Page 1

vol. 7 #6 – 28 January 2014

The Sentinel Amsterdam

Integrity, heart, humour







in this issue

feature - p.04

perspectives - p.10

travel - p.44

Becoming Dutch: Part II

Dam in 60 minutes! The Bijlmer/ArenA

Poland: Move Your Imagination

‘The questions were designed to contrast people’s own cultural beliefs’

‘A tremendous success, due in part to the new ArenA football stadium’

‘The innovative folk at Polish Tourism (led by the Amsterdam office)’

trends - p.70

sport - p.96

Starting in Amsterdam

The Secret of the Sack

The Gold Room

‘Teach me how to be a successful writer’

‘A kind of weird inequality when it comes to people in high-level positions’


lifestyles - p.66

more culture - p.30

art- p.52

lifestyles - p.60

Walking Antwerp


Bar Brouw

café/bar review - p.68

amsterdam city life - p.77

star beer guide - p.78

De Walvis (The Whale)

Bring back

Saxo Bio

recommended - p.80

spotted - p.82

film - p.83

Where is this in Amsterdam?


perspectives - p.88

health & well-being - p.90

technology - p.92


Rose Quartz

User Interface

The Sentinel Amsterdam

E-mail: Website: Contributors: Valeria van Scimia, Sam van Dam, Megan van Kessel, Dirkje BakkerPierre, E.R. Muntrem , Evelina Kvartunaite and Andrei Barburas

Editors: Gary Rudland & Denson Pierre Design, realisation and form: Andrei Barburas & Webmaster: Webhost:

The Sentinel Amsterdam does not intentionally include unaccredited photos/illustrations that are subject to copyright. If you consider your copyright to have been infringed, please contact us at



‘Designed to test people who have lived in the Netherlands for a long time and should have learned the ‘Dutch ways’’

g n i m o c e B : h c t u D I I t Par –

The ‘Korte Vrijstellingstoets’ (Short exemption test)

By Valeria van Scimia

The short version of the inburgering exam was called the Korte Vreijstellingtoets and comprised a language and cultural exam. It was designed to test people who have lived in the Netherlands for a long time and should have learned the ‘Dutch ways’. They wouldn’t need an entire course explaining the basics of the language and how things roll over here. This is the most important aspect for the authorities because, after all (according to them), if you want to become Dutch you have to act Dutch.

‘Everyone was trying to grab their last chance to take the shorter test and become Dutch’



‘It seemed you also had to know about bureaucracy and simple general rules, some of which I am sure even most Dutch people are unaware’



‘I started to find this pattern a bit annoying and racist in itself’ I received a letter informing me that I should take the exam in Rijswijk instead of Amsterdam. I was a bit perplexed so I called and asked if I could do it in my own city. They said that everything else closer was already full. December was near and everyone was trying to grab their last chance to take the shorter test and become Dutch. The person I spoke to said, “If you wait, you may need to do the whole course and long version of the exam. This is cheaper and quicker”. Rijswijk it was, then. Since January 2013, anyone wishing to take Dutch citizenship has to go through an entire year of the inburgering course. I was lucky to have grabbed that last chance. I had been waiting for the call to do the exam for months and for months I hadn’t checked anything at all about the exam itself, thinking that it was going to be a straightforward language test. A day or two before it was due to take place, I decided to check out the Korte Vrijstellingtoets online, just to be a little prepared. I then came across forums full of all the possible questions and answers you should give to ensure a pass. Forums pages long with people who had done the exam and were writing about it. Special mention was made of how tricky some of the questions were. Indeed, it wasn’t just about the Dutch language; it seemed you also had to know about bureaucracy and simple general rules, some of which I am sure even most Dutch people are unaware. But we’re not Dutch, so we had to learn them. Unfortunately, I got to these forums way too late. It was already one day before the exam and I certainly

couldn’t memorise all the different versions and possible outcomes. I decided not to read anything and just bring an open mind and my own knowledge. I was a little scared, because this was the only chance I had to take the exam. When we arrived at the examination centre in Rijswijk it was full of allochtonen like me, about to take the exam. The waiting room was cold and there were many chairs, all next to a free coffee machine. The room was plain white and the only things on the walls were portraits of Queen Beatrix in her full majesty. I found this hilarious and wanted to take a picture but when I reached for my camera, I was stared at. I decided against taking a photo and waited for our names to be called. I still think Beatrix always looked beautiful. When you are invited to take the exam, they inform you that you have to be there at a certain time and that the exam would start at a specified later time. We actually waited a lot longer before anything happened, which I didn’t think was very Dutch of them. When they called our names we were brought to a room with computers and headphones. We had to listen to or read texts, give answers and complete the whole test in 45 minutes. Not a problem, I thought. Then the test began. I answer the first question, then the second and the third, and then I start noticing a pattern: the questions were designed to contrast people’s own cultural beliefs against those of the Dutch. Questions of this sort: “You have a neighbour who you know well and spend time


‘Sometimes I think that this culture places more emphasis on method than the final result’

On to the next: “Your neighbour’s wife usually dresses in very short and (you think) inappropriate clothing. Your wife is not happy about this. One day, your neighbour is in the garden, wearing a really short skirt. Do you: a) Go over and confront her about her inappropriate clothing? b) Ask her politely to dress more appropriately around you? c) Say nothing, because you understand that in the Netherlands women dress however they want to dress?” Again, you would have to be stupid not to choose c). However, I started to find this pattern a bit annoying and racist in itself. The test went on like this and also asked questions related to health insurance, housing corporations, rental agreements, gas and electricity, and so on. They even asked about basic bureaucratic rules, work environments, etc. But the ‘real-life’ test scenarios kept being ridiculous. “The husband of a neighbour you know dies. Do you: a) Go over to their house to offer condolences and help? b) Phone her to offer your condolences and help? c) Send her a card?” Now, we all know that in the Netherlands you should send a card but these questions were really

ticking me off, because they just highlighted the differences between cultures. To me, they also underlined how many Dutch people misinterpret caring and caring for your hosts as intrusion or invasion. I mean, if I offer you help and condolences, you shouldn’t be bothered about the way I do it. Sometimes I think that this culture places more emphasis on method than the final result and, to my eyes, this is grossly inefficient. Women can go around naked, as far as I am concerned, but that might piss off someone else from another culture. I know Dutch women who wouldn’t like it and I know Italian women who wouldn’t mind. It really depends on the person, their upbringing and so on. I find it so strange that, in 2013, people are still trying to define underlying differences, instead of trying to understand why these differences exist and appreciate them. The ancient Romans would always keep something of the cultures they colonised, because they thought it was inhuman and inefficient to impose their rules on different cultures. Smart thinking; they grew a lot culturally and incorporated different things from different cultures, making their own richer. I do believe that this happens in the Netherlands as well. I know, deep down, that some Dutch people believe this too. Or at least this is what I was told when we finally collected our passports. But that’s another part of the story.


