Gevoel: ALLE VERSTOPT
(Translation: Feeling all clogged up).
So. The first full day in the Fatherland.
As I come from Dutch lineage, cavorting about the dikes (water channels, not friendly females – though being in Amsterdam, I excuse you for thinking so first) and walking about in wooden shoes was very top of the most looked-forward-to list. I’m very proud of my Dutch heritage (as I am with my Polish and Kiwi too, but with a name like “Anneke Wortman” it is a good claim – well excuse – for the titling) and couldn’t wait to take some shots of tulips and windmills to send through to my Opa.
I arose feeling slightly clogged up (which I absolutely loved; my body is totally taking puns to the ultimate, I mean “clogged up” in the Netherlands? What will be next? Full of germs in Germany? (Please no). Peaking in the Alps? (Yes, that’s appropriate). Prague-matic in the Czech Republic? Turning into a trans-Tasman oak in Vienna? (Aus-tree-er). (Sorry, that was awful. Absolutely awful) ). After a buffet breakfast (you should’ve seen the spread – meats, cold cuts, breads and croissants for Amsterdam, fruits, cereals, and even Dutch breakfast biscotti!) we all loaded onto the bus (well, almost all – six of us went far too hard last night and were absent in more ones than one this AM) and headed to Edam for some bike riding about the waterways.
We were all aboard what are known as “grandma bikes” or omafiets. When piloting one of these around, you are sitting up straight, with breaking being done by reversing the pedals to halt. It was extremely idyllic pedalling about the sleepy town (9am on a Sunday, most shops were shut and people still slumbering) and I got my first look at a windmill (excited selfie was necessary). My insanely competitive nature had me riding up with the guide at the front of the pack and discussing Holland as a whole.
After we parked up we were back on the bus and off to a cheese and clog making factory a mere ten minutes down the road. I was absolutely in my element upon being led into the wonderland of Dutchness, with rows and rows of clogs and cheese wheels adorning the walls and the family who run the little store being dressed up in total traditional attire.
A lovely lass showed the ins and outs of cheese making (unfortunately I didn’t listen to a word; she looked insanely similar to a pal back at home and her whole spiel I was just attempting to snap a sneaky shot so I could send it through to him) (I succeeded) and then we went to see how clogs were constructed.
Um, holy shit. Probably one of my most favourite moments of my life. The man showcasing how to make the wooden shoes was full of banter and good one-liners and earned a fair few hearty guffaws as he shaved and wrenched and drilled and cut. Before I knew it, a clog was sitting in his hand! I was spellbound, wondering if I could possibly add clog making to my CV; he said it only took five years to learn the trade. And he even presented me – me! Of all in the crowd! – (actually not that amazing; there were only about 36 of us and I was standing right in front of his demonstration with my face openly showing my rapture) with the tulip-like wooden remains that came out of the block when cutting in the hole for the foot to go.
(Quick info bracket: Clogs are “Klompen” and have been popular in the Netherlands for about 700 years as industrial footwear worn by farmers, fishermen, factory workers, artisans and others to protect their feet from injury and keep them dry. It is a tradition overseas for Dutch people to give wooden clogs newborns an ornamental set of clogs with their name on. My brothers and I both got a fair few when we were born, but we had a gnawing Schnauzer dog who chomped them to smithereens one night when we were out).
My favourite line of the clog making man’s was that of smoking. “We smoke everything in Holland,’ he said. “Cheese, meat, everything. It is a rule; don’t throw it away – try and smoke it first.”
How apt! Though I don’t think I’ll take it on board with my wooden souvenir – not keen for a splinter ciggy.
We drove back through to Amsterdam, past the lines and lines of Gable houses straddling the waterways. They reminded me of a biscuit tin of Cameo Creams, all red-brick brown with creamy white details, standing to attention in long, thin blocks.
