There is no lack of examples of American series and films trying to make something Dutch only to have it looking and sounding German. The bad remake of ‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken’ had the wrong colour bottles and actor Mike Myers had a terrible Dutch accent in his 1990s Austin Powers movies, but at least he was joking.
As some of you know, the current season of the American series ‘Homeland’ was entirely filmed in Germany, and lot of it in Berlin. However, the latest installment, episode 7 of season 5 has some scenes set in Amsterdam, in the Zeeburg district, which had issues that most viewers probably wouldn’t get and don’t really have to because the story flows well.
First, the screenshot above. The Zeeburg district has been part of East Amsterdam since 2010. Houseboats and a canal were a good idea, but the architecture isn’t Dutch, and if that’s not a problem, the German yellow construction sign should be, as it reads ‘bau’ (‘construction’ in German) instead of ‘bouw’ in Dutch (hard to see here). You could have told me this was Denmark and I would have bought it without the sign. The reference to Flevopark in the east was spot on, but the street called Tolstraat is in another district. No separate bike paths could be seen, and streets and houses were way too big to be in Amsterdam. Oh, and the yellow license plates had too many letters on them to be Dutch ones, but points for the blue one on the taxi.
This fall another American series, ‘The Vampire Diairies’, took a trip to Amsterdam in their first episode of season 7 and got a lot of things wrong, but were not trying too hard. Two main characters are seen drinking beer with a windmill on it, which is fake but funny and then they order whisky which comes in glasses I’ve never seen here. The Dutch license plate on the car was fine, but the cars didn’t look very European, there were no separate bike paths and the street was too large. The cafe looked slightly European though.
And since I like trilogies, I caught an old episode of NCIS, season 8 episode 9 that was set in Amsterdam. It had an actual pan of an Amsterdam canal and a tight shot of a cafe that looked vaguely European. The joint one of the characters was smoking was not realistic because you just don’t light one up at an ordinary cafe terrace despite the rumours, and the weather was way too nice. Again, suspension of disbelief came in handy and the story was fine.
Why come to the Netherlands when you can go to Denmark? Dutch television show ‘Zondag met Lubach’ made a video called ‘Do not come to Holland’ in English with Dutch subtitles. Spoiler alert: no mention of drugs or prostitution.
Firstly, don’t call the country ‘Holland’, especially when a lot of refugees are settling in outside the provinces of North and South Holland. The locals will think you’re trying to co-opt their karma points.
The ‘Dunglish’ voice-over was done by someone who had fun switching from an American over-the-top movie trailer style voice to a fake posh British accent you hear in safety instruction videos on KLM. It’s also weird to hear someone faking a British accent and then using the word ‘soccer’ instead of ‘football’.
The Dunglish translation of ‘there goes nothing above Groningen’ is cringeworthy: try ‘Nothing tops Groningen’ for a proper translation or ‘There’s nothing above Groningen’ to keep the Dutch humour flowing. The video does make up for it with “Come to Denmark: it’s the Netherlands, but somewhere else”, which is the very polite version of the talk down the pub as far as accepting refugees in the country at the moment.
For any kind of social commentary on how the Dutch government has cocked up the welcoming of refugees, read the Dutch papers. Or don’t.
(Image: screenshot of ‘Do not come to Holland’ video)
Drone enthusiast Paul Haerkens has captured himself cycling near Den Bosch, Noord Brabant, filmed by his Yuneec Q500 drone camera in ‘watch me’ mode.
You’ll see Versaille-like miniature gardens, bollards stopping cars from parking on the side walk, flat trees, hints of traffic circles and very little traffic. The film will give you an impression of what a Dutch neighbourhood in the middle of the country looks like: no canals, no bike paths (!) and no bustle.
The catchy music is the intro music to Paul Verhoeven’s classic ‘Turks Fruit’ (‘Turkish Delight’), composed by heavyweight Rogier van Otterloo and performed by Belgian jazz legend Toots Tielemans, all three of which come highly recommended.
Since June someone in Utrecht has been going around putting eyes on bike saddles to make them look like birds of prey and give them names.
