Learn to cycle in Amsterdam

Learn to cycle in Amsterdam

This gorgeous how-to book brings out all of the rules and norms of cycling in Amsterdam alongside amazing pictures of every day cycling experiences. Get it for anyone who comes to visit and needs a primer before heading out on a bike in the city. Author Xing Chen is a neuroscientist who moved to the Netherlands for work in 2014. She grew up in Singapore and lived in the UK and the US before arriving here. She learned how to ride a bike as a child, but quickly learned that the cycle paths of Amsterdam were nothing like the quiet suburban streets she was used to. The book is divided into five chapters, covering bikes and bike accessories; road signs; tips and etiquette; behavior and weather. Do you have any idea what all of the road signs mean? You will after you read this. Cycling for dummies It is, essentially, a cycling for dummies book. The material is dry in places, but so are the cycling rules. There’s an enjoyable narrative about the author in the beginning but what mostly keeps the book entertaining are the photos. Many of them were taken by Shirley Agudo, the photographer behind The Dutch and Their Bikes and showcase the interesting and weird things you may see while cycling in Amsterdam. But the photos also extensively showcase the traffic signs, conditions and road layouts you might encounter while biking. As the title suggests, the book is wholly focused on Amsterdam. While most of the information is valid across the Netherlands, there are some specific things that only apply to the city itself, such as information about local bike rental shops and the police contact details. Fortunately, if you want to find any of this information out for your own city, it’s fairly easy to search for or to find on your local council website. The book is small, making it easy to carry with you and would make for a great gift for newcomers. Or keep it around your house for guests who are nervous about venturing out on their own. Buy this book  More >



Kristen in Clogland

Kristen in Clogland

'Kristen in Clogland' is a blog about an Aussie discovering the Netherlands and adjusting to life in another country More >


Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

Three years in Amsterdam and counting! Daily journeys through the streets of this cosy and beautiful city. More >




I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >



Dutch Scoop

Dutch Scoop

Mary Petiet is an American writer and reporter. She is currently exploring all things Dutch as she adjusts to life in More >





Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >


Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

Explore the Netherlands the Dutch way - by bicycle. Includes where to go, planning your trip, tips and info. More >


The Dutch and their Bikes

Books about Dutch biking culture continue to grow in popularity, with more titles appearing on the bookshelves each year. Four years ago, American photojournalist and long-term resident in the Netherlands, Shirley Agudo, published Bicycle Mania, receiving rave reviews from international readers. Continuing on this same theme, Agudo has recently released a new extended version of her first book, titled The Dutch and Their Bikes: Scenes from a Nation of Cyclists. This new coffee table book exhibits about 700 photographs of Dutch people cycling - an activity intrinsic in their everyday lives. The images are loosely arranged by theme: transportation, colours, weather, age, animals, and special occasions. The book opens with a section of well-researched facts about cycling in the Netherlands, including what happens to bikes parked in public spaces for long periods (that is, they are removed and taken to the Fietsdepot to await retrieval by their owners at a cost of ten euros, albeit 70% of these bikes remain unclaimed). By adding a short list of cycling innovations supported by both local and national government, Agudo emphasises the importance of cycling to the environment and economy of the Netherlands. Interspersed throughout the 352 pages of the book are comments from a broad range of people somehow involved in cycling culture in the Netherlands, including individuals working in various government officers, transport organizations, cycling bodies, bicycle manufacturing businesses, and online bike forums. Often information and views are repeated, providing reiteration of the benefits of cycling to both individual and community. The Dutch and Their Bikes is a gift to the tourism industry of the Netherlands. The photographs portray the Dutch people as a free-spirited (sometime nude, pages 294-297), environmentally conscious, sturdy population who know the simple joy of riding a bike, and have adopted it as their preferred mode of transport. Cycling is internationally recognised as an enjoyable as well as an environmentally-friendly activity. By identifying the bike as being integral to Dutch culture, Shirley Agudo has added another reason for visitors to come and experience what the Netherlands is about. Buy this book Ana McGinley books@dutchnews.nl  More >


How to Survive Holland

Published in 2007, Martijn de Rooi's How to Survive Holland aims to explain Dutch culture to readers unfamiliar with the Netherlands , including the history and population. The book is written from the perspective of a highly educated man who clearly loves his homeland, and hopes to educate the reader - identified as working on such misconceptions as the need to request a life buoy on arrival in the Netherlands as a safety measure against the rising waters. How to Survive Holland is a 175 page paperback expanded over twelve chapters covering topics like history, geography, food, and culture. The insight into the Dutch culture is valuable for the uninitiated and includes explanations beneficial to people wanting to emerge themselves into local society. Of note is the explanation of the Dutch liberal attitude of - equality for all, and tolerance of most things - as presented in chapter 4 'Abnormally Normal'. Criticisms of this book are based on the writing style. Many times thirty words are used when five would suffice. The result is that the reader is distracted by the style and intake of information is reduced. Being proud of one's own homeland can also reduce objectivity. Comparing the Vaals hill in the province of Limburg to Mount Everest, or the former Amsterdam City Hall building to the Taj Mahal or Roman Colosseum (pg72-73) may sound a little silly - and that is not the writer's intention. Finally, and of no fault to the author, in the six years since its publication, some information is outdated and now incorrect: like strippenkaart use on public transport, and Dutch places on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Buy this book  More >


