Learning Dutch

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 “expat” derives from the Latin prefix ex (out of) and the noun patria (home country, native country, or fatherland). In today’s globalized world, as the reasons for going abroad become more diverse, it’s no longer easy to find a concrete definition for this term. That said, the word “expat” 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’s also really rewarding. Some people are assholes – and they’d be an asshole in any language. But other, nice people, will be really encouraging of you learning Dutch (especially as “everyone” speaks English – 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)… 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 – I couldn’t 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’ll get there. Practice is key… I swear my Dutch is going backwards as I don’t 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

How to Learn Dutch: For Beginners

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

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

1. Michel Thomas CDs

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

Learning Dutch materials

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

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

2. Dutch textbooks

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

Learning Dutch materials

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

3. Children’s books

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

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

Dutch learning materials

4. Online courses

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

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

5. Dutch courses

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

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

Dutch learning materials

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

6. Dutch TV

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

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

7. Subtitles

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

8. Films

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

9. Radio

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

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10. Practice with Dutch people! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

 

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

Learning Dutch is f*cking hard

Dutch kissing

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

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

Anyway, I cried because learning Dutch is fucking hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

(Dutch-related) Stuff That Happened In March 2015

Bit of a quiet month blog-wise as March has been a reeeeeally busy month at work (yep – I have a real job and everything!) Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’ll let up anytime soon, so you’ll probably only be hearing from me about once a week for the next few months. Just so you know and that. I haven’t been kidnapped.

Tomorrow we’re off to Brussels (for one night) en route to France to see my parents for a few days. (Yep, the ‘rents are expats too – they moved to France a couple of weeks after I moved to Holland!)

So before we go off gallivanting… here’s some stuff that happened this month.

 1. Rediscovering Etsy 

I’m very happy to have discovered some extremely talented Dutch illustrators in the past month… Introducing Kim Bell Illustrations. Love her work!!

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After living here for nearly a year… the office/blogging den/spare room is finally finished! (Crikey, we are terrible DIYers!!)

I was looking for some funky postcards to frame and brighten up my office –  so there’s the obvious, Paperchase, but their delivery rates to the Netherlands are ridiculous (£5 for a postcard… huh??) so I decided to look elsewhere.

Bravo, Etsy! Bravo!

These fine specimens are from a seller named Darveelicious:

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I also bought postcards from Moa Gift Ideas, Steak & Eggs Please and Le Lapin Blanc. I specifically opted for Dutch illustrators / Etsy shops (with the exception of Steak & Eggs Please) because they ship to the Netherlands (obviously) but also because they are friggin’ awesome. Why look further afield when there is so much talent right here in the Netherlands? Can you tell I’m a BIT excited about this!?!?

And the final result…

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I should probably also show you the other side of the room, aka the Blogging Den, but hmmmm my desk is a bit of a mess now… and can I be arsed to tidy it for photos? No.

2. Clog slippers

Possibly the best slippers ever? The Dutchie has been without slippers for about six years, but whilst in tourist paradise at Zaanse Schans, he was sucked in by the clog slippers.

Nothing to do with me, honest!

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3. Visiting Haarlem, Zaanse Schans & Gouda

Pretty impressed I made it to three new places in March. In case you missed those posts, there was A Quickie in Haarlem and Tourist Paradise – Zaanse Schans.

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I didn’t write a post about Gouda because, well, there were no rose-tinted spectacles involved!! ‘Twas a dreary and cold day and the photos I took on my iphone just didn’t do it any justice. My American friend and I did however discover a fantastic cafe thanks to Sophie in Clogs (big thanks again, Sophie!) This is an especially good tip for mamas who are visiting Gouda… we went with a one year old and the place was totally kid-friendly. It’s unofficially split into two parts, the right-wing for kiddie winks (with loads of toys and high chairs etc) and the left-hand side for grown ups who’d like to enjoy their coffee in adult company.

Zoet & Zalig (yup, that’s my full review on Trip Advisor) is most definitely off the beaten track and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. Here’s the entrance:

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But once inside – it’s a complete hidden gem!

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Fantastic food, beautiful interior details and a great atmosphere. It’s set in a former orphanage but they have completely transformed it – including the outside. When the weather’s nice, there’s a gorgeous courtyard with funky tables and chairs. Ohhhh and THE CAKE. I’m not at all a cake person, but their selection of cakes and tarts was too hard to resist. The coconut and pineapple taartje was stunning. If you visit Gouda, go here for coffee and cake, minimum!

