It´s full of Spring-feels now here in Germany, particularly here in Bavaria. Despite the “cold spell” and rains that we´re having right now, it didn´t stop me from getting myself busy gardening and rambling about our own “Fruhlingsfreude” .We have a little garden and this makes me feel excited . I can see more colors now , the Tulips and Daffodils are blooming and yes, it feels good to feel some sun again.
Speaking of garden inspiration, I kinda remembered this Delft Blue inspired Spring Garden I spotted inside the Keukenhof gardens in the Netherlands two years ago. Its white and blue inspired so I immediately fell in love with it. I think the idea was very original and of course, very-Dutch!
This Delft Blue inspired garden is full of colorful spring blooms and yes–a bit of Delft pottery, and images.On top of the list was these large crockpot-foliage with lots of crispy white Daffodils and Blue grape Hyacinths surrounded with draping Efeu (Common Ivy).What makes it so unique is that it is decorated with broken Delft Blue pottery.What a genius way of salvaging those precious pottery! I am calling it the Delft Blue giant Bouquet! This is the centerpiece in the garden and it sure made a statement!
Here in Germany, we have a traditional saying that “Scherben bringt Glück” or Broken Pieces bring Luck. I suddenly remember this when I saw this.This old saying applies for newlyweds where they bring old pottery, porcellain and ceramic pieces, old toilet bowls to smash and crack into pieces. They believe that the noise will drive away demons and bad spirits and protect the marriage. Glass in particular is forbidden to throw since glasses symbolize luck that cannot be destroyed or a Mirror, since a broken mirrow symbolizes seven years of bad luck.
Now this made me thought about the House of Mirrors I visited where a lady named Lydia decorated her whole House with broken Glass & Mirror shingles to cover up the mess made up by termites.Seemed like cultural beliefs are clashing.
Anyway, at least these beautiful blue and white Pottery were salvaged from being disposed. They made quite a nice mosaic that serves as a flower bed here.
I have a few blue and white pots and ceramics which I got from our frequent visits in the Netherlands and now I appreciate it even more looking at this Flower bed with different Delft portraits of the famous scenic spots like the Kinderdyk, Windmills and the Dutch Gable Houses .This made me put Delft to put into our places to visit once traveling is okay again.I can´t wait to visit this place soon!
And what to do with old Delft Blue plates?
In the pond they put together all these plates , creating an artistic Lotus plates.This garden looks even more and more fascinating.
Of course it won´t be complete without the famous “Dutch couple kissing”!
To complete the Dutch theme, of course the traditional wooden clogs is reusable as well as pots.
What do you think of Ceramic inspired Spring Garden?
Do you also believe that broken pieces bring Luck?
Once you moved here, definitely the question of getting your won bike will come to your mind.Just like what they´ve said, do what the Germans do and you´ll be okay.
It´s been decades since I ride my bike before I came here. My husband is Dutch so definitely he came from a country where bikes is more than the Dutch population so it never came to a surprise to me anymore.The first country in Europe that I explored was the Netherlands and seeing its capital, Amsterdam, with its beautiful canals…and bikes was quite a shock to me. I have never seen such number…( and styles!) of bikes in my entire life!
Take for example this Dutch Bakfiets.It´s an infamous Dutch legend. In the Netherlands, people use this so they can transport their babies, groceries, furniture, and even their pets altogether in one time in this sleek carriage, all in two wheels.
Amazingly clever right?!
So do as we are doing here in Germany.Cycling system has become smart, intelligent and the most efficient mode of movement.
Here in Germany, well at least here in Bavaria, I have spotted quite few of wooden Bakfiets in the streets ( or maybe they are also Dutch!), because here, we have a modern one. Bakfiets resembles our sassy Anhängers, or a carrier made of aluminunum, with a water resistant covering panels that is attached to bicyles.Trust me, almost 90% ( or maybe more…) of families here have this in their household.This is the perfect way to tag along your kids and toddlers ( from age 1-5) in almost everywhere you go. We used the Anhänger to go to Kindergartens, playgrounds, shopping, Doctor´s visits, and almost anywhere! We put our stuff in the baggage area and off we go!
Riding a bicyle like Germans do is really something to ponder.Watch a Mama with a Kindersitz in front or back with their child always make me smile and leave me breathless.One time, I even spotted a pregnant woman cycling, with her bump in two wheels! I remember my early days here when my child is still small enough to ride at the back of my bike. It´s such a special bond that we shared. Our first Cycling Tour was so memorable as well!
If you lived here,you will be amazed by German technology when it comes to cycling.Although everyone owns a car, still, many opt to ride their bikes everyday. Children learnd to ride their bike at a very young age, it´s a skill they need to master even while they are still in Kindergarten.Come to think of it, I learned to ride a bike I think when I was 12 or 13! Most children go to school by bike or by their Roller.One thing, cycling here has been made safe and accessible even for the little children.When you see children learning to ride their bikes for the first time in the streets, you will immediately smile.
It is indeed a beloved culture.
From reflective lights to side bags and different Anhänger types and cool Helmets, they got it all. Not forgetting their expensive E-Bikes,most older people ride their bikes as a beloved form of exercise and exploring the surrounding nature.
Every weekend, it is very normal to see people in their bikes, cycling, touring, and sweating.They move from one place to another peacefully, safely, and graciously with their bikes. I asked a friend, where are you going in this time of the year, she´s all amde up, clad in Dirndl and heels, and yes, she´s off to a wedding, in her bike!
Most German cities and town have enough Cycling lanes so pedestrians, cyclists and drivers are seapated in their own traffic.But remember, don´t mess with cyclists because you will hear something that you might not wanted to hear.Cycling is a serious business here.You need to stay on your lane and respect others, that´s how it goes.
During Corona Pandemic, public transport became the last resort of transportation. Nowadays, if you are taking a bus or a train, then you need to wear a mask so most people prefer riding their bikes for free movement and avoiding contact.But guess what, sales of bikes during Pandemic soars!
Basically, If you asked me, you can survived in Germany without a car. But it totally depends on your location and where you lived.If your work is nearby to where you live, approx. within 5 km range then its doable, regardless of the season.If schools and Kindergarten is just around the next street , then I think a bicycle is a good investment.Travelling, shopping, and out of- town trips are different issues because of distance and weather concern.
But then here , there´s a saying that goes;
” There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”!
