Category Archives: Misc

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Translations of “Almere Deze Week” edition 18th of July 2018

Almere Deze Week is a weekly newspaper with local news for the inhabitants of Almere. It is published in Dutch. Below you find summaries of a selection of the articles of this week’s edition translated into English for the community of International Almere. All summaries have been translated with the permission of the editors of “Almere Deze Week”. The board of international Almere wishes to hank Courtesie (www.courtesie.nl) for their quick and accurate work to translate the summaries into English, so that the international community of Almere can be informed and feel connected with the city they live in.

The original articles in Dutch can be found in the hard copy version of “Almere Deze Week” and online via this link: www.almeredezeweek.nl. The page numbers behind the titles refer to the pages of the newspaper where the articles can be found.

Below you find summaries of 7 articles with the following titles:

  1. Water weeds make sailing almost impossible
  2. Many MBO College graduates already have a job
  3. Rabobank Almere extends sponsorship of Almere Haven Festival
  4. Treasure hunts in Almere
  5. ANWB AutoMaatje launched in Almere
  6. Almere Heritage Day needs volunteers
  7. Fun for kids at Lumierepark in Almere

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Water weeds make sailing almost impossible (page 1)

By Kirsten Thuis-Woudenberg

HAVEN – Almere resident Jan van der Klooster fears that sailing will soon become impossible if pondweed continues to grow in Almere’s waters at the current rate. “You can hardly sail through the rampant pondweed which, even when it grows at a depth of 3 meters, will reach the water’s surface. A wing keel, in particular, drags masses of pondweed along with the boat”, says Jan van der Klooster. “You also can’t use the engine, because the weed winds itself around the propeller shaft like lianas.”


Almere Haven. (Photo: Fred Rotgans)

Complaint

Sailors complained to the municipality. As a result, the berths were mowed this week. “It’s good that the moorings are now being mowed, but the municipality has waited far too long. Rijkswaterstaat planted the pondweed years ago in order to clarify the water and thus combat blue-green algae. But the cure is now worse than the disease. The municipality will have to find a way to eradicate this problem completely. Despite the fact that the harbor is now being properly dealt with, Gooimeer, Markermeer and IJmeer are still filling up with pondweed. Next to nothing is being done about this and it is still not clear how the weed will be removed.

Cancellations

According to Van der Klooster, the fact that only the navigation channels are mowed means that yachtsmen can no longer sail on the lakes. “To be able to sail, you have to be able to tack – to sail a zig-zag course to windward. The mowed channels are not wide enough for this. I’ve spoken to sailors who have cancelled their berths in Gooimeer, Markermeer and IJmeer, because you can’t sail in these areas anymore. They’ve moved their boats to Friesland. But won’t it be a disaster if we can no longer sail in the vicinity of Almere?”

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Many MBO College graduates already have a job (page 5)

Students at the MBO College Almere have graduated cum laude and received scholarships.

ALMERE – More than 900 students from the MBO College Almere and MBO College Poort received their MBO (secondary vocational education) diplomas last week. A few students received diplomas cum laude, having shown excellent command of theory, obtained good passes in the practical exams and received excellent work experience employer feedback. A large proportion of the students will continue their studies at the Flevoland ROC or move on to a university of applied sciences program. Many students will look for a job or already have one.


Five out of the eight cum laude students. (Photo: supplied)

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Rabobank Almere extends sponsorship of Almere Haven Festival (page 17)

ALMERE – This year, for the fifth consecutive year, Rabobank Almere will be the main sponsor of the Rabobank Almere Haven Festival. The bank will also again sponsor the Rabobank Havenkom Proeverij.

Nik Smit, director of Almere City Marketing and organizer of the event, presented the Almere Harbor Festival announcement poster to Ferry Huurman, board chair of Rabobank Almere, in the harbor on board the Almere botter, AM1.

(Photo: Roxanne Overdijk)

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Treasure hunts in Almere (page 17)

ALMERE – Stad & Natuur has arranged no less than four treasure hunts at attractive locations in Almere this summer.

Entrance to the treasure hunts can be purchased via the website www.stadennatuur.nl (click on ‘winkel’) or at the locations themselves.

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ANWB AutoMaatje launched in Almere (page 17)

ALMERE – ANWB AutoMaatje (‘auto-mate’) has now also been launched in Almere, thanks to the collaboration of the ANWB with VMCA, De Schoor and Welzijn (social welfare) in Almere. ANWB AutoMaatje is a national network of service points which enable volunteers from local organizations to use their own cars to transport less mobile fellow citizens, at their request.

Interested parties can register as volunteers at the VMCA. Participants pay a travel expense contribution of € 0.30 per kilometer calculated from the home address of the driver directly to the volunteer, plus any parking costs. The contribution must be paid in cash.

More information: www.vmca.nl/vrijwilligers

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Almere Heritage Day needs volunteers (page 19)

ALMERE – More than four thousand magnificent monuments in the Netherlands are open free of charge to the public on the weekends of 8 and 9 September. Almere will also be taking part in this year’s Heritage Day. The organization is looking for volunteers.

The Heritage Day organization is looking for volunteers who are interested in architecture and in the history of Almere, and who will enjoy welcoming and informing visitors on Heritage Day. For more information and volunteer registration please visit  www.almere.nl/openmonumentendag.

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Fun for kids at Lumierepark in Almere (page 19)

FILMWIJK – Stichting Multiculturele Organisatie Almere is organizing a children’s village in Lumierepark on 5 August, with a free market for children.

There will be several bouncy castles and a variety of performances. Whether singing, making music, dancing or doing acrobatics, young artists in the making will be able to make their first stage appearance on the day. Children can sell toys they’re tired of and clothes they’ve outgrown at the free market. And, of course, the money made can be spent on the spot – on new toys or sweets!

The stage performances will be a mix of shows put on by new talent and entertainment by established names. The children’s village will also observe Millennium Development Goals and children will have the opportunity to get to know each other. This year’s theme is, “We are Family”. The children’s village event will also focus on cultural diversity and will reflect the Almere community in its performances, workshops and market.

The children’s village will have an information stand staffed by volunteers, to provide information on children’s activities in Almere. There will also be an information table with leaflets on education and nutrition and samples of various products.

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Note: All of the above-mentioned articles were originally written in Dutch and published by “Almere Deze Week”, edition July 18, 2018. The summaries  were translated for International Almere by Courtesie International Business Affairs www.courtesie.nl

Translations of “Almere Deze Week” edition 18 April 2018

Almere Deze Week is a weekly newspaper with local news for the inhabitants of Almere. It is published in Dutch. Below you find a selection of the articles of this week’s edition translated into English for the community of International Almere. Long articles have been summarised. All articles have been translated with the permission of the editors of “Almere Deze Week”. The board of international Almere wishes to thank Courtesie (www.courtesie.nl) for their quick and accurate work to translate the articles into English, so that the international community of Almere can be informed and feel connected with the city they live in.

The original articles in Dutch can be found in the hard copy version of “Almere Deze Week” and online via this link: www.almeredezeweek.nl . The page numbers behind the titles refer to the pages of the newspaper where the articles can be found.

Below you find 10 articles with the following titles:

  1. Beautiful Regenboogbuurt cherry blossoms attract tourists (page 3)
  2. Plan to ‘roof’ A6 with solar panels (page 5)
  3. Another place for LGBT youth in Almere (page 7)
  4. Oostvaardersplassen sets political market agenda (page 7)
  5. ‘The sum of minorities is a majority: that is democracy.’ (page 9)
  6. Electric city buses fit green and healthy city (page 12)
  7. Help fight giant hogweed (page 23)
  8. Almere Kaylee (15) in The Voice Kids final (page 27)
  9. Bright ideas hub’ will generate interest in science and technology. (page 29)
  10. Aeres University of Applied Sciences signs collaboration with Chinese university (page 33)

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Beautiful Regenboogbuurt cherry blossoms attract tourists (page 3)

REGENBOOGBUURT – The blossoming Japanese cherry trees along the Spectrumdreef are proving to be particularly photogenic at the moment. Last week countless (amateur) photographers seized the opportunity to shoot pictures along the seven hundred meter long footpath under the trees.

There were posing photo models, children in tiny bridal dresses and even many horse riders, posing with their horses under the blossoms. According to local residents, the blossom path was used as a location by countless horse photographers last week. A photographer from Delft said that news of the blossom path communicates through the equestrian world like wildfire. Photographers even come to Almere from across the national borders. The cherry blossom path also gains popularity from being so easily visible. Japanese cherry trees are also located elsewhere Almere, such as along the Strawinskypad in Muziekwijk. Those wanting to be immortalized among the cherry trees on film must be quick however, as the blossoms are already starting to fall.

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Plan to ‘roof’ A6 with solar panels (page 5)

Double-layer open-grade asphalt coming

By Robert Mienstra

ALMERE – “A plan has been submitted to partially cover the A6 with solar panels”, said Remko Schnieders, Municipal Floriade Program Director, during last Thursday’s Political Market. “There is a limitation – it must not become a tunnel.”

The political parties were considering a proposal from the council to install the double-layer asphalt (ZOAB) on part of the A6 near the Floriade and Filmwijk districts. The ZOAB must be ordered before May 1st, otherwise it will only be laid in 2025.

