Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Now that the Winter is gone,

From Coisas Minhas II

and the Spring has arrived,

From Coisas Minhas II

the weather has been gorgeous...

From Coisas Minhas II

and I have been enjoying these fantastic days...:-)

Flowers on the table...

From Coisas Minhas II

Flowers in the kitchen...

From Coisas Minhas II

New gardening gloves...

From Coisas Minhas II

Shopping camellias for the front garden...

From Coisas Minhas II

Enjoying with dear friends the first barbecue of the season...

From Coisas Minhas II

going for long walks together...

From Coisas Minhas II

 enjoying a quiet, simple and delicious dinner at home...

From Coisas Minhas II

or going for the first time this year to our favourite restaurant in Almere...

From Coisas Minhas II

I know that I've been happy these days...;-)

And I'm already preparing Easter...:-)

From Coisas Minhas II

Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder ... (Henri David Thoreau)


Monday, 19 March 2012

Almere Proeft 2012

Almere Proeft 2012 took place yesterday at Boat House Restaurant in Almere. We enjoyed a splendid afternoon there, listening to Jazz and Swing music, tasting delicious olive oil, wines, cheeses, chocolates, having new experiences and doing some shopping too. In the end, we took a pleasant walk around the restaurant and I was even followed by a swan. Take a look at the photos.

The Place

Boat House Restaurant, Almere

From Almere Proef 2012

This restaurant is located in the recreation area of Noorderplassen, west of Almere Stad. I've already written about it, remember?

Tasting and shopping

We bought some delicacies at Italie in Huis, such as a bottle of olive oil (Olio Flaminio of Torre Atigge/ D.O.P. Umbria) and a cheese (Formaggio Pecorino). Absolutely delicious!
The webshop site is not available yet, but only in two weeks or so.

From Almere Proef 2012

We also tasted very good wines at ViniFins and we intend to visit their shop in Almere Haven to buy some of them, like the Nonnengarten, the Nero d'Avola and the T'Air d' Oc Syrah.

From Almere Proef 2012

At Kaasmakerij we enjoyed delicious cheeses and smoked sausages! We bought some of them and a Fromage de Langres.

From Almere Proef 2012

I had my first experience in candy making with liquid nitrogen at the Boat House Restaurant stand and I enjoyed the moment very much!

From Almere Proef 2012

Ready for Easter? ;-) At Chocolaterie Brouwer, we bought slagroom truffels and marzipan.

From Almere Proef 2012

A glimpse of the atmosphere...

From Almere Proef 2012

We also found out about Cuisine Culinaire Almere, a group of cuisine lovers. Their aim is to practise the art of cooking in a casual and cozy atmosphere. We had a very nice talk with one of the chefs who had already been in Portugal. He told us about restaurants there that we don't know yet. As soon as I get my feet in Portugal, I will check the tips he gave us. We loved to talk with him! A very nice and interesting person!

Yes, we had a wonderful time at Almere Proeft 2012!

A glass of good wine, good company and very good Jazz music...Just like Heaven!

Nick Bloemendaal & Friends (Jazz and Swing)

From Almere Proef 2012

The Lady is a Tramp by Nick Bloemendaal

Friday, 16 March 2012

Guest Post: Teresa, a Portuguese mother in the Netherlands

After the last A-Z of the Netherlands post, "C" is for children, I asked Teresa, a Portuguese young mother currently living in The Netherlands if she would like to share her Dutch motherhood experience with us. She accepted the challenge, which I'm very grateful for, and here she is, talking about Pregnancy, Birth, First days and Raising a child in The Netherlands. Thank you, Teresa!

My name is Teresa and 4.5 years ago I moved from Portugal to the Netherlands with my husband and our two cats. Approximately 2 years ago I found out that I was pregnant (the best news that I could ever get) and I can honestly say that was then the cultural shock really began.
I’ll try to keep in mind that this is a post and not a book, so I will focus on the most important topics of becoming a mother and raising a child in the Netherlands. 


 Before getting pregnant I did a very basic research on the internet and I found out that basic health insurance only covers the costs of a hospital birth for medical reasons. So, at the end of the year I contacted my insurance company and selected an extra package that would cover all hospital costs (1500 Euros in my particular case).

