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I S S U E 14 | F E B R UA R Y 2015
GABRIEL RIOS S T R I P P E D TO T H E E S S E N C E
P ROMOTI NG B ELGI U M,
A D AY AT T H E M U S E U M S U M M E R H O L I D AY E S C A P E S VA L E N T I N E ’ S D AY S P E C I A L PLUS: DESIGN, CULTURE AND TOURISM
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Sometimes 3 letters make all the difference Because you shouldn’t have to compromise to achieve excellence, ING Luxembourg offers you a full experience in Private Banking. Our experts in asset management, lending solutions, wealth analysis and planning keep up-to-date to offer you the most relevant advice regarding your overall situation.
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Discover Benelux | Contents
Contents FEBRUARY 2015
COVER FEATURE 14
After three years of soul searching and songwriting in New York, singer Gabriel Rios is back in Belgium with a completely new, tuned down sound, leaving behind his Latin pop.
Valentine’s Day Special
No other beer is as popular in so many countries as Heineken. Find out about the history, the brand and, of course, the taste at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam.
Winter in the Benelux
Read about the all-time favourite Dutch meal of ‘hotchpotch’ and the curious Luxembourg tradition of ‘Buergbrennen’.
Revealing the gems of Brussels’ Art Deco During the 1920s, Brussels gave rise to a new architectural style: Art Deco. There are still numerous magnificent examples across the capital, hiding in plain sight.
Summer holiday escapes: Languedoc-Roussillon Get rid of your February blues and start looking for the summer holiday destination of your dreams, beginning with our top choices in Languedoc-Roussillon. PLUS: More European destinations, page 30.
Discover the Netherlands: Groningen The Metropolis of the North, Groningen is a lively city with a lots to offer; culture, history, architecture and excellent shopping.
Our Valentine’s special covers everything you need for a successful date. Flowers? Check; a romantic location? Check; a stunning outfit? It’s all there.
Attraction of the Month, the Netherlands
A day at the museum
Regulars & Events Our columnists draw parallels between medicine and management, and query the power of repetition. PLUS: Benelux Business Calendar, page 55.
Per square metre, Amsterdam boasts more museums than any other city, but the rest of the Netherlands also has a wealth of exciting museums to explore.
DON’T MISS 48
Design & Innovation As one of the leading nations in the field, Dutch design stands out for its unconventional approach and inventive solutions.
6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 60 Benelux Lifestyle Columns | 59 Out & About
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Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note
Issue 14, February 2015
Published 02.2015 ISSN 2054-7218
Silvia de Vries Simon Woolcot Steve Flinders Stine Wannebo
Published by Scan Group
Cover Photo Michael Sewandono
Print Liquid Graphic Ltd.
Advertising Executive Editor
Thomas Winther Sales & Key Account Managers Creative Director
Mads E. Petersen
Yasmina Haddadi Raphaël Pousse
Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck
Steven Ebbers Laura Mirandi Sarah Soussi
Copy Editors Mark Rogers
The more temperatures start to drop below zero, the faster the hearts of the Dutch will start beating. Will it happen again this year? If you are from the Netherlands, you'll know exactly what I mean: the Elfstedentocht or Eleven Cities Tour. This gruelling, one-day ice skating event across 200 kilometres of frozen, outdoor waterways is probably the epitome of Dutch-ness. Two years ago, when a tour was on the brink of happening, all events were suspended, jobs were left for what they were and all eyes turned to Friesland, the north-western most province, where it is held. Even our Prime Minister stated the country was temporarily controlled by the tour’s ice masters, not the government. Sadly, the mythical words ‘it giet oan’ (it’s going ahead) weren’t uttered. Ice skating is part of our DNA. The moment the water freezes solid, the skates come out and young and old unite, whizzing over the slippery ice. The best ice skating is of course done outdoors, silently gliding over the dark waters below, through the frosty landscape around you. But there is always one problem: the weather.
Graphic Designers Jack W. Gooch
15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY
Joseph J. Ewin
Contributors Anouk Kalmes Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guirkinger Cathy van Klaveren
Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email: email@example.com www.discoverbenelux.com
Cécile Dubois Elena Krumlowsky Harun Osmanovic
As legendary as it is elusive, the Elfstedentocht requires at least a week of perfect conditions: too much snow and the ice will be weak, too much wind and the ice will be cracked and bumpy, too cold and the tour becomes dangerous. Too warm and the ice will be too soft to carry each of the 20,000-30,000 skaters who take part. There have been tours in consecutive years but sometimes it takes decades before the conditions are right again. The last tour was in 1997, so we are certainly due for another. Will it happen this year? If it was up me, bring on that winter chill! If we get an Elfstedentocht in return, every cold shiver will be worth it.
Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk Liz Wenger
Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor © All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.
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Discover real Private Banking At SEB Private Banking, we acknowledge that everyone has a unique set of challenges. It’s why we do not oﬀer ready-made solutions, concentrating instead on developing meaningful, long-lasting ﬁnancial relationships and making the eﬀort to really understand you and your requirements. Our international network of private banking oﬃces will look after all aspects of your family business ﬁnances, from daily transactions to long term investments. Its services cover everything from tailored ﬁnancial management, through to helping you to optimise the legal and tax structures within which your assets are held. As one of the world’s strongest banks and with more than 150 years of experience in private banking, we have just what it takes to ensure your future prosperity. To ﬁnd out what SEB can do for your personal wealth, contact us in London: Christian A. Hvamstad +44 (0) 20 7246 4307 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks
FEBRUARY FASHION PICKS
The colours of love Pink and red are of course the perfect colours for Valentine’s Day, but what about softer shades like coral, purple or even turquoise? Picking the right colours without overdoing it is the key to looking stunning and feeling confident on your (blind) date. Here are some of our favourites. TEXT: ELENA KRUMLOWSKY | PRESS PHOTOS
1: Sexy sophistication This little black shirt dress from the label Frankly by Annelies Braeckman can be graded up for a seductive outfit by adding colourful details like a purple clutch and a sparkly, soft pink necklace. These eye-catching accessories will complete your outfit and create a sophisticated yet sexy look. Dress: €245 frankly.be
2: Valentine’s sparkle This soft pink statement necklace makes every outfit special and suitable for a hot date. Worn with other rose accessories will create a perfect outfit. €30 www.luxedy.com
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3: Making a statement The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Aztecs, Incas and Indians valued Turquoise as a sacred stone and carried it for power, luck and protection. It is still treasured as a magnificent jewel because of its captivating blue colour. The ‘mottled webbing’ is inherent to the stone and enhances its character, making it a beautiful statement accessory for a night out. €650 (exquisite set of necklace and three bracelets) www.deoudeaarde.nl
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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks 4: Stealing a kiss Instead of going of pink, what about this cute, grey blouse with orange and deep red shades? Worn with the leather-look leggings it gives you a classy but tempting look. Finish the look with some simple high heels and you’ll be ready for your Casanova. Blouse: €50 Leggings: €26 Heels: €85 topshop.com
5: Clutch time This purple clutch from the Dutch brand Maria Jobse finishes every outfit even very simple and basic ones. Match it with other, violet accessories and you will look fabulous on your night out. €212 www.mariajobse.com
6: What about lace? Heart prints are so last season – this Valentine’s Day it’s all about elegant clothing and fine lace details. What about this pretty coral crop top? With a matching clutch or heels it would look fabulous on a date. €25 www.riverisland.com
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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs
Make your night in extraordinary With a few unique elements, an ordinary night in can be transformed into a rather exquisite affair. Whether it’s a night with the girls or guys, drinks with friends, or a romantic date, adding something special to your house will make the occasion all the more memorable. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PRESS PHOTOS
4: A seat of luxury This colourful ‘Voltaire I’ chair from the Plastic Fantastic series by JSPR is coated in a thick layer of foam rubber, making it soft to the touch, durable and water resistant (no need to worry about red wine spills!) and extremely comfortable. Designed by Jasper van Grootel, the collection takes its inspiration from classical shapes and each seat is available in 24 vibrant colours. €1,416 www.jspr.eu
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1: Atmospheric lights It may look like a lamp, but this is actually a remarkable candle holder. Featuring a specially crafted aluminium reflector, the ‘Vlamp’ greatly amplifies the warm, mesmerising light-flickering effect of the flame. Designed by Jacob de Baan, the reflector can be adjusted to any direction casting a glimmering light into the preferred part of the room. €119 www.jacobdebaan.com
2: In the mood for a drink This eye-catching beverage cooler with built-in lights is sure to steal the show at your next party. No need to run to the kitchen to provide everyone with a cold drink, filled with up to 25 kilos of ice, this ‘Icecube’ by Danny Venlet will keep you supplied for the whole night. Measuring 1.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres high, it is made from strong polyethylene so it can be used indoors and outdoors. €840 www.extremis.be
3 3: Get the flowers out This ceramic object by Rens in collaboration with Cor Unum, is actually a set of four, a big and a small bowl and two vases. Linking seamlessly on top of one another, the series ‘Reddish’ used an innovative colouring method: all items were put upright in a shallow bath of liquid red pigment. Without human intervention, the colour would slowly make its way up through the material creating this distinctive appearance. €744 for the full set www.madebyrens.nl
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Relaxing in a Hobbit sauna The leading spa in the Netherlands is without a doubt Thermen Holiday. With its personal approach, attention for details, creative solutions and exquisite beauty treatments, the resort is the number one place to come to your senses after a long week of hard work. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: THERMEN HOLIDAY
“Everything we do is focused on giving our guests the best wellness experience possible,” owner Sherita Narain explains. Many wellness centres miss an extra touch. Not Thermen Holiday: “Next to our regular beauty treatments, we offer highly specialised treatments for face and body. We work with (semi)medical equipment from award-winning brands. You can’t find these treatments in the next best beauty salon!” Specialised beauty treatments are just a tip of the iceberg of the distinctive approach of Thermen Holiday. There is a cinema sauna, in which you can watch a comedy, wildlife movie or a live concert. One of the newest eye-catchers of the resort though, is the Hobbit sauna. It looks like a Hobbit house, but inside is an infra-red sauna. “It started out as a joke,” Narain says, “but thanks to our creative carpenter, the Hobbit sauna
became reality only three months later.” Both inside and outside the craftsmanship of the wood is natural and irregular, as if you really are in a forest. “It is the tiny details that make the difference.”
our Swimsuit Tuesdays,” says Narain, “and for Valentine’s Day, we offer the ‘Lovely duo arrangement’. Couples are welcome to relax together and drink a glass of Prosecco!”
This personal approach, out-of-the-box thinking and eye for detail also finds its way into the service. At standard wellness centres, you will not meet the owner, but Narain is a well-known face to the regular guests. “I know all of them by name,” Narain explains, “I take the time to talk to them during their stay and take all of their feedback into consideration to be able to continually improve the spa.”
Thermen Holiday is located in Schiedam, in the shadow of Rotterdam, and is easy to reach by car and public transport. www.thermenholiday.nl
Thermen Holiday is perfect to enjoy with friends, and for businesses and couples the spa is a great place to relax as well. “If you are uncomfortable with seeing your colleagues in the sauna, join us at one of
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Delivering happiness If there is one thing that is sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face, it is a bouquet of flowers. Whether it’s to cheer someone up, to surprise, to show your love or to say sorry, there is always a good reason to send a little bit of happiness. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: EUROFLORIST
At Euroflorist they know this like nowhere else. The international flower delivery network, connecting customers to more than 9,000 florists across Europe, specialises in top quality bouquets with a personal touch from expert florists.
the job. Every single bouquet of the freshest flowers is personally delivered, often by the florist himself,” she says.
Another romantic proposal came from a German client who wanted to ask his girlfriend – who lived in Luxembourg – to marry him. Euroflorist couldn’t find a local florist, so instead they asked a German florist to cross the border and deliver the flowers and the message. Hoffmann adds: “The story ended happily, our customer told us that his girlfriend said yes. He was thrilled!”
“Through our webshop, customers can order from hundreds of beautiful bouquets,” says Anne Hoffmann, retail marketing manager at Euroflorist Central Europe. “We offer same day delivery in each of the 12 European countries we operate in. To make sure the delivered bouquets are top quality and made with love, we screen our florists carefully.” Apart from flowers, bouquets and plants, an order can be personalised with greeting cards and gifts such as wine, chocolates, stuffed toys and vases. “When we get an order, we look for the best local florist for
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who could handle the order, but we managed. Then another client wanted his flowers delivered along with a song. So our florist personally sang All You Need Is Love to the client’s loved one at the door!”
Currently gearing up for the busy Valentine’s period, Hoffmann recounts some of the interesting and romantic requests Euro florist has received in the past. “One client wanted to send hundreds of red roses to his Valentine. It was tricky to find a florist
Founded in 1982 in Sweden, the ambitious enterprise has already achieved its goal of becoming one of Europe’s biggest flower delivery organisations. Euroflorist was actually the first company in the world
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Discover Benelux | Valentine | Euroflorist
to introduce online flower delivery in a consumer webshop. Hoffmann comments: “During all these years of delivering flowers we’ve helped a lot of people to make their
Working together with their global partner Teleflora International, Euroflorist can deliver flowers across the globe. Through the weblink below you can access their national webshops and get your personalised bouquet delivered today. euroflorist.com
Using the latest technologies, Euroflorist developed an instant digital communication system connecting them to florists, and florists to each other. This helps them make the most out of their business and this way consumers get the most beautiful, fresh flowers.
beloved happy. We are doing our utmost to fulfil every wish, especially for Valentine’s when it’s about love.” Euroflorist now makes more than 1.8 million deliveries per year, bringing people together, creating and strengthening personal as well as professional relationships. “We also cater for corporate clients, for example when a company needs flowers for their office or marketing campaigns.”
Valentine’s Day trends Roses are still popular although colour is more important than flower type. Younger people love to go for more original flowers like tulips. The preference in colour differs per country.
Want to really impress your Valentine?
Have your flowers hand delivered With a network of over 9000 professional florists, Euroflorist can deliver to almost any address in over 140 countries throughout the world. Visit www.euroflorist.com, and enter the exclusive voucher code DB2015 at our online checkout to receive a 10% discount on your order.