with. You meet her in the elevator and she tells you she is going home to cook dinner. Do you: a) Tell her you’ll join her for dinner? b) Ask her if you can join her for dinner? c) Say nothing; it was clearly not an invitation?” I had to stop and smile when I read the final answer, because of course we ALL know it had to be c).



Je moet er geweest zijn.


Authentic and full of surprises. That’s Mechelen. Hospitable and honourable. That’s the people of Mechelen. Come and experience the city’s urban charms for yourself.

Authentic and full of surprises. That’s Mechelen. Hospitable and honourable. That’s the people of Mechelen. Come and experience the city’s urban charms for yourself.

photography © Layla Aerts


Mechelen Mechelen


Dam in 60 minutes! 10

De Bijlmer/ ArenA

By Sam van Dam


‘ArenA is the world-famous stadium of our proud and beloved football club, AFC Ajax’

For our latest little adventure we are taking a trip to the southeast of lovely Amsterdam, to an area that bears little resemblance to the city we know and love; to the ArenA in the Bijlmer. The ArenA is the world-famous stadium of our proud and beloved football club, AFC Ajax. It is situated right next to a large shopping centre that is surrounded by high-rise office buildings and entertainment venues, such as the Heineken Music Hall and the Pathe IMAX cinema.

I follow the flow of the road as it takes me eastwards along the Sparklerweg, a route that used to be a somewhat unattractive appendix, a no-man’s land, connecting the Amstel area to the Bijlmer. In the old days, this was considered a rather ‘bad’ part of Amsterdam and is also infamous for the 1992 El Al disaster, when a Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into a block of high-rise accommodation apartments. A shocking and unexpected event that not only killed 43 people but left the entire city somewhat traumatised and confused. Rumours soon emerged of men in white suits at the site removing evidence; a nod at foul play. The existence and presence of these agents was officially denied but this only led to more generally unfounded speculation, including conspiracy theories pointing to the Israelis transporting radioactive material in a clandestine manner.

This plan was a tremendous success, due in part to the new ArenA football stadium; home of AFC Ajax since 1996. Since that time it has become surrounded by shopping boulevards, entertainment centres and a massive array of office buildings that add a futuristic touch, making it look more like the Sloterdijk business park than the previously uninviting and undesirable part of Amsterdam. Many new jobs were created as more and more companies decided to move to the east. These days, the design award-winning Bijlmer train and metro station (Bijlmer ArenA) is a very busy hub that brings the workforce from the city centre and region into the district, which offers many ways to spend the hours after work. There is shopping, sightseeing and enjoyment of cultural shows in venues like the Heineken Music Hall, the GETZ Entertainment Centre and the Bijlmer Parktheater, among others. Some years ago, the Bijlmer re-emerged in the news, due to a violent feud between rival rappers, who would shoot at each other in the streets, resulting in many deaths and injuries. A massive output of hip-hop songs describes the situation and the ensuing retaliations that kept the circle of violence all too alive. Infamous American-style gangs are also somehow active in the Bijlmer, controlling the drug trade and other shady businesses, and making many locals wonder when our lovely little country, one that offers so many opportunities for creating positive, prosperous lives for its citizens, became, in parts, the 51st state of the United States of America.


For a change, we begin our journey at the Amstel Station, one of the city’s major train stations after Central Station. The sun is shining and happily illuminates the scenery, as I glide past the Amstel Tower and the Delta Lloyd buildings that dominate this part of town, along with the Hogeschool of Amsterdam. I cross the Amstel and first take in the graffiti on and beneath a bridge that leads back to the station. Clusters of pigeons dot the sky and office workers wile away their lunch breaks as I pass them by, the long and winding road toward my destination lies ahead and with every metre I move away from the hectic, citycentre life. A calmness and determination descends upon me, as so often happens on these little trips to other, lesser known parts of our beautiful city.

Over the ensuing years the Bijlmer’s reputation deteriorated even further. It became pretty much a no-go zone and not just after dark. Robberies, violence and other unpleasant urban side-effects of being a generally low-income yet densely populated district meant that it did not appear to offer many opportunities for improvement in the lives of those living there. City Hall decided to drastically change this situation. Many of the high-rise buildings were reduced in size or demolished, in order to make space to create a more humane and liveable neighbourhood. The hope was that it would then become safer for residents and attract new interest from other parts of the city and country.







‘In the old days, this was considered a rather ‘bad’ part of Amsterdam’










‘ArenA is the world-famous stadium of our proud and beloved football club, AFC Ajax’




‘Rotate 360 degrees to take it all in’





‘City Hall decided to drastically change this situation’






‘These days, the design award-winning Bijlmer train and metro station (Bijlmer ArenA) is a very busy hub that brings the workforce from the city centre and region into the district’







Świętokrzyskie - share the Magic

go to the website:




Walking Antwerp: one sunny option 30

By Denson Pierre

As soon as you have left Antwerp it seems to signal you to return. Here are a few captures from a great walk on a cool, sunny day.

MAS is always worth a visit; Inspiring art on the inside and a glorious view from the top. MAS:
















feature culture

feature culture


A fun athmosphere combined with really great coffee and tasty lemonades made with love. Broer Bretel:



Just opposite MAS; a warm welcome, fabulous beers and great food at Het Duvels Genot. Het Duvels Genot (Devils Pleasure):





Typically Antwerp: great, contemporary, organic food concepts around every corner. Urban Story:



Revealing the splendour of Antwerp’s main cathedral after years of renovation. More about the exhibition and the cathedral >


‘Satisfying the desired or potential boost and sustainable business within tourism as an industry’

Move Your Imagination: tion


a is n a g r O m is r u o T The Polish and Travel Blogging

By Denson Pierre

The tourism sector has suffered more than most during the ongoing period of deep recession and fast-changing global trends. At the very top of the pyramid, however, there has been little change in the luxury travel market and among professional travellers, where a certain amount of growth may even have been recorded. This tiny percentage of the total number of individuals, families and groups wishing to make trips and enjoy stays is insufficient, of course, in terms of satisfying the desired or potential boost and sustainable business within tourism as an industry. No aspect of tourism can succeed in isolation.


