5 dumb ways to die in the Netherlands

Bold statement? Well, I have been frequenting the Netherlands the last three years, and now I’ve moved here. The Netherlands is a great place, truthfully, there are just some very risky elements with me staying here.

And so, I heed the words of Sun Tzu: “Know your enemy and know yourself, find nought in fear for 100 battles” and analyze my enemies. Here are the 5 most likely reasons for me to die in the Netherlands:

E-coli and friends

I didn’t know just how much of a bread-culture the Netherlands have, hell, I thought bread as a staple was as Scandinavian thing. Lured into the Dutch cuisine by very different foods than the floury kind, I still find myself enjoying it regularly. The reason: the selection of lunch meats and spreads. The selection of meat in general far surpasses what I’m used to (Thinking the free flow of goods in the EU has something to do with this) and shopping whilst hungry is dangerous. The spreads they have here are very varied and come in many colorful variants. A common paradox is that they look directly unappealing (some even look like vomit!), but are mostly very tasty.

Filet americain, the Dutch version of “steak tartare”/ Source: Takeaway/Wikimedia Commons

The danger here is my favourite spread of all time, filet americain. I eat it almost every day for breakfast, most of the time if I order bread at a lunch restaurant and whenever it’s served with crackers at a party. It’s so tasty! But. It’s raw beef. Coupled with my love for carpaccio (another incredibly tasty way of eating raw beef) I ingest very easily infected meat on a regular basis. With raw meat comes the risk of infectious diseases with fancy names like; Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli, aka E-Coli.

The worst thing is I’m eating it while writing this.

Broken neck

Steep, twisted and no doubt constructed to save space. One thing is that they are within all houses in the quaint countryside, challenging me on a daily basis, but it’s a whole other story when I want to get up to my room in an Amsterdam hotel with a suitcase in each hand, my backpack sliding off the left shoulder, my jacket sliding off the right, and the key to my room dangling from the corner of my mouth. Then I ask myself questions like: “Why are 5 meters between the floors and two square meters put off for the stairs?” and “Will my insurance cover this?”

Stairs in the Netherlands are the steepest I’ve ever come across! Most of the time I walk sideways down them. What about small children, the elderly and physically challenged people? Is there a technique here that I’m missing, or are the Dutch simply fearless in their pursuit of higher ground? The staircases are the best preventative measure for me to avoid alcohol damage. Knowing what awaits me before I can snuggle safely between the sheets is enough incentive to make me reconsider those last two-four beers.

Liver collapse

Half a litre of beer in a bar in Norway costs about three times the amount that you pay for it in the Dutch bar. The price of a store-bought beer in Norway equals the price of what you would pay for a beer in a Dutch bar. For what I pay for a 0,5-litre beer in a Norwegian bar I can now get a crate of Heineken for here. Cheaper? Yes. It’s not an excuse, but it’s part of the explanation to why Norwegians are idiots when they’re on vacation.

Beer here is also way more accessible and the nice drinking culture makes drinking a lot more enjoyable. I also happened to have stumbled over the nectar of the gods, Grolsch. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a drinker, so I don’t know how my body will cope with me trying to keep up with Dutch friends drinking. Hang in there liver!!

Cardiac arrest

Would you like fries with that? Because you can. Anywhere.

Dutch Fries, Patatje or Frietje
Image: Charleston’s TheDigitel/Flickr

The Dutch eat a ridiculous amount of fries on a yearly basis.

It’s an easy, accessible and cheap snack and the variety of ways you can get it served is truly Dutch ingenuity at its finest. Most commonly enjoyed drenched in mayonnaise. The thing is, they throw all sorts of foods into the deep-fryer here. They call them snacks, but I encounter them just as often served as dinner. Mostly the snacks are made of meat, skewered or covered in crunchy crusts and served swimming in sweet and fatty sauces. Sounds tasty as hell! It is! But it’s not exactly healthy eating. I swear that I can hear my heart, under laboured breathing, cursing me, as I sink my teeth sink into that third frikandel speciaal, laced with sweet curry ketchup, laden with thick mayonnaise and carefully sprinkled with raw onion. I clutch my chest and keep eating. It can’t be that bad, there are vegetables on it!

PS. If you even like saving money when in the grave, you might want to check for funeral insurances in the Netherlands

Death by fiets

So, there are over 13 million bikes on a population of close to 16,8 million people, which basically means that most people bike on a regular basis. You see bikes everywhere, except for when you don’t see them. I’m not at all familiar with bikes taking such a big slice of the traffic pie, and that just can’t bode well for me.

Any new urban area I traverse is a visual treasure chest and I enjoy walking at my own pace when I don’t have any specific task at hand. Here’s the thing though, Dutch people strike me as very efficient when moving about and everybody knows exactly how to move through traffic for maximum efficiency, save me. I frequently get caught in a crossfire of very determined bikers, whether I accidentally wander into a bike path, walk in a park or crisscross between shop windows. I’ve nearly been hit several times already, I live in fear of that fateful day when a combination of speed, determination, aluminium, steel and rubber finds me in its path.
Oh yes, and fiets is the Dutch word for bike, so now you know.


