This year the World Cup (soccer for the Americans among us) is being held in Qatar. The Netherlands is playing the Unites States shortly for a place in the quarter finals. (If you’re wondering, my allegiance is for the Dutchies.)
Due to the summer heat, the tournament was moved from the summer to the winter for 2022 only. This of course creates the unique opportunity to buy Dutch football Christmas ornaments:
Not to be out done, you can also buy football shaped bread at Albert Heijn:
You didn’t believe me, did you? Yes, they have football shaped bread. (I will wait for my Christmas tree bread, thanks.)
Lastly, if you’re at a local bar you can get free bittenballen with every goal the Duchies score against the Americans:
If you are wondering what bitterballen are, check out English Wikipedia. It’s basically a fried meat snack. The meat inside is a meat paste. You want to get high quality bitterballen so that you know the meat inside is also (hopefully) high quality.
Max Verstappen won the F1 world championship today, but not without a bit of controversy. Let me paint the picture for you: Verstappen and Hamilton (7 time world champion) went into the last race of the season tied in the points. Hamilton had control most of the race, but Max based him in the last lap of the race to win. To win!
But along the way there was a slight hiccup where Hamilton was racing Verstappen hard going into the corner and Hamilton decided to cut the corner, taking an illegal line and gaining an advantage and first place. The FIA (governing body) said they would not investigate further. Then there was an absolutely brilliant battle between Hamilton and the second Red Bull Racing driver, Checo Perez (YouTube). Due to pit strategy Perez was briefly in the lead, with Hamilton trying to pass him on new tires. Verstappen was about 7-8 seconds behind. Perez managed to hold Hamilton off for one lap, slowing him down so much that Verstappen caught up to both of them. Cue the Jaws music with two Red Bulls right behind Hamilton ready to pounce… But in the end Hamilton got away again. It was great to watch.
The end of the race saw pit strategy playing out again, with Verstappen going in for new tires during a late caution but putting him back a bit further in the pack. There were only a few laps left, and it looked like the race might end under yellow. And then the FIA (governing body) decided that only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen could unlap themselves so that the race could go green sooner, which went against the rules book. Things only got weirder from there. I believe there were complaints that Verstappen overtook Hamilton while the safety car was still on the track and unofficial complaints that Hamilton slowed down too much behind the safety car (the lead car can decide the pace and when to go, to an extent). In the end Verstappen passed Hamilton on the final lap and won the championship.
Mercedes (Hamilton’s team) has entered a two-part protest, and the FIA will deliver their ruling shortly. And I suspect if Mercedes doesn’t like the result they will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but it remains to be seen what happens then. The ruling that Verstappen illegally overtook Hamilton behind the safety car was thrown out in the last half hour and the final ruling about FIA only letting some cars unlap themselves before the final lap will occur shortly.
It was quite a surreal race, and not the way I wanted it to end. Hamilton was a class act with his response, gracious in defeat. It did remind me a bit of the podcast episode “The 1972 Olympic Men’s Basketball Final” from the podcast Everything Everywhere. At least in that this one will be talked about for a very long time, and the diehard fans for either side will probably keep supporting their side. But it is probably good that everyone can get a break for a few months. The 2022 season starts in March!
Max Verstappen just won the Dutch Grand Prix. Woohoo!
It was definitely a bit nerve-racking to watch. While he was leading most of the way, Lewis Hamilton was very close by. This was the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985. Originally the Netherlands had been awarded the race last year, but it was delayed for a year due to the corona crisis (the organizers didn’t want to hold the first race with no fans).
Above: lots of fireworks (above the Heineken banner which says “Turn up the Max!” and all along the track). The rest of the orange smoke is fans with orange smoke bombs. It’s interesting that you see a bit of orange smoke right by the track, meaning an official volunteer or similar also had a smoke bomb in their possession just for this moment…
Formula 1 is coming back to the Netherlands this year, the first time since 1985. It will be held in the dunes of Zandvoort. The race should have happened last year, however due to Covid-19 the Dutch Grand Prix organizers decided to pull out of the racing schedule rather than have a race without fans. Fast forward to this month, where the organizers are (cautiously) planning for 105,000 visitors a day on 2, 3 and 4 September.
My favorite part to read about is the preparations the national Dutch train company has put in place for this event. At the moment 2 to 6 trains arrive in Zandvoort (a beach town) every hour. During the F1 event, 12 trains will arrive every hour, one every 5 minutes. In that way 10,000 people can be transported to the race every hour. That infrastructure did not exist before the F1 deal was signed; it was built in the last few years. During the race weekend the area will all but be inaccessible by car – you would need a special pass to reach it, even if you are just trying to visit the beach. So, the train is definitely the way to go.
