May 28, 2020

Shop on Belgian-Dutch border off limits to both countries

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:24 pm

Bart Cuypers’ beer shop Bierparadijs (‘Beer Paradise’) is technically in Belgium, but only accessible from exit A16, leading to an industrial area that borders the Netherlands. Due to Covid-19, Belgium, like many other European countries, is policing its border, in this case some 100 metres from the beer shop.

Cuypers doesn’t currently have any customers, and like many other businesses he’s getting some government support to keep up the place and its employees until he’s able to operate more normally. Right now everybody wants beer but there’s no decent way to get to it.

The Dutch could get to his shop as long as they take another exit just before the border check, which is meant for people entering Belgium. However, the Dutch cannot go to Belgium without a valid reason, and jokes aside, stocking up on beer is not a valid reason. The Dutch are 98% of Cuypers’ clients, as many beers are 25% cheaper in Belgium than in the Dutch supermarkets.

Back in 2008 we told you about a murder on the border and sorting that out was quite complicated.


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November 11, 2018

First World War in the Netherlands: neutrality and sweets

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 11:22 am

While Dutch children celebrate Sint-Maarten, knocking door to door at night, carrying hand-made lanterns and singing songs for sweets (sounds familiar?), a Canadian like me sees 11 November as Remembrance Day, the day we commemorate the millions of fallen during the First World War.

The Dutch were neutral during the First World War. When brought up in casual conversation, most people politely shrug and move the conversation to the Second World War, as if the first didn’t concern them, when it fact, they know very little about it. As well, the War of 1914-1918 wasn’t called the first until the second came because having a first meant a second was coming.

Available online for free under the Creative Commons license, why not read a Dutch take on the First World War, this one entitled “The Art of Staying Neutral: The Netherlands in the First World War, 1914-1918” by Maartje M. Abbenhuis. Abbenhuis explains that even though the Netherlands’ neutrality was maintained, they still feared an invasion, they still sent men to the front, they still had to watch the destruction in Belgium and France, they had to deal with rations and become a fertile breeding ground for spies, including figures like their very own Mata Hari.

Today, it’s been 100 years since the First World War. Sorry kids, I won’t be home to give you sweets, I’ll be reading.

(Photo: Photo of Poppies by Eric Hill, some rights reserved)

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December 30, 2015

Borders to change between Belgium and The Netherlands

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 7:10 pm


In February 2014 we told you about a border correction that was to take place between Belgium and The Netherlands two years down the road. Apparently, it should happen in 2016: the Presqu’ile de l’Islal, a small Belgian peninsula stranded on the Dutch bank of the river Meuse (Maas), will become Dutch territory much to the delight of the law on both sides.

At present, the uninhabited Belgian peninsula is off limits to the Dutch police and because it’s only linked to Dutch land, Belgian police can’t go there without a hassle. The story goes that it’s a lawless sex, drugs and rock n’ roll place, especially in the summer. The Belgian cops didn’t like having to go there by boat, either.

Belgium and The Netherlands also have the joint legal weirdness of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog to deal with, which is so complicated even Google Streetview had its work cut out for it back in 2010. And then there’s that murder case that gave the place an extra layer of headache.

It’s nice to see a border swap rather than a border dispute in this day and age. Bring on 2016!

(Link:, Map by OpenStreetMap contributors, some rights reserved; the big purple line is the border)

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December 6, 2012

‘Dutch send the most Christmas cards in Europe’

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:08 pm

Dutch postal company PostNL surveyed 18 European countries and it’s the Dutch that apparently send the most Christmas cards, at an average of 40 a household. The Brits, Danes, Fins and French also send a lot of Christmas wishes through the mail, at an average of 17 to 30 cards, while Southern Europeans send the least amount of cards.

Almost all European countries have special Christmas stamps at a reduced rate. In the Netherlands they’re called ‘decemberzegels’ (‘December stamps’, more generic) and ‘kerstzegels’ (‘Christmas stamps’).

Interestingly, Germany actually has Christmas stamps that are more expensive, costing 55 euro cent with 25 euro cent extra going to a good cause.

The photo above are Environmentally incorrect Santa Claus cards I scored at the cheap Asian import store down the street two years ago. However, while researching this piece, these blonde Caucasian German angels jumped out at me.


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September 4, 2012

Netherlands scores poorly on list of stylish European countries

Filed under: Fashion by Orangemaster @ 4:02 pm

Some 12,262 respondents of, a European travel site, were asked to rate European countries on the basis of style, and the Netherlands wasn’t a big favourite. It landed second place in the top five least stylish countries just after Russia and just in front of Turkey.

Although I wouldn’t put too much stock into the survey, which reeks of summer filler, I myself wouldn’t think that the Dutch were doing that bad, but they are more practical casual than smart casual. Apparently, the Danes and Swedes dislike the Dutch style the most, which is interesting since the Danes are in fifth place of most stylish and the Swedes in fifth place of least stylish.

The easy to guess first three places with Italy, Spain and France sound plausible, considering all the fashion houses that come from those countries. Having Britain in fourth place, sure why not, although a British article seems to think that missing third place is a bit like not getting a bronze medal at the Olympics.

