The Netherlands : A place with more bicycles than people

A Land where there are more Bicycles than People


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.

Bikes parked along the canals of Utrecht, Netherlands

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?

The Netherlands : a beautiful place with colorful Tulips, canals and BICYCLES!

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!

Super chic Dutch Bakfiets

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.

Utrecht Bike Lot is now OPEN : Biggest Bike park Station in the World

Compared to USA with 325 Million people, 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!

My daughter trying to ride a bicycle we found parked in a light post

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 .

What’s with the flowers and utility baskets in the bikes in Holland?
Without Helmets , the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to cycle!

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.

Bike capital of the World!

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!

Bikes parked in Train Station

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.

Should I cycle or should I play?


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.

Parallel motion –Bikes, houses, shops, bars and people

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?

Some interesting read can be found Here and Here.

If you want to know how others feel about when they are cycling then read on from Here.It’s really good.

National “Romantic” Tulip Day!

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Tulip picking !

Are you prepared to gather your own  FREE Tulips?

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Tulips in bloom in Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

Is it Spring already? Nope, its still freezing over here in Germany, as it is still winter here in Europe, but in the Netherlands, you can catch an early glimpse of Spring! As a yearly tradition in Amsterdam, once again this year, the TULPENDAG or the National Tulip Day is set! What makes this super exciting and colorful? You can gather your own Tulips, as much as you can, and yes—all for FREE!

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Memories from Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

In lieu of this year’s theme “Romance“, Tulips are such in tune with any romantic occasion. I ,myself love Tulips no matter what the occasion is. Most especially when it is given to me as a gift. Just last week, I got a bunch of Tulips and when I put it in the vase, I can’t help myself comparing the bulbs from the gorgeous Tulips I have seen back in Holland. They are totally in different genes !!

Tulips are such a nice token to give to someone you love.It has a universal symbolism of purity, love and beauty.Though it can be super expensive in other countries, in Holland, tulips has its own pride.

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On January 20, the Dam Square will once again be filled with over 200, 000 Dutch tulips ! On this day, Tulip growers will wow the world once again by creating a temporary Garden right in the touristic Dam square. From 13.00 to 16:30, so if you are in Amsterdam or you have a chance to visit this beautiful city ( like I did!), then grab everyone along with you to see this event!

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Photos are from my last year’s visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, in Holland!

What about you? What is your favorite flower?

Have you ever heard of a Tulip Movie? I found it very interesting and if you love Tulips, then this is something for you to learn more about the pride of Holland.

Enjoy watching!

Walking in the Red Light District with a Baby

Now who among you parents out there would bring out your little ones in the Red Light District or locally known as “De Wallen ” in Amsterdam?

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Red Light District in Amsterdam or locally known as De Wallen

Nope, it’s not the Disneyland of Amsterdam, and if its your first time to see Amsterdam sure thing it has many attractions  that might catch you off guard! I have written before how to enjoy the free things in Amsterdam but this one is totally different. Different in a way that the Netherlands is a country more than sex & drugs! You really need to see the country for you to have an impression since what you read in the internet is not always true. This country is totally laid back and relaxed, highly tolerant and the Dutch people are very liberal. No wonder that Dutch Teen pregnancy rates the lowest in world standing, and as what the experts and studies shows,  Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world.

Okay, I’m sure most of you who have traveled in the Netherlands specifically in Amsterdam knows the “Red Light District “that I am talking about. But for those of you who are clueless, here’s a brief description of what Red Light District is all about. Before I had our trip, my vision of the Netherlands is mainly of Tulips, clogs, cheese, canals, and beautiful architecture of the leaning gabled houses. Even the taste of Poffertjes and Stroofwafels are unknown to my taste buds so imagine my surprise when my husband & I with our 1 year -old daughter took a walk along the streets near the Zeedijk up to the Oudekerksplein.My husband is Dutch and visited Amsterdam frequently but He rarely went to the Red Light District. So for people who think that Dutch people are fond of taking drugs and fooling around in the RLD, on any given day, then you are completely  wrong!  I noticed that this place really thrives on tourists and visitors and not the locals!