So, if I am pulled out of a canal somewhere with a frikandel hanging out of my mouth or found awkwardly twisted and broken at the bottom of a staircase, let it be written in my eulogy:

“He was full aware of his untimely demise, and lived life to its fullest”

Sounds cool, and my Viking genes tell me that being remembered for cool stuff is of utmost importance. I’ll finish my raw meat breakfast now, and secure my legacy!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally authored and published by Tommy Arctander in August 2016, but was fully updated June 2020 for your reading pleasure.

What’s the most dangerous aspect of living in the Netherlands for you? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr 



  1. Haha nice article and a fresh way of looking at these ‘Dutch dangers’! Now I feel like doing something dangerous and eat a filet americain sandwich… nomnomnomnom

  2. Well, I think you might be exaggerating a little… 🙂

    Eating copious amounts of filet americain, especially sealed packages from supermarkets, won’t make you sick. Health and safety officials are actually pretty good in the Netherlands, so eating carpaccio and filet americain won’t kill you. It will make you fat, however. Filet Americain is made with mayonaise and other incredibly fat substances, so the cardiac arrest you mention will be in your future.

    The reason that the Dutch can eat so many fries without crowding the street with obese people is that we get plenty of exercise walking up and down our steep stairs and cycling everywhere, instead of taking elevators and driving cars.

    As to the steepness of the steps, they’re still less hazardous that balcony railings in the US… I’d rather slip and scoot down the stairs and bruise my knee, then lean on a seventh floor balcony railing and fall to my death. Also, apart from being steep, they’re also narrow enough that you just have to extend your arms to touch the walls and slow down or prevent your fall.

    The Dutch foster something called ‘common sense’ which is mostly absent in overprotective societies. We don’t build fences around canals. If you get wet, you should watch where you’re walking.

    The most irritating thing for most Dutchmen is tourists wandering around without paying attention that they’re straying from the sidewalk onto the bicycle paths or roads. However, most of us can see from afar that the moron with the camera weaving around the sidewalk to take a beautiful picture to take home will inevitably step into the path of our bicycle without looking, but that’s what we invented the bell for. If you hear a bicycle bell jangling close by, don’t look around like a startled deer where the sound is coming from, but get your ass back on the sidewalk!

    And if you can’t hold your liquor, don’t try to keep up. We won’t laugh at you. In your face, that is.

    Martyn V. Halm, author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

  3. The most important reason you’ll die in a place, is just because you haven’t left it.
    This can only mean you like it here so much that you don’t think of leaving ever again.

  4. i m dutch but i dont think i want to die in my own country. First You pay montly money cause one day you ll die and the funeral ‘must ‘ be prepaid then. Then you re finally dead and you think you no longer sponsor the government?
    No. you keep on paying tax. while dead. because of the ground you lay under;-)

    • Here in the U.S. you might not pay taxes when you’re dead, but you’ll certainly still cast your vote in every election, and funnily enough, no matter your political affiliation before kicking the bucket, after death, you’ve suddenly become a die-hard democrat. It’s the oddest thing…

  5. I was Born in the Netherlands 61 years ago and lived 43 years of those in the Netherlands. The rest in different other places and longest of those in the US. I survived filet americain, my favorite, and miss it like the dickens here in the US( why not here it is after all called americain). I miss my snacks and frites here too. And I don’t like the US fast food. It has the same greasiness and sauces but the portions, of my. Give me a small sate croquet or kaassoufflee any time.
    Stairs might be steep in my home country but if you are born to it you don’t know better. I miss them here. I often look for them in big buildings instead of taking the elevator, but some are hidden so far away or are used as storage. I have to stairstep at home to get myself staying trim and healthy. Bicycling is something else I miss. I used to live in California and there I could cycle among orchards etc. Here in Northern Texas I will die too if I go on a bike. I have to go to special parks with bike lanes by car to get my fill. Give me Dutch beer anytime! I did not drink it much, but here I don’t try the pee water that is called beer! And the Heineken import hurts my wallet and my pride.
    I am so glad I can come back every two years to get my fill of all those dangerous things and live on for another 40 years.??????????????????

  6. Oh my! What if I tell you I was reading this while munching on filet americain, hummus and crackers!
    Have been living here for 4 months and have nearly killed myself a couple times 🙂
    Falling downstairs was the most scary one haha, I love it how a person answers and says: stairs are narrow so you can reach both walls with your hands and slow the fall.. well guess what? HAHAHA IT DOESNT WORK LIKE THAT hhahahahaha not my hand or feet could keep me from rolling dwnstairs, only hard floor hahaha
    Thank you for this, been laughing hard!!!! and just finished my filet!


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