4. Masterchef Holland

A new series of Masterchef Holland has started! YAY! Pretty much one of the only Dutch TV programmes I can watch! I love you guys, but you really don’t have the best TV… Thank funk for Netflix! So yeah, one of the contestants is an undertaker… or so I thought when I translated ondernemer  literally. It actually means entrepreneur! Oops!

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I have also been watching a few Dutch films: Gooische Vrouwen (yes, I know, I’m totally behind the times!!) Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!) and Jackie, which I watched last night. If anyone has any other Dutch film / series recommendations for me – preferably on Netflix – I’d love to hear them please! Trying to watch as many Dutch programmes as possible. It all helps, right? It’s still such a strange concept to me that I can actually watch films in another language. Fuck! (Sorry Mum!)

5. D’ Vijf Broers, Zaandijk

Gah! More food! Yup, pretty much sums the month up: working & eating!

You know when you go to a restaurant and fall in love? I really did with this place. D’ Vijf Broers in Zaandijk is truly unmissable if you’re visiting Zaandijk / Zaandam. Full review here.

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6. Port tasting

Oh, and we did a cheeky bit of drinking too!

Our friend works at a Gall & Gall store and we went to a port tasting evening (in Dutch might I add!) at the beginning of the month.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and although I didn’t understand absolutely everything – as there were so many technical words – it was fun and something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months back.

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It’s not a wine tasting until you’ve spilled wine, right?

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7. Bagels & Beans

And while we’re on a food and drink theme… I have to mention Bagels & Beans which we have visited twice in the past week!! If you follow me on Instagram you will have probably already noticed my new obsession!

If there’s a Bagels & Beans in your neighbourhood and haven’t visited yet, I encourage you to do so now!

Koffie – check.

Goedkoop – check.

Lekker – check.

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There is a distinct lack of bitterballen in this post!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

Have a great weekend everyone!

Hayley x

That one time I went to Hoorn

Last week, on my day off, it was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to go out and DO SOMETHING FUN! Because why the heck not??

Back in January I asked for recommendations of the best places to go in the Netherlands on my Facebook page and I got loads of responses including: Haarlem (went on Saturday), Gouda (going next weekend), Maastricht, Leiden, Delft, Valkenburg, Harderwijk (been), Nijmegen (going in a few weeks), Den Bosch, The Hague, Texel, Rhenen, Groningen, Oostkappelle/Domburg, Naarden-Vesting (been – in fact, this is where our wedding party was held), Rotterdam (been – lots!), Middelburg, Amersfoort (been) and Hoorn.

It was already 12ish when I decided to go, so I wanted somewhere which was an hour or less on the train from Hilversum so I could be there and back in the same afternoon. After a quick bit of journey planning on good old NS.nl, I chose Hoorn… and I’m so glad I did!

Hoorn – pronounced somewhere between the English horn and the Dutch horen (to hear) is a town in North Holland, approx 35km north of Amsterdam. It’s a harbour town so in addition to the beautiful old buildings and canals you also get a gorgeous harbour thrown in!

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I must admit, it was tempting just to get off at Amsterdam Centraal, since we stopped there anyway… but no, Hoorn was the order of the day. When I arrived at the train station in Hoorn I didn’t really have a clear idea of where to go, so I just wandered around with my camera poised (knowing that if I got lost, I have Google Maps on my phone, so no biggie)… it was a good plan as I eventually ended up at the harbour without even really trying!

The harbour is proudly marked by (probably) Hoorn’s most recognisable landmark, de Hoofdtoren meaning ‘the head tower’. It was built in 1532 and is a registered rijksmonument (national heritage site). Today, it’s a restaurant.

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I had already been exploring for about an hour at this point, so I decided to stop at a pub on the waterfront. I looked for the most traditional one I could find, which happened to be Café ‘t Schippershuis, a traditional bruin café. Perfect!

If you don’t know what a ‘brown’ cafe is, they’re a bit like old-fashioned British pubs. The ‘brown’ title coming from the (often) tobacco stained ceilings, walls and the wooden panelling and floorboards. They’re old and often a bit tatty, but that’s all part of the charm! Oh… and carpet on the table – check!