We decided to pass by the streets of the Red Light District in the morning, where there are less crowds. We had previously explored the city and thought of having a break from the Museums since my daughter easily gets bored and in dire need of playtime.So then we found ourselves strolling through the alleys where its best known to be a public display of prostitutes and marijuana! Yes, prostitution and drugs is legal in the Netherlands! It is also came as a surprise to me knowing that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize gay marriages. The red-light district in Amsterdam  consists of a network of alleys containing approximately  three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who display their goods and offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These “kamers” are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction. I have read about it but seeing these girls , totally made up as early as 10am in the morning  still gives me a different experience. In the broad daylight,they all looked bored and there’s so much in their stares, some are just playing with their phones and fidgeting with their shiny underwear.

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Street sightings in Amsterdam

De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these, De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum,brothels, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, legally. My 1-year-old  certainly had no idea what these are all about and doesn’t pick up anything about what is in the billboards and signage. Taking photos of the ladies is highly prohibited and the whole area is on surveillance of camera so every visitor is expected to be discreet.

So, am I a bad mother for dragging my innocent daughter into this place?

After we’ve seen the Miffy  (or Nijntje ) exhibition in Museumplein, then we took her into a place full of things she doesn’t even have an idea of what it is. Well, as shocking as it may look to the world that a toddler can have a glimpse of ladies parading their almost naked bodies, I find the whole experience normal.Just like in other cities. Of course we didn’t get inside of those Sex museums or lounge in the Coffee shops, we merely passed by to take a look. Strolling around the Red Light District with a toddler was peaceful, calm, and safe. The only disturbance we’ve had is my toddler’s whining and wanting to run all over the place.

Although the Red Light District is for adults, its  only after dark that there are throngs of people just walking around to soak up the atmosphere, I too, as a visiting tourist have spent some good times just watching the world go by.Most of the tourists there are actually not there to indulge in those activities,they’re just there simply to watch. I found it a very  relaxed friendly place. Although I don’t recommend to go in there at night , and yes, not even with a baby with me.

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Street art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam city centre has a romantic image. I truly enjoyed the cozy strolls along the city center and now I know why Amsterdam is such a vibrant city. The city is gorgeous and a place for kids to enjoy. Sure it has its seedy and naughty parts of the city but its a beautiful place to explore and I am even grateful that my daughter experience the benefits of traveling at such a young age. The neighborhood is full of interesting shops, pubs, fantastic restaurants, leaning gabled houses and the city’s most charming canals. It is the same location of the Nieuwmarktsquare, the gothic Oude Kerk  and just a stones throw away,you will be in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, the Zeedijk (also home to an impressive Buddhist temple). It is unbelievable that after a few minutes strolling along the RLD, you will be in another place, a totally different atmosphere.

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Dutch Gezelligheid

Our trip to Amsterdam became a memorable one, and not because of the things we’ve seen in the Red Light District, but because, it is a beautiful city that is rich in culture. More than the bike culture, Amsterdam will always be special for us. It was our first trip as a family and I am sure, I can tell stories to my little girl that during the first year of her life, she had been there…through the secrets of the Red Light District!

If you want to visit Amsterdam and have a look in the RLD, this page might give you some interesting information.

Would you stroll along the Red Light District with your baby if given the chance?

 

 

Amsterdam for Kids, Why Not?

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam? I mean, with a toddler toddling with you?

Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Full of vibrant and definitely a top Family destination.Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers or children, this major European city is a hub for adventure and family-friendly sights that would make your stay worthwhile. Now before anyone raised their eyebrows and rant about this city’s tag for lascivious scenic spots , coffee shops & brothels, let me get this straight. We went there not for those reasons.

As for me, Amsterdam is a sure winner for travel destination for kids.Besides that this is my husband’s home country, I can’t argue anymore why this city stands out. Its up to you to discover its charm. You as the parent is the sole responsible for your trip to make it or break it. Period.

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Little Miss N in front of her favorite Ninjtje 

 

On our recent trip to the Netherlands, my daughter had a blast and we can’t wait to be back soon this summer. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from this trip especially from our visit to the newly renovated  Rijksmuseum , but this time with my daughter.

