Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Hans Brinker Experience

In an unusual ad campaign this hotel banks on its' bad reputation.
The following book is for sale on their website:

"The Worst Hotel in the World : The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel, Amsterdam" by Kesselskramer

The above ads caught my eye because the name Hans Brinker rang a bell. I remembered long ago on my very first trip to Europe we had indeed stayed at this infamous student hostel. We had probably read about it in the book we carried, "Europe on $5.00 a Day". I pulled out a copy of my travel diary and found this entry:
Wednesday, July 14, 1971: "We look for a restaurant to pass time and eat before the Kroller Mueller Museum opens. We eat broojies a kind of meat/sausage pie and drink coffee. we leave for Amsterdam after seeing the museum and buy bread, cheese and sausage for lunch. We arrive in Amsterdam and eat lunch by a canal and find a student hotel to spend the night-"Hans Brinker" hotel. In the evening we went on the canal rides but we are so tired we each fall asleep for awhile- Amsterdam is a beautiful city."
Personally I don't have any bad recollections of the Hans Brinker Hotel but then again I was very young and it was my first trip to Europe and most of the time was spent sleeping in campgrounds in a tube tent (aka a cyclinder of plastic tubing with a rope running through the plastic to tie the ends to nearby trees, clothes pins used to close the ends of the plastic for privacy). This was a "budget" 9 week trip taken with 3 other girls. In my mind that trip opened a whole world I had never imagined in my wildest dreams. Spending less than $300 for the trip (I know that's hard for even me to believe) I had the most incredible summer vacation. To me every site, every sound, every country and we visited over nine countries was magical. So for me Hans Brinker Hotel is just a tiny, pleasant memory of a truly incredible life changing summer.

Whaaaat? More dog poop. It wasn't me!

The Hans-Brinker is one of Amsterdams most famous hostels. Otherwise known as

The Most XXXclusive Budget Hotel'

The name Hans Brinker may ring a bell to some
and there are many varied stories on who he was. Here is one explanation:

Who Was Hans Brinker?
The Legend of Hans Brinker

The art historian Annette Stott states that with Hans Brinker Mary Mapes Dodge created a work of pure fiction: "She had not visited Holland when she wrote it and relied on a variety of published sources about Dutch life, literature, and art for her information. Stott concludes her research on the book by saying: "The fanciful tale of a finger in the dike, which was repeated by other authors of juvenile literature, undoubtedly went some distance toward establishing in young American minds a belief in the courage, independence and trustworthiness of the Dutch" Somehow, Mary Mapes Dodge tried to depict Holland as an ideal and idyllic nation of brave, righteous, godfearing farmfolk on wooden shoes.
It is said that 99% of the Americans know this so-called Dutch legend about the courageous 'Hans Brinker', mainly by reading the book at school, or hearing the tale from their parents. In the past, many American tourists left the Netherlands in disappointment, because none of the Dutch natives could point out the dyke where Hans Brinker saved the country. Fact is that the story of Hans Brinker was hardly present in the oral tradition or cultural awareness of the Netherlands, even though the book had been translated into Dutch as early as 1867 by P.J. Andriessen (De zilveren schaatsen, een schets uit het Noord-Hollandsche volksleven, illustrated by Charles Braakensieck). The book has been reprinted several times, always with the following addition by Andriessen to the Hans Brinker legend: "This sweet story is entirely the author's view."
Another fact is that there was absolutely no dyke to be shown to the tourists: no dyke, no boy with a finger in it, no Hans Brinker. In order to please the American tourists, the Dutch Bureau for Tourism decided to place a statue of Hans Brinker at Spaarndam in 1950, made by Grada Rueb. In 1954 the Dutch author Margreet Bruijn rewrote the old story as Een nieuw verhaal naar het oude boek van Mary Mapes Dodge (illustrated by Maarten Oortwijn). For the first time now, the adventure is situated in Spaarndam, obviously because of the statue. The inscription beneath the statue is in Dutch and English (American spelling) and it reads:

Opgedragen aan onze jeugd als een huldeblijk aan de knaap die het symbool werd van de eeuwigdurende strijd van Nederland tegen het water.
Dedicated to our youth, to honor the boy who symbolizes the perpetual struggle of Holland against the water.-


Ann Enkoji said...

ha ha - so great that you kept that diary - I would never have remembered that hostel, but now that I have read your entry - it all comes back to me!

Sandrac said...

I remember reading the story of Hans Brinker and the silver skates when I was child (and believeing it was true because it was in a book!)

Funny how those childhood impressions can stay with a person!

Laurie said...

This cracks me up! I love Amsterdam.

Nancy said...

I remember the Hans Brinker Hostel so well. I think I was in a separate room with lots of beds and a tour group from the states. Very noisy but it had an open window that let in cool breezes and had a view of the canal. I'm reading my journal now! What fun.

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