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Discover Benelux | Attraction of the month | Heineken Experience
AT T R A C T I O N O F T H E M O N T H , T H E H E I N E K E N E X P E R I E N C E
Home to one of the world’s most iconic beers The grand 18th century brewery in Amsterdam has seen Heineken grow from a radical idea to the world’s most international beer brand. Now turned into an interactive experience, there is no better place to learn about the dynamic world of Heineken. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: HEINEKEN EXPERIENCE
The brewery was built by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1867, just three years after he founded the company. For 120 years, Heineken beer was brewed here, but to cope with demand it shut in 1988 and production moved elsewhere. In 2001 it reopened as the Heineken Experience, a self-guided tour full of interaction and exciting elements. From the brewing process to the Heineken family, Dutch karaoke and a bottle timeline, the Heineken Experience covers all aspects of the brand, including, of course, a taste of the beer itself. “During the tour you first get a sample as we go through the colour, taste and smell of Heineken. Then at the end you can get another two full-sized beers in our World Bar that you can draught yourself!” says Myriam Marouli enthusiastically, who is re-
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sponsible for Activation & Development of the Heineken Experience. Now a national monument, the building was expanded in the 1950s, creating an interesting contrast of architectural styles particularly in the brew room. “It’s like a cathedral in there, it is all still in its original state. I can just stand there for hours,” Marouli continues. The brewery is not operational anymore, apart from the first process of the beer making – when water is mixed with barley – which visitors can try themselves. Last year in February, HEINEKEN celebrated its 150th anniversary. On 15 February this year, these celebrations come to a close. Also during the rest of the year there will be something special in store. “Every last weekend of the month we will organ-
ise something extra for visitors, in February this will be an exclusive concert,” Marouli says. The tour is available in English and Dutch, and by downloading the free Heineken Experience app, you can undertake the first part in another nine languages. At the end of your visit, there is one last element that is not to be missed: a free 30 minute boat ride through the beautiful and historic Amsterdam canals to the Rembrandtplein. Having doubled their visitor numbers in the last five years, it is no wonder that the Heineken Experience is one of Amsterdam’s fastest growing attractions. www.heinekenexperience.com
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Discover Benelux | Feature | Au Pair Amsterdam
With their personal approach, Au Pair Amsterdam is the perfect agency to help you get the greatest cultural experience.
Connecting cultures Living among locals is one of the best ways to experience a foreign country – for example as an au pair. Embarking on this type of cultural exchange can seem daunting, but Au Pair Amsterdam is keen to assist host families and au pairs to get the most out of their journey, in a personal and approachable way. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: AU PAIR AMSTERDAM
Au Pair Amsterdam offers two services: matching host families across the Netherlands to a suitable au pair from abroad and helping au pairs find the perfect destination in China and soon other countries such as Thailand. Founder and director Li-iy Lu says: “We pride ourselves on our personal approach and we go much further than many others in this industry. We guide and support families and au pairs throughout the process, from the first moment of contact through to the end of the programme.” Four years ago Li-iy started the company to give families and au pairs a much more rewarding experience. “I love having au pairs stay with us, we’ve had people from China, Thailand, Russia, America... but I noticed there wasn’t always proper support for them,” Li-iy says. “I thought that was so strange. That’s why I founded Au Pair Amsterdam.”
Working together with agencies around the world, support is never far away: Liiy will try to appoint a local contact or stay in touch with au pairs herself through Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp and other means of instant communication. She says: “I get so many messages from people who had a fantastic experience. That’s why I do it. Many families, after their first au pair, will sign up with us again and continue their au pair experience year after year!” Li-iy also runs a separate venture helping people from the Netherlands to have a cultural experience in China as a teacher, trainee or au pair for a minimum of three months. Li-iy: “I grew up in the Netherlands with Chinese parents. After I did a six-week cultural trip to China I wanted other people to experience this amazing country too.” Anyone with a fair level of English and an interest in China can do this. Also here, Ly-iy guarantees the same
optimum level of support and has many trusted contacts throughout the country via an officially licensed Chinese agency. www.aupairamsterdam.com www.letsgo2china.com
Multi-cultural immersion To become a live-in au pair you need some experience working with children and must be between 18 and 31. Host families with (young) children can let Au Pair Amsterdam make a match or suggest someone themselves. Au Pair Amsterdam can help with visa applications and administration, orga nise information days and offer local support. It is affiliated with the national industry agency BONAPA and is an officially recognised sponsor by the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND).
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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Gabriel Rios
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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Gabriel Rios
Gabriel Rios Stripped to the essence
Belgium’s favourite Latin singer from Ghent decided to leave it all behind, his warm Spanish-American sounds, his electro-pop, his big band set up, in fact, his entire country. After three years of soul searching and songwriting in New York, Gabriel Rios is back with a new album, and a complete new, strippedback sound. Born in Puerto Rico, Rios moved to Belgium when he was 17 years old. Eight years later he released his first solo album Ghostboy with hit single Broad Daylight, followed by two more studio albums including Angelhead in 2007. Combining Latin, funk, electronic sounds and pop, his songs stormed the Flemish hit lists and he played all the big festivals. Now, on the brink of releasing his fourth album, This Marauder’s Midnight, Rios has reinvented his music, using just cello, bass, guitar and his voice. “After my second record I had a mini crisis where I felt like I didn’t want to be doing this, being on a stage with a big band,” Rios confesses. “The entertainment factor of what I was doing was tiring me.” Although he brought out a third album in the meantime, The Dangerous Return in 2010, the feeling that he wanted to do something else didn’t go away. “I was starting to get really attracted by playing solo concerts and I realised I didn’t have the kind of material where you can just play in front of people on your own,” Rios continues: “I realised this was the music that really moved me.”
A new city, a new sound To follow his new-found passion, he decided to leave his hometown of Ghent be-
hind and moved to New York. “It really is a live music city; people are catching bands all the time and going to find music all the time, which is really different from Belgium,” he says. “It was a place where you needed no reservation and you can just start playing.” Rios ended up in a local café bar called the Rockwood Music Hall. Writing during the day and trying out his songs live in the evening, this tiny venue became the catalyst for his new music direction. “I wrote the songs completely by myself. That was kind of the point I had to prove: that I can do it on my own first.”
Stripped down music While in New York, he met musical duo Ruben Samama and Amber Docters van Leeuwen, both, as it happened, originally from the Netherlands. “Ruben is really a multi-talented dude, he is a young guy who writes songs himself, is also a virtuoso jazz bass player with a classical background and he produces,” Rios recounts. “I knew immediately that I wanted this guy to take over as a producer because he can make decisions very quickly and get things done very quickly, and also we were on the same page creatively. I didn’t have to explain anything.” With Samama on bass, his wife Docters van Leeuwen on cello and Rios on guitar, the trio rehearsed the songs in New York as he was writing them. Soon Rios realised this combination was the perfect ingredient for his new album. “They both have this aesthetic of not putting things in there if they don’t mean something,” Rios explains. “The album is very sparse and very minimal. In the beginning we tried out piano, drums, guitar and we got rid of everything. One day
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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Gabriel Rios
Over the course of 2014, Rios published a new single each month online, ahead of his full album release this year. He said this was much less stressful than doing it the conventional way and would like to repeat this in the future.
when we were just playing in the house, the three of us, we realised we could make a whole record with that palette of sounds, with the three instruments.”
An unconventional release After three years Rios returned to Belgium with his new repertoire. Instead of putting them together in an album, he decided to release the songs one by one over a whole year. “I’ve always wanted to do it, release a song each month. I just didn’t have the occasion yet to do this,” he says, talking about this peculiar way of putting out his music. “It was much more fun to do it this way, less stress.” Over the course of 2014, a new song of Rios appeared online every month, ahead of his upcoming album release this spring. Although all the songs were finished, he found it very comforting to be able to break in the final ones a little more, just as he did
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with the earlier material he had rehearsed while in New York. “There is something about playing songs to people, that really shapes the song. Even if the structure is there, the lyrics are there, playing them a lot before you record them makes you more comfortable with them,” he says. At first, Rios was apprehensive that his new sound would not go down as well as his more commercial pop songs, but it turned out this wasn’t the case at all. “We had a lot of connection with audiences who apparently were not aware that this is what they wanted, it is almost as if we found it out together. We realised we wanted to do this, in a very simple, minimalist way and people responded to that very well.”
Winning over the audience To keep the pure feeling of his music alive in the album, all songs were recorded as
live, instead of each instrument separately. This fleshed out set-up is also now his standard arrangement for concerts, steering him away from his earlier work when he played with a full band. “When you start off at the beginning, your first two records, you are doing everything you can to squeeze everything into a record,” Rios explains. “Maybe because I am older, I am trying to leave everything out that doesn’t really have to do with the song.” Recently, Rios played as the opener for Stromae, a Belgian singer-songwriter with songs that mix hip-hop with electronic music. “He just wanted us to play in front of him. He is very courageous, he doesn’t care if it is a whole different vibe or style,” Rios says. “The fact that we are so different, it made us stand out. People actually listened, we were so happy with his audience. I was really surprised, I thought it would be very hard, but there was a lot of silence.”
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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Gabriel Rios Rios, 36, moved to New York for three years to write new material. Last year he returned to Belgium to complete his forth album, This Marauder's Midnight, which will be released this spring.
A song gone viral One song that really stands out on the upcoming record is Gold. After the online release last year, the song was picked up by a Norwegian radio station where it went viral and became a hit. Rios explains how the song really captures the album: “It is a song about song writing, about finding a song that is going to connect with people, and the only way to do that is to admit you also want to hear it yourself.” He continues. “Gold did better than any of my other singles, ever. I am excited that it is happening with this kind of music because it seems more original to me than whatever I have done before.”
Something borrowed The title of the album sounds strangely familiar compared to that of hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest from 1993, Midnight Marauders. Although Rios explains there is no real relation between the records, he loves their music and was inspired by the title. He used a version of it for a fictional short story which ended up as a little booklet in the special edition of Rios’s album. “I don’t really remember if the title came first or the story, but I had this story, an old gothic story that takes place in Paris,” he begins. “It is about a thief and it is midnight, it alludes to the fact that he is going to get caught. It is 12 o’clock in his life, and the one who thought he would never get caught, gets caught. It had something really lonely and that is why I think it suits the record. It is a solitary record.” As for the release of This Marauder’s Midnight, Rios has a European tour lined up, starting in Germany at the end of this month. “We are planning to go everywhere and start from the beginning, which is just really playing for people and seeing if we can gather enough of an audience,” he concludes: “I think that is my favourite part, to tell you the truth.”
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A culinary hotchpotch force In conversation with a Dutchman and in need of a topic? Ask for their favourite ‘stamppot’ (hotchpotch) and a stream of answers will follow. If there is one dish the Dutch absolutely love, it is the traditional hotchpotch. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: SANDRAYSBRANDY.NL / WERNERDRENT.NL
It is a typical Dutch peculiarity: mashing their food into one big mush. But, with good reason: it is delicious, healthy, and no matter how catastrophic the chef is, anyone can make it. Hotchpotch or stew has many variations, but the base ingredients are always the same: mashed potatoes and vegetables. It is a rich, winter dish, and used to be eaten at lunch. After all, it gave enough energy to be able to work in the fields for the rest of the day. Nowadays it’s a meal for supper, and is more popular than ever. Hotchpotch history It is not entirely clear how the basic recipe arose, but we do know some things about the formation of the Dutch hotchpotch. In the Middle Ages many dishes were pre-
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pared in a large cauldron or pot. At the time, the potato wasn’t a common ingredient yet (see potato fact box). A staple at the time was a pulpy soup-like stew, filled with grains, vegetables and meat. There is another ancestor even more akin to the modern Dutch Hotchpotch. In the night of 3 October 1574, in the middle of the Eighty Years’ War, the Prince of Orange ordered the bursting of the dykes around the city of Leiden to expel the Spanish occupiers. As the troops left their camps in a hurry, the people of Leiden found recently cooked dishes: mashed carrots, onions and parsnips. After a very tough time of occupation, with hunger and disease, they instantly loved the food and called it ‘hutspot’, a name which is still used today.
Eventually the parsnip was replaced by the potato, but that would take several centuries. Hotchpotch madness The Dutch love their hotchpotch, and with good reason. Sandra Ysbrandy, famous Dutch TV chef and author agrees: “It is simple to cook, children love it, the basics are very healthy, and there is a lot to experiment with; you can unleash your imagination.” Ysbrandy is also the face of the hugely popular hotchpotch contest, organised by the Dutch TV-show Life4You. The best hotchpotch of 2015 will be announced in late February. “People make hotchpotch in every style: Mexican, Greek, anything. I
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Discover Benelux | Food Feature | Hotchpotch
think the best hotchpotch consists of a few good, basic ingredients. Less is more in this case. Too many ingredients make it confusing.” Ysbrandy also has a fair warning about mashing the potatoes: “Do not use a mixer! It makes the potatoes gluey.” There is a great sense of nostalgia involved: everyone has a grandmother (or father) who could make the best hotchpotch in the world. Ysbrandy: “In my family it is the kale hotchpotch my granny Landje made. After a long day of skating on natural ice, the whole family would come together to eat her kale hotchpotch. I always want to emulate her recipe, but I have not succeeded yet. Of course, there is also a lot of atmosphere and feeling involved, the Dutch ‘gezelligheid’ (fun, cozy, pleasant), which certainly affects the taste.” Hotchpotch aficionado Werner Drent must be the world’s biggest fan of the Dutch hotchpotch. He won the World Hotchpotch Championships four times in a row, and recently wrote the children’s cookbook Het grote stamppot boek (the big hotchpotch book). “It is a great dish to teach children to eat their vegetables; mashing and mixing the food so that the vegetables no longer look like vegetables. And anything is possible with hotchpotch.” Drent loves the dish so much, he does rather special things with the leftovers. “I’m not much for wasting food, so out of the leftovers I create all kinds of other dishes. Bitterballen (a small, round, typical Dutch type of croquette) made out of hotchpotch or hollow a large carrot and fill it with hotchpotch.” Drent goes even further and creates millefeuilles out of it. This may all sound a bit strange to the non-Dutch among us, but once familiar with the hotchpotch, it will all make perfect sense.
The potato comes to the Netherlands The potato arrived in Europe from South America via Spanish explorers (probably in 1536 by Diego de Malya). By that time the Incas had already cultivated the plant for hundreds of years. Monks were responsible for the spread of the potato from Spain to other European countries. They planted the potatoes in their monastery gardens. At first, farmers wanted nothing to do with the foreign plant. The stems and berries are poisonous, and they thought the tubers would be unhealthy. Gradually, the potato became more popular, and by the 17th century, it was grown in all European countries. In the Netherlands it would take until 1727 before the potato was officially recognised as food (Friesland was first). Ever since, it’s become one of the main Dutch staples, found on most kitchen tables boiled, baked or, of course, mashed.
‘Oma Landje’s Boerenkool’ (Granny Landje’s kale hotchpotch) Recipe by Sandra Ysbrandy for 4 persons 500 g curly kale, washed 1 kg crumbly potatoes, peeled knob of butter 1.5 dl milk 0.5 dl vinegar salt and pepper Pan fried lardons Cut the kale in very small pieces using a kitchen appliance and cook it in an inch of salted water for 30 minutes. In the meantime, boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender. When ready, drain both and let them steam off. Add a knob of butter to the potatoes and mash. Add hot milk to create a creamy mixture and then add the drained kale. Season with the vinegar, salt and pepper and mix in the fried lardons. Serve kale hotchpotch with gravy, smoked sausage, Amsterdam (pickled) onions, pickles and mustard.
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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Groningen
DI S COV E R
NE THE R L A NDS
Groningen: Metropolis of the North Despite its size, Groningen is one of the most vibrant cities in the Netherlands, from cosy restaurants to a shopping hub, a lively cultural scene and a long, and impressive history. Close to my heart – as a long time inhabitant of this great place, just a couple of hours from Amsterdam – I set out to show you some of the best this Metropolis of the North has to offer. BY MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: NBTC
Thanks to its large and distinguished university, Groningen is actually the youngest city in the Netherlands, with an average age of just under 35 years. This is no surprise, as one in five inhabitants is actually a student. This young population gives Groningen a very active nightlife – famous for having no closing times – and a vibrant and diverse cultural and music scene. To start off my two-day journey, I take the train into Groningen. Welcomed by the magnificent station building built in 1895, I marvel at the intricate details on the ceiling of the main hall. Although it looks like marble, many are actually crafted out of paper mache. With the combination of renais-
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sance and gothic architecture, the station is one of the most beautiful in the country.
with world famous artists, from paintings to installations, interactive art and sculptures.
