Tourists in the Netherlands 1956

Came across this old video clip of tourism in the Netherlands filmed in 1956, I’ve translated the text below the video. In those days you booked hotels by visiting the Tourist Centres – no Expedia, TripAdvisor, or internet to help you.

It is market day in Delft, a place that is still in the Netherlands.

[lots of languages]

Yes, many foreign languages are spoken in our country, particularly in summer, when around a million tourists stream into the Netherlands.

They cross the border at many points, and head in many directions. Some places are really popular, the souvenirs all too often give a strange impression of the Netherlands, but they find willing buyers.

Also on the north sea coast, where they haven’t seen the sun so often this summer, even so the foreign visitors look for bathing places.

There is great interest in our famous buildings, such as the Freedom Palace in the Hague.

Also in the miniature is there Madurodam where visitors can get a good overview of our country.

Every tourist takes a boat trip around one of our big harbours – here in Rotterdam for example.

Also the beauties of Amsterdam can be admired from the water.

One business that does really work in the summer months, are the photo shops. Tourists that don’t take photographs can buy images from the places they’ve visited on their holiday.

The Rijksmuseum has a Rembrandt exhibition (note car driving through the museum arches!) and has had 300,000 visitors, of which 200,000 were foreigners.

Finding somewhere to stay is not always easy for tourists, workers at the travel agencies must work a lot of overtime. Tourists who try to find their own room are often disappointed.

Recently there has been an increase in a new sort of accommodation; the Motel. A place where tourists can stay along with their car, under the same roof.

There are also tourists who don’t suffer from the accommodation problem – they bring their house with them. And they stay together in caravan parks such as this one in Zaandvort.

Every day Dutch businesses bring in large amounts of money, last year tourism brought in about 200 million guilders. That is 50 times more than before the war.

Tourism is therefore an important source of income for our country and so the border stays open for more tourists.

Another Election

pancakesThere is an election coming up next week in the Netherlands, and not to be outdone by America, US, or France, we have our own nationalist party with our own populist politician. He has permanently blond hair with the help of chemicals, and a foreign-born wife. We have a form of proportional representation here which results in multiple parties standing in each election, and most often a coalition government. Lately it’s been a centre-right coalition.

I can’t vote, as I’m not a Dutch citizen, but I’ve been watching the news and talking to Dutch friends about the election. And then I came across this image that compares the parties to pancake recipes.

dutch election

Here’s my translation;

How do you make pancakes?

  • VVD: (centre right, leader of coalition) Figure that out for yourself
  • PvdA: (labour party) You make pancakes together
  • CDA: (Christian Democrats) You make pancakes the same way you always have
  • PVV: (Nationalist) Go back to your own land if you don’t know that
  • D66: (liberal) everyone can learn to make pancakes
  • SP: (socialists) with a rotation
  • GroenLinks: (greens) using wind energy
  • Partij voor de Dieren: (animal rights party) with soya milk
  • 50Plus: (pensioners interests) with home help
  • SGP: (calvinist) with God’s help
  • ChristenUnie: also with God’s help
  • DENK: (migrant’s interests) Pancakes are racist
  • Artikel 1: Pancakes are colonialist
  • Pirate party: No-one can know how you cook pancakes
  • GeenPeil: We’ll take a referendum on this
  • Nieuwe Wegen: (new, left wing party) Wij bakken ze heel anders
  • Non Voters: ….

I guess non voters aren’t getting any pancakes.

 

Images; Raspberry Pancake   |   Maria   |   CC NC-ND 2.0

Dutch Pancake Election  |  Bas Bellenan via Alwin Zandvoort

The Anne Frank House

annefrankhouse_bookcaseI’ve lived in Amsterdam for a long time, but despite living within a 10 minute bike ride I have only visited Anne Frank House once.

The museum encourages you to buy tickets online, in fact from 9am to 3.30pm you can only visit the museum with a ticket purchased online for a specific timeslot. From 3.30 onwards you can queue and by a ticket at the door, fair warning – the queues get long.

The museum has been developed around the Annex where the Frank family was in hiding, and my visit takes me through the rooms they occupied. The annex has been carefully preserved and the famous bookcase entrance has been reconstructed.

You do get a feeling for the claustrophobic lives of the attic’s eight inhabitants, as you go through the Frank’s family room, Anne’s bedroom, and the Van Pels rooms. It was interesting seeing the “real thing”, including the pictures Anne chose to put on the wall and the notes in her own writing.

After you’ve been through the family space there is an area for more exhibitions where you can learn more about the occupation of Amsterdam and how Jews hid around the city to stay safe. There is a movie playing that includes an interview with Miep Gies – one of the Dutch people who helped supply the families with food.

If you can’t make it to Amsterdam you can take a virtual tour of the house online, complete with close ups of various artifacts and details of each room.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-17-08-41I’d read Anne Frank’s diary as a child, and I’ve seen numerous images of the annex. I think the familiarity of the story and the annex meant that it didn’t have the emotional impact I’d expected. However as I was leaving the museum there was a glass case, and in the case was one of the yellow stars that Jewish people in the Netherlands had been legally required to wear, and I caught my breath. In the grand scheme of things this is perhaps the least of the wrongs, but as a symbol of all the injustice it remains powerful. Any time the government tries to make one group “other” we should be concerned.