You see, the Netherlands – particularly Amsterdam – are infamous for their Gable Houses. The gingerbread-esque abodes are the canal side townhouses, tall and narrow with multiple storeys as a result of taxes being based on frontage – thus up rather than out was the way to approach building.
So what is a gable? They are the section of wall between the edges of a dual-pitched roofs, giving both a pleasantly aesthetic look as well as a functional purpose in lifting heavy or bulky things to the top floors. Over the course of a fair few centuries, the gable design developed in accordance with the fashion of the time from the simple triangle in the 15th century, to the step and spout throughout the 16th, the elaborate cornice in the 18th and the rounded contoured from then on out. At first glance the houses at times appear rather morphed and forward leaning – it’s not your eyes. Some of them are that way so, with big hooks attached to the front; what with the staircases being far too narrow to manoeuvre furniture in and out, ropes would be knotted on the hook to lift in and out the needed couches, beds and desks.
Following that wee aside; it is quite rare to see homes with curtains or drapes slinging the windows. Why so? Well apparently, curtains and the like being drawn is seen as having something to hide. Thus, the good great portion of homes do not blind up their windows to show to all they have no secrets or shame. Fab when the third floor of one home had a very fit looking Dutch male changing his shirt. Not so much when his next door neighbour was doing the same, albeit it a good 50kg heavier, significantly hairier and a goof forty decades older.
After a fair few hours roaming around the streets (including a visit to the home of Anne Frank, but not into the doors; be warned, if you are keen to make a trip to the infamous annexe make sure you book WELL IN ADVANCE; the line was stemming down the entire street and round the block, meaning all those in wait would be there for a good wee while) we returned back to the hotel. Sheridan and I were both extremely beyond tired so lay down for a nap before getting up to meet that others about 7pm; however, on suddenly awakening at 9.33pm, we decided a night in was in order to let us be able to buzz out in Berlin.
A few observances from the day.
- Looking for a chemist or convenience to duck into for an Evian or some cold and flu away? Mate, not as easy as one would think. Amsterdam is not at all like Paris with its plethora of corner stores or Dublin with its dotted about Spars – it took us a long, long time to locate a convenience – and even then it wasn’t like we were after – and we did not cross a pharmacy once, aside from a weird little holistic store
- I was extremely surprised by the Dutch accent when actually in the Netherlands; I had thought that being so distinct and what with the stereotypical Dutch persona, it would be all loud and proud and booming. Not so! Rather, the people were more on the quiet side and not all bellow-y and broadcasting.
So, some info and fun facts on the mighty mighty Netherlands.
First off, to clear up some confusion; ever hear people referring to “Holland” in regards to the Netherlands? Well, the misterming came about in the 17th century. Holland is actually a province in the north and south of the country; the area held great maritime and economic power back in the day, with lots of global trade. Thus, those from other countries started referring the nation as a whole as “Holland”. And voila! The name took root and embedded itself as a nickname. (Kind of like me – Anneke and Poppy. Though I think it’s pretty safe to say I am not an economic powerhouse. Nor a maritime strength). (But I can swim. And I’m a total trotter when it comes to treading water). (Well I was. For fifth form Baradene advanced P.E one tick off to pass was to tread water when fully dressed for five minutes. Mate, I was in our pool at home every day for a good month donning the trackies and a sweatshirt – and don’t ask me why, but a scarf as well –getting my swim stride on. I feel that was a good talent to have. Whenever I return “home” – wherever that is – I may get this afternoon activity back on the go, scarf and all). (And how fab would that be to have as my skill? Like, whenever people start showing off their fortes I could launch in and exhibit my tread. All I’d need is some clothing, a scarf – can’t neck that – and, well, a pool). (Apologies; back to Amsterdamage).
