If you’ve grown spending summer in the Netherlands and always yearned for a warmer year-round climate (I know you have), then perhaps the idea of visiting Australia has crossed your mind once or twice.
Most Dutchies or expats I speak to are envious of the fact the land down under is blessed with warm weather. I never divulge all the other things that come with living in a country that for the most part is intolerably bloody hot all-year-round — wouldn’t want to burst their bubble. But it made me think, if for the first time ever, is summer really that different from country to country when you don’t count the climate?
If you’ve had even one summer in the Netherlands, you know they’re something to be cherished. The grass is green, the trees have sprung fresh leaves, and the water in the canals appear to acquire an almost magical glint around midday. The sun seems to linger in the air and the daily pressures of life don’t have a seat at the table.
My cold water tap is hotter than my hot water tap.#AustralianSummer
— Yosha Noesjirwan (@hozzaah) December 28, 2016
The temperature itself is like a warm embrace from an old friend with a fondness for woolly cardigans. It’s as if the entire Dutch population has enthusiastically shaken off the weight of winter and spilt into the streets to celebrate the beginning of the festival season, long boozy afternoons, barbeques in the park and gin fuelled cruises through the canals. In Amsterdam and the rest of the country, we begin to gluttonously soak up the sun’s rays and shed our jeans and jackets in exchange for bikinis and boardshorts.
The temperature: skin-tickling warmth versus soul-sizzling heat
The heat during summer in the Netherlands is pleasant enough, albeit fleeting and a little on the mild side — although less so in recent years. There are hot days, but not to the severity of Australia. After a few months of cloud cover, it doesn’t take long to colour your skin and adapt to the warmth.
Living in Australia, on the other hand, will require you to slip on a few UV resistant layers of clothing, slop on 60+ sunscreen and slap on an Akubra because the land Down Under in summer feels like Satan’s sphincter after a bowl of Surinamese sambal. In places such as Oodnadatta in South Australia, the temperature once hit 50 degrees Celsius. I shit you not, the roads started to melt and the local water tank actually started boiling. You could turn on the tap and get scolding hot water straight into the teacup, no kettle necessary. I’m sure there would have been a lot of complaining done that day in the little town of Oodnadatta.
How we approach summer: pleasant appreciation versus borderline disgust
How do the Dutch approach the sun-drenched months? I’ve found that they embrace summer in the Netherlands it as if it were the last summer of their life. This eagerness to spend every waking moment basking in the sun’s intoxicating presence is nothing short of admirable and a testament to just how much they truly appreciate it when that time of the year rolls around.
While in Australia, “bugger me it’s hot” or “Jesus Christ how’s this bloody heat” are acceptable ways to address your elders, old primary school teachers or the town chaplain. Or pretty much just start a sentence from December to March. We love to have a whine about how much we miss summer, but let me tell you, there are not enough curse words in the English or Dutch dictionary to convey the unpleasantness of your eleventh straight 33-degree day.
Getting from A to B: a leisurely cruise versus a one-way ticket to hell
During summer in the Netherlands, however, getting from A to B or visiting your friends on a soothing Dutch summer’s day is much more pleasant. Just jump on your bike and enjoy the cool breeze as it gently caresses your face and cycle around one of the many tree-lined streets that make up the main arteries in most towns and cities. Sure you’ll perspire a little in the early afternoon as you head off to your local bar, but it will be an innocent little bead of sweat that tickles your newly tanned skin ever so gently. Your bicycle or car seat also poses no danger.
Unlike Australia, where you should prepare to receive 3rd-degree burns from the metal buckle as you sluggishly chuck your seatbelt on and climb into the car after seven-and-a-half minutes on the beach, that incidentally felt like six days in the Sahara. A towel on the seat to prevent your skin melting upon contact and oven mitts to help you touch the steering wheel also doesn’t go astray when it’s a scorcher. And for those thinking about taking public transport, that’s laughable. Just try to enjoy yourself as the bus or train morphs before your very eyes into a fiery death carriage on wheels with a one-way ticket to the sweltering depths of hell.
— Alex Chambers (@alexchambersmma) February 11, 2019
But, if you’re able to look past the nocturnal cicadas, the flies, the sunburns, the bushfires, the flies, and the traditional “good afternoon” thunderstorm, plus the flies, it’s not all bad, and if you dig a little deeper, summer in the Netherlands and in Australia is relatively similar.
What about the fact that we can all agree that there’s nearly nothing better than taking a stroll through the park and smelling that smoky scent of a BBQ on full blast. It’s one of the things that I think makes these Australian and Dutch summer vibes so akin. Or what about that seemingly widespread truth that this season also represents something more than just hot days and a chance to have a bit of a perve on the opposite sex in minimal clothing.
It’s that blissful feeling as memories of summers past wash over your worries, and the anticipation of adventures to come with friends, both old and new. It could be a chance for you to spend more time with your significant other and lazily plan for an ideal future together. Perhaps more likely, however, it’s just another opportunity for you and your friends to stumble around a music festival like a gaggle of munted geese trying to jam your hands down the pants of the first female (or male) specimen that enters your blurred line of vision.
No matter what it is that bloats your goat during summer in the Netherlands, I hope you just enjoy the weather wherever you are and have fun with friends and family whilst the sun is here.
Would you prefer a Dutch or Australian summer? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: DutchReview/Canva
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 2016, and was fully updated June 2020 for your reading pleasure.