The winter blahs are kicking my butt big time this week. The early darkness, the grey weather, the early darkness … Yeah, the dark is getting to me, in particular. I miss the extended daylight hours of the summer, even if it means it’s fairly light at 5 a.m. That’s better than full-on darkness at 5 p.m. Now if only we could combine the longer days of summer with the cooler temperatures of autumn/winter. Hey, a girl can dream!
The only plus to the early darkness means that I should be able to get out and see more of the Trajectum Lumen light displays around town. They started this summer right at the point where you had to wait until almost 11 p.m. to really see them properly. At least now we’ll be able to go out at a decent hour to enjoy the spectacle.
The 2010 edition of the Winter Olympics is now finished. What on earth will we watch in the evenings? I’ve seen more ski jumping and cross-country skating that I ever have before. Watching the Eurosport channel’s coverage of the Olympics is much different from watching the NBC coverage in the US. You get to see whole competitions instead of just a few bits and pieces. On the other hand, sometimes you end up missing whole sports. One thing that they didn’t seem to focus on quite as much was speed skating. You have to understand that for the Dutch, not focusing on speed skating is like not focusing on hockey in Canada. Skating is huge here!
Even if you’re not Dutch, you probably heard about poor Sven Kramer’s disaster in one of the races when his coach pointed him into the wrong lane. Poor Sven! A nation was heart-broken! Even I felt bad for the guy. And yes, I did know who he was before the Olympics. That’s how famous he is here. I like to think of that as another step in my unofficial inburgering (integration).
Friday night, at the Potdeksel, the tv came on for the speed skating and snowboarding events in which the Dutch were taking place. Everyone stopped to watch. Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom, giving the Dutch their 100th winter Olympic medal! Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the men’s team pursuit skating event. Worst of all, it came down to the Netherlands vs USA to see who would go to the finals. I was actually cheering for the Dutch team against the US team, even though it was the US team that eventually won the challenge. Surely, I must truly be integrating.
To be honest, I found myself somewhat removed from cheering for the US athletes in general. To be fair, that was the only time I was cheering against them, and there were plenty of times I wanted them to win. But I just didn’t feel a strong connection this time around. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the coverage I was watching was fairly neutral and not the big USA love-fest that I grew up watching. Perhaps it’s also because I’m trying to make my home here now. I’m not saying that we’ll never move back to the States, but it’s also not something that we’re honestly planning for the future, either.
Do I feel guilty for not feeling more patriotic? A bit. Mainly, I prefer to be multi-patriotic.
This photo was taken last March. Right now it doesn’t feel like it will ever look like this again. This area is cold, grey and still covered with a bit of icy residue at the moment, but I saw a little flower bud trying to push through the ice this week. I’m hoping that a few more weeks will bring about a big change, although at this point, I’ll settle for a bit of sunshine! Bring on spring!
Junior home affairs minister Ank Bijleveld has rejected a call from two Labour MPs for the forthcoming local elections to be postponed because it is too cold.
According to website nu.nl, MPs Pierre Heijnen and Paul Kalma wrote to the minister, saying it is too cold to campaign.
The local elections traditionally take place in March and the MPs also asked the minister to commission research into the likely effect of a switch to a warmer month.
Labour’s youth wing described the MPs request as stupid. ‘As far as we are concerned, they can go and campaign among Dutch holiday makers in Benidorm,’ said youth wing chairman Mohammed Mohandis. ‘We’ve got the tickets ready and the return flight is March 4.’ The local elections take place on March 3.
The Socialist Party has offered Labour campaigners 500 hats to help them cope with the cold.
Taken yesterday morning, this is a detail of the kerstboom (Christmas tree) that stands outside the front of the Café de Potdeksel. I thought it looked so pretty with the snow on the branches and the apples. The apples are leftover from the filming of a music video a few weeks ago. What started off as a joke among some of our friends has turned into a full-fledged song and video and it’s even available on iTunes. (The money goes to The Dutch Liver Foundation charity, so go ahead and spend 99 cents to do a good deed for the day.) Go check out Christmas in Cupertino.
Germany isn’t the only place to have Christmas markets; The Netherlands has it’s fair share of them and we went to one of them yesterday here in Utrecht. De Kerstmarkt in de Twijnstraat (The Christmas market in Twijnstraat) was a one-day event down in the southern tip of the city center. We weren’t really going to do any shopping, we just wanted to get out and enjoy the sights, particularly as the weather was clearer than it has been in a while, although it was quite a bit colder than it’s been so far this winter.
As you can see, the sun was out and shining brightly. This wasn’t late afternoon, though, despite the long shadows. Nope, this was shortly after noon. Of course, when the sun sets around 4 p.m., I guess noon could be considered late afternoon.
This was one of the more surprising scenes we saw. Quite realistic, isn’t it! Although, in this case, it was the dog that I was really trying to get a photo of, because he was just adorable and so calm and placid. There were lots of dogs about, so I think it was a good idea we didn’t take Pippo with us. I think he would have been overwhelmed! I saw a few dogs sniffing closely at some of the food stalls, as it was.
The stalls were a mix of food, Christmas decorations, and random odds and ends. There were some nice star decorations that I’m kind of wishing we’d bought now. Some of the stalls like the one above were representing the shops they were standing before. In this case, it was an Italian delicatessen. I think I read that Twijnstraat is the oldest shopping street in Utrecht, and there were certainly a number of interesting shops that I’d like to go back and visit. One of them is the butcher that was selling these sausages:
Of course, it’s not a Christmas market without some glühwein (mulled wine). There were plenty of stalls selling vats of the stuff. We couldn’t resist and soon had a cup warming our hands (and our insides). There’s just something so gezellig about a cup of glühwein on a chilly afternoon!