So the Netherlands is located in north-west Europe, cuddled by Germany to the east and northeast, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea straddling the west as coastline. Australia is 205 times bigger than the Netherlands (hereafter, TN), and little old New Zealand (did you know that’s how the country at the end of the earth got its name? Oldmate Abel Tasman came across the stretch of three islands and declared, “Wow! It is like the new Zeeland” – place in TN – “I declare that to be its name!”. And yeah. New Zealand). (Actually, that’s a little stretch of the truth. Oldmate Abel actually deemed it “States General of the Netherlands” which changed to “Niuew Zeeland” in 1645). (I don’t know why the double “ee” got changed to an “ea”. I’ll have a little look into it when I’m back in wifi and get back to you). (And if I don’t someone please remind me) is seven times the size.
TN kind of looks like a guinea pig up on its hind legs. Or Krumm, the hairy dude from Ahhh Real Monsters, the one who carries his eyes around – TN is rather reminiscent of him on profile view taking a step. (I was determined to find little quirls for each of the European countries when doing my assignment. There was a long afternoon of sitting and staring at a map, it must be said).
TN is extremely flat (in terrain, not mood – how could you be down when naughty things are all out in the open and often legalised?) with a good 25 per cent of the land at or below sea level. You see, over the course of a couple of centuries TN was devastated by severe flooding, killing tens of thousands of people. The country was extremely vulnerable to flooding because of the constant pressure applied to it by the North Sea. Ever wonder why windmills are a global recognised characteristic of TN? It’s not an aesthetic thing – windmills were erected across the country to pump water out of low lying areas to reclaim land from the sea. (Flevoland is a province entirely made from reclaimed land from the sea. How deep is that?).
Manmade hills called “polders” were then constructed to raise the level of farms and villages soon after, and the damming of sea efforts continued well into the 1930s with the construction of “afsluitdijk”, that being dikes, in more than 4000km of navigable canals, rivers and lakes going with the flow.
The year 1953 saw major flooding cause almost 2000 deaths, mainly in southern areas such as Zeeland. As a result, the Delta Project came into play, a plan to construct a large series of outer sea dikes and inner canal river dykes to protect the land from further flooding. This massive and costly project and similar subsequent since (honestly, were the three words preceding this bracketing the most beautiful roll-off-the-tongue you’ve ever read or what?) have to date prevented the North Sea from waving its way in and doing any major damage – though there is potential for problems in the very near future, what with climate change and rising waters highlighted as daunting.
A bit about the population. So there’s approximately 16.8million people dallying about TN; the 64th most populated country in the world, it is the 27th most densely populated, and the highest population density-ed in Europe, with 487 inhabitants per square kilometre. (My Opa was one of 15 kids, and the fam lived in a three-bedroom home in Alphen. Yes, 17 people. I know). (Though the age gap from the oldest to the youngest was about 20 years or so, so they all wouldn’t have been living at home the whole time at once). (Like how would you keep track of all your offspring? You’d need a clicker to keep count. And naming them! My word. By number 15 you’d have run right through babynames.com). (And obviously my late great Oma got a bit over it by the end, with my Opa being Hendrick and his younger sister christened the very creative “Hendrika”).
A little insert; I’m totally set on learning to speak Dutch myself. I want to have a convo with my Opa in his native tongue – it’s very high up on the bucket list. When I was a little girl I grew up sharing a driveway with my Opa – as in our houses were at the end of a long one – and I would always trot on over for lunches of home baked bread, amazing meats and cheese, namely the favourite kuminost, or our very aptly nicknamed, “spotty cheese”. (Kind of like an Edam cheese run through with cumin seeds). When I was about five years old I went to a Dutch girl’s place for a play and her Oma asked me if I knew any Dutch. “Yes!” I declared. “Spotty cheese!”. I did know another phrase but I knew it was rather offensive so I held my tongue – unlike the brother James, who rocked it out to yet another Oma when he was a t someone else’s house. “?!?#$%@!?!” he said proudly upon being asked if he knew any Dutch. Not something you should say to an elderly Dutch lady. I think startled, shocked and a touch horrified encompasses her response reaction.
