

Can’t wait to go to restaurant #1 on the list… the Royal Mandarin on Emmastraat serving Chinese cuisine 🙂 Better wait until after payday though!! 

Hayley x