Friday, October 10, 2014

Food in Slovakia

In Slovakia you will find colorful regional dishes with high quality and attractive prices. In the mountainous areas, you will find more reliance on cheeses and milk products while the more spicy food with cabbage specialties, goose, flat bread and sweet pastries can be found in the valleys and low lying areas. Their food developed in the villages using locally produced ingredients. This is the reason the food varies by region. Slovak cuisine such as stuffed cabbage are known everywhere Slovaks have settled throughout the world. You will find staples such as potatoes, wheat flour, milk and cheese from both cows and sheep, cabbage, onions and garlic. Combine that with pork, poultry, cabbage, and imported rice and you have the basics of Slovakian cooking.
So here are a few typical dishes in the area.



image provided by slovak.com
Bryndzové halušky is a traditional dish found which consists of potato mixed with a soft and salty sheep curd. Fried bacon chopped in tiny pieces is added to the ready meal, which makes it especially tasty. The traditional beverage to accompany the meal is sour milk or whey.




image provided by slovakcooking.com


Treska is a cold salad made of codfish, mayonnaise and some vegetables. Quite popular snack in the Bratislava region, and lately also in other parts of Slovakia.







image provided by slovak.com
Kapustnica (cabbage soup) is a thick Slovakian soup which is  traditionally prepared at the end of the year, generally for Christmas and New Years Eve. There are lots of varieties of this soup, regional specialties and even family modifications. In some regions, it is spiced up with smoked meat, sausages and mushrooms. Those prepared for special holidays are also different. For example, even within a specific regions, this soup will vary on holidays, with special ingredients such as the Vianočná Kapustnica (Christmas Cabbage Soup) which is cooked without meat, it is thickened with the soft, salty sheep curd, cream and potatoes.



image provided by slovakcooking.com
Make sure you don't miss out on the local sweets. They include tarts, cookies and sweet breads using wheat and potato flower, powdered sugar and chocolate. 


Enjoy your visit to Slovakia and their food.





Friday, August 22, 2014

Brief History of Slovakia

image provided by traveltoslovakia.info
The Slovakian history has be dominated by wars for power and control of the people of this land. Slovakia has been inhabited since the early paleolithic period with evidence of tribes as the predominate social organization through the 5th century. By 1200 BC the Lusitian culture was spread through Slovakia. Some scholars think that this culture was protoslavic and the region of northern Slovakia and southern Poland was the ancient homeland of Slavs.

By 400 BC the Celtic tribes occupied the southwestern part of Slovakia and ruled the territory more than three centuries. They brought new production techniques to metallurgy, pottery, textiles and agriculture.

By 9 BC the Celtic dominance began to give way to Germanic and Roman expansion, establishing the Roman provinces Panonia and Noricum  and the Germanic tribes Marcomans and Quads.  Three centuries later, Roman legions under command of the Emperor Tiberius attacked the territory of Slovakia and began to organize all of the Slovak territory. The period between the Roman defeat of the Germanic tribes and approximately 406 AD saw intermittent peace and war. At the end of this period the majority of the Quad population began to withdraw from Slovakia towards southern Germany. The territory of Slovakia became the temporary homeland of numerous Germanic tribes escaping the Huns who dominated the Danube Basin in the first half of 5th century.

By 470 AD the last Quads left Slovakia, creating a vacuum where Slavic tribes consolidated their power . Then in 568 AD the nomadic Avars who were of  Turkish origin invaded the Danube Basin and became the dominant power in Central Europe until 795 AD when Charlemagne's over throw of Muslim rule in the end of 8th century. Then the local Slavic tribes began to centralize power and began the long process of state building. By 822 AD the Moravian prince, Mojmir I, unified the principalities of Moravia and Nitravia to one state named Greater Moravia. 