‘Identify the growing disconnect between historical objectives and that of the currently smaller, but fast-growing space occupied by free-standing travel writers and journalists’







‘Academic masterclasses on what writers should be looking out for and trying to be better at’

Immediate & longer term exposure Bloggers provide both real-time and longer term exposure via blogs and social media.

Influence decision-making 52% of travelers change their travel plans after reading blogs and checking social media. Source: 2012 State of Inbound Marketing; Mindjumpers, funsherpa, Four Pillars)

1 Pre-trip Pre-trip


During the trip

3 Post-trip


Post-trip campaign


Bloggers publish their itinerary and invite their followers to follow them on their trip. Bloggers share their experiences via their social channels; the perfect opportunity for a real-time social media campaign. Bloggers publish their blog posts, ending up to several months after the trip, ensuring prolonged exposure. Bloggers collaborate a few months later to organise a social media campaign. The campaign leverages their content and social networks to showcase the destination as well as the sponsors.


Journalists and bloggers today remain the most fluid and employable source available to the various national and regional tourism organisations in getting out their messages about offers, attractions or cultural and environmental appeal to an increasingly curious, mobile, solvent and eager public. It was not much of a surprise, therefore, that the innovative folk at Polish Tourism (led by the Amsterdam office) would be the agency to break cover, realise the trends and identify the growing disconnect between historical objectives and that of the currently smaller, but fast-growing space occupied by free-standing travel writers and journalists. This group is busier with an entirely flexible and forever changeable digital publishing universe and is mostly populated by people calling themselves bloggers.

Conferences can often be a drag, given that the format itself is somewhat outdated, but what this conference showed is that, if it is properly organised with each and every topic hot and current, there is no better means of collating cross- industry professional opinion. Adjoined to the more academic masterclasses on what writers

This conference was a great success, as it tapped into a need within the Polish Tourism Organisation and certainly among the bloggers (with their generally new and niche needs) that had not previously been served. A much more traditional approach had been deployed to assist journalists and cultural experts visiting Poland in bringing back stories that move imaginations, as so interesting is that country. The Sentinel Amsterdam is the media sponsor of this conference and we cherish our fine working relationship with Polish Tourism. What follows are some snapshots of the main presentations and a suggestion that, even if you are a not a writer/blogger, you get in touch with the people at Polish Tourism. They are doing all the right things to make sure that their all-round message is clear and well conveyed by the media, so that when you arrive in Poland, you are free to just feel the wonder. List of speakers: Otto van Veen – Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland Keith Jenkins – CEO, iAmbassador Henry Robben – Professor of Marketing, Nyenrode University Marian Dragt – MD2 Consultancy Marta Zawila-Pilat – Marketing Manager, Lower Silesia Tourism Organisation List of panel bloggers: Jocelina Paixao Fortes - Pink Chocolate Break Monique Rubin - Mo Travels Adriaan ter Braack - Zeg eens Aad

‘Input from any attendee, fostered a feeling of life and interactivity, which could almost be described as a journey in itself’


Polish Tourism is attempting to pool the bloggers’ understanding and has initiated an approach to more effectively connect with this group, creating a supported forum in which writers and bloggers can communicate their concerns and needs to their potential hosts. In December, Polish Tourism hosted the first Move Your Imagination: Conference for Dutch Travel Bloggers and Travel Journalists. They could not have selected a more fitting location than one of the more gorgeous wings of the prestigious Nyenrode Business University castle to receive a full-house of professionals wishing to join the conversation and learn about strategy, while networking and enjoying presentations by marketing experts from that worldrenowned institution itself. It is an institution which, through diplomatic means, happens to have a closer relationship with the Polish government and its tourism branch.

should be looking out for and trying to be better at (marketing themselves as businesses), there was also a bloggers’ panel discussion featuring a trio of highly active travel writers who brand themselves as bloggers. This and the entire tone of the conference, which was always encouraging an open floor for questions and input from any attendee, fostered a feeling of life and interactivity, which could almost be described as a journey in itself.




‘Deployed to assist journalists and cultural experts visiting Poland in bringing back stories that move imaginations’





Š Photography Philip Dujardin Jeroen Verrecht

















‘‘American Craft Beer & Food Pairings’’

r e e B on nu e m e h t By Gary Rudland

A fair amount of each issue of The Sentinel is devoted to reviewing star beers, cafés and restaurants; a fact that has apparently not gone unnoticed among the hospitality sector. Consequently, at the beginning of the New Year, we were invited to attend a press dinner organised by Amsterdam-based beer importers, Bier & Co, in partnership with the American Brewer’s Association. The theme of the well-attended dinner, which was held at Bar Brouw (Ten Katestraat 16, Amsterdam), was ‘American Craft Beer & Food Pairings’. The American term ‘craft beer’ is used to describe beer produced by independent breweries, using traditional brewing methods and in small quantities. Do not be fooled, however; in America, ‘small quantities’ means an

annual production of less than 7 million hectolitres (700 million litres). To put this into perspective, the only brewery in the Netherlands that would not be considered a craft brewery is Heineken (Grolsch included). In recent years, just as in Europe, the number of independent/craft breweries in the United States has increased exponentially; from only eight in 1980 and around 600 in the 1990s to more than 2,600 in 2013, with a further 1,300-plus in planning. The result of all this has been an explosion in the range and number of traditional craft beers available on the US market and for export. The three-course dinner we attended was designed to provide us with an insight into the quality and variety of beers produced in the US, many of which are now available in Europe, and how these beers can be used to complement different types of food.



