romano hoofman header

The Netherlands

Romano Hoofman

department director imec.IC-link, imec, Leuven, Belgium

Romano Hoofman
“In the last twenty years, the Netherlands experienced an enormous rise in microbreweries and craft beer culture.”

A journey through the Netherlands: beer, birds and more

Romano Hoofman is originally from Hulst in the Netherlands. He first came to Leuven, Belgium, as a Philips employee engaged in a large partnership between imec and Philips. He was also the first resident for NXP at the Holst center, imec the Netherlands. For his job at NXP, he has been commuting between Leuven and Eindhoven for quite a few years. In 2016, Romano joined imec.IC-link, focusing on application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) services for imec, in Leuven.

BlurHashwadlopen - walking in wadden sea mud
Wadlopen - Walking in Wadden Sea mud
amsterdam - houseboats
Amsterdam - Houseboats
BlurHashthe hague - kijkduin beach
The Hague - Kijkduin beach (picture by Romano)

Romano was born in Hulst. Hulst is situated in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, also known as Zeelandic Flanders, a region in the Netherlands. Its proximity to the Belgian border has led to a mingling of cultural traits influenced by Flemish culture among the locals. Growing up there, Romano experienced bits of both Dutch and Flemish cultures. Despite the nearly identical languages spoken in Belgium and the Netherlands, striking differences exist.

For example, the daily use of proverbs is still quite common in the Netherlands but not so much in Belgium. Furthermore, certain words and pronunciations differ significantly. In terms of communication style, the Dutch tend to be more straightforward, whereas Flemish communication leans towards politeness and subtlety. Upon relocating, he learned to navigate these differences in language and behavior, which proved invaluable during his travels around the world. Romano’s ability to understand and respect diverse cultures has allowed him to forge strong relationships with people from diverse nations.

kinderdijk - traditional windmills
Kinderdijk - Traditional windmills
hoge veluwe national park - red deer roaring
Hoge Veluwe National Park - Red deer roaring
poffertjes - traditional dutch pancakes
Poffertjes - Traditional Dutch pancakes

Craft beer in the Netherlands

Romano has been a beer enthusiast since his early days. Now, he has a deep appreciation for craft beers. He first tasted craft beer during a visit to the USA around the early 2000s when microbreweries were still uncommon in the Netherlands. However, over the last two decades, the craft beer scene in the country has grown exponentially. With over 900 microbreweries now operating in the Netherlands, Romano has been a firsthand witness to the remarkable growth and widespread popularity among locals and tourists alike. Festivals like the Dutch Beer Week and the Rotterdam Beer Festival have become significant platforms for highlighting the creativity and experimentation of Dutch brewers. The particularly impressive fact is that the brewers’ use of locally sourced ingredients gives their beers a distinctive Dutch flair.

Food tip

Indulge in traditional Dutch pancakes at a waterside cafe in Giethoorn.

The Wadden Islands and Wadlopen

Whereas people travel to the Netherlands to explore cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, or Giethoorn, Romano emphasizes that the Dutch islands offer a unique allure.

Each island has its own unique charm and attractions. Texel is the largest of the Wadden Islands and is in the northern part of the Netherlands. It is known for its stunning sandy beaches, dunes, and diverse wildlife. Texel offers excellent opportunities for hiking and biking, and it is also famous for its sheep farming and wool production.

Vlieland is the second smallest of the Wadden Islands and is characterized by its tranquil and unspoiled nature. With no cars allowed on the island, this is an ideal destination for walking, birdwatching, and enjoying the beach. Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited Wadden Island and is designated as a National Park. It provides crucial habitat for around 300 bird species.

orange tulip field
Orange tulip field

Terschelling is a vibrant island famous for its annual Oerol festival, which combines theater, music, and visual arts performances in unique outdoor settings. Ameland is known for its long beaches and charming villages. It is also a wonderful place to explore the historic lighthouse and the local museums. The most fascinating activity in the area is wadlopen, walking through the mud flat during low tide. The water is typically around ankle height or lower during wadlopen, but occasionally, it may rise to the waist. The Wadden Islands are particularly well-connected by ferries, and they offer a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site.