August 6, 2019

Biggest bicycle parking in the world in Utrecht

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 7:40 pm

Back in 2013 we told you that the world’s biggest bike garage was to be built in Utrecht. Although it was open for use in November 2018, we never talked about it again, so it’s time to do that.

Located under Utrecht Central Station, also the country’s biggest train station, there’s a huge bicycle garage that can fit 12,500 bikes, but does not already. In 2018, when 7,600 spots were opened, the garage was full in no time and people couldn’t park their bikes.

In the summer of 2020, if all goes well, the garage will add another 4,900 spots to the now existing 7,600 for a total of 12,500. There are now 22,000 public places to park your bike around the station, and another 11,000 will be added in nearby businesses and the former post office a few hundreds metres away with another 700.

The three storey bicycle garage was part of a wider redevelopment of the Central Station area, which is really impressive and so much nicer than the Hoog Catharijne shopping mall annex train station used to be.

(Links:,, Photo:

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November 23, 2018

Why the Dutch are observing Black Friday

Filed under: General,Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:19 pm

According to Wikipedia, Black Friday became a thing in the Netherlands about three years ago. Even as a Canadian, it was the first time I’d ever heard of it. In Canada, where Thanksgiving is celebrated in October and for very different reasons that in the United States, we’ve always had Boxing Day (26 December) as our shopping madness day, where shops want to get rid of their stock before the new year. In the Netherlands, 26 December is actually a holiday.

This year the Netherlands has a lot of shops big and small participating in Black Friday, acting like not doing so would be missing out. A lot of people think this ‘commercial appropriation’ is ridiculous, but mark my words, it will continue to grow here and in Europe because it remains a money maker, especially with Cyber Monday a few days later.

One person on Twitter captioned a picture of packages of American cranberries, saying sarcastically “The cranberries are already in the supermarket, so that we can celebrate Thanksgiving tonight and Black Friday tomorrow. But changing anything about Dutch traditions, well no.” The comment alludes to this year’s escalation of the Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) debate, which has turned to hate and violence, two things that do no pair well with gift giving and happy holidays.

And seriously, most Dutch kitchens do not have an oven and if they do, good luck fitting a turkey in there. I’m still bummed I can’t put two trays of 12 muffins in side by side.

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September 22, 2018

Dutch supermarket experiments with quiet hour

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 8:08 pm


The Albert Heijn supermarket in Sint-Michielsgestel, Noord-Brabant is going to hold a quiet hour next Tuesday morning between 8 and 9 am to the benefit of autistic people and anyone who cannot handle the level of noise in a typical supermarket. The lights will also be turned down.

There won’t be any cash register noises, calls on the intercom or any kind of noise other people don’t really notice. However, too bad it is during the work week, as these folks are not at work and come from an institution, but then again I imagine it was tough to find an appropriate time.

Cashiers will ask less questions (we get asked for our ‘bonus card’ [loyalty card] or if we collect stamps, and keep it much simpler – not a bad idea for all of us. The entire idea was copied from the UK that apparently already does this, according to the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme (‘Dutch Association for Autism’). Besides noise, supermarket staff will also make sure that pallets aren’t blocking the aisles – typically Dutch supermarkets fill the shelves when the store is open, not before of after like in other countries – and will make sure personnel don’t creep up on folks unexpectedly.

It seems to me I would love quiet hour and I’m sure a lot of you would, too.

(Link:, Photo of Albert Heijn bag by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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February 6, 2018

Dutch supermarket offers pink baskets for singles

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 10:26 pm

I think I can often tell if someone is only buying food for themselves, but that means absolutely nothing about the state of their love live. Maybe because Valentine’s Day is around the corner or spring, or both did the Jumbo supermarket in Woerden, Utrecht decide to let singles use pink shopping baskets to advertise their singledom. Frozen pizzas and beer it is, then. Or rice crackers, almond milk and tampons, that sort of thing.

Jumbo says it has done this before and that it was a success. How on earth they can claim it was a success if they have no way of knowing if it was, except possibly that nobody complained about it. By Dutch standards, that would indeed be a major success.

(Link:, Photo by Doratagold, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

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January 31, 2015

Haarlem bans freezer bags used by thieves

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 1:10 pm


The city of Haarlem has changed its local city ordinance to include a ban on reusable supermarket freezer bags, used to carry home frozen food. The bags have an inner layer of aluminium that foils supermarket alarm systems, making them popular with thieves. What if a thief put the freezer bag in a regular bag?

The ordinance was modified to be easier and less odd for the police to stop and question people carrying freezer bags, a bit like monitoring people buying screwdrivers and crowbars at the DIY store. Or else it looks like the cops are trying to score pizza and ice cream.

Municipal council justified their decision by saying that now the police “will be less racist and won’t just stop people based on their appearance”.

The Mayor of Haarlem, Bernt Schneiders, who came up with this brilliant idea is the same man who got his silver livery collar stolen from his office in 2011 (maybe a freezer bag was involved) and who in 2008 ‘corrected’ the Mayor of Beijing Wang Qisham telling him the Dutch had invented the printing press even though he was dead wrong.

