Plein and Simple


Rembrandtplein. Leidseplein. Museumplein. Thorbeckeplein. Bos en Lommerplein.

When you are in Amsterdam, the pleins are, well, pleintiful.

Essentially a public square lined on at least three sides by various establishments, each one has its own flavour to a degree (Leidseplein is the tourist ground zero, where people from everywhere but Holland go to cut loose; Museumplein is less barfful and more artful, and so on) but the ones located within the inner rings of Amsterdam will see a heavier dose of tourists than those in the 'burbs.

While you won't see any pieces of art at Rembrandtplein, you will no doubt see some pieces of work. There must be no fewer than 20 bars, cafes and restaurants all next to each other, and come midnight packs of locals and buitenlanders alike are lit up like the Time Square-esque signs that ring the large square.

It was here at the Aussie-themed Coco's Outback that I decided to set up camp for game 2 of the Netherlands' quest for the Cup, this time versus Japan, with a prime spot for Australia vs Ghana assured right after the first match.

Guinness, good service, and kangaroo burgers. Not an authentic Amsterdam experience, it would seem.

Then again, the plan was to see how the event differed in an expat-heavy crowd, in contrast to game 1's almost pure Dutch surroundings. And it seemed to be the right spot - my bench neighbours were from Canada, the States, Australia, South Africa and Romania, and even the server didn't speak a word of Dutch.

But the crowd as a whole turned out to be quite Dutch, with as many ooohs and ahhhs and football chants as anywhere. Kudos to the expats as well - while maybe not as vocal, they were decked out in plenty of orange and into it enough to add to the atmosphere, not take away from it.

The weather, however, was pure Netherlands, alternating between summer and winter throughout the 90 minutes. If the Bavaria beer girls were here, they would have needed longer skirts. Girl-illa marketing, indeed.

The seats and benches were packed outside along the entire stretch of bars, and the TV's were protected from the elements with effective, if low-tech, shelters.

The place exploded with Wesley Sneijder's booming goal at the 53-minute mark, in what was an otherwise tame affair. With the win, the Dutch clinched a pass to the next round, ensuring at least 2 more games as things start to (hopefully) heat up around here. Next game report comes later in the week, from an Amsterdam house party.

Real Nederlanders? Or tourists? What's your guess?

Summer arrived at the start of the game

Winter arrived at about the 50-minute mark


Mark Benson said...

Amsterdam is a party place for many and Australia is as well not far away from this. Many take flights to Australia to spend some amusing time at the enjoyable party life is gives away.