The other thing that got me, but in a more hopeful way, was a glass bookcase showing the versions of Anne Frank’s diary in all the translations, there were about 40 different language represented (apparently it’s been translated into 67 languages). And suddenly I saw why Anne Frank’s memory is so important.

There’s a famous quote, often attributed to Stalin,

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.

It’s very hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the holocaust, the total death toll is usually given as 11 million; that’s Moscow, or Greece, or New York + Chicago, or 3 times the population of my home country. We can’t empathise with a statistic. But when we read the story of one young woman, who happened to be born of a certain religion in the wrong place at the wrong time, then we can understand the tragedy.

 

Images;

Anne Frank bookcase  |  By Bungle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Holocaust badge for the Netherlands |  Holocaust memorial

Old Stones

The city council has been working on the the Singel, an old Amsterdam canal, for ages. I walk past the worksite frequently and wondered what was taking so long.

Turns out there has been an archeological project, as part of Amsterdam’s medieval city wall was discovered when the 19th-century stone layer was removed revealing 27 large stones. It’s the first time that any of the city wall has been discovered in its original state.

There’s a short article on the City Council website, only available in Dutch .

The wall appears on the oldest map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz which dates from 1538.

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-23-07-33

Here’s an extract from the city council’s article (translation mine);

The site involves 27 large stone from the medieval city wall from the year 1480. These stones were below the water and were only visible after a layer of 19th century stone was removed during the restoration. This wall is also mentioned in the oldest city map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz… It is the first time that a portion of the city wall has been found in original condition. Although there are a few loose stones known to have come from the old city wall built into the wall of the Geldersekade.

The medieval stones remain in place. Experts will examine how the area can be preserved. The demolition of the rest of the 19th century quay continues. City Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski is in consultation with central district and Engineering Amsterdam on how to preserve these special stones. ”

The Dockworker

2016-05-18-12-29-28Amsterdam isn’t big on statues, most commemorate not the great and the good but the people. In this case the statue represents a dockworker. Amsterdam is harbour city and has a long maritime history, the building housing the Maritime Museum dates back to 1656 and was built for the Admiralty. But the dockworker’s history is more troubled and more recent.

He commemorates a general strike held in Amsterdam from the 25 – 27 February 1941, known as “The February Strike” and that date should give you a clue to what they were striking about. The location is another clue, he stands in the middle of the old “Jodenbuurt” or Jewish Quarter, the building in the background is the Portuguese Synagogue – still in use today. The general strike was to protest the Nazi actions against the city’s Jewish community. Two weeks earlier the Nazis, helped by Dutch police, had encircled this neighbourhood with walls of barbed wire and declared it off limits to non-Jews. The city rose up and fought this, culminating in the strike on 25 February which became more widespread throughout the day. It was the first direct action undertaken against the anti-Jewish measures of the Nazis in occupied Europe.

The Netherlands surrendered to the Germans in May 1940 and remained occupied until 1945. Just seven years later the statue of the Dockworker was unveiled by Queen Juliana to acknowledge the bravery of the city’s citizens. There is a commemoration on the anniversary of the strike every year.

Overheard in Amsterdam #449

I was sitting in my favourite cafe, which happens to provide a takeaway service of most of their meals. One of their regulars came in for a takeaway order while I was there for coffee.

Customer

I’m having some friends over, I need six pieces of the pesto chicken.

Server

Do you want us to heat it for you?

Customer

It’s fine, I will do that at home and serve it on a pretty plate and they’ll think I made it.

Server

OK, we also have the mushroom chicken pasta dish…

Customer

Nah, man! this is my signature dish.

Saturday Market – Cauliflower Soup

I’m not a big fan of cauliflower, I don’t think I’ve ever bought it at the market before, but a friend isn’t well and this was her request. So, for the first time in my life I’ve made cauliflower soup. It’s delicious!

I found a lovely head of cauliflower, and googled for a recipe.

cauliflower

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato
  • oil
  • 3 cups of stock
  • salt, pepper, spices

Method

Step 1

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add finely sliced onion, salt, pepper, and half a teaspoon of spice mix – I used Ras el Hanout today. I think Garam Marsala would also work, I wanted to give a touch of a warm flavour to the soup. Cook on a medium low heat to soften the onions.

cauliflowersoup-2

Step 2

Dice the potato, add it to the onion mix. The final soup is blended so you don’t need to be too fussy about the size of the pieces.

cauliflowersoup-3

Step 3

Chop cauliflower into florets, add to pan and mix well.

cauliflowersoup-4

Step 4

Add enough stock to the pan to cover the vegetables, turn up the heat to boil the soup. Cook until all the vegetables are soft, this doesn’t take long, around 12 minutes.

cauliflowersoup-5

Step 5

Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

cauliflowersoup-6Step 6

Serve warm, you can stir in some cream to make the soup richer but the potato already makes it creamy and delicious.