Now this is pretty cool – many Dutch surnames start with a tussenvorgsel, that being a prefix such as “de” or “van”. These little preludes to the surname are neglected when listing in alphabetical order, so in a phone book and such listings they are disregarded (so if you were wanting to hustle a number for your pal by the name of “van Dorsen” you would go to the “D”’s, not flick through for the “V”’s). If the name is said in full with first name said first, the prefix starts with a lower case letter. (Interestingly, in polarisation to Belgium where great importance is placed on the prefix as an integral part of the name and it is always in caps). (I firmly believe the word “capital” should start with a capital itself. So Capital. Makes sense, no?).
The Dutch are the most towering in the world, with the average height for a female being 170cm and men as 184cm. Thus, wearing heels when out of the town is not really the common go, for no reason other than being even taller. And as with everything, the Dutch are pretty practical when it comes to fashion; weather conditions determine the attire, with the line in Dutch dress being, “Just act normal, then you’re acting silly enough” (I.e., don’t get too crazy with anything you put on) and, “A raincoat will stop you from getting wet, a bag to carry all your crap, a sweater to keep you warm”. But the main aspect to consider when putting on apparel – its need to be bike proof.
Yes, bike proof. Whether you’re to work, doing groceries, picking up your kids from school or going clubbing, there’s a good chance it’s going to be on a bike. On average, the Dutchie cycles 2.5km a day and a good 900km a year, making it the bicycle capital of the world, as well as the safest for getting your cycle on. But it has the highest rate of bike thefts in the world, with more than 100,000 bike burglaries reported and a further 300,000 not taken to the station.
There are specially designated “fietspaden” or bike paths all over the country and pedestrians cannot walk on them. You see, cycling was always the ticket for hundreds of years, but then after WWII TN saw a surge in wealth and cars became much more affordable; cycling became much more marginalised and dangerous with the rise in vehicles on the roads. Uproars of protests for safety erupted, especially for that of children on the roads after mass casualties occurred. Environmental concerned policies were also being put into the arena, and in 1975 cycling routes began taking form in Hague. “Build it and they will come” reigned true and the tracks were soon full of bell ringing bicycles; a cycle, you see.
And ever the more practicality, a “bakfiet” was soon innovated, that being a clever contraption (if not at all elegant) combining a bike and a wheelbarrow; ideal for carting kids around, and even for moving large items about. Which gives reason as to why umbrellas in TN are not so commonly seen; instead, “ain suits” are donned in bouts of showers because the wind is too strong as well as it being an aerobatic feat to hold onto one and cycle at the same time.
I could go on, but I feel it’s time to change lanes. So dikes, bikes; onto stingy tykes!
Yes, it is a common belief that those of TN have deep pockets and short arms. Are tight. Freeloaders out for a free ride. Notoriously stingy. “Going Dutch”. In actuality, it’s more a case (generalising of course) that the Dutch do not like to waste anything from food to money. The Dutch tend to have an aversion to the non-essential, with ostentatious behaviours (for the most part) avoided. While accumulating money is acceptable, public displays of lavishness are considered arrogant and show off-y – a high lifestyle is often considered wasteful and is often met with suspicion.
So to some more cultural nuances, manners and etiquette!
