On 16 January, the Arcade hotel in Amsterdam will open its doors, the country’s first gaming hotel, where the Aalborg hotel in the De Pijp district used to be. The idea of a gaming hotel came from Montréal, Québec (where I’m from), and the owners promised to serve poutine, although I wonder how they will get the cheese curds for it because nobody makes that kind of cheese here.*
The rooms offer a lot of retro games, some that gamers can’t find as easily from Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft and they’ll be at least 10 kinds per room. And if that’s not enough, the lobby will also feature comic books as reading material, another favourite of new manager Daniel Salmanovich.
“Hotels always claim that they want to be a home away from home, but that’s nonsense. People want something different than what they have at home when they’re travelling. There’s enough hotels that offer pay-per-view and Netflix to their guests, and I wanted a hotel for people like me who relax with gaming.”
Salmanovich also says he’ll be offering poutine, Québec’s world-reknowned fast food dish, which newspaper Het Parool got wrong by saying it had ‘grated cheese’ (cheddar bits would have been more accurate), but called it a ‘unofficial national dish’, which means that the journalist has a better grasp of geopolitics than food.
*The Québec Delegation in Brussels, who represents the Benelux worked very hard to get a Belgian cheese maker to make 40 kg of cheese curds for the Québec national holiday parties on 24 June a few years ago.
The stop motion series ‘Pat a Mat’ from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek from 1976 to 2015 has a wildly popular Dutch version called ‘Buurman en Buurman’ (‘Neighbour and Neighbour’), two handymen getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. The fun part is they never get mad at each other, delighting children and parents alike, so much so that some people probably think it’s Dutch of origin.
Yesterday on the Dutch telelvision show ‘Jinek’ named after host Eva Jinek who happens to have a Czech background, theatre show creator Jelle Kuiper announced he had been given the green light to write 10 more episodes of the show in collaboration with the Czech makers for international distribution sometime in 2017. Kuiper was thrilled to be asked to do this, again highlighting the popularity of the Dutch version since it first appeared on television in 1986.
During Jinek, Kuiper explained that the Germans tried to launch the show three times and failed, something that surprised the guests and the host considering how much Czech culture the German have embraced. Kuiper said that “the Germans didn’t like things going wrong”, and apparently the Dutch love that part a lot.
We’ve written quite a bit over the years about carnival music (here and here), but this year a carnival party crew has kicked up a notch, giving Amsterdam a carnival name.
And that name is ‘Gròòtgragtegat’, roughly ‘big hole with canals’, a name given by Alaaf & Kicking, a party organisation made up of people from Noord-Brabant living in Amsterdam who will be holding a carnival party on January 22. They actually held a vote for the name, as other contenders were ‘Amsteldonk’ and ‘Poalkesdurp’.
Pronouncing ‘Gròòtgragtegat’, with the typical hard gutteral ‘g’ sound of Amsterdam residents is tough even for Dutch people and great practice for anybody else. Here’s a whopping list of Dutch cities that get carnival names according to Wikipedia. Amsterdam isn’t on it – yet.
Filling in your gender on online forms for the city of Amsterdam has recently become a thing of the past, unless it is legally required. “All residents of Amsterdam should feel at home in the way in which the city communicates with them”, and addressing people with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ just doesn’t work in today’s world. Amsterdam also claims to be the first Dutch city to have ditched gender in its communication.
In Dutch, authorities often write letters with ‘Dear Sir/Madam [last name]’, which already says they don’t care who or what you are, while some will argue that they are just trying to cover their bases. I often translate online forms into English, having to explain to Dutch clients that Mr and Mrs doesn’t work: there’s also Ms, Miss and if the world progresses the way it is, Mx could also be the next one at least in English. The concept of addressing women based on their marital status is archaic and obsolete.
As well, entering your gender only to get letters with ‘Dear Sir/Madam [last name], means it was unnecessary in the first place. Any time I’ve received letters addressed to me as ‘Sir’ I’ve chucked them out and anyone online who dares send me business letters with ‘Dear Sirs’ gets ignored. If you call me up from a bank and ask to speak to the man of the house or my husband, I will find you and hunt you down.
