Tag Archives: typically Dutch

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 🙂


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 began to learn Dutch

I came to the Netherlands after trying for a few months to learn Dutch by myself, at home, helped by a book and a CD (for the connaisseurs: Het Groene Boek).


I knew that Dutch is a Germanic language, so I expected it to have a lot in common with German and English, languages I had learned for many years. But the strange words and certainly sounds that came out of the CD were quite different. The first lesson in the book was of a more general nature and contained among other things the question: “Hoe heet jij?”, meaning: “What are you called?”. It does resemble the German question: “Wie heißt du?”, but only if you know how to look at the words 🙂  But the same question on the CD didn’t sound Germanic at all, if anything, it was definitely Chinese. It sounds something like: “who hate chai?”. Fake a Chinese accent while reading this and you’ll understand what I mean 🙂


Still, I did not despair. I went on with the lessons in the book and tried to learn words, the few grammar rules in the book that were not really explained further than by examples and, what was more difficult, I tried to learn how to pronounce the Dutch words. I recall listening to some words over and over again and still not understanding a certain sound. Like the infamous (if it isn’t officially infamous, it should be!) “ui” sound, I would like to explain it to you, but it is impossible. If I spoke to you in person I would still not be able to pronounce it like Dutch people do. And in the context of more letters, like “huis” (=house) I think I can mimic a sound which is acceptable, but when the sound is completely naked, in the word “ui” (=onion) I have no place to hide and it becomes obvious how infamous a sound it is 🙂

The reason I was learning the language was that Romania, where I was living, was not a member of the EU at that time and in order to be accepted to live in the Netherlands I was supposed to pass a language test. I had read more than half of the book and I was not really optimistic about passing the test. But I could call a certain number and have a test on the phone in order to get an idea of my level. I don’t remember exactly how long the test was, but it seemed to take forever. I was unable to answer most of the questions. Panic struck as I already thought I will never be permitted to live in the Netherlands. The result of the test revealed however (the following day) that I hadn’t done so badly, if I remember well it was something like 60% OK. Which could only mean that the expectations weren’t high at all, as most of my answers were “I don’t know” 🙂

A few weeks later I was finally saved by the EU, when the announcement came that Romania would join it on January 1st 2007, meaning for me that a language test was no longer necessary.

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Posted by on 14 August 2013 in ENGLISH POST


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Dordrecht (bilingual and bicoloured post) 1/2

Sambata am batut strazile orasului Dordrecht, unul dintre cele mai vechi orase olandeze.
Imediat am dat de aceasta imagine tipic olandeza. In multe orase olandeze pe unde am fost in weekend am intalnit o flasneta care insufleteste atmosfera stradala. Ritmul este batut de o persoana care cere o contributie din partea trecatorilor, avand o cana metalica cu capac, in care se afla monede, pe care o scutura.

Last Saturday we walked the streets of Dordrecht, one of the oldest Dutch towns.
Immediatley we found this typical Dutch image. In many Dutch towns we have visited on weekends we have met street organs which animate the streets. A person belonging to the the “show” carries a metal cup with a lid, holding a few coins, and shakes it in the rhythm of the music, trying to make the people passing by contribute with some more coins.

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Cum era ora pranzului, ne-am indreptat spre o cafenea ca sa mancam ceva.
Am gasit, am intrat si ne-am minunat. Cafeneaua era plina ochi, dar mai era si veche si frumoasa.

As it was lunch time, we looked for a café. We found one, we entered and were amazed. Not only was it crowded, but it was also beautiful and old.

Dupa un Waldkorn (paine neagra) cu branza de capra calda si miere pe deasupra, iar pentru Jack doua kroketten de vitel pe paine, am avut ochi si pentru ceea ce se intampla afara, pe trotuarul opus celui cu cafeneaua: grupuri de turisti se opreau rand pe rand sa admire si fotografieze cladirea in care ne aflam.
La iesire, am facut si noi la fel, dupa ce mai intai am citit placuta aceasta:

After a Waldkorn (type of brown bread) with warm goat cheese topped with honey and for Jack two veal kroketten on bread, we finally had eyes for what was happening outside, on the sidewalk across the street from the café: groups of tourists were stopping to admire and take pictures of the building we were sitting in. 
When we left, we did the same, after first reading this:

P1140244 phNumele cladirii este Crimpert Salm, a fost construita in 1608 si are una dintre cele mai frumoase fatade renascentiste din oras. A adapostit breasla cumparatorilor de peste, iar numele are a face cu loviturile care se dadeau somonilor prin care deveneau mai rozalii si mai atragatori pentru cumparatori.