- Dutch society is egalitarian, individualistic and modern with the people tending to view themselves as modest, independent and self-reliant
- Ability is valued over dependency
- The Dutch consider themselves to be amongst the thriftiest, cleanest people on earth with charm beyond imagination
- One long-standing trait of the Dutch is to “Let a little evil in to keep a lot of evil out; drug taking and other “sinful” activities are regarded in such a way, such as coffee shops selling the old MJ, free needles to heroin addicts and the like (the whole gedoogbeleid idea again
- Drugs aren’t as available as one might think; although marijuana has been decriminalised, possession, cultivation and selling to foreigners – even in coffee shops – has been illegal since 2012. However, this law is not enforced in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. The police tend to ignore public possession if it is less than 5grams in public, 30grams in private, and cultivation of under 5 plants
- Dutch manners are blunt with a no-nonsense attitude. While this directness is often regarded as rude and crude, the Dutch believe it to rather be openness. They commonly consider the English or American forms of politeness as being weak and reeking of hypocrisy and insincerity, two traits the Dutch despise
- The Dutch speak directly and use a lot of eye contact, and are often described as very abrupt
- Compliments are offered sparingly, and to be told something is “not bad” is of high praise
- The young are credited with intelligence and given the opportunity to make decisions about their own lives from a young age
- Shaking hands is very important, both in meeting and saying goodbye; it is described as a mix of the German pumping iron and the British brevity
- It is considered rude to not identify yourself; even when phoning to order a pizza or taxi, Dutch people state their name on greeting
- Often when addressing the Dutch in their native language, they will respond in English, liking to show off their proficiency in languages and make conversing easier
- 30 per cent of births take place at home
I promise; we’re almost done. Just a few more things that have to be mentioned!
- TN is the “flower shop of the world”; the two (that being flowers and the country itself) are inextricably linked. It is the biggest player in the floricultural field (what a budding pun mate), although the last few years has seen this put under a bit of pressure (2015 saw TN as still the top dog, but with a 52 per cent share in the global export of flowers and plants, down from 75 per cent a decade ago)
- TN is world famous for its tulips but the fist tulip bulbs were actually imported from Turkey in the 16th century – the colourful and curvaceous flower is not actually of Dutch descent!
- In the 1630s “Tulip Mania” gripped the nation. Prices rose so much that a single stem could cost as much as a house, with bulbs even used as a currency; when the industry collapsed it left many people in economic crisis
- There are more than 1500 varieties of tulips and 80 per cent of the world’s tulips come from TN
(Yes. The above photo is of wooden tulips. There are so many EVERYWHERE I just want to buy them all, toss out all m belongings and just fill my backpack with them).
To food and drink!
- Of course, Heineken was born and bred in the fatherland. It started as a single brewery in Amsterdam 150 years ago, founded by one Gerard Adriaan Heineken, who was only 22 years old at the time. It passed through a line of successive sons, hitting a hurdle in turmoil and threat of closure at the end of WWII, but it rose up by 1968 and merged with Amstel
- There are now more than 165 breweries in a good 70 countries, employing 76,000 people directly
- And the original brewery in Amsterdam now serves (yes) as a museum, The Heineken Experience (Henio will be very disappointed I didn’t take the time to visit his favourite tipple’s birthplace, but those that did assured me it was super fab and the beer was a lot more delicious here than at home)
- Not food and drink but in the line of worldwide recognised products: the global giant, electronics company Philips also reigns from TN. Founded in 1891 by Frederik Philips and his son Gerard when the two continually experimented with the longevity of light bulbs. Soon after younger brother Anton wanted to be wired in, adding the commercial sav that served as the basis for international reach. Striving for high quality over low cost, the company became famous for its autocratic management style in taking care of its workers from cradle to grave and building housing, hospitals and schools. The Philips family ran it until selling it on in 1977
- Cheese! The Dutch have been making cheese since 400AD and is the largest exporter of cheese in the world with a dairy industry turning over around 7 billion euro. In the World Cheese Making Contest in the USA in 2012, Dutch cheese was agreed by the 40 judges as the best in the world. More than 674,000 tons of cheese are produced each year and it is exported to more than 130 countries
- World famous cheeses such as Gouda, Edam and Alkmaar are actually the names of towns and villages around TN where famous cheese markets are held
- One of the most popular snacks is French fries dipped in mayonnaise. Whenever having fish and chips with Dutch family friends when I was little, mayonnaise was always on hand over tomato sauce (grinded Deb as she is a major Wattie’s fan)
- Poffertjes: small, fluffy pancakes, these treats are made using a special pan with several shallow indentations in the bottom to hold the batter. They are typically served with butter, icing sugar or maple syrup
- “As American as apple pie?”; turns out, apple pie is actually about as Dutch as it gets. Traditional Dutch appeltaart has sweet cakey dough on the bottom and edges with a lattice on top. The apple slices are flavoured with cinnamon and sugar, and there is often stiff competition between baking mothers for the top apple pie
- Bitterballen (croquettes): deep-fried snacks that are ubiquitous in cafes all over TN. The filling is a gooey mixture of beef, beef broth, flour, butter, herbs and spices, which is coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried (an old boyf of mine was rather partial to the croquette and we spent one afternoon attempting to make some ourselves. I won’t tell of the initial fun that soon became tension and resulted in a shouting match, but the afternoon ended with a trip to the Dutch shop to buy some ready-mades – and a long time spent cleaning the kitchen. Who knew breadcrumbs flung about all over the show when thrown at your significant other in frustration?)
