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Dutch Bicycle Photos We Love

Posted January 9th, 2010

We’re amassing quite a collection of bicycle photos from Holland.

Here are a few of our favourites. Top of the list is this shot Andrew got of a little girl, riding in a Bakfiets (literally ‘basket bicycle’) with her father, just around the corner from our home.

Dutch Bakfiets

On a day trip to Amsterdam, we spotted this bike, which lives up to its name.

Colourful

This is the kind of Christmas tree we plan to have one day!

Bicycle Christmas Tree in Amsterdam

Here’s a very typical Dutch bike, parked against someone’s home.

Cyclists going past our local fireworks shop on New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks on sale for New Year's Eve

One way to deter people from stealing your bicycle is to scratch your name into the frame!

Theft protection

Going Dutch: The First Snow

Posted December 18th, 2009

The temperature has dived over the past few days here in Den Haag. It’s regularly been below freezing when Friedel leaves for work about 8am and this morning we walked out our door, down the steps and saw this…

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Out by the dunes, the sun was lighting up the icy landscape.

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The Christmas tree put up by our neighbours also looked very festive.

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This bright green parrot appeared in a tree in our backyard and stayed on this branch until a large pile of snow was on his head. He must have been cold!

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Going Dutch: Eating Herring The Traditional Way

Posted November 30th, 2009

How do you like your herring? We can now confidently say that we like them raw!

Yes, you read correctly – raw. Well, it’s traditional in Holland, you know and of course tasting Dutch herring the traditional way was on our list of things to experience here so today we went with our friend Mark to a local fish stall in the Bomenbuurt of The Hague (literally, the Tree District and so called because all the streets are named after trees)  to try this delicacy.

Here are Mark and Andrew, in front of the fish stall.

Mark and Andrew

Mark recommended we start with a simple herring, covered in raw onions. I’m not a huge fan of raw onions but in this case they really complement the flavour of the fish. Here’s what the herring looked like when it was ready to eat.

Our herring, the second round!

Before we could eat the herring, we needed a lesson from our Dutch expert. You’re supposed to hold the cleaned herring (the head has been taken off) high above your mouth and slowly lower it in. It’s almost an artform.

Mark shows us how to do it

Andrew caught on very quickly. What a pro!

Andrew does it like a pro

The salty fish (it’s not cooked but cured in a brine) and onions really hit the spot. We loved it! So of course we ordered another round and kept the fish seller busy.

Cleaning the herring

While we waited, we admired the large selection of other fish he had for sale.

The selection of fish at the Haring stall

After two rounds of plain herring, we finished off with herring in a bun. It’s a little less messy (there’s no risk of onions falling down your shirt, which did happen to Friedel) and easier to take away. The bun must be white – no whole grain bread here.

Herring in a bun

Going Dutch: We have bikes!

Posted October 30th, 2009

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stroopwafelscoffeecapsWondering what those yummy things are?

They are stroopwafels, a typical Dutch sweet snack. Think two thin waffles, filled with a syrup that’s a little like honey. In the street they make and sell them warm – the best way to try them in our opinion. But you can also buy them in every supermarket.

They’re divine dipped into a cup of tea. It can’t be a coincidence that they’re just the right size to fit over a mug!


Oh yeah, baby! After 2 weeks in the country – that’s 14 long days without bikes – we finally picked up some trusty steeds from the local second hand shop. It was the first time we’d seen any bikes under €150 so finding all kinds to choose from was a revelation.DSC_0662
Andrew is driving Rustbucket (an old Giant model that’s showing some wear) and Friedel has Clicky, a GT Legacy with a bit of a ticking sound coming from the pedals. They’re not quite up to the standard of our old bikes but we can’t stop smiling now that we have wheels again. We feel so Dutch!



Great tour planners…Today we found Fietsrouteplanner – a way for cyclists to plan trips around Europe. For every route you get 3 possibilities: the shortest, the most logical and the one that doesn’t require buying many bike guides. It’s not very detailed (you don’t see a street level view) but it is a great tool for generating ideas on how to get from A to B.

Now, if you think that’s great, have a look at Radweit. It’s only in German but persevere and soon you’ll find amazing maps that show you all the back roads. The first time you look at a route, it’s better to print the page so you can get your head around the puzzle-like layout but it gets easier to do on-screen with practice. If you’re going on a tour that involves Germany, you have to check it out. The detail in it is better than some bike guide books we’ve seen.

Have you seen anything better around? Get in touch if you have.



Going Dutch: Cutting through red tape

Posted October 21st, 2009

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We’re here! We arrived in Den Haag last Friday to a warm welcome from the family we’re renting a room from. We only expected a bed to sleep in but instead we were surprised and touched to find a whole welcome basket filled with wine, cookies and other goodies waiting for us on a nearby table.

It was a sweet start but the Dutch Bureaucracy that followed wasn’t so sweet.

When we called to register as new arrivals with immigration, they asked why we were here. “To work,” we said. “You’re not allowed to be here until you have a job,” came the reply. “We’re EU citizens,” we pointed out. “We have the right to be here.” “Well, if you want to live here, then that’s something else,” was the response. Semantics. Did they think we were going to work here without living here at the same time?

Several minutes later we determined that we can stay but we have firm orders not to call back until we can prove our worthiness by getting jobs. Unemployed people, we were told, have no right to a bank account (which you can only get after registering with the government). Hopefully it won’t be long.



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Bike of the Week… This is the kind of bike you want in Holland. Garishly painted to put off thieves and a the chain guard held together with a measuring tape, just to emphasize how unworthy the bike is of being stolen. The irony? It’s probably going to cost us a good €100 to buy something like this here because bikes are in such demand.
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Getting a Dutch Bike… you’d think it’d be easy to buy a bike in Holland but there are surprisingly few used ones for sale and even 2nd hand they go for nearly as much as a new one. There’s so much to say about buying a bike that we wrote a whole page on the topic. More…