(Link:, Photo of Paris Louvre facepalm by Phelan Riessen, some rights reserved)

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May 19, 2013

Parody of Holland Marketing’s latest video advert

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 12:43 pm

Last week published a video advert in which a cocky narrator explains why ‘Holland’ is the original cool. He contrasts posh English phrases with the down-to-earth words the Dutch supposedly use, such as ‘food’ instead of ‘artisanal cooking’.

The video above is a parody that appeared shortly after — I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been made by the same ad agency — in which the original visuals are replaced. ‘Artisanal cooking’ is suddenly contrasted with pulling a croquette from a street-side vending machine and ’boutique shopping’ becomes the Saturday morning Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket) run. Added in for good measure is the world famous Dutch ‘service’, a concept so alien that the language doesn’t even has its own word for it and defaults to the French word (although we generally pronounce it the English way).

The original advert caused a minor uproar in the Netherlands, with pundits reacting strongly to the fact that most of the footage is shot in either Amsterdam or greater Amsterdam. Elsevier lists the complaints.

Personally, I think it is a great advert. It highlights the open manner in which the Dutch speak to the point of being abrasive and presents this as charming and desirable. The heavy Dutch accent spoken by everybody in the video underlines the exaggerated, almost cartoonish tone of the video. Our English really isn’t that good, but the message the viewer takes away is that it’s good enough to get by when visiting the country. This entire presentation helps smuggle in a lot of fact-free content, stressing great food for example even though our culinary tradition is mostly one of Calvinistic soberness (as long as you stay north of the great rivers), and pointing out our traditional use of wind energy even though nowadays our record for renewable energy is one of the worst in Europe.

(Video: YouTube / DoLeaveItOutMate. Photo: crop from the video)

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December 14, 2011

Shop in heavenly peace using a web app

Filed under: General,IT by Orangemaster @ 1:22 pm

Avoid the Shopping Crowds is a very simple web app to avoid the madding crowds during holiday shopping in Amsterdam. However, it only takes into account the main shopping areas: downtown, the ‘9 straatjes’ area, South, and the Arena shopping mall.

Downtown is always kind of busy, as it is also full of tourists all year round, while the ‘9 straatjes’ is full of locals trying to avoid downtown. South is quite spread out, but has its busy moments, and the Arena shopping mall, somewhat out of town, should be avoided at all costs when there’s a football match going on.

“Most people don’t have the luxury to go shopping when nobody else does,” app builders THEY (that’s their name) claim.

I disagree: there are enough part-time working women (75% of all working Dutch women!), stay-at-home parents (mostly moms), unemployed, students with free periods, pensioners, tourists and self-employed to make me stress out during the day as well, never mind anyone in these categories coming from outside the city. In fact, it often feels like nobody works and everybody has busloads of disposable income.

Here’s what the Haarlemmerdijk (slightly out of downtown) looked like in 2008 during Christmas. The clincher is the traffic trying to get by the delivery trucks and all blocking the road. And it is a great shopping street.


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July 24, 2011

Catholics are getting into shopping on Sundays

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 10:10 am

In the past ten years the percentage of Dutch Christians who shop on their prescribed day of rest has risen, FOK reports.

In 2000, almost 39 % of the Roman Catholics shopped on Sundays, in 2010 that was more than 50 %. Sabbath shoppers among the members of the Dutch Reformed Church made up 21 % a decade ago, and are now up to 25 %. The numbers for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (yes, there is a difference) are 12 % and 16 % respectively.

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May 20, 2011

Customers forget chip-based bank cards at the till

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:42 am

On 1 March 2011 the Dutch started a 9-month process in which bank cards with magnetic strips are replaced by chip-based ones. Paying in stores with a bank withdrawal is the most popular card based payment method. Cash is still good for 66% of all payments in brick and mortar stores, but paying with bank cards makes up almost all the rest of the payments, according the 2010 annual report of the Dutch National Bank.

The new chip-based cards must by stuck into a device rather than swiped through it, and this leads to problems with forgetful customers leaving their cards at the till, according to De Pers. The newspaper quotes Hans de Jong of the Esso van Hasselt gas station in the North of Amsterdam: “People keep forgetting their cards. I easily end up with ten to fifteen of them. I tend to wait a week for our customers to collect their cards, after which I will cut them in half.”

The chip based card is being introduced because it is allegedly safer than the swipe card.

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December 28, 2008

Holiday stress and some story telling relief

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:48 pm

First, a very simple yet stressful film of how a cute little shopping street (Haarlemmerdijk) in Amsterdam can turn into a holiday nightmare for trucks, cars (big Volvo station wagons), bikes and pedestrians. Hook yourself up to a stress machine, and I am sure you will score higher that usual. And remember that everybody always does their last food Christmas shopping at the last minute, which this film captures.

Second, to avoid all that stress and having been invited to an exclusive birthday party, I ran off to Munich where 24orange’s third lesser known blogger lives, beautifully situated across from the Olympic stadium of 1972. The morning has so far been spent fixing a washing machine because a small, plastic “sombrero” broke off.

The German machine, which was bought in the Netherlands and moved to Germany, broke down in Germany. The part could not be ordered in Germany (!) and was ordered in the Netherlands. The part was picked up in the Netherlands, on holiday from Germany. Hopefully, it can be fixed today.

UPDATEThe washing machine was fixed the next day.

washing machine

Tomorow get ready for Branko’s annual picks of fav 24o postings. Prosit!


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