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vol. 6 #6 – 5 February 2013

The Sentinel Amsterdam

Integrity, heart, humour

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sport

the ajax kindness confidential of strangers


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in this issue

feature - p.04

perspectives - p.12

review - p. 32

The kindness of strangers

What we do in Amsterdam when it snows

De Ijsbreker

amsterdam city life - p. 41

sport - p. 60

sport - p. 72

Fresh air

White Out

The Gold Room

‘Self-determining Amsterdammers being themselves’

‘I’ve seen talented skiers freak out’

‘A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be crying on the street!’’

BRING BACK

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more star beer guide - p. 44

spotted - p. 48

film review - p. 49

Keizer Karel Goud Blond

Where is this in Amsterdam?

Room 2C

trends - p. 50

health & well-being - p. 52

sport - p. 56

The Beginning

Spa

On the Volley

sport - p. 66

Ajax Confidential

The Sentinel Amsterdam

E-mail: sentinelpost@gmail.com Website: www.thesentinel.eu Contributors: Bambos Demetriou, David King, Dirkje Bakker-Pierre, Evelina Kvartunaite, Ananda Welij, Fan Fabulous and Simon Joseph

Editors: Gary Rudland & Denson Pierre Design, realisation and form: Andrei Barburas & No-Office.nl Webmaster: www.sio-bytes.tumblr.com Webhost: Amsterjammin.com

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 sentinelpost@gmail.com.


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Lara Alice By Denson Pierre

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The Sentinel is now well into its sixth year of existence. With that amount of time past and with us generally dealing with adult themes and activities here in Amsterdam and the wider world, real life has had time to start reflecting creative writing. One of our founding contributors (and a very dear friend) recently had a heavy brush with death. She appears to be on the mend now but this will take time. Lara Alice is someone who can be said to have saved the ‘life’ of this writer on at least two occasions. So, in an effort to send her continuing good vibes and heartfelt wishes for as full a recovery as possible, we have decided to republish her contribution to The Sentinel of 8 September 2008. The way she experiences and sees the world proves she has a lot more to offer. So many things in life are but painful trials; she has always advocated humour as part of its medicine.


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The Kindness of Strangers By Lara Alice

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with tears. I turn my back to my mother without saying anything. I walk down the stairs and exit the building. In an extract from her 2004 novel, All Alone, The early October sun shines warmly and I look at my shadow on the ground before me as I walk, without a Lara Alice recounts the events of a poignant destination, along the canal at the end of our street. day in her life as a single mother in Today, I don’t even have money to buy diapers for Luna. The tears start streaming out of my eyes and I sit down Amsterdam. This true story and miniadventure takes place in 1991, when she was in the entrance of a building, to bury my face between my arms. I cry. I don’t know what else to do. Priscilla dealing not only with being an illegal was also fired because the summer season is finished immigrant, but the general alienation that is and there are not many tourists left. She lives in a hotel room with her boyfriend and can’t help me. My mother easily possible in Amsterdam to this day. is sick and scared, Luca has no money to buy food for My mother is sick, she doesn’t know what with and she us. Carel can’t convince his uncle to let us stay in the doesn’t want to know. All she knows is that she’s scared. building with him. And then I hear: The summer is over, and the days are cold again. Carel’s ‘Hello beautiful girl, why are you crying?’ I look up to see two heroin junkies smiling at me. uncle sent him a letter saying that if we did not leave ‘I have no money to buy diapers for my daughter,’ I tell the building within fifteen days, he would call the them. police. ‘You must go back to Portugal and take Luna with you,’ ‘Oh, don’t worry, we’ll help you,’ they say. ‘We’ll take you to a hospital. They’ll give you diapers. Come with my mom says. ‘You must ask your dad to help you.’ us.’ ‘No way,’ I tell her. ‘When I left home I left for good.’ ‘Alright,’ I accept, and get up. They keep smiling at ‘Then ask Romão to help you. He’s Luna’s father.’ me, happy about who knows what. They must be the ‘I left him too. I’m not going back.’ happiest junkies I’ve ever seen, and full of energy. ‘Well then, what are you going to do, can you tell me?’ They take me to Amsterdam Central Station, where ‘I don’t know.’ we catch the metro without paying. We get out four ‘Luca and I are going to move into the hotel where you stops later, at Wibautstraat, and walk a little way to a worked during the summer. We don’t have money to hospital. They follow me in, say nothing to anyone, and take care of you and Luna and you don’t have a job any start walking along corridors as if they were staff, or more. How are you going to feed yourself?’ something. They take me to the maternity ward, find a nurse on the way and ask her for diapers. She looks at I feel my stomach contract and my eyes begin to fill


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us in a surprised and uncertain manner, and says: ‘I’m not really sure I should give you diapers...’ ‘Yes,’ says one of the junkies, ‘but our friend needs them for her daughter and she has no money. You can help us, can’t you?’

