August 1, 2019

Visit Amsterdam and help clean the canals

Filed under: Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am

By now you’ve probably heard of overtourism, and that Amsterdam is one of the European capitals affected by it. People are going to continue to come to Amsterdam, but there are ways of not being a nuisance and contribute to a positive atmosphere: helping the city clean up the plastic in the canals.

Set up eight years ago, Dutch group Plastic Whale aims at creating economic value from the plastic waste the boat tours dredge from the canals. Plastic bottles are separated from the rest of the rubbish and recycled to be used in office furniture or even in building more Plastic Whale boats. They also have tours of Rotterdam, which is not yet overrun by tourists, where they attracted some 12,000 visitors in 2018 just to fish some plastic.

Plastic Whale’s founder Marius Smit says that despite the growing strain on Amsterdam from huge numbers of tourists, local residents are also “careless with their own waste”. I can attest to this even outside the city centre as I’m an ‘adoptant’ of the bins on my street. “The city’s bins fill up more quickly because of the numbers of tourists […]. Before you know it, there is a lot of waste on the streets, then it begins to rain or the wind begins to blow and it rains or blows into the canals,” Smit adds.

Britain’s Prince Harry was supposed to be one of the visitors earlier this year but had to cancel due to the birth of his son Archie.


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May 17, 2019

Airbnb rents out illegally placed containers, doesn’t check

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:23 am

Airbnb, the rent-out-your-place chain that local politician for housing Laurens Ivens keep saying he’ll teach them a lesson, but constantly fails to do so (in Dutch) (and then goes on Twitter and blames foreigners), always makes the news in a bad way. For starters, people who rent through airbnb are supposed to rent for no more than 30 days, but Ivens has done nothing to make that concrete, and so places end up being rented for a total of 60 days and that now includes sea containers because nobody checks but the tourists being duped.

In Amsterdam, two illegally placed sea containers on the side of the road were casually put up for rent in the Spaarndammerstraat and Pauwenpad, downtown Amsterdam. The containers had some beds on the floor and that’s it. The ridiculous offer was pointed out by Dutch Twitter account Pretpark Amsterdam (Pretpark means amusement park), a group that campaigns against the negative effects of tourism in the city.

“Employees of the municipality of Amsterdam dragged the ‘hotel’ away on Sunday morning. After complaints from local residents, it turned out that the city district had not issued a permit for placing a container.”

According to Statistic Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam has 863.202 residents as of 1st January 2019, and will surpass its highest amount of residents in its history soon enough, if that’s not already the case. Sadly, this means that all kinds of people will try and trick tourists out of money and that Ivens will continue to be shocked about it, sympathise, and proceed to do nothing but talk and blame foreigners like the novice bigots that his socialist party is aspiring to be.

(Link:, Photo: containers that students actually live in, in Amsterdam North)

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November 15, 2018

Kinderdijk is overrun by tourists and it’s getting worse

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 12:15 pm

Some years ago, my family was visiting from Québec and one of the places they insisted on visiting was the Kinderdijk, a Dutch UNESCO heritage listed place that attracts people from all around the world. At the time, we found it touristy, but not too busy or crowded. However, today if we believe the media, it’s now a lot busier to the point where the people who live there are ‘totally done with it’.

Mass tourism is getting a lot of press in Europe because it messes up local people’s living environment. In the Netherlands, places like Amsterdam and Volendam have issues with tourists, and the very small Kinderdijk is now on the list of places that are vocal about the problems it faces, as tourists don’t seem to realise people actually live there.

Only 60 people live there, and they have to deal with some 600,000 tourists a year, according to the Volkskrant newspaper. Tourists visit the windmills and learn about water drainage, and when they leave, they are given a picture of the windmills that says ‘Thanks for visiting’, which if you turn the card over says ‘600,000 visitors a year. Sixty residents. #overtourism’.

The stories range from residents being told to move out of the way, so that people can take a better picture (I’ve had that happen to me in Volendam while I was on a sailboat that was docked, and the tone of the man who told me to move didn’t make me move) to waking up to tourists eating at their picnic table and being yelled at by a photographer because the windmill wasn’t turning.

In 2010 the plan was to cap tourism at 400,000 according to a regional business plan, but now it’s 600,000 visitors and plans to grow to 850,000, which means the Kinderdijk could lose its current character.

I guess I’m glad I visited it when I did.

