I always write my blogs in Dutch, but I thought it would be a good idea to write this one in English. Why? So my Gib friends can read about the Netherlands. My home country. The place I was born and raised. So here it goes.
The Netherlands is flat. Really really flat. But if you go more south it will become less flat and in the province Limburg you will find our highest ‘mountain’ called Vaalserberg, which is 322 meters. Exactly 104 meters shorter than your beloved rock. The province I grew up in is up north and is called Friesland. This is obviously the most beautiful part of the Netherlands. We, Frisians, have our own language, which is older than the Dutch language and according to Google Old Frisian is more close to Old English than to Old Dutch. For instance we also say cheese to … well… cheese.
Because the Netherlands is so flat it is really easy to bike. We do that a lot. I used to bike about twelve kilometres to my school and then back again. Yes, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. ‘More cows then people’ I always say. I am not sure if that’s true, but there were definitely more cows then children my age. Which was fine. I always won playing hide and seek with the cows.
I studied in Groningen, also in the north of the Netherlands. Groningen is the best student city of the Netherlands. Also flat and I also biked a lot there, but luckily the distances were a lot shorter. The biggest challenge is to not get your bike stolen. I’ve failed that challenge only once. After that I bought a bike nobody would want to steal which turned out to be an excellent strategy. I still have that bike.
After Groningen I moved to Weesp, a beautiful small city just outside of Amsterdam. Not a lot happens in Weesp. Once a year we have a ‘locks and bridges party’. We love these three days in Weesp, because there is so much going on and everybody is outside. There is even a pole-sitting competition. You have to sit (on a seat) on a pole for 72 hours in order to win the massive price of…. (drums) … €1000,-. Thanks, no thanks! In 2015 three people sat for 72 hours. They had to share the €1000,-… Did we already discuss the part about the Dutch being very cheap?
Here we go. Yes, we are very cheap. But you already knew that, ‘Going Dutch’ is a nice English saying you have. I just Googled it and you have three other ways of saying ‘Going Dutch’, namely ‘Doing Dutch’, ‘Dutch Date’ and ‘Dutch treat’. That last one is my favourite. So nice. Talking about being nice. We are not as nice as you are. We are not ‘darling-ing’ or ‘have a wonderful day, love-ing’ our way through a conversation with a friend, let alone a stranger. We are not rude (well, not all of us), but we might be a bit blunt. Let’s just say: be careful when you ask our opinion.
I will finish this quick-inside-the-Dutch with food. What else. We have frikandellen, it’s a snack I really love. Until somebody tells me what it is made of and I need to wait for a few months to forget that so I can eat them again. But you can buy your frikandel at a ‘snackbar’. Every village has a snackbar. Here you can buy your fries, frikandellen, kroketten (yes we have them too!) and many other snacks. I also love our drop (liquorice). There is no place in the world where you can find so many delicious sorts of drop as in the Netherlands. And last but obviously not least, cheese! My god, Dutch cheese is so good! Gouda, old Amsterdam, cheeses with herbs. They are all so very delicious.
If you want to know more about the Netherlands you should watch this brilliant four minutes YouTube video about the Netherlands, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch Caribbean’s and the difference between the Netherlands and Holland. And if you ever visit the Netherlands, please go to other places than Amsterdam. Utrecht and Den Haag are beautiful cities. In Muiden, close to Amsterdam you have an amazing castle. If (if if!) the weather is good, go visit our beaches. And if you have the time, travel up north and take a boat to one of our pretty islands. The Netherlands is just like Gibraltar. So small, but so much to see!