On the Road

On the Road: 2002

Maatterlandia: Random Notes

It was a treat to hang out at O'Reilly's, a full-blown Irish pub (and "World Cup Headquarters") in Amsterdam on game day when Ireland played Spain in the World Cup's Round of 16. It was madness: People were packed into the place, with the spilling out on to the street, standing on chairs and groping around the doors to try to get a peek inside at the TV screens. In a strange twist, everybody was so enamored with the game, there were plenty of tables and chairs outside to have a proper pint.
At one point a newcomer asked who was winning and the Irish waiter replied, "Ireland. It's one-all." That's the spirit! It's a shame we didn't advance to the Quarterfinals.
Adding to the festivities, a couple carloads of ecstatic Senegalese drove by, the Senegal flag waving and horns honking. While Ireland were left behind, Senegal did advance to the next round.
: - )~
By the way, here's the offical World Cup site: http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com.
: - )~
Ahhh... Urinetown... Oops! I mean Amsterdam! Along the streets, in select locations, you will find old, metal, non-descript structures which are urinals. But there are also the "Dixi" port-a-urinals, which are blue plastic constructs, kinda like the port-a-loo, except specifically designed for... well, you know. In approximately the space of a single port-a-loo, the Dixi port-a-pee can service four males peeing in unison.
But, wouldn't you know it? There's never one around when you need one. I personally experienced that dilemma. One derelict chose to pee in the canal, quite openly and conspicuously, right by a bridge. He was drunk... or stoned... or both. It was 10:30 on a Saturday morning.
: - )~
Speaking of pee, some of the architecture in The Hague makes me ask, "Geez, what was the architect smoking?" We're working in a brand new building. The building forms an arch and crosses over the highway. The cafeteria is located in the arch, so during lunch, you can look out the window and see the traffic below. That's cool.
But somewhere along the way I guess some design sacrifices had to be made and they chose the bathrooms as the victim. Some of them just don't make sense. The ones along the inner part of the arch are curious; there's a glass-enclosed portion with a sink and mirror, and a small "catwalk" to simply look out the window. After you enter this room, you can close and lock the door behind you. But the toilet is located in a tiny little room within this room, with the door swinging inside the toilet's room. It's sooo cramped in there, you can't close the door. Weird.
: - )~
Slobodan Milosevic is in The Hague, down a couple blocks from where I'm working. He's on trial for his war crimes culminating in his recreation of the holocaust. It's that famous saying coming back to haunt the world, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." I'd really like to send Milo a message he'd never forget; a flip of the bird and a wad of spit in his face would be a good place to start. Eloquent? No. But why waste eloquence? I do hope I get the opportunity.
: - )~
The Europa Hotel is right off the beach, but even in June, it's pre-season and most days are overcast and sometimes even chilly. There was one brilliantly sunny and hot day. It was a Monday and it was the only day the tram from the office back to the beach was packed the entire way. Everybody hit the beach that night.
: - )~
The beach features all sorts of overpriced restaurants. One night I chose Big Bell (which has Big Ben in its logo). They feature live music by The Pipos in the evenings. They're basically a Korean (?) all-girl cover band and they played a surprising range of hits, including tunes by Billy Ray Cyrus, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, The Corrs, and Madonna. The drummer had a platinum-blonde butch cut. And they had a groupie - an old, chain-smoking suit who clapped along, tapped his feet, and pointed at each girl as he danced solo.
: - )~
I'm out here spending euros and no longer concerned about converting Dutch guilders to French francs or vice versa. The currency just started circulating in January. Not even a full six months later, the Finnish coins are already hot collectors' items because they were produced in smaller quantities.
After a rocky start, the euro is on par with the U.S. dollar at virtually a one-for-one exchange rate.
: - )~
Bombay Palace was the friendliest Indian restaurant I've ever been to. The owner chatted me up a bit and told me that when diplomats come to The Hague and want to eat Indian food, they come to his place. He even treated me to a beer on the house. That'll never happen in Denver. Location: Gevers Deynootstraat 16, 2586 HT Scheveningen. Phone: 070-3544382.
It's directly across the street from the Europa Hotel in The Hague.
: - )~
A slight tale of woe: Finding Guinness in The Hague can be tricky. Heineken is everywhere, naturally, and it was pure luck that I stumbled upon an Irish pub in The Centrum. In Amsterdam it's a whole different story. Many, many places have that brilliant beacon of civilization, the Guinness sign, proudly displayed as a welcome sign for those of us suffering from Arthuritis.
: - )~
So many choices in Amsterdam. In certain parts of town there are still "gentlemen" around eager to sell you crack, ecstasy, cocaine. You name it.
: - )~

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