The name of the building is Crimpert Salm, it was built in 1608 and it has one of the most beautiful Renaissance facades in town. It used to be the home of the fish buyers’ guild and the name suggests the blows given to the salmons to make them more pink and thus more attractive for the buyers.

Vedeti si o poza veche a cladirii pe site-ul cafenelei (textul este din pacate numai in olandeza).

Am facut o oprire la una dintre librariile noastre preferate, van der Leer, unde mi-am facut un stoc de felicitari, am gasit unele retro carora nu le-am putut rezista, pana si plicurile sunt frumoase, mai jos o poza cu cateva dintre ele.

See also an older picture of the building on the café’s site (the text is unfortunately only in Dutch).

We stopped at one of our favourite book stores, van der Leer, where I stocked up on cards, I found some retro looking ones and couldn’t resist them, even the envelopes are beautiful. Here are only some of them:


Asa am ajuns la statuia pictorului romantic nascut in Dordrecht Ary Scheffer, in piata care ii poarta numele.

And so we arrived at the statue of the romantic painter who was born in Dordrecht, Ary Scheffer, on the Scheffer square.

In Olanda, cu cat sunt mai batrane orasele, cu atat sunt mai multe case inclinate, iar unele si foarte inguste. Poate de asta turnul din Pisa nu a facut prea mare impresie asupra noastra, ba la un moment dat ne intrebam daca nu e o liuzie optica 🙂

Un exemplu, scuze pentru stalp, vedeti aici, cafeneaua pare impinsa spre dreapta de catre magazinul V&D:

In the Netherlands, the older the towns, the more askew the houses, and some of them also very narrow. Maybe that’s why we were not that impressed by the tower of Pisa and we were even thinking at some point that it might be an optical illusion 🙂

One example, sorry for the lamppost, can be seen here, the café seems to be pushed to the right by the V&D store:

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Parasind piata, am zarit pe o strada laterala aceasta reclama murala la un restaurant care serveste clatite si poffertjes (un fel de mini clatite, care se mananca cu zahar pudra). Sper sa fie o reclama veche, asa cum si arata:

We left the square and saw on a side street this mural advertising for a restaurant serving pancakes and poffertjes (a sort of mini pancakes eaten with powdered sugar). I hope the mural is as old as it looks: P1140256 ph

Sambata in centrul multor orase olandeze se organizeaza piete stradale. In Dordrecht mi s-a parut chiar mai mare decat in alte orase, rasfirata pe mai multe strazi. Nelipsite din piete sunt standurile cu peste sau cele cu cartofi prajiti.

On Saturdays the centers of many Dutch towns host street markets. The one in Dordrecht seemed even bigger than other ones, spread on several streets. Always to be found on a market: a fish vendor, here also accompanied by one selling fries.

La parasirea pietei am dat peste aceeasi flasneta, se pare ca am avut un traseu comun:

When leaving the market we found the same street organ as earlier, it appears we had a common itinerary:


Partea a doua din “Dordrecht” va urma peste cateva zile.

The second part of “Dordrecht” will follow in a few days,


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Amsterdam 2013

If you are looking for a holiday destination for 2013 I can recommend Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, which was named by Lonely Planet as second on the list of the 10 cities in the world worth visiting this year (the first being San Francisco). The reason is that there are a lot of anniversaries, among which I find most interesting: the canal network of the town turns 400 years old, the painter Vincent van Gogh was born 160 years ago and 40 years ago the museum dedicated to him was opened in Amsterdam. This museum is being renovated and will be reopened on May 1st 2013 (until April 25th a van Gogh exhibition can be seen in the Hermitage museum, also in Amsterdam). After a general renovation which lasted 10 years, on April 13th 2013 Rijksmuseum (the royal museum) will reopen, being one of the most important Dutch museums.

