Spring in the Netherlands
As soon as the temperature climbs up to 17-18 degrees Celsius and there is a tiny ray of sunshine, daily life in the Netherlands changes. Every child feels the need to remove jackets and play outside, garden furniture is being cleaned after spending 6 months in a dusty, cobweb-filled shed, and every person above the age of 60 jumps (figuratively) on their shiny silver Gazelle bikes to terrorise nature reserves such as the dunes of Schoorl or the polders in the Groene Hart. The spring of 2020, however, will be quite different. Since December of 2019, the world has been subjected to the spread of the infamous coronavirus, or COVID-19 in proper clinical terms. Since the coronavirus is incredibly contagious and a serious threat to people with health complaints and the elderly, measures have been taken across the globe. People are required or called upon to adhere to a regiment of social distancing and are no longer permitted to have public gatherings. Bars, restaurants, terraces, cinemas, theatres, and gyms have closed and (sporting) events are being postponed and cancelled. Borders are being closed and travel between countries is almost impossible.Although it seems as if the world has come to a halt, the seasons have not. The Dutch who are working at home in line with current government advice, are being subjected to a very sunny view outside of their kitchen window, making the task of being productive in their home office quite challenging. But when it finally is the end of the week or you need some fresh air during a busy workday, here are some fun – and safe - things to do in the Netherlands.Take a nice walk The Netherlands has beautiful forests and dunes, such as Lage Vuursche (30 mins from Amsterdam) and Egmond or Bergen (1 hour from Amsterdam). The walks can vary from 2 – 8 km and offer you the best of Dutch nature. You can also visit the long, stretched beaches of the Dutch coastline and stroll through the breaking waves while enjoying the first rays of sunshine. Unfortunately, having some lunch at one of the many beach cafés is not an option for the time being, so take some food or drinks with you and keep your distance from others. Explore your options on Holland.com.Cycling The most Dutch thing of all. Spring weather is perfect for taking a bike ride through the Dutch polder landscape. There are plenty of interesting and scenic routes throughout the 12 Dutch provinces and nature reserves. However, until the bars and restaurants open again you must take your own drinks and lunches. Explore your options on Holland.com.If the weather suddenly does take a turn for the worse, here are some ways to entertain yourself and your family at home.Visit a museum …onlineEven though Dutch museums have closed their doors, you can still visit some online. So get comfortable on your couch and visit the famous Rijksmuseum, or Van Gogh museum, Mauritshuis or some other museums via Google Arts & Culture or browse Collection Netherlands of the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency.Learn Dutch onlineChallenge yourself by learning Dutch online. There are multiple free courses and apps at various levels available, such as DuoLingo, FutureLearn and LearnDutch. Of course, there are also many paid courses you can purchase online. For an overview of these courses check out this website for an overview.Arts and crafts Or perhaps you want to be creative yourself - despite this being the digital age - and take up some new activities that do not involve a screen. For example, take some time to meditate and grab some pencils and a colouring book. You could also acquire some knitting tools and learn some new patterns.Try out some new Dutch recipes Because the supermarkets are still open and supplied daily, shopping is not a problem. Therefore, trying some new Dutch recipes is a fun and delicious way of staying indoors with your family. It is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children how to cook. To learn more about Dutch cuisine (yes, it does exist) or start cooking right away, then check out Holland.com.For now, all we can do is to be patient and hope that the virus will disappear from the world and our little country in due course, so we can go back to what we Dutch do best in spring: cycle to a sunny terrace and order cheese snacks and bitterballen.Stay safe, healthy and positive, everyone, wherever you are!