Tag Archives: The Netherlands

How facebook can change your life forever. True story!

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You know them, these programs where people reunite after not seen eachother for decades. Brothers and sisters meet for the first time after being seperated from birth and parents and children get to know eachother after adoption. These stories are always touching and rarely without tears. Two weeks ago I got dragged into a story like this, that changed two people’s life completely.

Four years ago I went on a holiday to Ireland. Even though me and my friend were there for only a week, I fell in love with an Irish guy and so I kept returning to Ireland many times over the years. Here I met Tom, one of the closest friends of my boyfriend’s dad. I’ve met Tom a couple of times when visiting him at his house. Tom leads a very solitary life in his tiny cottage without electicity or bathroom. He still lives in the 60s, having the occasional smoke and listening to Bob Dylan records over and over again. He’s an interesting fella, who’s stories are as well interesting and funny as sometimes completely insane. A very kind man who you never get bored of talking to. During one of these nights at Tom’s, he told me about a woman he used to be in a relationship with. She was Dutch, just like me. They were together for two years when she left him, her being six months pregnant. After the birth of their daughter she sent him a card, saying the babygirl is his and a little birthcard with the baby’s name and birthdate on it, as well with an address. Tom wrote to her many times, but never got any reply. After a year he gave up, but still thinking of his daughter every single day. At the time he told me this story, it had been twenty years ago. He asked me if I might be able to find her, since I also live in Holland and she must be around my age. I told him I’d try.

Back in Holland I immediately tried to google her name. No results. Then I tried facebook and to my pleasant suprise five profiles popped up with the right first- and surname. Unfortunately all the profiles were blocked so I couldn’t see if the birthdate would match. Also the pictures were too small to see if she would be around twenty years old. I decided to send four girls as Robin is also a guy’s name and one of the profiles had a picture of a dark-haired guy in front of a ‘snowhite and the seven dwarfs’ wall  a message saying;

Evalina                                                                                                          25 June 2012
I have a bit of a unusual question; I’m urgently looking for a girl with your name: Robin …. , born on 11 January 1991. I can’t find a birthdate on your profile so the question is: are you the one I’m looking for? If you are, would you please contact me? Regards,  Evalina

For weeks I waited for the right Robin to reply to my message, but I never got any replies. Six months later I went to visit Tom again and he asked if I found his daughter. I told him I tried but I couldn’t find her.

A year and a half after I had send the message and had completely forgotten about it I opened my facebook and the red sign told me I had received a message. I opened the inbox and my heart skipped a beat. In my inbox was a message from Robin. A bit shaky I opened the message and it said:

Robin                                                                                                                  25 June 2012
Hey Evalina, I just read your message because it gotten into the wrong inbox. My name is Robin …. What’s up?
Regards, Robin

For minutes I’ve been staring at the message. Is it really her? Did I find her? She said it’s her right? Or does she just mean that’s her name? She wasn’t specific about the birthdate though. I kept reading her massage over and over again and decided to call my boyfriend. All hyper I told him that I might have found Robin. Now what’s the next plan? Now that I’d probably found her I all of a sudden realised I had to act on it. But what to do now? How do you tell someone you don’t know that her biological father is looking for her? How would she react? Does she even know about his excistence? What if she doesn’t and she already has a dad who she thinks is her real dad? I decided to e-mail my boyfriend’s dad.

Heya! How’s everything? To my big suprise I received an e-mail today over facebook from.. Robin! I’ve found her! No doubt its her; her name and birthdate match. Ofcourse she asked me whats up. Now I’m in need of your advice on what to tell her, because she might not know about Tom or the fact that maybe her dad is not her biological dad. How to go about it?

Ofcourse he was thrilled with this news and decided to tell Tom about it immediately. A few days later I received a letter from Tom, thanking me so much for finding her and advising me to make sure it’s her first. He gave me her mother’s name and asked me to ask her first if that name would also match. Then, if she’s aware that there’s an Irish connection to her life.

