Netherlands — bicycle culture and the Koningsdag

Daniëlle, I wanna ask you a couple of questions
about the local culture.

Absolutely… will be glad to help you learn more.

So, one thing that I guess
every foreigner has heard about…
is the bicycle culture in the Netherlands.
If you are riding a bike in the Dutch city…
what are the rules?
Do you need to obtain a license
to drive a bike?
Are you allowed to drive
only on designated bike lanes?

Haha, no.
You don’t need a license to ride a bike.
The Dutch are greedy, remember?
If they need to purchase a license,
there wouldn’t be as many bikes!
Everyone here just learns
how to ride a bike
from the age of 4 or 5.

Image by 97472108@N06 at Flickr, CC-BY

I see…

People on bikes tend to think
there are no rules,
but there are.
The most important one is…
the traffic from the right side goes first!
You can find designated bike lanes
basically everywhere.
If there isn’t one,
you just have to ride a bike
on the right side of the way.

Is bicycle parking free in the city?

Yes, usually it’s free.
People just put a lock
on their bikes
and leave it
in front of the place they visit.

Image by iamagenious at Flickr, CC-BY

Do cities in Netherlands
have a lot of convenience stores?
What do people usually buy
in these stores?

Yes, there are many of those.
Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Lidl, Aldi,
you name it.
A lot of people
buy all their groceries there.
So, not only food,
but also detergents, magazines,
soap, deodorants, etcetera.

Thanks. Now the most exciting question.
Koningsdag or King’s Day…
How do you celebrate Koningsdag
in the Netherlands?

Yes, the best day of the year!
Before the King’s Day,
there’s King’s Night.
On the King’s Night,
practically everyone goes out.
Whether it’s in Lutjebroek,
Amsterdam or Maastricht.
Some people sell their junk
on the street
on both King’s Night and Day.

Image by hazelwoodgirl at Flickr, CC-BY

Oh… I didn’t know that…

By junk, I mean the stuff you’ve thrown
on your attic in 1983,
and you didn’t even know
you still had it,
and now it’s time to
redecorate your attic
into another bedroom,
so you can’t keep that ugly mug…
that says ‘Tennistoernooi Zuid-Beveland 1982–1983’.
That kind of stuff.

I see. Very interesting.

And some people
actually buy that stuff,
and some of it is thrown on their attics
two weeks after the King’s Day.
On the King’s Day,
apart from selling of ugly mugs,
everyone, everywhere goes out again.
There are festivals, parties,
beer and patatkramen
all over the place.
And the most important thing is…
everything is in orange.
Your hat, your shirt, your nails,
and if you’re in the mood,
your face and your drink.
Yes, you’ve heard me…
there is a special drink
called Oranjebitter.
You love it, or you hate it.

Image by inyucho at Flickr, CC-BY

Ha…ha… Actually I don’t mind trying
this Orange drink.

Yes, you should definitely try it.

OK… talking about the local people…
I know that there many immigrants
living in the Netherlands.
And I am kind of interested
in one group of people…
who come from Surinam.

Why are you interested
in this particular group?

Don’t know…
I just learned that
they also speak Dutch.
Unlike the immigrants
from other countries, I guess.
And there are a lot of Dutch football players
of Surinamese origin…
Pretty famous…
everywhere in Europe
and in the world…
Ruud Gullit… Frank Rijkaard…
plus many others…

I see.

Image by lennartt_Flickr_CC-BY

So, the immigration of people from Surinam
to the Netherlands…
Where do they settle?
Do they usually face language barriers?

I think they settle mostly in big cities,
especially Rotterdam.
I don’t know if they face language barriers…
Surinam was once
a colony of the Netherlands,
so, some of them can speak Dutch,
more or less.
I think the group
that faces more problems right now,
are the Moroccans…
I hope you haven’t heard of Geert Wilders?
If so, let’s keep it that way.

Yes, I didn’t know.
Just Googled it.
Not exactly the kind of stuff
that makes me feel inspired.
More interested in cultures and the people
than in the politics.
Anyways, thanks again for the interesting chat, Daniëlle.
We learned so much from you.

My pleasure.
Glad to help you learn more
about my country.

Head image by inyucho at Flickr, CC-BY