People weren't expecting much out of Holland, but the team really generated a buzz when they smashed Italy in one of the opening qualifying matches.
The team is fondly called the Oranje; their uniforms are bright orange. (Little brother, be prepared to get a bright orange Holland soccer something upon my return.)
Louise and I wanted to go to a match, and Holland's next was Saturday night. They were playing in the quarter finals against Russia. The bar around the block seemed to be a nice place where we could watch the game. However, it was so crowded, we couldn't even get in to door to buy a beer. Advice was asked of the nearest Dutchman, he said to go to the bar across the street and buy a drink. As long as the glasses were returned, they didn't mind where you took them.
So here we are, out in the street, trying to look at the tv screen over the heads of the really tall Dutch people. And Dutch people are really tall.
That was frustrating, so we returned our glasses and set off for another local place. This one was much smaller, but we could actually go inside and share a stool!
This was definitely the best place to be for the match. The woman in charge of the bar kept up chants of the keeper's name (van der Sar) and the striker (van der Vaart). We also got to eat spicy bar-peanuts, and the cook came out from the back during the half-time break with a big plate of fried things. They looked like hush puppies, and you dipped them in spicy mustard. Inside though, they were kind of gooey and had chicken pieces? maybe? Who knows, but they were good! Sure all the talk in the bar and commentary was in Dutch, but soccer is soccer, and thanks to all those games I went to back in the day watching little Little Brother play, I pretty much knew what was going on in the match.
Holland just scored a goal, and this brought the match to 1:1, so it was really exciting. Everyone in the entire nation was cheering (last match we could hear the revelers yelling even though the nearest bar is a few blocks away). Appropriately, the image turned out really orange-colored.
Unfortunately though, Russia made two more goals in the end of the match, so Holland lost and is out of the tournament. I'm really glad we did make it to this match, in that case.
On a strange side note, there is apparently one type of beer in Holland. We ordered a Heineken, and the bar tender said, "You want a beer?" And the bars all had only two taps - both for Heineken. So, in Holland, I guess beer=Heineken.