Both me & my husband are excited to explore the Rijksmuseum .We are both lovers of Architecture and Arts  so we thought that this should not be missed from our trip.We booked our tickets online & we managed to squeeze ourselves quickly away  from the rain and morning frenzy in the tram. Finally  we’re at Rijksmuseum. We are excited. My daughter was not. She preferred Ninjtje over Rembrandt.Am I a bad Mama dragging this little toddler to admire the works of Van Gogh & Rembrandt?

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Sculpture at the reception Hall of Rijksmuseum

On the contrary, Rijksmuseum was striking & beautiful . It really exceeded my expectation. But not the busyness inside! It is something that I did not expect since we were  there early. After depositing our things at the baggage deposit counter, we headed to see the Grand Hall. We take our time to adore the famous “Night Watch Galleryin the grand hall of the Great Masters. For the first time in over twenty years, the Rijksmuseum again organized a Rembrandt exhibition, giving every generation the chance to renew its acquaintance with the great Master of the Golden Age.This is something that we don’t wanna miss. We don’t see this everyday so we wanted to make the most of it but unfortunately, it did not happen that easily.

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Shooters district XI under Captain Reynier Reael, known as “Lean Company” Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, 1637

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Shooters district II, led by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1642

 

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My daughter was busy biting the leaflet and looking at the crowd. Maybe she was wondering why there is no Winnie the Pooh ? Soon I have noticed that there were quite  a number of visitors with babies tagged along with them, but most of them looks older than her. I felt unsure though that soon she might get bored and start to whine since she doesn’t like to stay in one place.She likes to roam around so we move on. I skipped the crowded areas, especially with so many people coughing! I was really surprised to see so many Koreans inside Rijksmuseum.

One thing that I find difficult is accessing the elevators. They were centrally located but then it was so busy,  its difficult to navigate with a stroller.I find the size so tiny compared to the ample sizes of elevators here in Kuwait.

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Beautiful tainted windows inside Rijksmuseum

Knowing that my daughter is super active, I give her a treat and let her loose in the adjacent hall. She loved the tainted windows, and she had some wooden benches where she climbed on.The sight was new to her. This was also my personal favorite. There were interesting patterns in the floor that kept her occupied, but not that long. Its almost lunchtime so we decided to check out the Museum’s cafe, but as I expected, there was already a long line waiting for a table. Its obvious that we can’t wait that long to be seated. I was not even sure if they have a high chair. I personally needed a breath of fresh air. So we decided to head out and check out Ninjtje Parade in the Museumplein.  

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Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

She loved this, who doesn’t? She was actually mesmerized by each sculpture. I just let her ogle on each sculpture. She climbed them, touch them, maybe they had a quick téte-a-téte! Then we let her climb over the I am Amsterdam Letters with delight. She was so thrilled by the huge letters to climbed on. After she got exhausted, we decided to have a picnic , rest for a while and watch the ducks in the pond. Now that’s what I called “We time “.

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Can I take you home Miffy?

So what have I learned from this trip?

I don’t blame my daughter for the short-cut of our visit in Rijksmuseum, in fact, I was grateful to her. She have taught me to take it easy by slowing down & paying attention to what really matters, Afterall, a happy child equals happy parents.

Expat Mama Travel Tip!

  1. Be flexible and make it simple – Don’t complicate your itinerary. You know your child better. You know what makes them cranky. Bring them to destinations where both you & your children can be flexible and relax as much as possible . Amsterdam is surrounded with beautiful green landscapes and sceneries , make the most of the clean oxygen. The best memories are made outdoors! If your child doesn’t like being in crowded indoors, search for the nearby garden or take a stroll in the park.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun-Make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you become stressed out, your child will definitely catch it. Take time to talk to your child while you admire the scenery. Your tone can either set the mood  & soothe her and helps her to calm down.
  3. Do it together- If you are travelling with a family, then allow other members to interact with your child. This can ease the child-overdose you are feeling if your child is constantly clinging on you.