‘In America, ‘small quantities’ means an annual production of less than 7 million hectolitres’ At this point, I should mention that Bar Brouw is an American-themed restaurant. While this fitted perfectly with the evening’s programme, it is not to everyone’s taste. For a start, the menu is very meatbased; great if you’re on an Atkins diet or simply love meat but not so great if you’re a vegetarian. Personally, I like nothing more than a piece of succulent, slowcooked meat (the restaurant’s speciality) – you have been warned. The starter was a selection of cold sliced meats (salami, etc.) on a bed of lettuce, which provided a nice enough accompaniment to the first two beers we sampled, although I’m not sure I would have ordered a meat platter starter ahead of the main course if I’d been visiting the restaurant independently. The beers were definitely the stars of the starter course, although the meat platter was accompanied by some delicious corn bread and butter.

The first beer we sampled was the Anchor Brewery’s Steam Beer (4.9% A.B.V.), brewed in San Francisco. This has a dark amber colour and is based on the Kolschstyle beer traditionally produced in Cologne, Germany. Its slightly bitter taste reminded me of certain British beers, such as Newcastle Brown Ale, but with a more distinctive flavour. The starter was also accompanied by probably the star beer of the entire evening: the Rogue Brewery’s Dead Guy Ale (6.5% A.B.V.), brewed in Oregon, which is also on tap at Bar Brouw. This is a refreshing yet full-bodied beer, a little lighter in colour than the Steam Beer and also based on Kolsch but with a slight sweetness, reminiscent of the best Belgian beers. At various intervals during the meal we were treated to a history of American Craft Brewing, as well as specific information on the beers being sampled, delivered by Andreas Fält; a Swedish beer expert representing the Brewers Association. One innovation that has taken



‘An explosion in the range and number of traditional craft beers available on the US market and for export’



‘The star beer of the entire evening: the Rogue Brewery’s Dead Guy Ale (6.5% A.B.V.)’


place in recent years is the packaging of certain craft beers in cans. These are generally seen as inferior to bottles but numerous blind tests have confirmed that cans have no effect whatsoever on the taste of the beer itself, which should be poured into a glass anyway, to savour the aroma. For our main course we were given a choice between brisket (a prime cut of slow-roasted, tender beef) or pulled pork (an otherwise tough cut of pork, roasted very slowly, so you can literally pull it apart once cooked), served with coleslaw, American-style baked beans, potato wedges and tomato salad, along with more delicious corn bread. The brisket was paired with the Anderson Valley Brewery’s Boont Amber Ale (5.8% A.B.V.) from a can, while the pulled pork was paired with Anchor Porter (5.6% A.B.V.), a darker beer, one grade short of a stout in colour. With two of us attending, we were able to share both dishes and beers,

and both beers complemented their food pairings perfectly. Succulent, tender meat washed down with amber or dark brown nectar, and the coleslaw and baked beans were also delicious. I was really looking forward to trying the porter, in particular, of which I’ve tasted various versions in the UK, and it did not disappoint. To be honest, I thought that both beers went equally as well with either main course but that’s part of the beauty of an evening like this; there were no rules and we were simply encouraged to try new things. For dessert we were offered either carrot cake with the Flying Dog Brewery’s Raging Bitch IPA (8.5% A.B.V.) or cheesecake with Anchor Liberty Ale (5.9% A.B.V.). Needless to say, we tried both again, although I was dubious about pairing beer with sweet desserts. The Anchor Liberty Ale was a pleasant enough, golden amber beer but I did think that my reservations were founded concerning its combination with a chocolate-

‘There were no rules and we were simply encouraged to try new things’ 65

based cheesecake. In my opinion, the sweetness of one conflicted with the slight bitterness of the other. To my surprise, however, the same could not be said of the combination of carrot cake and Raging Bitch, which complemented each other very well, perhaps due to the presence of slightly bitter walnuts in the cake and the slightly sweeter flavour of the excellent beer. All in all, it was a very interesting, educational and entertaining evening, which no one left early, even though it overran by almost an hour. Many thanks to Koen Reijneveld of Bier & Co for inviting us and to Andreas for co-hosting the event on behalf of the Brewers Association. Special thanks also go to Bar Brouw for the delicious food. I am keen to return to try their spare ribs and pork belly which, if they are anywhere near as good as the brisket and pulled pork, should be delectable.

As Andreas was keen to point out, these imported (and therefore higher-priced), characterful and often stronger beers are not intended for sessions, but to savour as a new experience at the beginning of the evening or during a delicious meal. The ones we tried were only a small sample of those available at Bar Brouw and I would be very interested to try others from their extensive menu.


‘I truly thought I was on to something that could become more popular than the Bible’


Starting in Amsterdam By Megan van Kessel

Having graduated from art school – the place where they tried to teach me how to be a successful writer – I immediately ran away. Optimistic as I was, I travelled around for a while, using the excuse that I needed to focus upon myself. Being a successful writer is, after all, a very selfish profession. At one point during the course of my travels, I locked myself away in a room in Budapest with my midriff feeling like a damp rag being squeezed over the sink, time after time. After two pages of writing, I truly thought I was on to something that could become more popular than the Bible. After five, I deleted everything and my chin became glued to the table.

By the time I returned to Amsterdam I was out of money and had to find a job. I started working as a waitress in a bar (where they reheat the soups in the microwave), which turned out to be a waste of my time; I didn’t learn anything apart from how to make café lattes with equal creamy layers. I became frustrated and started drinking more heavily. My book (27 pages about me) started to receive the same amount of attention as my toilet paper. Previously, when customers asked me what I did, I could respond by saying, “I study”. Now I was suddenly just a waitress and an alcoholic. I decided to accept the fact that I was a professional waitress but made a deal with myself to become an awesome waitress; one who makes an espresso for the grumpy chef with a bottle of Tabasco placed next to it. It helped me to enjoy life again and I returned to writing.  Ultimately, of course, it couldn’t and didn’t work out, because it’s not really possible to be a waitress, an


‘I became frustrated and started drinking more heavily’ ‘It’s not really possible to be a waitress, an alcoholic and a writer all at once’


‘When life is too boring, I don’t feel the rush of adrenaline’

alcoholic and a writer all at once. Maybe I was too happy and content with my life as the ‘outsider’ among my colleagues, who seemed intent on draining the energy out of any person or situation for their own inspiration. But the story stayed within the walls of the bar, where I did manage to make a few new friends of different ages and professions. “Who is that girl?” they asked and “Where have you been hiding?” These reactions made me somewhat arrogant, I suppose. At a certain point I stopped wanting to share my stories. Although they created the impression that I always had a good tale to tell, I eventually realised that I was not getting anything back for my efforts. Some money, a warm winter jacket or a weekend break to Norway would have been nice.

my fingers were cold, that well known flickering cursor was hypnotic and the red wine rested cosily on my lips. How do I start? First re-write what I already have? Just start talking as if I was in the bar? Draft a list of characters? Who are my characters? Maybe to remind myself of the sound of their voices I should probably call one, I thought. “You idiot, why are you writing on a Friday night? Come to the bar!” Yeah, she’s probably right I thought. Because when life is too boring, I don’t feel the rush of adrenaline. Can I expect my readers to become excited if I am not delivering feelings in an honest way? I have to live to write! I stepped out on to the balcony in my pyjamas. So begins my excursion with The Sentinel.