Based on a combination of historical, archaeological and geochemical data, the Allard Pierson Museum of the VU University Amsterdam has announced that they have uncovered evidence that Julius Caesar actually fought a battle on Dutch soil. Confirmed by skeletal remains, swords and spearheads that were found in Kessel, Noord-Brabant, Caesar and his men wiped out two entire local tribes, which was normal back then and wrote about it in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico. According to archaeologists, Caesar fought the battle in 55 A.D.
Around 47 A.D, the border of the Roman Empire ran through the Netherlands where Germanic and Celtic tribes lived. Several Dutch villages and cities along the Rhine descend from the Roman time, revealed by regular archeological excavations. The most important Roman settlement was Noviomagus, or as it is know today, Nijmegen. The Valkhof shown here is one of the many Roman ruins still standing there.
A new type of gold wasp, the rainbow wasp, was spotted for the first time this summer in the woods of Limburg. It took a while to identify it, but with the help of an Estonian expert, the colourful critter was found to be a Chrysis equestris, part of a family of wasps called ‘cuckoo wasps’.
Besides their beautiful colours, these incandescent wasps are ‘kleptoparasitic’, laying eggs in others insects’ nests, hence the cuckoo reference. The baby wasps then eat the eggs or larva in the nest, a bit like crashing a banquet.
The Netherlands has 57 types of wasps flying around.
On 16 October in the afternoon, the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) student society of the Delft University of Technology broke a European record in amateur rocketry. The students successfully launched a rocket into space that attempted to reach the Kármán line at 100 kilometers in altitude.
The first attempt made by the students on Thursday was thwarted by problems with a motor valve, which is why after fixing it, they made another attempt the next day. The seven-meter-long Stratos II+ rocket uses a mix of sorbitol and paraffin for fuel. It reached a speed of 100 km/h in 0.85 seconds, with a top speed of 3000 km/h.
In a few years, the DARE team wants to go into space, and to be able to do that they need to reach the Kármán line. The sky’s the limit now.
If a Dutchman grows up in a hockey country and has hockey father Hannie Sprong encouraging him, he’ll play hockey instead of football (soccer). Born in Amsterdam, this is Daniel Sprong’s story, an 18-year-old with star quality who has been living in Quebec, Canada since he was seven and played his first NHL game with the Pittsburgh Penguins on 8 October 2015 against the Dallas Stars, in a game that saw the Penguins lose 3-0.
The Dutch media is not into hockey otherwise, but since Sprong is still a Dutchman with no dual citizenship (he’s apparently still waiting on his Canadian one), he qualifies for our ‘Zoek de Nederlander’ (‘Find the Dutch person’) tag. Sprong has also said that he does not want to play with the Dutch national hockey team in the hopes of playing for the Canadian one, which means he probably enjoys winning.
The first Dutch Canadian to play NHL hockey was Ed Kea, born in Weesp, who played among others with the Calgary Flames in the early 1970s. His career came to an abrupt end when he hit his head on the ice (no helmets back then), a severe injury that left him physically and mentally disabled. As well, because his injury happened when he was in a minor league at that point in his career, he was not financially covered and his family struggled to make ends meet. Sadly, Kea died accidentally in his family’s swimming pool at age 51.
For anyone who hates 3D movies, look away now: a new virtual reality pop-up movie theatre will open in Amsterdam on October 31, organised by Samhoud media. The idea is to watch short 30-minute films, with many showings to choose from through the evening.
You’d be watching video through a Gear VR headset from Samsung and Oculus, an experience that will run you 10 euro. For 30 euro you can live large and enjoy a loveseat and VIP experience. Oh, and there will be popcorn. Owner Jip Samhoud said that it’s the first time in the Netherlands that they are going to apply such large-scale virtual reality, and it could very well be the first time in Europe.
The films are a surprise: no idea if they are Halloween related.