 The next big difference I noticed was the fact that  pregnancy is followed by midwives and if all goes well we don’t see any doctors during this period or even during labor. This was something that I never felt comfortable with, in spite of midwives specific training. They aren't doctors and in Portugal pregnancies are followed by specialists. I have to confess that at a certain point I was considering going to Portugal on a regular basis to have proper exams. Midwives usually work in teams and in my case, I was followed by four midwives during the regular pregnancy appointments. They check our weight, blood pressure and belly size, if the baby is big enough and listen to his heartbeat. 

 One of the first things that I was asked to do was a blood exam but to my surprise there was no check about toxoplasmosis immunity. This is a very serious thing during pregnancy and considered a standard check in Portugal but here it ended up in a discussion between me, my husband and the midwife. She couldn’t  understand why this was so important and we couldn’t understand why she didn’t care. I still don’t know if I’m immune or not so the midwife won the discussion. This of course didn’t help to increase my confidence in this non-medical/relaxed/pregnancy-is-not-a-disease approach. 

 I had a first ultrasound to check if there wasn’t something very obviously wrong with the pregnancy and after knowing that everything was ok I contacted the 2 biggest daycare centers of my region to put my 9 week embryo in the waiting list. Daycare is very expensive here and surprisingly the waiting lists are huge and it can take more than one year to find a place. We can choose the number of days per week that we want and even half days. If we go for 5 days per week, it will cost around 1500 Euros per month. 

 After these first exams, there was a very important ultrasound around week 20, where a complete observation of the baby is done as well as several measurements. I did an extra test for Down syndrome that is optional for women under 35 years old and therefore not covered by the basic insurance. 

 All my lack of confidence in this midwife natural approach to the pregnancy was soon gone. In one of the appointments my blood pressure was too high and after confirming the values I was told to stop working immediately and if the blood pressure wouldn’t drop to normal levels then I would start being followed by a specialist in the hospital. In the next days a midwife was coming to my house to check the blood pressure and also to give me some support. This was the first time I felt that they were indeed taking good care of me. 

 A search on the internet about pregnancy and birth in the Netherlands quickly shows a surprising trend of having births at home with the support of a midwife and without any medical care. This was a huge surprise for me! 
At a certain point I was asked the question: “Where do you want to give birth?”
I never considered another option besides a hospital birth. I can understand all arguments pro home birth but if something goes wrong (and things do go wrong) even if it takes just a few minutes to get to the hospital it can be too much time and the consequences can be very serious. My decision was respected and there were no more questions about this subject. 

 One final comment before I move to the birth experience, people here don’t see pregnancy as a disease or even a special situation where the soon to be mother needs extra protection. I was many times standing in the train with a huge belly and absolutely no one gave me a seat, and trains don’t have special seats for pregnant women. There are no reserved parking places, no priority in supermarkets or any other place where you have to wait in a queue. What a difference from Portugal! 


 All the birth experience was truly amazing. Suddenly the relaxed approach that I hated during pregnancy became so important during labor. After the first contractions started I called the midwife that came to my house where I stayed during the first hours until it was time to go to the hospital. There, I had a team taking care of me, including nurses and doctors, talking to me and explaining all procedures and options. I was in a room with a lot of privacy, I was able to eat and drink during the process and I could walk and move freely. To deal with the pain I tried a hot bath and when that wasn’t enough to cope with the pain I asked for an epidural that gave me the relief that I needed and allowed me to focus on the birth. 
My husband was always by my side and wasn’t just a spectator but a part of all that was happening. Our beloved son never left our room and was kept close to us at all time.

 First days 

 In the next morning we went home and the kraamzorg nurse arrived a few minutes after. Kraamzorg is the best thing ever. A nurse comes to our house and takes care of the mother and the baby, cooks, cleans the house, does the laundry and does the shopping. She immediately helped us establishing our new daily routine, how to give bath to the baby, how to feed and comfort him. It was a precious help and especially in our case: D. was our first son and all our family was away from us and couldn’t support us. The kraamzorg is covered by the basic health insurance and is something really wonderful.