This sounded like a good plan to me, so I send her back the following message:

Evalina                                                                                             25 June 2012
Hey Robin, 
Wow, I really didn’t expect to ever hear from you and find the right person. Just to make sure: you were born on 11 January 1991? Is your mother’s name Eva? So sorry, it all sounds a bit strange, I’ll tell you what this is all about when I’m absolutely sure I got the right person. Evalina

My reply must’ve creeped her out a little bit because she responded:

Robin                                                                                                     25 June 2012
Hey Evalina, 
I was indeed born on 11 January 1991 and my mother’s name is Eva.. To be honest I find it rather strange to be approached this way by someone I don’t know but clearly knows a lot about me. So an explanation would be nice.. Robin

At this point me and my mum, who I had told the whole story, were rather nerveous about the whole thing. This was it, there was no way back, it had come to the point where I had to tell her about her dad. What would she say? I took a deep breath and e-mailed her back.

Evalina                                                                                             25 June 2012
He Robin, 
I can very well understand this is creeping you out, I’m sorry. I would probably feel the same way if I were in your shoes. I’m honestly telling you, I don’t know you either and I’m certainly not a stalker. I’ll tell you what the story is:
My name is Evalina, I’m from Amsterdam and have an Irish boyfriend who lives on the east coast of Ireland. Through him I’ve met someone who’s looking for you. Do you have any idea who this could be?

I thought this would be the best approach. If she knew, she would know who it is. If she didn’t.. I’d tell her to ask her mum. What happened next might be too private, but I’ll broadly tell you what happened.

She knew about it. She immedialy knew who I was talking about. Obviously she was shocked. I can’t blame her. I was bloody nervous and it had nothing to do with me. After her not responding for a while I finally got a message saying she was beyond happy to hear this news, she’d been looking for him a few years ago, but couldn’t find anything on the internet. So she had given up. She had thought she’d never know who her father was. When she was younger she had found a letter between her mother’s old mail. The letter was for her. It had the lyrics of a song, which she’d listened to all her life when she felt bad, knowing somewhere in the world was her dad, caring for her.

Now two months later, they’re sending letters back and forth, and getting to know eachother after 21 years. As far as I know, they’re getting on fantastically, and they might meet in the future. Tom is beyond happy and has a new meaning to his life. He now has a daughter.

As a thank you I received a pile of different kinds of chocolate!

PS All the names, dates and other details are changed in this story to keep the people involved anonymous

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Walk your bike

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In Holland we love to cycle. We ride our bikes everywhere, no matter what the weather is like. Rainy that is, mostly. But cycling long distance sometimes makes your bum feel like you’ve been kicked in the arse a few times, pretty damn sore. When I came across this kind of bike, I immediately felt this is something for me. This new developed bike is more for people who just like to, hang out. The bike has no saddle, but a belt that keeps you from falling back to earth.

 

Check out the video, this looks awesome! Should we all change to this type of cycling?

 

Source

Bucketlist #3. Visit a festival. ✔

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I love festivals. I love the vibe and the people. All sorts of people enjoying the music and freedom. Chilling in the gras listening to bands with a beer in one hand and the feeling of the sun shining on my face. And dancing all night while meeting random people  from all over. Crazy stories, crazy nights. This weekend my two friends and I went to the Midsummer Festifarm in the north of Holland. This first edition of the festival took place on a farm and the atmosphere was hippie-ish; leave no trail, respect nature as well as eachother and chill out. Friday night was special, since it was Midsummer we celebrated the longest night of the year by rocking with bands and chilling by the bonfire.
The weather forecast for the weekend was not to be cheering about; rain, more rain and storms. Luckily the weather on Saturday was really good, good enough for a swim in the lake anyway.The bands were great and the people nice, lots of love! When can I go again?? 😀

Our tent in the not-yet-so-messy stage

After swimming in the lake. No pictures!!

One of the stages

Cccooldd!

Love!!

Art project during night

More love!

Festifarm!

Dirty wellies!

Bucketlist #84. Do something for charity ✔

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A couple of weeks ago one of my ex-collegues posted a note on facebook saying she was organizing a charity run for a boy with Down Syndrom. The boy, Luuk, is six years old and has difficulty talking. His parents would like him to get dolphin therapy in Curacao, which is said to do a lot for children like Luuk. Dolphin therapy will improve his communication skills, fine motor skills and will give him a lot more confidence. Unfortunately this therapy is not reimbursed by the government and it’s quite an expensive one. My ex-collegue decided to organize a 6.8km run to raise money for Luuk, something that I’d loved to help her with.