The ZOAB must be installed, otherwise there will be too much noise from the A6 in the Floriade district and Filmwijk. There are also plans to raise the land along the A6 before the noise barrier is erected. “The market party that will build the district is already in sight’, said Schnieders.

Research

The idea of a soundproofing system using solar panels was well received by the council. Schnieders briefly showed a picture of the project,  “But that’s not how it will be, because a tunnel is not an option”. Meanwhile, this newspaper has been able to trace other photos of the project. “There are too many regulations and safety aspects attached to a tunnel”, says Schnieders. D66, the VVD and GroenLinks were charmed by the solar panel plan. “It certainly deserves further investigation.”

Diffractors

It seems that the council will agree to make EUR 3.4 million available from the double-layer ZOAB budget. Consideration is also being given to installing diffractors along the A6 motorway. “They will reflect the sound. This will benefit the Floriade, Filmwijk and Haven districts”, says Schnieders. It is not yet known what the cost of the noise protection measure will be. Here too, market players will have to get financially involved. The council will further discuss noise protection measures for the A6 motorway at the coming Political Market.

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Another place for LGBT youth in Almere (page 7)

By Hestia Ruben

ALMERE –  The Diversity group for Lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) and ‘open minded’ young people has been open for a month. This weekly, walk-in evening organized by the youth support organization of the De Schoor foundation is for young people aged 12 to 27 who want to talk about their sexual orientation and ‘getting out of the closet’, in a relaxed environment.

In the lead-up to setting up these evenings, youth workers Suleika El Mhassani and Linda de Vries had discussions with many organizations and schools. Is there a need for it? Is there already something similar in Almere for young LGBT people? Suleika: “There wasn’t. We now have a WhatsApp group of about eighteen young people coming to the Diversity Walk-in. We want young people in Almere to develop and thrive, and if we can facilitate that we will do so.”

A safe place

“From our work among the youth , we noticed that young people need a ‘diversity walk-in’ like this. A place where they can be themselves, meet others and exchange experiences. A safe place”, says Suleika. But it’s also a place to do fun things together. Says Linda, “What they want to do on these evenings is something they decide for themselves. Where necessary, we facilitate. In any case, there is always one of us present and we participate in whatever the young people choose to do. We’ve already had a karaoke evening and a dance evening, but also a meeting where we’ve exchanged stories in a circle. Whether the young people want to say something about their feelings or orientation is up to them, it is very open.”

If young people have specific questions about transition Linda and Suleika refer them to a partner organization. “Many organizations in Almere recognize the importance of this and want to work together. They may then visit us, to tell us more about a particular subject. We may also link young people together. Someone who has just started going into transition can benefit a lot from the experiences of someone who has already made more progress in this area. Young people actually work best among each other. If they need other questions or support, we are there for them.”

The walk-in evening for open minded and LGBT youth is every Wednesday from 19:00 to 21:00. The location is only known to youngsters who register in advance with Suleika El Mhassani (elmhassani@deschoor.nl/06-43106797) or Linda de Vries (devries@deschoor.nl/06-34213097).

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Oostvaardersplassen sets political market agenda (page 7)

By Marcel Beijer

ALMERE – The first real Political Market of the new municipal council was to a large extent dominated by the issue of the Oostvaardersplassen. Plans to transform this nature reserve into the Nieuw Land National Park were discussed, though the issue of malnutrition among the large herbivores was also raised.

Most attention went, indeed, to the agenda item placed by the PVV (freedom) political party. The party wants the municipal council to urge the province and Bosbeheer (national parks) to prevent further animal suffering in the Oostvaardersplassen. Six contributors, also from outside Almere, seized the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the situation in the Oostvaardersplassen. Alderman Frits Huis said he was concerned about the suffering of the animals, but could not satisfy the concerns of the PVV or the speakers from the floor.  “The responsibility for the Oostvaardersplassen lies with the province and Staatsbosbeheer. Almere has no say in this matter. You might just as well have spoken to the municipalities of Aalsmeer, or Maarssen.

The Partij voor de Dieren (animals), ChristenUnie and PvdA (labor) accused the PVV of wanting to score political points on the issue of Oostvaardersplassen  “A few years ago we had the opportunity to connect the area with other nature reserves in the country”, said Leonie Vestering (PvdD) and Leida Höhle (PvdA), but then the PVV voted against that. Is the PVV prepared to remove the fences around the Oostvaardersplassen?

“Those fences can stay”, PVV council member Chris Jansen responded. You can also stabilize the number of large herbivores at 1000 animals, for example. We simply want Almere to give its opinion on this matter. The PVV will put the motion to the vote next week. It does not look like the motion will get a majority. Most parties would like to await the report of the Van Geel Commission. On 25 April this commission will issue an opinion on the future management of the Oostvaardersplassen.

National Park

Earlier in the evening there was talk of the transformation of the Oostvaardersplassen into Nieuw Land National Park. The area must be made more attractive so as to attract between 250 000 and 500 000 tourists each year. In Almere an attractive entrance to the area near the Grote Vaartweg, which now has the working name ‘Almeerse Poort’, must then be created. However, this name will probably fall away. Councilor Mark de Kuster (VVD) indicated that it could lead to confusion with the Almere Poort district among tourists. Alderman Frits Huis agreed. “Maybe we should organize a competition for a better name”, he suggested. Most of the parties seemed to agree with the development of the area. Leonie Vestering (Partij voor de Dieren) did, however, express her dissatisfaction with the fact that the nature reserve is being commercialized. “Why is it necessary to make money from vulnerable nature. We should rather focus on the welfare of the animals before we start commercializing the park.”

The municipality will invest  9 million euros in the new access area, with 4.1 million euros coming from Staatsbosbeheer.  The municipal council will shortly be discussing this in further detail.

Quiet protest

The roughly 200 activists who once again demonstrated on Sunday afternoon against the management of the Oostvaardersplassen remained peaceful. Initially, there was a threat to remove a number of animals from the area with trailers, but that did not happen.

A cross was placed at the provincial council’s offices in Lelystad, in memory of the animals who had died in the area. A number of demonstrators managed to place white crosses and a coffin in the area. These were immediately removed by Staatsbosbeheer (national parks). There was no need for the police to take action. However, motorcycle police did provide assistance when a funeral procession of cars drove slowly along the A6 motorway. Roadblocks had been placed around the area to prevent the demonstrators from actually driving trailers into the area.

Six speakers, some from outside Almere, seized the opportunity to address a meeting on Thursday to express their dissatisfaction with the situation in the Oostvaardersplassen.

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Jan Dirk Pruim, Almere Municipal Clerk

‘The sum of minorities is a majority: that is democracy.’ (page 9)

By Robert Mienstra

ALMERE – During council meetings Jan Dirk Pruim always sits next to the chair, mayor Franc Weerwind. This makes him visible. Furthermore, he often acts behind the scenes in the town hall. “I make sure that the ballroom is in order, that the music and the dance cards are arranged, so that the dancing can take place,” says Pruim, explaining the nature of his role. In other words, thanks to his work as the clerk, the board and the municipal council can do a good job.

“Perhaps that’s stating it a bit strongly”, the modest clerk shakes his head. “But it is true that I try to streamline everything for the town council as much as possible.” The members of the Council regard Pruim almost as a confidant. “They do often come to me when they need advice, or someone to talk to. They elaborate on things, want to know if they have written a motion properly. I can see whether everything is according to the rules, but I can also provide them with information they have not yet thought of. I often bring them into contact with civil society organizations, from which they can learn a lot.”

Since taking up his duties in 2002, the Almere town clerk has been able to give his own interpretation of his profession. In other cities, the clerk merely produces meeting minutes. In Almere, the clerk is much more than a secretary to a meeting. He is also mentor and mainstay.

Tanker

Now that the new municipal council has been installed, a busy time faces the clerk. “New councilors must learn how to write and submit a motion. Which is where I can help them. They need to get to know the road in town hall and then do a good job.” A pitfall for the new councilors is that they sometimes think ‘now we are going to do everything completely differently’. That’s fine”, Plum says, “but it’s indeed a pitfall. Council members do politics alongside their work and family life. There are limits to this. The municipality (politics) is actually a supertanker that you can only turn gradually. You can’t suddenly do a u-turn with a tanker. I point this out to the councilors. And I also remind myself that I work for people who do this part time”.

Listening

The clerk believes strongly in democracy. “But democracy is never perfect. It is an organic process. A perfect democracy would be a dictatorship of democracy.” Pruim emphasizes the importance of listening carefully to each other. “The essence is that a majority is always the sum of minorities. This means that we have to govern the city together. You should never be steered by a minority. I cannot emphasize this enough. There must be cooperation between the parties.”

Writer

The Dutch word ‘griffier’ (clerk) is derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’ which means ‘writing’. Pruim is also literally a writer. He has published a book titled ‘Hoe en wat voor de raadslid’ (a how-to for councilors). “I wrote this in practice for interested citizens, for starting members of councils, but also for experienced ones. It’s a book to be used in political work, but also a book to be used in discussions about the future of (local) democracy,” says Pruim. In 2010 the first edition appeared, and in 2018 the second, revised, edition.

