Here are just a few tidbits about life in the Netherlands.

Today, a woman rode by on her bicycle with a child in the back seat. That is a very common thing here, but what made me laugh out loud and almost snap my neck, was the little girl. She was completely asleep and obviously strapped in. Her head was rolling back and forth and her arms were hanging at her sides. This girl was being driven over snow, ice and any other bumps in the road, and she had no clue.

As I have said before there are American fast food places in the Netherlands. There are numerous Burger Kings, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway and McDonald’s. To celebrate McDonald’s presence in this country, they have added two special items to their menu. For a limited time, they will have a cheeseburger with Dutch mustard and Gouda cheese. And there will be an appletart McFlurry—which will be like having an apple pie in your ice cream.

Ice skating is HUGE here and I continue to be amazed at is popularity. Two nights ago on the 8pm news, the top story was the crisis in Syria and then they spent 10 minutes covering the thickness of the ice and skating. The country is excited about the possibility of the Elfstedentocht. This is a skating race that covers 200 kilometers (124 miles) and 11 towns and the last time it happened was 1997. The ice has to be 15 centimeters thick throughout all of the towns, as there will be thousands of skaters on the ice at the same time. So we have to have very low temperatures for many days in order for the ice to freeze enough. This is a major event here and it brings in lots of money. It can mean almost 100 million euros for these towns. Last night, on the 8pm news, there was the breaking news that the race will NOT go on this year as the ice is not thick enough in all locations. This story went on for 30 minutes and they expanded the news to squeeze in other stories in about 8 minutes. Do you get an idea of how popular this sport is? Remember, this announcement came at the top of the hour, and they had to discuss ice, safety and ice for half an hour. And I am disappointed as it would have been fun to see the country so excited and caught up in the race…but there is always next year.

Final thought—for a country so consumed by ice, it is interesting to note that they are not fans of ice in drinks. In restaurants you are lucky to get two dinky ice cubes in your glass. What the Dutch love is the ice you can skate on and that is all the ice that matters.

Recommended reading: this book has nothing to do with ice skating, but if you are looking for a good read to snuggle up with, then this is the one. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons. Elise is 19 years old, Jewish and living in Vienna—in 1938. In order to be safe she must leave her beloved family and move to England. She will be a housemaid at this grand house called Tyneford, which is on the coast of England. This is a wonderful story filled with war, class and romance.

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  • Marty Flint  On February 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    My experience with fast food in Europe is that it doesn’t taste right, or I should say it doesn’t taste like it does here. On the other hand, that McBurger with the Gouda cheese and Dutch mustard sounds very tasty.

    • Keisha  On January 1, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Okay I’m coenivcnd. Let’s put it to action.

  • Aledys Ver  On February 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Oh no! I kind of feel sorry for that baby rolling her head back and forth! Kids here get used to being carried on bikes in all sorts of roads and weather conditions from a very early age.

    I have to say I was very disappointed when they announced that the Elfstedentocht could not be held! I would’ve loved to see an event as big as this seems to be for the whole country, and hailing from Friesland, a favourite region of the country for me.

    We had our own “tocht” last Saturday here in Zwolle and today, the Hollands Venetiëtocht was held in our province of Overijssel (and I don’t really understand the “Hollands” part in the name) for the first time since 1996.

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