(Link:, Photo of Kinderdijk by Travelinho, some rights reserved)

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May 4, 2018

‘Mistaken tourists’ show up for ‘Queen’s Day’ in Amsterdam

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:30 am

Celebrating its own bizarre fifth year anniversary this year, the ‘mistaken tourists’ (‘vergistoeristen’, in Dutch, a contender for the best word of the year 2018 in my view), are people who still show up in Amsterdam on 30 April on what used to be Queen’s Day, The Netherlands’ national holiday, dressed in orange garb and wondering where the party is.

In 2014 Queen’s Day was renamed King’s Day and moved to King Willem-Alexander’s actual birthday, 27 April, except if that day falls on a Sunday, then it’s on 26 April. The culprits seems to be outdated guide books and sites, holding on tight to Queen’s Day on 30 April and in doing so, pissing off a lot of tourists and giving us a chance to admire their editorial skills.

However, why would tourists and even websites have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days and can move around a bit more if 27 April falls on a Sunday? I wonder how many more years this will last, although I wonder if we’ll make it to a tenth year anniversary. Maybe then we should actually throw a party for the tourists.


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May 26, 2017

Bike rental company in Amsterdam told to vacate parking stands

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 6:32 pm


The Amsterdam West district is cracking down on a new player in the bicycle rental market, De Westkrant reports.

Instead of using its own parking facilities, Denmark’s Donkey Republic parks its bright orange rental bikes in the street, often using public bicycle racks. The intended customers for these rental bikes are tourists, as locals already own bikes. Fenna Ulichki of Amsterdam West has now told Donkey Republic that if it doesn’t remove its bikes from public parking spaces, the district will remove the bikes themselves. It is not clear what the legal basis would be for this, considering other company bikes are also parked in public spaces.

Amsterdam is undergoing a double tourism and cycling boom. For example, the city registered four million overnight stays in hotels in 2000, and expects 8 million stays in 2017 (source: Dashboard Toerisme on, May 2017). Meanwhile the share of bicycle trips went from about 23% in 2000 to 27% in 2015 (source: Amsterdamse Thermometer van de Bereikbaarheid,, 2017). The bicycle is a hit especially among locals—currently 36% of all trips by citizens is undertaken by bike, handily beating out the car (24%).

It is not surprising then that car owners are increasingly satisfied about the amount of parking space they have. If you ask me, instead of framing this as an unsolvable and self-induced bike parking shortage, the city should simply start converting parking spaces for cars into bike racks.

(Photo: three Donkey Republic rental bikes take up most of the space in a bike rack on the Willem de Zwijgerlaan in Amsterdam West. Meanwhile, three cars easily take up three times as much space in the background.)

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August 2, 2016

Rich neighbourhood upset about wheeled suitcases

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:30 am


A few years ago, wheeled suitcases (‘rolkoffers’) became synonymous with ‘tourists’ or ‘damn, there’s an Airbnb next to my house’ for a lot of residents. The problem is the sound the wheels make on Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which apparently bothers folks in one fancy part of town.

Amsterdam’s current population is about 820,000, in a city that gets – wait for it – 15 million visitors a year. Quiz your friends about how many tourists they think Amsterdam gets every year and they’ll say a few million. By the way, the number keeps going up every year.

Residents in and around the Bickersgracht, a canal very close to Amsterdam Central Station where tourists stay have made two makeshifts signs ‘forbidding’ wheeled suitcases. We get it, you don’t like the sound of all those suitcases early in the morning heading out, but that’s not going to do shit about it.

One local man feels music should come out of the wheels to mask the sound of what actually is the fault of the cobblestone street area of town they live in rather than the suitcases. A rational suggestion from a local woman would be to indicate which hours in the day the locals don’t want to hear the rolling wheels and put that on the sign, but then this would mean you would need to enforce and then it all sounds futile again.

You’ll notice the picture taken here of what is probably a Dutch person going somewhere is on a smooth bike path that sounds way better than on cobblestone. How do other parts of the world tackle this problem? A quick Google search says that in 2014 Venice, a city that gets 22 million tourists a year, tried to ban wheeled suitcase with a fine of 500 euro (mamma mia!) but ended up not going through with it.