By 880 AD the Pope, Johanus VIII, published the Industriae Tuae in which he establish the independent ecclesiastical province in Greater Moravia and recognized Slavic as the forth ecclesiastical language beside Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
Then in 907 AD in the battle near Bratislava, Magyar armies defeated the Bavarian military and the Moravian principality was split between Magyars, Bavarian's and Czechs. Then in 955 AD the Magyar military forces were defeated and forced to accept Christianity and settle down. However, these battles for control of the Slavic lands continued through 1848 when Slovaks revolted, declaring themselves a nation and founded the Slovak Fellowship with the aim of independence. But, by 1880 the bulk emigration of Slovaks to the United States began. Within 30 years almost one third of Slovaks fled national and social oppression.
image provided by photographyblog.dallasnews.com

Finally, 1000 years after the Battle of Bratislava, living under the freedom of America, this large population of Slavs founded the Slovak League in America and started the campaign for national freedom of Slovaks in their homeland. Then fours year, after the Great War of 1914, the Pittsburgh Agreement created the Czech-Slovak state which was to guarantee home rule for Slovaks after creation of a Slovakian state.  However, the Czechs broke their word and refused to accept the new state of Slovakia as equal partner and two years later adopted a Constitution declaring Czech-Slovakia as a national “Czechoslovak” state.  This domination of Slavs by others continued through WWII and the following Russian domination through Communism. Finally, on January 1, 1993 the Slovak's realized their dream and a Slovak Republic became an independent and sovereign state.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Loss of my beautiful Husky

I lost my best friend 2 days ago, her name was Tundra.
She was so extremely special and I miss her so very much.
My heart is so tight and tears are on my face.

Everywhere Tundra went, she stopped traffic. People always stopped to see her and pet her.  She knew exactly what "beautiful" meant. When people would say what a beautiful dog, she would go to the person with her beautiful fluffy tail wagging and would try to kiss them. She especially loved children.

Every time she would see a smaller dog, she would lay down on the ground so the other dog knew she was not a threat.

She was pure love, such lady.

We never left her in a shelter.  Rather than leave her alone, either my husband or I would stay with her.  She knew she was our  baby and did not like to be alone. I was so careful, always making sure she had fresh, filtered water, the best food from the Vet and the treats that she loved. 

Tundra was almost 13 years old, that means she was almost 91 in our age, she died of old age but no one could tell her age. This picture was taken the day she passed.

I have no regrets, she was not  just a dog, she was my family.

Please, if you still have your dog, treat him or her with love, they only give love to us. They trust us to do the best for them. They will defend us against anyone or anything that will try to hurt us.

My husband made a song for her many years ago and it was like this;
"We love you Tundra, oh yes we do, we love you Tundra and we'll be true, when you are far from us, we're blue, Oh Tundra we love you."

I miss you now so much my baby Husky and I will miss you forever.
Marcia / July 16, 2014


Friday, July 11, 2014

How careful should you be going to Slovakia

image provided by www.europol.europa.eu
The Slovak Republic has a “Medium” rate of crime. Crimes against individuals remains a concern as criminals enjoy a relatively permissive operating environment.

Westerners, especially short-term visitors such as tourists and students, are the primary targets of street crime. The majority of street crime is non-violent and includes petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse/cellular telephone snatching. However, more serious crimes such as mugging, armed robbery, shooting, drugging, and robbing of  unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars is also a concern.

Pick-pockets may seem harmless, but they are professionals. They generally use distraction to confuse their target while they pick their pockets. Pickpockets  prefer busy locations such as shopping centers, markets, public transportation, tourist areas such as Old Town, near major hotels, and on the night trains to Prague and Warsaw - where travelers let their guard down and become victims.

Purse snatching does occur in Bratislava. Purse snatchers typically work in crowded areas, allowing them to cut straps of purses and run away in the crowd. Be especially careful with mopeds that might sneak up behind you while you are crossing the street. If you are out strolling, I recommend you put the strap over your head and across you body so that you can hold the bag tightly between your arm and your body. Also, don't be casual about your bag, phone, wallet or other valuables. Placing them on the table or in a jacket hung on a chair are open invitations to snatcher. Credit card, Internet, and ATM fraud are also increasing.

image provided by wsj.com
Non-Caucasians might also be targeted by  Skinhead groups and suffer from 
hate crimes. Skinheads also target members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority.

