Olympic Spirit


A lot of questions spring to mind when one sees this billboard all over Amsterdam. What does it mean? Is this an affront to the Canadian flag, or a compliment? What's with the disturbing amount of thigh hair? Why is that strange man taking a photo of it?

I can't answer most of these but I do know that it's an ad for a Dutch radio station, as it turns out. It indicates that a team of DJs - I'm not sure if they are shock (or in this case, sock) jocks - is heading to the Olympics and will be broadcasting live. They want to call attention to their Olympic package, I guess. Perhaps they are feeling cocky about the Dutch team's chances. Who knows?

What we know is that Evers Staat Op - translated loosely, it means Evers Is On, even though the three DJs who comprise the team are named Niels, Edwin, and Rick - is in a specially-built broadcast booth in Holland Heinken House
. This is located at the Minoru Arena in Richmond, BC. This is right near the Olympic Oval which will be the focal point of this speed skating nation.

HHH is open daily from 9am to 2am and is fairly mental by most Olympic venues' standards, according to reviews from past Games. Holland Heineken House started at the 1992 Barcelona games, so as a bonus they will be used to the current temperature in Vancouver.

The Dutch are rightfully very proud and supportive of their athletes. Apparently they really do go nuts.



Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nuns

Occasionally, very strange (but hopefully funny) thoughts enter my brain; they may or may not have anything to do with travel. And on slow news weeks, they may appear on these pages.



Winter in Holland, particularly this year's harsher-than-usual version, is a pretty grey and drab affair. But not even the greyest of days could obscure the charm of Leiden, a small town southwest of Amsterdam.

This town - just half an hour's train ride from Amsterdam - is quintessentially Dutch, with its mix of old-world coziness and new-world thinking. Wow, did that ever sound like Tourism 101 - sorry. But it's true. The place is dipped in Dutchness.

Leiden is home to a prominent university (founded in 1575) and has a strong scientific and artistic history. Einstein often visited his fellow scientific homeboys here (you may remember the relative success of MC Squared), and Rembrandt was born here in 1606.

My tour of the city included a visit to De Burcht, a 13th century fortress; a classic Dutch pancake with ham, cheese and mushroom (fantastic), a huge outdoor market, and hours of walking around in general. I even managed to visit the historic Apple store, circa 2003.

The stairway to De Burcht

Windmills in the Mist

Inside De Burcht