The smallest police station in the Netherlands is in Sloten, a 10th century village that today remains the oldest part of Amsterdam. Sloten was eventually integrated into Amsterdam in the 20th century and is now part of Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West district.
Built in 1866 the station is apparently the source of some great stories. Until about 1965, constable Freek Raat would let the locals sleep off their hangovers in the station’s 4m2 cell. Even local youth that caused trouble were locked up for a few hours to teach them a lesson.
These days, the small station has been empty and slowly falling in disrepair since 2015. The City Restoration company and Sloten residents want to fix up, which is why they have set up some crowdfunding and as I write this, they have reached 88% of their 50,000 euro goal. Even though the deadline of 1 July has gone by according to the video, it could easily be a flexbile date.
Although the video is in Dutch, it’s about taking a virtual tour. The red fire brigade pole outside the station is said to be the only one left in the country. The goal would be to put a tourist office and shop there with local honey, slippers and what not. The flag of Sloten, which itself means ‘locks’, features golden ones and a cow or some say an ox, however not referring to neighbouring Osdorp (roughly Ox Town). In fact, Osdorp is actually derived from the name Oostdorp (East town) having to do with the fact that way back in the day Osdorp and possibly Sloten were culturally influenced by Haarlem, about 10 km further west, rather than Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is apparently the first European city to have a North Korean restaurant, which opened in January at the edge of the city in Osdorp. It has a cultural centre attached to it as well, although many people are sure it’s a propaganda centre. In fact, it’s been almost impossible to talk about restaurant Pyongyang, named after the North Korean capital, without it turning to politics.
Owner Remco van Daal keeps reminding the press and his patrons that his restaurant and the cultural centre is not politically motivated, but it’s a hard sell because in Asia, Pyongyang restaurants are associated with money laundering. If we could have Russian restaurants a few decades ago in the West, we should be able to have North Korean ones as well. And which major European city doesn’t have an Italian restaurant with ties to the mafia? Van Daal could be telling the truth, he could also be lying, but encouraging his restaurant is optional.
Two friends of mine went to Pyongyang for dinner, one for his birthday and to indulge in his fascination of dictators (no pics of Kim Jong Il there since his portrait may not be filmed), the other went with friends who are actually going to visit North Korea this spring. They both said it was expensive and not particularly special food-wise, but the song and dance provided by real North Korean women is worth experiencing at least once.
In this video you’ll see the clumsy decor and lighting with North Korean art on the walls, the food and the traditional song and dance. And if my friends or other patrons are horrible people for funding an oppressive regime, so are people who consume Nestlé products or whatever else that is on the current bad corporations hit list. And consuming questionable products has always been optional.