The Groninger Museum
Inside I walk down the colourful mosaic, winding staircase to visit The Secret of Dresden – from Rembrandt to Canaletto. On display until the end of May, it is a beautiful collection of renaissance paintings amassed by the Prince-Electors of Saxony in the 18th century, at the time some of the wealthiest rulers in Europe. The exhibition includes lush landscapes by Philips Wouwerman, animated views of Venice by Canaletto and some refined portraits by Rembrandt.
I move on to the Groninger Museum, just across the road. Completed in 1994 in a striking postmodernist style, the building itself is a work of art. The asymmetrical museum by architect Alessandro Mendini sits like an island in the middle of the canal, connected by a through bridge. When it opened it got mixed reactions (many thought it was god-awful), but everyone agreed the bridge, joining the city centre to the station, was rather useful. A very ambitious museum since its opening, it often displays prominent international exhibitions
I continue on to the museum’s permanent collection that includes a brief history of
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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Groningen
Groningen through artefacts and a collection of modernist artworks by local painting collective De Ploeg. Walking through a corridor, with the canal outside at eye-height, I end up in a round hall. Here a collection of porcelain, paintings, silverware and furniture of Jan Albert Sichterman is displayed, who lived 300 years ago. Dubbed the ‘King of Groningen’, he used his wealth not just to collect stunning pieces of Asian art, but also to buy a rhino, Clara, as a pet, of which beautiful, detailed paintings remain. For lunch I walk further into the centre or ‘binnenstad’, the inner city. At ‘t Opstapje, one of the many lunch places where you can have fresh baguettes with a filling of choice, I order a crab salad roll and fresh orange juice. Refuelled, I walk to the Martinitoren, the highest tower in Groningen nicknamed the Olle Grieze, or old grey one.
The old grey Martini Tower The church, named after Groningen’s patron, Saint Martin, has a stirring history. The oldest structure that stood here was a wooden church dating back to the 9th century. By 1040 Groningen became the
northernmost outpost of the diocese of Utrecht, and thereby an important religious hub for the region. The first tower, built in the 13th century, was only a modest 30 metres high. When, two centuries later, a lightning strike had caused it to collapse and the second, partly wooden, tower had burned down, it was decided to build a new, grand tower to represent the growing wealth of the north.
the Schuitendiep, the canal on the east side of the centre. Here lies the Panne koekschip or pancake ship. The 100-yearold clipper, one of the largest ever built in the Netherlands, has been turned into a cosy restaurant that serves large, wonderful pancakes with all the choice of toppings you can dream of – from sweet to savoury. The family-friendly ship is the perfect place for a hearty Dutch dinner.
To emphasise the diocese’s power, the Dom Tower of Utrecht was used as an example – at the time one of the highest churches in Europe. According to tales from around the time of completion of the newly erected Martini Tower (no one knows for sure when this was) it was said to be even higher than the Dom at an incredible 127 metres. Then in 1577, fate hit again. Bonfires were lit on the top of the tower to celebrate the withdrawal of the Spanish forces. The tower caught fire and was largely destroyed. In 1627 it was eventually rebuilt to a height of 97 metres, the structure which currently still stands.
Groningen, university town
Marvelling at the history of the Olle Grieze, I feel it’s time for dinner. I make my way to
The next day I visit the Universiteits museum. Tucked away, round the corner from the main campus building, the free museum goes through the 400-year history of the university in Groningen. On the top floor, it has a collection of scientific items that were used throughout the centuries, ranging from minerals to fossils and intriguing Victorian contraptions, but also examples of the phase contrast microscope that won professor Frits Zernike the Nobel Prize. Next is a room that gives an ode to Aletta Jacobs, the Netherland’s first female graduate, physician and devout suffragette. Lastly I enter a former operating theatre, now full of conserved body parts and some disturbing examples of
LEFT: Nicknamed the Olle Grieze, the Martini Tower is one of Groningen’s main attractions. TOP MIDDLE: The Groninger Museum sits on an island in the middle of a canal. Photos: NBTC. BOTTOM MIDDLE AND RIGHT: The small but fascinating Universiteitsmuseum goes through 400 years of history of the city’s university. Photos: Universiteitsmuseum
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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Groningen
miscarriages, certainly not for the squeamish and I quickly move on. In terms of shopping, Groningen also has plenty to offer. All the major brands have outlets in the busy Herestraat but I head for the characteristic Folkingestraat, where I am rewarded with many quirky, independent shops. I walk into De Bourgondier, a delicacy shop selling dozens of types of cheeses, gifts and Groninger specialities. Drawn to the golden goodness of the Dutch cheese, many readily available to taste, I follow the shopkeeper’s recommendation to try their new Groninger spiced cheese with cloves and mustard. It has the salty creamy texture of Gouda yet with a punchy flavour. I continue on to the Vismarkt, after the Grote Markt, the second biggest market square with regular food and textile markets throughout the week. At the top of the square sits the imposing Korenbeurs, built in the 1860s. Once a wheat exchange, now a supermarket, the neoclassical building has a beautiful and bright interior. The cast iron structure with large ceiling windows, helped traders to check the quality of the grains through their colour.
Hanseatic trade Silently towering over it, is the late-medieval church the Der Aa-Kerk. Painted in historic ochre yellow, the church was named after a former nearby stream, the Drentsche A. It is no longer in active use; the Der Aa-Kerk can be hired as a venue for events, conferences and even club nights. Alongside it, in the shadows of the church I find a tiny shop
In the shadow of the Der Aa-Kerk is the cosy shop Het Hanze Huis, inspired by the Hanseatic league or Hansa. Groningen became part of this association of merchants in 1282.
called Het Hanze Huis, after the Hanseatic trade league that helped Groningen to become a centre of trade. Inside I am instantly handed a glass of hot kwast, a sour, wintery lemonade. The shop is almost too small for the wealth of colours and products inside. “All our products come from independent European companies that are at least 100 years in their trade,” the shopkeeper tells me. “We select only quality products from their place of origin, that don’t have a supermarket feel to them.” Certainly none of the brands I see look familiar, which is both disorientating and intriguing: marzipan from Lübeck in Germany, syrups from Lille in France, sweets from Turin in Italy… Before long it is time for dinner again and I make my way to the Poelestraat. With bars and dance cafes lining the street – albeit currently shut – this is the centre for Groninger nightlife. For my meal I settle on
One of the latest additions to Groningen is the Infoversum, a dome-shaped cinema that was thought up by professor Edwin Valentijn to make science more accessible to the general public.
grand café Time Out serving regional dishes with a twist that all have a title in the local dialect. In my best Gronings I order ‘Neem joen gemak’ (take your pick), the schnitzel, a dish of the day. Unfortunately the waiter is from the neighbouring province of Friesland so my attempt falls on deaf ears. After a fulfilling meal and an intensely sweet dessert of white chocolate brulee ‘Zo wit as snij’ (white as snow), I make my way back to the station to end the trip.
Groningen in short - With just over 200,000 inhabitants and still growing, it is the seventh largest city in the Netherlands. - An inhabitant in Groningen is called ‘stadjer’ and in the local dialect the city is called ‘Grunnen’. - Once crowned best cycling city of the Netherlands, locals take the bike on average 1.3 times a day, much more often than the national average of 0.8. - Stadjers are very proud of their city, competing with 74 other cities around Europe, Groningers proved to be the happiest inhabitants in their home town. - The city is built on the end of a low sand hill and the oldest remnants date to 300 BC. The current centre is still roughly the same as the original 11th century layout. - Celebrating its 400th anniversary last year, the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (known as the RUG) is the second oldest still existing university in the country.
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Discover Benelux | Column | Liz Wenger
Cross burning in Luxembourg TEXT: LIZ WENGER | PHOTOS: PHILIP WENGER
You might witness something strange in Luxembourg on the weekend of 22 February, in the form of a tall burning cross standing in the middle of a field lighting up the night sky. If you’re familiar with US history, you might think that something nefarious is going on but let me assure you, this is a very old and harmless tradition in Luxembourg and its surrounding areas to scare off the winter spirits and welcome spring back. During the pagan days of the Celts in the 9th century BC, lighting big fires was a way to implore the sun to make the coming harvest bountiful. They were particularly common at the end of a season or beginning of a new one. The Romans, too, had a long tradition of fire rituals coupled with the symbolism of cleansing, renewal and fertility, and as one theory goes, ‘Buerg-
brennen’ is a relic of the old Gallo-Roman New Year’s celebration on 1 March. Even though we call this particular fire in February Buergbrennen (castle burning), it has nothing to do with a castle. It is not exactly clear where the name comes from, maybe from the latin ‘burere’ (to burn) or maybe from the old germanic word ‘bûr’, a house or straw hut that was burned to sacrifice people, as Julius Caesar concluded. However, there is still considerable ambiguity surrounding the validity of his account, as the huts could have been burned after the people had already died, in an effort to purge the bad spirits. How we went from burning a straw hut to burning a cross is not entirely certain, either. It could have something to do with the Catholic Church, who tried to ban the fires
in the 7th century as they were often accompanied by uncontrollable celebrations. Failing to do so, the Church eventually tried to reinterpret the fires in accordance with their faith by blessing the fire, praying around it and conceivably adding a cross to it. In any case, if you are in the area during this particular February weekend, don’t miss Buergbrennen. It is held in most villages throughout Luxembourg; follow the light, or the strong smell of smoke to find out where exactly.
Liz Wenger is currently publishing a book for English speakers to learn Luxembourgish. Sign up to be notified of the book’s release on learnluxembourgish.com
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The ultimate holiday destination With its beautiful landscape, history, beaches and sun, the South of France is a wonderful vacation destination, particularly popular with holidaymakers from the Benelux. This month we highlight the best of Languedoc-Roussillon in a six-page special. TEXT: MéLANIE BOISSET | PHOTOS: BERNARD LIéGEOIS / PAUL PALAU
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Languedoc-Roussillon
A region of torment in the past due to its position on the borders of the Kingdom of France, Languedoc-Roussillon has become a region of links, between north and south, between land and sea, between France and neighbouring countries, between heritage and modernity. Here in Languedoc-Roussillon, from Pyrénées-Orientales to Lozère, from Hérault to Aude and Gard, the close links between landscape and architecture, villages and people, are obvious. Nature, preserved and accessible to all, provides the bond between pleasure and relaxation. The unique is everywhere at hand: with six sites – the Causses and the Cévennes, the fortified city of Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, Pont du Gard, St James’ Trail to Santiago de Compostela and the Vauban fortresses – Languedoc-Roussillon is the best endowed region in France for monuments and UNESCO World Heritage sites, and one of the least urbanised in France. Languedoc-Roussillon is a vast land of contrasts, where, from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees, from Margeride to Aspres, from Petite Camargue to Corbières, the wild beauty of its sites is only equalled by the soothing charm of the 220 kilometres of coastal beaches.
But the wealth of the region, with all its diversity, goes far beyond. Between cities on the move and villages that have kept their soul, between starred chefs, fine ambassadors of regional gastronomy, and vineyards that promote wine tourism, it is a kaleidoscope of colours, scents and flavours. An ocean of sensations just waiting to be discovered. www.destinationsuddefrance.com
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Languedoc-Roussillon
A haven of tranquillity TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: RêVE DES îLES
Just a couple of kilometres from buzzing Mediterranean beaches, and three from the vibrant resort village of Argelès-sur-Mer, Camping Rêve des îles has created an oasis of calm. “Since it was founded in 1968 it has always been a family site,” says its manager, JeanMarie Inchelin: “And some time ago we took the decision to remove all the services like shops and restaurants from within the site to make it a quieter and more relaxed place.” With shops just 100 metres away and all the amenities and attractions of Argelès handy too, the families staying on the site are not inconvenienced, but as Inchelin says: “Even mid-morning you can walk through the site and it’s peaceful.” Accommodation on the site these days is ex-
clusively mobile homes, so guests can relax in comfort from the moment they arrive.
Entertainment on the site is family-oriented too, with a weekly boules tournament followed by a meal, and barbecue parties, plus an excellent pool to amuse (and tire) the kids in the daytime. Even the beaches and the village can be accessed by dawdling mini road-trains to save the fuss of driving. Argelès’s seven kilometres of beach and promenade draw visitors towards the sea, with the Albères mountains just behind the coastline offering an alternative escape into nature with some great hiking country. “Or you can just enjoy the greenery, trees and flowers here,” says Inchelin: “It’s the perfect place to recharge your batteries, relax, and feel at one with the world again.”
The sunny side of life TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: ISIS EN CéVENNES
Southern France, its villages and rivers, the scents of the country side and time that seems to run as slowly as the wine decants... this is the decor of camping Isis en Cévennes. It is ideally located less than one hour from the Mediterranean Sea and the cities of Montpellier, Nîmes and Millau, in the heart of Languedoc-Roussillon – a region often praised for the quality of life it offers. Ten hectares of bliss are waiting for you at Isis en Cévennes. "We are a family owned camping," explains owner Florence Faidherbe, "and I am the second generation maintaining the legacy." Their traditional approach allows you to enjoy the best of France without compromising on comfort and fun as Isis en Cévennes boasts a three star mark for the quality of its services and facilities. It offers
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cottages, mobile home rentals and places for your recreational vehicle or tent.
will welcome you, singing the nicest harmonies with the best sound quality.
