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Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

So much is going on that I need to just get you up to date in one fell swoop! So here we go…

1) The elections: the “libertarian lite” VVD party won (31 seats), followed by Labor (30 seats) and then… gasp!… the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam PVV (24 seats, up from 8!). There was no majority, so coalition talks started with the VVD, PVV and the centre-right CDA (that lost big, from 41 to 20 seats). Those talks fell apart last Thursday, opening the door for new talks between the VVD (“libertarian lite”), Labor, D66 (also a “libertarian lite” party, but more left wing) and the Green Party. It’s unclear if these talk will succeed as the VVD and Labor (and D66 and the Greens) have some very different ideas about how to run the economy. But let me tell you, I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that talks with the PVV were over. For now. But I’ll take it.

UPDATE: Ok, apparently as soon as I posted this (literally… like 2 minutes later) news came through that the talks between the VVD, Labor, D66 and the Green party failed. Now what??

2) The World Cup!!! Netherlands has played two of their three group play games. The first against Denmark was a 2-0 win… one of those goals as a DK own goal, oops. I watched that match in a bar downtown and it was super fun! The place just erupted when the Dutch scored! It was so loud in fact that you couldn’t even hear the vuvuzelas on tv! Haha. The second match against Japan was a nail biter. NL won 1-0, but there were a few scary shots on goal by the Japanese toward the end of the match. I watched this match in the airport in Denmark. I think I was probably the only Dutch fan there (I was certainly the only conspicuous Dutch fan, decked out in orange). A few people clapped when the Dutch scored, but I really let out a “Yeahhhhhhhhh!” with an enormous fist pump. Apparently Denmark was not the place to root for the Netherlands, given the Danes’ loss to NL in the previous match. Oh well. The Dutch are successfully through to the elimination round, but do have another match on Thursday.

Oh, and apparently the US are playing in this tournament as well? I did see the first match against England, but I’ve basically forgotten about them as I’ve been swept up by Oranje fever!

3) Why was I in an airport in Denmark, you ask? Well, last weekend I headed up to Lund, Sweden for the Nordic Demographic Symposium. It was good fun, professionally and personally. I gave a talk that was well received and was able to catch up with all of my friends and colleagues from Stockholm University and Statistics Norway. The only disappointment, the folks in Southern Sweden really weren’t as enthusiastic about the royal wedding as I had hoped. Indeed, on Saturday afternoon Crown Princess Victoria married her personal-trainer-turned-sweetheart. Although the ceremony was private, there were a number of public events in Stockholm and people turned out in droves to see the Princess and new Prince. I had hoped to score a tea-tray or coffee mug with a photo of the royal couple (or something equally tacky… royal china?), but the demands of the conference and world cup watching left little room in my schedule. Tyvärr.


Prolineserver 2010,
Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0)

4) Nearly 2 weeks until I head to the States for the big move out! OMG, I am hyperventilating. But I am very excited to see friends and family!

5) I saw the Hold Steady at Melkweg last night. Again, a great band in a small venue! These guys are such rockers! Their songs are all about rocking out and being young and living like they’re no tomorrow and loving every moment of it. A typical theme might be, for example: being 16 years old, at a music festival and it’s hot and dusty and everyone’s drinking, smoking and maybe even doing drugs (if that’s your thing) and you’re having the time of your life and you love EVERYONE and particularly that guy over there with the messy hair (wow, he’s cute) and the Hold Steady are on stage totally rocking out and they are singing a song about being 16 years old, at a music festival and it’s hot and dusty and everyone’s drinking, smoking and maybe even doing drugs (if that’s your thing) and you’re having the time of your life and you love EVERYONE and particularly that girl over there who is checking out you (wow, she’s cute). To me, this is the Hold Steady. And I think they’re fantastic.

