Typical (old)-Dutch: Mountains

I was like, 'This is not even a hill. How can you call it a mountain?'
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek

From my early lessons in geography I had learned that Holland was a flat country and lay below sea level. During my early days here a Dutch friend was telling me about Wageningen and what a special place it is, what with the surrender of the Germans at the hotel on 5 Mei Plein. Then she went on to say that we have a mountain near Wageningen as well. I was very surprised to hear about it and showed an interest in visiting it.

The next week we went to see the mountain. I was very excited about going for a climb and was fully prepared for a bit of hiking. And then we were there. The conversation went something like this:

My friend: Here we are.
Me: (looking around) Where?
My friend: This is it.
Me: (chuckling and thinking she was playing a joke on me) This is what?
My friend: The mountain. We are standing at the top.

I looked down at my feet, fully expecting to find the word ‘mountain’ carved in the ground and to find myself the victim of a practical joke, but alas – she was serious.

It sounds to me like some sort of urban legend

Then she sensed how dumbfounded I was, and said ‘I know it’s not much but this is our mountain’. And I was like, ‘This is not even a hill. How can you call it a mountain?’

Even now I often hear about this Wageningse berg, which sounds to me like some sort of urban legend. You see, I come from Pakistan which is home to over 100 peaks above 7000 metres and probably the same number above 6000 metres. The Dutch apparently don’t want to believe the obvious: Holland is a flat country and there are no mountains in Wageningen.    

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to resource@wur.nl and earn twenty-five euros and Dutch candy.

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