Schippershuis

The beautiful old bar is shaped like a ship, the friendly waitress was stood behind the bar cleaning glasses and three locals were happily chatting away. As I walked in, the locals stopped briefly to greet me, looked pleased when I returned their greetings (in Dutch) and then went back to their flamboyant conversation and foamy beer.

The Dutch are a friendly bunch – and on the whole – they’re happy to speak English to you. BUT now I’m speaking more and more Dutch, I’m totally noticing that people are even friendlier  in Dutch! They love that you’re making the effort to speak their native language and will reward you accordingly. (This is making me tear up a little bit thinking of the old guy I met in Amsterdam a couple of weeks back – I was in a bar near Centraal Station with my English friend and he offered us a seat, in English. When I replied in Dutch, his face literally lit up like a Christmas tree!)

And the same thing happened in Hoorn. Once I collected my drink and took a seat, the patrons (knowing I could speak Dutch) started chatting away to me and made me feel really welcome. I honestly don’t think that would have happened if I’d ordered my drink in English. Proost! 

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When I first moved here ten months ago, I would have never been brave enough to just get on a train and go somewhere brand new ON MY OWN. It just shows how far I’ve come!

I wouldn’t say I’m fluent yet, but I can do all the basics. Understanding what people say to you is important, and undoubtedly the first step, but now I can not only understand what they’re saying to me… I can reply. My understanding was always pretty good (after visiting here regularly when we lived in England) but gone are the days when I completely freak out when people speak Dutch at me. That whole day, I didn’t speak a word of English.

Initially, a lot of my problem was having the confidence to speak Dutch (this is especially intimidating because Dutch people speak such good English)… but one day I just said to myself: “Fuck it”.

I will make mistakes, but it’s the only way I’m going to learn. And with that, I somehow just got over my fear. This makes me VERY happy as it’s opened up a whole new world of adventures! I love visiting new places with my husband or my friends, but I now I don’t HAVE to wait for them. If I have a day off and want to go somewhere on my own, I damn well can.

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So, like any good tourist, I took a whole bunch of photos. I can’t post them all here as you might lose the will to live… but I’m going to add my favourites at least. (That’s a lot, still. It’s Hoorn’s fault for being so damn gorgeous!!)

As you may have noticed, especially if you follow me on Instagram, I have a bit of an obsession with Street Art.

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And churches. (This particular beauty is Grote Kerk.)

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And skulls. (This one is Noorderkerk.)

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I visited the central square in Hoorn too, called de Roode Steen (The Red Stone) to check out the Westfries Museum. An amazingly impressive building, I’m afraid my photo just doesn’t do it justice though… as I was fighting with the sun the whole time (not that I’m complaining!) so you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!

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After more walking, admiring and photo taking I fancied a bite to eat and stumbled across Bagels & Beans on my way back to the train station. I remembered that the one in Hilversum had good reviews, so decided to give it a go. Turns out, it was a day of good choices. (Unfortunately it was a one-day-only special. I went to Haarlem the next day with the Dutchie and all of my good fortune had run out. It wasn’t a bad trip… but it was nowhere as good as mijn dagje uit in Hoorn!)

The hot chocolate comes – not as a hot chocolate – but as a mug of hot milk and a shot glass of chocolate buttons to make it yourself! Very novel! I also loved the ‘heaven & hell’ saucer!

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To accompany the best hot chocolate ever… I had a delicious Paddoburger van champignons (mushroom burger in a bagel) but I can’t post that picture now or I might chew my arm off.

Think I’d better go and make some lunch…

So, have you been to Hoorn? What did you think?

Hayley x

Ps – and now for a shitload of photos that didn’t fit into the post… but I don’t know what else to do with them. (I didn’t Photoshop any of these btw, so no idea what’s going on with the crazy variation in sky colours!)

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10 Rude Sounding Dutch Words

These 10 words may induce giggling and guffawing for English speakers, but in fact, they have completely different (and very innocent) meanings in Dutch.

It’s not you, it’s us… 😉

1. Kok

Simply meaning ‘cook’ or ‘chef’. This is quite a popular surname in The Netherlands, much like the English surname ‘Cook’.

On a recent thread, Dubble Dutch commented: “And what do you think about the name of our former minister-president Wim Kok. I think he had to explain his last name every time he introduced himself abroad.”