Stuff Dutch People Like takes on food and mothers

The Stuff Dutch People Like empire has done some considerable expansion in 2016 with a look earlier this year at language and now a plunge into food and the world of motherhood. Author Colleen Geske, a Canadian by birth, has now turned her attention to celebrating Dutch parenting and asks herself 'why do Dutch mums have it all?'. It did not start out that way. 'Home births were not urban legends, as I had hoped, but a frightening reality,' she writes in the introduction. 'Could I actually give birth, let alone raise a family, in this country far away from the comforts and familiarities of home?' Colleen is now the proud mother of two children, both born in the Netherlands and both growing up into little Amsterdammers. The book Stuff Dutch Moms Like is based partly on her experiences, partly on heaps of facts and useful information, and partly on the experiences of others mothers, both Dutch and foreign. Dutch parenting, she states, has often been described as laid-back, relaxed and quite permissive. Not that she would argue with these observations, you understand, but that 'you could make the wrong assumption that this parenting style is without substance or reason'. Helicopter mums have yet to arrive in the Netherlands and freedom, independence and letting children be children are paramount. The style is light and informative - like chatting to a friend - and Colleen's enthusiasm so persuasive you might end up wishing you were having a baby yourself, just to test it all out. Buy this book   Stuff Dutch People Eat The fourth book in the Stuff Dutch People Like stable is a homage to the Dutch snackbar and dinner table. Complete with recipes for pea soup, grandmother's apple pie and even stroopwaffels, Stuff Dutch People Eat is a lavishly illustrated celebration of Dutch food. And yes, she does throw in recipes for roti and nasi goreng for good measure. Liberally sprinkled with humour and exclamation marks, Colleen is even positive about boerenkool and herring - which must mean she is a fully integrated Dutch cook. This is a great gift for a new arrival, a longer term resident or someone who has left the Netherlands and is still nostalgic for a bitterballen or olliebollen at New Year. Now they can make them themselves. Buy this book  More >


Atlas of Amsterdam

If you like big chunky books packed with illustrations and odd bits of information you can't do better than the English language version of the Atlas of Amsterdam. This weighty tome contains over 250 pages of full colour maps, photographs and diagrams detailing the minutiae of Amsterdam, from the number of bikes to a map of Zorgvlied cemetary, from property values to a guide to the city in Rembrandt's time. Want to know about protected trees, the location of gay bars, where murders and gangland killings take place or simply where you can find a specialist book shop? It's all there. The atlas is divided into clear topics focusing on key aspects of the city's development, from its evolution to the make up of the population, its industries and culture. The final section zooms in on the eight borough regions. It's a coffee table book to pick up and put down rather than something to read in bed. But there is a fascinating fact on every page. The translation is deft if a little clumsy in places, but given the main focus is on the visuals, the odd convoluted sentence is easy to ignore. And at just under €30, the atlas would be a great gift for any Amsterdamophile. Buy this book  More >


ABC Nederlands English

ABC Nederlands English is a bilingual alphabet book for children. Author Alison O'Dornan introduces children to the alphabet using words and objects that begin with the same letter in Dutch and English. Words like Banana and Banaan, Moon and Maan are illustrated with pictures and accompanied by a simple sentence in both languages making them easy to understand. With one letter per page this colourful little book is short enough to hold their attention and presented in a style that will appeal to kids. Diglot Books specializes in bilingual language guides for youngsters and they have recently launched a range of Flash Cards based around a shopping theme with pictures of items written in English and Dutch. Any of their titles or products would make a perfect first introduction for children starting to learn a second language. ABC Nederlands English is just one in a series that includes: Spanish, German, French and Italian. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


I am Amsterdam

The ones who would like to have a daily confirmation that Amsterdam is beautiful should loyally follow the weblog of the photographer Thomas Schlijper. He posts a new photo of the every-day Amsterdam: of a window washer on an insanely high ladder, of a homeless person with a flower pot on his head, of the canals in the evening light, of a comical traffic situation or simply of nice people. The light is especially extraordinary in his photos. He manages to catch an enchanting lighting in the centre of Amsterdam. Buy this book    More >