Theft from autos occurs with valuables in the car while driving or parked and some auto theft of high-end European and American vehicles. Valuables should never be left in a vehicle. If you are driving in the area,  utilize a garage or a lighted parking area on the street. While driving, lock all doors, wear seat belts, and open windows only as far as needed for ventilation.

Theft of high-end European and American cars occurs and is usually linked to organized crime.


Finally, if you are driving, be aware of Slovakia zero tolerance to "Driving Under the Influence".  The legal limit is 0%. So if you are going to a party, having drinks over dinner, or any similar activities, have the concierge arrange for transportation.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Religion & Weather in Slovakia

Religion
image provided by Wikipedia.org

Most Slovaks are very religious and predominately Christian with a few thousand Jews. The Christian majority are mostly Roman Catholics; however, you will also find large groups of Evangelicals and Protestants. Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians are mostly found in Eastern Slovakia.

Slovaks don't just claim a religious affiliation, they live it every day. You will find a saint's feast day, virtually every other day and it is easy to find a local religious festival. Most Slovaks attend church weekly and are very devout. It should come as no surprise that most of the important works of architecture are churches.

Weather

The Slovakian climate varies across the country; however, it tends to be a more temperate continental climate zone leading to a beautiful Spring, warm Summer, crisp Autumn and cold Winter with an abundance of snow. As you would expect the mountainous area is cooler and the South and Western areas tend to be warmer. 
image provided by snow-forecast.com



Spring and Autumn the best time to visit with less rain, clearer skies, milder weather and fewer crowds. July temperatures average 21°C (70°F) in the lowlands such as along the Danube and January averages -2°C (28°F).  Remember, if you are going to the mountains prepare for temperatures below freezing.

While Spring sees the lowest rainfall, generally the weather is damp and travelers would be advise to prepare for sudden heavy storms. In addition, the lower regions are subject to heavy fog, so driving can be treacherous.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Language, Capitol & Currency in Slovakia

Language

Approximately 5 million people speak “Slovakian”, the Slovak language. It's origins come from West Slavic languages similar to Czech, Polish and Serbian. It has also been influenced by German and Hungarian.  Here are some examples:
 
Thank you – Ďakujem
Please – Prosím
It is nice to meet you – Teší ma
Welcome – Vítajte
How are you? – Ako sa máš?


Many others who speak languages based on standard Slavic can understand basic Slovakian.
The  speakers of different varieties have a long history of interaction and mutual influence, However, often significant variation among Slovak dialects will confuse the speaker of another dialect. For example, eastern varieties differ significantly from the central and western varieties. As usual, the written form is more consistent than the verbal form which have phonetic differences. The German and Hungarian influence can be seen mostly in vocabulary. For example the German word for "coins," is “Munzen“ in Slovak it is “mince”.


Capitol

Bratislava the largest city in Slovakia, it also serves as the state capitol. There you will find the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the Government of the Slovak Republic and the national administrative offices of the republic. Bratislava is situated a little east of Vienna and northwest of Budapest, close the center of Eastern and Western Europe.The town spreads like a fan on both banks of the Danube river and at the foot of the Low Carpathian mountains.

image provided by slovakiacompany.com
Bratislava is the largest city in the Slovak Republic with a  population is some 450, 000. A major industrial center, Bratislava is known for producing:
  • VW cars
  • Furniture
  • Chemicals
  • Tobacco products
  • Musical instruments
  • Woolen goods
  • Leather products


Visitors will also find the:
  • Restored 11th century Gothic cathedral 
  • Former Hungarian Royal Palace overlooking the city
  • Franciscan church from the 13th century
  • Town hall, also from the 13th century
  • Comenius University in Bratislava (1919)
  • Slovak Technical University in Bratislava (1938)
  • Slovak Academy of Sciences (1953)
Founded as Press-burg before the 10th century, the city expanded to include strong fortifications erected during the 12th century and located on the Danube, it held a strategic importance in the area and was the capital of Hungary from 1541 to 1784. In 1805 at Austerlitz (Slavkov), when Napoleon's army defeated the armies of Francis I, the Austrian emperor and Alexander I, the Russian Tsar, the peace of Bratislava was signed in the Primate's Palace. Then in 1919, when Czechoslovakia was created in 1919 after World War I, the city was renamed Bratislava and made capital of the province of Slovakia.


