If I have learnt something from the Dutch it is how to fully take advantage of every ray of sunlight we are granted in this sea of grayness that we also call: The Dutch Summer.

Since I moved here about six years ago I learnt what it is to really appreciate the sun – this round glowing fireball I took for granted having spent seemingly endless summers in Spain or Austria longing for a bit of shade to cool off.

A Dutch summer favorite: the wet-to-the-office look

Coming to Amsterdam as an expat, however, I was suddenly confronted with monsoon-like rain showers in July coming out of nowhere surprising me on the way to work. Arriving at the office like a wet dog I was greeted by my Dutch colleagues with a pitiful smile peeling themselves effortlessly out of their full-body raincoats, starting their day like there was not even one single cloud in the sky. I was speechless. Half an hour of desperately trying to turn my outfit from wet poodle to no-really-this-IS-the-new-office-look later I quietly snuck to my seat and didn’t get up once during the whole day.

The good thing is, I learnt from it. I learnt that even if the calendar says July the temperature can say I don’t care what time of the year it is. Today will start with some sun followed by heavy clouds turning into rain and eventually some hail to top it off. GREAT!

Dutch cycling in the rain
In the background you can spot an even bigger disgrace than the Dutch summer: the North-South Amsterdam subway line. (Flickr)

How to make the most of typical Dutch summer weather

Due to the unstable and unpredictable nature of the Dutch summer, the Dutch came up with a game plan. A plan how to make the most of it.

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Happy Rain
This is that one time a year rain is actually refreshing in Holland. (spoilers: 2013 is going to be the exception) Commons.wikimedia.org

Feeling miserable because I just missed the only two hours of the week where the sun was kind enough to show up, my neighbors told me: “Don’t worry. We can teach you. Bear in mind the following things and you can enjoy the Dutch summer to the fullest.” So here we go:

–          Prep your terrace/garden/outdoor space: This means that you have to position your chair/sunbed in a perfect angle facing the sun OR in case you don’t have that much outdoor space, keep those items at a place where you can retrieve them from in a matter of minutes.

–          If you are not blessed with your own outdoor space, get on your bike and find the closest park bench/terrace you can easily frequent in case of some unexpected sunshine. This should be in a radius of 500 meters or less.

–          The same is applicable for your work place. Search your office building for: terraces (roof or ground floor)/benches in the area surrounding your office or any little space that allows you catch some sun.

–          Another important part: the wardrobe. To take full advantage of the sun, you need to keep slippers and sunglasses at hand. Store them close to your outdoor space or by your door in order to quickly grab them. With a few simple moves you can transform your outfit and give it a summerly touch. Advanced sun-chasers might even keep fresh juices and funny straws at home to create some sort of holiday feeling when the sun shows up. This might be a bit difficult to pull off at work but it’s not impossible. Be creative!

 

–          Last but not least, there is something that goes hand in hand with sunny summer days in Holland: the barbecue. Again, the challenge is to quickly recognize the potentially warm weather and immediately initiate the following actions: Call your friends to coordinate where to meet (one of the outdoor spaces mentioned earlier) and who brings what (this is best to decide beforehand to avoid unnecessary time loss, which directly results in less minutes of sunshine). Enjoy!

After studying all these points very hard and training for several years I can proudly say that these days I can even manage to get a little tan during a Dutch summer, although mostly in the face/shoulder area but that’s better than nothing, right? And if the sun decides to come out in the next couple of days, I will be prepared like a real Dutch person, taking in that Vitamin D like there is no tomorrow.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Useful tips Alexandra! To add some more:
    – make sure you can always take a last-minute day off of work, so that you can take immediate advantage of a more or less sunny day. Also, try to arrange terrace-lunches with your colleges and try to relocate your meetings to some place outside.
    – always keep sunscreen in you purse, otherwise your face will turn right from off-white-pale to tomato-red
    – layer your clothing: always take a sweater and a raincoat with you, since the weather can change from 25 degrees and sunny to 15 degrees and rain in no time.
    – keep smiling: accept the fact that you live in Holland and the weather will always be unpredictable…

  2. So funny and true! That is why I just love living in Australia! I am still (after 7 years) surprised and grateful that I see the sun nearly every day!

    • LOL Tanja, I’m an Australian preparing for a year in Utrecht. But after 45 years of sun, there are so many other things to look forward to in living in The Netherlands 🙂
      Thanks for the tips Alexandra and I’m happy to see the Dutch loves barbecues too!

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