Last Hurrah

Dutch Spirit
You may have noticed a lack of comment on the Euro Championship since my first post. That would have something to do with the fact that the Dutch team, although considered a favourite to do well, has yet to win either of the first two games in their group. It’s been painful, to say the least. They’re not officially out of it; there’s one more game to play tonight in the group round. However, the chances of us advancing are pretty slim and require a lot of other things to happen. Still, we’ll be watching this evening and keeping our fingers crossed. Kom op jongens! Laat de leeuw niet in z’n hempie staan!

Hup Holland Hup

Utrecht en de EK
The country is turning orange as everyone prepares for the Netherlands’ first game of the Euro 2012 tournament against Denmark this evening. Houses have been decorated — in some cases, completely wrapped in orange — and whole neighbourhoods are now decked with orange bunting, banners and more. This orange madness is called oranjegekte, and as the team progresses, so will the mania. During the World Cup, there were orange wigs, face paint, lion costumes (the lion is the symbol of the team), and much more.

We’re ready for the game tonight with some bitterballen, Dutch cheese, and orange-coloured tompouce for dessert. We’ll also be decked out in our own orange clothing and other accessories to cheer the team on to victory. The best part is that even if the Dutch don’t go all the way, based on how things were four years ago during the same tournament, the festive spirit will continue. It looks to be a fun few weeks.

Café de Potdeksel

World Cup Madness

Orange Flags
It’s arrived. The day of the World Cup final match, and the Dutch are playing tonight, hoping to win their first World Cup title. Oranjegekte (Orange Madness/Fever) is everywhere, with most people on the streets wearing some orange somewhere.

Oranjegekte [Day 184/365]We’ve been somewhat superstitious throughout the tournament, wearing the same outfits and same bits and pieces of orange, usually in the form of a Beesie or four. I’ve got a bracelet I made from some Beesies, and since it’s also been unusually hot recently, I’ve been using Beesies to pull my hair back in bunches. I’ve also got my orange scarf with a few Beesies wrapped around it.

G has his orange shirt and a Beesie that he tends to wear hooked over his ear. We’re ready to go, even though I don’t want it all to be over. The celebrations and festivities and cheerfulness that I’ve seen so far have been so very fun. I don’t know what we’ll do with ourselves once it’s all over!

So wherever you are, wear some orange and support the Dutch team today. I want to see what it’s like to live in a country that has just won the World Cup! It’s been fascinating just seeing the celebrations through the various stages.

Hup Holland Hup!

Beesie Madness

Beesie Bouquet
It’s time for another World Cup-related post! The Netherlands plays Cameroon today in the last of the group matches. We’re pretty much set to go through unless some drastic mathematical events take place. Still, I’m hoping for a good game and a clear win today. We’re one of the few nations that have consistently won. (In a side note, I’m glad that the US has made it through, but wish they hadn’t waited until almost literally the last minute!)

Albert Heijn, one of the major grocery store chains here, has been giving out little toys with every €15 purchase. The toys are known as Beesies and they come in orange, red, white, and blue, natuurlijk. We’ve ended up with quite a few, so I had some fun with them the other day. First up was the Beesie Bouquet above. I took one of my tins and arranged the Beesies with the orange ones on the outside and the red, white, and blue ones in the center. It currently sits in our front window and has caught the attention of a few passing children. Then I started playing around with a couple of them on their own. They tend to remind me of Beaker from The Muppets, with their often startled faces.
Startled Beesies [Day 170/365]
I also had a couple of them checking out our predictions for how the World Cup would go. A few predictions obviously shocked one of them, but the other was quite pleased with our predictions for the Netherlands.
Betting Beesies
Winners and Losers
Nederland For the Win
There’s a group on Flickr devoted to photos of Beesies in all sorts of spots. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Woordenboek Woensdag: Rust

Just a quick posting that sort of follows up on last week’s discussion of rustig vs. stil. While walking down Nachtegaalstraat the other day, I saw a sign in front of a store offering massages. At the top of the sign, it said, “Even Rust“. Having recently learned the phrase for “just looking” when shopping — Ik kijk even rond — I took that bit of info and combined it with my familiarity with rustig, and decided that even rust means something like “just relax”. If I’m horribly wrong, let me know.