Even though her poster said ‘come running and bring 2 euros’, I decided to ask friends and family to sponsor me. I asked my brother to come running with me and he was happy to take the challenge. When talking about it yesterday, my eleven year old cousin also wanted to come with us, so we made it a family event. Unfortunately not too many people showed up, so my ex-collegue was extra happy that we came. At ten o’clock this morning we took off and my brother and cousin were the first ones who arrived at the finish, where my family waited for us. Me, on the other hand, got lost and ran a lot more kilometres than I should have, but got a warm welcome of my family when I arrived at the finished anyway.

Me and my cousin Mick in the car on the way

My brother, me and my cousin after the charity run

I raised 135 euros today, so hopefully this family will be able to affort the therapy soon enough!

Monster in a rabbit harness

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My little monster is not allowed to go outside. Because we have three rotweilers in the backyard who would love a piece of him, I’ve decided not to take the risk and keep the doors closed. But ever since the weather’s been nice and he’s staring out the window I decided to think of a sollution to our problem. In the pet shop I came across a small animal harness, which, as the carton said, is very suitable for rabbits. The first question that came to mind when I read this was: ‘Who would walk their rabbit?’ There were even harnesses for smaller pets! Would there be people out there who walk their hamsters? Anyway, when I came home yesterday, I just had to try if it would fit. Darwin didn’t have too much of a problem with his rabbit harness except for the time my boyfriend tried to drag him around the room with it and he was happy chilling out in the sun, safe and sound. The main reason for getting the harness however, was that we have a long journey ahead of us. In 3 weeks we’re travelling from East-Slovakia to The Netherlands, by train and by car. This is gonna be a long, pain-in-the-arse- journey for me and my friend, but it’s gonna be even worse for Darwin, who has to spend his time in a animal travelbox. Now I have the harness we could stop for walks (and poos!) and hopefully our journey wouldn’t be too much of a hassle. But it’s all for a good cause, he’s gonna be very happy with the big garden waiting for him in Holland 🙂

Darwin the first time having his harness on.

Haha, kind of cute. I’m gonna make the lead a bit longer so when we do he could walk a bit further.

From birth to age of 12

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Must-see! I came across a youtube video from Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester. He filmed his now twelve year old daughter every week from birth. He made this time lapse from the many videos he has.


I love the idea, you can see the little girl grow up in 2.45 minutes. Amazing to have of your children!


Lots of love,smiles and happiness,

Evalina

Strange Dutch Habits Part 2.

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Strange Dutch Habits Part 2.

Ofcourse we’re not finished after part one. As if that would’ve been all the craziness that’s going on in the daily life of a Dutchman. Here’s some more.. 

Dutchies also LOVE..

.. Directness!

We don’t want to keep you wondering. We just say what it’s all about. Some foreigners can feel suprised or slightly insulted, but either way, you know what you’re dealing with.Where people from other cultures like to keep up apperances, the Dutch inhibitants will definitely be straight and honest with you. Showing off your new carpet? Be aware that if a Dutch person doesn’t like it, he/she will tell you (in a nice way ofcourse, but still). But ofcourse when he/she does like it, you can expect a very enthusiastic and positive response.

.. Making fun of the Belgiums!
First things first, Dutch people love Belgiums. They’re similar to us in every way and their language (in the north) is similar to ours. It’s just.. where we have new words for things, they just name it the way it is. For example, like the Brittish use the word pavement where the Americans use sidewalk. Nothing wrong with either one of those, the American version in this example is slightly easier than the Brittish. Back to the Belgium ways of saying things. For us Dutchies, Flemish, as the Belgium language is called, sounds kind of.. funny. Which is a really good thing as well, they’re a lot funnier when it comes to telling jokes. It just sounds a bit.. stupid. We like to think Belgiums are a bit dumb (even though they beat us every year in language exams) so we like to make them the centre of our jokes. Jokes like: Two Belgian Policemen found two bombs in a park. They decide to bring them to the commisioner. When they sit down in thecar, one says to the other: ‘What do we do when one explodes?’. Says the other: ‘Ah well.. then we just tell him we only found one!’