Germans have the right clothing gear for every season. I find it funny that that in most local shops, they have different clothing trend for every activity, in a given season. So from cycling protective gears, jackets and everything, they have solution for it.they even have covering for your shoes so it can´t be wet when it drizzles.I have seen it with my own eyes and I believe that here in Germany, what matters is you´ve got to do things as efficiently as you can. Most of the towns are car´free so looking for parking is quite always a hassle. If you can get through the city in your bike then it´s much better! Within 15km distance range, most Germans opt to use their Bikes to travel.Cycling has become a global trend and it continuous to be the number 1 choice of mobility here in Germany.
Living in Germany have opened my eyes for many things. Life in two wheels has became a great lifestyle for me personally, so I beleive that it can work with you as well. Consider this, you can explore your town so well with a bicycle, plus, you have the time in your hands.Daily exercise with your bike and real time sweating out in Summer days is absolutely priceless!When riding my bike, I always have a reason to take a quick break and sit under the tree and just watch life as it goes by.
Here in Germany, there are many Bicycle Flöhmarkts ( Flea market) who sells Bicycles in reduced prices. There are also many models to choose from to suit your preferences.Local shops like Decathlon, Radhaus, Willner Fahrradzentrum,Dropbar Bikes and Coffee and others offers many special offers if you decide to get your very first bike !
Remember, cycling here is not a routinary mode of commuting. Once you get hooked to it, you might explore more your options of travelling by going on Cycling Tours, which we have so much!It is good for your personal fitness and environment friendly so what´s not to love about it?
Seems like everytime I visit the Netherlands I become more and more into their Bicycle Urbanism. I just can’t get enough of their bicycles! It is so enormous in volume, it is everywhere! I get off from the train and arrived in the Station and see a parking lot full of bikes. I thought I’ve already seen it before and it’s no surprise anymore but then I still found it unbelievable. Different kinds of bicycles, old and new, modern, E-bikes and so on and so forth it’s all there. The sight of bikes is as normal as the sight of beautiful Tulips colors in Spring! I say to myself- Only in the Netherlands ! The country with more Bicycles than people.
So I am inspired to write once again about Dutch and their bikes because I think this information is inspiring, as well as informative especially for people who lived in traffic prone places ( like I was before!) . I know it also depends where you are in the world but we can learn something about Dutch people and the way they cycle through all cycles of life through their bikes. Netherlands is so flat compared to Germany so going to places is shorter but can also be very windy. I know how hard it is to cycle when you have strong winds ahead of you, it’s not enjoyable and I hated it always. Also, nobody enjoys cycling in the rain, or when the roads are icy and frozen. So I am asking myself why do Dutch people love cycling?
Cycling as an alternative and healthiest way of transport is the most practical solution of getting from A to B. They say that when you cycle for an average of 30 minutes then it increases your life expectancy. And for Expats who lived in the Netherlands and also here in Germany, I am sure this is one of the culture shock that we all can relate. Once I came here, we bought a bike! Anyway, I have been seeing my Stats and I noticed that I have viewers from different parts of the globe and I think that for someone who have never been to Amsterdam or in the Netherlands in general, they don’t really have an idea how big is the Dutch cycling lifestyle . It is really not just a trend or a tourist attraction to see–it’s a culture, it’s their life.
The average Dutch person cycles around 1,000 km annually and only in the Netherlands that there are more bicycles than people! And—did you know that Dutch old people still cycle even they are 80!
With a country of 17.1 million people, there are 23 Million bikes! Imagine that!Meaning an average Dutch has 1.3 bikes, 2 or more! I saw it by my own eyes in my numerous visits in Holland. Bicycles or Fiets is staple as bread (or Brood) in every household and oftentimes they cycle to buy bread! Both young and old ride their bikes, going to school and to work. Every.single. Day! 32% of journeys for example in Amsterdam is by bike alone.
Compared to USA with 325 Millionpeople, they have 70 Million bikes. I think everyone owns a bike than everyone owns a car. Last Easter we visited Utrecht and I discovered something more, it seems like that the number of bicycles is much even more than I could remember from what I’ve seen along the canals of Amsterdam and the bike parking lot in Museumplein. 40% of the visitors going to Utrecht are coming by bike so the largest Bike parking lot is found in this city. The 17,100 SQ/m parking space under the Utrecht Central Station can take up up to 12,500 BIKES! Imagine that!
If they love to cycle then they need to build cycling paths for sure.There are 35,000km of bike paths only dedicated for cycling in the Netherlands. Most of the inner cities are car-free and there are endless places to go without the need of a car. Bicycle streets is very common standard in many Dutch cities but Utrecht is on top with 6km and plans for more.Bicycle Urbanism is the trend in Lowlands and I can really see why it’s bent to last. What’s so fascinating is that they even created a pop-up parking concept for bikes and they have installed the Flo – a speed detection system coupled with digital kiosks that read each cyclist’s speed and help them speed up or slow down in order to catch the next light. It is a more complicated system than the simpler ones in place in Copenhagen .
Another important thing, as a parent, I can totally appreciate the unique love affair of Dutch with their bicycles and incorporating cycling to their kids at a very young age. For the past 2.5 years that I am now living here in Germany, and married to a Dutchman, I am cycling almost everyday and it’s one of my preferred practical means of transport, especially if I want to get on with everyday routines . I love the freedom, the peace and security I feel when I ride my bike but not on rush hours! Long distance cycling is not for me but here they have E-bikes as well but I appreciate everyday circulation and exercise I get from it. The fresh air that I breathe while riding my bike can be a stress-reliever and at the same time enjoying the surroundings while cycling is so nice. It’s one of the things I called “simplest form of luxury“. I often cycle going to work, getting basic groceries and bring my child to the Kindergarten and yes, I cycle even in Winter ! It’s very common here as well for Kindergarten children ( as young as 2!) to use Lauf Fahrrad (or walking bike) and cycle to their school accompanied by parents. We never had this in Philippines and certainly not in Kuwait so this new culture is something for you to really personally experienced for you to appreciate. It is not just a trend. It’s a way of life.
