Sinterklaas V Santa Claus

Hi there:-) We usually give holiday tips for your stay in Holland, but this time we wish to share some deeply rooted, Dutch folklore. If you travel to Holland early December, you will experience “Sinterklaas”, a feast for families, especially for young children who strongly believe that Sinterklaas is real, until they are told by their parents, or accidentally hear from their bigger sibling, that it’s all a load of hog… much like the case of the other famous bearded, presents-giving character dressed in red.

Every year, on December 5th, Holland (and some of it’s former colonies) celebrate “Sinterklaas”. Sinterklaas is a “saint” who “lives in Spain” and comes to Holland by boat on December 5th. Along with him are his helpers, “Black Peeters“, as well as his white horse. Sinterklaas comes to Holland to hand out presents to all the well-behaving children (and to the badly-behaving as well, don’t worry parents:-)). He rides on the slippery and snowy rooftops of our Dutch houses on his white horse (yes, he’s an excellent horse rider!) and the black Peters go down the chimneys (or sneak into the house otherwise if there is no chimney) at night to deliver  presents and sweets to be found by anticipating children the next morning.

In earlier days, well-behaving children would get sweets and presents, whereas badly behaving children would get a symbolic (or actual:-() cane for a “good old fashioned” beating up and were made to believe Sinterklaas would take them with him in bags to Spain..don’t you just love rigid Dutch education!

Sinterklaas, a bishop who lived in today’s Turkey (Myra) in 3 AC, is a guardian of children and sea men, unmarried women and…oh, prostitutes. On your trip to Amsterdam, you can visit the Nicolaas Kerk which is dedicated to this Saint.  You’ll find the church between the water where ships would come in and sail out, and the Wallen (“Shores/Strand”), internationally known as the Red Light District,  and it’s location is one for obvious reasons…

All things said, today, Sinterklaas is a happy occasion for all…that is…
For the last few years, there has been, to say the least, a “vivid discussion” concerning Sinterklaas’ helpers, the Black Peeters. Black Peeters are often white people, made up looking like black people (see blog picture). Some dark(er) skinned people in Holland today, take offence in the matter, and relate the origin of the holiday to the Dutch slavery past.  “Conservative” Sinterklaas celebrators argued that the black skin is merely  derived from “travelling down the chimneys”, and does not have anything to do with the issue of African descent nor slavery, although this argument is somewhat dismissed today. As a result of public pressure, Black Peeters in recent years, have not been made to look black anymore. They have all kinds of colors smeared on their faces, or just just a few coal stains from “going down the chimney”, and they are usually just called “Piet” (Peter).

It is assumed that over time, the Santa Claus story developed from the Sinterklaas story and other European stories alike. Dutch immigrants in the New World may have adjusted their holiday to their new environment (reindeer instead of a horse) and the holiday was probably also influenced by similar holidays celebrated by immigrants from other parts of the “Old World”.

Anyway, if you’re planning a trip to Holland with your youngsters at the beginning of December , (when fare prices are lower, yeah), join the crowds on any quay and welcome Sinterklaas anywhere in Holland! Your children won’t regret it, that’s for sure!



Nice to Meet You!

Here we are, Petra and Jennifer, mother and daughter from Holland starting a new blog about…obviously…Holland, our beautiful country. Our blogs are in Hebrew and in English. Petra lives in Holland, Jennifer has been living in Israel for the last 23 years.

We are here to help you plan your next trip to Holland, our beautiful country. We will give you insider’s tips, the hottest recommendations and lots of fun information. Wishing you a nice trip on our website and to Holland of course! Oh and please – subscribe and share, thank you!:-)

*header picture taken by Aleš Krivec

“This Is Holland”

Waiting for the ferry to:
“This is Holland”

Hey ya:-) I just came back to Israel from my 2 1/2 week trip to my motherland Holland. It was great being home again!!!