 .. Being the tallest people in the world!
That’s right, the Dutch are officially the tallest people in the world. With an average height for adults in the Netherlands is 6 ft 1 (1.85). Which is quite funny, since about a hundred years ago 25% of the Dutch men who wanted to join the army, were too short! There must be a lot of even taller adults in The Netherlands, since I, with my 157cm, drag down the average quite a bit. 😛
.. Celebrate the birth of a new baby!
I never really realised this is a typical Dutch thing, until I got caught up in a conversation with some foreigners. In Holland it’s not common to have a  babyshower or anything like that, we celebrate after the baby is actually born. The minute after the baby is born (or a couple of minutes, let’s take a breath first) the new dad calls family and friends that they just had their baby. Family and close friends tend to visit the same day, either in the hospital or at home. They bring a small gift for the baby, like some clothes or a small present they think the new family could use. When the parents go home with their newborn, they get a maternity nurse who helps the new parents with their baby andcleans the house. She also makes the traditional ‘snack’ for the visitors: beschuit met muisjes.(see picture). The aniseeds can either be blue or pink, depending on the sex of the baby. We like to decorade our garden. Ofcourse we still like to tell our children the baby was brought by a stork, so that’s what you usually see in thegarden of a new family: a stork carrying a baby, lots of garlands and balloons in front of the windows and sometimes the name of the baby appears proudly in between. If Dutch babies don’t feel welcome like this, I rest my case.
.. Bread! (with hagelslag & pindakaas)
One thing I forgot to put in last one’s foodsection, and one of the most important foodfacts: Bread! In Holland we’re not big cereal eaters. We prefer to have a sandwich for breakfast or lunch. Dutch bread can’t be missed in this list, it’s the one thing I actually miss and crave for when I’m abroad. We have all kinds of the nicest bread, and always nice and fresh. Fact. If we don’t eat our bread with cheese, we eat it with hagelslag. Hagelslag = chocolate sprinkles. We’re not so fond of the peanutbutter & jelly hype, but we figured out that peanutbutter goes very well with hagelslag! If you’re ever in the Netherlands, don’t hesitate and try a peanutbutter and hagelslag sandwich!

.. Complaining about the weather!
In all fairness, the Dutch do have a point when they complain about the weather. We don’t have a subtropical climate, but instead our days are often quite windy and rainy, which doesn’t do any good to your state of mind. But we tend to stay in the complain-zone, even when there’s a slight positive change in the weather. It’s like the Dutch are so used to their bad weather and complaining that we don’t know what to do when it changes. When it’s rainy and windy it’s easy: ‘The weather is bad. I got soked cycling (that’s right) to work. And back. It’s so windy I got blown off my bike this morning. It’s all bad, when is the winter gonna start, we want snow!’ But then January comes and our wishes are forfilled, it started to snow. The first day we’re enthusiastic, but after a day or two we’re back in the complaining-zone: ‘It’s too cold outside. Bloody snow, when I cycled to work I slipped three times because of it! Where is the ice? We want to go ice-skating!’ Weeks of complaining go by when our wishes come true, frost. Finally we’re happy, we can go ice-skating! (I will tell you about the ice-skating madness soon enough). But then, the complainingmonster returns.. You get the point. In wintertime we wish for the summer. In summertime we complain that it’s too hot or still too cold. Too dry or too wet. If you want to small talk with a Dutchman, bring up the weather. Within minutes you’re part of the crew 🙂

.. Ikea!
We love the Swedish Ikea! It’s cheap (WE LOVE CHEAP) and it looks good (WE LOVE WHEN THINGS LOOK GOOD). Every large city in Holland has one. The massive blue building on the side of the road, which big yellow letter shout at us: come buy here, come buy here! And we do. Every house / appartment / studentdorm has at least one or more items made by the Swedish multinational. But not only are we crazy about the cheap furniture, we’re also crazy about the cheap food! Every Dutch person knows (and probably has tried it a few times as well) you can have a one euro breakfast every day from Monday to Saturday from 9 – 10.30! And be there on time, because Dutch people like cheap, so the place will be packed! Sad isn’t it?  

