Some updated facts about life in Amsterdam and Holland. Did you know that:
- The above photo is of the Netherlands' (soon-to-be-ex) Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende? Awesome, I say. It's highly unlikely that you would see Obama, Harper, Sarkozy, or Berlusconi (ok, maybe Berlusconi) wearing a similar t-shirt or toting a can of beer.
- Asking for ketchup at McDonald's will cost you .45 Euros? I'm not sure if this is the only country in the world that has its McD's charge for ketchup, but it must be. It's also been suggested that copper wire was invented when two Dutch people fought relentlessly over a penny.
- Many private establishments (bars, restaurants, cafes) will charge patrons to use the bathroom? Not a lot mind you - maybe 20-50 cents - but, well, enough to piss you off (literally).
- Incongruously, and perhaps to counterbalance the stinginess mentioned above, many of the excellent festivals here are entirely free? Uitmarkt (culture/arts), Pluk de Nacht (film), Sail (previous post), Appelsap (hip hop), Queen's Day (mayhem) and many others won't cost you a cent (unless you need to use the bathroom of course).
- The most popular national weather forecast website actually provides a "korte rokjes (short skirts)" forecast? Not as in "A 60 percent chance you will see short skirts today" unfortunately, but rather just a friendly service to the ladies to help them plan their wardrobe for the day.
- You are much more likely to find a guy named "Taco" than an actual taco in Amsterdam? "Remco", "Eelco" and "Dico" are also fairly common Dutch names.
- It is expressly forbidden to wear bathing suits in the majority of Dutch coed saunas?
- Many zucchinis, cucumbers, fennel bulbs, bunches of bananas, and other assorted fruits and vegetables come individually wrapped in plastic in supermarkets? I thought nature provided its own wrapper for these items.