Books Set in The Netherlands: So Many Opportunities!!

A while ago Analee wrote a wonderful post about why more books should be set in Canada and came up with great plot bunnies that could be used if a book is set in Canada. This made me think: what kind of plot bunnies could you use if your book is set in The Netherlands? Of course there are books set in The Netherlands, but I’m talking about YA books here, and since I don’t really enjoy reading in Dutch I don’t read any Dutch YA. The only YA book I can think of that’s partially set in The Netherlands is The Fault in Our Stars (you could count Six of Crows since Ketterdam is based on Amsterdam and had a lot of Dutch terms. They talked about eating hutspot?? That was so funny. Hutspot is gross though)

Love confessions with the canals as a setting

At night, by the way, because the canals at night are so magical and romantic. I can definitely picture a dramatic love confession at a bridge, with a canal in the background. Or maybe not a dramatic one, but a planned one (kudos to the character that decides to confess their love at a bridge I mean that takes guts with all the tourists around I’d feel so awkward – no one confess their love to me anywhere in the center of Amsterdam I’ll die of embarrassment and awkwardness and if you love me you clearly don’t want that. I hope??)

Contemporaries about art set in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is such an artsy city guys!! Sure so is Amsterdam, which has a lot of museums and art, but Rotterdam? So much street art, so many museums and art galleries too. Plus it just has this artsy feeling to it. I’m not saying Amsterdam doesn’t, buuuuuut Amsterdam often also feels like a tourist attraction which Rotterdam doesn’t. It’s just a very creative, artsy city and I can definitely see a YA protagonist who’s a budding artist discover themselves through art there.

Oh and they could obviously stop by the Foodhallen, which is this huge indoor food market which is also super pretty (plus food)

Stroopwafels!!

I mean sure you could eat hutspot too, but why would you when stroopwafels exist?? I could live on them. I’m not joking. I could eat so many in a row they’re delicious. You can also eat them warm which is also really good, but if you’re impatient like me you could just eat them cold because they’re delicious that way as well. Wait where was I going with this what was this post about. Food?? Stroopwafels??

Books need food okay. No, I don’t mean you need to feed them (you do need to feed them your love, attention and tears, but no human food they can’t digest that. Don’t poison your books). I mean books become more realistic when your characters eat, because they’re supposedly alive and need to (unless they’re a ghost. I felt so sad for all the ghosts at Nearly Headless Nick’s party), so a book set in The Netherlands obviously needs to feature some Dutch food. Preferably stroopwafels. Because I love stroopwafels

So many fantasy story possibilities!!

Obviously Six of Crows has already done this, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more fantasy worlds based on The Netherlands. Plus urban fantasies? Or magical realism? So many possibilities!

With the amount of water we easily could have a story about pirates, or about witches and wizards living here having to hide their magic and probably fighting something evil, or superheroes!!! Keeping our cities safe. And so many other fantasy stories that could just be set here, with a Dutch touch to it.

Fort of Sjakoo retelling!!

I found out about Sjakoo when I was a kid and immediately got obsessed. I did read a Dutch book (children? I think it was actually YA since it mentioned sex and lil me was like ‘gross’) back then that was about Sjakoo’s fort (I don’t remember if Sjakoo himself was in it?) but it took place in our time which is fine, but I want a retelling. I want a YA book about Sjakoo, living in 18th century Amsterdam, becoming a criminal, starting a gang and turning numbers 71 to 77 at the Elandsgracht into the Fort of Sjakoo, which had secret passages and the like (I’m not sure how much of this is true, but hey it’s not like this would be non-fiction). Damn now I want to write this *hides from the 21423463458 other ideas I already have and haven’t worked on yet* *I put it in my word document with all my story ideas and stuff help* 

Books set during the Canal Parade!!*

One of the main characters is part of one of the boats, the other isn’t out yet and doesn’t dare to go the Parade but in the end they show up anyway and they share a romantic kiss at the boat surrounded by other people from the LGBTQ+ community cheering and clapping and there’s lots of glitter and it would be really cute damnit I want to write this *adds this one to the list as well while sobbing because I already struggle finding the time, motivation and energy to write and having so many ideas is NOT. HELPING*

* This is the fourth time in a row I’m using ‘!!’ I’m sorry for my lack of originality

There are so many more things I could think of but I’m going to stop before I come up with more things I want to write. Would you like to see more YA books set in The Netherlands? Are you writing one? Let me know in the comments! 

Blogsterdam: The Answers To Your Questions

I feel like this is really late, but I actually planned to answer these in October so it’s not really late at all! I am annoyed that I just can’t make this a monthly feature, but oh well. Let’s finally answer these questions!

What’s the most unflattering image you think there is about Amsterdam?

Hmm I think you mean reputation wise? I guess that we’re all on drugs or something haha. Also let me introduce you to this wonderful video that was made in response to Fox News it’s hilarious:

Yeah it’s not a mess guys. It really isn’t.

Do you get have any bother by a person using a preference of Holland over the Netherlands?