 In the first days there are some diligences that need to be made. The first step is registering the baby in the city hall and right after that we need to ask the health insurance company to include the baby in one of the parents’ insurances. All the health related costs are covered by the parents insurance until the child reaches 18 years old. 

 Raising a child 

 Parental leaves are very different in Portugal and the Netherlands. Here the paid maternity leave is a total of 16 weeks and starts 4 to 6 weeks before the due date while paternity leave consists of just 2 days. This isn’t sufficient and as the end of the maternity leave approached, I couldn’t think of putting my 3 months old baby in the daycare. I spoke to the human resources department of my company and informed them that I wanted to take a parental leave right after the maternity leave. This type of leave is not paid and consists of 6 months that can be used whenever needed until the child reaches 8 years old. This way I stayed home until my son was around 6 months and I was able to take care of him and breastfeed him during this period. 

 I also started taking my son to the consultatiebureau. All children bellow 4 years old are followed by the consultatiebureau in the area of residence where they have regular appointments with pediatricians and pediatric nurses. They will check how children are growing, give the vaccinations and will advise parents with any questions they may have. Since we don’t have our family here, the consultatiebureau offered an extra support with a nurse coming to our house once a month. 

 Regarding financial support, there is a child benefit that is given to all children bellow 18 years old. It’s a quarterly payment and for young children is about 200 Euros per trimester. This value increases as the child gets older and is the same for everyone, not depending on the family income. The other big help is the kinderopvangtoeslag, which is a government allowance for parents that are working or studying and that have a child in an official daycare center. This is paid every month and depends on the family income, with lower income families having a bigger allowance. 

 Finally, because this post is already very long, raising a child is tough and hard work. This becomes even more difficult when you don’t have family or friends around. Physically it can be difficult, but if you are not careful, it can be devastating from the psychological point of view. I cried many times because I felt alone, even with my wonderful and caring husband by my side. In fact we both felt lonely and insecure during the first months. I still feel like that once in a while, for example when there is a grandparent’s day at the daycare and there’s no one there with my son. There are however many positive aspects of raising a child here, especially the flexibility and respect from employers and the safety in this country that allows children to play in the streets and be children.

Final considerations

Life as an expat is not easy; we have to deal with the cultural differences in daily life and work, the language barrier and specially the fact that our family and friends are several thousand kilometers away. It is however possible to overcome all these differences and settle down in the nice and relaxed Dutch lifestyle and that’s what we’ve done. 

Thank you Sandra, for the opportunity to share my experience with you and your readers.

Take a look at Teresa's blog:  http://5naholanda.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

TravelAvenue Favorite Blog 2012

Last week, I received this lovely email from Emilie Esnault of TravelAvenue.

Due to the continued excellence of your blog "Presépio com Vista para o Canal", it has been approved by our editorial team to be awarded as a 2012 TravelAvenue Favorite Blog. The quality and the orginality of your content makes the difference. 

Congrats and thank you!

Travel Guide, Travel reviews, Travel questions, travel blogs

Thank you, Emilie and editorial team of TravelAvenue!

You can get travelling personalized answers in TravelAvenue. Also you'll find me there with several posts about The Netherlands.

Thank you all for participating in this project!

Prémio Dardos

The Award " Prémio Dardos" was given to Presépio by the following blogger friends:

Ana, author of the blog (IN) Cultura

Margarida, author of the blog Memórias e Imagens

Sara, author of the blog Etnografia de Cirscunstancia(s)

This award celebrates the creativity and the work of the blogger.

From Selos Web Atribuídos

Let me dedicate this award to you all, my blogger friends!

Thank you for your visits and comments and especially for sharing your experiences with us! :-)

The rules:

a) If you accept it, please post the image in your blog.
b) Link the blog that gave you the award.
c) Choose 15 blogs and offer the award.

Bem Haja a todos!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Presépio in the International Almere Site

The post "My A-Z of the Netherlands: A is for Almere" was published in the  International Almere site!

Thank you Connie for the invitation and to you too, Sonja, for all the support you gave me with the post!

If you are coming to The Netherlands, more precisely to Almere, please, take a look at IA's site! You will find very useful information about Expat Life and Integration in Dutch Society!

