Here are a list of blogs written about locations in The Netherlands.
Now that I have lived here for 6 years I feel like I am allowed to turn into a road bike fanatic. The Netherlands is a great place for road biking due to the safe bike paths and the lack of hills. After stalking many Marktplaats sellers (Dutch version of Ebay) I was lucky to find one that was the right size and price range. So it’s now official! I have bought my first ever road bike, in a new-ish condition all shiny and red.
Learning all aspects of cycling on a road bike sure is a learning curve, such as what all the different components are as well as the ‘do’s and dont’s‘. A Dutch book that I still need to read is ‘Vrouw & Fiets’ written by Nynke de Jong and Marijn de Vries, which has been recommended to me by at least 3 people this week.
As well as buying the bike this week, I bought some gloves and cycling glasses at the Decathlon and researched into what size clip-in shoes I needed. I also scored a new helmet via Marktplaats and ordered some sexy cushion-padded shorts to protect my butt and a cycling shirt with pockets at the back.
For my first route I decided to take it easy, cycling only 11km around the Kralingse Bos park in Rotterdam. Within 10 minutes I felt so hungry and realised the unhealthy lunch probably wasn’t the best idea before some fitness. As a gym junkie that I am (minimum 3 days a week at the gym + home workouts sessions) I should of known better! However overall happy that my average speed was faster than my city bike as well as being able to pratice the gear changing and the overall feel of the bike. P.S I didn’t have my ordered cushion-padded shorts in time for this route either so it was a bumpy experience!
I’ve started using the app Strava, perfect for tracking your route with GPS. Gives you information about your speed, elevation, estimated calories and more importantly the time and distance. What I also love is once you do the same route more than once, you can challenge yourself to beat your old time and make some personal bests!
For my second route this week it was right after fuelling up with some pasta, also prepared with my cushion-padded shorts and the correct gear. The plan was to do another small route for practicing, but with a beautiful sun setting it was too good to end it to quickly. I cycled with my partner exactly 32km, and even at the end I felt like I could of gone further but it was dark and we had no lights!
For my third and last route this week, we decided to travel to the De Biesbosch National Park. Based on the western wind, we cycled all the way there with the wind. The plan was to do a few laps around the national park but I was rather tired once we reached 60km, and knew I still had to cycle atleast 10km back towards to the boat to take me back to Rotterdam. We stopped at the De Brabantse Biesbosch for a delicious pancake and a cola, as my partner needed some energy as he cycled all the way back!
But WOW, so proud that within a week I managed to do a long trip of 67km in one go! A lot faster than I ever imagined too within only 3 hours!
The total this week I cycled is 116km (including a short 10km I forgot to record). I couldn’t of done it without those padded shorts thats for sure!
I still need lots of practice until I can call myself a real road bike fanatic, but I’m making a good start!
My wish list of things to get (and need) to feel like a complete road bike user:
Any tips & tricks, related books or apps, or even decent shops or websites to buy gear would all be appreciated!!
Since living in the Netherlands, I have often seen the mariniers training throughout the city of Rotterdam. Training and hiking with their 40+kg backpacks or at the local swimming pool in all their gear. The Van Ghentkazerne Military Base is in Rotterdam near my previous school too.
The Korps Mariniers are the Dutch amphibious infantry component of the Royal Netherlands Navy, who can be deployed anywhere within the world within 48 hours in all circumstances.
Their motto is Qua Patet Orbis (“As Far As The World Extends”)
Their final week of training is the hardest, with no sleep hiking up to 125km a day, abseiling down the Van Brienenoordbrug bridge, peddling with a boat down to Zealand for different scenario trainings and also climbing up and abseiling from the Hef bridge. Unfortunately it was pretty much raining their final week too!
On Friday July 14th I watched the ceremony at the Schouwburgplein, where they exchanged their training beret for the official Mariniers dark blue beret. It was pretty interesting to hear what they had gone through since February 6th, and how their final week went. They arrived at 12pm just as the rain got worse, carrying all their gear and weapon.