Among the many activities offered by Faidherbe's team is the visit to their gardens and orchards where you will be able to get your hands dirty and perhaps taste some homemade jams and juices made in the old machine that the family has kept running on the property. In the Roman chapel, classical music is played and often a choir
Between April and October Faidherbe offers hotel services and home grown food in the restaurant. A slice of nature sparkling with sunshine to the rhythm of cicadas is what the camping Isis en Cévennes is: the road map to the brighter side of life. www.isisencevennes.fr
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Languedoc-Roussillon
Calm and serenity in a luxurious campsite TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: CLOS DE CAPITELLES
A gorgeous 4-star camping ideally located in southern France in the renowned region of the Gard, the Clos des Capitelles has everything on offer for an unforgettable holiday under the sun. With its 88 pitches spread over four hectares and equipped with all the facilities of a luxury camping, the Clos des Capitelles is located only five minutes away from the village of Barjac, right next to beautiful lavender fields for a real summer feel. On site you will be offered the option to rent fully equipped mobile homes or chalets, each having 2-3 rooms, designed with the intention to create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere. All rentals have a terrace, garden furniture and an electric barbecue. Some mobile homes are available for sale for people wishing to have them as their secondary residence (since the camping is open all year round). If you decide to bring your own campingcar, tent or caravan, you will be allocated a
spacious spot and have free access to modern sanitary blocks with warm showers, washing machines, dryers and baby room. Access to the swimming pool is included, with the possibility of using the sauna, massage services, spa and wellness. For the sporty type, you can enjoy access to a fitness centre, volleyball, pingpong, tennis, as well as 300 kilometres of hikes and bike rides to enjoy with friends or family in the gorgeous Cèze Valley. The region is also famous for its canyoning, climbing and speleology tours, with plenty of museums and interest points spread within easy reach from the camping. These include the Gorge de l’Ardèche, Pont du Gard, Grottes Chauvet, Nîmes, Avignon and many more.
the bar and restaurant are opened daily, there is WiFi, tourist information, a library, baby cots, high chairs, a TV room, table tennis bats, and the possibility of ordering fresh bread for the next morning at the reception desk. All in all, the Clos des Capitelles awaits you year round for an unforgettable stay – for more information and bookings please visit the website (in French and English). www.camping-closdescapitelles.fr
If you come with children, they are guaranteed to want to take part in many creative workshops six days a week, as well as trying out cooking lessons or different sports. Everything you could possibly need has been thought of: in July and August
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DOMAINE DE VERCHANT
Luxury, charm and historical heritage The story of the Domaine de Verchant starts in early 1582, when the Bishop of Montpellier granted the estate to Pierre de Verchant, who gave it his name and kept it in the family for over two centuries. Over time it has managed to keep its historical heritage while also embracing modern times. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: DOMAINE DE VERCHANT
Nowadays, the Domaine de Verchant is owned by Mr and Mrs Mestre, who have undertaken renovation works over the years to transform the estate into a luxurious 5-star hotel and spa. Members of the affiliation of Relais Châteaux, the domaine spreads over 17 hectares, including 11 hectares of vineyards and old stones, some of which are found to date back to Roman times, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia for more romantic times. While the exterior takes you centuries back, the interior is extremely modern, furnished with famous names in Italian design. The twenty-six different rooms are unique in decoration and layout, some with balcony, others with private terrace – here comfort goes hand in hand with luxury, for an astonishing result. As for the spa, it is spread over 750 square metres and offers massages, access to a
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Jacuzzi, a Hammam, as well as an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. By April 2015, the domaine will have built a brand new 25 metres-long outdoor swimming pool with its own restaurant and lounge bar to delight you with refreshments and local specialties. Apart from these, the sandy beaches are only 15 minutes away for those looking for refreshing sea breeze. With the estate producing its own wine, customers are invited to take part in regular wine-tasting sessions to delight the senses: with one type of white, two rosés and three reds, there is something for everyone. Accommodating over 250 events per year, including company meetings, seminars and weddings, the Domaine du Verchant provides the ideal setting to host any type of event. With its three conference and meeting rooms, everything is possible: the
first fits a committee of 20 people for a small meeting, the second up to 40 people for a bigger event and the last one accommodates around 250 people for a grand dinner, with the possibility of fitting between 300 and 400 in case of networking events or cocktail parties. The beauty of the estate combined with the on-site delicious cuisine, makes the Domaine de Verchant an authentic and idyllic holiday getaway all year round so wait no more and find out about reservations online. www.domainedeverchant.com
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Refuel in the heart of a French haven TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: LE CAPELAN
Some holidays are just more memorable than others. The combination between rest, serenity and fun, the good balance between comfort and escapism all allow your mind to wander, your soul to replenish and your new self to grow. Camping le Capelan, calm and family owned, provides just that mix – one of the few four star campsites in the region to have kept a very authentic French atmosphere. On the border between the national park of the Cévennes, which belongs to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites since 2011, and the natural park of Grands Causses, and some forty-five minutes away from the famous Millau Bridge, camping le Capelan will welcome you amid the vertiginous canyons and breathtaking plateaux that appear to extend to the horizon. Part of the Kawan Villages group, le Capelan places a high service standard with friendliness and hospitality at the very heart of the camping experience. On site, you will find French bread and croissants for a delicious breakfast, while
some eight hundred metres from the camping, in the Meyrueis village, you will have the chance to explore the local cuisine – from top gastronomic restaurants to traditional breweries serving authentic aligot and other delicacies… everyone will find the right taste for their palate. The cottages are amongst the best equipped and most comfortable: a fully furnished kitchen with microwave, fridge and freezer, TV with European channels and all the amenities necessary to have an enjoyable stay. The showers are spacious, the restrooms separate and the bedding of the best quality so you can rest fully. There is nothing quite like a quiet evening on the terrace, with the river nearby, while a barbecue is going on the grill-tables.
the couples who want to canoe on the Tarn or visit the caves around. Volleyball, football, ping-pong or sunbathing in the midst of overwhelming nature… Camping le Capelan is a holiday destination that is sure to keep you warm for months after you have come back. campingcapelan.com
No matter how long you stay, the activities available will keep you busy. The most adventurous can enjoy the climbing routes with an instructor whilst others can dive into a heated swimming pool with amazing scenery. Along the campsite, stretching three kilometres, the Jonte River will welcome the entire family from fishermen to
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
S P E C I A L T H E M E
Summer holiday escapes BY MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PRESS PHOTOS
As the days are slowly getting longer again, and the first images of spring are popping up in our day dreams, February is a great time to start planning the rest of the year ahead. Here, we continue our Special Theme: Summer holiday escapes with some more hidden gems in France as well as in other destinations in Europe. First we list a number of exquisite campsites, from lively family-orientated sites to the more private and quiet places. They are located in some of the most popular areas in France including the beautiful coast of Brittany, historic and sunny La Rochelle and the silent and nature-rich Causse du Quercy Park. We also branch out further into Europe with Le Boat, a pleasure cruiser rental
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company that operates across the continent. Also the Balearic Islands are not left out, with a Dutch company that lets luxu-
rious homes in Ibiza. If the summer is a little too far away for you, then don’t miss our profile of Urban Ski.
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
Silence is golden TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: CHATEAU DE LACOMTE COUNTRY CLUB
Everyone loves children – but just imagine holidays without them! Stuart and Sheila Coe ran Chateau de Lacomte as a family campsite from 1993 to 2009, by which time their children had flown the nest. Finding the peace of the winter period enjoyable they transformed the 32-acre property into a country club just for adults, catering for everyone with 86 touring pitches, a gîte, mobile homes and chalets. It wasn’t easy: “We’ve pioneered the concept in France – it was illegal here when we first considered it,” explains Stuart. Significant legal work paved the way – though day one an official arrived to close them down. “Our paperwork satisfied him, and he left after a tour saying how wonderfully peaceful it was!” Presenting the idea at a Dutch travel show they had to overcome the suspicion that ‘adults
only’ meant something sexual. “When we changed our sign from adults only to ‘kindervrij’ – child free – people understood, and really took to the idea,” says Stuart. So what are the benefits? “There’s quiet around the pool, no bombing, just gentle chatter and people reading. The site generally is very peaceful, and the restaurant and bar wonderfully civilised,” he says. It’s worked so well they’re now constructing lodges to sell to their regular guests. Situated only eight minutes from exit 56 of the A20, access is easy. The breathtaking Rocamadour, the caves at Padirac and many more grown-up pleasures beckon too: “The area is a gastronomic capital famed for foie gras and duck confit – to say nothing of hundreds of vineyards producing the celebrated Cahors wines,” he concludes. www.chateaulacomte.com
By the Tarn – and over or in it TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: LES POMMIERS D'AIGUELèZE
Campers at Les Pommiers d'Aiguelèze find plenty to see within easy reach – and not just with their feet on terra firma.
ing pitches, have good reasons to relax within the welcoming family atmosphere of the quiet site.
“We get quite a few visitors who arrive intending to stay a couple of days to visit Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s a short drive away, it’s a fabulous city. Then they find out how lovely the countryside and villages are here and end up staying for a week or more,” says Anne Demules, owner of Camping Les Pommiers d'Aiguelèze. Her family took on the site in 2011 and completely remodelled it with a new heated pool, bar, and sports facilities, so guests staying in the mobile homes and lodges they rent out, or on the 50 tour-
duce them. “We’re in the heart of the Gaillac wine region here,” says Anne: “And you can see that by touring in your car – or take a balloon ride from just outside the site and get another view.” With the Tarn just 100 metres away there is a third means of transport on offer to give yet another angle on the country. “Visitors – especially the kids – enjoy activities on the river, and families can even make the trip from the campsite to Albi in a Gabarre, a boat that’s traditional here,” she says. www.camping-lespommiers.com
But even though they can taste the pick of Gaillac’s wines in the bar, they may be tempted to visit the vineyards that pro-
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
A star destination to lift the mood Here's a camping that belongs to a very exclusive kind of high end holiday destination with its four stars, top notch equipment and premier quality services. Open all year round, the camping Beaulieu has a lot to offer. TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: BEAULIEU
Located ten minutes from the Vieux Port of La Rochelle it has all the charms of the French countryside with the advantages of a touristic site accessible by bike or through La Rochelle’s bus network, and nearby grocery stores. The facilities of the Beaulieu camping are outstanding. Between April and November, regardless of the weather, dive into the twenty-eight degrees heated water of the semi covered pool. At one end, enjoy the balneotherapy spa bath whilst the kids paddle nearby, at the other end let the teenagers play down the slides. Whether you come with the entire family or simply with your significant other, the camping Beaulieu can accommodate your needs with its large range of rentals – cot-
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tages from one to six persons with television and a covered terrace, or tent and recreational vehicle places with wireless internet throughout the camping. After the holiday season stress, with a year of work starting over, taking a well-deserved break becomes salutary and Beaulieu is never out of activities to let off steam. The sauna, Jacuzzi or an hour with the camping's masseuse will sure take care of it. If you are in it for the Frenchness and sightseeing, make sure to plan a trip to the three towers of La Rochelle built between the 13th and 15th century right on the waterfront, a delightful ballade by the ocean. The island of Ré is also a few minutes away from the camping Beaulieu
and will be ideal for an exploration trip with the family as it hosts a series of historical monuments. Finally, many will have childhood memories of Fort Boyard, which is only a few minutes off the coast from La Rochelle and will make for a fun trip with the kids. Obviously the culinary junkies will be fixed as well with the local mussels, oysters and sea food specialties, famous Pineau wines and Cognac liquor. As the weather gets moody in the lands we live in, the timing couldn't be better to reload by the ocean or look forward to you summer trip, where the sun is nearer and a smile just a dive away. www.camping-la-rochelle.com
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
Thanks to the pleasant microclimate at the Ile de Ré, a stay at Camping Essi will give you about as many sunny days as a campsite in southern France would.
Marvellous microclimate for maximum fun The Ile de Ré off La Rochelle enjoys as much sun as the South of France, but for visitors from Benelux it’s an awful lot closer. No wonder some Belgian families make their corner of Camping Essi a little bit of Belgium every August. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: CAMPING ESSI
Carol Courpron, Camping Essi’s manager, encapsulates the family-friendly and relaxing atmosphere of the site with three simple words: “No Karaoke here!” The loyal clientele of the site, that was founded in 1961, are drawn back by rather different attractions: “Young families like having direct access to the beach as well as being just 800 metres from the lovely village of Ars en Ré, while having facilities on site like the heated nursery area for babies and toddlers – young mums love that – the paddling pool by the heated swimming pool, and a kids’ club,” says Carol. For those after a more strenuous holiday there are lots of things to do close to the site: a sailing school, horse-riding, tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course and mini-golf
are just five of the activities within easy reach. The island as a whole has a lot to offer too: “The microclimate here is well-known for having just about the same number of hours of sunshine as the South of France gets,” adds Carol: “And even though the Ile de Ré is just 30 kilometres long, we have over 100 kilometres of safe cycle tracks so visitors can bring or rent a bike to tour the island, see the wild salt flats and their birdlife, visit the lovely beaches that are all around us, and explore the villages, two of them listed among the most beautiful in France and one a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And most visitors like to try the wines made here and our famous Pineau aperitif.”
every August. They eat meals together and enjoy the sun and cycling, and have been doing so for about ten years. We love them, they’re very ‘sympa’ – sometimes they bring Belgian flags and their little area becomes a Belgian colony!” she says. www.campingessi.com
Among the most loyal fans of the site are 14 Belgian families: “They meet up at the site
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
Menhir, Meneer? Find the best of Brittany on its southern coast. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: CAMPING LANN BRICK
Camping Lann Brick has welcomed visitors from Benelux since it opened in 1980, a link emphasised by its participation in the ACSI camping card scheme. “They particularly love the numerous cycle tracks here,” says owner Philippe Berthelot: “It’s a great way to explore this region.” And they don’t need to be Eddy Merckx to reach some fantastic attractions that Philippe and his wife, who speak good English, are happy to recommend – not least Carnac, just a few kilometres away, world-famous for its pre-historic
Breton norm,” says Philippe: “So many clients like to take it easy – after enjoying their fresh bread or croissants at breakfast they hit the heated pool, or maybe walk 200 metres to the beach here to collect shellfish from the sands.” One third of the site remains dedicated to touring pitches, but holidaymakers seeking a touch of luxury can rent mobile homes, caravans, and ‘canvas-bungalows’. Having a bar, snack bar, and shopping necessities on site – which in Brittany naturally includes crêpes and galettes – makes it tempting to forget the car,
dolmens and menhirs. The picturesque port of Goustan, nicknamed ‘little Honfleur,’ is just 10 kilometres distant too, and the fine beach at St Pierre only two kilometres. There are good reasons not to venture even that far. “Our microclimate, sheltered within the Gulf of Morbihan, tends to be sunnier than the
and there are plenty of games like table-football and ping-pong – plus TV and WIFI – to keep the kids entertained. “Above all this is a family site,” says Philippe: “We think that’s why once people discover us they return again and again.” www.camping-lannbrick.com
Skiing in an urban context TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: URBAN SKI EUROPE
The concept of indoor ski slopes has proved to offer unique benefits in terms of preparing for upcoming winter holidays. They make a real difference in avoiding recurrent skiing accidents, and increase the time of enjoyment on the slopes.
petrol costs and CO2 emissions. And secondly, in times of financial crises, people still want to enjoy their expensive winter holidays. This means less time spent in skiing schools and more time enjoying the slopes – which is something we help with."
"There are two closely related advantages of skiing indoors," says founder of Urban Ski Europe, Harald Bonzet, "firstly, the indoor ski centres are implanted in urban areas, which reduces travel time,
For Bonzet, preparation is key: "People forget that skiing is a sport and put leisure in the first place. The result is catastrophic: in France alone, there are 140,000 accidents per year!"
