The Bunny and the Egg

Hey! How nice of you to join us here and a big shout out to our followers; thanks

  • 😊

I have a burning question for you: Have you booked your flight to Holland in April yet? Let us tell you why you should…it’s not yet too late to order

🙂

Truly, this is the best season for a quick getaway to the Lowlands, and we’ll tell you why: winter is officially over. Nature has woken up early this year and is starting to show off all of its splendor. Bulbs are blooming (visit: Keukenhof!), trees are getting green again and buds are opening. A little bit of rain, then some sun, temperatures are comfortable for sightseeing. With just a little bit of luck, you’ll get more sunny days than cloudy ones. Adventure parks are open, and lines are not long like in summer. Ah, and there is a holiday coming up, so lots of extra special events. Finally, unlike in the summer, prices of flight tickets are still ranging between cheap and affordable…quite a few reasons to fly to the Netherlands I would say

Birds are nesting, Trees and Flowers are beginning to blossom, Butterflies are fluttering about chasing each other
Holland is in Spring; it's time for a visit Click To Tweet

It’s almost Easter, and Holland is celebrating: yet another good reason for booking that flight

Aglais io, the Peacock Butterfly, typically awakes early in spring
“Easter Fires”

Easter, or “Pasen” as the holiday is called in Holland, is considered a Christian holiday, like most holidays celebrated in Holland and in the rest of Europe. Religious Christians celebrate the holiday according to their beliefs and religious traditions, while most of the Dutch population, secular as they are, may be mainly concerned with just relaxing during their, undoubtedly, well deserved, long weekend

Besides the obvious Christian background, the holiday also has characteristics, often very locally, which stem from much older traditions. An example of such are the Easter Fires, a reminiscent of Gothic Europe. In Holland, these huge fires are lit in a few areas in the northeastern, central eastern and south eastern parts of the country only. Oh, and the bigger the fire, the better

Easter in an nut egg shell

  • Holiday dates: 21-22.4.2019
  • What is celebrated: Christians commemorate death and resurrection of Jesus
  • Easter is considered the most important holiday in Christianity
  • Thorough cleaning of the house. This used to be taken VERY seriously in the past…days on end of ruthless cleaning…’till one dropped. Today people tend to take it a whole lot easier
  • Eating “Matse bread” (without yeast): commemorating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt
  • Painting and eating of eggs: the egg from which the chick emerges, symbolises Jesus emerging from the burial cave. The egg has been a central theme since the 4th century AD. Wealthy landlords’ wives would go around their farming workers and present them with eggs after the harsh, long winter. At the time eggs were costly, especially to poor farmers, something that is hard to imagine today. Besides their religious, symbolic meaning, the eggs were given as a token of appreciation and to help the farmers gain strength towards the beginning season
  • Images of bunnies and chicks. Apparently, the image of “the bunny” comes from a Gothic (Germanic) mythological story: one time, the Goddess of Spring and Fertility, Eostra (Easter), came late to bring springtime to Earth, and as a result, a bird had almost died of cold, and its wings had become lame. The goddess therefore turned the bird into a rabbit, so it could go on living a normal life. Cleverly thought of, right? Wouldn’t you have done the same
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  • Consumerism

  • Like Christmas, although more modestly, Easter also feasts on the consumer’s wallet. Shops display a multitude of mouth-watering chocolate eggs and bunnies for the present-hunting consumer. Also, flower bunches and arrangements are hot items during Easter. Many Easter bouquets include fanciful willow branches. Very often, the egg/bunny/chick theme is present in these arrangements too, so if you buy or receive flowers during Easter, you will
  • be reminded what the season is

  • Easter in Holland

  • On April 22nd, several flower parades (in Dutch: “Bloemen Corso“) will take place in Holland. One of them is considered the “official” parade. It is by far the biggest and the most famous one. Themed wagons and trailers, consisting of huge constructions covered in millions of colourful flowers, make their way along a route in the agricultural flower bulb area, for all to see. How does that saying go again…When in Rome, act like a Roman

