How to tell that it’s summer in the Netherlands
What a time to be alive! The big bright ball in the sky seems to be back for about an hour a day (and two on weekends, if we’re lucky). It means that soon enough, the summer season will hit The Netherlands! Even if Trump doesn’t believe it, climate change definitely blurred any line between spring and summer, so we’re all just anxiously waiting for those 10 days a year to invade the beaches, light up those BBQs and have a lekker biertje op het terrasje. /(Have a beer on a terrace).
Here’s a useful summary about summer in The Netherlands. Or better said, ‘sprummer’, which is spring and summer combined.
1. The shorts are back!
This one can be confusing. You may look out the window and spot the Dutchies having a walk with their funky shorts, then look at your calendar and realise that it’s February. You check the weather app really quickly and it’s only 14 degrees outside?! Crazy, you may think, but not for a nation one of whose favourite phrases is “lekker fris”. Obviously ‘korting’ and ‘gratis’ are more popular. After all, how else would they survive those 10 degrees at night in their own homes? Shake your head, say “doe normaal”, put on denim shorts and an actual jacket, get out and enjoy the sun!
2. The socks + flipflops combo
The flipflops and white socks season is near and personally, it makes me want to take my glasses off and wish to never see it again. I actually do not have much to say about this, apart from ‘why?’ Why? Why?” And seriously W-H-Y would one ever do that? If you share my opinion, just do your best to look away and remember it’s illegal to hit people. Shouting at them is also highly discouraged (although understandable).
3. The deceiving sunny days
You know it’s summer in The Netherlands when it’s actually four full seasons in one day. At least during the winter everyone knows it’s cold as hell, dark as hell, wet as hell, and that’s that – put clothes on and deal with it (or you know, go back to your own country). The sneaky Dutch summer, on the other hand, will have you leaving the house in the morning in a light breezy beach outfit and by 8 PM missing two fingers due to freezing. Do not DO NOT let the sun fool you – anything is possible on a summer’s day and if you’re not a ballsy rebel, always have a light jacket and an umbrella with you. Words of wisdom.
4. The NS Intercity turns into Iceland
How and why public transport can literally never adapt to the outside temperature was always beyond me. While during the winter, after a short 10-minute cycle, you may need to strip down when you get on any form of public transportation, during the summer the opposite tends to happen. NS assumes that AC is a great idea (and it is, to a point); it also assumes that going from 25 degrees to about 15 just like that (and of course, back to 25) is healthy and just awesome. Did I mention “lekker fris” already?
5. The NS Sprinter turns into a burning hell during the summer
Not a fan of the 15 degrees temperature in the Intercity? No problem, NS has an alternative – take the sprinter! Now sure, the sprinter will take three days to get anywhere and inside may or may not be about 40 degrees, but hey – choose your battle. Only the strong make it out of the sprinter – especially if it’s a weekend during summer and that Sprinter happens to go to Zandvoort Aan Zee.
Speaking of Zandvoort Aan Zee…
If you live in and around Amsterdam, you may probably want to spend a nice sunny day at the beach. The plan is simple, one direct train takes you directly to Zandvoort Aan Zee, a fairly large beach where you can enjoy some biertjes, hapjes or whatever else your beach habits are. Unfortunately, during summer in the Netherlands, a lot of people share the same idea, so when you visit Zandvoort Aan Zee:
- Yes, it will be crowded.
- Yes, the bars will be expensive.
- Yes, there is a supermarket nearby so you can screw the system and enjoy your day with 10 EUR while you slowly melt under the sun.
Do not attempt to actually get into the water unless you’re the kind of person who’d describe the Ice Bucket Challenge as “fun”. It’s….again, did I mention “lekker fris” to say the least.
Ah, if you think you’ll go on a Tuesday instead cause you’re a hipster freelancer so you’ll avoid the crowds and have a chill day, WRONG COUNTRY MY FRIEND. Anytime, any day after 10 AM the beach will be occupied by a large number of part-time working women, with or without children, having their vrouwen dag. So good luck there!
6. Summer in the Netherlands the allergies
The joy of allergies season. You know it’s “sprummer” time when you’re sneezing thirty times a day, get puffy eyes, runny nose, blocked nose, you name it – they all happen, for like an eternity. “Oh, I don’t have allergies”, you say – surprise! Dutch nature is an evil, evil monster with about 150 types of grass! Chances are if you don’t have allergies yet, you will.
But hey, at least everything is green, blooming and pretty now, right? You wouldn’t know, you can’t really open your damn eyes properly. You may think that a quick visit to Etos will fix your problems, but you are very wrong. While the basic hooikoorts/hayfever medicine is cheap and easy to get, they will do exactly what you’d expect them to do for 3 EUR – absolutely nothing. Okay, pay more for better? Sure thing – I only hope you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything for the next 3 months as strong, effective, and non-drowsy allergy medicine seems to be a complete mystery.
7. An Amsterdam favourite – the tourists
Anyone who lives around the centre of Amsterdam knows very well that the tourist wave never stops. A rainy, cold day in the middle of January? No worries, the Dam street and the Red Light will still swim in a sea of tourists that have 50 EUR return flights. However, you know summer is coming when they legitimately take over the city. While they enjoy their long romantic walks on the canal, your five minutes cycle commute just turned into fifteen. While they photograph every bicycle parked on the canal (bonus points if there are flowers nearby), you’re suddenly in a video game full of obstacles.
The only thing to do really is to turn into a proper Amsterdammer – honk, scream, say “KIJK UIT LUL/TRUT” really loud repeatedly, and keep going. If they don’t move, tough luck. After all, we’re doing them a favour – there’s no Amsterdam experience without getting hit by a bike. You’re welcome, now you have a story for your boring friends.
There you have it – 7 signs that summer has finally hit the Lowlands, keep an eye out – in fact, it’s happening right now
P.S: Bitching about the weather never stops here – we’ll just all switch too “it’s too damn hot!”.
P.S 2: Please don’t forget to wear deodorant, and repeat after me: “soap is my best friend”.
No whiners were hurt during the writing of this guest blog post.
With thanks to Andra Cristiana Vanghelie who also writes the eat and tell blog.