Don’t forget to make lots of memories of your trip!

If you like this post, then maybe you would be interested to know what are the top free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam as a family. Do you have 24hours in Amsterdam? Then click this Link Here to know more.

How about you,what is the unforgettable part of your trip with your children?  Do you enjoy travelling with kids? how do you handle the impromptu changes ?

Safe travels!

 

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5 Free Things to do in Amsterdam

You want to explore Amsterdam but don’t want to smash your budget ?

I know touring Amsterdam can really be expensive . There is so much fun things to do and so much to see . But I wanna share with you how we survived it .  Here’s my Top 7  Free Things to do in Amsterdam that would definitely let you have a taste of its culture , and learn why this charming Dutch metropolis is one of top Europe’s travel hub. I highly recommend these things even if you have young kids travelling with you . It’s all about location . You don’t need to stress out yourself , Amsterdam is  beautiful  &  diversity is all over the city & deserves to be part of your Budget-friendly destinations  in Europe .

1. Go to the Bloemenmarkt

Holland is famous for its Tulips and other beautiful blooms , so why not indulge yourself into amazing array of flowers displayed in Bloemenmarkt. There’s no charge to wander past the stalls of the city’s wonderful floating flower market , the Bloemenmarkt (daily opens at  9am–5pm, some stalls close on Sunday), which extends along the southern bank of the Singel. Popular with locals and tourists alike , the market is one of the main suppliers of flowers to central Amsterdam, but its blooms and bulbs now share stall space with souvenir clogs, garden gnomes, Delftware and similar souvenir keepsakes .

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Tulips blooms in Bloemenmarkt

 

2. Discover Begijnhof

Ah,This one is my favorite . If you’ve been into the busy streets of Amsterdam that is packed with tourists then why not have a Breather, right within the city . Go to Begijnhof . Its  little gateway on the north side of the Spui leads into this hidden gem, where a huddle of immaculately maintained old houses looks onto a central green. This is one of the city centre’s most beguiling sights, and totally free. It was founded in the fourteenth century as a home for the beguines – members of a Catholic sisterhood living as nuns, but without vows and with the right of return to the secular world.

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One fine afternoon in Begijnhof

3. Listen to lunchtime concerts at the Concertgebouw

There are regular free lunchtime concerts at this impressive Arts venue, home of the famed – and much recorded – Koninklijk (Royal) Concertgebouw Orchestra. It has become renowned among musicians and concertgoers 
for its marvelous acoustics, and after a facelift and the replacement of its crumbling foundations in the early 1990s it is looking and sounding better than ever.

4. Walk or take a Nap in Vondelpark

This is a famous park in Amsterdam and if you want some peace & quiet ,then find yourself a space near the lagoon in Vondelpark then just admire this beautiful place.You can feed the ducks ,people watch , or just ride your bike along its bike paths.There are many artwork and sculpture displayed in here that might catch your attention .Amsterdam is short of green spaces, which makes the leafy expanses of the Vondelpark, the city centre’s main park, one of its best attractions. The park possesses a wide variety of local and imported plants, an excellent rose garden, and a network of ponds and narrow waterways that are home to many sorts of wildfowl. There are other animals too: cows, sheep, hundreds of squirrels, plus a large colony of bright-green (and very noisy) parakeets. We had a lunch picnic here and my daughter enjoyed it .

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Lush greens in Vondelpark

5. Take a stroll along the Red Light District 

With a kid tagging along with us , I feel squemish of bringing along my toddler  in here . I mean this place is known for scantily- clad women displayed in red framed windows! Most parents will raise their eyebrows for exposing your child to sights like that. But when I observed how quiet and safe the place is , i didn’t see any reason to miss this area . If you go here in the morning , you can see packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, giggling groups of women ,teenagers , and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras and making selfies. This is proof enough that De Wallen deserves a visit, if not a little look in.  But photography of the women are strictly prohibited ,so be careful .

It’s your choice ,you need to experience passing by the RLD and  then probably you will understand what i felt when i see this place.