“When in Holland, go see a flower parade”

  • Concert

  • During the holiday, in most major cities, the Matheus Passion concert is performed. The concert was written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727. Women’s voices are central in this concert. The concert is based on the biblical story of Jesus’ s crucifixion, death and resurrection. Click for tickets in Amsterdam
  • Paas-Pop

  • Not everyone is into classical music. Luckily for electronic/pop music lovers, there is a great festival taking place from 19-21.4. Lots and lots of international performers and bands on several stages
    Check out what’s happening at Paas-Pop here
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King’s Day 27.4

This day has nothing to do with Easter, but it is celebrated less than a week after the holiday, so you could combine it with your spring visit to Holland😊 After a few generations of queens, Holland currently has a king. His first name is Willem-Alexander (see picture above). Every year on his birthday, the king visits a city or town, accompanied by his wife and three daughters. He celebrates his birthday together with the whole city, and people come from all parts of the country to join in in the festivities. The city that is chosen to host the royals and all the crowds, plans a full day of events and parties. The Royal family is first greeted by the city’s representatives and then walks for a couple of hours through the city, shaking hands and talking to people in the crowd. With a bit of luck you may get a royal handshake and exchange a few words with the king, queen or princesses! While the royals are walking and talking, they are introduced to displays of technological, social and artistic projects and endeavours of the city. There are also games, fairs, street – and music shows. Pubs and restaurants usually serve special dishes. You will see orange banners and flags everywhere, (the Royal Family’s last name is “Van Oranje” – as in orange) as well as the Dutch red-white-blue flag. This year, the city hosting the king and his family, is Amersfoort, smack in the centre of Holland, not far from Amsterdam. Here’s a little video of last year’s King’s Day to get you into the mood

😊

Well, this is it for now from us, Petra and Jennifer. We hope you’ll like our tips for April in Holland. If you have any questions or if you would like more tips for your trip, you know where to find us

Wherever you travel; have a great trip
😊

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Twente; the Home Match

When I ask any Israeli guy, Jew or Arab, between the ages of let’s say 14-60, whether they have heard of the soccer club

TWENTE
A Twente match we attended

I usually get a: “Yeah, sure!”, followed by one or two player names. And although they don’t know where the club is situated in Holland, or what the name stands for, they are familiar with the name “Twente”. Now, this post is not about the soccer club (which was, unfortunately, ranked down from the national league due to financial mismanagement :-(). This iloveholland post is about a beautiful Dutch area called Twente Click To Tweet, the most eastern part of the most eastern situated county, “Overijssel“, one out of the in total twelve Dutch counties

To me, Twente is home. Most of my relatives live there. It is a beautiful area which I absolutely love. I was born and raised there, until I emigrated to Israel at the age of 25

The Stallion of Twente

About the Area

Twente borders with Germany. You can either fly to Dusseldorf in Germany or to Amsterdam or even Eindhoven in The Netherlands; travelling time to Twente from all three airports is about the same, so all you have to do is book the cheaper ticket. Twente is quite different from the regular places tourists go to. It is an area of farming fields, cows, horses, forests, small lakes, and little, shallow rivers and creeks. Far less people live in Twente than in the west of The Netherlands, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and there are much less tall buildings. Twente has villages and small towns, and even the (very few) cities look more like villages because most houses are private and there are lots of open spaces and parks in between. On a bike, you ride out of any village or city within minutes and into the beautiful surroundings of farming land, forests and lakes, a real treat for nature lovers. Besides enjoying the natural beauty of the area, there is also a lot to do in Twente, some of which we will be happy to share with you in this post