Zandvoort preparing for Grand Prix despite Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. There is of course a bit of uncertainty in the air, since last minute Covid restrictions could put a stop to the plans to be at full capacity. Since the Grand Prix is categorized as a sporting event and everyone has assigned seating, being at full capacity is currently allowed. That might change between now and the beginning of September, depending on how the Covid situation develops in the Netherlands. At the moment cases are decreasing at an average of 40-45% per week, so that is very good news. But you never know.
As you know, diehard Dutch fans are covered from head to toe in orange during major sporting events. Here is a photo Marco took a few weeks ago of someone walking down the street.
Note: I actually cropped this a bit to hide the dirty street. The photo is a bit blurry because they were actually further away.
Speaking of sporting events, Jumbo (a national grocery store) is under fire for their commercial (YouTube) advertising their European championship gear. The main sponsor is Albert Heijn, another grocery store. However Jumbo uses a song that is widely associated with the 2017 women’s team and the commercial features a parade which is also generally associated with Dutch national football. See also: Jumbo the winner in dispute with KNVB over Euro 2020 advertising from dutchnews.nl.
Around lunchtime today I went to The Guardian’s website to check the news. Instead, I see a white screen with a tiny error message. As I have done countless times over the years, I then went to to Down for Everyone or Just Me. The website reassured me that the error wasn’t just on my side. Around then work got crazy again, so I forgot about it for a while (until work was less crazy and I could actually make some lunch).
It turns out the error hit more than just The Guardian. See also this article: Massive internet outage hits websites including Amazon, gov.uk and Guardian from theguardian.com. The best part of the article? This quote: “The Guardian moved to Twitter to run a dedicated liveblog, while tech news site the Verge published news to a shared Google Doc – until a reporter accidentally shared a link on Twitter that allowed the audience to edit it.” Opps…?
Also, from dutchnews.nl: Zandvoort organisers expect 50,000 F1 fans to cycle to Grand Prix. In other words, park at a nearby parking lot and hop on a bike to get to the race track. This September, the Netherlands will be hosting the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 (!). It was supposed to happen last year but it was cancelled due to corona. The organizers rightfully did not want to hold the race without fans. I suspect there would have been huge riots if they had tried. The best part (even though it is not in the article)? There will also be a special bus line with the number #33 – aka, Max Verstappen’s number.
And from nltimes.nl: GGD Utrecht gives away 1,200 Covid-19 vaccines after power failure kills cold storage. The best part here? They had so many people show up they had to turn people away. Of course, the vaccines were first offered to healthcare workers or safety workers in the region and then the offer was opened to the public. It was 1,200 Janssen vaccines (J&J vaccines for any Americans reading this) so one shot was enough. The site brought in extra workers to manage the crowds and stayed open past midnight. Nicely done!
On Friday Marco and I cooked Kolhapuri chicken curry, a spicy, flavorful meal accompanied by naan bread. We found the recipe in our “Indian Food and Cooking” recipe book (Amazon.com link). The chicken joints were first marinated in yoghurt combined with chili powder, black paper, garlic, gram masala and more goodness. Top it off with some garnish (tomato, red pepper slices, fresh coriander) and you have a spicy treat.
Marco and I watched the Eurovision Song contest finale last night. We usually don’t–he watched begrudgingly but did get invested in the end. But since it was held in Rotterdam this year I wanted to watch. Article from nltimes.nl (note: spoilers).
Marco took this photo last week, hence the flowers for Remembrance Day on May 4.
The topo of the plaque reads “They leapt to death for our freedom”.
In other news, Ajax (the Dutch football champions) posted this video on Twitter. They melted the championship trophy into 42,000 stars to give to each of their season ticket holders as a thanks for their support over the last season. Each star weighed 3.45 grams.
If you answered “both”, why not try the new restaurant in The Hague’s city centre? Sushimex (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch) opened last month on the Korte Poten. The menu at thuisbezorgd.nl (in English) lists poké bowls, temaki, burritos, nachos, spring rolls, mozzarella sticks… it’s so crazy that I might just be interested.
The Dutch ministry of health has released their vacation plan:
When I went to the kitchen to clean up after dinner this evening I heard a strange noise. At first I thought it was water running, making me think it was raining outside. But no – I looked outside and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The ground was (relatively) dry.
…Until waves and waves of birds flew up over our apartment complex. Hundreds of birds, flying in undulating waves, this way and that. It looked like my own personal nature screensaver. After a few minutes most of them landed on the large tree on the other side of the apartment complex. It made me wonder: could those thin branches really could hold 8 to 10 birds without snapping? (I could not help thinking of Pixar’s short For the birds on Youtube.) I stood and watched for a while until they left. I mean, it is definitely better than washing dishes, right?
Unconfirmed rumor: Grand Prix to return to Zandvoort on 2 May 2021 from nltimes.nl. The first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 was supposed to be held this year, but was postponed due to the corona crisis. I suppose it is a rumor, but really – how could Zandvoort not be on the 2021 race calendar?