Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Bull Crashed Ice in Valkenburg

I just had one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.  There is no place I love more in the Netherlands than the province of Limburg with their rolling hills, open land, beautiful scenery and houses that seem to come out of a fairy tale book.

A month ago I saw a commercial on the television for some Red Bull crashed Ice event.  I have never heard of this before but it looked so extreme and so Canadian!  I told my husband right away to book a hotel because we are going to have a weekend away and see this event.

We arrived at our hotel in Schin op Geul and was greeted by the sweetest couple who own/run the hotel.  I fell in love with their darling Limburgs accent - how could you ever get mad at someone with such a sweet accent? We quickly found our room and I noticed right away a lady bug was on the window sill.  I joked with my husband that a lady bug inside is a sign of good luck, but then I noticed another, and another and another. I quickly realized we had an infestation of lady bugs.  I guess we were being blessed with a lot of luck! I mentioned it to the hotel keepers and they were very accommodating to change our room to an equally nice but bugless room.

After a bite to eat at a local pub we quickly made our way over to the train station for our 2 minute train ride into Valkenburg. The train was packed with other excited crashed ice supporters and while we tried to squeeze in I tried to control my claustrophobia.

The event took place on top of a big hill (or most Dutch would consider a mountain) in Valkenburg, and we had to climb that hill.  The climb was torturous! It was apparently only a 12% inclination but it felt much more and we were trying to go as fast as we could because they had already announced that once it was full they were not letting anyone else in. I think the walk up the hill was to ween out the weak!

Once the gate opened up we ran in for the best spot we could find... right after one of the big jumps!  A perfect photo opportunity spot.  These men were moving at access speeds of 70km/h so you can imagine how difficult it was to take pictures in the dark but I think we managed fine.

 Above: Scott Coxall (Canadian) lost his helmet in the beginning of this race but luckily was not disqualified.
Final standing was: 
                    1st Arttu Pihlainen (Finland)
                    2nd Scott Croxall (Canadian)
                    3rd Kyle Croxall (Canaidan)

This video was taken by someone just behind us.  I was the one with the Canadian flag (of course).  My friends and family who were watching it live at home were also able to spot me as the only one waving my Canadian flag in the mass of people.

Here are some highlights of the race

I hope this comes back again next year! I certainly recommend this for anybody!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Butter ham (Boterham)

Boterham is Dutch for sandwhich and they love their boterhammen.  Variations of open and closed faced sandwhiches are often the Dutch's choices for breakfast and lunch. 

Favourites include:

Chocolate, fruit or licorice flavoured sprinkles on an open faced sandwich.

Beschuit - a very airy dry piece of toast good to put any topping on.  If a baby is born, traditionally beschuit with little coloured balls (muisjes) flavoured as licorice are served to the guests that come see the new baby.  Pink muisjes for a girl and blue for a boy of course.  
Tosti - is actually nothing more than a grilled cheese or panini.  Many variations of this can be found - cheese with any type of meat, spices, tomato, brie, nuts, pineapple.  If it can be thought up, it has been served here in the Netherlands.  These are a favourite in my household and regularly seen at lunch time. 

Most restaurants/cafe's serve messy looking, often open faced sandwiches that are almost always delicious!  These sandwiches are not made to be eaten between your fingers.  First off: you WILL make a mess Secondly: People seem to look at you oddly as you try to balance one between your thumbs and fingers and watch its contents fall down the front of your shirt (yes I speak from experience).  These sandwiches are served with a fork and sharp knife.  I believe it may be a code of conduct thing that you are supposed to eat a sandwich with a fork and knife. I still can't resist to pick them up between my fingers and thumb if they aren't too messy.