Going Even Dutcher With Metrohm Nederland
Metrohm Nederland is our Dutch sales organization. The company used to share a building with Metrohm Applikon, but recently moved to their own quarters where they welcomed me last week. Our colleagues at Metrohm Nederland were set on giving me the Dutchest experience possible, and this includes the not exactly world-famous Dutch food as well as the more famous beers and windmills (and a lot of typically Dutch weather, namely wind and rain).
The Netherlands is famous for its windmills. I’ve already shown you the windmills of Schiedam in my last blog post, which were used to mill the grain for the jenever production, a drink that is related to gin. The most famous windmills in the Netherlands, however, are probably those in Kinderdijk, 15 kilometers east of Rotterdam. Kinderdijk is known as a tourist attraction for its system of 19 windmills. These, however, had nothing to do with producing jenever: instead, they were used to pump water. Four young colleagues from Metrohm Nederland took me there. In the top picture, you can see three of them: Kimberley, Ruby, and Patricia (from left to right). The fourth, Rade, was taking the picture (I promise you some great pictures of him later in this article though!).
Kinderdijk is located in a polder, which is land reclaimed from the sea through the construction of dikes and canals. The windmills were built in the 18th century to pump out the water and thereby keep the land from flooding. Today, Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even enter some of the windmills and see how people used to live in there. One of them was the home of a family with 13 children, which is quite impressive because there is not a lot of space inside, in part because of the bulky machinery inside that transfers the energy of the rotating sails to the water pump.
Going Fully Dutch
Visiting Kinderdijk in rainy, windy weather might seem like the Dutchest experience imaginable. But Metrohm Nederland managed to outdo this with a visit to Volendam, a picturesque fishing village that has become quite the tourist attraction. With its little brick houses, its old fishing boats, and its traditional costume, which is often mistaken for the national traditional costume of the Netherlands, the village attracts lots of visitors, both from the Netherlands and from abroad.
Being a fishing village, Volendam is the ideal place to try local fish specialties like Hollandse Nieuwe, young herring that is ripened in a salt solution for several days and then eaten raw. The Hollandse Nieuwe polarizes—while many Dutch people love it, others hate it. It turned out that nobody in the group accompanying me was a fan, but Rade was courageous enough to try it again. The following slide show depicts our reaction to the Hollandse Nieuwe experience in stages ranging from curiosity and anticipation to disgust and agony … in the end we made a heron happy with our leftovers.
The second part of the Volendam experience that every tourist has to go through is taking pictures in the local traditional costume. When you walk along the harbour, you’ll find photo studios lined up next to one another that all offer the same package: dressing up in the local costume, a choice of two sets—either a typical Dutch living room with a chimney or a fishing boat—and a variety of props. There’s something comical about tourists dressing up as Dutch fishermen and women but I guess it’s good to laugh at yourself once in a while, and as you can see we could take it seriously just long enough for the official picture to be taken …