Currency

In the Czechoslovak federation (prior to 1993) the Czechoslovak Koruna (= 100 halierov / hellers) was used. As the country split in 1993, two new currencies were introduced: Czech Koruna and Slovak Koruna. Both Korunas had initially the same value as the old Czechoslovak Koruna. Due to different economic performances of the two countries, the Czech Koruna became about 20-30% more valuable the the Slovak one.
image provided by thecurrencycommission.com


By May 1, 2004  when both countries joined the European Union the migration to the Euro started. The Euro replaced the Slovak crown (koruna) in 2009. In the Czech Republic the Czech crown is still in use.

You are strongly advised not to deal with moneychangers in the street even though they may be offering you a favorable rate.














 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Introdution to Slovakia ( Slovak Republic)

Image provided by slovakia.com
Slovakia is a beautiful country, full of gorgeous mountains, rivers and incredible castles. Mostly landlocked, it does have access to the Danube River on the southwestern border with Austria and Hungry. It also shares borders with the Czech Republic in the Northwest, Poland to the North, Ukraine to the East and Hungary also to the South.

Slovakia has a total area of 18,928 square miles (49,035 square kilometers).


Elevations rise from a low of 308 feet (94 meters) at the Bodrok River to a high of 8,711 feet (2,655 meters) at Gerlachovsky peak, in the vicinity of Poprad to the North. Areas range from rugged mountains to rich, agricultural plains.


Image provided by Natural Gas.com



Bratislava, the capital, is a city of 441,453 people, in the Southwest on Danube.
Image provided by ginfo.wz.cz      
The total population of Slovakia
is 5,488,339 (July 2013 est.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The people of Slovakia have had a tumultuous past, being combined with The Check Republic, occupied first by Nazis, then controlled as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. And finally an independent country in 1993. Today it is a member of the European Union, uses the euro for currency and is governed with a Parliamentary Democracy.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where to stay in Amsterdam

There are so many hotels in Amsterdam, I research the web and found the best values for you.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam ( 5 stars)

The Waldorf decor is inspired by Dutch history and designs, yet you will find thoroughly modern features such as large bathrooms, wireless networks, and satellite TV.  It's rooms share beautiful views, facing the canal or the courtyard. Be sure to specify your preference when you reserve.

In addition to the top tier rooms you see on the right, the Waldorf has a reputation for "Culinary level" dishes and an exquisite wine cellar in its restaurant, De Librije (Michelin 3 stars). You may also enjoy the refined atmosphere in the Vault Bar and Peacock Alley. Or if you are yearning for a relaxing vacation, you are sure to enjoy the luxurious "Guerlain" spa, where you will have access to the indoor swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and three treatment rooms for relaxing and massages.

As for sites to visit, you will find the Hermitage Museum, only a 1/3 of a mile (600 meters) from the hotel, while the Museum Quarter is less than a mile (1.5 KM) away. Within a short 15 minute walk, you will find the shopping area "P.C. Hooftstraat", and the famous "Flower Market."


Address: Herengracht 542-556, Amsterdam City Center, 1017 CG Amsterdam
Phone: 31-20-7106090
Price starts at $475 dollars per night 

 

 

Ambassade Hotel (4 stars) 

Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, the Ambassade Hotel has been expanded to include the facades of 10 original 17th-century canal-side mansions along the Herengracht and Singel, in a quiet part of the Amsterdam Canal Belt. A lovely sight at night.

The decor is in French, Louis XV style. Each room provides  free WI-Fi, air-conditioning, satellite TV, a sitting area and a work desk. For relaxing, guests receive a discount on the " Koan Float" flotation tank and the massages that are offered at Ambassade Hotel. 