Not really. I mean a lot of us say ‘Holland’ instead of ‘Nederland’ a lot of the time as well.

Do you cycle?

Okay this is not something I usually talk about because people in The Netherlands will give you a really weird look and usually laugh at you when you tell them but… I’m afraid to cycle. Yep. I don’t know how to ride a bike because it scares me. Especially the thought of riding one in a busy city like Amsterdam, no thank you. But seriously, it’s so normal to be able to ride a bike that people think it’s crazy when you can’t so I always feel uncomfortable when the topic is brought up and I know I might have to explain that I can’t ride a bike.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about Amsterdam? 
I can’t really explain in words why I love Amsterdam and why I love living here. Partly it’s because it’s my home, but it’s also so historical and magical in a way. My least favourite part is probably how easily people will throw trash on the ground and dirty the city.
If I move to Amsterdam, will that encourage me to actually use my bike and cycle more? 
Haha well that depends! A lot of people ride their bike instead of a car because parking is crazy in the center of the city (plus expensive) but if you don’t ride a car maybe not? But maybe it will motivate you to ride yours when you see so many others riding theirs haha.
Are there any underestimated cities/areas of The Netherlands that tend to get overshadowed by Amsterdam that you think are worth visiting?
Oh definitely! Utrecht (okay I’m a bit biased because that’s where my uni is) is also really gorgeous.
(not my picture)

Not my picture

Seriously I love the canals there. Also there’s a nice atmosphere and the people are really friendly. I haven’t explored it that much, but while Amsterdam is my home, I don’t feel like a stranger in Utrecht either.
Maastricht is also really pretty, but the one time I was there I wore my Converse platform sneakers and a lot of people looked at my shoes like I was wearing cats on my feet or something, so that ruined the experience.

Oh and Zaandam is also really fun to visit! It’s really close to Amsterdam so if you’re in Amsterdam you can just take the train and you’ll be there in like ten minutes or less (depending on where in the city you’re leaving from of course)

Not my picture

Not my picture

Just look how cute? It’s not like the entire village looks like this though!
Where am I most likely to find Douwe? 😉
I’M SORRY EM I DON’T KNOW. You will definitely find him at his own concert of course. Maybe you’ll be lucky like me and see him as a guest during a different concert (how cool would that be??? Live tweet me when that happens). He opened his own bar in Amsterdam but I can’t find the address (obviously I’ll let you know when I find it). He does live in Amsterdam so there’s a bigger chance that you’ll run into him than when you’re in the UK so…
Also to most of you who probably have no idea what’s going on, the question is about Douwe Bob a Dutch singer who represented us at Eurovision and the love of Em’s life just kidding ;P. Here’s Douwe’s performance at Eurovision:

If you could live anywhere in The Netherlands, would you want to stay in Amsterdam or live somewhere else? 
I definitely want to stay in Amsterdam! If I’m going to move out of the city, I’m going to move out of the country. That sounds very dramatic; I’m just saying that there’s no other city in The Netherlands that I love as much as Amsterdam and that I feel at home at.
What’s your advice for making friends in Amsterdam? Any tips for making new Dutch friends?
Just be yourself! Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and joke around, as long as you’re not rude. Of course it depends on the person, but ‘Amsterdammers’ are always up for a chat and love wittiness and teasing each other in a fun way.
If I only had ONE day in Amsterdam, what place(s) would you advice for me to see?
Oh my gosh only one day! Well obviously you need to visit The American Book Center ;) Also you have to see the canals of course. I think the best way to spend the one day you have is to explore the center really. That way you can soak up the most of Amsterdam.
What kind of food should we absolutely try while in Amsterdam ?
STROOPWAFELS. OH MY GOD STROOPWAFELS. STROOPWAFELS ARE THE BEST. 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND. Hot or cold, both is good (definitely try both though). Pepernoten are also good, especially covered in chocolate (ESPECIALLY covered in chocolate), but we don’t sell those all year long (we eat them around Sinterklaas, a holiday in December, but they start appearing in August or something already it’s crazy AND there’s a pepernoten store somewhere, though I don’t remember where). Marie this question is making me hungry omg.
Stroopwafels, a.k.a. the love of my life

