Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy 2008 from Amsterdam!

This could be any street corner in the city last night/this morning.

The Dutch love their fireworks. NOS reported 176 hospital visits due to firework injuries in A'dam, R'dam, The Hague, and Utrecht alone.

I felt there was also a little violence in the air, and various news programs today are backing that up (as well as showing amazing footage of an old building on the Herengracht, central Amsterdam, burning down).

It's like, this is a country full of people are so repressed that when they get a chance to misbehave, they want to go nuts.

Actually, I guess it was that way in Paris too, around "La Republique," during their summer "City of Light" festival.

The location is Ceintuurbaan and Hemonystraat, one street over from the Amstel River, between "Taco Mundo" and "Cafe Bloemers."

Despite the poor footage, I was completely sober.


Laura K. said...

I HATE New Yrs fireworks in this country! Hope they blow their hands off and learn some lessons!

So how do you handle it for the kids? Every year since our son was born we were terrified it would wake him up.. it didn't (I guess God loved me lol)...but every year I DO hear other babies screaming and it pisses me off.

I prefer the 4th of July in America. It's done earlier in the night, scheduled in a way you only look in one direction, handled by pros, etc.

I also hate this time of year (Xmas and New Yrs) because everyone raids the stores of all food like we'll all be bombed or something. One day I couldn't find LETTUCE.. another they were out of MEAT and MILK. Crazy. I don't mention bread because sheesh if you want bread you better hit the store before noon or you're SOL! When I do manage to get to the store and buy bread I buy it bulk and freeze in for fear they won't have it when we need it. I wonder if others are doing this too, would explain a lot!

Toby Sterling said...


It seems like there's a lot of agreement, even among the Dutch, that things are getting out of hands with the fireworks.

Wouldn't the REAL Dutch thing to do be, organize a city fire display (the way it usually is in the U.S.?).

I don't have a problem with people having fireworks, but when there's too much of it in a small space like Dutch city centers, people are bound to get hurt.

For whatever reason, the kids I know don't really seem that bothered / just sleep through it.

I'm really worried my son is going to turn out a pyromaniac (though I have to admit I was a bit of one as well when I was a boy).

Mostly it's the firecrackers I hate ... fireworks are great, up in the sky where they belong. But plain old noisemakers that go "bang" and nothing else, I just don't see the fun in them.

As far as the plundering and pillaging of grocery stores before every holiday, I have a theory. Maybe one of these days I'll write it up, but the basic idea is

1) small Dutch 'fridgerators ---->
2) culture where you go to the store almost every day for fresh food --->
3) stores have no infrastructure to hold extra supplies on holidays
Stores run out.

The situation is made worse because as you point out
4) people who have been shafted in the past now stock up 15 times more than they normally would
5) Absolutely no stores open on holidays. In the U.S., there's always someone who stays open just to make a buck.

Laura K. said...

We actually enjoy the fireworks right at the stroke of midnight, but then it gets crazy within oh, 10 minutes? You can't even SEE the show because of all the damn smoke!

I hear your points on the groceries.. I have noticed that more people here have decent size fridges and we got a new one in 2005 that's bigger. It sure was nice of the realtor showing our place a few months ago mentioning to a potential buyer that the big fridge is not included but the teeny built in one we don't use IS.. that since I AMERICAN I need a big one. That was really insulting. We're big milk drinkers, even my dutch husband and we needed space to feed our milk habit for 3 people, plus the built in one was a major energy sucker! This new one saves us money in the end.

I get so mad at stores truly though.. one here is a Jumbo (HAHAHAHA nice name) that's SO small only one cart at a time can go down an aisle!!! Naturally it's one of the cheaper stores so it's always busy and there's lots of annoying glares going all around.

Yeah AH costs a lot but it's worth it for less stress... I hate going to 2-3 stores to buy what I need. The Jan Linders has this and the Plus has that.. AHHHH

I assume they just don't restock shelves. When it's gone, you come back tomorrow if you want it, yet I will always have STOCKERS in my way at stores and it makes me wonder what on earth are they actually doing? Pretending?

I don't like to go to the grocery store every day, it's already stressful enough and the more I go, the more money I seem to spend so I'd rather buy for 2-3 days and STAY OUT until we need something.

The other day I was just SO pissed off at Plus. It was bad weather, I couldn't go to another store with my 4 yr old and didn't want to either. I'm on a bike or on foot since I don't drive and husband was working... even so it is faster to walk to our local stores because you end up parking so far away anyhow. Ok so I needed to buy milk. Would you believe even with a stockboy filling the milk section there was NO MILK.. PERIOD. I made a few casual comments to my son loud enough for him to hear. Wow no milk! How can they not have milk? Finally I sighed and did without. In America we'd just tell the stockboy we need it and he'd have to in the back and get it. Not here. You would think they could see the money potential of actually keeping shelves stocked!

So I'm ranting and I had a really bad dad with the bus system.. I may blog about it as it was that bad. I'm debating about making my own blog about living here, it would be filled with loads of whines and complaining about living here, the people (mainly husband's MOTHER), etc. I def. have a great first post!

Anonymous said...

Toby: Whilst toasting in the new year I consumed a Heineken beer and began wondering if you ever determined why Heineken tastes better in Europe than in the U.S. Do you have a theory about this?

Toby Sterling said...


I kind of hit a wall with Heineken: they deny the phenomenon outright.

That leaves us up to our own devices to figure out the answer; my leading candidate theory is that it takes a long time to get Heineken on the shelves in the U.S. (which Heineken also specifically denies).

I do believe them that all the beer is made here though.

I'm open to suggestions if you can think of a way I could do some sleuthing.

Secondarily, I see your handle is "Monkeyman." Did you see the latest monkey-bashing story out of India? Apparently they're going to pay unemployed youth to sterilize monkeys.

What could possibly go wrong?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wisdom vis a vis Heineken. I believe as the "Oracle of Amsterdam" you might want to ponder this in a more expansive post. Just a suggestion from one of your simian fans. And yes, monkeys increasingly get no respect!!!!