Petra and two of her grandchildren enjoying the view just behind Petra’s house

The Local Dialect

Holland is a very small country, in size, comparable to Israel. The Dutch and their ancestors have always inhibited the area, and as a result, an abundance of dialects developed, differing greatly from county to county, even between areas within a county. In Twente, people speak, you guessed correctly, “Twents”, with variations that sometimes occur even between two villages that are but a few miles apart. To the untrained ear, Twents may sound more like German than for instance Dutch as spoken in Amsterdam. The Twents dialect contains many words that aren’t similar, even remotely, to their counterparts in “general, sophisticated Dutch”. This general Dutch language if you will, is based on Dutch as spoken in the West of Holland where the largest cities are situated. A citizen of Rotterdam or from any other part in the west of Holland, will not be able to understand the Twents dialect unless he has been exposed to it for a considerable length of time. Only a person who has Twents-speaking parents, grandparents, great grand parents and a few more earlier generations of Twents speakers in the family, will speak the dialect flawlessly. Learning to speak properly in the dialect, is, otherwise, simply out of the question. Take me for example. Born and raised in Twente. I can understand the dialect for the most, but, sadly enough, with a British father and a Rotterdam mum, there is no way I could ever speak Twents, even if my life depended on it. Well, you know what they say; nobody is perfect

😉 

The “Midwinter Horn”: a device, typical for Twente, invented and used during the pre-telephone era to exchange messages between farms when it was just too cold to go outside

Ah, and there is also the matter of good old prejudice. Quite a few Dutch people from the west of Holland, seem to consider “Twentenaren” (inhabitants of Twente)  as “simple farmers” or even “Germans”, neither intended complimentary. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, a Germanic (also; Gothic) tribe had settled in the area in those days. There were quite a few Northern-European tribes at the time, speaking various Germanic languages. Could this information have led to the allegation, that people from Twente are  “Germans”? The Roman historian mentions a tribe name in his scriptures: “Tuhanti” (or “Tvhanti”).  Who knows, the name “Twente” may have derived from this tribe name mentioned by Tacitus

If you have visited The Netherlands once or twice, and if you think you may recognise its sounds, I dare you to listen to this radio program, broadcast in the Twents dialect, and experience how different it really sounds from general Dutch

Well, did you recognise any Dutch? Or did it sound like “Chinese” to you? Either way, no need to worry; all you need is a little bit of English in Twente and you’ll be absolutely fine

Tree blossom in April last year, picture taken just in front of Petra’s house, Twente

Do in Twente

Spring, the best season to enjoy European nature, awakening from its winter sleep. Dutch summers are also evergreen, especially in Twente. There are numerous ways of travelling around, and Twente offers a wide variety of fun ways of exploring. Obviously, renting a (electric) bike is a great option in Holland, but check out the following possibilities

Getting Around

By Lothar Spurzem – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 de

In the town of Beuningen, the “Active Twente” company offers a wide variety of vehicles, from regular bikes to stepping bikes (the hottest thing currently), from various types of Italian and American scooters (Piaggios and Choppers) to kayaks for the waterways. Whether you wish to travel alone or with a family or a group, “Active Twente” will attend to your every need, hand you a map or GPS and send you off on the most beautiful routes through the area. Petra and I took a trip on scooters with them as well. I had my son with me on my scooter,  happy as can be. Another fun option of getting around is to rent a “tuk-tuk“, yes exactly, those 3-wheel vehicles you see on the road everywhere in the far East

The “Duckville” company, situated in the town of Diepenheim rents out French old-timers, the Renault 2CV: there’s no air conditioning (don’t worry, you won’t need one anyway), and no buttons to press for opening the windows…a genuine experience for your children and a trip down memory lane for you

Historic sites, Parks and Food

So, let’s say you’ve toured the area, seen the beautiful nature and have taken lots of pictures…what else is there to see and to do in the area? A lot! Here are some tips, and we will be posting more soon

Hellendoorn

A fun amusement park with rides for the whole family. The park just opened for the 2019 season on 6.3

Delden

 A small ancient village from the Middle Ages, 1300 AC, with shops from way back when, local and organic produce, art, vintage items and, last but not least, an ancient Jewish cemetery. At a walk’s distance, the Twickel Estate, a humble palace with beautiful gardens and a lush forest all around, perfect for a stroll in the woods