We experienced so many things which we will share with you. One of the highlights was the fairly new “THIS IS HOLLAND – the ultimate flight experience”. It’s basically a huge flight simulator which takes 20 people seated in two big chairlifts “soaring” through the Dutch skies while looking down on interesting and famous places and sites. The high quality screen is all around you while you are hanging in midair, inside a big sphere. Include movement, water drops and scent, and you are granted a physical experience as if it were an actual flight. It is an amazing experience, a relatively new highlight in Amsterdam and we 
whole-heartedly recommend it!

For more information about prices etc. (In Dutch, German and English) click here
Please note: the minimum body length requirement is 1.20 mtrs., the experience is well accessible for people with disabilities

At Amsterdam Central Station, exit the station and follow the signs to the IJ side (IJ-zijde). Walk to the free ferry (the sign next to the two ferries reads:  “Buiksloterweg“), which will take you across the river IJ within a few minutes. After you get off the ferry on the other side of the river, turn left, cross a bridge and walk (two minutes only!) to THIS IS HOLLAND. It’s a round shaped, grey metallic building, you can’t miss it.
After the experience, you can take the ferry back towards Central Station, enter the station and walk through it towards the exit on the other side of the station, which leads you in the direction of the Dam Square and other popular sites in the city centre.

We just KNOW you’ll enjoy THIS IS HOLLAND!

Petra & Jennifer:-)

Wet Monkeys

Petra means monkey business


“King Julian” 
Northern Bald Ibis, critically endangered
Darwin’s Rhea

Last week we visited a park called “Apenheul” (“Monkey Hill”) near Apeldoorn. This park has over 200 monkeys walking around freely between the visitors…unique in the world. The park is beautifully designed and maintained and it’s wonderful to see so many monkeys walking and running about freely in very large areas! Besides numerous kinds of monkeys, there are also other animals, mainly birds, and some of them are quite rare (see pictures above). While monkeying around, we were taken by surprise by the rain… a massive cloudburst (yes, that’s Petra you hear as she’s getting the giggles to keep from crying:-)) which chased all of the visitors out of the park instantly! We had forgotten to check the weather forecast for that day and area…so unprofessional…:-)


Rain or No Rain?? That’s the question. (in Holland anyway)
Here are two sites where most Dutch people check the “weer”…”weather” on a daily basis and before they go anywhere:

Good for your Dutch practice too!

Giethoorn= Venice Dutch Style

Giethoorn is a village often called “Venice of the North”.  Its beautiful picturesque village houses are situated along little channels which flow into a shallow, natural lake. The lake is very suitable for water sports, especially for windsurfing and sailing.  Dutch children learn how to sail here because when you stand just about anywhere in the Giethoorn lake, your head will be well above the water. Besides sailing and windsurfing, you will find electric boats on the Giethoorn channels and lake which you can rent by the hour, half a day or full day. You can also rent faster, motorised boats but these are far more expensive and in our opinion, you should be at least a bit knowledgeable or experienced on how to manoeuvre a boat and about “traffic rules” on the water. By car it takes about an hour and a half to get there from Amsterdam, but it is certainly worth the effort. In Giethoorn there are a few electric boat rental places to explore the beautiful village, its channels and lake.

National park de Weerribben-Wieden

We also visited the  National Park “de Weerribben-Wieden” which is close to Giethoorn. In contrary to the Giethoorn lake, created by forces of nature, the much larger waters of this national park ” de Weerribben-Wieden”, were formed as a result of human activity: from the Middle Ages, and until shortly after W.W.II, peat was stacked in this once swampy area. When the peat ran out, the wholes filled up with water and the locals went from peat stacking to being fishermen.  There is lots of wildlife in and around these waters such as otters, and some quite rare birds like the bittern (in Dutch: Roerdomp) and the bearded reedling. Listen to the bittern’s call (0.27 sec.) you may recognise it from between the reed when you are in Giethoorn. Eventually, the lakes dried up as a result of changed weather conditions, and vegetation existed mainly of reed. Fishing was then replaced by reed industry which had various end products such as house-roof sheeting, a typical Dutch product you find on roof tops all over the Dutch rural landscape. Today, both Giethoorn and the nearby National Park “de Weerribben-Wieden” are maintained and protected but also used for recreational purposes, open to the (international) public which comes from very far and really appreciates the beauty and uniqueness of these sites.