The ceremony wasn’t too long before they were done, wearing the new beret and greeted by loved ones to celebrate. It was great to see the final ceremony in Rotterdam, even with the rain.
Wow!! What an amazing feeling it is to say I have passed my graduation project as well as four years of school abroad!! Studying in the Netherlands has been pretty amazing.
At the beginning I was against the idea of going back into studying and attending school, as I had already been working full time for nearly a year at a previous job in England followed by my 1 year Au Pair job in Rotterdam. But I knew I wanted, and needed, a degree.
My time as an Au Pair was ending and I needed to see my options into studying in the Netherlands, else my next option was to go back to England, which I didn’t really want. I started by making a pros and cons document listing everything regarding my present and future options.
When I think back I must have been crazy, but I hated the idea of going back to school for 4 years for my degree. At the time all I wanted to do was find a full time job, which would give me and my partner the option to move forward, such as a place to live together, travelling to destinations and having the extra money for saving, date nights and future plans. Plus, I was already 20 years old, rather young of course, but I couldn’t imagine being 25 by the time I graduated with the thought of still attending school. I think I got this impression from England, with only a few friends attending university straight from school at 17 or 18 years old, who would have graduated by 22 years old.
Realistically the pros outweighed the cons and I had started my search of a university that taught something related to business in English, since my Dutch was nowhere near ready to study a degree for!
Before leaving England I completed a 2 year certificate in Business Administration at college, which was not high enough for the specific degree I wanted to complete in the Netherlands, so I first had to pass an economic class during the summer, which would allow me to enter the 4 year course of my choice.
September came around quickly and with my economic class passed I was ready with my school books, pens, laptop and notebooks to start the scary process of my first semester at Rotterdam Business School. My chosen study was the International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) with topics such as marketing, logistics, economics and finance.
Studying in the Netherlands requires you to pass all exams in your 1st year before you are allowed to continue to the following 3 years. This 1st year certificate is called a Propedeuse. Getting into the rhythm of having exams every 9 weeks was a little difficult, and after needing to resit a few exams I finally received my Propedeuse in time to continue on to the 2nd year the following September. What a relief that was!
The main challenge for me was that I did not receive student finance, the nice low interest loan from the government that you pay for school and transportation with. This was due to the rules of needing to work at least 56 hours a month as an EU citizen, with proof of contract. Since year 1 of my studies I have actually always had a job, such as working in a fast food restaurant, but with always a 0-hour contract I could not prove the 56 hours. However I still managed to pull through each year by working my ass off with more than 56 hours to pay off the costs of school and either cycle or walk to school to save transportation costs. So I’m also very proud to say that I have no debt from my 4 years of study!
Now looking at the present time, it’s the end of June and it’s the end of my 4th year at school. I have officially had my defense presentation for my graduation project. The last few weeks have been increasingly stressful but I got though it AND I can officially say that I will soon be able to pick up my certificate for my Bachelor degree!! Wohoo!
I don’t think it has truly sunk in yet that I am actually done with school, but this weekend I’m going to sort out all my old school books to sell (or burn!) and throw away old notebooks. I was taken out to dinner by my partner and I will celebrate more with family soon! For now I’m going to get stuck in with planning our next holiday too!
More than 18 years ago, on the 25th April 1999, the Rotterdam team Feyenoord won the Eredivisie Championships. Today, they have made history again by becoming the 2017 Champions!
Since the last two weeks there has already been preparations for the celebrations, such as a 500-600kg flag hung up at Hofplein, projecting the logo against the 5th tallest building in the Netherlands, cakes with the logo and Rotterdam harbour workers making the letter F for Feyenoord with red and white containers. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention even cheese!!
Last Sunday was the first chance to become champions, with their match against Excelsior. Since the morning from 10am there were already cars tooting past the house, flags hanging out the windows. Fireworks heard going off all around the city and everywhere you look there were people in red and white.
The city was prepared for the match, with big screens and public areas completely filling up ready to watch! Containers were put around the city in place for security measures but most people used them to see the big screens!
