On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Just One Month Out of Life

Back in the 80's, Madonna encouraged nations around the world to take "just one day out of life" for a holiday. Sure, Holiday was a catchy hit, but I'm sure not just a few Europeans raised an eyebrow at the notion of a mere day of holiday.

What they say is true; in August things shut down in Europe. Not everything, but quite a lot. We've taken to calling ahead before leaving the house. What's amazing are how many low-margin firms (small restaurants, boutiques, etc.) are all boarded up. That's some serious financial discipline, making sure you can cover the rent while your store is closed for four weeks. I'm not advocating for American-style, winner-take-all capitalism... just wondering how they manage to go in the red for a month.

Individuals, however, get an 8% holiday bonus paid out in May or June. Yup, you heard me right. You get an extra 8% of your salary paid in a lump so you can fund your summer holiday. No need for that pesky savings plan. Granted, when employers calculate how much they're going to pay you, they factor that cost. Still... it's a nice pick-me-up in late Spring when you're feeling a bit restless.

I ask you this: If everyone's on vacation, will everything be closed when you get to your destination?

I guess we'll find out. Even though we've lost that summer feeling, we're going hiking in the Belgian Ardennes this weekend. We thought about camping, but were turned off by the European concept of camping: RV (aka caravan) parks. "Campgrounds" come complete with game halls, swimming pools, tennis courts and, of course, electricity and water hookups. What's fun for retirees in America is fun for the family in Europe. Until I have my own rugrats, I think I'll pass on the family entertainment. We booked a guest house.

Wij zijn op vakantie.



Anonymous Dabysan said...

That's the kind of camping I can set my watch too

4:19 PM GMT+2


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