Expat blogger Dutched Pinay finds out the Dutch like to bring some home comforts when they go on holiday.
While we have just returned from our summer beach holiday in Greece, friends and family are leaving for theirs — as I write, the highways, and the train and airport terminals, are hectic, crammed with holidaymakers.
July is when most Dutch leave the flatlands, by the hordes, to enjoy life’s simple pleasures: sun, warm weather and the beach.
The fickle Dutch weather cannot be trusted, and to make sure the summer holiday is not spent under the spell of rain and gloomy clouds, one has to head down south, or better, leave the continent.
Here are a few of my observations on how the Dutch spend their holidays.
Camping: a sub-culture of its own
Camping, I noticed, is a very popular holiday pick of the Dutch. I believe this camping pursuit has become a sub-culture of its own here in the Netherlands; many Dutch will camp anywhere and in any weather.
I have actually heard some say that since it entails a high extent of logistical nightmares, er, I mean activities, to put up a tent, and camping is not really the most fashionable and laid back way of holidaying, but still, they do it anyway.
Caravan holidays in the Netherlands
Then we have the lowlands perpetual caravan consortium.
More and more caravans flood the Netherlands each year and to the dismay of its neighbors, these caravan brigades are seen traversing the autobahns of Germany and auto-routes of France, in long queues during late spring, summer and early autumn. (I believe their neighbors joked about the ‘yellow plates invasion’ before yellow became the standard EU license plate color.)
The most interesting part of this caravan syndication, which I assume is typically Dutch, is the ability to reproduce and transport a small replica of your home and your kitchen to your choice holiday of destination within mainland Europe.
Nothing beats the experience of starting your day with a boterham smeared with boter and pindakaas on top [peanut butter sandwich] or perhaps thinly sliced Gouda cheese and a freshly brewed Douwe Egberts cup of coffee, while looking at the sun, rising above the breathtaking mountains and river valleys of France or Italy.
A perfect blend of getting the best of both worlds, at least from the Dutch point of perspective.
Bikes on Holiday
Another thing they are fond of bringing with them on holidays is their bikes. I guess they can’t get enough biking at home; they want to bike during their holidays too!
Kos, Greece, where we holidayed, although it has mountainous areas, is relatively flat all over. Biking is, therefore, a suitable and common form of everyday transportation on the island, adapted by both the locals and the tourists.
While looking outside to the beach and the city streets filled with pedestrians, cars and bikers from the balcony of our hotel, I told the Dutchman, “I can easily distinguish who’s Dutch and not, just by looking at how these people ride their bikes.”
“Yeah…” grinned the Dutchman from behind the magazine he is reading, “The relaxed bikers are the Dutch.”
“Right… but I think most of the tourists on bikes are Dutch anyway.” I quipped.
“You could be right!”
Other popular ways of holidaying is renting an apartment (or they have a vacation apartment somewhere), or touring on a yacht (the Dutch, at least the well-to-do, have one of their own). The Netherlands is a marshland and during summer, boats dot every river, lake, canal and marina in this country.
When the Dutch take an apartment for holiday, which means there is a facility to cook, most of them make sure that they spend sufficient time having dinner in the apartment during the entire holiday. They quickly head out to the city outskirts to look for a supermarket to shop. Why the outskirts? You see, the farther the supermarket is from the center (a tourist trap), the cheaper it should be.
In fact, the first activity for most Dutch people upon arrival is to survey the area and check where the locals shop. Or, the Dutch travel agent gives them tips where the cheap supermarkets are. And failing that, other Dutch holidaymakers readily share with them where to shop cheaply.
And, when it’s a hotel type of holiday with inclusive continental breakfast, the Dutch, and I am not joking, will bring their own supply of morning rituals. “Did you just see that?” whispered the Dutchman, secretly nodding at me to look sideways at the family beside us.
“Oh wow yes, a block of Gouda cheese that you can only find in Holland!”
Sitting on top of the table a few meters across us was a Ruijter chocoladehagelslag [chocolate sprinkles].
“Someone brought hagelslag too!” blurted out the Dutchman, trying hard not to laugh and choke on the bread he was chewing.
I looked further to the balcony and saw two Dutch women – they too have some slices of ham wrapped in paper, obviously bought in a delicatessen in Holland. You don’t see these in the Greek islands, at least in the center since most cold cut meats are pre-packed in plastic.
Hmm, is this some form of Dutch ingenuity or are breakfast habits just too hard to break?
After witnessing the awakening hotel breakfast events, the Dutchman sipped his cup of tea, placed it neatly in front of the table and held my small hands. He looked straight into my eyes and slowly let out a deep-gutted sigh, “We should have packed the pindakaas [peanut butter].”
Reprinted with permission from Dutched Pinay’s full blog.