Pruim is also known in politics in the Netherlands for his blog www.pruimpraat.nl. “I do indeed like to write” says Pruim. “I publish observations and thoughts about the current state of local politics in my blog.”.

Jan Dirk Pruim is also known as the conscience of local democracy. “Well,” he reacts shaking his head, “that’s saying a lot”. After a little thought he adds, “Well, maybe it’s a little bit like that”.

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Electric city buses fit green and healthy city (page 12)

ALMERE – The City of Almere has recently taken a trip in allGo’s 100 percent electric city bus. Alderman Tjeerd Herrema: “We are pleased that electric city buses are now also being used here, because it fits in with our ambition to be a green and healthy city. And this special Growing Green Cities bus is a fun element in the run-up to the Floriade in 2022.”

The Growing Green Cities bus is used on line M7. This bus carries a mobile message for Almere and its visitors: the Floriade is coming – and we are going to live increasingly sustainable lives. “This mobile advertising is extremely suitable for reaching people in Almere and helps them think about and work on the development of Almere as a green and healthy city. The bus focuses attention on greener thinking and on the important themes surrounding the coming Floriade”, says allGo.

Unusual design

One of the seven electric buses in Almere looks different. The municipality gave permission for a bus with a different design. The city of Almere took care of the design, while Keolis Nederland implemented it. The idea for a bus with a sustainable theme stems from an offer made by Keolis Nederland (which provides bus transport in Almere under the allGo brand) during the public tender.

Help fight giant hogweed

VROEGE VOGELBOS – Sheep are being used to combat giant hogweed In the Vroege Vogelbos. But where sheep cannot go, help is needed. So volunteers will join the battle on Thursday  April 19th, from 6pm to 9pm.

The City & Nature sheep herd loves giant hogweed. If the sheep eat the leaves and stems before the plant has blossomed, this limits the weed’s proliferation.

The objective is to cut down each giant hogweed two to three times throughout the Vroege Vogelbos, to prevent it from blossoming. Here and there the plant is removed with its roots. This requires many helping hands, so your neighbors and family are also welcome!

Volunteers are asked to register via the website of Stad & Natuur, to ensure enough equipment is available. The giant hogweed battle is fought on Thursday evenings, on 19 April, 17 May, 21 June and 19 July, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.  The evenings will be supervised by ‘Landschapsbeheer Flevoland’, commissioned by Stad & Natuur. Guidance, equipment, gloves, coffee and tea will be provided.

To register and for more information: www.stadennatuur.nl.

Almere Kaylee (15) in The Voice Kids final (page 27)

ALMERE – Next Friday Almere’s Kaylee Landegent (15) will be featured in the final of The Voice Kids, the talent contest for children aged 8 to 15 that is held every Friday evening at 8.30 pm on RTL 4.

Kaylee attends the Arte College (class 4, vmbo) and is very interested in news. She regularly helps out this newspaper. But the young Almere girl also has a golden voice – without a doubt! It’s been a process for Kaylee on her way to the final. The show consists of several phases: a production audition and the all-important ‘blind auditions’, where four jury members (Marco Borsato, Ilse deLange, Douwe Bob and Ali B) form teams on the basis of the voices they hear. Kaylee sang Faith Hill’s song ‘There you’ll be’ and won over all the jury members. She chose Douwe Bob’s team.

Battles

During the ‘battles’, each coach links three talents who have to battle against each other by singing a song chosen by their coach. Only one talented singer can survive each battle. The coach decides who that will be. In the battle broadcast on 30 March Kaylee won the sing-off, singing Sam Smith’s song, ‘Too good at Goodbyes’.

Sing-off

During the sing off on 13 April, all candidates had to sing a song from the audition. Only one act is chosen, per team, to go to the finals. Kaylee competed against the other three battle winners in Team Douwe Bob and the young Almere girl was again the best. Douwe Bob chose Kaylee to represent his team at The Voice Kids Live Finale next Friday.

In the final the talents sing songs chosen in consultation with their coach. The winner of The Voice Kids 2018 will be elected by the home TV audience, using televoting.

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Bright ideas hub’ will generate interest in science and technology. (page 29)

ALMERE – Shell and Stad&Natuur Almere are joining forces to introduce primary school pupils from the region to science and technology in a fun way. The official opening of the ‘bright ideas hub’ took place last Wednesday

From 2020 onwards, science and technology will become compulsory subjects in Dutch primary school education. To support schools in this, Shell and its partners have worked with teachers and students to develop the Bright Ideas Challenge. This will challenge students to find solutions to global challenges in the fields of energy, water and food.

By participating in the challenge, which consists of an online teaching package and a class visit to the hub, young people will come into contact with science and technology in an interactive and investigative way. This will help them discover that they can come up with all kinds of smart ideas themselves – ideas that could make a positive contribution to their own – and everyone’s – future.

Schools from all over the Netherlands can participate until the end of April. Then a jury of experts will select the three best ideas nationally and will award the prize at the Generation Discover Festival in The Hague, in October.

Visitors welcome

Up to 20 April nearly 700 primary school pupils from the region will visit the hub and Het Klokhuis. Curious about this futuristic dome? During school hours the hub is reserved for school classes, but outside these times all visitors are welcome.

Register via brightideas.generationdiscover.nl.

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Aeres University of Applied Sciences signs collaboration with Chinese university   (page 33)

CITY CENTER- Aeres University of Applied Sciences will collaborate with the Chinese Zhongkai University in the field of research and education. Both universities have committed to this in a letter of intent, signed in Guangzhou last week. This happened during a trade mission organized by the Dutch government.

Zhongkai University and Aeres University of Applied Sciences are both knowledge institutions with a strong specialization in green education. Both universities also have a wide range of collaborative topics in mind, which they will now explore and further develop. The schools will exchange students and staff and implement joint educational programs.

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Note: All of the above articles were originally written in Dutch and published by “Almere Deze Week”, edition April 18, 2018. They were translated for International Almere by Courtesie International Business Affairs www.courtesie.nl

Translations of “Almere Deze Week” edition 11 April 2018

Almere Deze Week is a weekly newspaper with local news for the inhabitants of Almere. It is published in Dutch. Below you find a selection of the articles of this week’s edition translated into English for the community of International Almere. Long articles have been summarised. All articles have been translated with the permission of the editors of “Almere Deze Week”. The board of international Almere wishes to thank Courtesie (www.courtesie.nl) for their quick and accurate work to translate the articles into English, so that the international community of Almere can be informed and feel connected with the city they live in.

The original articles in Dutch can be found in the hard copy version of “Almere Deze Week” and online via this link: www.almeredezeweek.nl . The page numbers behind the titles refer to the pages of the newspaper where the articles can be found.

Below you find 8 articles with the following titles:

  1. Flights to Lelystad Airport not over Almere (page 3)
  2. Poort Residents erect Poort Platform (page 7)
  3. Open days at new Hindu temple (page 19)
  4. Three venues for a musical King’s Day (and King’s Day eve) (page 23)
  5. Flevoland sees strong growth in tourism (page 29)
  6. ‘Premier league’ sailing (Eredivisie Zeilen) (page 35)
  7. Living Water lab (page 35)
  8. Blue parking zones around center extended (page 41)

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Flights to Lelystad Airport not over Almere (page 3)

by Robert Mienstra

ALMERE – “None of the departure or landing routes from Lelystad Airport lie above Almere”, says Jurgen van Avermaete of Air Traffic Control Netherlands (LVNL) at Schiphol Airport. This negates statements made by ‘aviation journalist’ John Assman in this newspaper last week. The published map is also definitely not correct, according to Van Avermaete. “The routes shown just aren’t right”.

Van Avermaete indicates maps showing the correct routes. “The local flight routes, the so-called B+ route, and the final route design from the connecting routes to higher-altitude airspace can be seen. Almere just doesn’t appear here.

“Landing traffic flies to one of the starting points of the local approach routes. These starting points are located near Steenwijk or Lemelerveld. The aircraft then follows the local flight route, the continuous, blue line on the map”, Avermaete explains. “When landing in a north-easterly direction, the aircraft descends in a south-westerly direction until it passes Zeewolde and then turns towards the airport. The planes therefore turn before they reach the A27. The motorway forms the border of Almere. So the planes do fly over the Zeewolde part of Oosterwold, but not over Almere.”

Number of flights

“Lelystad Airport will grow by up to 10,000 aircraft movements per year until 2023, which is an average of 28 movements per day”, says Avermaete, “14 aircraft taking off and 14 aircraft landings. The latter approach Almere, but turn before the A27. The departing aircraft depart in a north-easterly direction from Lelystad. So they are far from Almere. Departing planes make more noise than those descending. So aircraft taking off will not cause any disturbance at all in Almere.”

Altitudes

Flights above Knardijk take place at an altitude of 900 meters. The descent to the A27 is to 500 meters. Then the planes turn towards Lelystad. “Incidentally, the landing route from Almere is used approximately 40 percent of the time, depending on the direction of the wind”, says Van Avermaete.

The aircraft fly beneath the air traffic to and from Schiphol Airport.