For your enjoyment, you will also find two lovely lounges, a cozy bar and a large breakfast room overlooking the canal. An extensive breakfast buffet including pastries, scrambled or fried eggs, and smoked salmon is available for an additional charge. The hotel features a collection of artworks including works from the famous CoBrA movement. When it is time to relax, nothing beats sitting down with a good book and the Ambassade is the place to find one that interests you. They have a library with more than 3000 books, all signed by authors during their stay at Ambassade Hotel.

If you are ready to do some sightseeing, you will find the English Reformed Church, Begijnhof, and Amsterdam Museum within walking distance and the "Flower Market" close by. Dam Square, featuring the Royal Palace, is less than half a mile (.80 KM) from the hotel. The Kalverstraat shopping area is a 5 minute walk and the Anne Frank House is a 10-minute walk away.

Address: Herengracht 341 Amsterdam, 1016 AZ, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 555 0222
Price starts at $229 per night

 

Eden Hotel Amsterdam (3 stars)

The comfortable three-star Eden Hotel Amsterdam is located in the bustling center of the capital of the Netherlands, right next to the famous Rembrandt Square and all major tourist attractions. It is only a 10 minute walk from the central station. The renovated hotel offers 218 rooms, with individual air-conditioning, a safe, flat screen TVs with (for an additional charge) movies on demand and a high speed Internet connection. All rooms are non-smoking accommodations.

Eden Hotel Amsterdam offers a complete and varied breakfast buffet every morning at €19,50 ($27) per person. The bar has a range of options for a quick lunch and during the evening you are welcome for dinner in Brasserie Flo. Trip Adviser shows an average rating of 4 stars, with a few complaints such as, the restaurant wasn't open on time or the service was bad. Be sure to check ahead of time to avoid staffing problems which could impact your meal. 






Address: Amstel 144 Amsterdam 1017 AE Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 530 7878
Price stars at $144 per night

 


Reasonable accommodations

Quentin England Hotel 

Located in the famous "United Europe" buildings, the Quentin England creates a unique experience for the budget traveler. The "United Europe" facility is a collection of seven houses where every house is an example of a typical building style from seven European countries (England, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy and Holland). The rooms are simple, and well equipped with modern facilities to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.

It is in a great location, lovely old street and walking distance to great selection of restaurants and pubs. However, it is a little further out from the center of town.
Because it is a little closer to the Schiphol Airport the taxi ride is a little less pricey (15 minutes @ $60). You can also get there with a bus/walk combination (38 min @ $3).

Address: Roemer Visscherstraat 30, Amsterdam, Netherlands 1054 EZ
Phone: + 31 20 689 2323
Price stars at $67 per night


 

                                                                           

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wishing all of you Happy Mother's Day

Wish so much I could have been with my Mother today...
Wish I could have hugged her, kissed her, tell her how much I love her...
Take her out for a nice lunch...
Give her beautiful flowers...
Give her a beautiful present...
And thank her for everything she did
for me and my sister...
Thank her for the person I am today...
And thank her for all the sacrifices she did for us...
But lost my Mom for cancer.

So, if you still have your Mom...
Do everything you can for her because she did everything she could for you all her life.
Marcia

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Places to go in The Netherlands

As I mention before, I went to Amsterdam 3 times and always had a good time. There is so much to see and do - restaurants, great food, friendly people and beautiful tulips everywhere.

Located below the sea level in North-West Europe, the Netherlands has gained its popularity for being the country of wonderful canals, picturesque windmills, colorful flower fields, traditional wooden shoes, great cheese, zillions of bicycles and rich in art and culture. Amsterdam, the largest and prettiest city in the country, lies in the province of North Holland. It is a picturesque cluster of canals around the Amstel River. Vibrant, cosmopolitan and steeped in culture, Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in Europe.

So, I will post some of the main places to visit while you are there. Have a great time!

1. Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a "must visit" on your trip. As the name implies, there you can trace the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh while witnessing the largest collection of works by one of Holland's most famous artists. You also can enjoy his own personal collection of Japanese woodcuts to gain an insight into what he felt was collectible. The Van Gogh Museum  is housed in a modern building on Museumplein. The museum has many activities suitable for both adults and children. Be sure to check out the schedule at http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl and select your language in the upper left of the page.




2. Tour Amsterdam by the canals

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 165 canals in Amsterdam intimately connects the city to the water. Gently cruising along those waterways is a beautiful, serene way to become acquainted with the city. A number of companies operate tours of the city ranging from a 45 minute round trip, longer excursions by canal boat, lunch and dinner cruises, a hop on hop off canal bus service, and personal rentals. You have a wide range of picks based on your  interests; for example, dinner cruises range from "Pizza on the Canal", a favorite with the kids, to romantic, multi-course meals. However if you chose to do it, a canal cruise will give you a historic perspective on the city and an experience that is unique to the Netherlands!




3. Anne Frank House
Is located on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam, was the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the World War II. Located behind a swing-out bookshelf, Anne Frank, a small girl, lived with her family and another family to evade the Nazi death camps. Just a few empty rooms in the hidden annex to the house will make an unforgettable impression if you realize, that two families lived in these small quarters for more than 2 years as they hid from the Nazis. The original of the diary is on display, as a part of the Anne Frank House's permanent exhibition. This is a must see!



4. Flower Market
Since I love flowers you must visit the flower market. I do know that lots of cities have flower markets, but Amsterdam's is uniquely different and is a "must see" for your trip. Since the middle of the 19th century, this city of canals has boasted a floating flower market. It is located on the Singel Canal, one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam, this unusual flower market is the most famous in Holland.

When the market was first established in 1862, the plants and flowers sold there were brought to Amsterdam on barges via canals from various parts of the city. It was easier to organize the market on the water than transport all the plants to land and the flowers stood out better on the water. I expect the natural evaporation also helped keep them to be fresher. Today, fresh flowers still arrive daily; but, now they're delivered by land to a barge that is anchored in place.
It is great that the Amsterdam's floating flower market is open all year long, except on Sunday's, so locals and visitors can take advantage of a wide array of colorful plants no matter what the season. Tulips are a popular item here and at Christmas time, the barges are covered with evergreens of all shapes, sizes, and hues.

Today, plants are imported from various other places, so don't be surprised when you find tropical and other non-native plants on the barges at any given time.

Prices are quite reasonable and many tourists enjoy taking home a few tulip bulbs they can plant in their garden when they return from their trip to Amsterdam. The barges also display a large selection of Dutch souvenirs.






5.The Royal Palace
Famed 17th century Dutch architect Jacob Van Campen, designed and supervised the construction of this building. It was opened in 1655 and was originally the City Hall.

Over the centuries the structure gain fame not only for its external beauty; but, also for the priceless beauty brought to it by the famous sculptors and painters who created masterpieces to be exhibited there. Inside you can find paintings by Rembrandt and other greats of the Netherlands.

The City Hall first reverted to a Royal Palace when Napoleon's brother was appointed King of Holland in the early 1800's. He converted the building into his palace and decorated it in Empire style. Many of his furnishings can still be viewed today. When Napoleon Bonaparte fell in 1813, the structure was returned to the city. However, King William I took the structure for his personal residence. The building continued to be used by Royalty until 1936, when it again became a public building. Currently, the building is at the Queen's disposal for state functions. When not in use for royal functions, tourists can visit several rooms inside the palace on a guided tour where they are treated to stories of history and Dutch Royalty.




6. Hortus Botanicus Garden
The botanical gardens offer a tranquil haven from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. It contains over 6,000 different indigenous and non-native trees and plants. Visitors will find a ‘hothouse’ that emulates three different tropical environments, outdoor gardens and hundreds of majestic butterflies that flit around, inside the Butterfly Greenhouse.