On the other side, here in Germany, we use much of the “Anhänger“. Of course, Germans always have the best technology for everything! It’s a compact carriage tagged along in a bike so you can cycle with your toddler everywhere you go. My daughter loves it and its very common here. I think most of families with little children have it. Complete with straps, seat belts and children always wear helmet as much as adults. But not so in the Netherlands.They transport their babies and toddlers in a box-type carriage attached to a bike called “Bakfiets” together with a bag of groceries withe other things as well. It’s what they called “super-utility box “! In Germany, even if you don’t do cycling professionally, or you’re not into Sport, people wear Lycra and cycling gears, which is a total NO-NO in Holland. Dutch people cycle in normal and work clothes. What is amazing that the women can cycle so classy on skirt while riding a bike!
I lived 200 meters from a nearby school and I observed that young people ( Realschule and up to Gymnasium) also ride their bikes going to school, but most of them are being dropped off by a car every single day or taking the bus.
It is well known that Dutch children are the happiest in the world. I believe cycling is a part of the development of inner security that they feel as a kid. Cycling allows them to reach destinations safely and gives them the feeling of freedom, and achievement.
The Dutch train their children at a young age to ride so they can confidently ride in the roads when they are around 12 years of age, just before they start secondary school . Only if they pass their traffic exam are they awarded their Verkeersdiploma (traffic certificate). This training is necessary as 75% of secondary school students cycle to school, rising to 84% riding for those living within 5 km of school. Even for distances of 16 km (9.9 mi) or over, some 8% of secondary school children cycle in each direction to school, though this is mainly in rural areas where the closest secondary schools can be a fair distance away.Some 49% of primary school children ride to school, but distances are shorter and adults often accompany the younger ones .
People cycle like crazy without helmet and children sits in front of the bike without the child seat like we have here. Do you know why it so normal? Street accidents are unheard of. In the Netherlands,the traffic rules are so bike-friendly so safety is not an issue. I have seen it by my eyes, children pedals from school to home but bikes being stolen are another issue.
What about you, what is your opinion about cycling? Do you hold back on riding a bicycle?
If you happen to visit Holland, try to observe and capture people cycling with umbrella and especially on bicycle rush hours, it’s really a sight!
How about you, what is your view of cycling? What do you like about riding a bike?
Thanks to my Dutch husband who introduced me to a hidden Dutch goodness, the Spekulaas, or the longtime Dutch soul food. When it comes to food, the Dutch cuisine doesn’t boast of a world-renowned foods, but when you take a closer look at what’s in a typical Dutch’s table, you’ll be able to understand why Krentebrood, Kroket, Patat, Poffertjes, and Stroopwafels are humble example why you should taste them at least once in your life, at least if you have the chance! I remember the first time I sat on a Dutch table and devoured with delight some home-made meatballs with Rode kool met appleltjes. It was a delightful meal, my first time ever to taste a red cabbage— with cinnamon-tangy apples!
What is Spekulaas ?
I had Spekulaas was when my parents-in-law visited us in Kuwait and brought us a handful of Spekulaas goodies from Holland three years ago. There were Spekulaas cookies, Gevulde koek spekulaas and all sorts of pastry cakes spiced with Spekulatius. There was no way we can find Spekulaas spice in Kuwait, let alone the genuine spice composed of cinnamon ( zimt) nutmeg ( muskatnuss), cardamon, ginger, white pepper,and ground aniseed. I have seen the Lotus Speculoos cookie spread ( Belgian origin) sold in selected supermarkets like in Carrefour, but then it is not the authentic Spekulaas flavor. Since then, Spekulaas became a favorite of mine among Dutch food, creating a statement of soul food. It is not just a winter food. It’s hard to explain, the taste, the smell, and the rich flavor, it is unique, and I found it to be decadent for me. Here in Germany, fortunately, Spekulaas and spices are widely sold in most supermarket, all year round. But during Fall, and the Autumn baking season starts, Spekulaas, along with Lebkuchen and Stollen floods all the shop.
Last week, my daughter had the Lantern parade celebrating Martinstag(or St. Martin). The kids along with their parents walked in the dark with their lantern and singing songs. Despite the rain, cold and darkness, it was a meaningful experience. Parents are also asked to bring some bakes goodies along with kinderpunsch and glühwein. I wrote “Spekulaas Koek“ for our share! I know I must be crazy, because first and foremost, I have never tried making Spekulaas cake, and secondly, I don’t know how to do it! This is totally something bake from scratch!
But as the saying goes ” When there’s a will, there’s a way! ” so definitely I found a way! I did my research and get the ingredients and then I prepared to bake Spekulaas ahead of time.I got the Spekulatius spices from Holland. Sometimes I even springkle some in my home made waffles and pancakes!
Speculaas or speculoos is one of the Dutch culinary specialties. Normally, it is a spiced biscuit, made with wooden forms or moulds. They are typically winter food, and especially associated with the feast of ‘Sint Nicolaas’ or Saint Nicholas, the original Santa Claus. Along with their infamous Chocolate Letters and Kruidnoten, Spekulaas signals one of the best celebrated feast in the Netherlands before Christmas; the Sinterklaas. This feast is celebrated on 5 or 6 December. Speculaas is very old, the spices used date from medieval times.
The name seems to derive from the Latin speculum (mirror, the biscuits had the carved figure of the mould in mirror image). Old wooden biscuit moulds show biblical scenes, historic events, ships, windmills, mermaids, and of course images of Saint Nicholas with the small children he had saved according to the legend. Single youngsters could receive a ‘vrijer’ (male admirer/lover) or ‘vrijster‘ (female admirer/lover). According to some this could be considered as a marriage proposal from the giver. These large speculaas dolls (Dutch’s version of Gingerbread cookies) were often decorated with coloured icing, silver pills and even leaf gold.
Traditional Spkeulaas biscuit mold
Unique Dutch baking
The speculaas biscuits from before, say, 1850, were made with a very hard dough containing rye flour and honey. Be warned though that these biscuits were so hard they could only be eaten if they were dissolved into a sweet (and tasty) porridge.
I enjoyed dipping these hard cookies in my coffee just to make it soft a bit. I noticed that they can also be stored for a long time in an airtight container.
So I brought the baked Spekulaas cake and Gevulde Koek Spekulaas to my daughter’s St. Martin’s party and placed it along the German ‘s trays of Lebkuchen, onion breads, macaroons, pizza breads, pretzel and other home made goodies. Here in Germany, I observed that only healthy options are served to feed the children. the parents of the children in the Kindergarten are giving support to the school staff and this way of potluck is a great thing to enhance social aspects. Junk food and soft drinks are totally absent. I kept on looking if people would eat it or it will be left ignored. I stand there and watch each piece dissappear from the tray. When I only saw two to three pieces left from the Gevulde Koek, I felt relieved. It made me feel satisfied that my Dutch- inspired baking was consumed well and I was able to share some Dutch goodness.