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World Cup fever is raging here in the Netherlands. I have been totally remiss in documenting the build-up to the first match (NL 2 – DK 0!), but the country is just covered in flags, signs, banners and pendants in red, white, blue and orange. A week ago we went for a drive around Wouter’s old neighborhood… and I mean ooooooold neighborhood, where he was born and lived until he was 3. The houses were totally decked out for the upcoming tournament. After seeing this, it seems funny to me that people would think that Americans go crazy/weird decorating their houses with lights in December. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera handy to document any of it.

But, as luck would have it, I am not the only expat blogger to notice how nutty things are getting around here. And so I bring you Isabella’s fantastic YouTube creation “Go Holland Go!”

In the first part of the video Isabella documents some of these “Super Fan” neighborhoods. In the following section you’ll see a wide array of adverts featuring orange products.

No surprise, companies develop all sorts of “Oranje”-themed gimmicks to get people into their stores around the World Cup. The top grossing crap items so far this year are furry little caterpillar-looking things called Beesies at Albert Heijn grocery stores (you get one free for every €15 you spend… we might have two already) and an orange dress produced by Bavaria beer. Apparently the dresses are causing a stir at World Cup matches in South Africa.  FIFA officials had 36 Bavaria-dress clad Dutch female fans ejected from the Netherlands-Denmark match, accusing them of ambush marketing. Never mind that the women didn’t work for Bavaria and the dresses didn’t have any Bavaria branding on them. (UPDATE: Now it’s come out that Bavaria did pay for the tickets, accommodation and travel costs of the ladies! Ooo, scandal! Here’s a link to the story (in Dutch).) A similar incident occurred at the tournament in 2006, when officials forced fans wearing Bavaria-branded orange lederhosen to strip. Well, no matter. You really can’t keep the “Orange Army” down.

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Some fun facts:

Hm… while this last one may be statistically accurate, I didn’t feel that way the first time I cycled in Dutch rush hour.

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It is amazing how much stuff there is to do when one lives in a world-class city. Sure, no matter the size of the city, there is always something to do– it’s only a matter of keeping your eyes peeled. But it seems like fun just finds me here– like this Sunday when a world-class bike race just happened to come within 3 blocks of my house!

Tête de la course in the Victorieplein! The Giro visits the 'hood!8 (Farrar, later to win!)

This year the first three stages of the Giro d’Italia took place in the Netherlands. No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that the Tour of Italy should make a quick visit to the Lowlands, but I’m not going to argue! State 1, the opening time trial (pdf), took place in Amsterdam, beginning at Museumplein, winding around through the city, over canals and the Amstel (and right passed your hotel, Mom!) before ending up at the Olympic stadium. Stage 2, from Amsterdam to Utrecht (pdf), was a wild ride with loads of crashing, but an American at the front at the end of the day! This was the stage that visited the neighborhood– as a result of continuing knee problems, I was out of commission, but Wouter got out there to take some photos! And finally Stage 3 on Monday started in Zuidas, just outside of the Zuid train station, before heading south along the North Sea to Middelburg in Zeeland, the south-western tip of Holland. Stage 3 (pdf) was another bruiser, with heavy crosswinds coming off the sea and another big crash with 10km to go, making a total mess out of the general classification. I feel a bit bad– these fragile Italian racers, high-strung but with sensitive temperaments, probably weren’t prepared for such chaos in what they though would be a leisurely jaunt up to Holland before the real racing began in Italy. Haha, it takes a different kind to race in the Lowlands, boys!

Jerseys Il Diavolo! The Giro's littlest fan. A bit of Dutch w/ your Italian Bike Race?

Despite continuing knee problems, I wasn’t about to let Dutch Giromania pass me by so I carefully (and somewhat painfully) made my way over to Zuidas for the start of yesterday’s stage. It was quite a show– loads of bikes, pink everywhere and great turnout among the Dutch fans, even if it was the middle of a Monday morning. This was the first time I’d attended a bike race as merely a spectator since my days hanging with the Mavic boys, but it was great fun. Apart from the sponsor tents, everything was open access. Fans walked up and down between the team buses while the racers warmed up. The riders were glad to offer up autographs and had extended chats with the emcee at the sign in. Apart from fences around the start, the course was 100% open and the race staff seemed more than happy to let us edge in a bit to snap photos. Racing in Europe really is different!