(Netherlands Air Traffic Control schematic depiction of landing and take-off routes at Lelystad Airport. Photo: LVNL – Netherlands Air Traffic Control)

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Poort Residents erect Poort Platform (page 7)

By Dominique Voss

POORT – Residents of Poort want to contribute ideas about the future of their neighborhood. Which is why some twenty Poort residents went from door to door in November to collect signatures for the establishment of a citizens’ platform. The kick-off was last Tuesday, at a walk-in meeting in Sterrenschool De Ruimte. “Together we’ll make Poort a better neighborhood”, said one of the initiators, Ernest van der Linden.

The Platform will meet a few times per year to discuss a number of general themes, such as safety, green and facilities. “You can come up with your own proposals and ideas, but you don’t have to. You are also not obliged to show up every time”, says Van der Linden. During the walk-in meeting residents were able to indicate per theme which topics they considered important. At the end of the evening the board was filled with post-it notes and stickers. Residents could also register to become members of the platform. This was done by more than sixty Poort residents. “Really great”, said Van der Linden, “The more people, the better”.

This is not the first time that residents of Poort have taken action. For example, a number of them founded Friends of CascadePark in 2012. Some, therefore, had doubts about the platform. “We’ve talked to the municipality so many times and every time it turned out to be a disappointment for us. I don’t really believe in it anymore”, one resident explained. He is glad that residents of Poort continue to be involved though. “I want to see progress first, then perhaps I’ll join”.

Municipal elections

Voter turnout at the municipal elections was at its lowest in Poort and this confirms the view that many Poort residents do not feel that their voices are being heard. “It is precisely for this reason that the PoortPlatform is desperately needed”, Van der Linden emphasized. “By working well together, we can find solutions.”

Alderman Tjeerd Herrema said on Tuesday evening that the municipality has a great interest in the establishment of the PoortPlatform. “We would be crazy not to do anything with this. Poort is still developing robustly, but there are also already quite a lot of people living there. A good idea on paper is not necessarily a good idea for the neighborhood. That calls for a different approach.”

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Three venues for a musical King’s Day (and King’s Day eve) (page 23)

CITY CENTRE – The musical program on King’s Day eve (and King’s Day) has been greatly expanded this year. There will be three stages in the Almere city center: at the Grote Markt, the Stadhuisplein and the Belfort restaurant square.

Now a King’s Day eve tradition, the annual ‘Tweak Kingsnight Dance’ is a big dance party, with DJs presenting the best dance hits at the Grote Markt from 19.00 to 24.00. DJs Kai and Antonio Loren will once again have the whole square up and dancing.

New this year on King’s Day eve is the ‘Orange Podium’ at Stadhuisplein. Under the direction of DJ Jeroen Hamer several singers will perform the greatest Dutch hits. There will be performances by Mart Hoogkamer, Danny Lit, Mario Broerse and Vince Collet. The program runs from 18.00 to 24.00.

The Belfort restaurant square will have live music on the terrace from 13.00 to 20.00 with the band Winnetoe doing covers of Nederpop hits (including Doe Maar numbers), Lisa Imhoff & Sander Hoek and guitar/singer duo G’wine On Stage.

The Orange Stage at Stadhuisplein will host continuous entertainment from 12.00 to 18.00 from live bands such as the Karaoke Live Band (yes, you can sing!), Mr. Mudd (jazz/blues/funk) and a number of great cover bands.

The Grote Markt hosts the main stage, with many famous artists. From 13.00 to 16.00 there will be the traditional ‘Grote Markt Loves A’dam’ program, featuring a performance by Peter Beense, the Netherlands’ most frequently booked Amsterdam singer. DJ Franky B. (Cooldown Café) will be running the musical program and presenting a fine selection of Amsterdam/Almere talents. At 16.00 ‘The Big Orange Hitfest’ will start here, with the biggest hits of the past decades being performed by DJs and, mainly, artists – non-stop until 22.00. There will be performances by Def Rhymz (‘Doekoe’, ‘De Bom’), K-Liber (‘Viben’), DJ Galaga (‘What do we say to the DJ?’) and the OJKB DJ team. The 6-person mash-up band, Popgunnn, will also be presenting a stunning hit show.

For more information see the Koningsdag Almere Facebook page and www.koningsdaginalmere.nl.

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Open days at new Hindu temple (page 19)

INDISCHE BUURT – The Hindu temple, Shri Vishnu Mandir – at Tempo Doeloestraat 250 in Almere Buiten, will host open days on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 April, from 11.00 to 18.00. Everyone is welcome to visit the temple.

As part of the opening ceremony, a fourteen-day Shri Vishnu ‘puran katha’ will be held from 30 April, which is an Indian way of telling a religious story. It starts at 18.00 and there will be a pooja every day, a ritual in which Hindus venerate a deity, Parvachan and Aarti and high priests. There will be an opportunity for everyone to offer persaad and daan.

For more information visit www.shrivishnumandir.nl or call 036-5217600.

Friday 20 April is the official inauguration of the temple. This will not be open to the public.

Almere is at last witnessing the opening of the Golden Temple of Shri Vishnu. The temple was previously planned to open in November 2015.

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Flevoland sees strong growth in tourism (page 29)

FLEVOLAND – The number of guests staying in Dutch overnight accommodation grew considerably last year, according to the latest figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). This growth is also reflected in the figures for Flevoland. Flevoland is increasingly becoming a destination for both Dutch and international overnight visitors.

Overnighting, international tourists are the biggest growth category in Flevoland. The total increase in the number of guests was 24% in 2017 as compared to 2016.  Guests from neighboring Belgium and Germany are in the majority, followed by Asia. Germany is the leader with, in 2017, a 22% growth in the number of guests as compared to 2016. German visitors typically prefer bungalow parks and hotels and locations near water.

Tulip campaign

In addition to local promotion, Tourism Flevoland also focuses to a large extent on German visitors. For example, a promotional campaign is currently being run in cooperation with NBTC Holland Marketing for the coming Flevoland tulip period. In addition to campaigns, Tourism Flevoland focuses on press & PR. Next spring, various journalists and bloggers will tour Flevoland. “In this way, and in collaboration with the tourism industry, we can let them personally experience the most beautiful places and stories of Flevoland”, says Rinkje Tromp, marketing manager at Tourism Flevoland.

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‘Premier league’ sailing (Eredivisie Zeilen) (page 35)

Eredivisie Sailing (a top-level regatta) will be held on the Weerwater in Almere Centrum from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 April. Eredivisie Sailing is competitive sailing at the highest level. The Esplanade, in the heart of Almere Centrum, will offer the best view of the eighteen teams of Dutch sailing associations that will compete for the coveted title. These will be short races, close to shore, between the best Dutch sailors and boats. There will also be interesting explanations, digital animations and fun activities for children. In short, sailing at the highest level! The Eredivisie Sailing event in Almere Centrum is free of charge.

For more information visit www.eredivisiezeilen.nl

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Living Water Lab (page 35)

Do you love technology and do you want to explore physics, chemistry and biology in a fun way? The Living Water Lab will be set up on the Esplanade during Eredivisie Sailing (the top sailing event in Almere Centrum). The lab is a mobile laboratory, where you can do all kinds of fun, scientific experiments using everyday materials. Put on a real laboratory coat and get to know about water awareness, spatial adaptation, climate change, litter and much more – in a fun way. The environment is also addressed. In this way you’ll learn how important water is, and that clean tap water is not something you can take for granted. What happens, for example, when the weather is very dry, or when it rains a lot, and for a very long time? There are brief worksheets for all experiments, including step-by-step descriptions. Admission is free. Be early to ensure your place!

Friday 13 April, from 15.00 to 17.30.

Saturday 14 April, from 10.15 to 17.30

Sunday 15 April, from 10.15 to 16.00

For more information go to www.almerecentrum.nl

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Blue parking zones around center extended (page 41)

STAD CENTRUM – The ‘blue parking zones’ in the city center (Stad) were extended from the start of this month. This took place after research by the parking authority (Parkeerbedrijf) showed that a number of streets in Stedenwijk and Filmwijk were subject to significant parking problems.

Parkeerbedrijf received complaints from residents in various residential areas around the city center concerning parking problems and therefore carried out research. A survey was conducted in the relevant street. Residents could indicate whether they were experiencing parking over-demand in their street. In addition, residents’ evenings were organized and parking demand was measured at different times of the day. The study revealed that a number of streets in Stedenwijk and Filmwijk are subject to significant parking problems and these affect residents.

In the Filmwijk the blue zone has been extended on Cinemareef, Hollywoodlaan and Marty Feldmanstraat. In Stedenwijk the blue zone has been extended on Dokkumlaan, Harlingensingel, Makkumstraat, Staverenstraat, Workumstraat, Lemmerstraat and Drachtenstraat.

The blue zones in Stedenwijk and Filmwijk will be further extended.