Ootmarsum

A beautiful, ancient artists’ village with an amazing museum exhibiting works from the renowned local artist, Ton Schulten. After Schulten had been in an accident, he began painting abstract landscapes in bright colours. The museum displays a large collection of his impressive works, but there is work of other artists on display as well. At the end of the 2019 summer holiday (23-25th of August), the annual art fair will take place in the village centre. Works of hundreds of artists and craftsmen and -women from the area and beyond, are for sale

picture taken during one of our visits to “Avatarz”

Deurningen

Your kids are going to absolutely love this “Climbing Forest” – Avatarz! My kids have been visiting Avatarz for many years now, literally every time I go home to Twente, and they never get bored with it; Extreme Tree Climbing. While you are having a well deserved break, your kids are (safely) climbing way up in the trees for at least two hours. At a height of approximately 6 meters, they slowly make their way from tree to tree towards a long zip line that “zips” them back to where you are sitting, relaxing, sipping your sparkling water in the sun. If you are the sportive type, by all means, join everybody up in the trees! It will be a workout you will feel for a few days to come! Next to the venue there are beautiful lakes, “The Hulsbeek”, so if you need to cool off, jump right in

Salland

A beautiful national park, known for its abundance of pink and purple heather. During WWII, the area witnessed persecution of Jews. A work camp was situated there. Jews were put to work, and towards the end of the war in 1945, they were all were sent to Auschwitz and murdered.There is a memorial site which commemorates the persecution and murder of the Jewish people, and particularly mentions a Mr. Marsman, Mr. Tielbek, Mr. Bachrach and Mr. Piksen. The latter was part of the Dutch resistance and when he tried to protect people during a round up of Jews by the Nazis, he was murdered along with them

De Lutte

a beautiful area for walking and hiking

Hengelo

The East of Holland is famous for its beers, especially for the world-wide known brand of Grolsch. In my hometown Hengelo, where Petra lives too, you can do a nice tour in a small brewery, taste the various types of beer and enjoy a great meal for reasonable prizes. People in Twente love pubs and cafes. Especially when the sun is out, the terraces are packed with people having a drink and enjoying each other’s company. One of the renowned cafes in Hengelo is called “De Appel”, you guessed right, “The Apple”, where I used to hang out a lot during my high school breaks, and especially during maths lessons….sorry mum!:-) You can also check out the current bar hot spot, “the Two Orphans” or cafe “the Three Musketeers“, all situated in the city centre, great for drinks and lunches. Hengelo has a few nice night clubs, so if you are a creature of the night, join the Dutch on the dance floor; they sure do love a good party 

Enschede

The “Capital” of Twente, a buzzing university city, great for shopping during the day, going out in the evening and at night. There is a really great pub there called “The Tomcat” (in Dutch: “De Kater”) which also means “hangover”…great name for a pub:-) In Holland, most pubs serve great dishes so you really don’t have to look for a restaurant perse. But if you insist, Enschede has many good restaurants, especially in the market square around the central church. “El Corru” is a small Spanish restaurant, away from the city centre, yet definitely worth a visit. The Spanish owner and his local wife, friends of the family,  prepare authentic Spanish meals with ingredients brought in personally from Spain…simply lovely food

Well, that’s it for now about Twente. We will post more tips soon and we hope you’ll come over for a visit very soon

🙂

For your information: the sites we link to, do not pay us any commission. If you want to know more about the area, or if you are looking for any specific activity or destination in the area or in The Netherlands, we will be glad to help you plan your visit

Winter fun “Dutch Style”!