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The nurse goes and gets about five disposable diapers and hands them to me, still not appearing very convinced. ‘Now, please go away,’ she says. ‘Thanks!’ say the junkies, and the three of us move on. Then they tell me: ‘Now let’s go get more diapers in another hospital!’ I smile, for the first time that day, and reply: ‘I think that’s enough for today. Tomorrow my mother’s boyfriend must have some money again for shopping.’ ‘How about food? Are you hungry? Do you have food for your daughter?’ ‘I have food for Luna, but not for me.’ ‘Then come with us, beautiful, we’ll take you to a place where you can eat!’ ‘Alright.’

The Kindness of Strangers I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, 39 years ago and moved to Amsterdam in 1991. Almost ever since, I have been a translator of Portuguese-German-English. I was a single mother but I now believe this to be over. My daughter is now 19. I have written five novels and would like to think that they are most appropriate for teenagers, but that’s not for me to decide. Visit: http://www.lulu.com/eslalala

This time we catch a tram, again without paying. They take me to a street I’ve never been to before, with a huge graffiti mural of a woman’s face. We walk about a hundred metres and enter a social centre where there are more junkies and bums, sitting on couches or at the tables dotted around. There’s a television playing MTV. From behind the counter, someone asks me if I want tea or coffee and how many sandwiches. I ask for a cheese sandwich and coffee with cream and sugar. My two junkie friends tell me they’ll be heading off and wish me good luck. ‘Thanks a lot for everything!’ I say. ‘You’re welcome! A pretty girl like you shouldn’t be crying on the street!’ one of them replies as they leave. I sit there, eating my cheese sandwich and looking at the television. Then a Guns & Roses video comes on. They sing ‘Don’t you cry tonight, there’s a heaven above you, baby…’ and my eyes fill with tears again, because I think that song is playing especially for me at that precise moment.


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perspectives

What we do when it snows in Amsterdam

By Bambos Demetriou


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cafe/bar review

CafĂŠ/Bar Review De Ijsbreker 32

An Amsterdam classic


cafe/bar review

‘Famous for having one of the nicest, tree-studded, outside eating and drinking areas in town’

By Antonia Egon

The spacious restaurant is light with an open feeling and the space is buzzing with all sorts of people enjoying their Saturday lunchtime with friends, family or on their own. The great renovation in 2010 has given the place an unparalleled interior when it comes to historic details and authentic elements mixed with modern architecture. De Ijsbreker prides itself on being not just a restaurant, but also a bar, a lunchroom, a café, a workplace and a games lounge; so, something for everyone and for every moment of the day, we were certainly made to feel like we were more than welcome. We take a seat at one of the few remaining free tables (of the very many) in the back area, which has the feeling of an indoor garden and puts you in a bit of a summery mood (be on time if you want to have lunch here on a Saturday!). There is bright green ivy climbing along the walls and the soft white light coming from

the ceiling really makes you feel like you are outside. The friendly staff are well trained and very professional and polite, almost un-Amsterdam-like. We order some nice latte macchiatos from the extended coffee menu and a Gerardus Dubbel from the wide selection of beers on draft. Everything is absolutely pleasant and served as it should be. For lunch we tried the red lentil soup with dates, which was very creamy and tasty (even though it didn’t contain cream!) and definitely a good hearty lunch to get you through the afternoon. This was followed by the best shrimp croquettes you can find in Amsterdam (Holtkamp) served in proper Belgian style, with some fried parsley and lemon slices. Mmmmm… Beside the utterly pleasant experience, the fine and wholesome quality food and drinks, and the feeling you can easily hang out there for hours, this unique place has a rich history dating as far back as the 1800s. In fact, there are so many stories to tell that there’s even been a book written about it by the well-known Dutch historian Geert Mak (unfortunately, I don’t think an English version is available).