2. Dik 

Dik means ‘fat’ (or thick/heavy/dense etc). Some people are even (un)lucky enough to be called Dik Kok! (Or the spelling variation Dick Kok.) *Childish snigger*…

3. Fok / Fokken

Sooooo many Dutch people have told me this story – in various permutations – it’s almost a Dutch urban legend! If you live in Holland and haven’t heard it yet, where have you been hiding? It goes a little something like this…

John F. Kennedy met Joseph Luns, the former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. Kennedy asked for his hobbies and he answered: “I fok horses”. Kennedy, struck with surprise responded: “Pardon?”, Luns replied: “Yes, paarden!”.

Fokken means ‘to breed’, and paarden means ‘horses’ in Dutch.

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4. Shag

If a Dutch person offers you a shag, don’t get your hopes up… they’re just offering you a rollie! (English slang for a cigarette you roll yourself.) Shag means ‘tobacco’. 🙂

5. Kunt / Kant

Sounds like something very familiar (and VERY rude) in English … right?

Je kunt  (You can)

Kunt u?  (Can you? formal)

Ledikant (meaning ‘crib’)

and my personal favourite Kies mijn kant!! (Choose my side).

6. Slagroom

A room full of slags? Wonderful! Except that it simply means ‘whipped cream’ in Dutch.

7. Hoegaarden

Amusing in a slightly different way. The Dutch have a very Dutch way of saying hoegaarden – if an English person tries to pronounce it, they’ll most likely say ‘ho-garden’. (Ho being slang for prostitute…)

A garden full of hoes and a room full of slags!? What more could you want!

8. Willy

My schoonmoeder’s name appeals to the juvenile side of my sense of humour. Willy is often used as a short name for Wilhelmina in the Netherlands.

9. Prik

Prikbord rather innocently means ‘pin board’ in Dutch. And if you ask for a drink zonder prik you mean ‘without bubbles’.

10. Hoor

Yes, I’ve mentioned this before on the blog… but this list wouldn’t be complete without it!!

If you spend any amount of time in Holland, you can expect people to call you a whore (to your face): “Ja, hoor!” “Nee, hoor!” “Momentje, hoor!”

But it’s not rude at all… it literally means ‘hear’ but when paired with Ja (yes) it means something like “Yeah, sure!” to emphasize agreement.

With Nee (no) it can mean a number of things depending on the context… some examples are: “No way” “No, that’s not right” or “No, thanks”.

It can be also used to make things sound more friendly, so “Momentje, hoor!” is expressing politeness like “Wait a moment, please.”

Which other rude sounding Dutch words make you giggle like a school child?

Hayley x

Ps – Are you following me on social media yet? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Come on over and say hi!

30 Amusing Dutch Words

Learning a new language can be hard, frustrating even… but it can also be fun. You just have to know where to look.

Luckily for me, you don’t have to look too far to find funny sounding words and phrases in Dutch. Here are some I’ve learnt so far…

1. Apetrots 

My first Dutch WTF moment was watching a film with subtitles when the screen flashed up “Ik ben apetrots op je” literally meaning “I am monkey proud on you.” (The correct translation in English is “I’m really proud of you”.) A brilliant Dutchism… and it’s now one of my favourite Dutch sayings 😀

2. Boterham

Boterham, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Boterham, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Literally translated as “butter ham” – it actually means sandwich or a slice of bread.

3. Eekhoorntjesbrood

While we’re on the food theme… let’s go with the word for Porcini mushrooms, which literally translates as “little squirrels’ bread”.

4. Eekhoorn

Sounds like “acorn”… it actually means squirrel! (And what’s acorn I hear you ask? Why that’s “eikel” – which can also mean jerk/asshole/dickhead!!)

5. Spiegelei

Literally translated as “mirror egg” – this is what you need to order if you want a fried egg – sunny side up!

6. Klokhuis

Klokhuis, courtesty of Laura Frame Illustration

Klokhuis, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

“Clock house” meaning apple core.

7.  Pindakaas

Meaning peanut butter it literally translates as “peanut cheese”.

8. Patatje oorlog

Literally “war fries” (chips in the UK!) this means french fries served with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and finely diced raw onion… Depending on which region of the Netherlands you live in!!

9. Oorlog

We just learnt that oorlog means war, but oor means ear and log is cumbersome… So cumbersome ear!

10. Oorbellen

“Ear bells” or earrings as we like to call them. Super cute, huh?!