To get the best verdict : The Dutchman himself tasted and devoured the Spekulaas! I gave a few slices to our German neighbor as well and they only replied with “Lecker” ! ( or delicious ).
I guess anything made with Love taste better, Do you agree? Are you also fond of home made cooking.
Do you like Spekulaas? What is your favorite comfort food for winter?
Even from my countless visits, I am still charmed by Holland. It has its endless enigma that is so unique, so complicated and yet so unforgettable. This country behind its countless dikes, polders, and gazillions of bikes, is enormous. There’s a lot to enjoy and really worthwhile to explore, especially for families and for all ages.
For the first time,we spent our Easter holiday with my parent’s in-laws and my husband’s relatives and as usual, it was a nice time, always ‘Gezellig‘. Though the sudden drop in temperatures dampen our moods for a while, the crisp winds, hail and rain came as a surprise but not for long, we managed to roll and live like a local.
This is Holland, the Netherlands, as I see it! Enjoy…
Easter egg hunt right in Opa’s garden!
Just like in Germany, Easter in the Netherlands was a blast. My daughter and her cousins had lots of fun hunting for eggs and of course, we had an overload of Osterhase ( Easter bunny) and chocolate eggs.
Talking about the wind and Dutch Cloudscapes
The photo below is a typical Dutch cloudscape. I snap this photo while I was in the attic and opened the window during dusk. You can almost feel the wind in the higher parts of the sky; the strips of clouds they call “wind feathers” . I know I am in Holland when the clouds makes an exhibition of their fluffy, airy, and colorful palette.The ‘cumulus’ type of clouds is as typical as the tulips and used as inspirations by artists in many classic paintings in the Netherlands. If you have time, Google ‘ Solomon Van Ruysdael’ and you will know what I am talking about.
The Kissing couple
I love everything Delft, and this one is far by my favorite second to the Tulip vase that I’ve seen from our visit to the Rijksmuseum. I can’t find any history of this but this little piece of a Dutch farmer kissing his wife in the fields is really something very-Dutch. It come in all sizes but they are typically in the blue and white color which means that they are made of Delft Blue (or Delftware) – a Dutch version of Chinese porcelain.
Crystal clear water reflections
I know that I am in The Netherlands when nature is visible in any bodies of water. The water is super clean and clear that you always have a mirror-like reflections. I am obsessed photographing all these reflections. I took this photo from one of our walks in the city center where the small river lies along the green trees and a castle. It always seems like just a few meters away and I am taken away to another place.
Flower power spectacle in full colors
Need I say more,when it comes to colors, the Dutch have a reputation to defend. This applies to famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of my favorite painters, whose work can be seen in several Dutch museums. One of my unforgettable experience was seeing the “Night watch” in Dutch –De Nachtwacht. But Holland is best known for its spring flowers, especially Tulips. They are gorgeoussssss!!!
My recent trip to the Keukenhof left me with a flower-coma but I’m telling you, by Springtime, a sight of tulips are seen ordinarily in every Dutch household. Actually the flowers are just a by-product, it’s the bulbs that counts and is exported all over the world.
The Dutch Tulips, and the season of Spring in the Netherlands is something that you should not miss if you are visiting this country. If you wanna know why these flowers causes the first financial crisis in Holland, you better read it Here.
I have a kid who is obsessed with animals and in Holland, the wild animals are typically seen up close. You can see herds of cows, goats , chickens and sheep as you drive along the highway. There is always a country-farm feel like even in the midst of a busy city. I think I have seen so much horses and stable in my entire life every time I am in Holland. Here, deers are still 100% natural. In the Veluwe, a protected wildlife park, there’s always a chance to run into one. My daughter enjoyed her up close encounter with huge deers that she can feed and with the petting zoo in Keukenhof gardens.
Pfau ( Peacock )
At the Petting Zoo
Our lazy walks lead us to this castle, just a few meters away from the city center. Huize Almelo is a castle ( manor) in Almelo which is owned by the family Van Rechteren Limpurg. It is not open for public access but of course you can view it from a distance.We love walking around here as it has a beautiful greenery and clouded with trees with a nearby lake and ponds.
The taste of Dutch cheese
Need I say more? Gouda is the type of cheese that is known worldwide, but the famous cheese market is held in the town of Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam. I don’t know about my husband why he doesn’t eat cheese, but as for me, I adore cheese and I could eat this everyday!
My sweet tooth indulgence when I am in Holland is elevated to the max. I can’t resist the delicious goodies like the stroopwafels, gevuldekoek, kozakken, Dutch Apple pies and bonbons. Though the Netherlands is famous for its ‘Frites’ and bitterballen, you can never underestimate the Dutch homemade dishes. My parents-in-law always spoiled us with so many home-made cooking that I can’t describe farther than ‘Gezelligheid’. It is always served with lots of love. And yes, even in Holland, it is Spargelzeit!
Our visit to Holland is not complete until we had coffee and a slice of warm Krentenwegge ( raisin bread) and Dutch apple pie with a window view of spring violet pansies, for which is truly relaxing. This bakery which dated since 1867, is a home to my husband’s favorite- raisin bread and Kruidnoten.
If you see bikes everywhere, then you know you are in the right city and you are definitely in the Netherlands! Either tucked in the central station, if not on a bridge, they are firmly locked over a canal or in front of Dutch houses.
Her name is Miffy, and she’s older than Hello Kitty !
Nijntje, is a shortening of “konijntje,” which means “little rabbit.”Oftenly mistaken as Japanese because of it’s ‘kawaii’ features but actually she’s Dutch. Sanrio even got sued for copying her design; the court ordered them to discontinue their “Cathy the bunny” character.
Dick Bruna released his first bunny book in 1955, followed by over 30 more. This year, Dick Bruna passed away but left a legacy with this white bunny character loved by children all over the world, even adults. We were lucky to witness the Miffy Parade last August 2015 in Amsterdam for its 60th Anniversary where 60 artists decorated a life-size miffy (1.8 metre high) from creepy goth to rubber ducky. My daughter adores Miffy since birth, and I am thrilled that we brought home one of the limited edition’s design.
