OK, let me start with a full disclosure: I am not actually Dutch, but I….
- Lived in Amsterdam for almost 5 years (I’m now based in Germany)
- Am a native New Yorker, which as most folks know was originally called Nieuw Amsterdam (and no, that’s not a wacky typo; this is the Dutch word for “new”. It is pronounced “neeeee-uuuuwwww”. More on points linguistic and phonetic to come…)
- Can pronounce the unpronounceable place names which dot the Low Countries (including ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the location of SAP Netherlands’ office; bonus points can be accrued for accomplishing this feat)
- Worked for two Dutch companies which were both SAP customers
- My Twitter handle is @Amsterdamsel
Speaking of flavor, herewith @Amsterdamsel’s guide to what you might want to do, see, and/or buy while you’re in town for the event.
Squeeze in Indonesian
You will need to maintain your energy during your trip. Just think of all the sessions you’ll attend or present, then there’s the walking across and around the RAI convention center…makes me tired just thinking about it! Folks arriving early who might want to dine out with colleagues before the show starts, as well as those wanting to wind down after a busy day at the event, will naturally consider visiting a local eatery.
But while Dutch cuisine has its merits, I think most visitors to Amsterdam would find it interesting to sample some Indonesian fare.
As a former Dutch colony, Indonesia has made a stamp on Dutch eating habits in much the same way as India has done with the British, whose love of a good curry can be argued is on par with a good portion of fish and chips (if such a thing can still be found these days, some Brits might grumble).
So seek out Indonesian restaurants, and give them a go. The thing to try is the rijstafel, literally “rice table”: an assortment of vegetables and/or meats with rice and cooked in aromatic spices.
The Dutch language
I can’t think of many countries I’ve visited where efforts to speak the local language were met with more bemusement. The Dutch never struck me as especially besotted by their own language, and consequently they’ve developed an admirably laissez-faire attitude about it. You will probably find Amsterdam to be among the easiest cities to navigate; people speak good English everywhere, young and old alike.
But still…for those of you who are brave and tenacious enough to give it a go, take a few tips from @Amsterdamsel:
- Get to know, love, and master the Dutch “g” – – this is the holy grail, tantamount to mastering the French “r”. Do this and you’re nearly there. To approximate the sound, think of the “g” as a tickle in the back of your throat which can be alleviated with a short cough. Make that sound
- If you can’t quite get the “g” and still want to make an effort, use an “h” as a workaround.
- Here’s a challenge for the especially brave among you (this is a blatant attempt to stir up your competitive spirit): on your first day at SAP TechEd Amsterdam, stride onto the show floor and then confidently bellow “Good morning, Amsterdam” in Dutch: “Goeie morgen, Amsterdam!”
- Note: you will need to pronounce it so that Dutch attendees within the convention center can understand you. Here’s an Anglophone-centric phonetic guide to this greeting, in the non-tickle/cough workaround version. Some might chide you for an attempt to render an Amsterdam accent. Not everyone in the Netherlands – small as it is – has the same accent. So just blame me. I can take the heat.
HOO-ya MORE-ha, OME-stur-DOME!
A Dutch tradition for children during the Sinterklaas holiday season in early December, letters made of chocolate representing the first letter of a child’s name are given as small gifts. They also make great gifts for grown-ups. And they are easily packed. You can find them at department stores and some food stores. The chocolate is really, really good too.
I think our event host deserves a few:
So these are my bona fides, and I think they should suffice for the purpose of this blog…though as a saying goes: “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much”.
Hope to see you at SAP TechEd Amsterdam 2013, where I’ll be one of a merry band of roving Social Media Reporters prowling the show floor at the RAI Convention center, looking for good blog and video fodder so we can give folks who can’t join the event in person a flavor of what’s happening during the show.
Want more tips? Got corrections to the ones I posted (I DID say I wasn’t Dutch 🙂 )…post them here.