11. Kapsalon

This can mean hairdresser OR tasty Dutch kebab with chips, cheese and salad! Try not to get them confused 😉

12. Oliebollen

Or “oil balls” – a festive dough-based treat, traditionally eaten at New Year. (They’re basically doughnuts… but the Dutchies won’t have it.)

13. Tandpasta 

Tandpasta, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Tandpasta, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Tand is tooth and you can guess what pasta means… This is the Dutch word for toothpaste! (Thanks to the party poopers who pointed out that pasta can also mean paste!)

14. Handschoenen

Yup, the Dutch word for gloves is “hand shoes” tee hee hee!

15. Monster

Think your Dutch friend has mental issues when they say they’ve got a monster at home? Don’t fret,  it means “sample”.

16. Schoonmoeder

Meaning mother-in-law. (With thanks to Cinder for this prompt!) To top it off, my “clean mother” is called Willy!! True story, bro.

17. Bakfiets

“Bak” has a whole heap of meanings in Dutch, but I’m gonna go with “bin bike” or “fry bike”. It’s actually a traditional Dutch tricycle with a large box for transporting cargo e.g. – children!

18. Gelukzak

If you’re a “lucky guy” you may well get called a “happy bag”!

[Edit: gelukzak can also mean “lucky sack”. Alternatives include: Geluksvogel meaning “lucky bird”.]

19. Ziekenauto

That’s a “sick car” man. The cool kids don’t say that here – it’s an ambulance.

20. Muilpeer

Muilpeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Muilpeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Meaning “slap in the face” – the direct translation is “mouth pear”.

21. Toiletbril

The word for toilet seat can be literally interpreted as “toilet glasses”… 😛

22. Kangoeroewoning

Another cute one… granny flat’s literal translation is “kangaroo house”.

23. Mierenneuker

I’m (monkey) proud to have learnt this word today! Meaning “ant fucker” – it describes someone who frets and fusses over completely insignificant and minor details. Like “nit picker” I guess.

24. Kikker

Sounds like kicker. Means frog. Awesomeness!

25. Windhond

Windhond, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Windhond, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Greyhound is literally translated in Dutch as “wind dog”.

26. Zeewolf

“Sea wolf” – meaning catfish! [Edit… Ok, about a million Dutch people told me that catfish is meerval. Mijn excuses!] Damn you, Google translate!!

27. IJsbeer

Known for their logic, the direct Dutch translation for polar bear is “ice bear”. (IJs can also mean ice cream! Even better!)

28. Vleermuis

“Wing mouse” – uh huh, you got it… bat!

29. Wasbeer

Wasbeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Wasbeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

My favourite pic of the series! The literal translation for “raccoon” is “wash bear”.

Massive thanks to Laura Frame for the amazing illustrations! For more Amusing Dutch words, expertly illustrated – head over to Laura’s Facebook page!

30. You tell me! 

So Dutchies / wannabe Dutchies – what else you got for me? 😀 Please feel free to comment below!

Hayley x

Ps – for bonus points, ask a Dutch person to say “crunchy nut” (in English). Kills me every time.

You might also like: 20 More Amusing Dutch Words

Welkom op Bitterballen Bruid

Welcome to Bitterballen Bruid!

Bruid = bride. Bitterballen = a delicious Dutch snack. They’re pretty hard to describe seeing as a Dutch person will tell you they’re filled with “ragout” – however ragout to us English folk is a French stew. (Either that, or you’ll think of the pasta sauce jars: Ragù!) The outside of bitterballen is breadcrumbs, think something like a potato croquet… but the inside is where the magic happens! It’s like a thick, creamy meat paste… sounds disgusting, tastes heavenly! They’re little round balls of deep-fried deliciousness, served with mustard. Normally I avoid anything deep-fried at all costs, but these are an exception. Don’t think about the calories or what’s inside them, just sit in the kroeg (pub) with a glass of Amstel, or if you’re a hater like me, een glaasje wijn (glass of wine) and enjoy!

Bitterballen

© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for ages, but just never got around to it. Excuses, excuses! But whilst on holiday in Thailand (lucky me!) the name Bitterballen Bruid just came to me. I talked to The Dutchie (aka my husband) about it and he liked it too, so here I am! The blog will mainly focus on being an English girl woman getting married in The Netherlands, learning the Dutch language and moving there… but having just returned from an epic 3 week trip to Bali and Thailand, I might have to squeeze some travel pics and stories in too!

First post, over and out 😉

Hayley x