Visit: National Park “de Weeribben-Wieden”

Giethoorn by boat with undoubtedly the best skipper in the world!:-)


Photo: User:IncMan
The famous cubehouses of Rotterdam

At a distance of less than 80 km’s south of Amsterdam, you’ll find the city of Rotterdam; the city where Petra was born and raised.  In Holland and even beyond, the city is famous for its citizens’ attitude to life which is best captivated in the saying:
Don’t talk but work.”
This attitude certainly shows in this modern city. The city has a very diverse infrastructure and lots of contemporary architecture. You can discover Rotterdam by various means of highly enjoyable transport:
This is an hop on-hop off bus with 6 stops throughout the city.
This is a hop on- hop off  historical tram( lijn 10). The tram is over 80 years old and is operated between the end of April and the end of October only.
This is a sight seeing boat trip around the enormous and famous harbours, the heart of Rotterdam.

water taxi
This small but quite fast boat, the “water taxi”, gets you across the river Maas which runs right through the city.
This guide provides you with all the information about the metro.
This is a boat which takes you into Rotterdam but also goes to the nearby city of Dordrecht and additional places worth visiting.
This is an exciting tour on an amphibian bus, much like the famous London “Duck Tours”.

As you can see, there are plenty, fun ways of getting around in Rotterdam and see the sights!

עוגת התפוחים ההולנדית: קבלו את ה- appeltaart

עוגה טעימה שמנסה בפה…הנה המתכון של כל סבתא הולנדית

מספר מנות: 12

קמח לבן 250 גרם
חמאה רכה, 175 גרם
סוכר טחון, 80 גרם
ביצים 2 -1 וחצי לבסיס, עוד חצי בשביל למרוח את העוגה בסוף
כפית 1 של קינמון טחון

תפוחים חמוצים, קילו 1
סוכר טחון, 50 גרם
צימוקים, 70 גרם
קינמון טחון, 3 כפיות

כ- 25 דקות, זמן בישול שעה

ערבב את הקמח, החמאה הרכה, סוכר, קינמון ו1 וחצי ביצה בקערה. לש לבצק אחיד וחלק.

רדד 3/4 מהבצק כדי לכסות את התחתית והצדדים של תבנית עוגה משומנת עגולה בקוטר
24 סנטימטר.

3. חמם את התנור ל 170 מעלות.
קלף את התפוחים ותוציא את הבית. פרס דק. ערבב עם 50 גרם סוכר, צימוקים והקינמון. הכנס לתבנית.

רדד את הבצק הנותר וחתוך לרצועות ארוכות, כל אחת בעובי של כסנטימטר. הניח את הרצועות על המילוי בתבנית, הארוכות ביותר באמצע, הקצרות בצדדים. סובב קצת את התבנית ותמשיך להניח את הרצועות, וכך צור תבנית של “שתי וערב” – ראה תמונה. אם קשה לך להוריד את הבצק ממשטח העבודה, גלגל את הרצועות כמו שטיחים ופרוס אותן על העוגה. חבר את סוף הרצועות לבצק שבצצדי התבנית והוריד עודף בצק אם קיים. מרח את הרצועות עם הביצה הנותרת.

 לאפות במשך 60-65 דקות, או עד שהבצק מוזהב קלות.