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To introduce the Dutch concept in France, Urban Ski Europe works in collaboration with Alpine Engineering Holland to reduce those figures by opening centres in France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. Their first ski centre opened its doors in Bordeaux in October 2014 and has encountered great success among French customers. To find out more and get involved visit the website. www.urban-ski-europe.com
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
Aux Lodges du Mas de Nadal offers luxurious canvas tents fitted with beds, wardrobe, big windows and a covered, private terrace area to enjoy the views of the surroundings and relax with family and friends
Natural luxury A luxurious canvas experience in the middle of breathtaking nature – sounds like a dream? This summer it can come true at the brand new domain, Aux Lodges du Mas de Nadal – just two hours north of Toulouse, France. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: AUX LODGES DU MAS DE NADAL
Opening mid-May, owners Philippe and Miriam will welcome guests into their domain of mostly untouched nature to reside in one of 22 Safari Style Canvas Lodges and enjoy the tranquillity of the site. “I pinch myself every morning, it is so quiet and beautiful here,” says Philippe. The majority of the land of Mas de Nadal is part of the adjacent Causse du Quercy nature reserve. According to Philippe, the previous owners preserved the nature as it was, “and we will carry over this philosophy,” he says. “Given that there is no road nearby, there is no noise other than nature. The sun brightens the mornings and offers stunning sunsets. And no light pollution! In fact, at nighttime it’s one of the two darkest places in Europe and you see the most beautiful skies, an ideal spot for passionate astronomers.” The cosy lodges, customised for up to four adults, offer luxurious comfort embedded in pure nature. “During our adventurous trip through the Okavango Delta in Botswana we experienced the beauty of
the Safari Camps. They ooze with nature and yet are extremely comfortable. This inspired our style of canvas tents, and we found a South African company to build these wonderful lodges for us. Set on elevated wooden platforms, they will cocoon their inhabitants in great privacy and with spectacular views into the sunset.” Spread out across six hectares of beautiful ground with small oak trees, bushes and old stone walls, there are also 18 pitches for tents. “We have a variety of sites, scattered around the domain; sunny or shady, practical pitches or snuggly hideaways. You will be able to retreat and find an oasis of privacy,” he adds.
On the domain, WiFi is available throughout and the bistro is open all day. The surrounding area offers countless cultural places and natural wonders to visit as well as sightseeing and numerous sportive activities such as canoeing, hiking, biking, horse riding, climbing, speleology, cave diving and many more for everyone and at every age. www.masdenadal.com/en
In the style of a ‘boutique hotel’ Mas de Nadal does not focus on growing in numbers. Instead they focus on quality of life and bringing people closer to nature. “Small is beautiful, this gives us the opportunity to be almost private hosts for our guests,” Philippe concludes.
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
A high quality holiday home on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean sea
Active relaxing on a spacious island Ibiza is famous for being host to wild parties, but there is much more to the island than that. It offers nice restaurants and beach cafes, you can enjoy many outdoor activities in the beautiful nature and yet peace and quiet is easy to be found. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: ONE OF A KIND VILLAS IBIZA
The attractive features of Ibiza make it a popular holiday destination, which results in a huge offer of villas, hotels and other travel arrangements. Good news: the best villas to stay on the island can all be found through One of a Kind Villas Ibiza. Co-owner Reinoud ten Cate: “We select all accommodations ourselves, because it’s important to us that they are authentic and charming. We don’t offer the typical impersonal Spanish rental homes with a shiny floor and wooden furniture. The houses we offer are mainly traditional but stylish fincas and modern villas with sleek shapes, that can accommodate at least four and up to twenty four people.” Most of the villas on One of a Kind Villas Ibiza are located in quiet locations on the island and have beautiful surroundings. Ten Cate adds: “No construction sites will rise any time soon. The govern-
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ment of Ibiza prevents that from happening, so the beautiful view and surroundings will stay untouched.” When booking through One of a Kind Villas Ibiza, you will get personal help from the team. “We all love Ibiza for the diversity it offers and the fact that it is still quite an empty island.” That is what makes Ibiza perfect for a family holiday. “Cafes, nature and restaurants are always close by and from April until October the weather is sunny, so Ibiza is a place for everyone to enjoy.” An overview of some alluring activities can be found on onevillasibiza.co.uk. “You can for example go sailing in a catamaran on a relaxing one-day trip to see the beauty of the islands of Ibiza and Formentera.” To get around, One of a Kind Villas Ibiza also offers help renting a car during your stay, and the local team is ready to an-
swer any question you have. But most important: you know you will arrive at a quality home after a day of traveling. “We only offer villas we have seen ourselves, so we can be sure we recommend quality villas that allow people to enjoy their holiday to the utmost!” www.onevillasibiza.co.uk
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Summer Holiday Escapes
Cruise Europe’s waterways with Le Boat With over forty years of experience, Europe’s number one boating vacation company offers a unique service in making your cruising dreams come true. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: LE BOAT
From canals, lakes and rivers, take in the beautiful passing landscape from the comfort of your own boat – with no previous experience required. Le Boat owns and operates the largest and most stylish fleet of self-drive cruisers available on the market today, allowing you to plan your holidays with friends and family as you wish. With plenty of destinations to choose from, there is something for anyone looking to see Europe from its waterways rather than its highways. In France alone, the company offers a selection of routes within nine different regions, crossing historical landmarks and breath-taking landscapes – with a unique viewpoint on the local flora and fauna. Over the years, Le Boat has expanded its coverage to Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, England, Scotland and Ireland. One of the advantages of choosing Le Boat is the possibility to organise one-way trips to your destination in case you have a tight schedule.
Built around the concept of ‘happiness on a boat’, the company owns 869 boats, spread over 25 locations in France alone and 14 over the rest of Europe. Customisable to your personal needs, Le Boat has a range of cruiser models to fit your budget, number of passengers and vacation plan. For greater cruising ambitions, you will find a fine selection of canal boats and river cruisers for sale at a wide price range. With all boats equipped for a maximum level of comfort, you can expect to find a fully equipped kitchen, hot and cold running water, lounges, en-suite showers and bathrooms, and for the more modern boats: air conditioning and TV. You will also be provided with all the tools to ensure safe cruising, from navigational charts to mooring tools, first aid kits and life jackets. Le Boat offers dedicated and personalised attention to its customers ahead of, during and after cruising so that before taking off
to your adventure you will be extensively briefed on how to plan your route, become a master at locking your boat and finding the adequate spots where to moor. For a unique holiday in a unique setting, Le Boat makes sure you return home with unforgettable memories. www.leboat.com
Contact the French office: www.leboat.fr email@example.com +33 468 94 42 40
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A day at the museum Music, history, art, science, diamonds, bicycles and tattoos – think of a topic and there is a museum of it in the Netherlands. Amsterdam alone has well over a hundred, including of course the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Stedelijkmuseum. With more museums per square metres that anywhere in the world, there sure is plenty to see in the Dutch capital, but straying off the beaten track is just as rewarding. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PRESS PHOTOS
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
OPPOSITE MAIN IMAGE: Dordtse masters at the Dordrechts Museum. Photo Huib Kooyker. OPPOSITE LEFT: Museum Hilversum. OPPOSITE RIGHT: Guitar by Pablo Picasso, 1919, from the Kröller-Müller Museum collection. ABOVE TOP: Van Abbemuseum, Young art. Photo: Peter Cox. ABOVE BOTTOM: Exterior of the Dordrechts Museum. Photo Huib Kooyker. ABOVE RIGHT: Flowers in a blue vase by Vincent van Gogh, 1887, from the Kröller-Müller Museum collection.
With this year’s special focus on Vincent van Gogh, as it is 125 years since his death, lesser known museums such as the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch or the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (see page 40) are certainly worth a visit. With their impressive Van Gogh collections, they will allow you to explore the work of the Dutch master away from the crowds of the capital.
Tucked away in the picturesque village of Giethoorn is the gemstone museum De Oude Aarde (see page 45). With the village’s idyllic canals instead of streets, a visit to the museum will definitely be worth the trip. Another little gem is Het Huizer Museum (see page 43) that shows the history of the beautiful fishermen’s town Huizen at just a 30 minute drive from Amsterdam.
For contemporary and modern art, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (see page 46) and Witte de With in Rotterdam (see page 43) offer a refreshing view with their internationally minded collections combining established and upcoming artists. For a more traditional approach, visit the Dordrechts Museum (see page 44) with art dating back 400 years. Established in 1842, it is actually one of the oldest museums in the country.
The Netherlands also counts many specialist museums. A wonderful example is Corpus, the museum in the shape of a person which explains the intricacies of the human body. Then Museum de Speelklok in Utrecht is completely dedicated to ‘self-playing instruments’ making a visit a musical festivity. In the Dutch media hub of Hilversum you will find the Museum Hilversum (see page 46), that covers wide-ranging topics related to media and
design, including news and travel photography and video art. If that is not enough, then the Kunsthal exposition centre in Rotterdam (see page 47) has a selection of temporary arts and culture exhibitions ranging from the world of James Bond to the Dutch Royal family and international artists. Moreover, it is located at a stone’s throw away from the Natural History Museum and the visuals art museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. With all these magnificent museums around the country, there is almost no reason not to leave the capital. If you do not have a chance to get out of Amsterdam however, the Belasting and Douane Museum (see page 42) is a brilliant interactive and revealing museum about the history of tax and border control.
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
KR ÖL L E R -MÜL L E R
MUS E UM
A peaceful mecca of modern art Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Gris – this is not just any list of famous 19th and 20th artists, it is a small selection of the wonderful works that can be seen at the magnificent Kröller-Müller Museum. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | MAIN PHOTO: WALTER HERFST | PHOTOS: KRöLLER-MüLLER MUSEUM
The museum has the second largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s anywhere in the world, an impressive wealth of modern art and an extraordinary sculpture garden. Located in Otterlo, the Netherlands, the Kröller-Müller Museum
is set in 5,400 hectares of stunning Veluwer landscape and an absolute must-see for art enthusiasts. While it might not carry the fame of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, it
sure punches far above its weight in terms of collection. “We have a unique combination of countless masterpieces – true icons – displayed in an extraordinary setting,” says museum director Lisette Pelsers. “For an art historian like myself, this really is one of the dream museums to work in.”
Encompassing Van Gogh’s oeuvre This year marks a special celebration of the works of Van Gogh as it is exactly 125 years since his death. All around the Benelux, museums are organising events and exhibitions to showcase his art, including of course the Kröller-Müller Museum. Starting 25 April, the exhibition Van Gogh & Co: Criss-crossing the collection will show the works that inspired Van Gogh alongside his own – and in turn, how his paintings influenced his contem-
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
poraries all the way through to present day artworks. “It will feature traditional themes of the late 19th century such as still lives, landscapes, city scenes and portraits. In total, 50 works of Van Gogh – both paintings and many extraordinary drawings – will be combined with works by his friends and fellow artists from our collection,” explains Pelsers. “This really shows how Van Gogh was influenced as well as the relationship of his work to that of others artists.” A highlight of the year for the KröllerMüller Museum, Pelsers hopes this exhibition will also bring some more attention to their impressive Van Gogh collection. “It is the biggest collection after the Van Gogh Museum anywhere in the world. We already get many people from abroad visiting us specifically for our Van Goghs, but it would be fantastic if even more people know about it and will enjoy all his masterpieces we have,” she says.
A visionary collection The museum was founded by art collector Helene Kröller-Müller. Supported by her husband, Anton Kröller, a director of a successful company, she set out to get the best works of modern art together, at the start of the 20th century. “There was almost no limit to her funding. She had a clear vision of what she wanted to do with their money,” Pelsers explains.
OPPOSITE LEFT: Le bateau-atelier, Monet’s studio-boat by Claude Monet, 1874. OPPOSITE MIDDLE: Self portrait by Vincent van Gogh, 1887. ABOVE: The Rietveld Pavilion by architect Gerrit Rietveld, 1964-1965 (renovated in 2010). Photo: Marjon Gemmeke. BOTTOM: Jardin d’émail by Jean Dubuffet, 1974, in the sculpture garden.
cluded many international names who only really became famous decades later.” Unfortunately, her husband’s company wasn’t immune to the economic crisis in the 1930s. To keep her meticulously collected art collection intact, Kröller-Müller decided to give it to the Dutch state, under the condition that a suitable museum would be built. This became the birth of the Kröller-Müller Museum, which opened three years later to the public in 1938.
Where art and nature collide Kröller-Müller amassed nearly 12,000 artworks throughout her life span, particularly paintings by modern expressionists. Her personal favourite: Vincent van Gogh. She bought around 80 of his paintings. Pelsers adds: “At the time, she was very forward thinking in her collection that in-
That the museum is in the middle of the Veluwe is not by accident. “It was mainly so that the art could be appreciated in peace and silence, away from the hectic city. Helene believed this was the best way to experience the art. Our location really adds to the experience of our visitors,” Pelsers says.
Parts of the magnificent landscape of woodland, heath, small lakes and sand drifts are incorporated as an outdoor display for the museum: a 25 hectare sculpture garden that counts around 150 works of art. “We keep the collection current by adding new works, but always with Helene’s vision in mind: it has to be something conceptual and contemplative, a result of an intellectual process,” Pelsers explains. This means on the one hand the collection has many well-known icons, but also minimalistic or ‘difficult’ art. Pelsers concludes: “Not all our art is necessarily accessible, we want some works to challenge people, surprise them and show a different view.” krollermuller.nl
The exhibition Van Gogh & Co: Criss-crossing the collection will be on display from 25 April to 27 September. The Kröller-Müller Museum is open daily apart from Mondays. For those wanting to explore the Veluwe, the museum offers free-to-use bicycles around the museum grounds. Photo: Jean Dubuffet
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A taxing history TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BELASTING & DOUANE MUSEUM
Why do we pay taxes? Since when does a part of our income go to the taxman, and where does it end up? These and other questions are answered in the interesting and interactive Belasting & Douane Museum, taking you on a revealing journey through a thousand years of Dutch tax history. Through unique documents, historic objects, artworks and compelling stories, visitors to the Belasting & Douane Museum in Rotterdam (Tax & Customs Museum) can explore the historical development of taxes. The permanent exhibition Trust and Justice shows the importance of a good relationship between government and the public, based on mutual trust and compliance. “Tax is a subject that touches everyone,” says Anne Houk de Jong who works at the museum. “We expect the government to spend our money wisely, but as you’ll see in the museum, history shows that the balance between expectations and willingness is sometimes severely put to the test.” Two years ago the permanent exhibition
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was updated with many new themes, modern art, interactive displays and a new discovery route for children. “We are housed in two beautiful historical buildings, many visitors are surprised how modern it is inside and also by the museum’s variety. There is something for everyone, from experts to kids, from schools to families,” she continues. In the Tiende Penning Theater, for example, it is revealed how the 16th century Dutch Revolt can be seen as a tax war; the Tax ceiling shows where our money actually ends up; there is a listening Ear to speak your mind on tax issues, and at the Heart you can monitor your ideal tax system. De Jong adds: “We also show examples of tax avoidance or evasion, such as tax havens.” An important part of the museum is dedicated to customs and border control. The world of customs is revealed through uniforms, quality control and measuring instruments (for example for wheat, alcohol or silver), contraband and other objects
and videos that show the risks and illegality of smuggling. “What is and isn’t allowed is not always clear-cut: think about fake branded clothing, copied film DVDs or protected animals,” says De Jong. The museum tries to make people more aware of this, especially when travelling. “Through Schiphol airport the subject really appeals to everyone,” she adds. “Even to children, who can check bags at the Museum’s DouaneDek. Dutch illustrator Charlotte Dematons created a giant Schiphol picture book, full of travellers, luggage, smugglers, customs officers, tracker dogs, contraband, souvenirs… revealing all the hidden items.” The museum is open daily apart from Mondays. Adults pay €5.50 and museumkaart holders, schools, students, and children under 18 go free. www.bdmuseum.nl
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
The quaint history of Huizen TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: HET HUIZER MUSEUM
The idyllic town of Huizen, just 30 kilometres east of Amsterdam, has a rich cultural history. From intricate old costumes with the typical wide-brimmed hats throughthe tough herring industry to picturesque alleys in the old town centre, Huizen is definitely worth a visit. At Het Huizer Museum, the story is told of how the agricultural town transformed into a thriving fishermen’s community through the use of wonderful paintings, artworks, photographs and old agricultural and fishing tools. The museum also has one whole room dedicated to the evolution of the unique Huizer costumes, including the simple daily garments and the beautiful and elaborate Sunday dresses. Some are up to 150 years old. “They have so many layers, just putting their hats on would easily take the women an hour,” says museum curator Margriet van Seumeren. A new exhibition, opening on 5 September this year, will show how time and religion influenced the clothing. “Older costumes from the
18th century are very colourful, purple for men and red, yellow, green and floral decorations for women. Then when the protestant reformation swept the country, they became much more sober with darker colours,” she explains. Also Henk Bos, a local painter, is well represented at Het Huizer Museum. Known for his still lives, his work became world famous, especially in America. Van Seumeren adds: “His paintings were used for biscuit tins, placemats, beer coasters, all sorts. We show this at the museum.” Run predominantly by volunteers, the museum hosts regular activities such as workshops, lectures and guided tours through the town. “Our volunteers are all very enthusiastic and love to chat to visitors. This makes a visit much more personal and interesting,” she concludes.
