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Tag Archives: dutchmen

Campuri olandeze cu flori / Dutch flowerfields

Cum sa nu iti placa tara asta cu florile ei dementiale?
Sambata am ajuns in Callantsoog, un sat la mare, in vestul Olandei, cred ca cel mai nordic loc in care am fost pana acum in Olanda. Am vazut la televizor cu o zi inainte ca este o zona cu multe campuri cu flori, noi le stiam doar pe cele din jurul parcului Keukenhof, mai sudic deci. 

Asa ca am combinat o plimbare cu masina printre campuri in multe culori vesele cu o plimbare pe malul marii, scurta, pentru ca era o zi cum numai olandezilor le place ca sa o petreaca la mare: cu vant, vezi aici mai multe despre placerea asta olandeza.

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How could one not like this country with its incredible flowers?
On Saturday we went to Callantsoog, a village at the seaside, in the west of the Netherlands, I think the most northern place I have visited so far in the country. I had seen the day before on tv that it is a region with many flowerfields, we only were familiar with the ones around the Keukenhof park, so more to the south.

So we combined a car trip around the colourful flowerfields with a walk on the beach, a short one, as it was a day only Dutch people can enjoy at the beach: with lots of wind.

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Kruidnoten in August???

Va prezint o traditie olandeza care se repeta in fiecare an, ca orice traditie care se respecta.

Asadar, in fiecare an, olandezii sunt scandalizati de aparitia mult prea timpurie a produselor tipice pentru sarbatoarea Sinterklaas (5 decembrie) sau pentru alte sarbatori.

Pe twitter, alte site-uri sau in viata reala, olandezii sunt de fiecare data exasperati pentru ca produsele respective apar in magazine cu luni inainte de sarbatoarea cu pricina. Si fiecare olandez isi inchipuie ca e primul care le descopera si care, din acest motiv, are toate drepturile sa se planga cu foc.

Nu sunt olandeza, ce-i drept, dar sunt sigura ca am fost prima care am detectat inca in august, pe data de 30, kruidnoten, care mie imi plac, asa ca am si cumparat prima punga 🙂

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Introducing a Dutch tradition which repeats itsself every year, like every serious tradition.

So, every year, the Dutch are shocked by the fact that holiday related items appear in shops way too early, like the ones for Sinterklaas (December 5th) or for other holidays.

On twitter, other sites or in real life, the Dutch are expressing their dissatisfaction because these products can be bought already months ahead. And every Dutch person believes that he or she is the first one to spot them every year and therefore thinks that he/she has every right to complain publicly.

It’s true I am not Dutch, but I am convinced that I was the first to spot still in August, the 30th, kruidnoten, which are my favourite Sinterklaas product, so I bought the first bag already 🙂

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How I learned (some more) Dutch

While I was still busy with the first Dutch language course described last time, I started working. The same position in the same firm as in Romania. The most important difference (besides earning as much as in Romania but for half the time) and cause of sweating every time the phone rang in the first months, was the language. I work in the sales department of a German company and our customers are situated in the Benelux, so mainly Dutch speaking. In the beginning, I only spoke English with my colleagues, as  I still thought I couldn’t speak decent Dutch, but I was learning, so I had hopes. When customers called and started speaking Dutch, I was close to fainting every time from the effort it took me to understand them, even their names were quite a challenge.

So it was high time for another language course, a better one, a more expensive one, as now the firm would pay! 🙂 I was very happy that the firm offered me a course and I can say that it changed my life in the Netherlands since I attended it. It was at ILC in Waalwijk where I had a teacher all to myself, which was exactly what I needed. I could ask away, all my doubts and uncertainties found answers, while also practicing the Dutch language I needed at the office. The lessons were once a week, in the evening and took about 4 months (30 hours in total). After a few lessons I was confident enough to speak Dutch and use it also more in writing.

This was my second and last Dutch course so far, I am now at an acceptable level, I have had my share of compliments on the Dutch I speak and I particularly enjoy noticing the mistakes Dutch people make in their own language 🙂

I would like to know and use more Dutch expressions, this is still a pretty unfamiliar territory for me. And I would like a richer active vocabulary, I understand most of the words I hear or read, but I do not use many of them myself because they just don’t come to mind when needed. So there is still work to be done, for sure.

And to round up my Dutch language adventures, here are some reactions I have had from Dutch people while still not speaking Dutch or now, that I do speak Dutch:

– when I was at the beginning of my Dutch life, I was approached by a Dutch person who spoke Dutch in a loud voice and in a sort of slow motion, something like: “THE WEA-THER IS RE-ALLY NI-CE TO-DAY.” Somehow, this method seemed the best way to deal with someone who doesn’t speak your language but is trying to learn it.

