February Break

February Break is always such a welcome break, we leave the dark -and very stormy winter- evenings and days behind us. There is a lot to do in- and outside of the Netherlands. I have some tips for you, and you can always keep these tips for ideas during the other breaks we'll be enjoying! 

February Break, is known in Dutch as: "krokusvakantie",  You probably have noticed the multi-colored crocuses popping out, on the roundabouts and in the fields. I would like to start with a huge shout-out to all our students, staff members and parents leaving on one of our Service Trips. What a great way to celebrate your time off and give to others. Many of you will come back with lasting memories from any of these life changing experiences. Thank you and and enjoy.

I like chocolate! One of my students gave me a lovely magnet that has the text: "a balanced diet is a chocolate in each hand". I live by that motto. Had I been in the country, I would have been the first to visit the upcoming chocolate festival in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam on February 22-23. I hope you enjoy your visit and with 2 pieces of chocolate in each hand you're also balanced....

Weekend Tips also brings you "Carnival" (and we don't even have to travel to Rio). Six weeks before Easter Sunday, many countries celebrate "Carnival" or "Mardi Gras". Carnival is being celebrated mainly in the southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg (predominantly the Catholic region of The Netherlands). This year, Carnival starts on Sunday, February 23 and lasts for four days until Ash Wednesday. All cities in the south have parades and parties that continue all throughout the night. Most cities even change their official name, for example the city of s 'Hertogenbosch is known as the "village of Oeteldonk". Though some people take the Carnival traditions very seriously, most people keep it simple and just party, sing and dance, and wear a colorful outfit. The Carnival celebrations start after the mayor symbolically hands over the key to the city to Prince Carnival. For three days, Prince Carnival has control of the city and, together with his subjects, celebrates the temporary establishment of their Kingdom of Fools. Merrymakers make their way from pub to pub and greet Prince Carnival with three cheers of “Alaaf”. If you can drink, sing and dance while wearing a colorful outfit you’re more than welcome to celebrate Carnival in the Netherlands. Make sure you wear a crazy Carnival costume and you’ll blend in perfectly. In our neighboring countries, Belgium and Germany, carnival is celebrated even on a bigger scale. There is only one way to celebrate carnival, just "dive in" and enjoy.

We have students, staff and parents who will be leaving for a winter sports vacation in areas such as France, Austria, Switzerland or Italy. Others may try to find some sunshine or explore a city. However, I do hope that some of you stay in The Netherlands to visit some of the sights that are so wonderful to see and experience. In case you are driving to a winter sports destination, please remember to have the correct "vignette" or toll/emission sticker on your car. For more information visit www.tolltickets.com.

For all of you staying in the country (I love you!) here is a choice of the most popular museums in The Netherlands:

If you feel like relaxing over the February Break, then skip the drive with the car and use the public transport system. Below are a few more ideas for museum visits in the three provinces around us, South Holland, North Holland and Utrecht. You can visit the well-known attractions such as the Rijjksmuseum or the Mauritshuis collection in The Hague. And in Rotterdam, the Kunsthal. Have you ever considered the smaller museums? Check out De Tassenmuseum (Bag Museum) in Amsterdam, the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, (next to the above mentioned Nemo Science Museum), which is a completely interactive fun learning experience. And, while in Amsterdam, have the BEST french (Belgium) fries in the world, one of the only places where you see people nicely standing in line to buy french fries and eat them strolling around or finding a seat on one of the outdoor steps in Amsterdam. Near the Begijnhof you'll find the; Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx. Did you try to have the fries the Dutch way? It's with mayonaise, delicious!

If perhaps taking a tour of The Hague or exploring the dunes is more your idea of fun then there are two wonderful. It’s a fun way to spend a day - if the sun is shining. You could also see what is playing at the Omniversum IMAX in The Hague, if the sun decides to stay in for the day. Moreover, there always are wonderful expositions going on at the Museon, which is right beside the Omniversum and there are two fantastic museums for kids in Leiden, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden or Molen de Valk. Combined with a Dutch pancake at the pancake house Oudt Leyden, it'll make for a wonderful day, close to home. Public transport brings you everywhere (and back again). This is also the final week for the Ice Sculptures Festival in Zwolle. Wear warm clothes, mittens and hats, it's cold inside!

From chocolate to the ice sculptures and everything in between, the most important message is that you and your family enjoy a relaxing week. Please drive safely on the busy roads while traveling to your destinations. When we get back from this break we are moving towards spring, March Madness is not about basketball in the Netherlands but all about the flowers ready to "jump" out of the ground.

Happy break!
Bernie