Herman Heijenbrock (1871-1948) Stringing herring in Huizen
The past and future of contemporary art TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK
Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art is well known for exploring developments in art worldwide, and this year they celebrate their 25th anniversary with a rather special installation. Established in 1990, Witte de With became an international institution because of prestigious exhibitions, publications and educational programmes. “We show not only the past, but also the future of art,” says Defne Ayas, director of Witte de With. “Exhibitions are more than just showing art. The visitor is very much in-
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
volved and will be moved to think about everything in life.” To celebrate 25 years of innovation and quality in contemporary art, Ayas invited wellknown Dutch artist (albeit based in Berlin) Willem de Rooij to present his new installation Character Is Fate, which showcases the astrological birth chart Piet Mondrian made in 1911. Ayas: “It gets really exciting between 2.15 and 2.30 pm, every day. A special display system that relates to the solar calendar allows for Mondrian’s birth chart to be illuminated by the sun.”
In 1911 Mondrian was about to move to Paris and leave his native country, the Netherlands, behind. Born under the sign of Pisces on 7 March 1872, he was, according to his horoscope, “very susceptible and had psychic tendencies”. The actual chart is on loan from the Dutch Institute for Art History (RKD) in The Hague. Character Is Fate also visualizes Witte de With’s physical position in relation to the sun. Ayas: “Witte de With’s birth chart will tell us what the next 25 years will bring. It is really worth it, I promise.” www.wdw.nl
Defne Ayas. Photo: Else Kramer
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
Jozef Israëls, Dreams (Dolce far niente), 1860, on loan from a private owner from Amsterdam.
Big history in a small city Dordrecht is the perfect place to discover the Netherlands: the beautiful city in the south of Holland harbours the Dordrechts Museum, Huis Van Gijn and Het Hof van Nederland. The Dordrechts Museum was founded in 1842 with a core collection of works from the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: DORDRECHTS MUSEUM & HUIB KOOYKER
The museum covers over five centuries of Dutch painting, from the masters of the Golden Age to modern art, including Dordrecht landscape painter Aelbert Cuyp and impressionist painters such as Breitner and Mesdag.
The Haagse School This art movement from the late nineteenth century focuses on realism. “For the upcoming exhibition Holland op z’n mooist we’ve borrowed Haagse School paintings from collectors all over the world,” says managing director Peter Schoon. “We collaborate with the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague: we show what influenced the Haagse School and how it started, while the Gemeentemuseum displays how it came to fruition.’’ These ambitious exhibitions open on 4 April. Schoon: “The collections complement each other and this collaboration between museums is unique.”
Huis Van Gijn A very interesting part of the Dordrechts Museum is the house of art collector Si-
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mon van Gijn. When you enter, it is like Van Gijn just left for an errand, although he left the house almost one hundred years earlier. Fourteen years ago Huis Van Gijn was restored to its original state. Now it looks gorgeous again and during your visit you’ll take huge step back in time and enjoy Van Gijn’s way of life.
Het Hof van Nederland It is hard to imagine, but a little over four hundred years ago, the kingdom of the Netherlands was non-existent. Schoon: “Dordrecht played a huge role in the emergence of the country. In the former monastery Het Hof in Dordrecht, the ‘first assembly of the free states’ took place in 1572, which was an important milestone for the formation of the Netherlands.” In museum Het Hof van Nederland you can experience Dordrecht through the historical collection, combined with modern technology. The exhibition on the Haagse School and Het Hof van Nederland will open this spring. Before that, you can of course visit
Huis Van Gijn and the permanent collection in Dordrechts Museum.
Dordrecht, situated between several wide rivers, has known prosperity over the centuries due to its strategic location. In the 15th and 16th century the city was a prominent trading centre in the Netherlands. The historic inland harbours nowadays offer idyllic berths for yachts, steam boats and canal barges.
www.dordrechtsmuseum.nl www.hethofvannld.nl www.huisvangijn.nl
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Nature’s art, millions of years old TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: DE OUDE AARDE
“Many people find us when visiting the picturesque town Giethoorn, also known as the Venice of the North. When they discover our museum and shop, they are mostly surprised by the remarkable collection of stones and jewellery we have," says Neeltje Zijlstra, owner of De Oude Aarde. De Oude Aarde (the ancient earth) has one of the best gemstone, mineral, fossil and jewellery collections of the Netherlands. They have a huge collection of high-quality stones from all over the world. They even have the biggest Aepyornis-egg ever found among other rare and unique minerals. The assortment is immense. De Oude Aarde is not just a museum and shop, but also a main wholesaler in the field: “In De Oude Aarde stones lose their stuffy appearance: here they are elevated to art; nature’s art, millions years of age.”
Exclusive jewellery “We are more than a museum or rock shop,” says Zijlstra. “For our special cus-
tomers, we are always looking for something exquisite and this is displayed in our special department with exclusive jewellery and mineral showpieces. Rings, bracelets and necklaces are created with high quality stones that are set into jewellery in Italy. According to Zijlstra the large selection of exclusive jewellery pieces are intended for the “enjoyably pampered customer”. Zijlstra: “This jewellery is not made with just ordinary stones or fossils, we use the best Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Pearl, Sunstone, and Tanzanite etc... The department is exclusive but accessible and can be visited without appointment.”
teen years, much has changed. Zijlstra concludes: “The farthest corners of the world and depths of the earth are more accessible than ever. We travel the world to find the best showpieces and stones, indeed not the worst thing our job offers. We go for quality, for us that’s the most important thing.” www.deoudeaarde.nl
History Forty-six years ago, in 1969, adventurer Rene Boissevain decided to quit his year’s long journey around the world to settle in Giethoorn. During his travels he had gained an impressive collection of gems and minerals. With this he successfully founded the museum and shop. Over the past fif-
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
Show me the museum! TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: MUSEUM HILVERSUM
In the beautiful old town of Hilversum, in its former town hall, you can find Museum Hilversum. The museum focuses on media art and -design, by showcasing exhibitions in the fields of news photography, travel photography, video and game art.
the years it become a show. It’s similar to the way BBC news has changed, but totally different from the progress of Belgian news.” Future exhibitions in 2015 include – amongst others – World Press Photo and travel photography by top photographers Raymond Rutting and Sacha de Boer.
“Our current exhibition Show me the news, is an overview of the change in design of news in the last sixty years,” says managing director Steffen Breugel. The exhibition includes a wide range of works by Dutch video artists, photographs by news photographer Bert Verhoeff, and the progress of the design of the NOS news and RTL news on television.
The building of Museum Hilversum is worth exploring as well: “The original structure is preserved in the facade and the front part of the building,” says Breugel. “Behind that, a glass structure connects that part to the new exhibition building, designed by Hans Ruijssenaars. It is said it looks like a small Guggenheim.” You can go on a free tour every day at 2pm to explore this yourself.
“It’s very interesting to see the developments over the years. News on TV started out as text and spoken word, throughout
Don’t wait around, get radical TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: PETER COX
Keep calm and visit the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. The museum takes a clear stand, combining a radical and welcoming approach. The museum spokesman Daniel Neugebauer says: “We want to move forward and be at the heart of the cultural field. The museum should be more than just a treasure chest.” But what makes the museum so radical? Well, in 2011 it sent a famous Picasso painting to Ramallah in Palestine, where it was guarded by at least two armed men, who only allowed a maximum of four people at a time to see it. “We decided as a museum that we should be brave and let everyone enjoy art. Don’t just hang items on the walls but do something with your collection,” Daniel advises. After a few
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months, the Picasso was safely returned to Eindhoven. The museum was rebuilt and it is now five times bigger than its original size. As Eindhoven is not particularly famous for its great architecture, the museum aimed to be a gem in the heart of the city centre. But it would like to have more than an attractive exterior – it also wants to have an inspirational interior and display art by artists from all over the world. The Van Abbemuseum
plays an inspirational role and maintains ties with up-and-coming artists, who are sometimes still at art school. “We’re going to exhibit an entire collection by a young artist, Ahmet Ög˘üt, who first developed some smaller projects in the museum. This is really great, because we can see how a creative artist evolves.” Art for everyone to see, and for everyone to be inspired by: the Van Abbemuseum offers both. vanabbemuseum.nl
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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | A day at the Museum
LEFT: Kunsthal Rotterdam. Photo: Jeroen Musch. TOP MIDDLE: Kintera; Bad News, 2011. MIDDLE: Piet Parra; Jesus interrupted, Zeefdruk, 2009. RIGHT: April Fools Day.
Always something sensational TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: KUNSTHAL ROTTERDAM
The Kunsthal Rotterdam displays culture in the broadest sense of the word. A visit to the Kunsthal is a fascinating journey along modern masters, contemporary art, photography, forgotten cultures and design. “We are able to organise circa 25 exhibitions every year. Visitors can experience different continents and art movements while there are always several exhibitions on at the same time,” says Emily Ansenk, director of Kunsthal Rotterdam: “The Kunsthal is for everybody, whether you are eight or eighty years old.”
International collaborations The building itself is worth a visit; created by the famous Dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas, and recently renovated, the Kunsthal Rotterdam is a true piece of art. The Kunsthal in Rotterdam is not a museum, but an exhibition building. What is the difference? They do not have their own collection.
For the realisation of their exhibitions, the Kunsthal collaborates with artists, museums and galleries worldwide. Like the 2013 exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, which was a collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Maison Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris, and the Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style (on show until 8 February) that has been organised by Barbican Centre, London, in partnership with EON Productions. The Kunsthal also focuses on ‘new discoveries’ and ‘forgotten surprises’ and showing the work of renowned artists that hasn’t been on display in the Netherlands for a very long time or ever before.
Freaky spring Kunsthal Rotterdam 'goes freaky’ with its spring exhibition programme: ‘freaky’ in terms of strange, disturbing, dark, and also ‘freaky’ in the sense of intense, imaginative and sparkling. This spring, there will be various exhibitions; the humorous and cut-
ting-edge installation The Theory of Freedom by the leading international GermanNorwegian video artist Bjørn Melhus, the powerful and absurd installations by Czech artist Krištof Kintera, the intriguing portrait series by Belgian photographer Charlotte Lybeer and the ironic drawings and playful designs of Dutch artist PARRA. But that is certainly not all. Kunsthal Rotterdam is organizing ‘a freaky weekend’ on the weekend of 18 April. During this weekend there are several activities for all ages, from Friday night dance and drinks to a Family Sunday. The freaky spring ends with the family exhibition about the wonderful world of postcards from the early 20th century, in which mysterious dreams and surreal fantasies are central. Find out more by following the Kunsthal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @kunsthal. www.kunsthal.nl
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Discover Benelux | Design & Innovation | High-flying design pioneers
High-flying design pioneers Safely illuminated highways, sustainable electrical cars, world-famous signposting at Schiphol Airport, handy cargo bikes, rapid mailman’s buggies, gyrocopters, an intelligent waterways app. Mobility has always been important to the Netherlands. TEXT & PHOTOS: BNO
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Discover Benelux | Design & Innovation | High-flying design pioneers
That is why smart solutions are devised here as a matter of course, from Fokker airplanes to Bugaboo children’s strollers. In a rapidly changing society, designers are the ones literally helping the world forward. The Dutch creative industry is one of the top sectors in which designers play a crucial role, and for a good reason. They are game changers, capable of converting societal issues concerning mobility, sustainability and health into innovative products and services that are both functional and visually attractive, smart and sustainable. Dutch designers are champions of lateral thinking, thinking along and counter-thinking. They come up with unexpected answers to contemporary questions, for example regarding the best ways to move around. Certainly in cities, mobility contributes immensely to the quality of life. People consider it a triumph or even a primary requirement that they can use the bicycle to get to work and to take the children to school or day care centres.
The Babboe cargo bike by Spark design & innovation.
dio Bleijh has got off to a flying start. He devised the Sandwichbike, which is a do-ityourself bicycle with a plywood frame. He developed special computer technology to control the machines that make the fifty required components. Along with some assembly tools and a user guide, everyone can build and customise this bicycle. Recently he even launched Van Gogh Sandwichbikes, in five different designs. The Sandwichbike 'Almond Blossom' from the Van Gogh series, by Designstudio Bleij.
The Sandwichbike Do-It-Yourself Box by Designstudio Bleij.
Smart Highway Designer Daan Roosegaarde also drew on Van Gogh, but then for his illuminated bicycle paths. The design is based on Van Gogh’s famous work, The Starry Night. Bicyclists can now safely wheel across a modern version of the painting. These innovative bicycle paths are a cultural spin-off of Roosegaarde’s roads of the future: the ‘Smart Highway’. Roosegaarde adds glowing lines to illuminate the road, using a type of 'glow-inthe-dark'-paint. This paint absorbs UV light in the daytime and radiates the light at night. This adds poetic charm as well as safety to the Dutch road infrastructure.
Cargo bike for families That is why Dutch designers enjoy designing all sorts of innovative bicycles, such as the cargo bike. That is why the Spark design & innovation agency, for example, designed the Babboe cargo bike for multichild families – and even a variant for dogs. This bicycle has quickly become a familiar fixture of the urban environment, and has also become hugely popular internationally.
Do-it-yourself bicycle And where would a designer think up a doit-yourself bicycle? In Amsterdam of course, where Basten Leijh of industrial design stu-
Portrait of Daan Roosegaarde at his Van Gogh inspired glowing bicycle path
Another smart solution: the intelligent app for your mobile phone called ‘Amsterdam Onderweg’. This app offers users their own ‘Superroute’. The app tells you, among other things, where traffic is snarled up, and adapts the user’s route accordingly. As you are advised to follow what is more or less an entirely personal route, road users are guided to their destinations using different roads. As a result, the traffic is distributed more widely across the road network, leading to less congestion.