.. Ice Skating!
Like I mentioned before, we’re crazy about Ice-Skating! Especially on natural ice. For decades we were able to skate on natural ice every wintertime. With little stalls on the ice where you could buy a hot drink and something to eat (koek en zopie). Unfortunately things change. The climate changed, and with that, our ability to go skating on the canals. If you were in The Netherlands in the last couple of months, you must’ve heard about something called: elfstedentocht. This national event was held for the first time in 1909, where thousands of people skated a route of 200km through the canals (and 11 cities) in the north of Holland. After this first time we were able to hold the event another fourteen times. The ice has to be at least 15cm thick to hold all these thousands of crazy ice-skating fans who’ve been looking forward to the event for years. Every year after the first frost the big question rises: will we have another elfstedentocht this year? It’s daily all over the newspapers, hundreds of people clear the ice from snow, experts check the state of the ice and people practice for weeks to be fit enough to skate the whole 200km. And every year the same dissapointment.. Our last elfstedentocht was held in 1997, and every year we have hope.. maybe next year?

Lots of love,smiles and happiness,

Evalina

Strange Dutch Habits part 1.

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Strange Dutch Habits part 1.

I’m from The Netherlands, but currently live in Slovakia with people from all over the world, but I’m the only Dutchie. I never realized we do things a bit different in Holland than in the rest of the world. Here are a few examples of the unusual habits we have in Holland.

Dutchies LOVE..

.. Scheduling!

We have overfull agendas with appointments scheduled by time. These appointments can be related to work, but are mostly related to
things we need to do in our free time and appointments with friends. That’s right, in Holland we schedule appointments with friends. Dropping by uninvited? We might not open the door or tell you it’s not a good time. My schedule says I’m now having an evening for myself. It’s that bad.

.. Cycling!
Us Dutchies cycle everywhere! With boots, sneakers, flip-flops or stiletto’s. No matter the weather conditions. Does it rain? We put on our raincoats, open up our umbrellas and with one hand on the steer and the other hand holding the umbrella and we cycle away. Multitasking is not uncommon when it comes to cycling in Holland. One bike, two kids (one in the front, one in theback), three shoppingbags and a beer crate and off we go. No problem. Do you have more than two children? That won’t keep you from cycling them around.
Us Dutchies love to cycle so much, apart from our cycling back and forth to work, school, hobbyclasses, friends and family every day, we like to go on cycling holidays. That’s right, when we finally have two weeks off work, we like to spend it cycling in a different environment than our own. My mum once cycled all the way to England, with all the bags on the bike. Impressive huh?

.. Orange!
Any occasion to celebrate the Dutch love will lead to a full population dressing up in orange. Orange is Holland’s national colour and at occasions like the Soccer World Cup, Queensday (Koninginnedag) or anything like it, we dress up in orange. While we seem like a nation that keeps distance to eachother, we set free when we wear orange. The gallons of beer we drink during these occasions might help as well. Queensday (April 30) is a special day for the Dutch. We celebrate the queens birthday. That it’s not her birthday that day, but her mother’s, we tend to forget. Queensday is a day of music, bands, drinking, dressing in orange, more drinking, more music, did I say drinking?, markets, and oh.. more drinking.

.. Sinterklaas!
In Holland children don’t believe in Santa. Probably the biggest National Holiday in The Netherlands is the celebration of Sinterklaas. Who the &%#& is Sinterklaas? Well I’ll tell you. Sinterklaas is a saint from Turkey. He nowadays lives in Spain and every year at the end of November the sails to Holland with his massive ship, accompanied by hundreds of black helpers (zwarte Pieten). Say what? Uhm.. yes.
In Holland we like to believe that the black helpers become black from going down the chimneys to bring the children presents. Has absolutely nothing to do with the years of slavery by the Dutch from Afrika to South America. 😉 Anyway, this has been tradition for years and years, and kids love it! They all wait for Sinterklaas to arrive and they dress up like zwarte Pieten. In the weeks before December 5th, when Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten bring the big presents, the kids put their shoes in front of the chimney, eh.. radiator, and sings songs. They put a carrot in their shoes for the horse (oh right, Sinterklaas comes with his white horse, on the roof.. uh huh.) and hope to find some sweets or small presents in their shoes the next morning. Sounds good right? The zwarte pieten always bring big beanbags with pepernoten (see picture) and sweet, which they give, or throw, to the kids. All sounds a bit strange, but it’s loads of fun!

