back to top

Welcome to the Netherlands, Mr. President

President Obama, we are excited to have you visit our country for the Nuclear Security Summit March 24-25. In light of your first presidential visit to the Lowlands, we thought we’d brief you a little bit about our country and offer a few traveling tips to help you enjoy your stay.

Posted on

We're good friends

You’ll be among good friends in the Netherlands, Mr. President, just like Prime Minister Mark Rutte was when he visited Washington, D.C. a few years ago. After all, we were the first nation to salute the American flag at St. Eustatius on Nov. 16, 1776, and even loaned a young Congress 5 million guilders a few years later to help America get on her feet. We’re glad our early investment paid off so well.

You're right at home

Your visit might feel like a homecoming. After all, you graduated from Columbia University in New York City, which the Dutch founded as a trading post called New Amsterdam in 1626. And let’s not forget your Dutch roots as a descendant of the Blossom family of Pilgrims. They lived in Leiden for a decade before crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower.

You're below sea level, but don't worry

Via Rijkswaterstaat

When you visit the Netherlands, you should know that two-thirds of our country is at or below sea level, but you won’t have to worry about flooding. We’ve been keeping out water for 800 years, nearly three times as long as America has been a country. Our delta technology is second to none, so you’ll be perfectly safe.

Some of your predecessors were of Dutch descent

Being the leader of the free world can be tough, but you stand in good company. At least five of your predecessors were of Dutch descent: Martin van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Watch out for all the bikes!

Via Amsterdamize on Flickr

We encourage you to explore our cities. If you choose to walk instead of cycle, please use the sidewalks, not the adjacent red paths. Those are for our 17 million bicycles we ride everywhere. To school, the dentist, shopping, to work. You name it. The last thing we want is someone crashing into you on their way to work.

Take just one cookie

Via sicakcikolatakokusu on Tumblr

You’ll meet a lot of welcoming Dutch people, and as you do, they might offer you a plate of cookies. Please take one, but only one. Remember, such frugality helped US diplomats realize that the Netherlands would be wise stewards of the aid America provided Europe as part of the Marshall Plan after World War II.

We tell it like it is

Via White House photo

Fair warning about Dutch people: some people say we are blunt. If we think your shirt and tie don’t match, we might tell you. Some might see this as rude, but not us. We see it as being honest, direct, and helpful. Lookin' sharp above, though.

Watch out for hot bitterballen

Via croissantxvelo on Tumblr

We invite you to taste our local cuisine, but take small bites of the bitterballen. They are not hushpuppies. If you pop an entire bitterbal into your mouth and it is fresh out of the fryer, you could burn your mouth terribly. That could make speaking quite difficult.

Plan your TV interviews carefully

Via total-filmy on Tumblr

We look forward to any TV interviews you might give, but please do not compete for airtime with our speed skaters. The world tried to compete with them in Sochi, and, well, we all know how that turned out. (But in case you don’t know, our speed skaters won 23 medals, more than all other countries combined.)

We like to connect

We know how much you love your BlackBerry. Rest assured, you’ll be able to connect your BlackBerry to our Wi-Fi networks. After all, Dutchman Vic Hayes is considered the “father of Wi-Fi,” although we say “wee-fee.”

Feel free to shop for family gifts


If you find a few minutes to shop for Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, we suggest you pick up the latest from fashion designer Pauline van Dongen. She’s creating innovative clothing that combines technology and fashion, so they’ll be able to charge their phones using solar energy collected by their clothes.

We're a short train ride to other great European cities

Via colenoapparel on Tumblr

We’re sure you’ll have plenty to do in the Netherlands, but in case you want to escape the hubbub surrounding the summit, we’re just a three-hour train ride from Paris, Berlin, and many more great European cities. In fact, that’s what makes us such a great partner in foreign trade. Trucks can reach 95 percent of Europe’s major markets in just 24 hours from Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

We hope your stay was gezellig

Via internaldemons via Tumblr

Finally, as you head back to the White House, we hope you found your stay gezellig. What’s that, you ask? It’s sort of that cozy feeling you get when you spend time relaxing with pleasant people. But it’s much more than that. It’s … well, some words simply don’t translate. Guess you’ll have to come back and experience gezellig yourself.