See here the Lonely Planet site and below some photos taken in Amsterdam:

If you feel like booking a last minute trip, starting last year the third Saturday in January is the National Tulip Day, which opens the tulip season lasting until the end of April. This year the event will be on January 19th , when the main square in Amsterdam, De Dam, will be filled with about 200.000 tulips that can be plucked by flower enthusiasts from 13.30 until 18.00 (or until the last tulip). Last year about 10.000 people have plucked tulips, so the chances are big that it will be crowded.

The Netherlands really deserves to be called “country of tulips”, as it is the country with the highest tulip export in the world, about 1,7 billion tulips reach about 100 countries each year.

Do you have holiday plans? If not, why not come to Amsterdam?

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Posted by on 10 January 2013 in ENGLISH POST


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Holiday Dutch style

At the beginning of the year, the Dutch make holiday plans. The holiday fair is open these days and a lot of commercials are being aired announcing rebates for those who book their holiday early for the rest of the year.

Two types of holidays seem to me typical for the Dutch:

1. For many Dutch the first holiday of the year is a week of skiing. I find it amusing how eager they are, considering that one cannot ski in the Netherlands, as the country doesn’t have mountains. The Dutch fill up their cars and start on a journey of more than 1.000 km to France, Austria or Switzerland, where they ski, their children take skiing lessons and at the end of the day the main activity is the “aprés ski”, meaning parties in huts mostly accompanied by poor music (schlagers, carnival music).

For the less fortunate Dutch there are “gipsvluchten” (cast flights). I thought it was very funny that there is a dedicated word for these flights bringing the Dutch who are injured during skiing or snowboarding from the mountains back to the Netherlands. In similar cases, but then during the summer holidays, the Dutch who get ill can come home using the “parasolvluchten” (parasol flights), mostly from the popular destinations like Greece, Spain, Turkey.

2. When spring begins, the Dutch start to become recognizable on the European roads with their caravans or, the more luxury versions, the campers.


Especially for the families with small children and with a more limited budget, the camping seems to be the first option for a holiday. They either park their own caravan for 2-3 weeks on a camping or they hire one there, either way the camping loving Dutch seem not to need too much luxury. A typical image for the camping life is crossing the distance from the caravan to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper under one’s arm. Imagining a holiday with such conditions, with no bathroom of my own, with neighbors you cannot avoid or ignore, stuck in one place for the whole time… I don’t really understand the charm of the camping. The children have fun at the swimming pool or on the playgrounds and that seems very important for the parents.


A real case I have heard of and which I find unbelievable: a caravan owning family has spent a holiday on a camping just outside their town and they used to come home every now and then to do the laundry or clean the dishes.

I have also heard of Dutch who go camping with their caravan and who return every year to the same place, same camping. That is also something I cannot understand.

The year 2013 seems to be bleak as far as holidays are concerned, because of the economical crisis (a term we hear every day on the news, I don’t know about you, but I am saturated with this obsession) it seems that about 27% of the Dutch will not go on a holiday this year. Last year 22% of the Dutch were in this position.

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Posted by on 8 January 2013 in ENGLISH POST


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Dutch New Year’s Eve donuts

New Year’s Eve has passed, together with a typical Dutch phenomenon.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch donuts called oliebollen (oil balls) are on the menu on New Year’s Eve.

These oliebollen are being eaten also on other occasions, like when there are fairs or other street happenings, there is always also an oliebollen booth.


Maybe you are wondering what oliebollen are exactly, I will quote the Dutch writer Hanna Bervoets who wrote on twitter:
“Yes, we call them oilballs; they’re like donuts without a hole! And more grease. And no taste…Want one?”


The truth is that they are greasy, as they are imbued with oil, but they are not completely without taste, especially those with raisins or small apple pieces. And the simple ones are saved by the powdered sugar sifted on them. Their shape is undefined, as opposed to other donuts I know, this is due to the fact that the dough is dosed with the aid of a kind of soup ladle.

Every year the fryer of the best oliebollen is being designated, who, after receiving this title, can expect huge queues especially on the last day of the year. This is the way it happened also this time in Maarssen, where the first customers showed up already at 5 a.m. to wait for the oliebollen store to open at 6 a.m. The queue was several hundred meters long and the baker was prepared to work hard.

Other Dutch people make their own oliebollen at home, but I cannot judge which of them are tastier: the self-made ones or the award winning ones. We received some from friends and they were really good, crunchy.

Do you have a typical New Year’s Eve food?

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Posted by on 3 January 2013 in ENGLISH POST


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