– others, who were not comfortable to speak English (which I was communicating in at that time), which is understandable, told me they are only speaking Dutch to me so that I can learn the language, since I have to learn it anyway. Of course, it can be a method to be forced to speak a foreign language, but at times I felt isolated and left out of conversations I couldn’t follow.

– now, after about 6 years of speaking Dutch every day, I was recently amazed by a Dutch person who hadn’t spoken to me before, but knew that I was not Dutch. He spoke Dutch with me as if HE was a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language well. I spoke to him normally, I certainly don’t sound Dutch, it’s clear that I am a foreigner, but still, I speak correctly, making maybe small mistakes, but nothing major. Well, his Dutch towards me sounded like: “You looking and you seeing the tree.”

– probably the same accent I mentioned also makes many customers calling me at work (it is an office based in the Netherlands, the phone number is Dutch) start talking to me in English. Which I swear they didn’t do when I was just starting here! 🙂 Even some customers who I have on the phone regularly and whom I have even written e-mails in Dutch before. Some of them make it very complicated for themselves, because for some reason they don’t start in Dutch or at least ask me first if they can speak Dutch to me, they just start in English and have sometimes a hard time finding their words.

Well, that was it, good luck to everyone learning Dutch!

 
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Posted by on 21 August 2013 in ENGLISH POST

 

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Mergellandroute: Margraten

Cimitirul american din Margraten este foarte impresionant: pe doua ziduri lungi vezi toate numele soldatilor inmormantati aici, iar apoi toate crucile care le marcheaza mormintele.

Olandezii sunt profund recunoscatori pentru libertatea de care se bucura dupa cel de-al doilea razboi mondial. In fiecare an, cu multa seriozitate, olandezii marcheaza pe 4 mai Nationale Herdenking, ziua in care se comemoreaza toate victimele cazute in razboi, la ora 20.00 culminand in 2 minute de reculegere. Regele Olandei este prezent in acea seara in piata centrala din Amsterdam, De Dam, ca sa depuna o coroana la monumentul dedicat acestor victme si in fiecare an piata este plina de olandezi de rand care vor astfel la randul lor sa isi exprime gratitudinea.  Chiar si magazinele sunt obligate sa fie inchise dupa ora 19.00 si se evita organizarea de petreceri publice. In ziua urmatoare se sarbatoreste Bevrijdingsdag, ziua eliberarii, o zi la polul opus celei precedente, cu multe petreceri, concerte in aer liber, pentru a sarbatori libertatea, democratia si drepturile omului. Pentru incheierea acestei zile, regele si regina participa in Amsterdam la concertul traditional pe raul Amstel, concert la care publicul poate asista gratis si care este transmis in direct la televizor.

Anul acesta s-au implinit 68 de ani de la incheierea razboiului dar concluziile care se trag in urma lui sunt inca actuale si pastrate vii in Olanda prin aceste doua zile.

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The American cemetery in Margraten is very impressive: you see on two long walls all the names of the soldiers buried here and then all the crosses marking their graves. 

The Dutch are deeply grateful for the freedom they are enjoying after WW II. Every year they take two days very seriously. On May 4th the Nationale Herdenking is the day when the victims of war are being commemorated and at 8 p.m. a 2 minutes’ silence is held. The king of the Netherlands is present in the evening in the central square in Amsterdam, De Dam, for a wreath ceremony at the victims’ monument and every year the square is full of Dutch people who want to express their gratitude this way. Even the stores have to be closed after 7 p.m. and there are no public celebrations and parties that day. The next day is Bevrijdingsdag, Liberation Day, the complete opposite of the previous day. with many parties,open air concerts, to celebrate freedom, democracy and human rights. At the end of the day there is a traditional concert in Amsterdam on the Amstel river,attended by the king and queen as well, and by regular Dutchmen (free of charge). It is also broadcasted live on TV..

This year it’s been 68 years since the war ended but the conclusions of it are still very much alive in the Netherlands, surely during these two days.

 

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New Year’s fireworks in the Netherlands

One thing is sure: every year on the morning of December 31st war seems to break out in the Netherlands. Between 10.00 and 02.00 hours on the last day of the year it is allowed to use fireworks in the Netherlands. And, as there are many Dutch who fancy this activity, the bombing is guaranteed. It is the one day I really do not like to leave the house because there are especially boys everywhere using all kind of fireworks, often wasting also the beautiful ones which can hardly be seen in daylight and to me this is a pretty hostile atmosphere 🙂