Association of Dutch Designers In the midst of this swirling and rapidly changing world, the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) forms a rock solid base. As the main representative of the design sector in the Netherlands, BNO supports, facilitates, links together and unites thousands of creative professionals. With designers of every shape and form, ranging from self-employed designers to design agencies in every design discipline under the sun, it is this variety that makes BNO unique worldwide. These front-running designers work closely with their customers, public authorities, scientists and the BNO to keep us all moving ahead. Whether by cargo bike, flying car or intelligent app. www.bno.nl
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A fresh view on brand identity At VBAT they take branding seriously. The Dutch company uses a revolutionary method immersing clients in their own identity make-over. Combined with the decisive Dutch mentality, VBAT has attracted many international clients including household names such as De Bijenkorf, Jumbo, ING, Heineken, Douwe Egberts and many more. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: VBAT
To say company co-founder and director Eugene Bay takes pride in his work is an understatement. Enthusiastically he begins: “We work with all kinds of companies, from tiny start-ups to global multinationals. Our work is part of the visual landscape, and it makes me incredibly proud to see it every day – from the design of a tub of Mona yoghurt to the identity of delivery company PostNL” Working for clients doesn’t mean doing exactly what they ask. Instead, VBAT follows an unconventional approach. Starting every new project, the question of the client is critically assessed, finding out what it is a company needs from a brand, as much as what it wants. “It’s like a sparring partner mentality,” Bay explains. “In particular, young
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and inexperienced managers can come up with impulsive ideas, so we always question whether they decide to take the right path.” As staff turnaround at most companies is relatively high compared to the life span of a product, some of the identity of a product can get lost. “Take for example Brand beer; we have had a partnership with them since 1982. Not one member of staff knows as much about the brand as we do,” Bay continues: “Our way of working is not for everyone, but we spend a lot of time on each client to make sure they really get what is needed.”
Refreshing the identity The working process of VBAT turns all typical branding models on their heads.
After in-depth research into a product or company, the client is then invited to become part of an interactive ‘workshop’ session. Here VBAT involves the client and confronts them with different scenarios and concepts to come to the perfect solution. “With us, the client is very much part of the process. This can be challenging at times, but it always pays off in the end,” Bay says. VBAT calls this type of approach ‘refreshing thinking’. One project that Bay remembers fondly is the rebranding of supermarket chain Jumbo. The agency gave the company an image overhaul in 2009 and since then it’s become the Netherlands’ second biggest supermarket. “Jumbo has really put market leader Albert
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Discover Benelux | Design & Innovation | VBAT
MAIN IMAGE: Director Eugene Bay (left) is one of the founding members of branding agency VBAT. ABOVE: VBAT's long and successful working relationship with Heineken has produced many memorable product designs including Sol (left) and Brand beer (right). BELOW: Jumbo received an identity overhaul from VBAT and is now the Netherlands’ second biggest supermarket chain.
Heijn under pressure by being much more innovative,” he comments. Another client Bay passionately points out is their collaboration with SNS Bank. Working together since 2000, VBAT reinvented the bank’s identity twice and also designed its current logo. “Banks have obviously been hard-hit by the financial crisis, so this project was extra challenging but is has been a very rewarding partnership,” he says.
Exporting a pragmatic approach Originally from London, Bay decided to stay in the Netherlands; it was Dutch pragmatism that appealed to him. “VBAT is a very international company, currently half of our staff is from abroad and our working language is English. The one thing we have in common is a pragmatic way of working. This can sometimes appear direct or almost crass, but if you know how to confine it, it is a very efficient and effective way of working, and one of our best export pro ducts!” Bay says.
lutions. In Asia or Mexico for example, their hierarchical working culture can hinder or slow it down.”
Then two years ago we set up an office in Mexico because local demand was too high to do this from our Dutch office,” Bay says.
Taking on the world VBAT was set up 30 years ago in Amsterdam, with Bay as one of its founding members. Thanks to successful partnerships with global brands such as Heineken, ING bank and FrieslandCampina, entering the international market became a logical next step. Recently branching into Central America, VBAT was the team behind the new look of Mexican beer brand Sol. “Seven years ago Heineken asked us to go to Mexico with them for a new venture.
Next on the radar is China, in particular Shanghai, but Bay is keen to develop their business organically before jumping into a new market. “We don’t enter a new market because of an ideology; we first want to see business in a region and then open a new office.” He concludes: “We expect that within a few years the majority of our clients will be from abroad.” vbat.com
While common among Dutch companies, this pragmatic quality is actually unique in the world. Bay adds: “Being able to quickly come to conclusions where everyone can speak their mind and exchange ideas openly really speeds up the process and produces better so-
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Architecture with an edge Smart, bright and organised – these qualities are key for pleasant and beautiful buildings. They are also the architectural focal points for cepezed. The architect agency based in Delft, the Netherlands, works in an unorthodox manner to create sustainable buildings with innovative materials, flooded in natural light, satisfying every user. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK
“The way many structures are still built today is outdated, with bricks, mortar and small windows,” says Ronald Schleurholts, partner at cepezed. “We do things differently. We use pre-fabricated components, progressive materials from other industries and create new products to design pleasant, flexible buildings with low energy usage.”
High IQ construction This innovative way of working keeps costs down and creates more successful structures. “One tile could double as a floor, ceiling and sound insulation. We call it a high IQ per kilo, we use materials that work optimally in several settings,”
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Schleurholts explains. “We don’t build for volume but for quality. We really think about the best solutions, build in an innovative way and create true added-value.” In 1973 cepezed was set up by a group of students during their university course. Through the company, they designed and built a house as their final year pro ject. Schleurholts adds: “It’s quite extraordinary that they graduated with a completed building – most students just hand in drawn designs!” This entrepreneurial spirit is still a core value at cepezed, and it has helped to attract
multinational clients from around the world including Porsche, 3M and Microsoft. “Project development is very important to us. We constantly look at other industries, like horticulture or transport and apply their materials, techniques and expertise to our projects,” Schleurholts says.
Innovative materials One example is the so-called ‘sandwich panels’ used in the cargo walls of lorries. These panels are made of layers of different materials, making them strong, light and highly insulating. “They basically do the same thing as a standard brick wall but they are much more compact and way
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Discover Benelux | Design & Innovation | cepezed
easier and faster to assemble. We have taken this material and used it for buildings. We also developed it further to create curved walls,” he explains. Another example is a semi-sheer type of textile mainly used for large, outdoor tents. The fabric is made out of fibre glass coated with water-repellent Teflon. “It shields you from the weather, rain and wind, but it does let in a lot of sunlight and fresh air,” he continues enthusiastically. “These qualities make it an optimal material for a façade or balcony panels.” The importance of natural light is something many people underestimate: “Remember, artificial light has only really existed for 100 years, before that we’ve always lived on a day-night routine. We need sunlight. Getting the most natural light into a building is extremely stimulating for the users, so that is what we try to achieve.” The sun is also our most important source of energy, and the team at cepezed makes sure to get the most out of it. Through integrated solar panels and optimising the
use of heat from the sun, energy use can be kept low creating more sustainable, eco-friendly buildings. “This also applies to air, for example. We try to create a flow that uses warm air in several spaces before it is blown outside,” he comments.
Solving architectural puzzles Optimising a building’s design, to create a pleasing, organised and intuitive structure always starts as a puzzle for cepezed. But that the team is very successful at solving them is showcased by the number of prizes the company gets nominated for and wins. For their entire portfolio, in 2008 cepezed even attained the highest Dutch architectural Award, the Kubus, bestowed by the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA). One project that did prove a bit of a challenge was the creation of a temporary theatre inside a church, which had to be delivered within eight months. Through using an innovative approach, the project wasn’t just delivered in time, it turned out so successful that it will be kept permanently. “The church itself was beautiful, so we wanted to keep that as it was.
In a sort of kit-construction we slotted pre-fabricated components into the church, creating a wonderful contrast of old and new,” Schleurholts says. This way of working is characteristic of cepezed. By using components that can be pre-fabricated, costs can often be kept down, construction can be completed earlier and buildings become more flexible. “It’s all about making better use of what’s already out there; build in a smarter way. Using the kit-construction approach allows for buildings to be changed easily, making them more adjustable to future uses and thereby more productive,” he continues. Through their expertise, cepezed has worked on many different types of building and this year they will finish the design for a new hospital in Heerhugowaard. Having put all their knowledge and skills together, this puzzle will sure prove another one solved to satisfaction. www.cepezed.nl
OPPOSITE PAGE: Nutricia Research, Utrecht NL (2013). Photo: Jannes Linders. TOP LEFT: European Space Innovation Centre (ESIC), Noordwijk NL (2011). Photo: Jannes Linders. BOTTOM LEFT: New headquarters 3M, Delft NL (2014). Photo: Rene de Wit. RIGHT: Westraven office complex, Utrecht NL (2007). Photo: Jannes Linders.
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Discover Benelux | Business | Columns
What communicates? TEXT & ILLUSTRATION: JOSIAH FISK
Do you like repeated questions? Do you like repeated questions? In the world of plain language, you’ll often come across the notion that putting information in question-and-answer format makes it user-friendly, especially for consumers. The idea is that a question is more engaging than a statement. A question presupposes a response. There’s action, involvement, the classic sequence of tension-and-release. It’s the same formula used by simple jokes. And it works – sometimes. But there’s one circumstance where the Q&A format is doomed to failure. That’s in situations where the user repeatedly encounters the same type of information, such as standardised descriptions that a person might use to compare products before buying. The reason Q&A works so poorly in repetitive circumstances is related to why it works so well for single-reading circumstances: the story value. Once you’ve heard the question a few times, it becomes an irritation, not a friendly fea-
ture. It’s like hearing the same joke over and over (even though the punchline may sometimes be different). Let’s say you’re looking at sheets describing five competing insurance products. By looking at the section ‘Risks and Potential Rewards’ on each sheet, you could get an idea of how the risks and rewards compare. But suppose instead that each sheet had a section with the heading ‘What are the risks and what could I get in return?’ Would you really want to read that question over and over again? Unfortunately for European investors, this isn’t a hypothetical situation. The European Com-
mission in Brussels will soon require most financial products to offer a Key Information Document in which all of the sections are required to use the same questionstyle headings (inJosiah Fisk cluding the one I mentioned above). The Commission’s requirement is an example of how taking a simple, well-intentioned idea (‘question-style headings can be engaging’) and applying it as if it were a law of nature can actually defeat the goal rather than furthering it. It’s also a good reminder of something that is a law of nature: communications is always about context. Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.
The future of medicine and management TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS
John Reith, the first director-general of the BBC, believed strongly in an educational role for broadcasting. In that spirit, the BBC has, every year since 1948, invited a different public figure to give four lectures designed to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest. The 2014 Reith Lecturer was Atul Gawande, an American surgeon, writer and public health researcher born of Indian immigrant parents, talking about the future of medicine. I want to explore some of the parallels I see between what he says about medicine, and management. In his first lecture, ‘Why do Doctors Fail?’ he distinguishes between failure in medicine due to ignorance (lack of knowledge) and to ineptitude (failure to use existing knowledge). He argues that in medicine there is often a failure to apply what we already know. Many more lives could be saved simply by deploying the existing capability more widely – even hand washing could have a hugely positive impact. He says: “We need to learn about how to deal with our own in-
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eptitude ... We have a fear of our own ineptitude ... There’s shame and guilt when we don’t always get it right ... And it makes some people angry.” There are several management lessons here. First, we don’t need to strive for a hidden Holy Grail of good management: we already know the answers. The need is to follow some basic principles, including tolerance and respect for the other. Second, we need to ‘deploy our existing capability’ by adopting a constructive and positive approach to the ineptitude of others. Third, we need to come to terms with our own ineptitude by overcoming our own fears and developing more openness. Easier said than done, of course! But not a bad mission statement for a team to work on. I hope this will encourage you to listen to the talks. Gawande is clear, simple, incisive and original. He illustrates each of his lectures with a fascinating and sometimes moving personal experience. Search for his lectures on the BBC website.
Steve Flinders Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:firstname.lastname@example.org; www.coachingyork.co.uk/item/steve-flinders
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Discover Benelux | Business | Business Calendar
Benelux Business Calendar TEXT: STINE WANNEBO | PRESS PHOTOS
Heritage Counts Leuven, Belgium, 3-5 February European policymakers, international researchers and other professionals will attend this year’s international conference set at The Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation. During a week of thematic sessions, the participants will look at the impact of immovable heritage, evaluating the potentialities, advantages and difficulties of the topic. Reserve your place on the Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’s website. www.encatc.org/ culturalheritagecountsforeurope Retail Strategy Platform Zwolle, the Netherlands, 4-5 February Dubbed the most efficient working day of the year, this retail conference at the IJssel delta Center in Zwolle will give participants the opportunity to learn ways of bettering their customers’ shopping experience. Exchanging ideas, networking and inspiring lectures are on the programme. The event is suitable for established and new businesses alike and topics will range from employees as the prime asset, brand management and the online versus the real shopping experience. www.ijsseldeltacenter.nl
Meet@ greater-region Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 5 February This is the essential job fair for those seeking employment in Luxembourg, Wallonia, Alsace-Lorraine, Rhineland-Palatinate or Saarland. Not only is this an opportunity to meet professionals and consultants who will give you advice on how to successfully start your career, the event also enables you to get in touch with the exhibitors to learn about their job offers. Get informed about all career-related themes, make valuable contacts and find your employer of choice at LuxExpo in the centre of the city. www.luxexpo.lu
International Conference on Environmental Science and Development Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 14-15 February Whether you want to keep up to date with the latest innovations in the sector, discuss the future of the field or have a word with the greatest and most knowledgeable people in environmental science, this is the event for you. This year for the sixth time, scientists, academics and industrial experts unite to share views, exchange experiences and promote research. Papers from the conference can be found in the Journal of Environmental Science and Development and WIT Transactions on the Built Environment. www.icesd.org
Negotiation Skills and Practice Brussels, Belgium, 5 February The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium is hosting a training session open to all who wish to master the art of negotiation. The session will focus on how to achieve the best possible solutions in every day business life through the means of negotiation. The tutor is Maria Laptev from the European Centre for Public Affairs, who has 25 years of experience in educating professionals and has in that time held successful workshops and training sessions all over Europe.
Digital Fashion Futures Antwerp, Belgium, 24-26 February The link between fashion and digital innovation is as intriguing as it is futuristic and this is what this year’s International Fashion Conference is dedicated to. Through lectures, workshops and social activities it will explore the future of digital fashion. The cultural heritage industry will come together, evaluating how online platforms and innovative perspectives can work in unison. Book your seat now, for the Europeana International Fashion Conference 2015.
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Discover Benelux | Feature | Brussels’ Art Deco
Revealing the gems of Brussels’ Art Deco Brussels was at the heart of the development of the 1920s architectural style of Art Deco. Elevated by the surge in construction post-World War I, refined examples of Art Deco sprang up all over the city, even transcending social differences. TEXT: CéCILE DUBOIS | PHOTOS: SOPHIE VOITURON
that required reconstruction – luckily not the case with Brussels – but four lost years of production that had to be caught up on. As the population increased, numerous developments sprung up in new quarters of the capital. The city centre, already densely packed, experienced a surge in service growth, with old buildings being modernised and new ones constructed.
