I have been living for almost twelve years in the Netherlands, without a doubt, the Netherlands has become my second home after Indonesia. It is impossible to say I will not miss the country when moving to another continent.
1. Living in Rotterdam
As the second biggest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam has plenty to offer: from modern architectures to the old traditional Dutch houses; from the city feels to the nature area – all is available in Rotterdam. I love the Rotterdam’s Maas River and Erasmus Bridge at night, my daily evening view that I am going to miss dearly.
Rotterdam has good restaurants. They are not listed as Michelin stars, but the tastes are superb. Most of them are not typical tourists-trap restaurants. I recommend Allure, Kwiezien, and De Matroos en het Meisje for the Western European dining – three to more courses accompanied by wine. If you are looking for fresh and tasty Vietnamese cuisine, do visit Little V (only available in the Hague and Rotterdam, but I am sure Amsterdam will catch up). For affordable and delicious Indonesian-Chinese cuisine, try Hung Kee at Witte de Withstraat. Witte de Withstraat has plenty good bars like a Moroccans’ style Bar and Hotel called Bazaar; and numerous restaurants – one of the locations in Rotterdam with a vibrant atmosphere.
Rotterdam also offers various cultural events such as Rotterdam International Film Festival for the movie lovers; Summer Caribbean street parade for people who love dance and lively Latin music; Museum’s Night for culture and history lovers; World Harbor Days for maritime lovers; and North Sea Jazz, indeed for Jazz lovers. Of course, for runners, the international marathon event also holds in Rotterdam annually.
In conclusion, you will never get bored living in Rotterdam. Those with an open heart and mind will enjoy the city at most.
2. A dog-friendly country
The Netherlands is a dog-friendly country and I think it is even friendlier than the US. In the Netherlands, most public spaces are allowing dogs to walk with or without leashed (as long as the dog is well trained and social). The dog parks are usually just walking distance from the residence.
Most restaurants and shops in Dutch city centers are allowing dogs. And the hotel’s additional cost for bringing a dog is less expensive compared to the hotels in Minneapolis. Dogs are even allowed in the Rotterdam’s Markthall, which is sort of a shopping mall that specialized in selling (fancy) food and beverages. In another hand, the Netherlands could be a horror place for people who have an allergy to dogs…
3. The Hague
The Hague or in Dutch: Den Haag, known as well as the International City of Peace and Justice in the Netherlands. The city is home to major international Courts and Criminal Tribunals. I am proud that I was part of an International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for ten years, and working together with fantastic trial teams to bring justice to the war-crimes victims and their families. My working experience in the Hague has enriched my life.
I am going to miss walking in the expats’ favorite shopping street during my lunch hour; Frederik Hendriklaan; also known as “De Fred.” De Fred is less than one kilometer long, but it has numerous independent shops from a clothing store to restaurants. I recommend to try the fresh and delicious pastry from Plasman Bakery; fresh coffee from Kicking Horse Café in Paagman bookstore; appealing burgers from Hudson Restaurant and tasty Thai food at Naga Thai Restaurant.
The Hague was my home for my first two years living in the Netherlands as a graduate student. My friends and I usually spent the after class by strolling at the Hague city center for windows shopping (as international students coming from developing countries, we were always broke 😀 ).
During summer time, we were cycling to the Scheveningen beach just to see the sunset or visiting Madurodam to see the miniature of historical buildings and places of the Netherlands. Ah, Madurodam. Do not miss Madurodam when you visit the Netherlands – you will be impressed to learn that the interesting places in the Netherlands also exist outside of Amsterdam.
4. Orange Fever/ Orange Craze
Nothing is more fun than seeing hundreds and even thousands Dutch people wearing their orange clothing to celebrate their King’s Day or to support their Dutch National Soccer Team, KNVB, playing at the International Tournament such as the World Cup or Euro Cup. They decorated their houses and streets with the orange ornaments too. We called those moments as orange fever (het orange gekke). It could give you a headache too after seeing too many orange thingies here and there 😀
Orange is the traditional color of the Dutch Royal family, and it has become the national color of the Dutch. Once you live in the Netherlands, you should have at least one orange item to join in the fever!
5. Indonesian Stuff
The firm connection of the Dutch and Indonesia in the past has eased stuff from Indonesia imported to the Netherlands. Majority Dutch fond of Indonesian food. Indonesian sambal, (spicy sauce made from a variety of chili peppers) for instance is something you can find in majority supermarkets in the Netherlands. Finding Indonesian restaurants in big cities of the Netherlands is easy. However, the menu of Indonesian food in the Netherlands is heavily influenced by the Dutch taste. In the example, the Indonesisch rijsttafel (Indonesian rice table) is not something you will find in Indonesia.
Books written by Indonesian authors are often available in the Netherlands and translated into Dutch. News about Indonesia or documentary about Indonesia is common on Dutch television and radio.
My favorite Dutch documentary about Indonesia is “Van Dis in Indonesia”. Adriaan Van Dis is a Dutch writer whose parents lived in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia during the Dutch colonialism period). Van Dis traveled around Indonesia, visiting places where his parents lived and grown up, and to witnessing the present days of Indonesia.
These five things have personal values to my living experience in the Netherlands. When writing this post, I miss already my friends in the Netherlands and my former colleagues who have become good friends. They are the ones who make the living in the Netherlands pleasant and enjoyable.
So, this is it, my last blog post written from my desk in Rotterdam for the year 2015. The next time you read my blog post, it will be written from my new place in Minneapolis (USA).
Tot ziens, Rotterdam and see you soon, Minneapolis.
Happy New Year!