I will be there sometimes!

Here the interview that Connie gave to Presépio about International Almere in December 2010!

By the way, International Almere is celebrating its second anniversary! Congratulations IA!

Have Fun!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Flying Swans

Two swans flying along the canal! What a great moment I had today! My camera was in my pocket, so I couldn't take a photo. I was walking with my hubby, enjoying the sunshine and then, that great moment, like a gift, an unexpected gift!

I've never seen something like this before! Lindo!! :-)

From A-Z

From A-Z

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Prague: A Romantic Jewel

Prague opens for us enchanted doors ....

From Prague Doors

From Prague Doors

From Prague Doors

From Prague 2012

and invites us to roam on its very well preserved historic streets full of lovely details ...

From Prague 2012

giving us the key to discover a kingdom of...

From Prague 2012

romance ...

From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012

strong beliefs...

From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012



From Prague 2012

From Prague 2012


From Prague 2012

From Prague 2012
the best time of your life...

From Prague 2012
and the secret wish...

From Prague 2012

to come back again very soon... ;-)

From Prague 2012

Friday, 2 March 2012

My A-Z of The Netherlands: C is for Children

On 14 February 2007, the United Nations considered the Dutch children the happiest in the world. On December of the same year I arrived in the Netherlands. Let me share with you my first impressions on Dutch children.


Mothers with two, three and sometimes four children by their hands. Absolutely fantastic! In the last two decades, I never saw so many children as here! It's amazing!

From Almere (III)

I used to live in Lisbon, a very beautiful city, but where the population is very old. Most of the young and middle age people working there are living in smaller cities nearby, where it is cheaper to buy an apartment. 
According to this study, in 2005, Lisbon was the portuguese city with the oldest population, and the European capital with the largest ratio of older people (134.000 per 564.000 inhabitants). As you can imagine, I was not used to see many children in the streets during the day. Unfortunately, the lack of children is not only a problem in Lisbon. Last month, the President of the Portuguese Demography Association, stated that Portuguese population is one of the eldest in the world. In 2007, 2009 and 2010 the number of births was lower than the number of deaths. Nowadays, most Portuguese couples have only one child.


According to my experience in Portugal, my generation, in general matters, is very anxious with their children. These are overprotected in my point of view.
Here I find the parents careful enough, giving their children the opportunity to experience small adventures and solve their own small problems. A light injury is not seen as "a great disaster".

From Katwijk aan Zee

From Texel


In my street, there are a couple of playgrounds for the children. Sometimes, there is an adult nearby, but most of the times, the children are playing together in small groups without an adult supervision. However, I perfectly understand that in Portugal probably we have more reasons to fear for our children's safety than in The Netherlands. Besides, Dutch mommies can always peek through the windows of their kitchens or stay in the front garden watching them.


Well, I see more people in public gardens in general than in my country, at least when I was still living there. 

From A-Z

In the last 15 years, I realized that most of the Portuguese families spend their Sunday afternoons in shopping malls. I remember to find this very depressing! However, there was a park in Lisbon where I used to find many children: Parque da Serafina in Monsanto. 
In The Netherlands, I see more children playing outside which I think it's much healthier. The Dutch appreciate very much outdoor activities and besides there aren't many shopping malls here as in Portugal. 
Lucky me when I was a child! No shopping mall and no playstation! My grandpa used to take me for long walks in the woods or to pick up figs and blackberries. I used to play in the street and went a lot to the park to have picnics, like the Dutch still do.

From Texel


I see that by the front door decorations. I used to have birthday parties at home too. However, in Portugal, this tradition has changed. In the last 15 years, most of the children celebrate their birthdays at the malls or in rented indoor playgrounds. I don't like it, specially because of the lack of fresh air and the noise, always worse in a closed place. I also found myself thinking several times, that they are growing up without homely birthday memories. Sad, in my opinion...