There’s still so much to write about but I don’t want this post to be a novel . But do you wanna know what’s my priced souvenir from this family trip? This…
You know you are completely Dutchi-fied when you have this in your kitchen!
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Even before I’ve met my husband, seeing Amsterdam is already on my bucket list. I love how different this city is and how unique the architecture you’ll see once you walked through the narrow cobbled-streets of Amsterdam. Oh yes, the bikes are another thing ! The first time I’ve visited Amsterdam and looked from the plane’s window, I was totally surprised by how different the landscape compared to the “brown, desert scapes” I saw when I first I came to Kuwait. Holland is flat as Kuwait, but at least with green landscapes.
Yes, The Netherlands is a flat country same as Kuwait, no mountains or valleys. Literally, about 27% of the country lies below sea level and tracing back the history, very prone to flooding.This fascinating country of my Dutch man falls into three natural topography, the dunes, the lowlands or “polders” , and the higher eastern section of the country. But Holland is not only world renowned by bicycles, colors, thru Van Gogh and Rembrandt, or from its Tulips spectacle, but also with its capital landmark ; the remarkable Gable, and leaning houses along the canals of Amsterdam.
“A leaning standpoint “, this is my first impression when I saw how crooked and odd the houses looked in a row. Some houses appear not to be standing straight, some really are!
When I explored Amsterdam and walked along the canals,even with a toddler in a tow, I really noticed that some of the houses are tilted, and wondered why. Maybe they just follow the previous pattern of houses. I know that it’s not only me, most of the tourists observed this. It was hard taking a decent photo if you follow an aligned perspective.Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. The vibes in this beautiful city is really wonderful, very diverse and totally laid-back. I could spent hours and hours walking on the small alleys, admiring the quaint cafe and shops, and the details of the houses. Everything is just so pretty!
Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometers of canals and its charming Canal District holds the city’s hidden gems; elegant canal-side mansions. From research, I’ve learned that the cost of living in Amsterdam is high, let alone renting an apartment along the canals. Amsterdam is known for its luxurious canal houses and it’s famous for the series of canals that encircle and crisscross each other throughout the city. From 17th century, locals built their houses along the canals which also served as their business offices, the basement and attics are used to store goods to be sold.
The architecture of these houses is very unique and particular and the intricate style shows the talent the carpenters had when building them many years ago. The 17th-century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.
These Canal houses are known for being slim, high and having interiors that run deep. Due to the danger of flooding, the front door was usually built higher up and only reachable via stairs. The floor of the main story was a few steps above street level for this same reason. One of the things that stands out in Amsterdam are the big windows and charming gabled façades, many houses that seemed tiny from the outside opened up into beautiful spaces within.
It is these very gables that are an exclusive Amsterdam design! When looking up at these majestic houses, you can see that many of the gables are adorned with a hook. Although it may look like a decoration, the hook is there to enable tenants to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the top floor. Canal houses were built slightly leaning forward so that the gable was further out into the street, in order to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window. A special beam or pulley installation would be located in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. You can see this method being used today as the pulleys are still used for moving furniture in and out of houses.
Also,many old Amsterdam houses are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Amsterdam was a typical ‘staple port’. This is a place where merchants make money by trading all kinds of goods that enter into the city, usually by boat. And speaking of boats, there are so many boat houses in the canals, most were privately owned and adding to the “charm” of the rings of canals flowing all throughout the city.
The thing about Dutch houses is that the large open windows don’t have any curtains, which guarantees zero privacy. The sheer size of them and complete lack of drapes illustrates the openness of Dutch society and how its people show that they have nothing to hide. Having one’s possessions out in the open for everyone to see isn’t very common, with many closing their curtains at night for privacy or security reasons. This idea of transparency is a key social element and shows how comfortable they are with being completely open.
Throughout the centuries, the phased expansions of the city of Amsterdam were thoroughly planned. The plots of land along the 3 main 17th century canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) were initially quite small. Each plot was 5 to 7 meters in width. Probably they chose to divide the land this way because that way, a maximum amount of houses has an entrance on the waterfront, the most important means of transportation in the late 16th century.
Amsterdam houses might seem narrow, but they are quite deep. In the back there is a large garden hidden from view and often the rich had a carriage house in the back.If you want to experience a chance of “Dutch’s Gezelligheid”, take a peek of their lifestyle the next time you roam around and walk through the small alleys. Amsterdam sure thing is a busy city and literally never sleeps, but you can’t afford to miss the beauty that this city holds!
Have you visited Amsterdam? What do you like from your travels?
“Koffee met appeltaart “, or coffee with apple pie is the Dutch’s way of celebrating..well, of everything! It’s sold in every bakery , bars and featured on every café menu, sometimes being the only sweet option listed. Now, as I am married to a dutch guy, I discovered that Dutch cuisine is not the most celebrated cuisine in the whole world , nor it is something you can say as unique- but it has a character, especially in their baked goodies and pastry. My personal favorites amongst all other delicious Dutch pastries are Gevuldekoek, kozakken, theRoomboter staaf , and of course, dutch authentic Stroofwafels. You haven’t fully experience Dutch’s culture unless you tasted one of these. I gave in to this treat when we were in the Netherlands. It’s a good thing that my generous parents in law are bringing us these Dutch goodies whenever they come for a visit.
Appeltaart is Holland’s magnificent national pastry. It dates as far back as the Middle Ages and it is said that during that time, because ovens with temperature control didn’t exist, baking time was measured by the number of prayers a person had to say until the pie was ready.
Here in Germany, it’s almost similar where in I fully integrated as well to their “Kafee und Kuchen”habit. Germans have a sweet habit of cofee-ing & cake-iing, in the coziest way. To tell you, I was surprised to see Germans having a slice of cake and coffee for lunch, dinner & as early as 9 am.
So I dedicated myself to baking , and making apple pie is my favorite. My version of Dutch apple pie crumble is proven crowd pleaser when I serve it. Once in a while, I opt for my simple recipe since it’s so easy to make with all the ingredients that can be found already in our kitchen, no special ingredients!
My daughter eats apple like crazy, she can down 2 pieces in a day! Before, she only eat parts of it, gnawing on them. I don’t throw the apples,I peeled off the good part and use them since I don’t want to waste. Since the sight of apples always make me think of a warm gooey apple pie, with lots of crumble, and I mean those soft, slutty cinnamon crumble, the mere thought makes me wanna bake. Our house smells heavenly that my neighbors sniff the smell from 10 meters radius. Now that it’s still officially a snuggle season and everyone loves comfort food, there’s always a reason to indulge from time to time. Last Fall, I started making my own apple pie from scratch. Making my own pie crust was a success, with the little help from my Google friend and thought why I didn’t make this before.