Simoni signs in1 Evans turns the sky pink3 Cadel Evans in La Rosa

So that was it, the Giro has come and gone from Holland. But the Grand Tours still have a lot more love to show to the Dutch in 2010– Le Tour 2010 in Rotterdam, baby! Bring it on!

And they're off...3 Rabobank Just another day at the office...

See the whole photoset on Flickr.

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On Wednesday (March 3rd, for those of you scoring me on truancy ), Wouter and I attended a friendly soccer match between the United States and the Netherlands national teams. One of my “life list” goals was to see the Dutch National Team (or, in Dutch, Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond) play a match in the Amsterdam ArenA stadium (home to the Amsterdam soccer team Ajax). I really couldn’t have guessed that I would be able to migrate this item to my “30-before-30” list and check it off this soon. Rad.

Woo! 30-before-30, check!

In typically Dutch style, we traveled to the stadium by bicycle and I was reminded again that Wouter really lives in a fantastic location– 15 minutes from the city center (by bike), 20 minutes from Schiphol airport (by bike and train), 15 minutes from the soccer stadium (by bike) and, best of all, 20 minutes from IKEA (by bike)!

The stadium was lively– crowds poured in, dodging vendors selling “American-style” hot dogs and Dutch team paraphernalia– but not too lively– it was an alcohol free event (sad). Unsurprisingly, nearly everyone was a Dutch fan and, even though it was a friendly match, they really brought their A-game. These fans could give Badger fans a run for their money. Orange wigs, orange face paint, orange overalls, lion suits, orange viking helmets, mini orange flags to wave, huge Dutch flags to wave, chests painted orange, big orange bass drums to beat ominously and… if you’ve been following my coverage of Sinterklaas you’ll know how crazy this makes me… even a group dressed up as Dutch 88 European Cup star Ruud Gullit, complete with dreadlocks and face paint. (Sorry, I couldn’t get a better picture (bottom). But oh how cultural symbolism can vary from place to place. Appreciation of cultural differences FAIL on my part.)

Superfans 1Superfans 2Superfans 3

The American fans also had a good showing. In particular, one entire section was bought out by fans of team USA. Whenever the Dutch fans took a break from singing and shouting, you could clearly make out chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” coming from across the field.

I’m quite proud of team USA. Despite an embarrassingly flagrant foul in the penalty box (resulting in a penalty kick and 1 – 0 NL) and a further embarrassingly flagrant handball in the penalty box five minutes later (no call, I’m assuming some sort of pity rule applied), the Americans held their own… even scoring in the 88′! Let’s hear it for NOT a shutout!

Come on USA! Do something awesome! 2The contendersAmsterdam ArenA

Given that it was a friendly match, neither team really played their best. But it was still great to get a feel for Dutch football and Dutch football fans, get a little taste of home, and soak it all up in the famed Amsterdam ArenA.

You can see a little more of the action here (thanks to pijnacker01 on YouTube). Some highlights: the penalty kick at 30″ and the following Dutch gloating celebrating; the American player sacrificing his body for a save around 2’05” (and the Dutch player being like “Puh-leeeeeze!”):

P.S. Badger fans: ArenA (capacity 51,715) is smaller than Camp Randall (capacity 80,321)! Ha ha!

P.P.S. Brought home a souvenir.

Souvenir from the match!

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No, this isn’t going to be a long-winded comparison between the two countries. Nor will it be a short-winded comparison.

Wout got us tickets to see the Netherlands and the United States play football/soccer at Amsterdam ArenA on March 3rd!

Would dressing all in red-white-and-blue and donning an American flag cape be too much?

(Whoa, I would never have thought that I would ever don an item of clothing with an American flag on it. And now it might happen.)

NL vs. USA Photo

photo © Amsterdam ArenA

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