Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Looking for Dutch roots

Statue of a funky dude eating a raw herring on Scheveningen beach, by The Hague
Continuing with my little European tour, I met with friends who were on a course (I'm doing it year more on that in another post), and it was taking place in The Hague, near Scheveningen beach. I was glad the Indian summer trend continued for a few more days, and we were able to have a lovely lunch in the sun on the beach, not sure how usual that it for mid-October.

I wanted to spend a few days in Amsterdam, because I hadn't spent much time there at all and had spotted the city as a potentially nice place to live: a few excellent creative agencies have set up their European headquarters there, it has all the life and activity of a capital city without being as huge as London, for exemple. Plus my father being Dutch and me having a very Dutch name, I thought I should spend a few days and consider if I'd like to live or settle there.

Writing away with beer & bitterballen!
I'm not sure about the roots, but it was lovely to spend quiet time walking around Amsterdam, sitting at various cafés to write and have bitterballen (they're addictive). I also visited the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum, both were fantastic - Van Gogh was great, though I was slightly disappointed to figure out that The Starry Night is in fact at the MoMA in New York. Actually now I write about it, I was also disappointed that a fire drill interrupted my visit of the Van Gogh museum and  after standing 15min in chilly drizzle I opted to leave it and head to the Rijksmuseum, and I enjoyed this one more in the end. Fortunately the nice weather came back the following day.

Restaurant De Kas, in Amsterdam
My elder brother, who is a chef, had told me the level of fine dining in Amsterdam was excellent, so I decided to check it out. After doing some research, I had a nice walk out of the main centre of town to an old green house in a park that had been converted into Restaurant de Kas. They grow fruits and vegetables on site, and also have a dedicated farm in the countryside, they cook mostly (if not entirely) with their own ingredients. It was a great and beautiful lunch, though I was disappointed to get the full flavours because I'd caught a little bit of a cold the day before, probably under the drizzle waiting by the Van Gogh museum.

I also had a few interesting conversations meeting a few people in the advertising / marketing industry to talk about the market and agency life in Amsterdam, and unexpectedly caught up one evening with an old friend I hadn't seen in ten years and randomly realised via Facebook he'd moved from Belgium to Amsterdam.

I enjoyed the few days I spent there, but aside childhood memories from visiting family and a certain familiarity with the country that I enjoy, I also felt how I'm not particularly Dutch. I didn't grow up in The Netherlands, I don't speak the language, nor do I know much about it culturally. I'd live there if an interesting job opportunity arises, but thought I probably wouldn't pursue it actively.

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