The major train provider (NS) is in the middle of a strike. There are 5 days where workers will strike. Today was day 1, in the north of the country. Friday is this area’s turn (The Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam, etc.). There are three more regions set to strike next week, with national strikes possibly following in September. Hmmm.
But also: TUI launching Ski Express night train from Amsterdam to Austria in December at nltimes.nl. Although of course TUI is a travel company and not a train operator. The train leaves every Friday from Amsterdam, traveling through Utrecht on its way to Austria. You arrive Saturday in the mountains. You can even start skiing right away as the travel package comes with ski passes.
Not to be outdone, there was also a news story about Scheveningen getting a new tram depot in a few years. This is needed because the newer Avenio trams (Dutch Wikipedia) are wider and don’t fit in the current depot.
Albert Heijn (a Dutch grocery store chain) has been using a coin deposit system to unlock carts since the mid ’80s. As you might expect, this was to prevent carts from going missing. But this system was suspended in the last few years due to corona and Albert Heijn noticed that even without the system the number of “missing” carts did not go increase. So they decided to scrape it entirely. Personally I am not really affected since I don’t have a car. No car = limited carrying capacity = shopping basket for me.
That was also the rule I lived by in the States, since I didn’t have a car there either. Did you know “never having to learn to drive” was in the “pro” column when we were debating if I move to the Netherlands or if Marco moves to the States, way back when? Yep, I hate driving that much.
It has finally happened – jars of Goober have arrived in The Netherlands, spotted at the Albert Heijn grocery store. Goober is jelly and peanut butter in the same jar (!). I thought it was an invention from the 1990’s, but according to Wikipedia it has been around since the 1960’s. Who knew.
I am a bit particular about my jelly and peanut butter ratios (about 1x jelly to 3x peanut butter) so this arrangement doesn’t work for me. Also, I have realized the awesomeness of Dutch peanut butter (aka less sugar and a bit thicker) so going back to American peanut butter would be a bit difficult. The only time I have it these days is when I am at an American hotel and I get one of those individual peanut butter containers for my toast. I do miss American style breakfasts.
Of course, it is entirely possible that this product has been available in The Netherlands for a while and I just noticed (it was hiding up on the top shelf after all)…
Check out this Christmas tree made of bread rolls:
It is as tasty as it looks. It is actually bake-off bread – you buy it at Albert Heijn and finish baking it in the oven. Perfect toppings include butter, peanut butter, speculaas paste (Wikipedia), and/or hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). If you’re Dutch you would add a layer of butter and then the hagelslag sprinkles, but luckily I am not Dutch so I am exempt.
We also split a mini kerststol(Wikipedia) between us, a sort of sugary Christmas bread with almond paste inside. And it was one of those rare mornings where I went and made a second cup of coffee… Good times!
Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands this Saturday from Spain, as is tradition (read more at English Wikipedia). After his arrival Dutch children start counting down to December 5, as that evening they can open their presents. Minor gifts are given (usually left in shoes) between the arrival of Sinterklaas and December 5.
Albert Heijn is getting into the party with their own version of an advent calendar with mini chocolates:
Every day from November 13 through December 5 has a little window to open (in random order, which as an adult I find a bit annoying). Aftellen tot pakjesavond = countdown to gifts evening (a literal translation).
We’ll see if things proceed as planned. The nationally televised arrival of Sinterklaas can go ahead because almost all of it is taped in advance and the city he arrives in doesn’t actually exist, due to the pandemic. Normally he arrives to much fanfare and thousands of young kids cheering him on in person or watching from home.
Regional arrivals have started to be cancelled, with Utrecht being the first big city to cancel theirs (official website in Dutch). A decision for The Hague hasn’t been made yet, but the signs informing travelers of bus and tram re-routing on Saturday are still in place, and inside the trams an automated message plays saying there will be re-routing on Saturday. It will probably go ahead as the arrival of Sinterklaas at the harbor in Scheveningen now requires tickets and they are restricting the number of tickets offered. At the moment the parade through The Hague is also still on. We’ll see.
Autumn arrived at the end of September, bringing a lot of rain and cold with it. If you are not paying attention, you will get caught in a sudden downpour that soaks you and then dissipates within 10 minutes. Marco and I also still need to try the yearly traditional of oliebollen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. Soon!
At least the weather looks a bit drier this week, even if the warmth of summer is gone.
Imagine my surprise when the mascot at Albert Heijn (one of the local grocery stores) was staring at me creepily while I was choosing which sparkling water to purchase. I don’t know; maybe it was the wide open eyes staring back at me? Also slightly creepy is the very realistic pink nose with wrinkles..
But that will never top the satirical video that made fun of stockpiling (YouTube) last March at the height of the corona craziness. It used images from a movie, with the Albert Heijn jingle slowed down and creepy sounding on top of it. Twitch.
Dutch lesson: 2e gratis = second (item) free.
2 = twee, second = tweede, which frequently gets abbreviated to 2e.
Covid quick tests for home use have been available at Dutch supermarkets for the last month or two. Today I noticed a pile of tests by the self-checkout. I am sure they have always been there and that I just hadn’t noticed them.
Also: Golden Carriage arrives at Amsterdam Museum after restoration from dutchnews.nl. The golden carriage needed to be maneuvered into position with a crane, as the carriage was placed in the (inner) courtyard. The museum used to be an orphanage and orphans had helped design the carriage back in 1898, hence why it is going on display there after a five year renovation.
It is almost time for the European football championship 2020 (Wikipedia). No – you are not going back in time; it’s the European football championship that was supposed to be held last year but was delayed by corona.
Last week Marco picked up some pancake mix from the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. The brand was Pondan, an Indonesian company.
I was slightly confused when I looked at the back of packaging to see what extra ingredients were needed (top left with the red arrow):
What? I need 100ml air? How does that work?
And then my brain kicked in and my eyes started working. Air in Indonesian is water in English. How confusing!
But I must admit I love the fact that most packaging is not just in Dutch. Usually you see Dutch and French, because the two main languages in Belgium are Dutch and French. My contact solution bottle has 10+ languages on it. It’s so different from packaging in the United States. For logical reasons of course, but it still is something that makes me pause sometimes.
King’s Day is next Tuesday which means a lovely day off. That’s about the only advantage these days, since the usual King’s Night parties (the evening before) and the King’s Day market can’t take place this year due to the pandemic. But who am I kidding? I probably haven’t gone to a King’s Night party in the last 5 years (back when it used to be Queen’s Night, before she abdicated and gave the throne to her son).
It also means you see a lot of toxic orange baked goods at the grocery stores.
On the left in the back you have soesjes (profiterole according to the English Wikipedia). Those are pastries filled with cream. In the middle you have tompouce, which is just called tompouce over at the English Wikipedia because it is a Dutch/Belgium pastry. My sweet tooth doesn’t usually show itself so I don’t eat this kind of stuff that often anymore. The best tompouce I ever had was from Hema with a lime flavor, putting it a bit more on the sour spectrum than the sweet spectrum. But tompouces are tricky to eat, more like overstuffed hamburgers. If you bite wrong the cream in the middle squirts out in the back.
On the right you have a schnitte. I had no idea what this was. I told Marco and Roger this and they looked at me a bit incredulously. Apparently its a two or three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers, or sometimes jam. Marco said that Viennetta ice cream (English Wikipedia) could also be an example of an ice cream schnitte.
Viennetta was actually a possibility last week for celebrating my birthday, but we went for cheesecake instead. I will always consider Viennetta a luxury, since that is how I viewed it as a kid. With the commercial where the group would enjoy the ice cream in clear, tall glasses (obligatory YouTube link)…