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On a lovely, blue-skied Saturday afternoon in mid-January we ventured outside Amsterdam near-West to check out a place that I hadn’t visited in a long, long time, and certainly not during winter. De Ijsbreker, located on the Amstel near the Amstel Hotel, is famous for having one of the nicest, tree-studded, outside eating and drinking areas in town and is usually a place I would go for a cold drink on a warm afternoon. But, believe you me, it is definitely also worth a visit during the chillier months.


cafe/bar review

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‘Not just a restaurant, but also a bar, a lunchroom, a café, a workplace and a games lounge’


cafe/bar review

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cafe/bar review

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‘Staff are well trained and very professional and polite, almost un-Amsterdam-like’


cafe/bar review

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‘This unique place has a rich history dating as far back as the 1800s’


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classifieds


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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

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Mechelen Mechelen


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amsterdam classifieds city life


amsterdam city life

: ACK B BRING fresh air By Denson Pierre

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In no time at all, or at least the almost five years since the second part of the smoking ban came into effect, smokers and smoking now stick out like a tar-stained finger in classy Amsterdam. This is not intended as pompous positioning about the addiction of adults but a plea for them to use the now compulsory facilities and open air to indulge their legally censured lifestyle (Tobacco Law 2004/2008). Amsterdam being Amsterdam and self-determining Amsterdammers being themselves has led to a gradual relaxation on smoking by proprietors of hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés. There are all sorts of cheats employed in a recession to hold on to ‘regulars’ who smoke and stubbornly think they ought to be able to do so indoors. It would be just fine if it was indoors at their own homes instead of fumigating enclosed and artificially heated public spaces with ridiculous reasoning, such as “It is after dinnertime,”, “Ah, there are only smokers here, mainly,” or the utterly foolish “I would lose business by asking these people to smoke outside... With these ‘good’ customers we can make enough extra money to pay the fine, if it comes, so it is better that my regulars smoke inside”. Crazy and irresponsible. Sufficient time has passed for proprietors to designate and ventilate indoor smoking areas on premises, where it is possible, and instruct cli-

ents to face the cold outside, where it is not. Or, if it is a (minimal staff <70m2) smoking bar, accept that the vast majority of young or old, clean clothes wearing, freshly hair-washed punters, simply will not visit their premises on more than one occasion. The Sentinel says bring back fresh air practices in all cafés, restaurants and bars during their licensed hours of business. This has nothing to do with an opinion on the right to smoke, or rights and wrongs of smoking, but the greater right of Amsterdammers (>70% of whom do not smoke) to swing through premises designated as useful for public hospitality and not be assaulted by a foul cloud of cigarette smoke, which surely cannot be interesting or healthy, especially around food service areas. There can be no further ignorant doubt about the continuing work of the authorities to gradually and emphatically enforce the fines (progressively increasing in such a way that, after the second, infringers will most definitely toe the legal line). To those proprietors who think they are not being monitored, I suggest that they look up the numbers of Amsterdam businesses that have been warned, fined and are already on last warnings, facing business-crippling further fines and potential loss of licence. In Amsterdam, we still do whatever the hell we want but we do so freely and do not cause upset to others. Fresh air for all, please.


classifieds

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www.yourtuliptour.com

For complete and world class tours of Prague Packages include: • Hidden and playful Prague (for families with young children) • Literary Prague • Prague Architecture through the ages • Religion and the city • The old city at night *These are detailed tours designed for visitors who wish to explore with great detail and not suitable for simply sight-seeing tourists.

Day segments and rates: PR: 08:00-12:30hrs / AG: 13:30-16:30hrs / UE: 17:30-21:30hrs All sessions are priced at u 25 per single adult. Group size upper limit = 8. Accompanied children under the age of five are gratis and school aged children pay 25%. Family package rates are negotiable.

Contact:

Jaroslav Cernosek +420 602 228 797 Mail: jcernosek@centrum.cz

JC Tours


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star beer guide


star beer guide

The Sentinel Star beer guide By Denson Pierre

Keizer Karel Goud Blond

(8.5 % A.B.V.)

‘Life experience needed to be part of this beer connoisseurs’ club’ 45

A beer most appropriately standing in the degustation category. Full of taste and flavour, the finery of fruit around the edges make this another master brew from our Belgian cousins. It is worthwhile noting that the brewery makes sure to wave-off binge drinkers in its own marketing and promotional material. There is a qualification, based upon life experience, needed to be part of this beer connoisseurs’ club. Ingenious... They ask that you be older than 35 years of age before trying this superior brew. One glass/bottle is the correct dosage during any given session, so try taking it around fine food, allowing the sensations to form a chorus. Keizer Karel Goud Blond is brewed by Brouwerij Haacht, Boortmeerbeek, Belgium.