At the end of every year, fireworks are a big topic in the Netherlands. Many Dutch are fond of the tradition of fireworks for New Year’s Eve. As the laws concerning them are very strict (fireworks can only be sold in the last 3 days of the year, they can only be used between the hours I mentioned above, the quantities which one person can purchase are limited), there are always problems as people want to be able to stock up on time or they want heavier fireworks, which may not be sold in the Netherlands, but are available at a convenient distance, over the border in Belgium, where they also can be bought all year long and where they are cheaper, so many Dutch are tempted to buy the fireworks from the neighbours. Another problem is given by the Dutch who cannot wait and thus do not respect the period when it is permitted to fire them, so already around Christmas some of them start with the fireworks, which displeases many people. Especially for this last category of Dutch, this year a site has been opened where people can complain about fireworks. It had such a huge success that it was blocked several times by the high amount of simultaneous visitors. It seems that more than 1,000  complaints were registred every hour and in the mean time the total is around 50,000. At the end, after January 1st, the complaints will become an argument for the left-wing party who would like to see the fireworks being used by private persons forbidden. An inquiry showed that more than half of the Dutch would agree with this prohibition.

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In order for you to understand how serious the Dutch are about fireworks, last year around 70 million euros were spent on them (the Netherlands has about 16 million inhabitants). This year there are less people buying fireworks, but the average amount spent on them has grown from 45 to 47 euros.

Other problems caused by fireworks are given by the fact that they are dangerous, not only for people (because they can explode unexpectedly or can fall over), but also for windows, bus stops, post boxes which are adapted these days so that only normal sized envelopes can be inserted. Also, the fireworks are air polluting, causing problems for people with asthma or other health issues, who are advised to stay inside on January 1st.

I don’t know how it is where you are, but I hope it is more quite and that there are beautiful fireworks for you to watch around midnight.

Happy New Year!

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Last photo © Jack Vehoeven, these are fireworks behind our house, as well as in the other pic..

 
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Posted by on 31 December 2012 in ENGLISH POST

 

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What do the Dutch drink?

If you have ever visited Dutch people, the answer to above question cannot be too difficult to give.
The Dutch drink lots and lots of coffee. I was shocked in the beginning, I couldn’t understand how they don’t get heart problems, don’t get jumpy or just explode from so much caffeine.
You will never hear a doctor in the Netherlands asking a patient how much coffee he drinks, so none will recommend a decrease of coffee consumption.
The Dutch drink coffee any time of the day, it accompanies any occasion, the visits are also called “having a coffee”. Even for a birthday you can be invited to have a coffee, although it is not the only thing you will get, but it seems the most important part of a birthday celebration. It is in any case the first part of it, no matter if the birthday will be celebrated in the afternoon or in the evening, in the beginning one, but mostly two cups of coffee will be drunk, afterwards passing to beer or wine or a soft drink.
OK, I don’t want to exagerate, not all Dutchmen drink coffee, there seems to be some sort of exclusivity, many times those who drink coffee don’t drink tea and the other way around. But at a birthday there might be one in 10 people drinking tea, the rest drinking coffee.
The limit of coffee drinking Dutchmen is very high, I can’t drink more than 2 coffees, while a Dutch person can easily drink 5 coffees during 1,5 hour.
As figures are most relevant, I found some on wikipedia, the drinks consumption in litres per Dutch person per year (figures from 2007):

  • Coffee 144 – about 3,2 cups a day/person (decreasing), about 3 times more than Romanians – when hearing this, a Dutchman explained that it doesn’t mean that Dutch people drink a lot of coffee, but that Romanians drink very little 🙂  Don’t be misled by this figure, it is only an average, there are Dutchmen who easily drink 10 mugs a day.
  • Tea 100
  • Soft drinks 95,8
  • Beer 77,2
  • Milk 44,5
  • Juices and nectars 26,9
  • Bottled water 21,9
  • Wine 21,6
  • Water for coolers 2,8
  • Pure alcohol 1,29
Coffee and tea are drunk the most, because they can easily be drunk all day long and at work they are most of the time for free.
In the Dutch language there is even a word: “koffiepraat” – let’s say “talking over coffee” – making conversation at work, on current issues, and where do you do this most of the times? In the place where you meet colleagues from other offices, at the coffee source 🙂
Coffee, especially during a visit, is accompanied by a cookie, you can find various kinds in the supermarkets. There is a legend known by foreigners who have been in the Netherlands, but from my experience I can say that it doesn’t happen very often: the cookie box which appears when having the first coffee, is passed around the room and then disappears back into the cupboard, without touching the table, which would enable the guests to take a second cookie. If the box is placed on the table afterwards, nobody will take another cookie, even if the host invites them to. If the coffee consumption is limitless, the cookie consumption has very well defined limits.
In the meantime, the classic coffee machine seems old fashioned in the Netherlands, real coffee lovers buy all kind of machineries, most of the times I hear people saying they have a Senseo, with coffee pads, looking a bit like tea bags, which doesn’t produce a big can of coffee, but one, max. 2 mugs. There is also Nespresso,with its commercials starring George Clooney.
Because the Dutch love coffee but also saving stuff  in order to get some discount later on, there are coffee packs from which you can cut off some small coupons, which you can glue on a card and after collecting them for several months or longer and your card is full, you get a discount. For instance, the Albert Heijn supermarkets have their own coffee brand, Perla, on which you will find one and sometimes 2 of these coupons, each with a value of 10 points. When you reach 250 points you get a discount of 2 euros!!!
So remember and don’t be astonished: coffee is very important in Dutch lives.
 