.. Food! (mashed potatoe & vege, cheese, herring, frikadel, bitterballen)
Dutchies love to eat. Fact. Still we don’t have the best cuisine in the world. Our main course contains mostly potatoes that we mash with overcooked vegetables as curly cale, & endive, gravy and a big sausage on the side. For snacks we love everything with cheese.I must say I think the best cheese comes from Holland. Why else would we have a cheeseshop on every corner and the last shop you see at Amsterdam airport sells exclusively cheese? And what do you think about herring? Did you ever see a Duchman eat herring? We eat them raw! Grab them by the tail, dip them in a cup of onions and enjoy! Some other snacks you can’t miss when you visit the Netherlands: frikadel, kroket, patatje speciaal (chips with mayonaise, curry and onion), drop (liquorice), stroopwafels (waffles with caramel filling) & kaassouffle (cheesesnack). During New Year’s Eve we stuff ourselves with oliebollen (fried dough with or without raisins) & apple fritters. Lovely!

.. Dinner at 5.30PM!
To stay in the food-zone. Don’t be suprised if the streets in Holland are empty between 5 and 6 PM. Dutch people eat strictly between that time!!

.. Coffee!
You can’t go around it. Dutchies are die hard coffee drinkers! AAn average Dutchman can’t wake up before having a cup of coffee. Arriving at work, we start our day with drinking some coffee with colleagues. During work any excuse to have coffee will do.  Arriving home there’s coffee. And ofcourse after dinner. If you don’t like coffee, you better start to like if before you move to Holland 😀

.. Tile Wisdom!
Almost every household has at least one. A small tile as decoration with a wise saying on it. The tile is more than often blue and white(Delfts blauw, also typically Dutch) and has sayings like: ‘Wat er ook gebeurd, altijd blijven lachen’ (whatever happens, keep smiling), ‘Voer eendjes, geen oorlog’ (Make love, not war), ‘Niets is zo irritant, als een truttig tegeltje aan de wand’ (nothing is more annoying than a sily tile on the wall), Mannen moeten als koffie zijn, goed, sterk en heet (Men should be like coffee, nice, strong and hot) etc. Most tiles you can find in the toilet. So you have something to read when doing your thing.

.. 3 kisses!
This can be confusing sometimes, as well for the Dutch person as for the foreigner. I’m often left hanging when I think we’re going for 3 kisses and the other person is satisfied with two. Also what happens is that when I’m more determent I suprise the other person with an extra kiss on the cheek. So listen remember: whenever you kiss a Dutchie, 3 kisses on the cheeks!:D

.. Birthdays!
I think Holland is the only country where we not only congratulate the birthdayboy/girl, but also everyone else in the room! It’s considered as inpolite when you don’t do this, so every time you go to a birthdayparty you have to shake hands and kiss everyone in the room (x3 remember), whenever you know the person or not. If I find out whoever thought of this silly habit I will hunt him down and kick his ass! Dutch birthdays are probably the most boring in the world. If you want to be prepared, stay tuned. When you arrive, start the routine descibed as above. You can sit down somewhere, mostly the chairs are already set up in a circle, you just need to take a seat. In the middle of the circle there’s often a table. We serve coffee and tea first, with a slice of cake on the side. Don’t bring any cake. The birthdayboy/girl is expected to take care of the cake, drinks and snacks. They won’t expect you to bring any food or drinks, but a gift (or money) is always appreciated. After cake and coffee it’s time for alcoholic drinksor sodas. The cake makes room for the snacks; cheese cubes, peanuts, crisps, sliced sausage and if they really go crazy: bitterballen (see above). If you’re staying for dinner, don’t expect a three course meal. Mostly it’s an easy meal like soup with sandwiches or patatje speciaal with a frikadel.

.. Hair products. For Men!
I think nowhere in the world is a place where people use as much hairproducts as in Holland.

Expecially guys. Dutch Men would be lost without their hairgel (strong fix, out of bed, wetlook?) / hairspray / cream wax / strong hold clay. So don’t think you can stroke his hair without consequences. You might end up with some real sticky hands 🙂