6. See Amsterdam’s finest church

If you are an Architecture buff and interested in religious building such as old churches, then you wouldn’t wanna miss the finest churches in Amsterdam, all can be reached by foot .

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Zuiderkerk as seen from Prinsengracht

The Westerkerk, is the biggest church in Amsterdam  just along Prinsengracht,  The church still dominates the district, its 85-metre tower – without question Amsterdam’s finest – soaring graciously above its surroundings. This church became the symbol of this city . The church was designed by Hendrick de Keyser and completed in 1631 as part of the general enlargement of the city, but whereas the exterior is all studied elegance, the interior is bare and plain.Zuiderkerk is the first Protestant church in the city . During  summer season, its tower may be climbed offering the nice view on canals and old houses of the area.

7 .  Watch people climb the I Amsterdam Letters in Museumplein 

Finally , You are in Amsterdam so what’s the best way to make memories of it than to take a selfie & watch people clambered on top of the letters . Discover why people of all ages climb on top of it , or why  Tourists flocked in here each one of them  striking their signature poses . Museumplein is an amazing place  and totally crazy in Summer.

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People watching at Museumplein

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam ? How was your experience ? I would love to hear your comments from your trip .

Thank you for stopping by and reading !

 

Oh God, My Husband is Dutch !

This is not a romantic love story post, Nope, On serious note , I found myself to be lucky to find &  marry a wonderful Dutch guy, & here I share with you my impressions and things I found to be special and so typically Dutch .

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Beautiful canals in Amsterdam.

When you are in an interracial marriage, habits and your partner’s interests are the top things you notice. Either it’s totally  crazy, out of this world , weird, or annoying but then it shows a lot of their personality.

Tell you frankly, I haven’t got any clue about anything Dutch. We were completely from different cultures. I wouldn’t ever know that Hagelslag ( or Sprinkles)  could taste so good on toast after I met my ex-boyfriend , now my husband who is Dutch. Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles that Dutch spread on their toast.It’s quite a moment to watch how they do it. It’s like a magic routine every time we seat together during breakfast .They spread it on a plain bread with  butter or margarine.  Their love for Hagelslag can never be taken away from them wherever they are right now. We were living in Kuwait but we have Hagelslag during breakfast, And Yes, I gave my In-Laws a big Thank you for bringing it over here during their visits. It’s totally a Dutch thing. This is a staple on every  household and kids form some sort of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults. So Yes, I became a convert on this one and I’m sure my daughter will love it too.

When we had our daughter , we had  Beschuit met Muisjes It’s a tradition  in  the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit with sugar-coated Anise seeds  shared with guests. They come in pink & white for girls  & blue & white for boys .I love the uniqueness & everything about it. We never have something like this in Philippines or even in Kuwait.

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Typically Dutch threat when a baby is born -Beschuit-met-Muisjes

Who loves potatoes the most?

Dutch people are top-notch on this one. They adore  potatoes. It’s like rice for Filipinos. They mashed it, fry it, steam, boiled ,baked it but their favorite is the Patat Friet. Patat Friet is  a well-known snack , they are usually served in a paper cone, topped with mayonnaise. Different types of toppings are usually available including knoflook (garlic) sauce, tomato ketchup , frietsaus (a less fattier version of mayo) or the peanut sauce. My husband enjoys this on all occasions.

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So typical Dutch , Hagelslag on toast !

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 Windmills, a typical scenery in Dutch countryside.

Dutch people have a serious love affair with their bikes (Fietsen)  before they were even engaged or got married. Sounds crazy right?  but really, I was dumbfounded when i saw how many bicycles in The Netherlands , let alone Amsterdam itself. It’s HUMONGOUS!

The bicycle culture  makes Dutch people stand out. I mean,they don’t just bike to kill time, their lives revolves through it. They have one of the best Public transport system and yet people opt to cycle as their #1 preference of transport.You see mothers with their 3 kids on it with their famous  Bakfiets  (or cargo bikes) plus bags of groceries, cycling to work, exploring the countryside riding their bikes , and many tourists discover Amsterdam and all through out Holland by bikes. The Netherlands is the most-Bicycle friendly country with about 17 million in population and 20 million bikes! Picture that !