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Note: All of the above articles were originally written in Dutch and published by “Almere Deze Week”, edition April 11, 2018. They were translated for International Almere by Courtesie International Business Affairs www.courtesie.nl

Translations of “Almere Deze Week” edition 21 March 2018

Almere Deze Week is a weekly newspaper with local news for the inhabitants of Almere. It is published in Dutch. Below you find a selection of the articles of this week’s edition translated into English for the community of International Almere. Long articles have been summarised. All articles have been translated with the permission of the editors of “Almere Deze Week”. The board of international Almere wishes to thank Courtesie (www.courtesie.nl) for their quick and accurate work to translate the articles into English, so that the international community of Almere can be informed and feel connected with the city they live in.

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Councilor Herrema: ‘Stopping Floriade is irresponsible’
By Robert Meinstra

Almere – Last week the PVV (a Dutch political party) published the research done by agency Rebel, from which the party concluded that stopping Floriade would be less costly than proceeding with the world horticultural exhibition. Councilor Tjeerd Herrema (PvdA) called this conclusion irresponsible.
 He said that stopping would cost 24 to 74 million euros, so stopping was not an option for his party. In fact, stopping would be irresponsible.
He also said that Rebel had based the hotel bookings on the current number of beds available, while various hotel initiatives are being considered which would double the number of beds in Almere. And that there were other benefits.
He said Rebel had concluded that there was a risk that stopping would create higher costs and produce no income. The central question in the report was whether a proper risk analysis had taken place and the answer to that was yes and that it was precisely in line with his party’s conclusion to continue with Floriade.

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Half of 45+ residents employed, thanks to Almere reintegration method
By Robert Mienstra

Almere – “Two years ago the municipality, together with the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), started an employment program for citizens over 45 with social or unemployment benefits. Of the 295 participants 154 (52%) found paid employment. In 2015, however, only 15% of this group had been successful in this regard. Though it’s a big mistake to think that this improvement came from economic growth”, says councilor Froukje de Jonge (from the Dutch political party, CDA).
 She explained that despite the feeling that there were many work opportunities, the 45+ group were discriminated against and the number of them on benefits was growing, nationally. Almere’s approach solved this problem.
The council and UWV devoted time to discovering and correcting the social, self-worth and financial issues of the 45+ age group, enabling them to re-train and to find jobs again – a significant number of which were technical.

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No coffee shop for Meridiaanpark
By Marcel Beijer

Buiten Centrum – The decision that there will definitely be no coffee shop in the Meridiaanpark in (Almere) Buiten was made by a majority of the municipal council on Thursday. An alternative location is not currently to be found.
The executive board of the council saw this as the only location for a coffee shop in Buiten and had earlier decided that legal marijuana outlets should be situated in every district of Almere. This resolution was discontinued due to energetic local protest, subsequently supported by parties ChristenUnie and PVV who tried unsuccessfully to block any further consideration of a fourth coffee shop.
It was decided to suspend the decision until a suitable location in Buiten presented itself.

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Oostvaardersplassen protestors charged

Oostvaardersplassen – Protestors looked on as park wardens shot a weakened red deer in the Oostvaardersplassen on Saturday, 17 March. This resulted in a riot, following which police arrested three people.  
Wardens had issued warnings to onlookers after which some left. It took three shots to kill the animal according to protestors. According to the wardens the animal was dead after a single shot.
Issues had previously arisen about supplementary winter feeding for the animals with little feed being available, illegal feeding taking place from unknown sources and Flevoland province calling in the help of vets to advise on and supervise feeding.
The Van Geel Commission is currently working on a new policy framework (report due end March 2018) for the area, on behalf of the province, with Bosbeheer pointing to the need for careful integration of objectives regarding nature, public access and the welfare of the large grazing animals.

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Almere keeps getting greener

Almere is a green city. Statistics published on groenmonitor.nl provided by Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) indicate that we are actually the greenest city in the Netherlands. Almere’s typical green-blue combination of forest, lakes, parks and wetlands is seen as one of the city’s key characteristics, making it distinctive in the region and offering an attractive, healthy environment for living and business.       
We aim to improve this, making the city greener and even more attractive for residents, visitors and fauna by investing in the green-blue context of Almere, together with national and provincial government, Staatsbosbeheer, Stichting Flevo-landschap, local organizations and residents. To further our green aims, an annual program of activities and projects, Groenblauw, is drawn up and submitted to the city council.
This shows, via 2017 results and 2018 plans, that tangible results are being achieved.

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What happens to your vote

The voting locations will close on 21 March at 21.00 hours, after which election night continues at the city hall. Many politicians and involved residents will meet to hear the first results – and it’s an especially exciting night for the candidates. Did your party make it to the municipal council – and will you make it, personally? How many party members will there be to share the future workload? Who will be elected from among the opposing parties? And yet the elections are just the beginning . . .

Counting
There are 115 voting locations in Almere, which count and deliver their results to a central voting office at the city hall.

Division of seats
There are 45 council seats in Almere. These are divided among the various parties. You are welcome to attend election night at the city hall to see the parties’ representation on the council unfold.

Who sits on the council?
Once the allocation of seats to parties is known, the selection of individual representatives can start. These are not necessarily the people at the top of the election lists, but those who will gain the most preferential votes.

Appointment
Council members are appointed once all voting and preferential voting is complete and after confirmation of their credentials by the outgoing council.

Swearing in
The outgoing council retires, in full, on Tuesday 27 March. All new councilors who have approved credentials are sworn in on Thursday 29 March.

Forming the council’s executive board
The new executive board is formed from the newly elected council and the formation process is mostly led by the winning party in the election.

Executive board appointment
Once party negotiations to form an executive board agreement are finalized the members of the executive are named.

To work!
Now the real council work begins – to which the councilors are committed for four years.                       

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Welcome to the Greenhouse – on Saturday 7 April

Buitenvaart – Kom in de Kas (Welcome to the Greenhouse) will give Almere’s residents an opportunity to get to know the surprising world concealed under greenhouse glass. Ten Almere-Buiten businesses will take part, opening their doors from 10.00 to 16.00 to let people experience the beauty of greenhouse horticulture.    
A wide variety of food and decorative products are grown under glass in Almere-Buitenvaart. This is the Netherlands’ largest, urban, horticultural area and increasingly focuses on the connection between city and horticulture. Not to be missed is Onze Volkstuin, in which residents have joined their efforts and formed a unique kind of family business that feeds their passions for both gardening and organic vegetables.
A clown, gardening and horticultural info, sweets and an interactive detective game guarantee fun for children. Download the Kom in de Kas app to start the treasure hunt now.
Read more at www.buitenvaart.nl

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20 Almere organizations join to combat overweight and obesity

City Centre – The organizations together with councilor Rene Peeters signed the Almere Healthy Weight Pact on Friday, 16 March and will act jointly to combat (potential) childhood overweight and obesity.
This was the second signing of the pact and added 12 parties to the original 8. These public, private and voluntary organizations give priority to fighting childhood obesity as well as establishing a closed chain of detection, support and long-term care.

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Visit Lambs’ Day at the Vroege Vogelbos

Vroege Vogelbos – After the cold winter months everyone’s looking forward to the Spring – and to celebrate it Stad & Natuur has invited everyone to Lambs’ Day on Sunday, 25 March.
From 12.00 to 16.00 visitors can enjoy a variety of workshops, demonstrations, theatre and, of course, lambs! The various activities are also supported by the Almeerse Wolunie (wool union) and ‘Kunstbus’.

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Staatsbosbeheer is organizing the 23rd Open Day at the Buitencentrum in Almeerderhout on 2 April.
There will be fun activities and demonstrations for the whole family.
Read more at:
www.kemphaan.nl

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Almere’s waste to become green concrete 

Almere – Almere council and the recycling company, De Vijfhoek, have agreed the implementation of the winning plan from the Upcycle City competition held last year. This means that De Vijfhoek will start to implement the ‘Almere circular economic area development’ plan.
De Vijfhoek will invest in application research, in processing gas digestate waste and in technology to make ‘green concrete’. An important aspect of the plan is the collaboration between De Vijfhoek, Theo Pouw BV, Millvision, and Groen Gas Almere in order to utilize Almere’s waste streams, each other’s waste (gas digestate), mutually exchange heat and make green CO2 available to local gardeners.

Sustainable concrete plant    
De Vijfhoek’s investment in the plant is key to the project. The plant will make construction concrete consisting of 30 to 50% (and rising in coming years to 80%) recycled material. Non-construction concrete will ultimately consist of 100% recycled material.

Agreement
This involves co-financing of 2,410,830 euros for three years by the Fonds Verstedelijking Almere, with the condition that three times that amount is invested by the consortium. The investment covers all aspects of the development and construction of the large-scale, green concrete plant.

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Swap a paving tile for a plant

Almere – Between 24 March and 24 June residents of Almere will get a free plant in exchange for one of their own garden paving tiles. The city council hopes that residents will plant more green in their gardens, as a result. 
 Greener (front) gardens benefit bees and insects, reduce urban heat retention and help rainwater to enter the ground. Tiles can be exchanged for a flower voucher (valid at local garden centers) at the two recycling stations in Almere Buiten and Almere Poort or at the Upcyclecentrum in Almere Haven.
More information: www.growinggreencities.nl

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Note: Alle of the above articles were originally written in Dutch and published by “Almere Deze Week”, edition March 21, 2018. They were translated for International Almere by Courtesie International Business Affairs www.courtesie.nl

Is Almere serving its expat community well?

