Creepy Buses in the Netherlands

Posted on 31. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, Literature

Halloween is the day of spoken and heksen and pompoenen and skeletten. Young and old dress up in een kostuum and walk around their neighborhood asking for snoep. I have great memories of Halloween throughout my life, and it is a day I really enjoy! Although in the Netherlands Halloween isn’t as big as in the U.S., I decided to dedicate this post to Halloween with scary children’s stories from the Netherlands.

Paul van Loon, born in April 17, 1955, is a Dutch children’s book writer. His style of writing combines scary stories with humor. In 2008, he was awarded the Orde van Oranje Nassau for his contributions to the Dutch culture. He has published over 100 books and is very well known in the Netherlands.

De Griezelbus is a series of books by van Loon. The story takes place in Kinderboekenweek and Group 7 of Tulip Elementary School is invited by the writer Onnoval to take to a ride in the Griezelbus. Onnoval will read a few stories from his collection; these stories are about items in the bus as well as Onnoval himself. Little do the children know that they are in what will become the ride of their lives.

In 2005, De Griezelbus was made into a movie. I am including the movie trailer, but don’t forget that the books are always better than the movie!

YouTube Preview Image



Halloween Vocabulary:

het spook- the ghost

de heks- the witch

de pompoen- the pumpkin

het skelet- the skeleton

het kostuum- the costume

de snoep- the candy

griezelig- creepy

het verhaal- the story

de schedel- the skull

het feest- the party

de kinderboekenweek- children’s book week

afschrikken- to scare

verkleden- to dress up


Tolerance in the Netherlands?

Posted on 29. Oct, 2014 by in Literature, News

Since I moved to the Netherlands, I have been reading and researching about the country. I am impressed by the stories of surviving the hunger winter during World War II, of the stories from immigrants from very different parts of the world that come to the Netherlands to work hard, of the general feel of tolerance and freedom for which this country is known for.

However, there is a part of the history that isn’t as impressive. The book Murder in Amsterdam by Iam Buruma tells one of those stories. Theo van Gogh (great grandchild to Vincent van Gogh’s brother, Theo van Gogh) was a film producer, writer, journalist and an overall big personality in the Netherlands. Theo was, however, very critical of immigrants in the Netherlands, particularly immigrants for Morocco. He was also very critical of Islam, which is why he joined forces with a former Dutch politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to make the movie Submission in which the violence against women in some Islamic societies was questioned.

 This film brought van Gogh and Hirsi Ali a lot of attention; they began receiving death threats because some felt they had insulted Allah. Sadly, this didn’t end in threats. On November 2nd, 2004, Theo van Gogh was murdered while he was riding his bike on his way to work. The man who killed him, Mohamed Bouyeri is serving a life sentence.

Ian Buruma’s book is an interesting analysis of what happened before and after the murder. Buruma looks into van Gogh’s life and public actions as well as Bouyeri’s. In an attempt to remain neutral so that the evidence speaks for itself, Buruma seems at times vague or unsure of his claim. However, I think this is a minor set back of the book. Buruma includes a lot of interesting research that gives light to both sides. Although the book deals with a dark chapter of the Netherlands, it leaves the reader with important questions about tolerance, freedom of speech and religion.

Buruma, I. (2006). Murder in Amsterdam. New York: Penguin Press.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

Posted on 23. Oct, 2014 by in News

This past weekend was one of the warmste days in October since record keeping began. Temperatures reached a high of 23 degrees Celsius (around 73 degrees Fahrenheit). After a couple of days of rain and cooler temperatures, the warm sunny weekend was very much welcome. The zonnige weekend was the beginning of fall break, and many took advantage of the weather to go to the beach in Scheveningen or Zandvoort. Saturday was a great day for walking around markets and drinking a cold beer on a terrace. Sunday was also a very warm day, although in the evenings, clouds were filling the sky for what has been a very cloudy and rainy week.

On Tuesday, the tropical depression Gonzalo, the first herfst storm of the season, traveled the Atlantic and hit the UK and later the Netherlands, Belgium and France causing strong winds, rain, and flooding. Winds exceeded 65 kph (40 mph) and the dijken in the Netherlands were closed to minimize flooding damages. Wednesday’s news was filled with images of flooded parking lots and streets near the coast. Although the material damage totals about 2 million euros, there were no lives lost in the Netherlands. The storm was expected to reach northern Italy, Slovakia and Serbia today.

If you want more info, visit the previous posts about the Dikes in Zeeland and the Bassie and Adriaan post about the weather.