An Alternative City Guide to Amsterdam

The wonderful city of Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and this is for very good reason. It seems that everybody has been and has their favourite places to go, but there are a few fantastic alternative places that tourists or newbies to the city are not so familiar with. These hidden gems show the real heart and soul of the city and are, typically, much quieter than the busier areas.

Whether you’re a tourist or an adopted local, there are plenty of “best-kept secrets” dotted around the city for you to uncover.

Food

Food is a key part of any vacation and Amsterdam has many great eateries. Here are a few of the best spots in town.

Mazzo – Head here for the best authentic Italian food in Amsterdam. It has a relaxed and cool vibe inside with a stylish interior, but it is also affordable too. In addition to the food, this is also a great space for drinking in the evening.

The Butcher – You can’t beat a good burger and the burgers at The Butcher are the best in the city. It may not look like the best, but this place stays open late and has a high-end speakeasy cocktail bar at the back – but shh, don’t tell everyone!

Rotisserie – This Brooklynese bar serves up tantalising chicken dishes and delicious burgers in a friendly and welcoming setting. They also have take-away if you want to enjoy your meal out in the streets or settle in for a cosy night at your hotel.

Food Hallen – A converted tram shed with dozens of cool food stalls and bars – Food Hallen is one of the newer and trendier places in the city and is extremely popular with the locals.

The Sea Food Bar – Craving seafood? The Sea Food Bar is the best place for fish and there are 2 restaurants in Amsterdam (you may want to book in advance, or have a drink at the bar whilst you wait).

Omelegg – Head here for breakfast. They only serve omelettes, but they are the tastiest omelettes you have ever eaten! Well worth the wait.

Nightlife

Amsterdam is famous for its brilliant nightlife and there are many excellent venues no matter what type of mood you are in. Generally speaking, the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein areas are the most fun and have a handful of vibrant and fun pubs, bars and clubs. De Kroon in Rembrandtplein is a local favourite and free to get in, whilst Jimmy Woo is a swanky place if you are out for a fancy evening.

Beer

Beer lovers will adore Troost, which serves amazing burgers along with its very own craft beer. There are two places, both in the city centre.

Neighbourhoods

Part of Amsterdam’s charm comes from simply wandering the streets and popping into the local stores and cafes. The best neighbourhoods to do this are the very picturesque Jordaan, and the trendy De Pijp neighbourhood where there are plenty of vibrant bars, cafes and restaurants – this is authentic Amsterdam. Gerard Doustraat is a street worth visiting with a number of cute shops and a friendly atmosphere. To get the most out of your trip, it is worth booking into a hotel near the city centre, like CitizenM, which allows you to get out and explore the neighbourhoods each day.

Art

The city is well-known for its thriving art scene, but it doesn’t stop at just Rembrandt and Van Gogh. A great way to discover some of the alternative masterpieces on show is to take the Street Art and Alternative Walking Tour, or by checking out the independent art galleries, like Aschenbach & Hofland. You should also keep your eyes peeled for any art exhibitions happening during your stay, as this is a terrific way to immerse yourself in the local scene.

Can you add to this list?  Please comment below!

This is a guest post by Alexa Cobbold.  Alexa lives in a little village just outside of York, England and works in PR and Digital Marketing with a number of brands across the globe. Outside of work she loves photography (Instagram has become a little bit of an obsession…), getting out in to the countryside, buying way too many housewares and spending far too much money on photobooth photos.

Health insurance in The Netherlands: how does it work?

If you are planning to study, work or live in The Netherlands it is important to consider your health coverage as you are possibly required to apply for health insurance.

When is Dutch health insurance necessary?

A health insurance (in Dutch: zorgverzekering) in The Netherlands is mandatory as soon as you start working in Holland or when you emigrate to The Netherlands. Failing to apply for a health insurance within four months will likely result in a substantial fine, issued by the government.

However, applying for a Dutch health insurance is not allowed if you are only in The Netherlands temporally, for example, if you are in Holland for your studies and you don’t get a job on the side. In this case your home country insurance will suffice if you are from within the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or another country (like Australia) that has a social treaty with the Netherlands. If you are from outside the EU/EEA you may need to check whether your home country or travel insurance covers the necessary healthcare when abroad.

In any case, it is wise to check and verify this sort of information with your current insurance company prior to entering the Netherlands.

If you are unsure whether or not you are obliged to apply for Dutch health insurance, you can contact zorgverzekeringslijn.nl on +31 88 900 6960 for free and unbiased advice.

How to apply?

If you do need Dutch health insurance you can easily apply for one online. An insurance broker, like ZorgWijzer.nl (English site), can help you find a suitable and affordable insurance.

Although the application process is quite straightforward, it is mostly in Dutch. So using Google translate or a Dutch speaking friend/co-worker to help you, might be a good idea.

What does it cover?

The minimum cover that a Dutch insurance company has to offer already covers a substantial amount of medical expenses, such as:

  • Visiting a GP and treatments conducted by him/her
  • Emergency medical care in The Netherlands and abroad
  • Healthcare provided by (non-) physician specialists
  • Physiotherapy for certain chronic diseases
  • Treatments in a hospital or clinic
  • Medication
  • Midwifery
  • Psychological healthcare
  • Dental care (only up to 18 years of age)

How much does it cost?