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recommended

De Ijsbreker, 12/01/13

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.


g 9 3812 SZ Amersfoort

recommended

35 75To- Be Fax 033 - 454 35 79Connoisseurs Delight Seen and Tasted filmproef@eurogifts.nl te: www.eurogifts.nl

Fun, Drinking & Music

ORDERNUMMER: 6 ARTIKELNUMMER: 6

Opera Prima Patisserie Bistro Traiteur The best place in town for lunch, exquisite high teas or brunches and all of your luxury catering, both private and corporate!

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

St. Antoniebreestraat 142 Amsterdam www.tisfris.nl

Kinkerstraat 228 Amsterdam www.operaprima.nl

Amstel 100 1017 AC Amsterdam www.mulligans.nl

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.

Café Kostverloren Café Kostverloren is a contemporary cafe offering the cosiness of a saloon, an open kitchen and the intimacy of a living room. During summer there is a large, sunny terrace and during winter, an open fireplace!

Postjesweg 1 1057 DT Amsterdam www.edelamsterdam.nl

Incanto Incanto is a restaurant with a classic Italian kitchen. Venetian chef Simone Ambrosin is known for his pure and simple style of cooking with feeling for nuance. The wine list contains over 150 Italian wines. Amstel 2 Amsterdam www.restaurant-incanto.nl

Fun, Drinking & Music

Connoisseurs Delight

Neighbourhood cosy

Café Oporto Café Oporto is a traditional Amsterdam ‘brown cafe’. Welcoming tourists and regular customers alike, they offer televised sports, wireless internet connection and a wide range of reasonably priced beers and spirits.

Planet Rose Planet Rose is the first Caribbean restaurant in the Netherlands, which specializes in Jamaican cuisine. The menu features a daily changing selection of Jamaican/ Caribbean dishes and they ensure that you enjoy the whole experience while dining with them!

Zest Zest is fine food, warm atmosphere and classy drinks with regular semi-acoustic (live) music and DJs (Thursday to Sunday). Amsterdam’s newest and freshest!

Zoutsteeg 1 1012 LX Amsterdam www.cafeoporto.net/home

Nicolaas Beetsstraat 47 Amsterdam www.planetrose.info

Bilderdijkstraat 188 Amsterdam www.facebook.com/clubzest.nl

2e Kostverlorenkade 70 Amsterdam www.cafekostverloren.nl

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Cafe Tisfris Cafe Tisfris is recognisable for its landmarks, funky pillars and terrace. Tisfris offers a friendly service and is a great pit stop for “yummy” refreshments.


spotted

Where is this in Amsterdam?

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Answer to: sentinelpost@gmail.com


room2c

Room 2c film By David King

Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein (1948) Of all the comedy duos Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen, these two stand out just above Laurel and Hardy as the funniest ever. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the classic combination of Lou as the fool and Bud as the straight guy, and in this film they encounter Frankie, the Wolfman and Dracula with hilarious results. If you become hooked, like I did (again), serious laughter always follows. Official title: Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein

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Fargo (1996) A Coen brothers screenplay of dark humour set in a snowy landscape. A simple plan to defraud an in-law of significant funds leads a struggling car salesman to arrange the kidnapping of his own wife for ransom. The low calibre of the hired kidnappers was not taken into consideration, however, and their bungling leads to an increasing body count in the sparsely populated Minnesota. One of the funniest films of the 1990s.

By dpmotions


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trends


trends

The Beginning ‘Will South Park do an episode on Zwarte Piet?’

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By Dirkje Bakker-Pierre

2013 is already well on its way and we are all up for making it another great year, even though we have already forgotten about our resolutions, which we started so positively on the first of January… Probably because we were still drunk from the night before and the idea of losing a few unnecessary kilo’s seemed relatively easy. The feeling of a fresh beginning always produces sensations of new hope and new chances. What will this year bring? Will Americans really give up their right to bear arms? Is 13 an unlucky number? Will the UK leave the European Union? Will Bradley Wiggins turn out to be a drug cheat? Will there be ‘contact’? Will Manchester United buy back Cristiano Ronaldo? Will there be a new book-series hype? Will house prices sink further? Will Russia and the US grow further apart and begin Cold War II? Will South Park do an episode on Zwarte Piet? Will Peter Griffin win a Nobel Prize? Will we win the lottery? Will the ice completely disappear from the North Pole? Will Ben