If you look closely, you will also find some history inside. For example, a 154 year old lily, Victoria Lilly, is a giant water lily that opens its flower every night around dusk when in bloom. You may also find the centuries-old agave cactus that dates back to the Roman era. 

Because of the extensive nature of these exhibits, you may also enjoy the lovely cafe and coffee house where you can relax and simply enjoy your surroundings.





7. Rijks Museum

This is the largest museum of art and history in the Netherlands. With nearly 1 million objects in its permanent collection, this immense museum attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors each year, making it one of the city's most popular cultural attractions. The Night Watch, an imposing masterpiece of Rembrandt's is on permanent display here.

The Rijks Museum is open daily from 9 to 5 PM and can be very busy; so, you should plan ahead if possible.  The busiest times are Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 and 15:00, on bank holidays and during the holiday period. As you arrive,  you may have to stand in line to get inside. These lines are for all visitors – except for benefactors or people with reservations for a guided tour or workshop. Once inside, Museumkaart and e-ticket holders do not have to go to the ticket counter. Check online or with your hotel for Museumkaart.

Admission is € 15: adults aged 19 and over.  Children 18 and younger are free.




8.Coffee shops
Since drugs are not a crime in Amsterdam and you want to "really" relax, you can go to several coffee shops in the city and buy pot or hashish and smoke it right there.
Marijuana and hashish are openly sold and consumed.
In the Netherlands, the term "coffee shops" is reserved for cannabis    cafes, and bars often masquerade as "cafes." This can make it a little confusing for visitors. But the Netherlands, the world's winner in coffee consumption (about three cups a day), does have some  excellent coffee spots with Amsterdam leading the way.








Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Traditional food in The Netherlands

Dutch cuisine has evolved many times, due to migration from the country into cities, as well as the influx of immigrants. However, the Netherlands has held on to many of its traditional dishes. These include items that are known throughout the world, such as Gouda cheese. Hearty meat and fish dishes are staples of the Dutch diet as are sandwiches, pancakes and chocolate sweets.

Soups and Stews

On cold winter days, the Dutch sit down with hot, filling soups. One well-known soup, Erwtensoep, is the Dutch version of split pea soup.  Adding beef or pork, the Dutch create a very hearty dish. 

The Dutch also enjoy, Hut Stop, a hearty beef stew with mustard and crisp pickles on the side. This is another soup the Dutch use to warm up when the weather is cool and damp. I really enjoyed the mustard on the side.






Some dishes

Bitterballen 

The Dutch take advantage of the bountiful seafood that surrounds them. They eat plenty of Herring, pickled, smoked or creamed. Eel is usually smoked or chopped up and fried with whitefish to be served as a snack. Bittenballen is another favorite of the Dutch and usually served as an hors d'oeuvre. They are a deep-fried meatball typically containing a mixture of beef or veal, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper, resulting in a thick ragout. If you are fixing your own meals, this is a dish you can pick up at any food store, already prepared.

Stamppot

Traditionally served during winter time, Stamppot might just be the epitome of Dutch cuisine. This hearty dish has a center of mashed potatoes and greens such as Kale or Spinach, then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. That tasty mix is then surrounded with Rookwurst, a smoked sausage. As you can imagine, this dish is very hearty and filling.


Patat

For a ubiquitous treat, the Dutch love their Patat, a Dutch version of French Fries, Frite, etc. It is served in small local shops and at small shacks, Patatkramen, found at the local market.  It is typically served with Mayonnaise, creating a cholesterol bomb of sorts.




 


Baked Goods and Sweets

The Dutch love their sweets and along with them the baked goods found everywhere, cookies (Speculas) and buttercakes (Botenkoek). A chocolate sprinkle (Hagelslag) is used to sweeten up toast and other breakfast bread.  This will get you started with plenty of energy.



Another breakfast sweet is a cake (Ontbijkoek). This is a favorite, spiced pastry loaded with cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Finally, butter and sugar dusted rolls (Poffertjes) are a traditional Dutch breakfast treat found in almost ever restaurant.



Have a great time and enjoy these delicious treats!


This is a good one!

Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful. If you are feeling tension, you are not being grateful. If you are rushing, you are not being grateful. If you are in a bad mood, you are not being grateful.
Gratitude can transform your life. Are you allowing minor things to get in the way of your transformation and the life you deserve?
 
Rhonda Byrne

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brief History of the Netherlands


Here is a timeline for the political history of the Netherlands. In 1579 the Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain. During the 17th century their maritime industry helped drive them to become a leading commercial power with settlements and colonies around the world. In the late 1790, France gained power throughout Europe and occupied the Netherlands for 20 years, then in 1815 a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed. Belgium seceded in 1815 and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I but suffered invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in World War II.

The Netherlands has been a leader in cross border partnerships. In 1948 the Netherlands became a co-signatory to the Benelux Customs Union along with Belgium and Luxembourg. This later became the Benelux Economic Union in 1958 and Benelux Union in 2008. The Netherlands was also a founding member of NATO in 1949, the EEC (now the EU) in 1957, and the Euro in 1999. The Netherlands is also a member country of the Schengen area in which border controls with other Schengen members have been eliminated while at the same those with non-Schengen countries have been strengthened.

In 2010, the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and the three smallest islands, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, became special municipalities in the Netherlands administrative structure. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands and Aruba as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

How careful should you be going to the Netherlands

Often, physical theft isn't the worse kind. Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise worldwide. In this silent crime you may not even know that you have been a victim until much later. You can do a few things to protect yourself:
Recognized as one of the safest countries in which to live, the Netherlands has very little violent crime. Every year since 2004, crime rates have been dropping. In 2011 fewer than 167,100 crime cases were registered, a 13% drop from 2010. However, tourists can still be the target of pickpockets and bag snatchers. Occasionally, thieves may even end up breaking in hotel rooms and even cars.


Don’t become a victim

Anyone visiting the Netherlands should not be complacent about its low crime rates. Theft occurs mostly on public transportation systems, including the tram and trains, especially to and from the airport. The rules are the same everywhere.
  • Don't be alone at night in dark places
  • Don't go into isolated or poorly lit areas and don't use ATM's in poorly lit areas
  • Don't carry your wallet in the open and don't leave purses or bags open.
  • Don't carry more cash that you need that day, leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe
  • Don't leave your belongings in airports, train stations and other highly trafficked areas 
  • Don’t buy counterfeit merchandise. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into your home country, but by purchasing them you could also be breaking local law.
Of special note, bike theft has also been a perennial problem which the police continue to try to solve.  The Netherlands is a large bike populations where owners traditionally had parked with little fear of theft. Today, there are over 750,000 bikes stolen each year, elevating this crime to a national concern. On a side note, the Dutch are hoping that technology has the answer and are now moving forward with a plan to install a chip in each bike (like smart cards), and registering each in a national bike registry.


The criminals are getting smarter

  • Be observant of your surroundings. If you are using ATM's, public computers, or even your own smart phone or tablet, look to make sure no one can observe your pin, user name and/or passwords.
  • If you are using a public computer don't get sucked in with an offer to help with the local language and always log off and shut down before leaving.
  • Don't use a debit card connected to your primary checking and savings accounts. If these are lost or stolen, your accounts can be drained. Rather, use a credit card where your exposure is only your credit line.
  • Don't make a public display of your smart phone or tablet. Runners may "hit and flit" and you will not only have lost your gadget, but also all the information you have stored on it.

If you become a victim

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime in the Netherlands, you should contact the local police to file a report and your nearest embassy or consulate for the following help:
  • Replace a stolen passport
  • Help you find medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities
  • Contact family members or friends
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
If you have an emergency, 112 is the number for emergency police, ambulance or fire www.brandweer.nl. When the operator picks up, you will be asked for the address and city where you are calling from and the nature of the emergency.  This is an emergency-only number.

For non-emergency services, 0900 8844 is the non-emergency number. You will be connected to your local police station. If you prefer to use the web, the url is www.politie-amsterdam-amstelland.nl
Have a safe trip and have fun!