A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

The Cold Snap hits Holland

Late last week in Leiden, temperatures plummeted. It was almost instant. I remember leisurely going to the Digros near where I live, and only a few hours later the same journey became impossible without my scarf wrapped tightly around my head like a ḥijāb (Geert Wilders supporters look away now!).

In England when temperatures drop, quite simply, chaos ensues. Schools, and motorways close, employees bunk off work, and the population panics about our annual salt shortage crisis and why the local councils haven’t prepared the UK for it’s harshest winter yet! The 6 o’clock BBC news bulletin reports from Moscow of how the Russians deal with this weather everyday: chains on their tyres and big bushy hats alike – Why are the British so terribly underprepared we lament…

In defence I don’t watch much Dutch TV or News, so it could be similar in the Netherlands, but that’s not the impression the inhabitants of Leiden give. People delight at the sight of sub zero forecasts, and almost immediately out come the ice skates in all their glory. Sharpy and shiny, almost every dutch person I know has one. Some even possess two pairs: short skates for rinks, and longer bladed ones for long distance ice skating.

Hang on a minute!!!!

Long distance ice skating? How many laps of Alexandra Palace could I do without getting bored I ask myself? (The answer is none, because like every self respecting Brit, I my dear friend, cannot skate. Something which I’m sure will change the longer this Siberianesqe winter lasts).

The night is no issue for these nocturnal skaters. They just bring out their own bat-signalesque light.

People pray it get’s colder (:O) so that maybe this year could be the lucky year…don’t speak to loud or you’ll jinx it…. of…an…ELFSTEDENTOCHT! An elfstedentocht hasn’t occurred for over 15 years now (1997 was the last). It is probably the most quintessentially dutch thing that exists. A 200km treacherous ice skate race across the frozen canals of Friesland, which can only take place if the ice is 15cm thick (minimum) at all parts. Don’t ask me how they check but the odds are rare, and if it ever does come to pass, the whole of the Netherlands would probably drop its truckle and flee to the northern cities to view the spectacle. My dutch brother in law informs me that it’s an event that makes the Koninginnedag (usually the biggest annual party) look like an office tea party.

Left: Googlemaps Right: Real life

Either way, from my perspective this is all madness, and I personally can’t wait for the snow to thaw and cycle to uni without the wind chill freezing my face every morning. Although I will miss the adorable sight of parents dragging their children to the Albert Heijn across the pavements on miniature sleighs.

5 comments on “The Cold Snap hits Holland

  1. mandala56
    February 11, 2012

    I love reading this blog! I lived in Leiden as a child when my dad taught for a year at the University and my brother lives there now (he runs the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum). So I love hearing what’s going on. I’d love to see more pictures, though!

  2. theleidener
    February 11, 2012

    Glad you like it! I will be sure to check out the Pilgrim museum at some point now. I didn’t even know it existed. I will try and get my fellow Leideners in the coming weeks to make our tumblr more prominent as there is definitely a deficiency in the photo department and so we shall address this imminently! Till then enjoy reading :D. Saleem

  3. theleidener
    February 12, 2012

    I’ve done a little bit of technical button-pressing and now our Tumblr account is integrated into this blog. This should mean more photos, links, and other sorts of goodies. Enjoy it! Laurence

  4. mandala56
    February 12, 2012

    Sounds great! The museum is in the Bescuitsteeg near the Hooglandsekerk. However, my brother is traveling next week so you might want to wait a couple weeks.
    I’ll be sure to check back here, I’m really enjoying this!

  5. Brittany
    February 15, 2012

    Another blogger recommended your blog to me since I’m studying in Leiden right now (and here til May) I checked it out. Digros is my favorite grocery store! It’s about a 10 minute walk from the place where we’re staying and everything is super cheap in there.

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2012 by in Culture, Saleem.

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