The match started at 14:30 against Excelsior in their home stadium, but not that far from De Kuip, home stadium of Feyenoord.
The first half wasn’t the best, making a few tries but nothing really special. By half time they were 0-0 so it wasn’t looking too good for them. The 2nd half caught them even more off guard as Excelsior scored 3 goals within 9 minutes of each other. Unfortunately Feyenoord didn’t make a single goal and lost the match 0-3 to Excelsior.
It sure was disappointing feeling walking back through the city full of supporters, who were ultimately starting riots against the police with so much alcohol in their system. The riot police were already ready for the rioters.
This match was the deciding factor of whether Feyenoord would be champions of not. The pressure was on them even more, but there was a sense of confidence throughout the fans as Feyenoord would be playing at home, in De Kuip.
This time they were against Heracles starting at the same time of 14:30.
More regulations were set this weekend in the city, such as tickets needed now for certain open areas and all supermarkets within the center were banned to sell alcohol during a specific time limit. But that didn’t stop the supporters, bringing alcohol with them obviously bought the day before.
Well what a way to start a match! 40 seconds into the start was the first goal scored by Dirk Kuyt, followed by the second before half time. The last goal was scored also by him in the second half, making it a perfect hat-trick. Heracles managed to score a goal in the second half but with a strong defence the championships were already won. Finishing the game with 3-1 to Feyenoord!
Once the match was ended, the whole city was crazy!! Now I’m not really a big football fan, but to experience this was unbelievable!! So much energy and excitement from EVERYONE. The one place all supporters go to visit is Hofplein, the fountain shown in the third photo. It is a well known spot to celebrate victories!!
As you can see below, you actually cannot see the fountain any more!!
Tomorrow supporters and the team will celebrate on the Coolsingel for the champions ceremony, just like in the first photo 18 years ago.
When you think of the Netherlands the first thoughts are often about the tulips, cycling, windmills at Kinderdijk, smoking the legal drug cannabis or the red light district of Amsterdam (I got lost here once!). But the Netherlands also has many beaches to visit, one of them is the well known beach of Hoek Van Holland.
It’s the main entrance for cruise and container ships to enter the Rotterdam Harbour, along the the River Maas from the North Sea. So when the tide is high, the wind is strong and you walk along the North Pier you could be in for a swim! The North Pier itself is 4.5 kilometres long and perfect to walk to the end.
The beach is a combination of sand and stones, with one path that leads you from the North Pier to the busier section of the boulevard, where most tourists and locals stop for a bite to eat and to enjoy the activities.
It’s a great place for a wintery walk with your cosy winter coat on, before stopping for a hot chocolate in a restaurant, as well as a day in summer in your bikini, having a dip in the sea before getting an ice cream.
Getting here by train or bus is pretty easy, with a new metro being built that should be complete by 2018. I once cycled here from Rotterdam, took a little over 2 hours at a pleasant speed with some stops along the way like at Maassluis and at the Het Keringhuis (the storm barrier flood gates).
So grab your winter coat or bikini and visit for a great day out!
After 5 years of living in Rotterdam I finally got the chance to visit the beautiful Kinderdijk. I took the opportunity to visit Kinderdijk at the same time as my family visiting me in the Netherlands, combining both was a good chance for us all to visit something new together.
Planning our visit we decided to take the Waterbus from the Rotterdam stop at Erasmus Bridge that takes only 30 minutes to Kinderdijk. A perfect mode of transport to also enjoy the views Rotterdam from a boat, as you can stand on the open section at the back of the boat as well as sitting inside if it’s cold. You can use your OV chip card or buy a ticket on board.
Arriving at Kinderdijk you will know exactly where to walk with the first windmills in sight. Paying only €8,00 for adults and €5.50 for children (4-12 years) to get in it’s well worth it. The main path takes you past the first restaurant along the walking route to see all 19 windmills that stand there since 1740. The whole route is 15km which can be done in a day with sensible shoes.