Appropriately, my dictionary also lists rust as being a term for a sport’s half-time/interval. Since the rust of the football matches I’m watching are over, I’ve got to run. It’s hard to feel any rust when the US needs to win its match against Algeria if the team is to go through to the next round.

Oranje Update

Hup Holland Hup
Goodness! I’ve gone two whole posts without anything World Cup related! (I’m sure some of you enjoyed the respite.) Some people found my blog yesterday after searching for photos of Dutch fans, so I figure I might as well make some people happy! During halftime of the Netherlands-Japan match yesterday, we took Pippo out for a break and I snapped a few shots of the large orange crowds at the various cafés and bars in the neighborhood. The orange pennants were a surprise to me, since they hadn’t been up when we went out earlier that morning for groceries. Also a surprise was the temperature. It was downright cold! It’s winter in the southern hemisphere where the games are taking place, not here! I was wearing my orange scarf, both for team support and for warmth!

I do love seeing all the orange and the fun ways people dress up to show their support for the Dutch team. It seems to be working, since Holland won their match 1-0 against Japan. Unless something drastic happens, we should be through to the next round now. Hup Holland Hup! With that thought, I’ll leave you with a few more shots of the Dutch supporters and the decorations around the neighborhood. FYI, the lion is the symbol of the Dutch team.
Dutch Fans
Oranje Everywhere
Neighborhood
Half Time
Dutch Spirit
Welpie and Vuvuzela [Day 167/365]

William and the Oranje


Dutch-related songs seem to have been the theme of the day yesterday, although Amanda took a more high-brow approach than I did. She went with the Dutch national anthem, which it turns out is the oldest national anthem and perhaps one of the longest, weighing in with 15 verses! Fortunately, they only seem to sing one or two at most.

Giovanni and I practiced the national anthem — it’s surprisingly difficult to get the word timing right — before heading out to the Potdeksel to see the Dutch football team take on Paraguay. We were excited to get a chance to blend in by singing along with the anthem. Once you get used to it, it’s quite fun. The last line is the most fun to really belt out at the end, although it’s kind of funny to think of the Dutch pledging any sort of loyalty to the Spanish in this day and age. I can’t help but hope the Netherlands and Spain don’t come up against each other at some point in the World Cup!

As for the match itself, we watched the somewhat lackluster first half at the Potdeksel before returning home for the second half. We had been perched on a couple of stools next to one of the speakers and were getting deaf in one ear. We were also watching the pull-down screen at an angle, so the shaded parts of the pitch were almost impossible to see and the Dutch were going to be aiming for the goal in the shaded side for the second half. If you care, you probably already know that the Dutch ultimately won the match 2-0, after the Danes gifted us with an own-goal, and then eventually Dirk Kuyt finally scored for the Netherlands. The team started to look much better toward the end of the second half and hopefully the next couple of matches won’t be so angsty for the Dutch fans!

Oranje

It was fun to hear somewhat universal cheers going up all over the neighborhood as the Dutch team had a few close chances and also finally scored. After the match, it was like Queen’s Day all over again, with people out in orange in full force throughout the streets. A change from the ghost town most of the country turned into during the match itself.

Orange Everywhere

Oh yeah, Italy managed a tie in their first match yesterday. We were pleasantly surprised.

Viva Hollandia!

Today is the Netherlands’ first match of the World Cup. We’ll be playing against Denmark this afternoon. Seemingly half the country is either taking the day off work to watch the match, or they’ll be watching at work. Basically, if you’re trying to get in touch with anyone in the Netherlands today between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. CET, don’t bother. Sure, there are a handful of people not interested, but they probably won’t be able to hear past all the cheering and yelling anyway.

Viva Hollandia by Wolter Kroes is an older song, but it’s still gotten a lot of play recently. It’s timeless, I suppose! In fact, I could hear it being played somewhere last night as I was trying to go to sleep, so I ended up with the song in my head when I woke up this morning. I figured I might as well share it with you all. Most likely, we’ll hear it again today when we head to the Potdeksel to watch the game — if we get seats. The Potdeksel isn’t usually open on Mondays, but they’re opening early for today’s match. I think just about any bar and restaurant with a tv will be open today and showing the match. For those without access to a tv, but with internet, NOS, the Dutch channel showing the game, is going to be pumping out 120,000 live streams of the match. Internet might be a bit slow this afternoon as a result.

