STAYCATION to THE NETHERLANDS Posted by on Aug 11, 2020 in Archived Posts

After all the hiking and climbing we did in Nepal, we slept the whole way to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, even through the change in Dubai, which was odd. Meeting us in Amsterdam is composer, pianist, and ex-pat Heather Pinkham, who has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 2014 and is excited to show us around! Laten we gaan (Let’s go)!

Put on some Dutch tunes!
For classical music, Heather suggests ‘De Staat’, by Louis Andriessen. “He’s probably the most famous living Dutch composer outside of Holland.” It might make you kippenvel hebben (get goosebumps).

For pop music, the Dutch rock group Kensington has been making music since 2005, and released their latest album, ‘Time’, in 2019.

Heather herself, in response to the Covid crisis, created ‘Music for Empty Spaces’, which brought together Netherlands-based musicians and composers for twelve pieces inspired by the international lockdown. It was popular enough to be commissioned for years to come, and is also currently featured in the Museum Amsterdam’s exhibit ‘Corona In De Stad’.

As always, check out some more tunes on Radiooooo, where you can specify the country and the decade of the music you’d like to hear.

Learn some Dutch!

When Heather arrived in Amsterdam in 2014, it was with limited Dutch, and the Transparent Language Online course. Six years later, she is practically fluent!

“The hardest thing about learning the language is getting people to speak Dutch with you when you’re first learning,” says Heather, Because most people here speak English so well, people tend to switch to English when you make a mistake. Usually it is meant to make you more comfortable but the result is that a lot of people take a long time to learn or never learn at all!”

After all, Heather notes, the Netherlands are rated as the number one English-As-A-Second-Language country in the world!

Luckily, Transparent Language Online not only has you covered for the basics, but there is also the great Dutch blog, where you can brush up on how to tell time, learn some tongue twisters, or maybe most importantly in Amsterdam, figure out how to get a fiets (bicycle)!

Let’s go Sightseeing!

Thanks to, we can enjoy the delights of the world from the comfort of our sofas. Heather has decided to take us to the Wadden Islands, an archipelago in the Wadden Sea. “They are very special and have a much different feel to them than the the rest of Holland,” she says, “But you can just speak Dutch there!”

Click on the pictures to see the full mooi (beautiful) panoramas.





And of course what kind of Staycation to the Netherlands would it be without seeing some tulpen?

Enjoy some Dutch food!

Heather’s favorites include Bitterballen and Hutspot.

“Bitterballs is more like a bar snack,” she says, “They are fried cheese or meat balls with ragu sauce, you eat them with mustard.”

The Dutch Table has a great recipe made with beef and served with grainy mustard.

“Hutspot is really like a dinner,” says Heather,”It’s mashed potatoes with vegetables like carrots and onions, and you usually eat that with a piece of meat.”

Levarht can help us out with the recipe,  which suggests rookworst (smoked sausage) for the meat.

As they say, Alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest! (This means the food is delicious- “as though an angel has peed on your tongue”!)

Watch some Dutch TV!

Heather prefers Dutch television to films, and recommends ‘Toon’, a show about a media composer who writes a song at a party and goes viral.

Heel grappig (very funny)!

Time to head back to the airport...

Heather has graciously accompanied us to the airport on the train, for which we use our OV-chipkaart like the locals.

“I like the down to earth and open nature of people here,” says Heather of the Netherlands, “and the general attitude towards the work-life balance.”

Dank je wel (thank you), Heather, for sharing it with us!

And so we bid a fond vaarwel to the Netherlands. I hope you packed your Opinci, because we are on our way to Romania! See you there next week!

Are you currently living in a country we should visit? Or have you lived long-term in one? Want to show us around? Shoot me an e-mail at!

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