Stroopwafels, a.k.a. the love of my life

Pepernoten

BUT SERIOUSLY GET THESE CHOCOLATE COVERED GOODIES INSTEAD

BUT SERIOUSLY GET THESE CHOCOLATE COVERED GOODIES INSTEAD

Favourite place outside of the city ? Could be in the suburbs, or in the Netherlands in general
Ooh I don’t know! This used to be Bakkum, but I haven’t been there in years. It’s a camping site not too far from Amsterdam and my grandparents went there every year, but when my grandmother got sick they sold the caravan and everything so I haven’t been there in over four years. If I went there now I probably wouldn’t love it as much as I did back then since it would make me sad (and I don’t know how much it has changed over the years!) but it was very peaceful and I loved being surrounded by nature. I went for long walks with my grandmother every day and I just sat outside and read.
Do you ever go around the city on bike, and would you recommend it?
Since I can’t ride one, I don’t. I don’t know if I’d recommend it either. I think riding one at one of the parks could be fun, but if you’re not used to riding a bike in a city like Amsterdam it might be a bit stressful!
Did you already go to see the TFIOS bench ? (sorry I HAD to ask that one haha)
Not specifically haha. I mean I might have seen it without realising it’s THE bench? I  thought I could handle The Fault In Our Stars even though cancer is a huge trigger for me, but when I read it I realised I really couldn’t (I haven’t seen the film either) so I haven’t gone out to look for the bench either.
Places to go outside of the obvious touristic ones? BOOKSHOPS? Shopping? GREAT FOOD?
Aaah let me think! I feel like tourists are maybe not that aware of our markets? (except for the Flower Market) But we do have those and they’re nice! Like the Noordermarkt, Waterlooplein Market and Albert Cuyp Market. If you love cats I’d definitely recommend the Cat Boat. There are so many more places I could recommend but I just can’t think of any!
For bookshops of course The American Book Center that I already talked about, but we also have a Waterstones (really close by the ABC!) and while it’s a Dutch bookshop Scheltema is really worth a visit! They also sell English books, but I just really like the store itself (one day I’ll hopefully do a Blogsterdam on it). It has four floors and it’s just really pretty. Oh and every Friday there’s a book market at the Spui, which is the square where the ABC is located!
Usually when I myself go shopping I tend to go Kalverstraat, Nieuwendijk and Dam Square, but really I’d recommend to just explore the center of the city because there are a lot of shops to discover there! Also the area around Waterlooplein has some interesting shops and we have our own Chinatown (make sure to visit YoYo if you love bubble tea! And if you don’t visit it anyway because it’s also a store and they sell some really cute stuff).
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Omg look at my panda sneakers I haven’t worn those since FOREVER. I need to wear them again. But now it’s Autumn and rainy and I don’t want my pandas to get wet that sounds so weird. Also rip that bag it’s been broken for over a year and I need to get it fixed

Oh boy there’s so much great food where do I start. Okay so my favourite restaurant has to be A-Fusion, also located in Chinatown. It’s a bit expensive BUT SO WORTH IT. They also have great bubble tea and oh my God just everything is so good I’m practically drooling as I’m typing this. Really, if you love Asian food, eat here. If you want to try stroopwafels I recommend to just buy them at Albert Heijn (our biggest supermarket chain) from the Albert Heijn brand itself. Oh and Van der Linde in my opinion has the best ice cream, but that depends on your taste. It’s very creamy and made with the best whipped cream, but not everyone likes it of course (there’s always a really long line in the Summer but really, it’s worth it and it won’t take that long!) They also sell other desserts. I’d definitely recommend their chocolate truffels and mergpijpjes. Also there are a lot of stores that will try to lure you in with the delicious smell of Belgian waffles so good luck. Again Marie you’re making me so hungry with this question oh my God. I want all of the stuff I just mentioned.
Why do you think more films aren’t filmed in Amsterdam?
Hmm I don’t know! I’m guessing you mean international films? Since Dutch tv shows and movies are filmed here. I think Amsterdam would make a great setting for movies, though I hope they wouldn’t go with the ‘Amsterdam is so dangerous it’s full of drugs!!’ narrative.
What do you think the most romantic part of the city is?
Hmm I think the canals at night, when it’s bathed in all the lights.
Ever met anyone famous?

When I was little my mom and I ran into this Dutch girl group at the McDonalds and I got their autograph #score

How would you describe each season, in terms of weather and how people respond (by actions/attitude/clothing choices) to the weather?

Spring: lots of rain and if it doesn’t rain people will complain about their hay fever (like me aaay). At the sign of the smallest ray of sunshine people will take out their T-Shirts and shorts and wear them like it’s Summer already even though I’m still wearing jumpers and I don’t know how many layers because it’s not Summer

Summer: people tend to complain that ‘we haven’t had a good Summer in years!!’ but honestly do we ever get a good Summer?? I don’t remember ever experiencing a ‘good Summer’. It still rains a lot. If we do get warm weather, the day will usually end in rain and thunder and misery. And usually when it gets warm it’s suffocatingly hot and just not pleasant. Also more hay fever yay.

Autumn: Most Rain™ along with Winter, crazy twelve year olds who think it’s cool to not wear a coat when it’s almost freezing and to get pneumonia, more Rain™, you won’t know what to wear like it’s too hot for Winter clothes so it’s a very confusing time

Winter: sometimes we get snow (we used to get a lot more snow and it used to freeze a lot (actual freezing, when I say ‘freezing’ I’m usually exaggerating) but then climate change happened) but it’s usually not a lot and it melts quickly. Usually we’re just stuck with gross muddy snow (I’m speaking for Amsterdam, it’s different in other parts of the country).
I hope I made you guys a bit wiser about Amsterdam. If I made you hungry, I’m sorry. I really am, because I made myself hungry and I have none of the foods I’m craving right now at home (seriously tempted to message my mom and ask her if she can bring stroopwafels…) What are some fun facts about your country? Let me know in the comments!
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