DutchNews.nl destinations: get a taste of the south in Venlo

DutchNews.nl destinations: get a taste of the south in Venlo

Venlo's strategic position on the river Maas, right on the border of Germany and the Netherlands, has made it a travellers' and merchants' crossroads since Roman times, and a central point in the final battles of WW2. Esther O'Toole has been checking out this very southern Dutch town. The urban regeneration after the war has allowed Venlo to grow into a bustling city today with a strong local culture and sense of place. And despite the wartime damage, it managed to preserve many historical buildings, like the imposing 'stadshuis' on the main square that dates from the end of the 1500s, and overlooks many welcoming cafe terraces in the summer. The city itself now has nearly 40,000 residents, with a similar number in the greater Venlo area since neighbouring Blerick and Tegelen were incorporated into the council region after the war. Currently, the city's most famous son is notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the town has brought forth many a politician over the years, alongside singers, poets, footballers and philosophers. Things to do There are a few good museums in Venlo. The biggest, with a good range of activities for young and old, is the Limburgs Museum. Here you can take a deep dive into the cultural history of the borderland region from neanderthal times to the present day. The High Tech Romans interactive exhibition is on until January 2019. For something on a more intimate scale you could also try the beautiful Jean Laudy Museum Chapel - housed in a former orphanage chapel, the museum showcases the fine art of one of the city's most well-known portrait painters. For small adventurous types, all sorts of things to climb on and get into can be found at Playpark Little Switzerland*, an amusement park just to the south of the city, including (according to the Guinness Book of Records) Europe's highest swing and longest tubular-slide. It's large, affordable and they have special Halloween activities on all through October! So, for all those Halloween fanatics who think Sint Maarten just doesn't cut the spooky autumnal mustard - this could be just the thing. Open till the end of the first week of November. Want to make the most of the late autumn sunshine? Then head out of town to the south-east and, just across the border, you enter Het Brachter Wald. An area of natural, wooded, beauty that crosses between Holland and Germany. It is shut off to cars and perfect for a long walk, bike or horse ride. If you want to stick closer to town, then you can also try a nice long stroll along the river in the some 70 hectares of walking and biking terrain between Venlo and Velden. Theatre and music Alongside the touring Dutch theatre shows, de Maaspoort has a good range of musical acts for non-native speakers including regular appearances by the South-Dutch Philharmonic. This large, modern theatre, right in the centre of town, was completely renovated in 2013 and offers bars, restaurants and even overnight stays via the Theaterhotel If you're after something a little more contemporary you can head over to Poppodium Grenswerk* on the Peperstraat where, in addition to their workshops and regular dance parties, they have a lively performance scene with blues, jazz and rock acts. You´ll get visiting international artists such as US Blues/Rock icon Popa Chubby, popular Dutch radio stars like Nielson and er… the odd Rage Against the Machine tribute act. Eating Out There are plenty of options for dining, to suit all budgets. If you're making the most of the city shopping centre, then take a quick break at Beej Benders*, a boutique restaurant where all the produce is purchased directly from local farmers/producers. After eating you can buy ingredients in their grocery shop to take away and replicate your lunch at home. In-house pizza and sushi are some of their specialities. Looking for a craft beer and accompanying bite, then try De Klep*; in local dialect a so-called Preuf and Praotlokaal (taste and talk bar). You will definitely hear more of the local dialect around you while you sample some of their more than 100 beers. If however, you're looking to escape the bustle for a bit, or if you want to go upmarket, then you could try the Michelin star Hotel and Restaurant-Brasserie Valuas. Right on the riverside, just between the city and a nature reserve it´s a high-end, family run place with a lovely sunny terrace over the water; and, they too specialise in regional ingredients Where to Stay In addition to the two hotels already mentioned, the Maashof, Hotels & Suites just across the river in Blerick offers a range of different kinds of rooms, including family rooms; and you can book trips to amusement park Toverland (Sevenum) as part of your stay. For reasonable, comfortable and well-looked after b&b you could try Het Venloosplekje which has some modern twin rooms, also in the town centre; or the considerable offering on Airbnb if you like staying with locals. How to get there Venlo lies just off the A73 motorway, which runs south from Nijmegen to Maastricht. It's about an hour's drive from either of these. By rail: it is on the line from Nijmegen to Maastricht, and the stop-train in either direction also takes about an hour. When to visit The famous German beer festival, Oktoberfest (which usually runs in Munich from around 22nd Sept - 7th October turning the city into a mecca for lovers of beer and Bavarian hats) also means many spin-off events in the south of both Germany and the Netherlands. Between October 19 and 21 there is a massive Oktoberfest party in nearby Arcen for instance, and in Venlo itself there is a big, Oktoberfest, pub-crawl on October 20. If you are a craft beer enthusiast with a loud singing voice it may be for you, if not… you have been warned!  More >

