Steep Stairs

Thousands of Internationals slip, trip and flip down Dutch stairs every day. So does Dan. Steep Stairs: A Definitive Guide to Dutch Housing Part 5!

It’s 4am. You’ve been to nearly every crappy club in the city, but you’ve saved the best until last. You’re gazing up the dreaded steep stairs of Snowvalley. They seem a lot steeper now that you’ve had few drinks.

No strunk person has ever conquered such a feat without slipping. You look down to check that your legs are still there…  Three hours later, you stumble out of Snowvalley. You fall down the steps, but are caught half way by their sticky surface: spilled shots and sick have saved your life… What the Flügel is happening?

You’re one of thousands of Internationals to slip, trip, and flip down Dutch stairs every day. And these other Internationals aren’t carrying drinks (some of the time)! If you want to move stuff in your house from downstairs to upstairs, forget it. Invent a pulley-system or something, because to climb Dutch stairs, you’re gonna need all fives (yes, including your chin to steady yourself as you grab the next ledge with your hands, feet, and anything else sturdy enough to hold your weight). Perhaps this is why so many of the Dutch are rock climbers…

But why are most Dutch stairs so suicidal—I mean, steep? Well, a number of reasons float around the packed corridors of Groningen Hospital’s A&E ward:

To prevent over-population: ever wondered why the Dutch are less concerned about their open-door policies than other European countries? They keep a top by making you foreigners drop…

To cut down on those pesky, abnormal ‘small’ genes going around: if the small people can’t climb the steps when the inevitable flood comes, then it’s ‘goodbye Germanic goblin genes’!

Well, I can tell you that, whilst the above may be true, the stupendously steep stairs that are commonplace in Dutch homes originated from a much stranger situation resulting, ultimately, from Dutch stinginess…of course!

Centuries ago, Dutch houses were taxed according to their width; so, the wider the house, the bigger the bills. The Dutch responded by building slimmer houses and, after dropping a few belt sizes, compensated by also building taller houses. And just as the giraffe grew its neck to reach the fruit from the tops of the trees over 8 million years ago, so, too, did Dutch people grow to reach the bikes that hung precariously from rope above their stairs, strung higher than ever before.

So whilst the Dutch may not have mountains, they’re certainly savvy to ascending perilous, vertical climbs, even after a few drinks! Whereas the Dutch have serious staircase skills, however, us Internationals maintain l’esprit de l’escalier, even if we do hit a few on the way down…