Ready, Steady, Go Dutch

The Netherlands sells itself as a country of tulips, windmills, cheese and clogs, but that is not how international workers see it. In Ready, Steady, Go Dutch, a new book by DutchNews.nl and volunteer organisation ACCESS showed clogs don'Ž“t merit a mention. Nor do tulips and windmills. But mention bikes, doctors and the lack of sunshine and you will find international workers have plenty to say. Divided into 10 short chapters and with a list of extra information resources, Ready, Steady, Go Dutch takes the reader through the ups and downs of relocating to the Netherlands, learning the language, finding a job and a home, and making a new life. Doctors, shops, the weather and of course cycling are all dealt with in bite-sized quotes from people who have already made the move. Some of the comments are unexpected, some are amusing or poignant and some highlight the differences in expectations and experiences between different nationalities. Together they form a snapshot of the expat experience in the Netherlands which everyone can learn from. In particular, the relaxed atmosphere in the Netherlands, especially at work, is a big plus for international workers. The work environment is relaxed. I saw people cancelling meetings just because it was sunny that day, said one Turkish expat. Ž•I love the fact that where I work there is less emphasis on hierarchy and more on consensus and delivery,Ž“ said a Russian national who has lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years. And an American expat was quite certain about the impact of working in the Netherlands on her work-life balance. Ž•I will never go back to a country where I only get one week's holiday a year, she said. Dutch houses also come in for a lot of comment. Ž•Having a washing machine in the bathroom was really strange as was the lack of a bath, wrote one British woman who moved in with her Dutch boyfriend. The steepness of Dutch stairs and big windows in many older properties came in for a lot of comment as well. One expat even warned people to be aware of moving too close to a tram line because of the excruciating noise made by the machines which clean the tracks early in the morning. The alternative to public transport is, of course, cycling, which all expats seem to adopt enthusiastically. 'I love how relaxed the Dutch are on their bikes. You see men in suits and women in fancy dresses,' said a Bulgarian office worker. The 140-page book has been put together by DutchNews.nl and ACCESS to help newcomers benefit from the practical experiences of people who've already gone Dutch. A large part of the profit will go to ACCESS to help the volunteer organisation continue providing information and advice to expats. Buy this book  More >


Living With the Dutch: An American Family in the Hague

Before going to The Hague, Sharpe and her American family actually planned to move to Paris, but her husband Peter was offered a position in the Netherlands. They find typical expatriate problems on their path, learn a lot about how to tackle them and in the mean time discover a completely new country. Buy this book Review this book. Contact books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Atlas of Amstelland: the biography of a landscape

Atlas of Amstelland: The Biography of a Landscape presents the history of Amstelland through a series of maps based on the results of recent research, which illustrate the transformation of the landscape from desolate marsh to beloved green oasis on the edge of Amsterdam. From the 11th century onwards the peat marsh on the edge of the world was gradually reclaimed. A section of the Amstel even originated as a drainage canal. In the 13th century a new power arose: Amsterdam. In the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, this former modest village near a dam in the Amstel grew into one of the largest metropolises in Europe. Its proximity brought about major changes in Amstelland. Much of the landscape was radically altered by the turf industry and subsequent drainage. Its peat meadows could be quickly inundated to form an impenetrable barrier around Amsterdam. In the course of centuries, relations between city and countryside became thoroughly intertwined to the point where each can only be properly understood by studying them together. Buy this book  More >


Angel of Amsterdam

Finally, we have an English-language edition of prize-winning Dutch author Geert Mak's Angel of Amsterdam.  Mak is one of the finest of Dutch authors and the book provides unique glimpse into and better understanding of this fascinating city. First published in 1993,  The Angel of Amsterdam:  Seven City Stories introduces a large, varied cast of loyal Amsterdammers, dating from 1275 to approximately 1990, all boasting a unique attachment to the city. All seven stories are independent essays, connected only by being set in Amsterdam.  Readers familiar with the city will be able to identify neighbourhoods, buildings, and the names of historical figures. The first story, ‘A City in Blue’, is a modern-day description of Amsterdam from an aerial perspective. This is followed by, ‘Stone and Earth on the Burgwal’ which delves into the history of the city via the artifacts found in a house being renovated by the narrator.  The third story considers the mitigation of staunch religious standards as people from isolated rural areas move to the city seeking better opportunities. Rembrandt is the central figure in ‘The Forgotten Girl, the City and the Painter’ – with his changing fortunes reflecting the changing values of Amsterdam society in 1600s. The last three essays focus on population groups not generally photographed for Amsterdam tourist guides.  “Making Tracks around Central Station’ follows prostitutes, pimps, and homeless people with chronic substance abuse issues or mental health problems.  The narrator spends time with these individuals, learning how and where these people survive in the city. Similarly, ‘Three Afternoons with Henk Plenter’ sees the narrator accompanying a public health inspector responsible for investigating complaints regarding bad smells.  The cause of the stench often related to an individual, sometimes dead, but often suffering from an untreated psychiatric illness and abandoned by family, friends, neighbors or social services. Overall, this book of short essays provides an interesting insight into Amsterdam’s history, and the social fabric that make it the colorful city it is today. After 20 years, it is a little dated and may benefit from the addition of a present day story to add relevance for newer residents of the city.  Yet The Angel of Amsterdam remains a fascinating commentary on the city and its inhabitants. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >