Whenever I write anything that could be interpreted as negative about life here in Holland it provokes a swift and powerful response. I thought I might take the time to list some of the things that I like.
- kroketten (and bitterballen) tasty fried snackfood that fills the role of an Aussie meat pie.
- erwtensoep (snert) the Dutch pea and ham soup. Traditionally a Winter food, I get comments for eating it in Summer. Stevige! (hearty!). I love it.
- rookworst smoked sausage. Great with erwtensoep.
- stamppotten (especially hutspot) mashed potato dishes with something else mashed into them. For example, hutspot is mashed potato with carrot and onion mashed in.
- vla! the Dutch custard. It is available in many different flavours and comes in a 1 litre carton. Yoghurt is also available like this, and quite cheap.
- slavink skinless sausages wrapped in bacon.
- patat halfway between chips and french fries, patat are best served with mayonnaise. There are many types, such as patatje oorlog (with mayonnaise, satay sauce and chopped raw onions; oorlog means ‘war’), patatje speciaal (with mayonnaise, curry sauce and chopped raw onion) but I like them with just mayonnaise.
- beer what can I say? Dutch beer absolutely shits on Aussie beer. I am also starting to prefer the 250ml glasses, on the few times I have ordered a pint I have felt that it was a ridiculously large beer.
- coffee as promised, Dutch coffee turns out to be very good. It is filtered coffee, not espresso, and is so good that I now drink it black.
- beautiful 17th Century architecture every city I visit has amazing old buildings, churches and beautiful large open squares.
- fietspaden (bike roads) see my previous post, but I must repeat that these are awesome. Too bad it would not work in Sydney with our distances and hilly terrain.
- parks there are parks everywhere, from my house there are at least six large parks within a 10 minute bike ride.
- not hot Summer can be spent outdoors without risk of death.
- relaxed atmosphere compared to the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
- good public transport the trams and trains are frequent and go everywhere.
- canals I like living in a city/country that is full of canals, maybe not as good as Sydney Harbour but picturesque nonetheless. The nearest canal to my house is less than 50m away.
- abundant water the Dutch have the opposite problem to the Australians: they are always trying to get rid of excess water. It took a while to get used to it, I still feel strange running the tap while I clean my teeth.
- unlimited downloads bittorrent!
- short SMS numbers an ad might say “SMS ‘crazy frog’ to 68”. That is the phone number. 68. They have this in Turkey as well.
- Town Squares, cobbled streets Rustic charm, love the town squares and the terras that goes with them.
- everyone enjoys the sun when the sun comes out, the nation goes outdoors to soak up the rare and precious non-lethal rays.
- proximity to Europe I can travel widely relatively cheaply.
- my apartment one of the nicest places I have lived. Cheapest rent since 1997.
BTW I am sick of writing and saying The Netherlands all the time. Since I live in the province of Noord Holland I am now using Holland as the country’s name. Maybe sometimes I will say NL.