אה, והוסף כמות מכובדת של קצפת מתוקה ליד פרוסת העוגה כדי לחוות את החוויה ההולנדית הזו בצורה האוטנתית ביותר:-)


Sink your fangs into some lovely… DUTCH APPLE TART…”APPELTAART”

Here’s grandma’s recipe for this delicious Dutch apple pie!

serves 12

For the PASTRY
250g plain flour
175g butter, softened
80g caster sugar
2 eggs (one and a half for the pastry mixture, half for brushing the top)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1kg apples (bit sour)
50g caster sugar
70g sultanas
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

prep. 25 min         cook 1 hr
1. mix the flour, softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and one and a half eggs in a bowl. Knead it with your hands to a  consistent smooth dough.

2. roll out 3/4 of the dough to cover the bottom and sides of a greased  ROUND (24 cm) cake tin or spring form tin.

3. Preheat the oven to 170 C / gas 3

4. Peel, core and slice the apples. Mix this with 50g sugar, sultanas and cinnamon. Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

5. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into long strips, each about 1 cm wide. Start with the longest strips and lay the first two in an X in the centre of the pie. Alternate horizontal and vertical strips, weaving them in an over-and-under pattern. Use the shortest strips for the edges. If you are having trouble removing the dough from the work surface, roll the strips up like a rug and unroll them onto the pie. Press the end of the strips firmly to the edge of the pie and trim away any excess dough with a knife. Brush with remaining (beaten) egg.

6. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until pastry is light brown.

Oh, and add a fair amount of sweetened whipped cream next to your slice for the ultimate Dutch experience!

EET SMAKELIJK! (Bon Appetit!)


WALIBI Holland פארק

…מוכנים לקצת התרגשות הולנדית



רובין הוד
אקסקליבר, ג’י-פורס, טומהוק, ספייס שוט,
קונדור וסקיי דייבר

אלה כמה מתוך אטרקציות רבות שתמצא בפארק ווליבי בעיר בידינגהאוזן בהולנד

ייקח לכם כשעה להגיע מאמסטרדם לפארק, המרחק כ-70 קילומטר

לאלה ביניכים שאינם ממש מהמעיזים, ישנם מלא אטרקציות אחרות בפארק. במשך העונה הבוערת, קחו בחשבון שזמני המתנה יכולים להיות ארוכים מהרגיל.

יש דרך למנוע מלחכות בתור, אבל זה יעלה לכם לא מעט (לדעתינו כדאי בכל זאת): ניתן לרכוש כרטיס מיוחד “התור המהיר” עבור כניסה לאטרקציות הפופולריות. יש כרטיס ערד, כסף או זהב במחיר של 20, 30 או 40 אירו בתוספת למחיר הכניהס הרגיל. אנחנו לקחנו את הכרטיס הכסף, וכמעט ולא חיכינו באף אטרקציה יותר לשאר היום בפארק

אם לא מספיק לך יום אחד של התרגשות בפארק, או אם בא לך לחקור את האיזור וברצונך להישאר בפארק ללילה, ישנם סוגים שונים של צימרים בפארק עצמו, ויש שלל של מלונות בקרבה גם כן

WALIBI Holland

Ready for some Dutch excitement?!?!



These are some of the THRILL rides, you will find in WALIBI
PARK, situated in Biddinghuizen.

It will take you about one hour to get from Amsterdam to Biddinghuizen, the distance is about 70 km.

For the ones who are not such  dare devils, there are plenty of other fun things to do.
During the high season, you should take into account that the waiting time for the attractions can be long.
There is a way to avoid tedious waiting in line, but it will cost you quite a bit more (worthwhile though…in our opinion): the popular attractions are so called fast lane rides: you can get a bronze, silver of gold fast lane ticket for resp. 20, 30 or 50 euros, on top of the entry fee.
We took the silver ticket, which was very enjoyable.

Maybe you cannot get enough of the excitement, or you wish to explore the local area and you would like to stay overnight.  There are several types of cottages for rent at the park, but there are plenty of hotels in the vicinity as well.