Us Europeans

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Fryslan Boppe

The Netherlands is too small a country to have different languages on its territory – one would say. There is one province where people would certainly disagree with that. Friesland, in the north of The Netherlands and the local language is known as Frisian. Calling Frisian a dialect would a straightforward offence to most Frisians. The language has been officially recognised and most names of villages are marked in Frisian first, then followed by Dutch. What`s worth knowing about this curious language and province?

Posted by Bruno

Global warming poses different threats to different areas in Europe. Portugal and Spain are faced with drought and heat, the Alps with melting glaciers and all of Europe with more extreme weather. The Netherlands is touched in a particular way. Half the country is situated below sea level, and this is coincidentally the part of the country where 75% of the population resides. How do the Dutch feel about the threat of a rising sea level? I`m doing a round up in Almere, one of the cities constructed from scratch in the 1960s. Almere is located in the reclaimed province of Flevoland, where nothing natural dates back more than 50 years.

Posted by Bruno

Windmills, wooden shoes and marihuana leaves: many people would be quick to associate those with The Netherlands. They may be surprised that they actually need to search for windmills should they want to see one. The same for people wearing wooden shoes. And even though marihuana can be easily obtained, it`s especially the tourists who openly consume it in the streets of Amsterdam.

Posted by Bruno

FF Chille

The Netherlands is a crowded and busy country. The love for planning allows people to make the most of their time, resulting in a labour productivity that ranks among the highest in the world. But how much time do the Dutch allow themselves for relaxation? And how do they spend their spare time?

Posted by Bruno

The Hague, NL (View on map) I`m a few days ahead of schedule, inserting another `personal reflections` article into the Us Europeans archive. The reason is fairly simple and straightforward. I have been following the news in The Netherlands quite closely while travelling, and am quite worried about what`s happening. Politicians are messing around with… » read more

Posted by Bruno

With compliments

The Hague, NL (View on map) Look up the word `Dutch` in an English dictionary and the explanation `inhabitant of The Netherlands` will be followed by a list of unflattering proverbs. Most of them refer to the Dutch being rude, which is a well-established stereotype about the Dutch in adjacent countries. The Dutch prefer to… » read more

Posted by Bruno

Christmas 2007

The Hague, NL (View on map) In many European countries, the celebration of Christmas is spread out over two days. Some countries choose to include Christmas Eve (24 December) or Boxing Day (26 December). The Netherlands has some midway alternative. Read on and learn more about this year`s Christmas trends in The Netherlands. 24 December… » read more

Posted by Bruno

In The Netherlands

The Hague, NL (View on map) Many of the people I met during the past few months said they would impatiently wait for the reports about my home country. Well, I am back in The Netherlands, trying to find out what is going on at the moment. The Netherlands is a small country with 16… » read more

Posted by Bruno

The low countries

Antwerpen, BE (View on map) Another border crossing is on the way. Even though The Netherlands and Belgium may have a lot in common, language and large parts of history included, there are distinct differences between the two countries. Belgians have very little difficulty recognising their neighbours from up north and this is why: Stef… » read more

Posted by Bruno

Joining the Scouts

Finland is one of the few European countries that stick to strict military conscription. Other countries struggle to find alternative constructions to force different layers of society to interact during at least one period in their lives. In Belgium, compulsory military service was abolished in 1994, but they have an interesting alternative to it. On a voluntary basis and without any aggressive undertone to it. Resembling Donald Ducks` cousins as `The Junior Woodchucks`, many Belgians spend at least one year of their life as members of the Scouting.

Posted by Bruno