The Dutch’s Gezelligheidand their love for appeltaart is just so wonderful, and sometimes it is contagious. This recipe is for Mamas on the go, super easy to make that you’ll find yourself baking your own pies. I tell you, I forget and stop buying ones from the store.
To create a flavorful, deep-dish apple pie recipe worthy of recommending to others, I used the old-time trick that I’ve learned. I am used to making this filling for topping in our weekend pancakes. My husband loves them so much. I sautéed a combination of apples ( or whatever is in your local grocery shop) in brown sugar, cinnamon,nutmeg, pinch of salt, raisins, add some chia seeds (optional) and butter. Once they were softened, I removed them from the pan and added heavy cream to reduce and deglaze the pan. Combine the apples and cream mixture in a prebaked pie crust and topping the pie with a crunchy streusel and crumble heaven for the finishing. The more crumble on top, the better!
If you’re interested in making an apple pie the Dutch way, here I wanna share with you how to make one.
Traditional Dutch Apple pie crumble
Prep time : 30~45 mins., serves 10.
For the crust 1½ cups [360 g] unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
1 1/3 cups [240 g] brown sugar, packed firmly
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
5 cups [600 g] all-purpose flour ( type 405, the one I used here in Germany)
For the filling 5 firm apples or 3 soft apples (such as Golden Delicious or Pink Lady)
Finely grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup [80 ml] brown sugar (plus more for the crumble)
2 tsp [10 ml] speculaaskruiden (I use Verstegen Koek & Speculaas)
2 tsp [10 ml of cornstarch ]
Dash of cinnamon (zimt) and nutmeg (muskatnuss gemahlen)
½ cup [125 ml] sultanas (or raisins )
½ cup [125 ml] chopped walnuts (optional)
To make the crust:
In a medium bowl , mix the butter and brown sugar together until creamed. Sprinkle with the salt and add almost all of the eggs, keeping a tablespoonful [15 ml] to brush over the pie later. Pulse until the eggs are well-incorporated. Pour in the flour while incorporating it gradually. Add the remaining flour and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven at 375°F [190°C].
To make the filling: Peel and core the apples, then cut them into bite-size pieces. In a very large bowl, mix the apple pieces with the orange and lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar, spices, cornstarch, dash of cinnamon & nutmeg, sultanas (if using), and walnuts (if using). Add a pinch of the spekulaas spice. Sautee in medium heat until it starts to steam a bit. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream & let it cool while you make the crumble. Set aside.
To make the crumble :
175g all- purpose flour
110 g brown sugar
110g cold butter, cut into cubes
In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and flour.Mix in butter with a fork or stand mixer ( I prefer to use my hands ) just until the topping is crumbly. Top your pie with this before baking.
Assemble the apple filling in your pie crust and top it with the crumble. Bake for 40-45 minutes and check once the crumble turns golden or brown. Serve with dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. Enjoy!
Are you a pie person? What is your favorite comfort food?
Yesterday was National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. Everyone is free to pick tulips in the ‘picking garden ‘in the Dam square in Amsterdam. Bursting with around 200,000 tulips on display, an event that should not be missed if you’re in town. More than 10,000 people come and pick their own free tulip, and you know what makes this event really rocks?
You pick FREE tulips of your choice, with its bulbs,so you can bring Spring to your homes,All for FREE! The special theme for 2017 is ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design’, as the Netherlands celebrates 100 years of De Stijl.
I don’t know about you , but one of the things that I love in this world are Tulips! Although tulips originally came from Turkey, the Netherlands and Tulips are two things inseparable! Just like Curry wurst and Germany. Yesterday, my husband surprised me with a handful of fresh bulbs of flaming yellow-red tulips, as he always does. He knows that I loved them. The aftermath, of course, me taking some photos and getting some inspiration from it.
There’s something about its slim perfect skinny stem, the fresh long green leaves, and it’s cup petals bursting with unique charm and beautiful vibrant colors. The “flames” and mosaic in the petals is a total stunner, a nature’s wonder. Tulips is the ultimate symbolic flower for grace. No wonder tulips (Tulpen) is 3rd world’s most popular flower! Such a surprise that I married a Dutchman and that tulips is just right in the doorsteps!
Did you know that the first Dutch’s financial bubble is because of tulips? Can’t believe that a single bulb of tulips could cost more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled person! So precious…
The Dutch love affair with tulips during the Dutch Golden Age of the mid-1600s paved way to tulip bulb bubble or also known as “Tulip Mania”. Generally considered to be the first recorded financial bubble, the Tulip Mania of 1636-1637 was the time in which tulip bulb prices were propelled by speculators to incredible heights before collapsing and plunging the Dutch economy into a severe crisis that lasted for many years. Incredible, right?
While it’s not the fanciest flower in the garden, the beauty and grace of a simple Tulips means it has become a symbol for many things. Here are some interesting facts about this flower that I have found out;
A dark or light-colored center contrasts against the petals and can symbolize a broken or light heart respectively.
Bright red is the color of passion and perfect love. Don’t send a bouquet of these flowers to a family member or you’ll be sending the wrong message!
Tulips are edible but not medicinal. They become emergency food during WW II.
Perfect, enduring love between partners or family members
Undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned
Royalty and a regal nature
Forgotten or neglected love
the 11th wedding anniversary
Abundance, prosperity, and indulgence
Charity and supporting the less fortunate
I fell in love with tulips even before I have seen a real one. Seeing it from the magazines and in TV made me dream to see it for real. I am just so engrossed in its form, and how delicate it looks and yet so proud. Same as an obsessed gardener, I have this urge to plant dozens of bulbs into our garden. Spring is still far away from our doorsteps and yet, the sight of tulips in flower shops makes me dream of bright sunny days ! There’s nothing compares to the sight of fresh bunch of Tulip in your hands, in a vase full of these inside your living room, even a single stem can really make a change in the ambiance of your place.
I can’t wait for Spring for our Easter trip to finally see and visitKeukenhof gardens to indulge in the sight of these babies up close!
But for now, this sight is enough for me to look forward for more beautiful days!
“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different from a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.” – Marianne Williamson
How did your weekend go? Have you seen something that inspired you?