(Links:, , Photo of White leggings by Malingering, some rights reserved)

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March 18, 2009

Singer claims he’ll win song contest he can’t even enter

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 2:15 pm

My very talented friend Frances, part of the organisation of the Concours de la Chanson de l’Alliance Française (French Song Contest of the Alliance Française) here in the Netherlands was at the hairdresser’s this week and grabbed a tabloid while she was waiting.

Claude Francis, a Belgian singer who apparently sings international musical numbers in French, claims that he’ll win the above-mentioned song contest because he’s better than all the silly Dutch folk who know squat about French music. It may not read this way word for word in Dutch, but the repeated phone calls Frances received from this man pleading to be entered into the contest in order to win it kinda point that way.

What’s the big deal? It’s a Dutch contest and so you have to live in the Netherlands to enter it. He claims to have a girlfriend in a Dutch town and so he’s often in Netherlands, and he thinks that’s good enough.

Already claming to win a contest you can’t enter is just stupid — unless he was misquoted. Time to get a manager who can communicate, methinks.

(Photo: Privé, 11 March 2009)

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March 31, 2008

Belgium looking to rent jail cells abroad

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:13 am

Belgium wants to rent some 300 jail cells from jails in Breda and Maastricht, cities close to the Belgian border. According to the Belgian media, the country has some 10,000 prisoners (out of some 10,5 million inhabitants), while there is only room for 8,500. In the Netherlands some 20% of jail cells are empty. So far, the Dutch government has said no and suggested that they might rent or sell jail boats to the Belgians, which didn’t really ‘float’ with the Belgian government.

You could draw all kinds of conclusions from this article, the kind of article you learn to analyse at school to show off your debating skills: Why are Dutch prisons empty? Why are Belgian prisons full? What’s wrong with boats? And so on.


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February 15, 2008

24 sour grapes – biaised news from behind the dykes

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

For those of you out there looking for news to complain about or who are appalled at media bias, this one’s for you.

The badnewsfromthenetherlands blog is the initiative of a strategic consultant from Israel Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld to show that negative media coverage really can harm a country’s image. He is currently working on a book about the Netherlands as part of his research on anti-semitism and anti-Israelism, and, during his research, he was struck by the negative portrayal of Israel by the media.

The blog gets its daily “bad news” updates from Dutch newspapers like NRC Handelsblad, Trouw and De Volkskrant. Gerstenfeld only chooses the articles about negative situations in the Netherlands. They might look like normal news to Dutch citizens, but for someone who doesn’t know anything about the country, it certainly doesn’t give the most positive view of the Netherlands!

Note the author’s misplaced enthusiasm, like they found mould in their fridge and finally know what that funny smell was. It sounds like an interesting experiment, and there is a whole series of these blogs covering the media in countries from around the world.


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January 3, 2008

The Netherlands is sloppy at protecting privacy

Filed under: General,IT by Orangemaster @ 1:42 pm

The Netherlands scores a poor 21st place on the international list of countries that uphold citizens’ privacy, according to the 2007 International Privacy Ranking of Great Britain. The Netherlands is in the category labelled “systematic failure to uphold safeguards” when it comes to privacy. The Netherlands also scores poorly when it comes to ID cards and biometrics.

According to Privacy International, the Netherlands’ score is so bad because of its compulsory identification, the possibility of listening in on phone conversations (communication interception) and the obligation of storing Internet data (data sharing). If you read the section entitled ‘countries with the worse records’, the Netherlands gets nailed for its leadership, albeit along with half the EU and others.

Some highlights of the privacy problems specific to the Netherlands:

– Continued proposals to increase power of law enforcement agencies
– Plans to implement in 2008 a database of all children to record development from birth
– Compulsory identification for all persons from age of 14, where 5,300 individuals are fined every month for not carrying ID
– Courts have ruled that subscriber data can be disclosed to copyright industry, and anonymous website owners

(Link: Het Parool)

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November 21, 2007

Polish fish for profit, not fun

Filed under: Animals,General,Nature by Orangemaster @ 1:59 pm

Ever since the Poles have been coming en masse to the Netherlands to apparently do jobs that the Dutch can’t be bothered with, there’s been some talk of trying to get them to accept the ways of the Dutch. In other words, those of the Dutch government, to ‘integrate’ them, although as EU citizens, they do not have to. Basically, the media tends to portray the Poles as ‘being in Rome, but not doing as the Romans do’ and that tends to irritate the Dutch quite a bit.

Apparently, the Poles like to fish in their spare time, but according to Sportvisserij Nederland (the fishing authorities), which hand out permits, they are over-fishing and not following the rules. The situation is so bad that a Polish translation of the fishing rules is being handed to them.

What’s the problem? Dutch fishers put back the fish they caught, while the Poles catch them and either eat them or sell them. It almost sounds like the Dutch expected them to do the same without explaining it to them first. On the other hand, obviously some Poles who may have learned about the rules chose to ignore them for the media to pick this up. This is what we call a ‘cultural difference’, kids.

“The Poles have different ethics and a different food culture and don’t follow the rules,” according to spokesman Juul Steyn from Sportvisserij Nederland.

(Link:, Photo:

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