Health insurance in The Netherlands is primarily funded by income tax. All other costs involve premiums (around 100 euros per month).

Furthermore, do note that using healthcare usually requires you to pay an excess which goes up to 385 euro a year. Once you have paid this amount, all further costs made by you will be reimbursed by the insurance company.

Residents with a limited income may apply for financial compensation (up to 88 euro per month) by the government. This can be done through the website of the Dutch tax authorities.

Need more information?

Do you need more information about a specific topic? Then it might be beneficial to visit or call ZorgWijzer for more information about health insurance in The Netherlands.

2017 Eurovision Song Contest

Tonight is the final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, held this year in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv.  There were 42 participating countries, with 26 making it through to the Grand Final, including both The Netherlands and Australia.

Since the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, Australia has somehow become an “honorary” European country.  This year Australia is competing with a song called “Don’t Come Easy” by Isaiah.

The Netherlands has a three-sister team called OG3NE with a song called Lights and Shadows:

The contest can be cheesy but always a lot of fun to watch.  I had hoped to join The Hague International Network to watch the final, with representatives from the various embassies based in The Hague, this would have been a great party!  However it’s also my 12th wedding anniversary today so we have plans.

You can find full information about the Eurovision Song Contest here:

https://eurovision.tv

 

 

2017 ANZAC Day Ceremony The Hague

Each year, the Australian Embassy and New Zealand Embassy in The Hague organise an ANZAC Day ceremony. I’ve attended several of these now, and they are always special:

The ceremony has additional meaning for me as both my parents served in the Australian navy (before I was born).  I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to observe this day with fellow Antipodeans in the Netherlands each year.  I came prepared with my traditional poppy and rosemary (from my garden, which happened to be in bloom).  The scent was beautiful and stayed with me all day.

The 25th April 2017 was a cold 5 degrees, with intermittent rain and hail.  With an 8am start, the sun did make an effort to join us at the Commonwealth War Graves section at the Westduin Cemetery, The Hague.

Each year, the increadibly beautiful haunting tones of a Karanga, by Ms Kylie Martin always gives me goosebumps.

I also enjoy seeing several of the same wonderfully charismatic faces each year of the service men and women in their smart uniforms.

Below is a Facebook Live Broadcast I shared.  When watching it back though, I realise you can’t hear very much, especially due to the rain on my umbrella.  Also a bit shaky as I had freezing fingers – but you at least get the idea of what it was like to be there.

The program follows a similar format each year, with a solemn ceremony of prayers, readings, hymns and the laying of wreaths.

A traditional “Ode of Remembrance” was read by Wing Commander Ruth Elsley of the Australian Defence Force:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”

Readings were given by Lieutenant Commander Tony McCall from the New Zealand Defence Force, His Excellency Dr Brett Mason, Ambassador of Australia and Her Excellency Ms Janet Lowe, Ambassador of New Zealand and Ms Ozge Demirkurt Atahan, Counsellor of the Embassy of Turkey.

I always find hope each year in the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1934), which to me represent how it is possible for nations to go from being at war to acknowledging that essentially, we are all one:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.  Therefore rest in peace.  There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehemets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…you, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.  After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well”

The national anthems of the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia were sung beautifully by Emma Brown and the ceremony was officiated by Reverend Paul Falke of the Church of Our Saviour.

Beautiful wreaths were laid at the memorial by representatives from a number of embassies and organisations including the OPCW, Kiwis in The Netherlands and The Australian and New Zealand Club.

The Last Post, this year with bugler Corporal 1st Class, Patrick van Leeuwen, Fanfare Corps National Reserve, is always a very special part of the ceremony, and is followed by 2 minutes silence.

After the respectful ceremony, the mood becomes lighter as we all enjoyed a delicious breakfast together.

There was even some Australian Bundaberg Rum to warm up after the cold outside!

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a number of men and women in active service. I love that the spirit of ANZAC Day encompasses both remembering those who have lost their lives, but also recognises the talent, dedication and importance of those who serve in the military today.

You can view all of my images and short videos over at my Google Photos album:

Click to visit my Google Photos album

Free 3 week online Dutch course via Future Learn and University of Gronigen

Would you like to learn some basic Dutch online – for free?  Sure, face to face may be the best way to learn for many people, but online is also a good option for some.

Introduction to Dutch, which was developed by the University of Groningen Language Centre, is aimed at prospective students and staff of the University, international professionals who intend to live and work in the Netherlands and people from other countries with an interest in the Dutch language.

The course introduces participants to the basics of the Dutch language, and gives background information on the city of Groningen, the University of Groningen and the region as a whole.

This 3 week online MOOC (Massive open online course) runs on specific dates though and the next doesn’t start until August, with another in November.  The estimated time commitment each week is 3 hours.   You can find out more information and sign up here:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/dutch

I’m actually writing my Masters thesis at the moment about elearning/online learning and found the Future Learn platform during my research for that.  You can find out more about my study and research here.

Have you followed an online course to learn Dutch?  Please share your recommendations, experiences and comments below or on the Dutch Australian Facebook page.

Renee