- Rookworst: sausage made of ground meat, spices and herbs. Originally the casing was made from natural gut membranes but is now made with bovine collagen
- STROOPWAFELS: My all-time favourite food when I was a lass; we have a family friend who would always make us a tin whenever she came over which I would absolutely destroy. A caramel syrup waffle, the stroopwafel is a chewy cookie first made in Gouda in the 18th century. More than 22million packets are sold each year in TN
- Hollandse nieuw haring: Herring with chopped onion and pickles is a national dish. The Dutch consume 12 million kg annually – at least 5 fish per person
- Salty sweet liquorice is a typical Dutch sweet with more than 80 varieties. An average of 2kg is consumed by each person per year. When I was younger we’d always get a roll in our Christmas stockings and I always got to eat all my brothers as well because they were not fans. Also the tradition of receiving a chocolate letter of the first letter of your name; the chocolate is usually more bitter than that of New Zealand chocolate and my brothers weren’t into that either, so I got them too. Merry Christmas Pop!
- Dutch people – adults and children alike – love to put sprinkles on toast, especially chocolate hail – hagelslag. Every day, no less than 750,000 slices of bread are consumed with hagelslag on top
- Eating snacks from vending machines is typically Dutch, with snack bars also an integral part of Dutch culture. Hot vending machine snacks include frikadel (minced meat dog), croquettes and fried croquette balls
- Interestingly, the Dutch have the lowest level of lactose intolerance in the world at only 1 per cent
- Jenever – gin – is considered straight Dutch; it is believed to have actually originated in Italy in the 12th century when priests, noblemen and alchemists sought cures for many of the illnesses plaguing Europe. It was believed the alcohol, called “courage water” (how fitting) could cure anything and praised it for its medicinal purposes
- Following a beer with a gin chaser is called a kopstoot (headbanger)
- Advocaat: an alcoholic custard type drink made from raw eggs and cognac, it is very much an acquired taste
Famous Dutchies? Well, Van Gogh for one (artist dude who chopped off his ear and painted such works as “Sunflowers” and “Starry Night” – love the completely aptly named paintings. Like, not pretending to be anything they’re not or anything all “artistic”). (Actually, Van Gogh’s life is actually immensely noteworthy, from his one-sided love affair – well, obsession – to preaching in a coal mine in Belgium where he painted the workers and earnt almost martyrdom with the nickname “Christ of the coal mines” to – like I mentioned – cutting his ear off. He actually went to a local brothel and was in the throes of the deed with a prostitute, when he suddenly – still sticking it to her – produced a razor, shaved off his ear and gifted it to her. True love? More like true lobe). Anne Frank. Eddie van Halen (guitarist and singer in band Van Halen with his bro). (Not the correct use of the prefix there?). Angel Douten (Victoria’s Secret lingerie model. Said to have, “a statuesque body sweet, expressive face and flawless hair. In one word – perfection”). Rembrandt van Rijn. Father of microbiology, Antoine van Leeuwenhoek. Martinus Beijerinck (this dude discovered the virus). Mata Hari (Dutch Frisian exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy and executed by firing squad in France in WWII). Natalie La Rose (singer and dancer living in LA who is signed with Flo Rida’s label).