(Links:,,, Photo: crop of a frame of a video called ‘What defines Dutch cycling?’ by Mark Wagenbuur)

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April 26, 2016

Tourists still missing King’s Day due to date change

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am


Three years into the switch from Queen Beatrix to King Willem-Alexander and from 30 April to 27 April (26 April if it’s a Sunday), tourists are apparently still booking holidays for King’s Day three days too late based on crappy intel, and booking agencies aren’t exactly warning them. Why would tourists have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days?

I was talking to my best friend in Québec on the phone recently, telling her about how royally excited I get about the flea market that is the Netherlands on King’s Day. I explained the tourists mishaps that keep happening and she said “what kind of country changes the day of a national holiday?” A country that celebrates it on the birthday of their King or Queen, rather than a set date. Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 for the signing of the British North American act in 1867, so the only moving going on on that date is the Province of Québec (follow the link to get the joke, you’ll thank me).

As luck will have it, Wim-Lex just happens to have his birthday close to 30 April, on 27 April, so that was an easy move. However, the date did not move for Queen Beatrix because her birthday is in January, so we’re inconsistently consistent. According to Wikipedia, on Princess Wilhelmina’s accession to the throne in November 1890 the holiday became ‘Koninginnedag’ (‘Queen’s Day’), first celebrated on 31 August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday, 30 April. The holiday was celebrated on this date from 1949 until 2013.

Moving the holiday wasn’t new, but it hadn’t been moved in a while and moves when it’s easier, a bit like in the Province of Québec.


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June 4, 2015

Record number of Chinese for one Dutch visit

Filed under: Dutch first,Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 2:20 pm

The Chinese cosmetics company Perfect has recently sponsored 4,500 of its employees to vacation in the Netherlands, making it the biggest group visit to the country ever, according to Dutch media.

Their entire visit has brought in close to 8 million euro. The Chinese visited places such as the Hoge Veluwe National Park, Roermond outlet centre, the congress centre in Utrecht, and the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, while having to stay in different cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.

Many of them were spotted enjoying Chinese food the most, which could be the typical Chinese-Indonesian food the Dutch usually serve. The group will most probably help attract even more Chinese visitors to the Netherlands with their word of mouth advertising.


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January 20, 2015

Two boring Americans on mushrooms in Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 7:37 pm
magic mushrooms

Two American guys, Kong and Jesse, take magic mushrooms and take a ‘trip’ through busy and touristy downtown Amsterdam to attempt to pick up girls. Wearing any kind of apparel with Amsterdam printed on it is usually a warning sign to locals, and indeed girls barely talked to them — no surprise there.

The Koningsplein intersection and the busy Leidsestraat are first featured, with both guys interacting more with a trash can (dust bin) than with girls. They eventually talk about renting a bike, but it’s clear that’s not going to happen. When it gets darker, they end up at Rembrandtplein where there are currently winter stalls with arts & crafts and international food, another major tourist trap. Talking to girls is apparently nothing compared to feeling up our trash cans for some reason.

Kong and Jesse picked up nobody in the end, embodying what us locals think about of this type of tourist. Maybe it’s nice to see that two guys doing mushroom and acting stupid is nothing more than two guys doing mushrooms and acting stupid, and Amsterdam just happens to be the backdrop.


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April 20, 2014

New Greetings from Holland

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 9:21 am


In 2009 four organisations decided it was time to reboot Dutch travel postcards, the ones containing cheese, windmills, cows, cheese, wooden shoes, cheese, cheese, tulips and cheese, amongst others. Have I mentioned cheese?

They asked the public to come up with new iconic images of the Netherlands and some 8,000 people responded by sending in photos, often reproducing, referencing or riffing off the same old icons. The resulting postcards were displayed in a travelling exhibition called Nieuwe Groeten Uit… and writer-photographer Hans Aarsman and writer Anna Woltz collected a selection of the cards in an almost-postcard-sized book of the same name.

Hans Aarsman told his publisher Nieuw Amsterdam in the video interview shown here: “You see a lot of family photography. For instance, there is picture of a father and son peeing off a boat together, taken from the back—you just know the mother took that photo. […] You [to Woltz, ed.] wrote about how people photographed their pets, believing the result to be iconic images of the Netherlands. And the funny thing is sometimes that is true.”

The Nieuwe Groeten Uit… exhibit was organised by the short-lived Nationaal Historisch Museum and by FOAM, ANP Historisch Archief and BankGiro Loterij.

(Source photo: Flickr / Nationaal Historisch Museum)

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