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If there’s any inspiring quality out of being married into a Dutch family that I could share here with you, it is the Dutch’s habitual element of surprises.You might wonder why, but aside from their lifestyle full of ‘Gezelligheid‘,up to their unbelievable generosity despite of the infamous ‘Going Dutch‘. I found Dutch people, particularly the family I’ve married into, to be very good in making surprises.
Even here in my own Blogging community , I have met Dutchies who are worth mentioning. When I was a newbie in Blogging (Still I am..!) here and made my first 5 posts, Frank Jansen ofDutch goes the Photo is very supportive through his meaningful comments. He took time to comment and give me encouragement, even boost my confidence by giving me my very first Blog award– the Liebster which I really find to be a kind gesture. His Yoga tree photos are total stunner and if you love fine photography in your own wall, check it out Here. There is also my good friend Ann, of Grubbs ‘n Critters , a fellow Expat-Mama, who is actually married also to a Dutchman.She made a wonderful surprise to me when she sent over a box full of spices! How cool was that? Now everytime I cook, I remember her. It was just purely coincidental that we have met here and shared common parenting stories and I often steal her luscious recipes! Finally, I was really thrilled when Diana,a total congenial person, a Book Author by heart, and the soul behind Myths of the Mirror became one of my reader,we’ve beautifully connected and eventually I felt I belonged, to the right circle in internet. I love the fact that I have these people in my life. All of them came also by surprise, along with all my friends here, as fate leads me to know them through their Blogs. If you have time,make sure to check out their Blogs and if you are a bookworm and still thinking of a gift to give to someone you love, you should check out Diana’s books that will leave you in trance!
Now back to my subject, who doesn’t like surprises, I guess everybody does. I am talking about a good kind of surprise, not the prank type, obviously a good kind of surprise is always great, personal, always unforgettable and lastly, full of fun.
On the side note, I can only talk about my own experience with my own Dutch family. I don’t know how is it with other Dutch interracial marriages so this post really doesn’t intend to do a rationalization of Dutch people.
“Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting! “
My Parents in Law (PIL) are really unique and one of a kind individuals. First, my FIL (Father-in-Law) subscribed and reads my Blog so obviously He will read this post and how cool is that?! They are two people who loves to plan out surprises for us, without giving us the hassle of waiting.
There’s something about having a surprise from unexpected people and time. It is the element of surprise that keeps me on high and really appreciate the thought of it. Since I was married into this Dutch family, my life was full of surprises that made me fall in love with them even more, each day. Here I wanna share with you why my Dutch family are people who have a thing with habitual surprises and their surprises keep on blowing my mind away each time they do it. Call me old fashioned, but I find this a rarity.
“Surprise them once in a while and let them know how special
My PIL surely knows how to let us feel loved. They gave us special surprises on their visits while we are still living in Kuwait. I find it special when they surprised us in coming over to our wedding with such a very short notice from us. Once we came back from our short stay in our hotel, we found out that our flat was fully decorated with colorful buntings and balloons! Something that I never expected because I wondered how they got the key. Later on, they gave us a photo book of our wedding photos which came from all the photos which my MIL took. She really loved taking photos and wrapped up a beautiful surprise and of course, a film made by my FIL.
Then again, they brought another strange yet unique Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes when my daughter was born. Far away from Holland, they have made us so close to home. They are not that young anymore, but they are full of vigor, strength and vitality. They have brought 2 suitcases full of gifts for my daughter, they have collected cards from our relatives in the Netherlands prior to going to Kuwait. I was amazed with their organization skills when they lay out all the gifts that fit the whole couch ! Their effort was worthy of appreciation.
“Surprises are better than promises ! “
When my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday here in Germany, they came for a week- long visit. The surprise came in later when they asked us to check out the door and my face was full of delight to see my husband’s sister and her whole family came by to join my daughter’s birthday!It was totally unexpected,even my husband is clueless. It was such a crazy surprise for me because we don’t even have enough plates for more than 5 people, I haven’t even prepared enough food to feed them ! Despite the frenzy preparations, in the end, it turned out a great day because indeed, surprises are better than promises!
Last week, we were planning to go to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market, also to have a weekend trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was planned from last month but was postponed when my daughter got sick. We were still having second thoughts because my daughter still had a bad cough and the weather is always grey, and gloomy, it’s not just the mood to do some sightseeing. While taking a walk before we do our grocery shopping, a car pulled down in front of us and there they are again–my PIL smiling and waving at us! They did it once again. Totally out of the blue, they came to join us to celebrate the weekend with us for my husband’s birthday. We spent a great time in theChristkindlmarkt ,drank Glühwein, visited the Nativity or the Krippenweg, and devoured Schnitzels and curry wurst with delight.
“Expect Nothing. Live Frugally on Surprises! “~Alice Walker
Again, they filled our home with their sunshine and made everything better.I know that they can always come over to our place from 6-7 hours drive from the Netherlands but still, they do it in a beautiful surprise. When I saw the face of my husband and the delight in my daughter’s face, I couldn’t agree no more because I am, too, was overwhelmed. They know how to bring us cheer, and they are so good at it.Also, every time they bring tons of goodies which we all enjoyed, then who am I to complain?
The surprise continues when they brought Sinterklaas to my daughter in line of her celebrating her first St. Nicholas here in Germany. My MIL packed a handful of my favorite spices like Gehakt and Spekulaas which I really find it sweet. We are so overwhelmed with the Sinterklaas goodies they’ve brought like the Chocolate letters,Kruidnoten, Stroofwafels,Gevuldekoeken, so much more. They know that my husband adores these things and I am a convert now myself. At the end of their visit, I was surprised again to see another ornaments in our little tree. I was so busy that I didn’t notice it hanging in there. They adorned it with their love. Another lovely surprise.
Near or far, they always try to bridge the gap and cross the distance to let us feel loved. Habit or not, my Dutch family has certainly a trait that I’ve learned to appreciate. Beyond gifts and everything, it’s their thoughts behind it that really matters. I have learned to appreciate surprises but right now, I am enjoying the Dutch’s life habitual element of surprises!
And how sweet that this post falls as my 200th post here ! Surprising that I have made it this far, Thank you my friends for following and reading my posts!
How about you, when was the last time you’ve made a surprise ? Or the last time you’ve been surprised?