It is time for politicians to take action

The social partners have done talking, time for politicians to take action The social partners have mulled over all the main issues in the government accord. So now it’s time for the government to take decisive action, says economist Mathijs Boumans. In March 2017 we went to the polls. In October, following the longest formation period in history, we had a cabinet. We are now a year into a new government but we are still not really being governed. Voters have no idea where the country is headed. Of course there is the government accord, boldly ambitious about a climate friendly economy, a dynamic and fair labour market and the introduction of a shiny new pension system. But no sooner had these plans been put to paper than the government decided to let them be mulled over by civil society. Unions and employers’ organisations were asked to chew on pension reform and the cautiously worded labour market plans. A motley crew of representatives of the business world, local authorities, environmental organisations, knowledge institutes and – here they...  More >

The Word is out: spoken word poetry in NL

The word is out: Spoken word poetry in English comes to the Netherlands Spoken Word – a performance art where words are conveyed to an audience in poetry, rap or music – is powerful, accessible and diverse. Deborah Nicholls-Lee shines a spotlight on the emerging English-language scene in the Netherlands. In a curtained-off room lined with books and posters, in the back of a west Amsterdam bar, a blond woman in a floral dress bobs around the microphone nervously. She ties herself up in knots with disclaimers about the spoken word poetry she is about to perform. ‘It’s super short – no worries – and it doesn’t have a title. I don’t know, I’m not good with titles...’ ‘Do it!’, ‘Just do it!’ holler two voices from the audience – more supportive than impatient. The piece is heard, and there’s a cooing ‘aaaah!’, a cheer, and a warm, enthusiastic round of applause. Community This event, organised by Word Up, is one of a clutch of English-language spoken word events which have popped up in Amsterdam over the last...  More >

Podcast: Pitchforks and Pindakaas Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Pitchforks and Pindakaas Edition – Week 41 It's been a week of departures as D66 leader Alexander Pechtold handed over the reins to Rob Jetten, Mark Rutte pulled the plug on his dividend tax plan, Unilever rowed back from Rotterdam and the Zwarte Piet motorway blockers had to leave their clogs at the door. Plus Bibian Mentel hangs up her snowboard as she reveals she's been diagnosed with cancer for the 10th time. In our discussion we take a look at the ongoing efforts to reunite artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II with their rightful owners. SOUNDCLOUD TOP STORY Alexander Pechtold quits as D66 leader, Rob Jetten becomes youngest party leader NEWS Cabinet puts dividend tax plan on hold after Unilever turns back on Rotterdam Trial begins of motorway blockaders who stopped Zwarte Piet protest King regrets Brexit as Rutte holds talks with Merkel in The Hague Animal shelter seeks new home for lion cub abandoned in field SPORT Dutch women one step away from World Cup qualification after beating...  More >

Rotterdam awakes as Amsterdam overheats

Rotterdam awakes as Amsterdam’s property market overheats Expats are shunning the crowded, overpriced capital and heading south to buy property in Rotterdam. We find out why house buyers cannot afford to overlook Rotterdam.    Richardo Cruz Fortes, mortgage advisor at Expat Mortgages, foresaw, like many others, what is happening in the Rotterdam property market today. ‘What I’ve been calling Rotterdam for years now is “the sleeping giant”,’ he tells me. Rotterdam has everything you’d expect a large city to offer, Richardo explains, but has long played second fiddle to Amsterdam. As the capital’s property market overheats and public and private investment pours into our second city, all eyes are on Rotterdam as the giant now awakes. Founded in 2007 in Amsterdam, Expat Mortgages has been expanding its offices across the Netherlands as demand for housing outside the capital has risen. The opening of a Rotterdam branch in 2018 is a sign that expat investors and home-seekers are becoming more aware of the huge amount the...  More >

'I was told that "no means no"'

‘I was told “even if you’re the queen of the Netherlands, no means no”‘ Seven years ago, Beena Arunraj said goodbye to her dental practice and, with her husband Eddie, who works for Philips, upped sticks and moved from India to Eindhoven. Beena has been shocked by home births and sales staff in Ikea, but says she would like to meet Menno Snel and talk to him about the 30% ruling. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was by a very normal route: my husband was with Philips, so he moved here for work eight years ago. I had never moved to another country before, but when you’re living in India a different state is almost a foreign country. We have a different language for every state, so it teaches you what it means to move to a new culture. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? I wouldn’t call myself an expat, because technically my husband is the expat; I would call myself an international. And I would call myself an international even if I was in India, because when you read a lot, and when you...  More >

Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree

Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree Dutch is no longer a popular choice for prospective students but universities are partly to blame, says Lotte Jensen, professor of Dutch cultural and literary history at Radboud University in Nijmegen. In recent weeks newspapers have been reporting on the alarming decline in the number of young people opting to study Dutch at university level. It is a worrying development which, if the trend continues, could land Dutch in the department of minority foreign languages. There are several reasons why this should not be allowed this to happen. Not only do we need academically trained Dutch language and culture graduates to teach at secondary schools, we also need specialists to conduct research into the Dutch cultural heritage. Johan Koppenol, professor of Dutch literature (1100 to 1800) at the VU University in Amsterdam, rightly said that a profound knowledge of the Dutch language, culture and history has never been more relevant: all current public debates are about language and culture...  More >

ING takes the money and the biscuit

ING takes the money and the biscuit, says VVD MP Society has nothing to apologise for but ING does, says VVD MP Roald van der Linde, who is the party's financial markets spokesman in parliament. ‘It’s MPs who are fuelling public mistrust,’ said Henk Breukink, a member of the supervisory board at ING, in a recent opinion piece in the Financieele Dagblad. When I read this I nearly fell off my chair and I don’t think I can have been the only one. For years ING has looked the other way as criminals laundered the proceeds of their criminal activities. Far from incidental, this was part of a structural policy which criminals were quick to turn to their advantage while the chic bankers of the ING pretended not to notice. The end result was an out-of-court settlement of €775m, the biggest settlement the Netherlands has ever seen. As MPs, we represent the people and it is our job to call out these bankers. We are not alone. The finance minister said the practices at ING were ‘extremely serious’. Ordinary citizens are...  More >

Podcast: The Barbies and Bonnetjes Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Blackface Barbies and Bonnetjes Edition – Week 41 It's been a week of comings and goings after Russian spies were ejected from The Hague, Pim Fortuyn's assassin was allowed to emigrate, and Zwarte Piet got a last-minute reprieve. Ajax returned from Germany with a point in the Champions League and Unilever looked poised to stay in Brexit Britain despite the Dutch government's offer of a tax sweetener. In our discussion we try to bring you up to speed on the national soap opera that is the Willem Holleeder trial. TOP STORY Russia condemned for foiled cyberhack at OPCW headquarters Dutch did not arrest Russian spies 'to avoid damaging relations' NEWS Unilever ditches plan to consolidate headquarter operations in Rotterdam Children's daycare centre plans legal action to stop ban on electric wagons Broadcaster clarifies stance on Zwarte Piet: 'Some will be black' Judges say killer of Pim Fortuyn can emigrate Dutch MEPs want to open up expenses claims SPORT Ajax 'deserved to win' Champions League encounter...  More >

For sale in Amsterdam, very green homes

For sale in Amsterdam, family homes in a very green building A family home in one of the greenest buildings in Amsterdam and which won't set you back more in mortgage payments than you would pay in rent? A home with its own garden and great views, which is just a few minutes from Schiphol airport and the city centre? Too good to be true? Next year, developer Heijmans will start work on Vertical, a new residential project in Amsterdam west, which, the company says, is the place for modern families who want the convenience of city living but are interested reducing their environmental footprint as much as possible. The first tranche of homes has already been sold but the second batch is now up for grabs. You can sign up via the Amsterdam Vertical website. Bike-friendly A short bike ride from Amsterdam's Westerpark and the 'real' countryside, Vertical will have 144 homes ranging from compact garden lofts to family homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. So far, so good. But the Vertical project is special for a number of reasons. Firstly...  More >

13 things about the 80 Years' War

13 things you have to know about the 80 Years War It is 450 years since the start of the 80 Years War (1568-1648) and the Rijksmuseum has made it the subject of a major new exhibition. Here's what you need to know about why this was such an important event in Dutch history Who was fighting who and why? It was Netherlands versus Spain. The Netherlands of the 16th century was a patchwork of 17 gewesten ( areas ruled by nobles) stretching to the French border and including what is now Luxemburg and Belgium. It formed part of the Catholic Spanish empire and the Dutch, already chafing at the bit, became more contrary by the minute as freedom of religion was reigned in - ie Protestantism was under attack. Rumblings of war To begin with the Dutch nobles, led by William of Orange, asked the local Spanish powers nicely but the persecution of Protestants continued. In 1566 a group of protestant started smashing up Catholic churches in the south of the Netherlands, in what became known as the ‘Beeldenstorm’ (‘storming of the images’)...  More >