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. We were this time. The Municipality (Gemeente) of Almere is more and more aware of its international community here in town. They have decisions coming up (like about the international school campus) for which they would like to have more information on the international community. So, we offered them to do a survey among the internationals of Almere that we are connected with, to find out their opinion about Almere. What are they happy with, what not, and what are their suggestions? We published an online questionnaire on the Facebook page and website of International Almere.

The questions

In April 2017 we sent out the following five questions to more than 1000 internationals/expats living in Almere:

  1. Why did you choose to live in Almere?
  2. What can the Almere municipality do better to help you to find your way in Almere? 
  3. What do you like about living in Almere?
  4. What don’t you like about living in Almere?
  5. How could Almere attract more internationals?

The answers

The overwhelming response we received gave valuable insights for the municipality about the motives, complaints and suggestions of the international community living in Almere. Some highlights of this survey: many expats are very happily living in Almere. Important reasons to live in Almere are the affordable prices of the houses (especially compared to Amsterdam), the proximity to Utrecht and Amsterdam and many expats view Almere as a child friendly city. Specially appreciated are the nature in and around the city, the public transport and the safety and quietness of Almere. Main topics of dissatisfaction are the roadblocks on the A6 and A1, the negative image of Almere and the somewhat boring atmosphere of the city center, especially at night. Almere seems to be appreciated especially by families with children, that want to escape the busy cities of Utrecht or Amsterdam. So, this is more or less the same group as the non-internationals who like to live in Almere. What should the “Gemeente” improve the most?  By far: availability of online information for living in Almere in English and a sort of helpdesk for internationals at the town hall to help newcomers to get started. If Almere wants to grow the expat/international community, international school availability is very important. People want to live in the near vicinity of the school their children go to.

General conclusion

Next to the availability of schools the main issue for current residents and future newcomers is communication: give information in English and also actively promote the city. The possibilities and opportunities that Almere has to offer are little known amongst new arrivals.

Now what?

A report along with a list of recommendations for the municipality was presented and discussed with a delegation of four representatives of the municipality of Almere on Monday 15th of May.  At the end, we officially handed over the report to Monique Vredenburg, senior project manager Economic Affairs of the Municipality. Again, we’d like to thank all the internationals that took the time to fill in the questionnaire, called us with their remarks or sent us emails with answers. Your input is highly appreciated. We hope the municipality will use all suggestions you gave to further improve their service to the internationals in Almere.

Stephanie Ernst and Michel Daenen present Monique Vredenburg with the results of the survey.

Stephanie Ernst, International Almere, www.internationalalmere.com

Karin Gabor and Michel Daenen, Crossing Cultures, www.crossingcultures.nl

 

For further information, you can contact: Stephanie Ernst, marketing@internationalalmere.com 

or Michel Daenen, michel.daenen@crossingcultures.nl   

Understanding “Sinterklaas” in the Netherlands.

Guest post by Michel Daenen of Crossing Cultures.  Please do not copy or use parts of this article without correct attribution.

Sinterklaas (or Sint Nicolaas) is the children’s friend from Spain who brings presents for the Dutch children every year.
sinterklaas
Sinterklaas (1)

This Saturday, he will arrive by boat to the Netherlands. It’s meant to be a cheerful children’s celebration, but lately it has also been the source of heated discussions. Sinterklaas is a sensitive topic in Dutch society. For the newcomer in this country it would help to become a bit more aware of those sensitivities around Sinterklaas and their background. That’s why I wrote this article.

When I was 3 to 6 years old, Sinterklaas was one of the yearly highlights of my life. Sinterklaas, the friendly tall man with the red robe, white long beard and hair, his rod and high miter, came every year to Holland by steamboat from Spain. We would welcome him at the dock of the town on a cold day in November, waving at him and his funny, athletic and silly servants called “zwarte pieten”. On Saturday evenings we would place our shoes in front of the heater in the living room, containing a hand written letter and some drawings for Sinterklaas complete with wish list for presents and carrots for his white horse.

Shoes by the fire
Shoes by the fire (2)

Together with my two older sisters I would sing typical Sinterklaas songs such as “Sinterklaas Kapoentje”, “Zie ginds komt de stoomboot” and “De zak van Sinterklaas”. Most of the time I had no idea what I was singing about, but I tried my best to sing as well as I could. Because every child of my age knew: if you are a good boy or girl, you’ll get presents from Sinterklaas, if you’re naughty, Zwarte Piet will beat you with his stick (called ‘de roe’), put you in his bag and take you to Spain. On Sunday mornings I would come in the living room and get exited seeing the carrots, letter and drawings having been replaced by chocolates and presents. Supposedly it was black Piet who climbed through the chimney at night in order to perform this wonderful magic trick. On the 5th of December beginning of the evening my parents wanted us to be upstairs and only come down when the bell rang. Entering the living room the table was covered with presents, sweets and chocolate. Heaven!

When I was 7 years old I found out I was collectively fooled about it all. Sinterklaas didn’t exist they told me. My parents ‘were’ Sinterklaas and “de Goedheiligman” I saw on tv was an actor. It was a shock to hear that even my two older sisters had been part of the conspiracy for years. Nevertheless, I hold sweet memories of Sinterklaas.

Now, about 40 years later, I have young children myself and the whole thing comes back to me: the songs, the presents, the suspense and also Zwarte Piet’s bag.

But times have changed during past decades. The “roe” is no longer there, the horse that was just a “Schimmel” to us is called Amerigo since the 90’s, Zwarte Piet is not always dumb anymore, there are some very clever Zwarte Pieten right now and Sinterklaas is not always the wise old man, sometimes he forgets things.  Along with Sinterklaas the last couple of years every autumn a nationwide discussion starts in the weeks before 5th of December. And it gets more intense every year.

sinterklaas-intocht
The Stoomboot arrives (3)

It has become clear that not everybody in the Dutch society is happy with this event full of Dutch traditions. Some of the Dutch citizens, mainly but not exclusively and not all Dutch with a background from the former Dutch colonies Suriname, Indonesia and the Dutch Antilles, feel Sinterklaas to be a racist and discriminating event. At first the reply from other people in society was ‘nonsense, Sinterklaas has nothing to do with racism or discrimination, it’s only  tradition and we should not change a thing about it’, but more and more it was inevitable that things needed to be adjusted in this Dutch folklore. Especially since the UN Committee Against Race Discrimination called for change, concluding in August 2015 that ‘deeply rooted cultural tradition does not justify discriminatory practices and stereotypes’. It resulted for a while in emotional discussions on Dutch TV shows, newspapers and on the street. It was obvious that a sensitive snare of Dutch culture was touched, an episode of our history that is controversial, to say the least. Dutch people usually proudly tell foreigners about our Golden Age, some centuries ago, where we travelled the world, traded with all kinds of people in the East and the West and brought prosperity to our country. But part of this global trading was also slavery in which the Netherlands took massively part. Although the tradition of Sinterklaas is much older than this period in Dutch history, during and after the period of slavery it evolved to the stereotyping of black Piet being a dumb servant of the big white man, wearing big earrings and having fat lips. This is for some Dutch people a confronting memory of our past. Here lies probably the explanation for the emotions around the Sinterklaas-discussion. We’re not proud of that part of our history, yet it has brought us where we currently are: a multicultural welfare state with values like equality, freedom of speech and tolerance. On top of that, in a rapidly changing world with much uncertainty and (perceived) threats that create fear, people tend to cling on to their own identity, usually connected to one’s country. Then it is not about rational argumentation anymore, but about the “gut feeling”. So when you deeply feel the need of national identity it’s hard to let go of the artefacts of your culture that are part of that. You’ll strongly defend the status quo. Sinterklaas seems such an artefact. But in a society that by law prohibits discrimination and where we feel everybody who is a member of our society should get the possibility to feel included something needed to be changed. The question if you are included or feel included, are discriminated or feel discriminated is another one  I will not get into now. As said, something needed to be changed, but how?

In the tradition of Dutch decision making habits (the notorious ‘poldermodel’) different points of view and ideas were discussed at length. Then the phase of actively looking for the ultimate compromise started. Extreme positions seem not to get so much support: we probably won’t see the complete disappearance of black Piets, nor will we see no change at all. The middle of the road seems to be this year a Piet that has some black stripes on his face (‘roetvegen’), grime that is supposed to come from the chimney he climbs through. We’ll probably also see other coloured Piets: orange, blue, rainbow coloured. Is everybody happy with the outcome? Probably not… but as you know from your own changes you have gone through when moving from one place to another, it needs time to adjust to change. Change is inevitable.

sinterklaas-en-kind
Meeting Sinterklaas (4)

And what about  the children? What do they think about it all? Dutch Child Ombudsman Margite Klaverboer published September this year a report based on conversations with Dutch children. She also concluded things need to be changed as children with coloured skin told the researchers they do experience negative effects because of Sinterklaas, such as discrimination and exclusion. Interestingly enough she also heard many children suggest adults stop fighting about it and simply adjust the appearance of Piet. Although Mrs Klaverboer received a lot of hate-emails and criticism after she published the report, ‘major changes’ around Sinterklaas have started to happen since then. “Het Sinterklaasjournaal”, the daily news show about Sinterklaas on National television announced this year to continue to show black Piet but will add ‘white’ Piets without any make up. Another TV channel will only have Piet with the earlier mentioned black stripes.