From Pasen 2010


On a Dutch table, we will find coffee, tea, juices, some snacks, birthday cake and sometimes pancakes. The most important, as far as I realized, is to be together with family and friends to celebrate the child's birthday. And if we think about it, that is what really matters.
However, I find the Portuguese traditions very lovely too. I have great memories of my birthday table full of different sandwiches, several cakes, puddings, mousses, jellies, arroz-doce, and Sumol, of course. Do you remember the Sumol green bottles? :-)


After my father's death and the economical crisis that Portugal faced in the end of the seventies and in the beginning of the eighties (IMF was there as it is today),  my mother couldn't afford big birthday parties as before. In those difficult times, I used to celebrate only with the family. If I was a Dutch child, I would have my big party, with many  friends and neighbours, in the same way. A lot of food on the table is not so important here as it is in Portugal. Only the juices, the birthday cake and some pancakes would be enough! No one would complain about my birthday party being "very poor"(you know what I'm talking about...).

According to my experience, in Portugal, the children go to sleep at 9.00/ 9.30 pm.
I used to go to bed at 11 pm when I was child ;-))) My father had a restaurant, so I stayed more or less awake to see him in the evening. I remember to watch José Corte-Real on TV and then listening to the national anthem at the end of the daily broadcast.


The Netherlands has a HIGH RATE OF HOME BIRTHS compared to other countries.
In 2010, 184 thousand children were born in the Netherlands. 

Three quarters were hospital births, one quarter home births. Most of them are attended by MIDWIFES. Early 2010, more than 2.5 thousand midwives were active in the Netherlands.

"Most midwives in the Netherlands work in primary care where they are the lead professionals providing care to women with 'normal' or uncomplicated pregnancies. They are independent practitioners, like general practitioners or family doctors, and work in single-handed, duo-, or group-practices. In case of complications or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, during labour or in the postpartum period, the midwife will refer her client to secondary care, where a gynaecologist will take over responsibility. The indications for referral have been agreed upon by all professional groups involved (gynaecologists, midwives and general practitioners) and are laid down in the so-called Obstetric Indication List [2]." (http://www.biomedcentral.com/)

ONLY 10% of Dutch women (2009) use ANAESTHETICS in their labors.

"The rate of epidural use in the Netherlands is low and there is an absence of anaesthetists available out of ‘normal’ hours so do your homework to find out which hospitals can honour your request for pain relief." advise Amanda van Mullingen in Expatica.

The Netherlands has the worst scores in Europe related to childbirth rates according to the PERISTAT-II STUDY:

"In Peristat-II from 22 weeks gestation, after France, The Netherlands had the highest fetal mortality rate (7.0 per 1,000 total number of births). Of all western European countries, The Netherlands had the highest early neonatal mortality rate (3.0 per 1,000 live births). Over the past 5 years the perinatal mortality rate in The Netherlands has dropped from 10.9 to 10.0 per 1,000 total births but this drop has been faster in other countries."
Take a look at this post for further information.

KRAAMZORG is probably the main positive aspect of giving birth in The Netherlands.
We are talking about a week of postnatal care at home which includes caring for the mother and the baby, light household duties and guidance on breast feeding.


Less than 10% of Dutch women work full-time. In Portugal, it's very difficult to work in part-time, except in call-centers. My friends are always exausted. They complain a lot about spending so little time with their children. They arrive (tired) at home around 8 p.m. and barely have the time to diner and put the children to sleep. In the Netherlands, the families  enjoy their time together in a more relaxed way. I don't notice either any prejudice against staying- at-home moms as I have noticed in Portugal. Also the fathers enjoy more time with
their children because of the weekly day they spend at home with them, the "famous" Papadag.

From Amersfoort
This photo was taken in the morning, a year ago, in front of a children's bookstore in Amersfoort. You can see a couple of mom's bikes very well prepared to carry their children on.


Take a look at this Teresa 's post. In this childcare center, for example, a day per week costs €284 per month, and five days per week about €1420. Are you still there? ;-)) Most of the children are in childcare on a part-time basis.You can know more about the Dutch Childcare System and the Childcare Allowances by reading this Expatica article.


Take a look at this  experience of a Portuguese mother living in Groningen.

If you are a mom in The Netherlands and you want to share your experience with us, please do. You are very welcome!
For those who are thinking about leaving their home country, I strongly advise you to get all the information you can about your future host country before your departure, specially if you have children or intend to get pregnant. Expat life is emotionally very demanding, even more with kids.