A proud tradition
It seems that I have great faith in the Dutch - either that or I'm keenly optimistic the sea won't rise as high as some are predicting in coming decades. Therefore, in the face of feared global warming and a US report last week warning for the warmest temperatures on Earth in a million years, I'm planning a move to an artificial island outside the Amsterdam ring road. Yes, I'm headed for that engineering masterpiece they call IJburg. My wife and I have long looked for a house and garden in Amsterdam, but
It seems that I have great faith in the Dutch - either that or I'm keenly optimistic the sea won't rise as high as some are predicting in coming decades.
Yes, I'm headed for that engineering masterpiece they call IJburg.
My wife and I have long looked for a house and garden in Amsterdam, but space being what it is in the Netherlands (let's face it, there isn't any of it), we're not quite willing to fork out a million or more euros for a canal house just to get the only house and garden available in the cramped, but gezellig city centre of the Dutch capital.
So we're headed IJburg way.
Now, for those not yet in the know, IJburg involves the creation of five artificial islands where a total of 45,000 people are expected to call home. And most of them are families, keen to take advantage of the parks, beach and slower (but still) city way of life.
It's an exciting prospect.
The one thing that should be taken into account, however, is that Amsterdam is extremely low-lying. In fact, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is below sea level.
So why am I buying a house raised up out of the water on a man-made island, hoping (praying really) that the Dutch dikes will hold?
My answer: who better than the Dutch to place your faith in?
On several occasions, I've taken friends and family across the Afsluitdijk, amazed each time at the feat of 1930s ingenuity. The dike walled off the sea behind it, created an inland freshwater lake and a massive barrier for the heart of the Netherlands 'inland'.
And not far from the Afsluitdijk, you'll find the province of Flevoland, entirely made from land reclaimed from the sea, land known as polders. The cities of Almere and Lelystad are found here.
But there were also terrible times: the Dutch collective memory will never forget when the Zeeland dikes gave way more than 50 years ago.
And yet, if you wish to understand the Dutch, getting to know the nation's history of fighting the sea and floods is a key to understanding their stubborn, never give-in attitudes.
Instead of moving to higher ground, they fought the sea and - to all intents and purposes - won.
And today, they're showing off: apart from the oil-rich and extravagant Dubai, where else are islands being built in the sea?
So while some might complain that the Dutch are dour creatures, let it never be said they don't have a touch of flair.
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2 October 2006
Well said Aaron!
In the forums, there is a lot of moaning and groaning about the Dutchies, in which I happily participate! However, all in all, the Netherlands, is one of the most interesting countries for expats to live in (my 2 cents).
By the way, Schiphol Airport is in fact the lowest point in the country: 6.4m below sea level ...
And the fight of the Dutch against the water is best illustrated by the Latin slogan of the province of Zeeland: "Luctor et Emergo" = "I Struggle and I Emerge".
I wish you the best in your endeavour.
I suppose the Dutch 'flair' is also responsible for calling a collection of twenty not-so-new boats the 'Almighty Fleet of the Invincible Royal Dutch Navy.' And responsible for the term Canal Mansions, many of which would be hard pressed to qualify as 'semi-detached.' Don't you think that IJburg and Dubai are perhaps actually sand bars? Royal Golden Sand Bars? Is it estate agents' language or is it flair?
*sidebar1*"Perhaps you could work out how the local aldercrats came up with 'Iamsterdam.' I think an 'H' would have been a much better choice.
we're not quite willing to fork out a million or more euros for a canal house just to get the only"...
Plural of Euro in English is also Euro/het meerdeel/meervoud van het Euro in het Engels is ook Euro.
Good luck with the move Aaron.
Good to hear some positive stuff about the old Nederlanders. There is good and bad to most things. Lately I have heard bad on the "Gone Dutch" yahoo group.
All the best,
My 4yo son is with you. I read him 'Noah's Ark' recently and he shook his head — Holland couldn't possibly have been affected by the big flood, just the rest of the world!!
Keep up the great work at Expatica,
[Copyright Expatica 2006]
Subject: Expat life in the Netherlands