Netherlands and more

Blog about life in Holland (and a lot of other stuff)

The monument of Elfstedentocht Nov 22, 2015

Every winter an average Dutch casts glances at the thermometer, hoping for a real cold to come.

The cause for such a strange wish is called Elfstedentocht, or the Eleven cities tour.

Elfstedentocht is a skating match of about 200 kilometres, starting and finishing in Leeuwarden and leading along frozen rivers and lakes past eleven Frisian cities. Therefore for the tour to be possible the minimum ice thickness of 15 cm is required.

The problem is, with our average winter temperature of +7° C it is a bit unlikely to get any ice at all. There are sometimes cold spells with moderate subzero temperatures, but still: the last Elfstedentocht was held in 1997, i.e. eighteen winters ago.

I plan to write a separate post about the tocht, which is, as far as I'm informed, an event of a huge importance for the whole nation (not to mention Friesland). But this story today is about an artefact that is hardly known even to the Dutch.

Read on » 2.0 Nov 14, 2015

It cost me quite an effort to make myself migrate my website to Yii 2.

And now, after about one and a half months of evening work (with breaks for workouts, birthday celebrations, recovering from insomnia and things like that) I can proudly present version 2.0.

The website has been built on Yii framework 2.0 and Bootstrap 3, with a handful of extensions. Thanks to Bootstrap the website is built on the principles of responsive web design. This should make the pages look reasonably well on a broad range of devices, from mobile phones to desktops.

The structure of the website has also been revisited: the blog feed is now right on the home page, and other sections have been moved around too. Due to that your RSS reader might show the last posts once again, sorry for that.

Read on »

Dodgy kiwi Sep 9, 2015

A year ago I posted about fruit groves in Houten. Last summer brought a sudden news on that topic.

A decade ago our neighbour has planted a kiwi tree. The plant has been growing into our two gardens, but has never given a single kiwi fruit. Until the last summer, that is, because mid-August we've spotted the first fruit ever! Too bad for our neighbours, it was a dodgy one, as it's growing on our side of the fence.

Houten kiwi.

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SAIL Amsterdam 2015 Sep 4, 2015

Between the 19 and the 23 of August Amsterdam hosted a huge marine event called SAIL Amsterdam. It's held once every five years, and is most known for its tall ships (apart from hundreds of other ships). During the event they sail in loops around the IJ lake, giving the area a totally different look and attracting millions (yes, millions) of visitors.

For these days bridges over the IJ are open or even get dismantled to let the tall ships sail in.

Dismantled Jan Schaeferbrug.

The website of SAIL claims it's the largest free marine event in the world.

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Getting a Russian visa Aug 6, 2015

In my last post I offered you some insight into the Hell's Kitchen, usually labelled with a sign Почта России (Russian Post).

This story is about a quest called "getting a Russian visa". I have to warn you it won't be as dramatic as the previous one. Partly because the main burden is usually on the shoulders of the receiving person.

As I had ho experience with a Russian visa, I decided to get a private one, which means you need an invitation from someone living in Russia. It might be a better idea to get a tourist visa instead. Because even getting an invitation is a task for a smart, swift, brave, patient and lucky.

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Russian Post, or Welcome to Hell Aug 4, 2015

I have to admit that the Russian Post has well earned its popular nickname "Hell's Office". It's a very good example of the importance of The Rule to the life in the country, as opposed to the common sense. The Rule, one of many, established by those mentals sitting in Russian Duma.

This summer I was visiting Russia, as usual, to meet my family and friends in Tyumen. There was, however, a difference in my status. Since I'm now a Dutch citizen, I needed a Russian visa (obtaining which is a whole other story).

The immigration law dictates that any foreign national is obliged to notify a local immigration office about their arrival in a week's time upon the entry.

If you stay in a hotel, it's to be handled by the hotel's administration. However if you use a private accommodation, the landlord and you are personally responsible for following the procedure.

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