They have French, English and Russian names, some of which could be related to the Tour de France that started off in Utrecht this summer, others not at all. It’s making people smile and talk, like a feel-good art project should. The eyes do come off easily, but most people apparently leave them on.
The artists behind the stickers remain unknown and apparently they do fix their work if they see an eye drooping. However, one of their ‘creations’, Gino was tagged and taken away to ‘bike prison’ for being ‘illegally’ parked and they couldn’t fix that.
Traffic lights generally exist to regulate car traffic, so it doesn’t always makes sense when cyclists have to obey them too.
As part of the campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) the city asked its citizens which traffic lights were redundant, Verkeersnet reports. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians rose to the occasion and sent in a whopping 4,760 reports between February and April. The city then presented responses for each junction on an interactive map (click the “i” icon hovering over each traffic light).
In June the city started to experiment with disabling the traffic lights of seven junctions with a further three junctions scheduled for an experiment later in 2015 in which traffic lights will be shut down during quiet times. These experiments will last six months before evaluation. Cyclists will get an additional free right on red at four junctions.
Dutch cycling law and etiquette requires bikes to have bells so they can warn fellow road users. However, many amateur racing cyclists can’t be bothered with bells on their bikes because real racing cyclists don’t have one. Then again, real cyclists have a race completely secured just for them, which is not the case for normal cyclists.
Racing cyclist enthusiasts go faster than most and cannot warn people properly that they are coming, making them ‘less sociable and less safe’, according to Rombouts. By putting a bell in a water bottle, a cyclist just has to extend their arm and ring their bell. Amateurs can now still look cool. After all even retired top racing cyclist Joop Zoetemelk has a Bi-Bell now.
Inspired by long bike trips his grandfather used to take, Dutch cyclist Rick Creemers from Utrecht is leaving the Dom City today to start a trip around the world.
Creemers will first be heading to Basel, Switzerland so he can practice going up and down mountains, then onto Turkey to get ready to hit the desert on his way to the Himalayas in Southern Asia. The route afterwards involves getting to Australia and flying over to Alaska to then cycle all the way down to Chile. Creemers will eventually make it over to Africa and through Turkey cycle back to Utrecht.
The entire trip should take two years. Creemers, who has recently finished his studies, says it will take him 55,000 kilometres with an average of 75 km a day. He also knows he’ll be cycle through unsafe countries and says he’s good at keeping low key.
I hope he posts to social media, so we can write about him again.
Just in time for Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Utrecht in early July, tree-shaped bike racks called ‘Rack & Roots’, designed by award-winning student Esther Bergstra will be placed around the city.
“By parking your bicycle against these strong roots, you’re reminded of the world under the tree. Trees are a special addition to the urban landscape and together they form an urban forest.”
In the mean time, there’s still much construction downtown Utrecht as the world’s biggest bike garage dominates much of the construction landscape near the train station.
This week there was a woman in Bloemendaal, North Holland who went grocery shopping with her bike and was about to load her saddle bags only to discover that an entire swarm of bees had moved in. The queen bee apparently decided to park it there and her entire buzzing entourage followed suit. They called in a beekeeper and he got them to move to a box.
Recently there was a woman in Oirschot, Noord-Brabant who noticed twigs in her saddle bags and kept forgetting to remove them every time she got on her bike until one day she decided to clear them out and noticed a bird’s nest with five robin eggs in it. She left her bike alone until last week when five baby robins emerged from the eggs.
Using a modified cargo bike named the Poopymobile, inspired by the Popemobile, pet shop entrepreneur Thomas Vles cycled to London with his two cats Mushi and Cheesy last month. Owner of pet design company Poopy Cat in Amsterdam, he knows that cats hate to be locked up in small cages or fly and decided to cycle with a typical Dutch ‘bakfiets’. Mushi and Cheesy are apparently used to going everywhere by bike since they were kittens.
On YouTube Vles said that, “the cats were priority number one during the trip. Should we even remotely think that they were not comfortable, we would stop. There was driving an accompanying car with in which they could always go. Our trip was supported by two veterinarians and we kept an eye on everything 24/7. We have noticed that Mushi and Cheesy were really enjoying their time in the ‘kitty mobile’ – they wanted to stay in there even when we had to get out to sleep!”