It finally came to me that I just needed to recreate a bar at home, start talking to myself and note it all down on paper. My chair was comfortable, the table empty and I had my cigarettes, a bottle of red wine and the telephone alarm set to go off after two hours. I sighed,

cafe/bar review

‘A very pleasant and spacious café/bar-restaurant’


Café/Bar Review De Walvis

cafe/bar review

‘It is simply a really nice space, using many subtle colour schemes’

By Denson Pierre

De Walvis (The Whale) Spaarndammerstraat 516, Amsterdam

De Walvis is in a monopoly position of being a very pleasant and spacious café/bar-restaurant sat smack in the middle of the easily findable and visible entertainment strip of the Spaarndammer neighbourhood. Ambiance A well laid-out place that is split over three levels. Much attention has been paid to furnishing and arrangement, which leaves one comfortably sat for a drink, hot or cold, or fine meal. With huge windows and a lot of natural light, it is simply a really nice space, using many subtle colour schemes to keep stimulation levels primed. Rating 5 Staff/Regulars It was a pleasant surprise to meet a young man I have known from two other A-class café/bar-restaurants over the past eight years, leading the lunchtime/afternoon service. This means that the service and attitude were nothing short of excellent. As far as the regulars go, it is a popular place. We have already mentioned the virtual monopoly situation and De Walvis attracts the pretty crowd from the neighbourhood, as well as those just passing through. Rating 5

Prices In this respect De Walvis receives the greatest of compliments on the one hand and a vote of bemusement on the other. They have extremely welcoming prices! From portions of peanuts at just €1 (when last did you see anything at all costing a euro within Amsterdam hospitality?) to scrumptious Portobello burgers at an honest €7.50! Regular readers will know that I have encouraged proprietors to stop the burger sandwich extortion racket now prevalent across Amsterdam. Just about anywhere else you might seek out this meal in Amsterdam, you would expect to pay double what I did in De Walvis. The price is the same for the meat version. Disappointingly, however, and given that they carry a decent range of quality beers from Belgium and the Netherlands, there is no drinks price list/ menu available. Rather bemusing and a huge downward influence on the rating. Rating 3 Music Interestingly enough, having left the café before giving this aspect much thought, I realised that, even if there had been background music, the tone was set by happy Saturday afternoon conversation and the pleasure-filled squeals of a few well-behaved kids. With Simon working there, I feel sure that if and when they turn up the recorded sound, it would be pleasant stuff. Rating 5 Smoking area provision For the few people there whose style and behaviour are more suited to the 1980s, De Walvis has the cutest, awning-covered, petit terrace around, to ensure they stay dry as they puff away. Rating 4 Total rating (1 = poor, 5 = excellent) = 25/30


Despite the persistent troubles in the Amsterdam economy over the past seven years, many new entrepreneurial adventurers have still managed to take the plunge and launch their concept to an adoring city. De Walvis is located in a district that, unlike other 20th-century, working-class neighbourhoods, remains rather bereft of standard quality or refined cafés, bars and restaurants. A few licensed properties are to be found but most appear slightly rundown and the ethnic selection of eateries are more suited to late-night, post-bar pit stops.

Televised sport A big screen can be lowered for TV events to be beamed on to it. For now, they seem content with the pure AFC Ajax theme and, in so doing, deny themselves the patronage of the international crowd, who are much busier with English Premier League football and the Champions League. It is not clear how any of this is meant to work in a space they like to perceive as a restaurant at evening/night. Rating 3

cafe/bar review


‘Service and attitude were nothing short of excellent’

cafe/bar review


cafe/bar review


‘They have extremely welcoming prices!’

cafe/bar review









amsterdam city life

: K C A B G N I R B TRAIN TOILETS By Denson Pierre

This alone does not solve the overall concept of public transport, however, which invariably means that other forms of transport must be used to get travellers to train stations in time to catch their trains. Luckily, here in the Netherlands the trains do generally run on time. This is a great quality, especially in winter, when most people do their best to limit the time that they are exposed to the elements and their effects on bodily functions in cold temperatures. I recently ventured out of Amsterdam to a reasonably nearby town with a minor train station, served by these Sprinter trains. On the return leg of my journey I ended up having to wait some 30 minutes for a (late) bus to connect with the train back to Amsterdam Central. There was no great pressure on my time, it was safely before the crush of rush hour and the train journey was scheduled to take just 30 minutes. For lunch that day I had a coffee and two cold drinks at the function I attended. Even with a toilet break

factored in, by the time I got to the train station, some 12 minutes before the Amsterdam-bound train would depart, I had the feeling that it would not be such a bad idea to pass some water, after the slightly chilling effects of standing around (the seats were very wet at the bus stop) in the breeze in good view of bodies of water. Of course, as is typical with these tiny, oddly designed stations, a sign pointing to the toilets was not prominent or indeed visible at all. No panic, the train would be here soon. It was only when I sat down in the carriage and looked above me for a sign indicating the direction of the toilet that I recalled I was on one of the dreaded Sprinters and not an Intercity Express. The faster, bigger trains do have toilets, but here I was on this pretty train with another couple of hundred people and there was no option for bladder relief. With good mental and muscle discipline I managed to get all the way home (including an additional 15-minute tram journey and a 4-minute walk) before draining the liquid my body wanted rid of. Now, while this may be a happy ending to an unexciting story, it demonstrates that it is actually inconceivable that these trains were ever allowed to be brought into service with no toilet facilities. I shudder to think what discomfort must be endured by the very many who rush to catch such a train and then panic when their body relaxes and nature puts in a call. It is simple, NS (National Railways); just remember you are transporting human beings and bring back toilets on all trains making journeys of longer than 15 minutes.