Let the real games begin! Wear some orange today and cheer on the Dutch team. Hup Holland Hup!

Click here if the embeded video doesn’t work or show up.

World Cup Fever

Hup Holland Hup [Day 154/365]
The World Cup starts this Friday! The Netherlands is slowly turning orange as everyone starts decorating for the festivities. Shops, cafés, houses … Everyone is getting into the spirit and showing their orange. This is one of the window displays at a café on Voorstraat. It’s the same place that had the cute bunny display at Easter. I’ve yet to go inside the café, but I always enjoy their window displays.

I have a handful of countries I cheer for at the World Cup, with varying degrees of success. I can’t help but cheer for the US, of course, but I never expect them to do particularly well. Still, they’ve improved over the years, so hopefully they’ll have a decent showing this year. Because of family, I also cheer for England/Scotland (on the rare occasion Scotland makes it to the WC). I’ve been a fan of Italy for a while now, even before meeting my boyfriend. I started cheering for them in the ’94 WC (poor Baggio!). Italy is the current reigning WC champion, but I don’t see them doing well this year at all. Lippi has made some lousy choices. Fortunately, Holland has a good team this year, at least in theory. They’ve got some excellent players like Robben (please let the hamstring injury not be an issue!), Sneijder, and Van Persie, just to name a few. I’d love to see Holland go far in the tournament, even better if they finally win!

It was quite the party here two years ago for the European Cup, so I can only imagine what it will be like for the World Cup! I can’t wait! Hup Holland Hup!
Waiting for the World Cup

Giro D’Italia in Utrecht

25 To Go
Just a quick follow-up on the Giro D’Italia that came through Utrecht yesterday. Around mid-day I took Pippo out for his mid-day break and saw that the excitement was definitely starting to build. More and more people were out, especially for a Sunday, and the barriers were out lining the main street through town, down which the racers would pass. All, and I do mean all, of the Italian shops were open and making the most of it! Italian flags were flying, banners were out, specials were on offer. Even our Italian neighbors had hung the Italian flag outside their window. (G’s not that patriotic, so we have no flag to fly.)

A little later, G and I went out to wander around a bit further and see what was going on down at the Neude. We saw the 25km-to-go marker (above) over by Janskerkhof and as the road was still open to cyclists, many people passing under the 25km gate seemed to enjoy pretending a moment of greatness, riding through it with arms in the air. Further down, we found a huge crowd of all ages over at the Neude. There were lots of Red Bull marketing items, including some sort of bouncy toy for kids, but there were also beer stands for the adults. ;) Naturally, there was a large screen so that people could watch the race while enjoying the festivities.
Neude Feest
We didn’t stick around for long, though, because Italian that he is, G wanted to get back home to see the Bologna football (soccer) match that was on that afternoon. It was an important match, after all; Bologna secured its spot in Serie A for next season and doesn’t have to worry about relegation now. It was a close thing. So while he was stressing over the Bologna match, I was watching the bicycle race on tv with my parents. The race would be passing by the end of our street, so I wanted to keep a close eye to make sure I could get down there in time to watch, but still be able to watch most of it on tv. As they got closer, I set the tv to record and finally with about a minute to go, G, my dad and I hurried down the street and then rushed to find a free spot in order to see the racers speed by.
Giro D'Italia

Chase Group

Go Speed Racer
Lousy photos, I know, and that was with the sports/action setting turned on! They went so fast! Watching tv, it looked like there were a lot more of them, but when they passed in person, it looked like a much smaller group. We really did see all of them, though! Blink and you’d miss them is what it felt like. We were surprised at just how fast it was; we were also surprised at just how many support vehicles bring up the rear! I got video of the last few racers and most of the support vehicles, along with a few shots of the helicopters hovering overhead.

Unfortunately, despite recording it, we didn’t get to see the part we were at on tv, because one of the racers had fallen earlier and they were showing him rather than the tiny bit where we were! Still, we recognized Biltstraat and some of the other areas in town, which was kind of exciting.

One of my favorite moments of the whole experience is probably when the last two police went past on bicycle. All of the racers and support vehicles and everything else had gone by, and then these two lone police officers rode past and as they approached, the crowd started cheering in much the same way as they did when the racers themselves arrived. It was a nice moment of group-think humor and even the police seemed to get a laugh out of it.