Onto the king.
- The Head of state is King Willem-Alexander, who took the throne in April 2013. The first Dutch king in 123 years after three successive queens, he had a reputation as quite the lad back in the day with the nickname “Prins Pils” (Lager Prince) in his beer-drinking student life. I found this rather random yet a goof un fact – in 1986 he competed in the Frisian Elfstedentocht (a 200km long ice skating tour) and the New York City Marathon in 1992, both under the pseudonym “W.A. van Buren”
- Keeping in theme with the royals; keeping the Dutch royal family – the House of Orange – all cushy costs taxpayers a good 31 million euro each and every year, more than that of the British
- The royal family have a habit of marrying undesirables; the former Queen Beatrix caused outrage in 1966 when she chose her husband to be Klaus-Georg von Amsberg, a member of German nobility and former conscript of the Hitler Youth and the Wehrmacht. The wedding itself saw angry chanting and smoke bombs thrown at the couple
Just to be a good sport, here’s two totally oddball activities that one simply must engage at least once in:
- Pole sitting, or “paalzitten”. Just like the name sounds – competitors sit on an individual pole and the person who stays on the longest wins. The poles are erected in water so it doesn’t hurt when one falls off
- Canal vaulting or “fierljeppen”; once again, exactly what the name suggests. As the story goes, years ago Dutch farmers in Linschoten crossed the canals dividing their fields by vaulting over them with a pole. It is currently undergoing a revival, with canal vaulters seeking to go long, rather than high as per pole vaulters
And last but not least, a little list of innovations that are the brainchildren of TN hailing persons.
- 1606 – the Amsterdam Stock Exchange was the first of its kind in the world
- 1608 – the telescope; Dutchman Hans Lippershey failed to receive a patent for his design, which a copy of was used by Galileo Galilei (the Dutch claim it as theirs; kind of like the Pavlova debate between Kiwis and Aussies, which is so totally New Zealand)
- 1620 – Cornelius Drebbel invented the first navigable submarine
- 1672 – the first fire hose was created by landscape painter Jan van der Heyden and his brother Nicolaes
- 1828 – the first chocolate bar: Amsterdam chemist Casparus van Houten Sr is credited with patenting an inexpensive method for pressing the far from roasted cocoa beans and creating a solid mass that could be pulverised into cocoa powder
- 1943 – the first artificial kidney developed by Willem Johan Kolf
- TN was the first country to legalise same sex marriage in 2001
- Philips were the devisors of CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray, as well as developing cassettes and popularising many home electronics such as TVs and blenders
- The country is regarded as having brought oil painting to Europe
- Dutch carrot growers developed orange carrots in the 16th century through cross-breeding existing varieties
- First country to develop fair trade certification
If you stayed through to the end of that one, big ups to you mate. Kudos all over! It was quite the spiel. But how good is Holland? (And the rest of TN). I am uber pumped to get back and explore it for a few weeks next month, as well as meet and greet my some 47 cousins.
Now, as with each previous country or big city, each one is awarded a word after my little experience of it. (Paris = Enchantment, London = Charming, Ireland = Intoxicating). So what is the Netherlands?
Honestly? It’s the first place I’ve been so far that I haven’t plunged cranium over Achilles for. Maybe because of having too high an expectation? Perhaps as a result of my extremely overtired wellbeing? Or maybe because it was just a taste and not a full blown banquet? I don’t know. All I do is that for now, I am going to award it with an “intriguing”. I’m looking forward to exploring it more.
And as with the bombardment of info up until now? As Henio always asserts: You’re not much if you’re not Dutch.