It can be concluded by now that the Sinterklaas tradition further evolves and also that children seem to accept any modification of it with ease. In their drawings for Sint they change the look of Piet according to the outcome of the compromise. Like always the flexibility of children is something many adults can learn from. Personally I hope the Dutch ‘poldermodel’ brought us a sustainable and satisfying solution for all so that we soon can focus again on the wonderful experience Sinterklaas can be and should be for all children in the Netherlands.

Michel Daenen

www.crossingcultures.nl

November 2016.

Guest post by Michel Daenen of Crossing Cultures.  Please do not copy or use parts of this article without correct attribution.

Photo Credits:

  1. Photo credit: Dogfael via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
  2. Photo credit: Jacob Johan via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA
  3. Photo credit: han santing via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
  4. Photo credit: Walther Siksma via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Halloween Party 2016- Read all about it!

WHAT A FANTASTIC HALLOWEEN WEEKEND!

The ghouls, the goblins ,the fairies and the firemen were all out in force at this weekend’s Halloween Party!

This year the party was run by Norma, who did a great job for her first time ever! She was assisted by Margaret, Oishi, Jenneth, and Gerard who all were fantastic helpers.

Thanks to everyone who came along and joined us – you all went to a lot of effort and it was fantastic to see all the kids (and some parents!) in costume!! See you at the Kids Christmas Party (more to come on that soon – get an early reminder by signing up to our newsletter!)

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Free Financial Education Seminar

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Join Beacon Global Advisers at the WTC in Almere October 20th.

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Free Financial Education Seminar

This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links.

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Beacon Global Advisers’ free Financial Education Seminar covers topics such as Life Insurance Strategies for Expats, Cross Border Retirement Planning, (US FATCA Compliant) Investments and International Wealth Management.

Make sure you, your financial adviser(s) and/or accountant know what being an expat implies for your financial situation.

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Free Financial Education Seminar

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Do your Dutch financial advisers and those in your home country work as a team to help you achieve your financial goals?
Understand the implications of you, living and working abroad and educate yourself! Beacon Global Advisers organizes a free of charge financial education seminar at the WTC Almere on October 20th. Join us and register now!

2016 Summer Picnic – Date Change!

There’s a date change for the summer picnic!

**EVENT RESCHEDULED**

10 September 2016

With the forecast calling for rain and a few members saying they’d love to come but cannot get tomorrow free, we’ve decided to postpone the picnic until Saturday, September 10th.

Hope to see you all there!

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Featured Instagrammer for July!

Are you following our Instagram feed? 

A new month, a new featured photographer for Instagram!  Meet Melissa Longstreet-Homma, another talented member of our group. She’ll be sharing her pictures with us for the rest of July and some of August! Thanks for your wonderful pictures, Melissa, and we’ll see you on Instagram!

(Are you interested in being a featured photographer for us?  Email us at marketing@www.internationalalmere.com because we’re always looking for people to feature!)

featured melissa

A fresh new look …

This is it!  The moment we’ve all been waiting for – that something fresh that was promised!

Welcome to our new look website.  You’ll see things have changed a little around the place, and over the coming months, things will continue to change slightly – you’ll see content more relevant to the group, like articles written by our members and guest writers about their experiences, hints on where to find those hard to source goodies from home, and more information about this wonderful city we all call home – regardless if we’re here for a long time or a short time.

Continue reading A fresh new look …

paid members of 2013

Dear paid members of 2013.

As at least some of you are aware, we may have made a slight error in the past few months. In accordance with our statutes, membership only ends “…a. with the death of the member; b. with the member’s resignation; c. by termination via the society; or d. by complete removal.” As we ourselves have been at fault in not sending out invoices to those of you who were members last year and have not as yet paid for this year, the following will be action’d to remedy the situation:

1: Emails will be sent out to all paid members from calendar year 2013. This email will contain an invoice for continued membership in 2014.

2: As a gesture of goodwill, any paid member of 2013 will be offered the discounted membership price of €5 for the year (2014), instead of  the usual €10.

3: Any paid member of 2013 who has already paid for 2014 membership will be given a refund to the value of €5, bringing their contribution in line with those who contribute now, or should they wish, a discount of €5 on entry to an International Almere event of their choosing.

4: Any paid member of 2013 not wishing to continue with membership for 2014 will be offered ‘amnesty’ from the 4-week notice of resignation, and be allowed by return of email to cancel membership forthwith.

For the sake of completeness, please note that this is applicable only to paid members of 2013 – not to any new memberships starting in 2014.

I cannot say for certain where the fault lies within the board, but as Director I feel it is my duty to shoulder the burden of blame. US President Harry S. Truman famously had a plaque on his desk with the saying “The buck stops here” – I think this is appropriate at this time.

On behalf of the board, I extend to you our deepest apologies for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Yours Sincerely,

Gerard Danks

Director, International Almere.

Getting to know us – Sarah Leonard

We all know the lady behind the numbers and the money at International Almere, but how well do we really know her?  Find out more about Sarah!

Where were you born?

I was born in Maidstone, Kent, England in 1973, yes  that makes me 40 very soon.

Where have you lived?

I spent a few years living with a friend in Belton  Lincolnshire, this was to save me travelling every weekend to party  and drink  my weekends away, this was the rebel years of my life, I  never went to uni so this was my time to be wild.

Where can we find you online?

Contact with me is easy, I can be found on Facebook,  yes I have a mobile phone but most of the time its switched off, that’s  not normal I here you say, but I like it that way.

Almere is an inter­est­ing and unique city to live in, describe your favourite part of liv­ing here.

We came to Almere as my partner Kay brought a apartment  here, he brought it just from  plans on paper, we came over to  see the progress of the build about every 12 weeks, he lived in Ermelo  at the time with his parents and I was still in the UK, his sister lives  here so we knew what we was coming to, Kay gave me the key to the apartment  after I had finished doing a 5km race of life event for cancer around  my local park, in them days I was fitter and thinner.

Almere is a good place to live for us as Kay works  in Amersfoort so the train takes his strain on the daily commute, there  are lots of nice places within 1 hour drive and you can be in Germany  or Belgium in 90 minutes. Camping is a big part in our lives so it perfect  to be so close to major motorway links. Kemphaan is great and there  are many open parks so there is no need to stay in the concrete jungle.

Where is your favourite place to go out or eat out in the city?

Eating so is not something we do very often, but the  places we enjoy are an the Van de Valk hotel live cooking and brunch,  Yamas and Athene in Tussen de vaarten.

Would you define your­self as an expat, an inter­na­tional, or some­thing entirely different?

Expat or international, well for me not any of these  I just think of myself as a Brit living abroad.

How long do you plan on liv­ing here for?

I think that we are pretty much staying here for a  long as I can see, Kay’s works in the private health care insurance system  and we don’t really have that in the UK so he would need to find a  job there doing something else that pays good money, travel cost and  flexi working hours. We have our apartment for sale at the moment, we  will stay in Almere.

Tell us how you found Inter­na­tional Almere?

The way I found International Almere was via a friend  of a friend, I never really used computers before I came to Holland,  so had no idea of Google, search engine etc, My friend came to visit  her friend who lives in Amsterdam so I went to meet them both for lunch,  she told me them about a group that she was in and to join up, so I  came home found the web site and asked to become a member, I was asked  to write a small piece about myself, so that’s what I did, I had many  welcomes and hello from people but the only person that lived in Almere  was Connie, She told me come meet the local group on Friday night at  Jordaan, This took me 2 months to pluck up the courage to go, that night  I took my partner  for support, I arrived at the place went to  the bar to order a drink and then stood there with my dumbo ears trying  to listen for the English people, I was nervous and really wanted to  leave but then in came Connie all bubbly so I made my move to introduce  myself, I was introduced to the small group of woman, lucky for me I  was not the only new person that night so it was a bit easier, our partners  went to another table and chatted together as at that time it was no  men allowed. I enjoyed by evening and everyone was nice and friendly,  one person stood out the most Gina smith, as she comes from the same  town as me in England but we have never met before, so I have never  looked back and have enjoyed many a night out.

Have you been to any Inter­na­tional Almere events?  Which was your favourite?

I have been to most of the events that International  Almere host, I don’t really have a favourite  as they are all  good in there own way and you always meet new people.

What advice would you offer to others who are thinking of taking the plunge and moving to Almere?

My advice to anyone  reading  this is to come along and meet us all, it’s a big step at  first but really we are all in the same position and making friends  helps ease the journey. Trust me there is someone here that you can  connect with, if the first night you don’t find them, just keep coming  they will be there in the end. I would not have stayed here if I didn’t  make good friends at the group.

What has been your biggest challenge since arriving in Almere?

The biggest challenge for me when I moved here was  not working, I worked a lot in the UK and enjoyed my work very much,  so sitting at home was not my thing, and the hardest of all was on a  Sunday when back in the days when I arrived nothing was open, supermarkets  , shops all closed, and I was used to just going out shopping on my  days off. I now work at Letterland international school  doing  the lunch duty, and I have been treasurer for this group now for just  under 2 years.

