Thursday, August 23, 2007

Switzerland vs Holland

There are not many opportunities to watch a decent football game around here, so when Switzerland announced that they would be playing Holland for a friendly match, I just had to be there. Nothing to do with me being a big Holland supporter.

Anyway, since alcohol is forbidden within the stadium, me and my mates met up at the pub for some food and quick beer drinking session. I managed to drink a pitcher of beer in an hour but I don't think that's enough for a football match.

Around 19.45 I hopped on my scooter and made my way through traffic and pedestrians, all the way to the entrance of the staidum where I parked my scooter. From there it was literally 5 minutes to our seats. Except that we stopped by a beer stand and bought some beer - which turned out to be non-alcoholic. What a waste!

Holland was there with almost all their best players. Arjen Robben was the only one missing as he was injured and too busy dealing with Real Madrid. Edwin van der Sar was there but got injured during training so Maarten Stekelenburg stepped up in goal. Mario Melchiot injured himself as well, so Kew Jaliens played right back. Otherwise it was Heitinga and Bouma in defense, Urby Emanuelson left back, Gio van Bronckhorst the defensive midfield, Wesley Sneijder and Demy de Zeeuw in midfield and Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raffie van der Vaart up front.

After about 10 minutes, the ref awarded a penalty to Switzerland for a foul I didn't understand (there are no replays in the stadium). Tranquillo (yes, his name is Tranquillo) Barnetta converted the penalty. Holland played as if it was a friendly, whereas Switzerland was out there with guns blazing. So 1-0 at half-time. Marco van Basten then made the following subs: Ryan Babel, Dirk Kuijt, Khalid Boulahrouz and Clarence Seedorf in for van der Vaart, van Nistelrooy, Jaliens and Sneijder. With Babel and Kuijt in attack, the Dutch became more dangerous although Tranquillo managed to score another goal. But within seconds (the Swiss supporters were still celebrating his goal) Kuijt pulled one back.

There were more chances for Holland but unfortunately this friendly will go into history as Switzerland 2 - Holland 1.

After that, a 5 minute walk back to my scooter and then dashing back home.

If only I managed to get Euro2008 tickets...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Rolling Stones

Last Saturday I got a chance to see the dinosaurs of Rock & Roll. Yep, none other than The Rolling Stones. They were in the country and somehow I managed to get myself some (free) tickets.

After 40 years in the business, you're never quite sure what they are like live. I was just worried that Keith might drop dead before he gets on stage but he was quite alive actually.

The stage was in an Olympic stadium and they built a huge stage for them, although the drumset was a bit hidden amidst all the amps. The weather was great and it could not have been a better day to see the Stones.

At 21.00 they came out and started playing - what else - Start Me Up. And it's true, once you start Mick Jagger up he'll never stop. Even though he is close to 60, he moves more than Alex Turner on stage. He swaggers about, sways his (tiny) hips about, basically showing what an entertainer he is. He is truly a showman.

Next to him was Keith Richards. He just shuffles around on stage playing cool licks on his guitar. He looks like Capt Jack Sparrow's dad (wait, he is Jack Sparrow's dad, hmmmm) and he sang one song. He has a good voice suprisingly, especially for someone who always seem to have a fag in his mouth (and a drink in his hand if he's not holding a guitar).

Then there is Charlie Watts on the drums. The one that looks the most sensible. His drumming is the glue that keeps it all together. While Mick is off singing high notes and Keith is just ambling along with his licks, it's Charlie's drumming (and the bass) that keeps the rhythm going. He must be one of the most underrated drummers ever.

And on the left is the other guitarist Ronnie Wood. He joined the Stones as a replacement for Brian Jones and he doesn't look out of place at all. Just the wrinkles on his face fits well with Mick and Keith and he does his guitar duties very well. He tries to be as cool as Keith although just missing it by a fine line, but he is a very integral part of the Stones.

There were a bunch of back-up musicians as well. A bassplayer, two keyboardists, a horn section and some backing vocals to fill in any gap in the music.

They went through all their greatest hits (Jumpin Jack Flash, Honky Tonk Woman, I Can't Get No Satisfaction, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Sympathy For The Devil, Paint It Black, and some more). Mick is forever changing shirts to put over his black t-shirt. Keith is forever lighting up fags (Ron too actually). Mick interacts very well with the crowd.

For most people in the crowd this will probably the only time they'll ever see the Stones. For me too actually. So when they played a long version of Brown Sugar to end the show I wished it never ended.

I wasn't born when the Beatles stopped touring, but I have watched the Who and now the Stones. I can say that I have now seen the bands that influenced modern pop and rock.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Last week we were on holiday in Egypt. Mainly to go diving in the Red Sea as it's one of the best places to dive in (and alos one of the most accessible ones).

We went to Soma Bay and stayed in one of the three hotels available there. The hotel was billed as one of the Leading Hotels In The World but we beg to differ. Dinner was always buffet and not a la carte and it doesn't cater well for vegetarians. My girlfriend was sick one day with food poisoning - which means one day of our holiday wasted. The front desk people were all clowns. And there were other problems as well.

The diving itself was great although we didn't have much time to do lots of diving because of the food poisoning case. First we wanted to be Rescue Divers but now we're just Emergency First Responders who can dive with Nitrox. Not too bad. We'll become Rescue Divers another time. Saw lots of fish and corals in the Red Sea.

Egypt itself is a weird country. When we flew back home, the plane stopped at Sharm-El-Sheik. There we had to get off during transit. The problem is that it's 02.00am local time. But we stepped off and most shops were still open. I saw a sign for a Burger King upstairs so I thought about getting a midnight snack (a Whopper). Took the escalators up to find a policeman / customs guy waiting. I wasn't going out of the airport so I knew my rights. He asked where I was going. I pointed upwards toward Burger King and said "Burger King" (in fact there was only Burger King upstairs and nothing else. He asked why. I said "to eat". Then he wanted to see my passport. I said "I have my passport" but didn't make any suggestions that I was going to show it to him and started walking off to the next escalator. He approached me, but I knew that I don't have to show him my passport, so I wasn't worried. Then he said "pocket money". I wish I could say "fuck off!" but I said "don't have" instead. I went up and while queueing I heard the boarding call so I decided against waiting for a burger and went down. The same guy was there still and asked me "you have now". I wanted to say "fuck off" again but said "no" instead. What a stupid guy. What annoyed me though is that people behind me were showing him their passports (although not sure whether they gave him any money).

And I lost count how many times I was asked whether I was an Arab by an Egyptian. They seemed to have a game going on called "Guess where the tourist is from" and they lost lots of points with me.

Now back to the fucked up summer here in Europe.