If you were to ask me: “What do the Dutch like to do in wintertime?”, I would immediately answer: Ice Skating. As soon as winter sets in, and temperatures drop, “ice fever” takes a hold of the Dutch. “What will the weather be like in the next two weeks?” “Will the temperature stay below zero long enough?” “Should I get my skates out of the garage already?” The Dutch are ice skating freaks, heart and soul. They have been competing on the highest levels of professional speed skating for many years now, and usually, the Dutch and the Norwegians are the two top-ranking countries, competing each other in this branch of sport. Also,  artistic ice skating as we know it today, has its roots in old fashioned, traditional ice skating 

The love for this sport starts from childhood, when mum and dad take their children to the nearest frozen river, channel or lake. And yes, falling down onto the hard ice is part of the game and not so pleasant, but in spite of the cold and of falling down, skating becomes pure pleasure pretty quickly. The love of ice skating is instilled from a very young age and is a highly valued part of the Dutch wintry leisure culture

Really, what could be more enjoyable than skating outside on the channel, the river and the lakes? Indoor skating is…nice, but it’s not the real thing, is it? There is nothing like skating outside on natural ice, enjoying the the beauty of a winter landscape

Unfortunately, apparently under the influence of global heating, winter has become warmer in Holland too. Extended freezing periods that used to occur in Holland, haven’t been happening so much anymore for quite a number of years now. As a result, natural ice usually doesn’t get thick enough for ice skating anymore. The thickness of the ice needs to be at least 7cm. to hold a group of people safely. You may be able to imagine, how much the Dutch are yearning for outdoor ice skating
In the town of Biddinghuizen which is situated in the county of Flevopolder, a solution to the Dutch national yearning for their beloved outdoor sport, was set up: a 3-kilometre-long, curvy, artificial river, frozen, even when temperatures are well above the freezing point…I introduce to you: The Sports & Fun Park Flevonice

Speaking of Flevopolder; this vast piece of land was drained from seawater, an outstanding example of Dutch engineering and of Dutch victory over the sea. This county came into being in the 60’s and 70’s, and has over 400.000 citizens today. It’s capital is Lelystad, named after Cornelis Lely (yes like the flower, lily). Lely was the man with the vision, he was the creative force behind the biggest waterworks in Holland today. Flevoland is connected to the rest of Holland by means of eight bridges, and when you visit there, you will see numerous wind turbines placed on and off shore. After all, Holland is low and flat, but Flevopolder, is, believe it or not, even flatter and lower than other areas, and lies next to an interior sea which is connected to the exterior North Sea, hence, a lot of wind for green energy

Flevonice is open every day between the first of December and the 3rd of March. What does the park offer
a beautiful, artificial frozen over river for ice skating, even when it’s 10 degrees above Celsius
skating lessons, workshops and courses
skating competitions -for experienced skaters only
rental equipment
Ice Fun – an ice skating rink for children with cool aid instruments for an optimum -feeling of security while learning to skate
a playground including trampolines
Carting on a brush track – giving you a feeling of “sliding” through the curves the minimum length for carting is 1.40 m
a 3,6,or 9 kilometre long running track with 50 excellent obstacles – you can join the marines afterwards
a beautifully designed restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere, lots of sitting areas and terraces

 The distance from Amsterdam to Flevonice is 70 km., so you can easily make a day trip out of it. You’re not hiring a car? No problem, you can get there by train in less than 2 hours. If you feel like having a look around in Flevopolder, explore and enjoy this special and beautiful Dutch countryside,  there

are hotels in the area of the park

Wishing you a  lot of ice cold fun on your holiday in our little country in the winter

Petra and Jennifer 😉

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

DIRECTIONS:
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:

https://www.weeronline.nl/

https://www.buienradar.nl/

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.

www.giethoorn.com

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”
and: np-weerribbenwieden.nl

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

Rotterdam

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:

City-sightseeing-rotterdam.com
This is an hop on-hop off bus with 6 stops throughout the city.

cityrotterdam.com
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.

spido.nl
This is a sight seeing boat trip around the enormous and famous harbours, the heart of Rotterdam.

water taxi rotterdam.nl
This small but quite fast boat, the “water taxi”, gets you across the river Maas which runs right through the city.

cityguiderotterdam.com
This guide provides you with all the information about the metro.

Waterbus.nl
This is a boat which takes you into Rotterdam but also goes to the nearby city of Dordrecht and additional places worth visiting.

splashtours.nl
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!

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

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

METHOD
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!)