The title of a rather cheesy song by a Swedish girl called Emilia that was a big hit somewhere in the late nineties. More than ten years down the line it still pops up in my head every now and again. In spite of being a big girl these days, it still is a big, big world too. Which I find hugely fascinating yet intimidating at occassions...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Worldly Wednesday – The Netherlands

The idea to write about the countries I visited isn’t mine, it’s Nina’s from I plan to do it on a weekly basis: on Worldly Wednesday. It seems like a perfect way to reminisce about the countries I’ve been to. In spite of having spent quite a bit of time in other countries than my own I didn’t visit that many. I wouldn’t be eligible to join the Travellers’ Century Club (, who limits her membership to those having visited at least 100 countries. The reason for not meeting up with their standards,  is I found myself going back time and time again to certain places, wanting to know more about them. There always seems a reason to return: it must take ages before you can truly say you’ve seen it all. The place that I hail from, the Netherlands, seems to be the perfect place to start; it’s where I am in this stage of my life after all.

Truth be told, I have a love hate relationship with my native country. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been longing to get away from it. Once out of it, I can’t help to feel proud of it; it doesn’t seem so bad after all. In general people are friendly, open-minded and I like the thought of living in a society where everybody is being taken care of if necessary. Though I have to admit all of that has changed a bit over the last decade or so.
While travelling, there’s always a couple of things people will come up with when they hear what country I am from. From the top of my head: 1) Football. 2) Soft Drugs 3) Amsterdam Red Light District 4) First country to legalize same-sex marriage 5) Tolerance 6) Boldness and Bluntness.
Simply too much for a single posting so I’ll pick just one; for now. Football it is.

We’re awaiting a hot summer this year. At least that’s what all football fans expect. Football (or soccer if you prefer) is a national craze. That is, at least every two years, during respectively the European and World Championship. I have to admit I’m guilty as well. It started back in 1978 where ‘we’ almost became world champions when a shot at the goal right before the end of the official playing time was deflected off the post. But almost is not for real. Life played a little joke on me in ’88 as well when I decided to boycott the tournament altogether after having watched a very uninspired first match that was lost against the USSR. At the time I was working as an au pair in Paris, living at a tiny ‘chambre de bonne’ (maids room) without a TV. It’s all pointless, that’s what I thought. Much to my surprise, a few weeks later, after having been asked where I was from, a bloke responded with a “ah, vous etes les champions hein!” What do you mean we are the champions? It was only months later that I saw the footage of the events in the week following the match. 
Orange crazy… Especially people dancing up and down on the Amsterdam house boats cheering the homecoming team, until they literally went down is an image that stuck with me. Up until this day, we never know what to expect. Results so far in the run up to the tournament in Brazil are quite promising,  but everyone in this tiny country knows the results of the Orange team can be a bit hit-and-miss.

My favourite tournament so far was 2008. I was living in Cairo at the time and that summer we watched the matches at the Dutch embassy with the Dutch community. It was incredibly nice to have a big screen at our disposal, cheer for the team together, dress up in funny orange clothes and enjoy munchies from back home. That is, up until The Big Deception...

One thing’s for sure: we’ll be living an orange coloured life this summer.