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Posted by on 17 February 2012 in ENGLISH POST, Fenomene olandeze, Gastronomice

 

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The Dutch obsession or the Elfstedentocht phenomenon

After the news about the heavy snowfall in Romania has reached the Netherlands, it seems to me like a good time to reveal to you the national obsession, spread like an octopus on Dutch minds.

Every single winter, as soon as it freezes -2°C, you hear enthusiastic Dutchmen predicting that it won’t be long until the ice will be thick enough for the ELFSTEDENTOCHT!

I’ve been living here in Holland for 5 years and until now no Elfstedentocht has been held, because it has never been cold enough. But the way that most Dutchmen seem to light up automatically from the smallest sign of frost and start to mention this tradition, is really unbelievable.

Elfstedentocht means “the tour of the eleven towns” and is organized by the Royal Association of the 11 Towns in Friesland, Friesland being one of the provinces in the North of the Netherlands, with an own language. The association was founded in 1909 and organizes since then this skating tour, not more than once a year, but depending totally on the temperatures outside, because the skating occurs on natural ice from one town to the other. Already on the first page of the association’s site there is a remark about the way that Dutch people react when there is frost, I quote: “When, after a few nights of strong frost, it becomes exciting to know if the tour will be organized, you will be able to read here all  about it.”

Below is a map of the towns, just to give you an idea. The people skate from town to town, on lakes and canals (Holland is full of them), between the fields, under bridges.

Source: www.rnw.nl

The inhabitants of the province Friesland used to skate often for longer distances, because in the past a horse was a luxury not many of them could afford. For fun, a tour similar to the one now was skated several times, even centuries ago.

The tour starts and finishes in Leeuwaarden, the capital of the province, and lasts one day, the last time it was organized was on January 4th 1997. It must have been a great winter, when, after getting pneumonia by diving in the sea on January 1st (Dutch tradition), the Dutch were able to deepen the problem only 3 days later by skating in the cold for hours on end.

Since 1909 the tour was held 15 times, ONLY 15 TIMES! But maybe it’s the low frequency that makes everything so exciting, you can wish all you want, but if the ice is not min. 15 cm thick on most of the route of about 200 km, the tour will not be organized. When there are chances (minimal, believe me) that it might happen, the rayonheads (that’s how they are called) measure at least once a day the ice thickness , and if there are serious reasons, a meeting of the rayonheads will be held to decide whether it’s time to start it all.

Source: http://images.memorix.nl/naa/thumb/500×500/12854ba3-23bb-2ecb-bd9c-5c5cb816e6cd.jpg

Also, the weather institute is being consulted on a regular basis, as well as a weather forecaster known from TV, Piet Paulusma, who comes from the same province, so he has to be from there in order to be trustworthy in such matters of maximum importance. What do you think happens when there are places where the ice isn’t thick enough? I had never heard of such a thing: an ice transplant!!! In other cases a wooden construction will be placed on the ice or on its side, so that the skaters can hop on it until they reach ice again. Also carpets or rubber rugs can be used, but they try to use such artifices as little as possible.

In order to participate in such an event, you have to be a member of the association, because only the real passionated skaters should participate and no tickets should be sold for commercial profits.

At the start, the skaters receive a notebok in which they must collect stamps in every town and also from some secret control posts on the way, secret in order to avoid cheating by not skating all the route. At the finish within the maximum time period, every participant with all the stamps in the notebook receives an award: the cross of the tour of the 11 towns.

Source: http://neon.pictura-hosting.nl/fsm/fsm_mrx_bld/thumbs/250×250/fsm/00/FSM_058/FSM-1984-198.jpg

The first 11 men and the first 5 women (the discrimination is based on the smaller number of women who take part) also receive a medal.

Source: http://www.astroblogs.nl/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/tocht.jpg

In 1986 the tour had a very important participant, who wanted to remain incognito: prince Willem-Alexander.

Source:http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQKsbvJPC8kKJhBlMko6zUXmjDQ-DXUj4SwFdD9U25Z7zdIuptWyg

In 2008 a study was carried out (probably the impatience of the Dutch was already huge) and the conclusion was that, because of the change of climate, the chance of organizing a tour is once every 18 years. If this is true, I’m afraid we only have 3 more years until the next tour, until then we will keep getting annoyed every time there’s a little bit of frost.

 

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