Kinderdijk is not just a pretty site, it’s actually needed for the land. Since most of the Netherlands is below sea level, including Kinderdijk, the function of the windmills are part of the water management system to prevent floods.
We took some lunch with us, stopping on a bench to each and drink while other tourists walked by. There are a few restaurants and a cafe too, where you can buy souvenirs, refreshments, lunch or some typical Dutch snacks like bitterballen while waiting for the boat trip back to Rotterdam.
I plan to go again this summer, but then by bike like a true Dutch person!
Currently sat on the balcony of my beautiful apartment. The sun is shining and I’m wondering whether I need to get my sun cream out. Turning a quarter of a century old has definitely given me time to think of some things I am proud of so far in life.
Passed my driving test… 3rd time. Wow I remember being so nervous for this! The first time I failed due to hitting the curb while trying to park and second because I pulled out of a junction in front of a slow tractor that was apparently too close. No one wants to get stuck behind a slow tractor.
I left home at 18, not just around the corner but to a whole new country. This year I’ll be celebrating 6 years in the Netherlands (and deciding whether to become a Dutch citizen depending on Brexit).
Learnt Dutch, although consequently losing all my French and even some English!
I have a caring, trustworthy and not to forget HANDSOME partner who shares the same tastes in food, interests like music and travel, and can have a really good discussion.
I ran 10km at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016. Pretty amazing achievement for me!
Plus I am more active than ever, with up to 4 days in the gym follwing a fitness programme and easily reaching my 10k steps every day using my Fitbit.
I’ve rode a bike since I was little, but have acquired the skills to cycle with two children on front and back, with an IKEA 4×4 Kallax and up to 6 full bags of shopping. Not all in one go of course!
I’ve become less fussy with food. Like there is fussy and there is MAJOR fussy, which was me, so this is pretty big. I grew up only liking potato waffles and fish fingers. These days I still surprise my family with what I eat!
I’ve NEARLY completed my bachelor degree in International Business and Management Studies, how exciting!
I have been to more than 15 countries. Even with little money over the years it’s always been possible to explore! Check some places I’ve visited here.
Travel more! maybe a place from the list of future travels.
Receive my degree, hopefully by July 2017! -> Wohoo graduated!
Learn to make more delicious meals.
Keep up the fitness goals -> New road bike hobby!
Moving house can always be a challenge. Finding a suitable place that you like and that matches your requirements such as the space and more importantly the price. It can be both a long or short process, but the outcome is usually rewarding.
During my childhood I had moved to a few different houses, all with different unique selling points that my parents fell in love with. But at that age you never think about how much time and energy it takes to find a place and move in!
When I decided to move to the Netherlands to become an Au Pair I never had to choose where I would be staying, as I lived in the same house as the family. And once my 1 year contract was finished, I moved in with my partner’s/his family’s apartment. It got a little crowded at times but we made it work perfectly, until the time came that we couldn’t really live in 1 bedroom any more (maybe too many clothes had something to do with it!). We were craving for our own little place. The next place was our current place from a different family member. A cute one bedroom house in Rotterdam provided us the space and independency we were looking for.
However for the last 5 months I have been on the lookout for a new place to live. Our living arrangement contract was coming to the end and we needed a new place by the end of January. It was time to find a new place of our own.
One of the most challenging things was finding a place that fit all of our requirements, such as the total square metres, storage, easy to move to (not much DIY needed!), maybe a view and the price. Looking in Rotterdam has been a BIG challenge, as houses or apartments that fit our budget didn’t fit the rest of the requirements, or the other way round, fit all our requirements but then was way over our budget! We realised half way through our 5 months that we would have to make compromises. One thing we knew for certain was that the new place had to be in Rotterdam. Why move away from a beautiful city?!
We signed up to many websites such as Pararius.com and Funda.nl to see all the latest houses and apartments for sale, checking through the lists for something suitable. We also had help from friends and family when they had found something we might like. We visited many houses all shapes and sizes, buying or renting, with not much luck. Even when we did find a place we thought was good, we applied and we were not chosen or lucky enough to win the lottery for the place.