An average Dutch rides his bike 2.5km per day. I have cycled with my husband for 25km in one day and it was great. Another thing that I find so interesting is that they have a very active lifestyle with it. I have seen even older people riding their bikes. A typical household owns 3 bikes and children learn to cycle at an early age. I find it really inspiring when I see my in-Laws (already in their 70’s)  riding their bikes together for errands or so.

In Netherlands, multi-level parking areas for bicycles is normal sight. It is Huuuggeee. You can see tons of bikes parked in the train station and its amazing how people find their bikes with ease.

Bikes in Holland
Multi-level parking area for Bicycles in Amsterdam.

My husband loves to makes Lists , schedules and has the most organized Calendar. He really does it especially during grocery shopping. Dutch people are really living by the Diary. Birthdays and other important occasions are carefully noted in their calendars. They even have a Birthday calendar.

YES! you read that right, a calendar for Birthdays. They normally hung it in their guest bathroom. It’s totally Dutch thing. Imagine that you are a guest and while you do your business in the loo, you can be amused by  the thoughts and sometimes it even comes with photos in  it. Sure thing, they have no excuse to forget birthdays !

One important  character of Dutch people  is punctuality. This is as per my observation from them. They are also very straightforward and direct. They don’t beat around the bush.Some may even misinterpret this as rudeness,but actually, they are just so direct in speaking their opinions.

Have you heard about Papadag? Dutch men are very involved on parenting. I love the fact that my husband has high standards for family time. Dutch people have high priority on family and quality time spent with it is important more than any leisure activities. In Netherlands, fathers have a certain half-day off during the week to take care of the kids. Isn’t is amazing? In an interracial marriage, it’s very important to have compatible values, especially on family. I’m so happy that my daughter has the privilege of being raised with Dutch values to ensure overall well-being as a child. The Netherlands holds the spot of only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being . You can see the full report Here. It is very heartwarming that Dutch kids stands as  the happiest kids on the world. They have wonderful childhoods.

Prior to the negative implication of the term “Going Dutch “,which is economical,thrifty Dutch way of thinking, I don’t see my husband as cheap, being prudent is not bad, He spends money wisely. Dutch people are very helpful & charitable and this is regarded  as great national value. The Netherlands ranked #14 in Top 23 Richest countries around the world based on GDP per capita and its amazing how Dutch people  are so involved in helping others, either national and international, who lag behind economically. There is a general kind of sense that “everyone should have the same”; equality in the economic sense is almost a value. During the typhoon Haiyan tragedy in The Philippines, Netherlands donated EUR 36 million as aid to the victims.My parents-in laws are living example, they have been helping a poor Polish family .

Lastly , with Dutch , there is always a feeling of Gezelligheid . Don’t ask me to define this in literal meaning because I can’t. Just picture this : Lovely ,beautiful gardens on each houses, with curtain-less wide windows adorned with most simple ornaments that looks directly to sidewalks , people having picnics & strolls in the park, Saturday morning frenzy at the city centre ‘s wet market,gobbling on delicious  Dutch treats such as Stroopwafels , those tiny houseboats along the canals in Amsterdam , people walking and talking about the weather ,  sitting in benches reading the news , and so on. There is total way of cozy conviviality around.

A fun, comfortable way of everything. For foreigners,it could be perceived as slacking off, but really, they just enjoy and take life in a normal way.

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I was grabbed at first sight on the experience of all of these. There is this unfamiliar taste that surrounds everywhere. No wonder tourists come back after visits to the Netherlands. They are really more than the windmills,tulips & clogs. There is so much more to learn and to explore with their culture. I have come to embrace Dutch culture, not only because I married one, but because of  Dutch’s unique approach in everything . But I excuse myself on liking the Drop & Haring!

At the end of my day, I still groaned and remind myself, “Oh God,my Husband is Dutch !”

Have you’ve had any encounter with Dutch people? or the Netherlands ?Do you have any fascinating impressions about them?

Please feel free to share your views . I would love to hear it.

Thank you for  stopping by & reading this…and Doei!