In December, apparently, a certain subject was finally discussed in Dutch parliament and the timing could not have been better. A couple of years ago there was serious rustling among frequent rail travellers about the total absence of toilets on the spanking new, higher-tech, speedier trains that were introduced on the multiple-stop (Sprinter) services across the country. These trains cruise at a speed of 135 km/h and are indeed pretty comfortable and considerably quieter.


star beer guide

Star Beer

star beer guide

The Sentinel Star beer guide By Denson Pierre


(A.B.V. 7.5%)

Taste is king in a world where alcohol reigns’


Even if an instruction about the pouring Saxo Bio is brewed by Brasserie La Caracole, technique could be made prominent, in order Falmignoul, Belgium to assist with what is a lazy head-forming attitude (available in Amsterdam per bottle), this is still a refreshingly tasty golden-blond beer, brewed with sustainable ingredients. It is maybe this aspect of its production style and signature that allows it to sneak into the refined space of a star recommendation but, as we learned with the previous, all-round, masterful brew in this series, back story contributes as much to the overall assessment of a brew as its perceived perfection. Tiny flaws can be worked out. This is one you can spree on with no strong fear of a resultant headache. Taste is king in a world where alcohol reigns. This is microbrewed class.


Mulligan’s Irish Music Bar 18/01/14


ended Recomm

We find the best, most fun, most typical, exciting, or local favourite restaurants etcetera in Amsterdam and bring them to you; an easy way to feel like a local.


To be seen and tasted

Fun, Drinking & Music

Cafe de Toog 1890’s grandeur fashioned into Amsterdam-West, grand, brown cafe-restaurant-cool. Classy drinks and meals. Nicolaas Beetsstraat 142 hs Amsterdam

Parck great fun, beautiful people and simply the best bar food in town! Overtoom 428 Amsterdam

Mulligans Irish Music Bar Amsterdam’s best address for live irish music: Five (5) nights a week! Check our agenda for upcoming sessions. Amstel 100 1017 AC Amsterdam

To Be Seen and Tasted

Connoisseurs Delight

To Be Seen and Tasted

Cafe restaurant Edel Cafe restaurant edel is the perfect place for lunch, dinner or to simply enjoy a drink. edel is a unique place in Amsterdam. Postjesweg 1 1057 DT Amsterdam

Incanto A restaurant with a classic italian kitchen. Venetian chef Simone Ambrosin is known for his pure and simple style of cooking with great feeling for nuance. Amstel 2 Amsterdam

Café Kostverloren Café kostverloren is a contemporary cafe offering the cosiness of a saloon, an open kitchen and the intimacy of a living room. the large terras is great for sunny days. 2e Kostverlorenkade 70 Amsterdam

Fun, Drinking & Music

To be seen and tasted

To be seen and tasted

Cafe-Restaurant Du Cap A spacious and tasty helping to the Mediterranean vibe within Amsterdam’s new ‘West end’ entertainment district. Kwakersplein 2 Amsterdam

Molly Malone’s An irish pub as it should be and a home away from home! Cosy, friendly, and with its very own character! Oudezijds Kolk 9 1012 AL Amsterdam Molly-Malones-Amsterdam/ 293030997411277

Fun, Drinking & Music

Connoisseurs Delight

Fun, drinking and music

Bax A cosy and friendly local café with a focus on special or interesting beers and good quality food. Open 7 days a week with a professional kitchen offering a lunch and dinner service. Ten Katestraat 119 Amsterdam

Café Rose Red You will not see and sample a better selection of the very best of european beer elsewhere. Cordoeaniersstraat 16 Brugge

Gollem gollem’s proeflokaal, gollem and gollem ii represent the best addresses serving the fullest range of top Belgian, Dutch and international beers in Amsterdam. Overtoom 160-161 Amsterdam


To be seen and tasted

Café Oporto Café Oporto is a traditional Amsterdam ‘brown cafe’. Welcoming tourists and regular customers alike, they offer televised sports, wifi and a wide range of reasonably priced beers and spirits. Zoutsteeg 1 1012 LX Amsterdam


Where is this in Amsterdam?


Answer to:


Room 2c film The Killers (1965)

By dpmotions

U Turn (1997) “That’s the difference between you and me; you live here and I’m just passing through”. Oliver Stone directs Sean Penn as an unfortunate, opportunist drifter who finds himself stranded in a tiny Arizona desert town, populated by surreal characters all seemingly obsessed either by money or murderous schemes. Not only the heat suggests parallels with hell, through which Penn passes all for the sake of US$ 200. Featuring compelling cinematography and a stellar supporting cast.


“The only people who do not worry about a million dollars are those who have a million dollars.” The music of John Williams is perfectly accompanied by the deep voice of Lee Marvin in this classic movie, involving muscle cars, cool cinematography and not too many twists. Based on an Ernest Hemingway short story and as entertaining as a film drama can be, we follow the detective work of two hit men, suspicious about how their last, successful contract came to be.

By dpmotions




The Secret of the Sack ‘Getting away with the proverbial and sometimes literal murder is apparently not so difficult

By Dirkje Bakker-Pierre

countries host huge events, seem to hang in the air all the time but are never really picked up on (nobody wants to pick up that rock, imagine what might be crawling underneath). Rumours just float around without any visible effect, except for the occasional fallen scapegoat.

It is as if there is a kind of weird inequality when it comes to people in high-level positions. In politics, for instance – when a bit of corruption is unearthed in parliament, or some tax evasion or a few second houses, a bit of drug abuse or a sex scandal, some money secretly shipped abroad or jobs given to friend’s companies – in most cases a teary-eyed apology is sufficient for the politician in question to continue doing whatever he or she was doing (or not doing) all along. A war was started based upon inaccurate information? Oh well, too late now, better luck next time!

Getting away with the proverbial and sometimes literal murder is apparently not so difficult once one is in a position of power and nothing is actually, really anyone’s fault.