I’ve been reading a lot about the acclaimed ‘Why Dutch kids are the happiest Kids in the World’as it was sensationally supported by Experts who study about this subject and made some interesting statistics. I was even more thrilled when Rina Mae Acosta, a Filipino-American freelance writer and the Blogger behind ‘Findingdutchland‘ , who also happens to be married to a Dutch guy, recently published her book–” The Happiest Kid in the World“, Bringing up children the Dutch way. There’s something about this subject that resonates my interest on Dutch culture and oh well, their crazy ways.
This triggered my curiosity , and made me wonder if it was really the case in a normal, average, Dutch childhood. Are Dutch kids really happy? What’s the measure of their happiness since I find the subject of Happiness being subjective. I am also raising one Dutch kid, but the thing is, we don’t live in the Netherlands, we live in Germany and she is growing up in a German environment.
Does it mean that my daughter grow up less-happy? or what?
As the old adage say ; ask a local and you’ll get real answers, or better, get to know one!
So one fine morning while we sit in the table for breakfast, I say it’s a fine one since I was able to sip my coffee before the toddler wakes up. I chatted with one former Dutch kid. I’m talking about one particular Dutchie who lives under one roof with me : my Husband , a.k.a BlueDutch.
Husband’s reply really made sense :
“It’s simple. We don’t like complicated things. Everything is simple.So we are happy, I was a contented kid and I had a happy childhood and even now as an Adult, I am living a simple life, but a happy one.”
Does doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg or just act normal, that’s already crazy enough, rings a bell?
Less is really more for the Dutch
My husband is the third child of a family of 3 children. He is the only boy and this alone makes him the apple of the eye of the whole family. He was born in a cold December night 2 weeks overdue for his birth. As a true Dutch protegé, he was born in their home, a typical way of giving birth in the Netherlands. His mother, my amazing Mother-in-law is strong, and one proud Mama who is very hands on to her children. He learned to stand in his Baby Playpen box in their living room which is another typically Dutchin raising children. Dutch parents normally put their babies in this box in the early days up to the time he can’t walk yet. In it were toys,and other things for the baby to play on, spacious enough to wiggle and convenient for mothers while doing other chores.
He grew up riding ponies, playing in the sand pit, and getting dirty as most kids do. He began taking swimming lessons at the age of 6, basking in the beach,and watching Top cat after school. A typical dutch kid is baptized into “Dutchness“with two important things : Riding a bike & playing football (or Soccer in America).
As what Holland is famous for, He eats Hagelslag since he is allowed to eat solids. Oh yes, did you know that Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles in solid form? He still eat Hagelslag up until now, we have boxes of this precious sprinkles courtesy of my generous parents in law. It’s a big panic if we ran out of this ‘staple‘. He had to share this now with my daughter who also devour toast covered in sprinkles.Everyday. He grew up developing a serious fondness with ‘Patat‘ and the magic meat balls (Gehaktballen) his mother makes. This is normally eaten with boiled potatoes (again!) and some beans and gravy or pepper sauce. I successfully stole this recipe to continue the meat balls saga in our family. He is Dutch but he denies the existence loathes of cheese and eggs. Sometimes I think he is just pretending to be Dutch! He can eat Pannekoek for dinner,enjoys Drop with delight, and drink chocolate milk more than he drinks water.
Just like any typical Dutch kids, he played enormously with his Duplos, wooden blocks, & his beloved Lego. He had a wooden bike which he got when he was 1-year-old and this has been passed on to our daughter along with his wooden plate with his name engraved on it. I find Dutch’s simplicity navigates to their source of worry-free happiness, take for example Dick Bruna’s Ninjtje (or Miffy ). A symbol of a cartoon character so simple and yet so good, without the complicated animation. Celebrating birthdays as a kid is more of a family celebration. It’s enjoyed with simple ‘Taart‘ and sitting in circles with friends and family. There is no pressure of throwing off a grand party either.
Dutch kids indeed have an enchanting childhood. Now who wouldn’t be thrilled when Sinterklaas comes on 5th of December. The sight of Kruidnoten, Spekulaas, Marzipan, and the yummy chocolate letters are everywhere. Typical dutch kids are showered with gifts and threats on this day. Sinterklaas is celebrated favorable in the Netherlands than Christmas. The sight of the Zwarte Piets (Black Peter’s ) seemed perfectly normal for all Dutch kids where it could be a daunting sight for others.
Growing up, he was also brought up visiting his Oma frequently, (Dutch for Grandmother). Grandparents are a big part of Dutch culture. It’s very typical for dutch kids to spend time & have a healthy connection with their Omas & Opas. The feeling of security and being well-taken-cared off comes naturally among Dutch kids since it all starts from their family.
Once a year they go on a holiday as a whole family and here you can see that travelling is part of a humble Dutch culture. My husband has 8 thick photo albums filled with vacation photos and stories of his childhood. He climb mountains and earn medals for Wandern , going on a sled in winter, visiting castles,exploring the gorges, or just roasting having barbecue in their backyard during summer.
What I have also learned about my husband’s childhood is the unique approach on education in the Netherlands. Homework is unusual in Dutch primary schools and students have one afternoon a week off school ( usually on Wednesday) which means kids have lots of time and space to be … Kids. Spending their childhood without worries.They only have homework in their Topography subject where they learn about cities, rivers & countries.
Dutch children are given lots of autonomy and the freedom to explore, while parents aren’t burdened with the expectation that their child has to be the best in order to succeed. This made me gasp since my childhood is totally different from him. Remembering that in Philippines, kids have huge backpacks filled with books and we always have homework. Even preschoolers! Imagine the early strain on kids having the high expectation to excel and achieve more than what the average kids does.
Based on these, I could sum up that growing up in a Dutch household is pretty awesome. His own story of childhood and growing up ‘doe maar normaal‘ makes him the relaxed, easy-going person He is right now. I presumed that the big factor why Dutch kids are simply happy apart from the significant aspects that the studies have proven, is because their parents are also happy. Statistics have shown that Dutch women and Kids tops it all but I can only write about Dutch people who I knew. Maybe the daily doses of drop, stroopwafels and Bitterballen adds to their vigor and their adrenaline boost is the result of their bodies intertwined with their bicycles. Believe me, they don’t have the time to worry, because their time is already spent discussing about the weather, making their agendas and shopping for orange clothes!
With Dutch, less is simply becoming more.
How can you describe your childhood in one word? Feel free to share!