After the First World War, Brussels’ Art Nouveau architecture was followed on the heels by Art Deco. The former, a reaction to earlier Academicism, was inspired by natural forms, and born in Brussels earlier in 1893 in the projects of Victor Horta and Paul Hankar. The decorative aspect of Art Nouveau started to evolve into more geometric compositions, leaning towards abstraction, and progressively into more sober compositions: the Art Deco. This term first appeared at the Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925, and is linked to architecture as well as interior decoration, and touches all social milieux.
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The rise of Art Deco In Belgium, the interwar years saw an enormous increase in construction activity. It was not only the devastated regions
The Art Deco was Brussels was at a crossroads of influences including the Viennese group, French Art Deco, the Amsterdam School, English regionalism... Over and above these influences, the Brussels practitioners developed works that were very personal and varied.
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Discover Benelux | Feature | Brussels’ Art Deco
then reticent about inhabiting such spaces. Luxurious versions soon arose, as witnessed by the eight-storey Palais de la Folle Chanson, with its very refined communal areas, created by the architect Antoine Courtens in 1928.
Art Deco readily acknowledges its borrowings from other styles and cultures. In Belgium, for example, Africa and the Congo constitute an important source of inspiration for artists and makers. The aesthetics of the ocean liner likewise prove inspirational.
From leisure to functionality Connecting society through architecture
In the city centre numerous leisure facilities were built. Especially since in the early 1920s, after the privations of the Great War, the population was hungry for pleasure. Hotels, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and theatres, shops and department stores, even (in a more functional strain) one of the biggest car showrooms in Europe – the Citroën building – are put up.
In Brussels the style is applied across various project: as much for prestige, like the national basilica Sacré-Coeur de Koekelberg – at the time the second largest religious edifice in the world – or the Administrative Building of the Forest district, as for more modest constructions such as the numerous social housing developments in west Brussels. Important events preceded this profusion. In 1919 the National Society for Affordable Dwellings was created, which stimulated the construction of social housing: garden cities. Straight away Brussels possessed several remarkable examples of these, then consisting of small multiple-occupancy blocks.
Palais de la Folle Chanson, architect Antoine Courtens, 1928.
In parallel, and following the enactment of the 1924 law making co-ownership legal, the idea of living in apartment blocks began to seduce the middle classes, until
Of course at the start of the 1930s the crisis slows economic activity, but it doesn’t stop Brussels from hosting the International Exposition in 1935. That same year major works recommence in the city centre, for example the construction of the Nord-Midi railway junction. These projects only came to full completion with the inauguration of Victor Horta’s last masterpiece, the Central Station in 1952.
MAIN IMAGE OPPOSITE: The mansion of David and Alice van Buuren, architects Léon E. Govaerts and A. Van Vaerenbergh, 1924-1928. OPPOSITE: Koekelberg Basilica, architects Albert Van Huffel and Paul Rome, 1926-1971. ABOVE: Palais de la Folle Chanson, architect Antoine Courtens, 1928. BOTTOM LEFT: Garden city Le Logis in Watermael-Boitsfort, architect Jean-Jules Eggericx, 1921-1927. BOTTOM RIGHT: Piano bar l’Archiduc, rue Antoine Dansaert, architect F. Van Ruyskenvelde, 1937.
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Discover Benelux | Feature | Brussels’ Art Deco
Some of Brussels’ emblematic Art Deco places David and Alice van Buuren's mansion It was between 1924 and 1929 that the Van Buurens, great art collectors, have their villa constructed, its brick exterior reminiscent of projects carried out by the Amsterdam School. The interior constitutes a unique Art Deco entity, where decoration and works of art have remained untouched. The garden, of exceptional size and conceived by renowned landscape architects, has been restored recently. It is open to the public. Villa Empain This sumptuous villa was constructed by the architect Michel Polak between 1930 and 1934 for the young Louis Empain, son of a famous industrialist and financier. Restored, nowadays it houses exhibitions for the Boghossian Foundation. The building extends at the rear to incorporate a huge swimming pool.
Villa Empain, architect Michel Polak, 1930-1934.
Le Palais des Beaux-Arts (Palace of Fine Arts) Conceived between 1922 and 1928 by the master of Art Nouveau, Victor Horta, thereafter converted to Art Deco, this monumental building is one of the poles of cultural life in Brussels! Recent work has restored its true magnificence. The brasserie at hotel Espérance This hotel, formerly somewhere for discreet liaisons, tucked away in the midst of commercial thoroughfares, has retained its brasserie with typical interwar decor: panelling, banquettes, tuffets, bar-top, leaded windows...
Villa Empain, architect Michel Polak, 1930-1934.
Espérance, architect Léon J. J. Govaerts, 1930.
A journey through Brussels’ best Art Deco
Citroën Building, architects Alexis Dumont and Marcel Van Goethem, 1933-1934.
Art Nouveau and Art Deco Biennial Every two years Brussels organises the ‘Biennale Art Nouveau et Art Déco’ event on weekend days in October. It grants the public exceptional access to Art Nouveau and Art Deco interiors that are opened exclusively during this event. The next takes place in October 2015. www.voiretdirebruxelles.be
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Discover Art Deco and Modernist architecture in Brussels via six exploration routes on foot or by bike. Via very varied programmes of architecture, the works of essential architects are brought to life. The book offers a key to this heritage, blazing a superb trail through the streets of Brussels. Bruxelles Art Déco (2014) by Cécile Dubois with photography from Sophie Voituron is available now from Racine (in French only) €25
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Discover Benelux | Culture | Columns
Be my valentine TEXT & PHOTO: ANOUK KALMES
Some celebrations are just worldwide phenomena and Valentine’s Day is highly celebrated in Luxembourg as well. What does it mean? Couples are expected to give presents to each other, have a romantic dinner or go on a trip. It takes two to tango, but what if you are dancing solo, without a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, ex? You probably either love or dread this day. If it’s the latter, I propose three options. One – don’t do anything and ignore all the hype around 14 February. Just pretend that it does not exist and resign yourself to the fact that you are going to spend the evening by yourself without candlelight dinner, red roses or fireworks. Love is for fools anyway and you don’t need anyone and no one needs you. You tell yourself ‘this too shall pass’ and wait for 15 February when shops are removing heart-shaped choco-
lates from their shelves and replacing them with Easter eggs. Two – find a last minute date. Ask your friends if they know a lonely heart out there who might also be looking for someone. Maybe the matchmaking works out and you get to wear that sexy red dress (women) or the silky boxers (men) after all? In my opinion, the quickest way to get ‘lucky’ nowadays is to use Tinder. Just press the like button on every photo that pops up. You may not necessarily find your dream date but you will find one. Guaranteed.
devouring an entire box of Ladurée macarons or Leonidas chocolates that I would have bought for myself as a V Day gift. Don’t expect to be rescued from loneliness by your one and only dream lover; think about who you can reach out to on such a day. Life and love need to be shared, so do it with people that you care about. Read more about Anouk’s life and travels on her lifestyle blog www.luxessed.com
Three – you propose to your single friends to have dinner together. That way, you not only get to spend time with people you like, you also do them a favour by offering an alternative to the two lesser appealing options above. And that’s what I’ve done. I am going to have a Valentine’s Day dinner with friends instead of sitting at home
Thoughts on perspective TEXT & IMAGE: SILVIA DE VRIES
grocery store, to the neighbourhood café or into the city centre. The latter being a walk that always has an element of surprise. No matter how ordinary the day might have been up to that point.
An ordinary day for me starts with breakfast, which is followed by work. An ordinary day usually also includes a walk: to the
When walking the streets of Amsterdam, you encounter many interesting people, I've talked about that before, what also meets the eye is the array of buildings – old and new – that line the canals and cobblestone streets. Looking up at them will reveal traces of history that
always leave me wondering who walked these streets before me. Who were they? What did they do for a living? Where were they going? Who built all these buildings and houses? Who designed the beautiful canal houses with their decorative gable tops and why? Looking up at the sky and the things that are aligned along it can show a whole new world and reveal a lot of interesting questions. When you look at things or people or life from a different angle, a different light may shine upon it. It can make you ponder questions that you never thought of before and might make an ordinary day a little less ordinary, if only for a few moments. After all, no day can be truly ordinary if you look at things from a different perspective every now and then.
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Out & About This part of the year is amazingly colourful, as is clearly visible in the events we have selected for you on these pages. Carnivals, World Championships and Chinese New Year Celebrations – now is the time to embrace all the bright and dazzling nuances of the Benelux region. TEXT: STINE WANNEBO | PRESS PHOTOS
Museum of Memories Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 5-6 February This thought-provoking and honest performance at the CarréRotondes is centred on memories, the importance of recollection and the ability to remember. “Between ourselves and nothing, is the ability to remember.” Performers will be reconstructing lives that have ended, telling stories about the people they have lost with warmth, humour and music. The mesmerising museum building is movable and entirely constructed out of 70 square metres of rusty drawers. The performance is by New In-
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ternational Encounter (NIE) which has won awards for their mixture of physical theatre, multiple languages, live music and storytelling. www.rotondes.lu Salon du Chocolat Brussels, Belgium, 6-8 February Probably the largest chocolate event in the world, this mouth-watering feast returns to the Brussels Expo this month. Be amazed by the variation of sweet creations and flavours when the world of cacao producers, chocolate artists and consumers
come together to celebrate dark brown gold. Visitors can try their hands at making chocolate, watch live cooking demonstrations or find their inner artist to make chocolate sculptures. The highlight of the weekend is of course the world famous fashion show featuring gorgeous dresses made out of the purest, most delicious chocolate. www.brussels.salon-du-chocolat.com Step into the Renaissance Brussels, Belgium, 6 February – 17 May For the first time in any museum for over
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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About
fifty years, a major exhibition of Renaissance portraits will appear in Brussels Museum. These pieces were made when the art of portrait painting blossomed in an extraordinary way, a time when religious conflict and scientific discoveries inspired a quest for the realistic portrayal of the human face. The paintings are from Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Haarlem, which were all significant centres of portrait art during the Renaissance. Admire the stunning late-15th-century art works and see a great piece of Benelux in the process. www.brusselsmuseums.be World Speed Skating Championship Heerenveen, the Netherlands, 12-15 February Experience the Dutch national sport up close this month at the world-class ice arena, Thialf beautifully situated in the north of the country. This is one of the main spectator events of the year and speed skating celebrities from all over the world come together to compete in this exciting and fastmoving sport. In contrast to the All-Round Championship, the World Distance Speed Championship sets out to find the best skater in each distance – with podium positions to win with every new race. www.schaatsen.nl Chinese New Year Celebrations Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 14-15 February This year, the Lunar calendar year com-
mences on Thursday 19 February 2015. In the Dutch capital the festivities start the weekend before, lighting up the historic Nieuwmarkt/Zeedijk neighbourhood in the colour red. The Chinese New Year’s celebrations are also the ideal time to visit Amsterdam’s beautiful Buddhist temple Fo Guang Shan He Hua. For food, go to Europe’s first floating Chinese restaurant, Sea Palace, where you can expect something special for the occasion. There will be celebrations, activities and performances all over the city, from calligraphy workshops at De Bijenkorf to firework displays and lion dancing along the Geldersekade. www.iamsterdam.com
Baby Days Kortrijk, Belgium, 28 February – 1 March Expectant parents would not want to miss out on the three-day baby bonanza at the end of the month, and neither should new mums and dads. Apart from meeting other parents with young children, there will be opportunities to talk to experts, getting samples and coupons, learning about the latest trends and picking up some new ideas. There will be over a hundred exhibitors, ranging from baby products and health services to insurance and cars. Children who come along can play games with other children and try something tasty from their own especially made baby menu. www.babydays.be
Aalst Carnival Aalst, Belgium, 15-17 February Nothing says February like an authentic, old-fashioned carnival! From Sunday through to Tuesday there is a vibrant parade going through the centre of the city, with traditional performances and activities such as broom dancing and onion throwing. The Voil Jeanetten parade on Tuesday is a mad treat featuring men with beautiful makeup wearing dresses and corsets, bird cages with smoked herring and burning of the carnival effigy. There is room for both young and old in the colourful slightly crazed festivities and this is a perfect opportunity to visit the lovely city of Aalst. www.visitflanders.co.uk
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Discover Benelux | Culture | Columns
Art without a capital TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK | PHOTO: NBTC
London is the arts capital of Britain, Paris the arts capital of France, but where is the arts capital of Belgium and the Netherlands? The truth is, there is no standout candidate for this title. Instead, the whole region is one great big bubbling artistic hub, that nurtures both a home-grown scene and attracts international aficionados.
ent. S.M.A.K in Ghent, Zeno X and Tim Van Laere in Antwerp continue to provide blockbuster exhibitions year on year, featuring the likes of established artists Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans and Berlinde de Bruckyere, whilst the remarkable Dhondt-Dhaenens in the tiny village of
Brussels and Amsterdam are of course big players, but in no way do they dwarf the rest of the region. The Hague is home to the illustrious Mauritshuis and Rotterdam has Boijmans van Beuningen: two monolithic art institutions. There is still much more on offer in the form of contemporary galleries dotted around that pull in big names and promote local tal-
Deurle is testament to just how thriving the art scene is in the region, hosting names like Maria Lassnig and Sterling Ruby within the past 12 months. Most importantly, and the driving force behind this booming arts scene, are the galleries that showcase the glut of talented young artists in the region. Naming Witte de With, BAK, Croxhapox and Lokaal01 is to just dip your toe into the ocean of other galleries that continue to push art forward from the grassroots. These are the key factors that keep Belgium and the Netherlands an artistic stronghold within Europe, and the indeed the world. Long may it continue!
How to get rich in the Netherlands TEXT: SIMON WOOLCOT | PHOTO: NBTC
There are two almost guaranteed ways to get rich in the Netherlands 1. Open a bakery 2. Invent a spread to put on bread You may wonder why I suggest these two options. The Dutch are the largest consumers of bread and all things to put on bread on planet Earth and probably beyond. If you walk into any supermarket, you will see an entire aisle dedicated to all manner of things to spread and sprinkle on bread. The creativity on display here is amazing: chocolate or forest fruit flavoured flakes (really), Mexican, tomato cucumber, and many other exotic acquired taste spreads. The Dutch take their sandwich flavours seriously, go to the spread section of any su-
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permarket and you’ll see flavour connoisseurs acting as if they are choosing fine wine in a Bordeaux vineyard. “Shall I choose peanut butter, chocolate flakes or a Mexican sandwich spread?” The selection of spreads and flavours available is breathtaking. Below a small sample. - Mediterranean - Tomatoes and onions - Courgette curry Another, little known fact about Dutch culinary tastes that often comes as a shock to expats is that at lunchtime it’s quite common to see grown men and women eating slices of bread covered with chocolate flakes. The combination of savoury and sweet goes down very well here, and is a
firm favourite and offered in nearly all workplace canteens. Decisions, decisions. Forget investing in stocks, invent a sandwich spread. The more appalling it sounds, the more likely you are to have a success on your hands. Happy investing. amsterdamshallowman.com
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