Huge international corporations, like Amazon and Starbucks, get away with shifting incredible amounts of money in such a way that they can avoid paying billions in taxes; Shell can poison whole regions in Africa without anyone taking responsibility or anyone losing their jobs. Even if we set aside the most serious things, like corruption and killing, and just look at those doing a bad job, forgetting some (in hindsight) crucial details, making the wrong estimate, ‘forgetting’ to mention some vital information, saying you’re sorry or “I didn’t mean it like that” or a promise to do ‘it’ better next time seem to be more than enough to retain a position. In football it is usually not so different; stories about mythical amounts of money being shifted to FIFA decision makers, to ensure that unlikely but rich

The exceptions seem to be football managers. In these cases, when anything bad happens to your company (your club), it is their fault. Saying sorry doesn’t get you anywhere, as it is results that count and if the results are bad you will face the wrath of fans, players, the media and the club itself. A few lost matches, unhappy players, the canteen being out of chips, bad weather, the tea not being hot enough, the grass not green enough, could mean you are kicked out on to the curb like a dripping sack of week-old garbage, because we all know that if any problem exists at a football club, the manager is always to blame and the only solution is to get a new one a.s.a.p. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the club gets a fresh new manager. Oh no, it doesn’t work like that. You just scrape one right off the curb because, as we all know, it wasn’t the manager’s fault he got fired; he was just at the wrong club.


Why is it that seemingly the only persons in high-profile, high-salaried jobs who are made accountable for their own results (or lack thereof) or those of the ‘company’ for which they work are football managers?



classifieds 87


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Kerk-off ‘Zuiderkerk and the Westerkerk’ By E.R. Muntrem

In a church vs. church ‘kerk-off’ between the Zuiderkerk and the Westerkerk, the Westerkerk comes out ahead, if only by a crown. One thing about the Westerkerk is that you can King Kong up to it. This is the result of the city’s basic architecture with three- and four- and five-storey houses lined up incongruously next to each other. Roofs melted into soft arrow shapes add peek holes into the sidelines the gaps in height provide; what you see now is cut off from view a step or two further on. Add to this the way the general narrowness and leaning of the streets blocks off altogether sight of something hanging over you or, essentially, right in front of you, and what you use to orient yourself can appear as a surprise, especially if you get lost walking around, as you certainly will. In Amsterdam, no building disappears and reappears with greater frequency than the Westerkerk; its steeple

‘What you use to orient yourself can appear as a surprise, especially if you get lost walking around’ clearly visible ahead, then gone, then offering only its peak, then finally filling the sky as nothing else in town does. The sky-filler view (from across the Prinsengracht) is the one most people see, because they pass it on their way to the Anne Frankhuis where, without exception, you always find the longest queue in town. At the end of a narrow street in the Jordaan the steeple might be the line in a rifle sight. From the far side of Keizersgracht it has a funny kind of face staring at you. And from further up the Prinsengracht you see the tower hanging over the canal, a bent phallus marking that virgin girl’s house, the one the whole world waits to enter. Less dynamic, the Zuiderkerk scores different kinds of points. Any flip-frame, monster-vision approach offers fewer moments of “where did it go?” and “There it is!” Still, sneaking around the small streets directly below, you get the sense of being at the base of something sheer and ominous, which is pretty cool.



‘Five or ten pictures every tourist takes is the Zuiderkerk at night’

‘Nothing in the city is as cool as listening to the Westerkerk ring its big bell’

Better is how the Zuiderkerk redeems the regrettable apartments that form a courtyard on its northern side. Despite the party areas nearby and the general hubbub of the closest streets, you can walk in here and, often enough, be alone.

Nothing in the city is as cool as listening to the Westerkerk ring its big bell, the radiant sound waves of the ‘bongs’ vibrating your eardrums with a human authenticity nothing on screen can ever match. Scooters ruining this hourly event should be ticketed for the offense. The Zuiderkerk’s bells can often be heard in concert with other bells, highlighting the quiet and beauty of the city. I can actually say that I rang the bells in the Zuiderkerk, so the bell distinction is a push.

I was told (it may or may not be true) that no one quite knows who owns the building itself. In this sense, the church is lost. “It’s Friday night. What are you gonna do?” “I‘m going to be alone. Alone with the lost church.” And whereas the best view of the Westerkerk might be debated, a point in the Zuiderkerk’s favour is that its best view is refreshingly certain. One of the five or ten pictures every tourist takes is the Zuiderkerk at night, from the far end of the Groenburgwal. While this may seem a tad clichéd, it is more or less worth moving to Amsterdam for.

Finally, the Westerkerk includes a blue-ish, purplish, onion-shaped gold dome with a toothpick-shaped flagpole on top, a sight that caused my friend Jack to dub it a cocktail church. Often enough, then, I walk the streets of Amsterdam thinking of myself King Konging up to or away from the Cocktail-kerk. We each have our own idiosyncrasies. One thing to enjoy about Amsterdam is how it breeds them.

health & well-being

Rose Quartz


By Evelina Kvartunaite

Writing at the beginning of a fresh New Year, I would like to take a look at a very subtle and lovely gemstone: rose quartz. This gemstone is also known as pink quartz, in recognition of its lovely, soft, pink colour, which is usually translucent.

original childhood or sexual traumas. Fear, resentments and anger can be removed, and trauma from abuse, neglect and lack of love can be ameliorated, by bringing in divine unconditional love and enhancing our inner awareness of it. This also promotes the easing of overwhelming or unreasonable guilt, bringing healing from these conditions, which we impose upon ourselves.

The keyword for this stone is love and it is said to open the heart chakra. When we talk about ‘love’ in this sense, it refers to all kinds of love – self-love, platonic love, relationships and unconditional love. The high energy of quartz lends rose quartz the property of enhancing love in virtually any situation. Bringing love into life and daily situations not only creates inner warmth, it also lowers stress and soothes those around you. Rose quartz is a very happy and loving stone.

When it comes to our physical selves, rose quartz can benefit the heart, the circulatory system, fertility, headaches, migraines, sexual dysfunction, sinus and throat problems, acne, depression and addictions, among others. Rose quartz is also helpful and protective during pregnancy and childbirth, and it is claimed that rose quartz can be helpful in supporting brain functions and increasing intellect. Since this stone has a very gentle and subtle energy, it is also fine for children to wear accessories with rose quartz. Store it in sunlight to keep its energy level charged.