 If you had to leave tomor­row and could take only one thing – any­thing – from Almere, what would it be?

I would take sate sauce as Kay can’t live without it!

What is your favourite Dutch tra­di­tion, and how do you cel­e­brate?  Do you still cel­e­brate hol­i­days and tra­di­tions from your home country?

Dutch celebrations are not really done in my home  as we don’t have children, and Kay’s family do not do anything apart  from birthdays when I have to go and sit in the circle, and eat cake.  Christmas for me is the best I have a big tree and love to decorate  my home, I have spent only 2 Christmas days here and not really enjoyed  either, so sorry I go home to my family and open my presents, and then  enjoy shopping in the sales after.

Family is the biggest thing I miss from home, but  I am lucky as I can get home very quickly if needed, and I have a special  tariff on the phone so I can call for only 10 cents for as long as I  like .I got my 74 year old father to use Facebook so he can also keep  tracks on me and look at my photos. Marks and spencers is now here so  I can get some home comfort food when I feel  the need.

Sarah Leonard - the lady behind the numbers on our 'Getting to Know Almere' event :)
Sarah Leonard – the lady behind the numbers on our ‘Getting to Know Almere’ event 🙂
Sarah and her partner, Kay on one of their many camping trips!
Sarah and her partner, Kay on one of their many camping trips!

 

Want to see yourself here? Fill out the form!

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utrecht

Utrecht: Come Visit

Utrecht is gearing up for the big celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht this week. Banners are strung in the streets and the Domtoren is getting the finishing touches for the big light show that will launch on 11 April. The list of events that will be taking place this year is impressive.

 

Utrecht, come visit
Utrecht, come visit

 

There’s plenty going on in Utrecht, even when we’re not celebrating the end of a war, but I still get people writing to me as if I live in Amsterdam. While Utrecht is only 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam, it’s still its very own city and a unique one, too. To remind you, here are a few of my past posts where I talk about how great Utrecht is and why websites and magazines and more should pay attention to Utrecht (and other cities in the country) not just Amsterdam. Nothing against Amsterdam, but in such a small country, why not check out a few other cities while you’re at it!

Reasons to Visit

Ranting, You’re Doing It Wrong

An Open Letter (of sorts) to Travel Publications

Coming up this weekend, hopefully, will be some more gargoyles and maybe a mention of the Domplein trees that have pulled up roots and moved. However, this weekend is also the spring beer festival over at Leidig Erf, so who knows what will actually get done. Anyone else going to the festival on Saturday?

This post originally appeared on A Flamingo in Utrecht and has been republished with full permission.

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Meet Alison, a woman from the southern US, who now finds herself in the Netherlands, thanks to an Italian boyfriend. Alison a native Floridian who has spent time in North Carolina, New Orleans and New York, before continuing herlove affair with the letter N and moving to the Netherlands. She is an art historian by degree, an editor by profession, and a photographer in her mind.

Alison writes at A Flamingo in Utrecht, and you can find her on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.  We recommend that you do.[/box]

Special Offer: The Guest Card

The Guest Card is the largest expat community in the Netherlands and was started as a joint initiative with the City of The Hague to help internationals with starting their lives in the Netherlands.  In 2012, The Guest Card is celebrating their 5th birthday, and their expansion to other areas of the Netherlands, including the Amsterdam area.

As part of their birthday celebrations, The Guest Card is giving away free membership to everybody at International Almere.  The card offers loads of discounts and exclusive deals especially for international people living in the Netherlands.

Here are some of what is on offer:

–          Get discounts at restaurants, theatres, museums, shops and more

–          Be introduced to the best service providers for internationals

–          Get invited to exclusive parties & events

–          Shop at Sligro with your personal Sligro card and experience wholesale shopping

–          And much more…

 Normally the membership costs €12,- for the main subscriber and €6,- for an additional partner card.

You can use this coupon code for your free registration: IA

 Get your free membership here

Go ahead and take advantage of this great offer.  It will be worth it, especially the Sligro membership.  Plus, the more International Almere members, the greater the opportunity for the team at The Guest Card to work with more local Almere businesses and service providers to get a better deal for us.

Body Worlds: Amsterdam

Body Worlds by Carrie Lynn Salikin (aka Elfie Von Elf)

http://www.bodyworlds.com/nl/amsterdam/english.html

See it now in Amsterdam until June 17th.

For more information on other displays by Gunther von Hagens (born Gunther Liebchen, 10 January 1945)

see http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/exhibitions/current_exhibitions.html

June 1st, I went toAmsterdam to visit the Body Worlds exhibition. I have a keen interest in medicine and the human anatomy, so I found this quite interesting.

I’ll start by pointing out the negative. There were Dutch and English signs, however, a majority of the English descriptions were tucked away behind the displays and nearly impossible to read. Some of the displays (the ballerina sticks out in my mind) didn’t even have an English description. What happened to the translation?

In addition to the admission price you can pay 3.50 euro for an audio tour that further explains the majority of the displays. I did not find this worth my money. The entire exhibition contains very basic information about the displays and the additional recordings don’t offer much more than repeating what the signs already say.

Photos are not allowed to be taken indoors, however a few people chose to ignore this rule.

Be warned, there is an adult section. However, they give you no information on what that section is about. There is just a sign of no photos allowed and a sticker warning for adults only. If you are of a sensitive nature, do not enter this section. To the left of the doorway you will find information on reproducing and how this all works; quite explicit. To the right is a large section about coming into this world and the various stages. As the exhibit involves real specimens, this may not be something everyone can handle viewing.

On to the positive, this is simply amazing art and medical information and everyone young and old should check this out. To see the human form in its entirety is pure beauty and magic. You can clearly see the tension in the muscles making this very raw and very real.

Seeing the  differences between healthy organs and unhealthy organs really makes you feel more health conscious. It is a real eye opener to see the differences between an overweight and a healthy body and the effects obesity has on your organs and bones.

There is a section about how much families in various parts of the world are spending on food every week and what they are eating. I spent nearly 45 minutes on this alone. This was really interesting.

The displays are based upon a process called Plastination.  It is a technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts, first developed by Gunther von Hagens in 1977. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample.

I think there is room for improvement in the displays. I would have liked to have seen more variation in the illnesses or bone deformities compared to healthy organs and bones. However, since this is ground breaking research and somewhat controversial, one has to take baby steps to allow for more extensive displays.

At the end of the tour there is a place where you can buy various souvenirs. In addition there is a specific area where taking pictures is allowed and the staff is more than willing to take photos of you and your friends with your camera.

The location of the display is within walking distance from the Amsterdam Zuid train station and there are several restaurants nearby if you are hungry afterwards.

So if you have the time to spare, I truly recommend checking out the exhibition as for me it was something I will never forget.

 

 

Libelle Zomer Week May 2012

 

 

Libelle Zomer Week: China Town May 2012 by Carrie Lynn Salikin (aka Elfie Von Elf)

On May 13th, 2012 I had the priviledge of heading out to the Libelle Zomer week with a few friends – several of them being from our lovely International Almere group. This was my first Libelle Zomer week and I was really looking forward to it. I had heard from various sources that this was quite the event. In all honesty I wasn’t let down and had one heck of an amazing time.

Where to start? I was expecting wall to wall people with little to no ability to get to the stands, but to my surprise even with the large groups of people, everyone just sort of went with the flow and gave a great deal of respect to one another. Was it because we all had the same motivation? Was it because it was the last day of the event? Regardless of the reasons – checking out the vast selection of stands was not exhausting or impossible. Truly this was a pleasant experience.

Be warned – bring your wallets. Even if you have no intention of spending money – oh how you will. There is something there for everyone and truly some amazing deals were found. Several stands sold quality surprise bags. There were stores I knew quite well and a lot of new products and stores were brought to my attention.

Transportation to the event was also quite well organized; from trains to busses to more than adequate parking, at what we considered a reasonable fee of 6.50 euros per day.

The event itself was tidy; no overflowing garbage cans or trash on the ground. Bathroom facilities were more than plenty and also very clean for an outdoor event. My only minor complaint: the food selection was quite limited. I had come with an expectation of trying various asian cuisine due to the signs posted everywhere “China Town”. However this was not the case. In the beginning we passed one loempia stand and a soup stand and for the rest of the time we came upon several La Place restaurants serving plenty of sandwiches. But for the cost of a sandwich I can recommend: pack your own.

Thankfully later on in section 3 we found ourselves plenty of sample food stands (the only time in the event things got a little chaotic, perhaps we were all crazed with hunger by this point). But once we had our fill of various food samples from rice, to chicken to salads with dressings, potato chips, raspatat etc., we were more than happy to continue on our way.

Alcohol samples seemed to be a large part of the theme, but a lot of variety and amazing deals. My husband found himself rather taken with the chocolate wine and could not help but pick up a bottle.

Will I return again? I can say without a doubt: yes! Our group of friends easily found each other time and time again when we went our own ways.

For more information on the Libelle Zomer Week “China Town” please vist the following website: http://www.libellezomerweek.nl/