The Netherlands

Here are a list of blogs written about locations in The Netherlands.

Innsbruck Innsbruck (1) Innsbruck (2)

 

Coming soon!

  • Amsterdam
  • Breda
  • Groningen
  • Goes
  • Rotterdam
  • Scheveningen
  • Volendam
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Cycling Not Just For Transport

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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:

  • New matching water bottles and holders
  • A bell
  • Clip-in SPD Shoes
  • Spare inside tyres
  • A multitool kit
  • A bike computer/sensor to measure and see my speed, distance and time
  • (and whatever else I need that I don’t know about yet!)

Any tips & tricks, related books or apps, or even decent shops or websites to buy gear would all be appreciated!!

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The Dutch Korps Mariniers

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!

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Source: Defensie Magazine
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Source: Ad.nl
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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.

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DSC_4275The 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.

Graduating Abroad

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.

Rotterdam Business School - Rotterdam, Neherlands

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!

propThe 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!

Graduated!

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!

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Normany, France 2016

Our long weekend was rather spontaneously booked 2/3 weeks before we went. I first wanted to surprise my partner to visit there as he’s wanted to go for a long time to visit all the museums and learn more of the history of WW2. Well, I tried keeping it a surprise until he borrowed my laptop that had open my Trip Advisor account showing places to visit!! However it was good that he found out really, as we could both plan exactly what we want to see and do.

We reserved a car from Europcar, booked the beautiful Le Clos Saint Jean B&B and had a full list of museums, memorials and places to walk planned for our weekend. Driving from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Bayeux, France took us roughly 6.5 hours, not including our lunch stop, but it was a good drive with only one traffic jam of 30mins.

DSC_2025We arrived by the late afternoon, greeted by an amazing couple who had been running the B&B only for 3 months. They recommended that we walk along from the little stoney beach thats only 400m from the B&B to Omaha beach while the tide is out, and back along the bike path at the top of the cliff. It was a lovely 1 hour walk to do before settling in for the evening. It was cool and uncool at the same time to walk there, knowing so many people, most younger than us, had died there. 

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Check out the links below of how our itinerary filled our long weekend!

Day One –  360 Museum, D-Day Museum De Debarquement, Pegasus Bridge museum & Arromanche.

Day Two – Pointe Du Hoc,  La Combe German Cemetery, American Cemetery & Memorial, the Overlord Museum & Bayeux.

Day Three – The Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy, British War Cemetery, Bayeux Tapestry Museum, 1944 Radar Museum & the Longues-sur-Mer battery.

Day Four – Leaving the B&B to drive back home via the Fortress of Mimoyecques & La Coupole.

Normandy, France – Day Four

An early checkout at the B&B meant that we had a good head start on getting back to the Netherlands with plenty of time before needing to check the rented car back in. We decided to drive towards Calais as we had discovered some hidden underground places to visit. They are classed as ‘dark tourism’ so we were interested! It was 3 hours into our 6 hour drive so a great time to stop and stretch our legs too!

Luckily with no traffic on the motorway and a little detour through the Caps et Marais d’Opale Natural Regional Park we arrived at our first destination of the day, the Fortress of Mimoyecques, once an underground world of workers that was the launch base of V-2 Rockets, which would of been sent to bomb London, UK. From the sunny 28°c outside we explored the 10°c tunnels inside. It was cold, dark and a little creepy, since we were the only ones in it for a while! Though very interesting to see what was planned here during the war, and how they managed to keep it a secret for so long from spying enemy planes. Well worth a read on the link and a visit if you are in the area!

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The second destination was something a little similar, with underground tunnels and the perfect hideout for the R&D and manufacturing process of rockets, which again of would been used against London, UK if they weren’t stopped in time. Hidden under a concrete dome is the La Coupole. You follow the cold tunnels through to the lift, which takes you to the main part of the museum under the dome. Here you have two really interesting videos about the V2 rockets and how people were treated who worked and lived in the tunnels. You are provided with so much information via the audio headset, so it’s understandable to hear about the history as you look at the recovered artefacts . It’s a place you can spend the whole afternoon at. Definitely recommended to visit!

DSC_2253Our visit to Normandy was short but packed with knowledge! We recommend the Le Clos Saint Jean to stay if you have a car as it is perfect location to travel to and from for visiting the northern coast between Carentan and Cabourg. The rooms are a good size (we had one with private bathroom) and the served breakfasts are delicious. They included fresh bread and cheeses, different fruit salads, jams and fresh juices made straight from their garden. My favourite was their homemade brioche bread with freshly crushed raspberries to pour the juice over the top, delicious! Good luck to the owners Caroline and her husband who only started running it in late 2016.

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Click here to go back to the start of our Normandy trip!

Feyenoord Champions Once More!!

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!

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The Champions Festival of Feyenoord on the Coolsingel on 25 april 1999
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Another photo from 25th April 1999

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!!

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account

Match One

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!

DSC_3683DSC_3680The 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.

DSC_3727Match Two

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!

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Kuyt Celebrating in De Kuip! Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

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!!

DSC_3786DSC_3805DSC_3794DSC_3800As you can see below, you actually cannot see the fountain any more!!

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Source: RTV Rijnmond Twitter Account from Bart Luters

DSC_3837Tomorrow supporters and the team will celebrate on the Coolsingel for the champions ceremony, just like in the first photo 18 years ago.

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Source: Feyenoord Twitter Account

Hoek Van Holland, The Netherlands

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.

Friday 7th August (19)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.

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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.

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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!

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Cycling from Rotterdam

 

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Friday 7th August (18)

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

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.

Day One (8)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.

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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.

Day One (62)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.

Day One (34)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.

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I plan to go again this summer, but then by bike like a true Dutch person!

Turning 25

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).

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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!

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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!

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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.

Goals before turning 26…. (and 27, 28, 29 and 30)

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!

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