Rose quartz is used to raise self-esteem and create a strong sense of self-worth. Its loving energies teach us to apply this love to ourselves and thereby find ourselves more worthy. This lovely stone is also used to heal and release emotional wounds and traumas, even

– ‘Also known as pink quartz, in recognition of its lovely, soft, pink colour, which is usually translucent’ –

health & well-being

– ‘Fear, resentments and anger can be removed’ –


– ‘All kinds of love – self-love, platonic love, relationships and unconditional love’ –


‘It attracts 152,000-plus attendees from more than 150 countries’

User Interface International CES


By Andrei Barburas

The International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is the global gathering place for everyone who is anyone in the business of consumer technologies. Held in Las Vegas annually, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years; the global stage from which next-generation innovations are introduced on to the marketplace. CES showcases more than 3,200 exhibitors, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more. Its conference programme comprises more than 300 sessions and it attracts 152,000-plus attendees from more than 150 countries. Given that it is devised and organised by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the technology trade

association representing the US$ 203 billion US consumer electronics industry, CES attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers to a forum in which the industry’s most relevant issues are addressed. Yet here I am bursting bubbles again and please accept my apologies if I sound like a spoiled brat. The year is 2014 and we still do not have Marty McFly’s hover board, we are still barely using renewable energy and we are still quite ignorant about the fact that speed kills. In my view, the hottest items produced last year were self-driving cars (Audi, BMW) and wearable tech. Almost all tech giants now produce something you can wear; whether it’s glasses, bracelets, pins or something else. Perhaps the year’s most notable technological failure was Michael Bay’s breakdown due to a faulty teleprompter. One of the year’s highlights was Intel’s announcement that all of its microprocessors released in 2014 will be free of so-called conflict minerals: a class of four materials used to fund armed groups and militias in

‘Pressure companies into procuring minerals through legitimate channels’


to pick up the tab for data usage whenever particular products or services are being used. Once the service is in effect, users will see a ‘sponsored’ symbol in the status bar, whereupon all the data charges will be redirected to the sponsoring company. One thing is for sure, we are and will be spending more and more time in front of phablets (phone + tablet hybrids) with their screens becoming larger and larger, and potentially less time in front of notebooks, where the screens are getting smaller and smaller.

Going back to consumerism, it seems that we are getting more and more addicted to technology and electronics. New and noteworthy releases include those for entertainment (4K TVs, Curved and Wedged TVs by Sony, Playstation Now and outlandish notebook hybrids) and for business, such as AT&T’s sponsored data programme, which offers a way for companies

‘We are and will be spending more and more time in front of phablets’


the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other central African countries. According to The Verge, It’s too early to say whether the move will inspire other technology companies to follow suit, although they and other manufacturers are facing increased political pressure to rein in the conflict mineral trade. New federal regulations, slated to take effect in spring, require companies to publicly disclose whether their products include minerals that originated in the DRC or neighbouring countries. The idea is to pressure companies into procuring minerals through legitimate channels but the rules have been met with stiff resistance from business associations and DRC experts alike.






The Gold Room 96

By Denson Pierre


BODDINGTON FC GK: Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham United) 2.0m – the custodian with the sexiest name in football. It is a shame that a better team than the poor West Ham does not currently hold his signature. Consistently brilliant over many years, while he looks like a small keeper, he is, in fact, 1.93m tall. Rating: 8.65

Wasteful in the main but has had blushes saved by the brilliant Hugo Lloris and the entire Tottenham defence sweeping up behind him. Rating 8.50 MID: Adam Lallana (Southampton) 2.5m – an outstanding emerging talent and a key element in the savvy football being cultivated by the most interesting young manager in the Premier League: Mauricio Pochettino. Lallana and his team put the follies of the other prominent young former manager, Andre Villas Boas at Tottenham Hotspur, into proper perspective, given the disparity in resources and the promise to play attractive and entertaining football. Rating 8.75 MID: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 2.5m – already the leading contender for Player of the Season. Rating 9.25 MID: Jesus Navas (Manchester City) 4.0m – has not had the expected spectacular impact so far, but has recently taken to scoring more heavily when given a chance at free-scoring Manchester City. Rating 8.50 MID: Oscar (Chelsea) 4.5m – guaranteed to flourish as the season crescendos and then explodes into a summer with him as the Brazilian number 10 at the World Cup. Rating: 9.05 MID: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) 5.5m – likely to score positively in most games while playing in the team shown to be the best over the first half of the season. Rating 8.75 FWD: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 4.0m – an outstanding first half of the season. The test is now to see how he copes with the big boys in the Champions League knockout phase. Rating 8.85

DEF: Ben Davies (Swansea City) 2.5m – it is likely that FWD: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 7.5m – the Swansea will tighten up at the back in the second half little genius can still be instrumental in deciding a few of the season. Rating 8.15 titles this season. Rating 9.15 DEF: Jose Fonte (Southampton) 1.0m – can become a chink but, at this price, his work is already done in this game. Rating 8.0 DEF: Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur) 4.0m – another of the ‘headless’, English, speedy, wide players.

Total rating (max. 110) = 95.60 Budget limit = 40m Go to the site for the latest table >


Following my pronouncements on the FFG-CL team of the 2013 portion of the season, we now highlight another top-scoring team; that of rookie James Myers, which is shouting for recognition in 2014. James and his Boddington FC have made a very strong showing recently and must be taken seriously as a contender for the golden envelope in May. There is, though, a caveat, as what James lacks is the ability to effectively cover injuries should they occur (and they usually do). It is always a curse to be at maximum budget with a small number of substitutions remaining, as you can be easily left dead in the water with key players out and insufficient budget leverage to manipulate an anaemic reserve bank. The greatest period of scrutiny lies ahead in the final third of the season and James is an expert fantasy football manager, so he should have factored in all these variables as he makes his assault on the title.


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The Sentinel Amsterdam vol 7-6  

The Sentinel, Amsterdam tri-weekly e-zine with all that is good and informative on lifestyles with perspectives, opinion and sport from Amst...

The Sentinel Amsterdam vol 7-6  

The Sentinel, Amsterdam tri-weekly e-zine with all that is good and informative on lifestyles with perspectives, opinion and sport from Amst...