That’s the negative part about finding a place to live in a city that is growing and growing. One house we viewed had at least 20 other people viewing at the same time! It felt rather strange, after my experience of viewing houses with my parents as a child, being the only people in the house with the selling agent. Now it was like a fight to get to the kitchen first, to stand on the balcony or to squeeze into the bathroom. Definitely more efficient for the sales agent at least! You also had to be fast in responding and applying, as it would be gone within 2 days of being advertised.
But it wasn’t until the day before Christmas Eve that we viewed a new apartment to rent. We were one of 6 people in total who had the chance to view it, as the selling agent only took the first 6 people who called, saying that it would definitely be taken by one of us. We’ll he was right, out of the 6 people who viewed it, 3 people applied, including us… AND GUESS WHO GOT IT?!
Spending the Christmas holidays away from family always has it’s hard moments. Missing things like the delicious cooked roast dinner with all the trimmings, all sitting together sharing old family stories and watching the good english comedian shows, followed by a fresh wintery Boxing Day walk. It’s always even harder if I go back to the UK for the holidays too, as not all family members live in one place. So it always depends on who was last, or who I haven’t seen in ages!
The last time I was home for Christmas was in 2014 to the city of Norwich, Norfolk. Time has gone by so fast that it doesn’t feel like it was 2 years ago!
However it’s not all bad to stay in the Netherlands for the festive holidays. One of the best things I love about Christmas in the Netherlands is having gourmetten for dinner. A typical Dutch tradition of using a special hot cooking grill on the center of the table, with everyone able to reach and cook their own meal. From the middle of November you can buy lots of mini dishes to cook on your gourmet, such as mini hamburgers, steaks, slavink (pigs in blankets) and marinated chicken slices. You combine your meat/fish choices with grilling your own vegetables too, like peppers, mushrooms and onions. Lastly including a range of delicious sauces and some french bread with garlic butter… and for me also a glass of wine to wash it all down!
I find that its always very gezellig to eat this type of way as you can take your time with no rush to eat.
Last year we officially had our first real christmas tree in our first official home together. It felt so good to celebrate together and hand up our pretty purple and silver christmas decorations.
Once the Christmas festivities are out of the way, its already time to prepare for the new year and set some new resolutions! The week between Christmas and New Years Day is celebrated with listening to the Top 2000, an annual radio programme of the top 2000 voted songs and eating Oliebollen, a warm fried doughnut with raisins shaped in a ball and topped with icing powder.
Throughout November and December a competition takes place with all the stalls who sell oliebollen in the Netherlands to be ranked as the best. The Algemeen Dagblad national newspaper will be doing the competition again for the 25th time! The test includes up to 115 contestants in the Netherlands and each oliebollen is tested based on how well it is fried (fat %), the weight, if it has a good amount of raisins in the mixture and of course if its delicious or not!
Oliebollen can only be bought at this time of year so I usually indulge way too many of them!! (Not so great for next year’s summer body!)
My favourite place to buy oliebollen is in Rotterdam. The stall from Richard Visser’s Gebakkraam came 4th last year, but has been 1st a total of nine times in the competition. Even if he is not number 1, you can still expect to stand in the queue for up to 2 hours waiting to pick up your fresh oliebollen for the New Years celebrations! (He opened at 6am last year and there were people queueing at 4am ready for the first oliebollen!)
He has become so famous for his oliebollen that his stall has been created for the Miniworld Rotterdam!
The Top 2000 is an annual radio show that plays the top 2000 songs of all time. People can vote on the songs which are then played between Christmas and New Years Eve, with the top song of the votes being played just before everybody shouts “Happy New Year!!!”.
The most popular songs include Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (13 times number 1 and 3 times number 2) and Eagles – Hotel California (2 times number 1 and 8 times number 2). You can see the whole list here! This year Queen has again been voted first!!
The last few years it has rained into the new year, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people heading out to the Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam to watch the fireworks. It’s usually a good show and people are pretty sensible with setting off fireworks in the streets – Just keep your distance to be safe!