Fitness the Dutch Way – the “Vierdaagse“

Having repeatedly reported on the Dutch people’s preference for deep-fried delights on harlekin.blog, I would now like to address the issue of how the citizens of my adopted country manage to keep fit despite these temptations.

From my observations, I can say that this must partly due to the fact that cycling is still extremely popular in the Netherlands, even in sub-optimal climatic conditions. All manner of more or less roadworthy versions of child seats, child trailers, etc. are to be seen often with mothers or fathers and three small children distributed around the bike.

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Let’s go get some fries!

A decision aid for hungry foreigners in the Netherlands

French fry fans don’t always have an easy time in the Netherlands, because the established “extras” to French fries are different from what we know from the average chip shop elsewhere. Since we take the life-support function of our Harlequin blog very seriously, we would like to support you in your decision-making here as well.

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The Land of the Rising Lid

Recently I was asked for a holiday recommendation, to which I unhesitatingly responded: Asia. ”Ooh, nah, it’s hot and dirty there” was the reaction.

Our recent experiences in Japan proved the exact opposite. The first thing that strikes you as you speed into Tokyo on the high-speed train is how clean the place is. Crowded, yes, what do you expect if you cram 38 million into a city? But the houses are spotless and well-tended, no graffiti is to be seen, and the streets free of litter, chewing gum and dog souvenirs. They say they had to remove all the litter-bins after the sarin attack on the underground, but that alone cannot explain such cleanliness.

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Bear Truth

When I was in Canada one guide gave us an important piece of advice about bears: “Black bite, brown down”. In other words, black bears can be intimidated (unless they’re with their young or cornered), so make lots of noise to repulse them. All you can do with brown – or grizzly – bears is make yourself as small as possible on the ground and pray they may lose interest. Good advice for the workplace? Not all of us are bear whisperers.

Cramping your style …

Mind the gap when entering your car

Italy, the land of lemons, bitter orange and automobilisti. Well, I confess I don’t know the names of the different Italian lemon varieties, but Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini and Ferrari have been engraved in my memory since the 60s – trained in countless breaks in the school playground, with the then absolutely hip car version of “Happy Families”. “12 cylinder Ferrari” would have been the certain game winner, if only the number of seats hadn’t been the deciding factor.

However, hardly anyone had then seen one of these sports cars in real life anyway. Even the anointed ones who drove to the Adriatic with their parents in the VW Beetle (at the back) during the “big holidays”, hardly ever saw a Ferrari, Lamborghini etc. on Italian roads. How could they? Italian roads were even narrower than German country roads and full of racing bikes, three-wheeled vans and Fiat 500s. Italian sports cars were the dream of my youth – perhaps a fiction, but technologically leading edge. What is Italy like automobilistically today?

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Beschuitjes met muisjes

New frontier experiences on my gastronomic journey through the Netherlands

When a baby is born, this happy event is of course duly celebrated, and in Germany there are numerous possibilities for this. In my homeland, the Ruhr area, where things tend traditionally to be rather robust, fathers often buy a round in the pub and let “the baby pee”. I’ve also heard of the grandmothers’ huge cake creations, but I don’t know of any nationwide tradition of celebrating the arrival of a baby across state borders.

In the Netherlands it’s different: in the whole country when the baby is born, there is almost the same culinary variant to which people are invited -beschuitjes with muisjes. “What’s that?” – you will ask yourself.

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