Affleck become a governor, like Arnie, and will Arnie go back to acting? Will the Dutch cabinet collapse again? Will we eat too much? Will we drink too much? Will the world end? Will Berlusconi be back? Will China cut off the Internet completely? Will there be even more extreme natural disasters? Will we find a cure for cancer? Will people ever learn? Will we be able to solve the world food problems? Can Japan keep up appearances? Will the name Kim be the most popular name on the charts? Will our queen retire? Will we find life on Mars? Will David Attenborough make another series? Will more gadgets be invented and will we buy them? Will the sea level rise massively? Will human rights be universally respected? Will the crisis dip Europe into relative poverty? Can Messi break his own record? Will we take the time to enjoy life and whatever it brings us? Is change possible and do we really want it? Is hope the only thing left for mankind in 2013?


health & well-being

– ‘Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire are most famous for fully enjoying luscious water treatments’ –

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Spa By Evelina Kvartunaite

Recently, it came to my attention that one of the most relaxing places you can think of is a spa. Spas have a really long history and it seems that there are various interpretations of where the name came from. One that really appeals is that it stands for sanitas per aqua; a Latin phrase meaning health through water. Water therapy rituals and herbal remedies have been used in healing for a very long time and the spa concept predates Christianity. Native inhabitants of Australia and the Americas used herb-infused compresses and went to sauna-like bath houses. In Egypt, around the fourth century BC, therapeutic mud was added to the experience, as well as mineral water in the Mesopotamia region, around the third century BC. In India and Egypt people also started adding massages and physical exercise. Spas have their roots in areas of Egypt, Babylon and Mesopotamia but Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire are most famous for fully enjoying luscious water treatments.

Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire

In ancient times water was used to treat many ailments. The Greeks preferred natural spring water and also enjoyed swimming in the sea (Thalassotherapy). At first it was considered a luxury to bathe in private bathrooms and one which only wealthy people could afford. Over time, public baths started to appear. They were considered sacred and were assigned to different deities. Writings from Homer and other classics indicate that the Greeks enjoyed public baths and saunas as early as 500 BC. Probably the most famous physician of Ancient Greece was Hippocrates (460-380 BC). He rejected the religious approach to diseases and focused on disease prevention and diagnosis. He made the famous assertion that nature is a healing power. Baths of the Hippocratic era were believed to promote more than simply hygiene. Water was used to improve health and treat diseases. Often, bath treatments were combined with sport and healthy living education. The first Roman thermal baths (thermae) were created by the Roman Emperor and general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (63-12 BC). His successors continued


health & well-being

– ‘The famous assertion that nature is a healing power’ –

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the trend, adding more extravagance and luxury. The Romans continued Greek traditions and built mineral and thermal water bath houses. Unlike the Greeks, however, who bathed after intensive physical workouts, Romans thought that bathing was more important than sport. This was one of the reasons bath houses became places for social interaction and leisure activities. It is thought that these were the origins of the spa industry we know today. Spa traditions in other cultures

Although it was the Romans who made hot and cold baths ​popular, as well as valuing massages, physical exercise, skin treatments and relaxation, they were not alone. The first Japanese hot mineral water bath was opened near Izumo in the year 737 and was called onsen. In later centuries, Japanese people began to settle in the first peri-urban villas (ryoken), where guests were provided with a bed, food and were offered indoor and outdoor bathrooms equipped with cedar baths, called ofuro. These urban villas surrounded Zen gardens. In Finland and the Baltic region sauna traditions began to develop in the year 1000. This kind of spa

ritual involved a dry steam sauna, aimed at producing sweat, which was washed away with ice-cold water. This tradition is still widely practiced in Finland, where statistically every second person has a sauna. The Turkish Ottoman Empire, which lasted around 600 years (1299 to 1922), also contributed to the spa industry. The Ottomans created a wonderful mosaiccovered, vaulted Hammam, the best example of which are the baths of Roxelana, built in 1556. This huge building has high-steam sauna rooms, individual body scrub rooms and marble surfaces to facilitate massages. During the Ottoman period it became an important social centre, especially valued by Muslim women. The Middle Ages

After the collapse of the Roman Empire and arrival of Christianity in 476, bathing culture began to gain a negative reputation and bathing was officially banned. Bathing facilities were only accessible to wealthy people, since they were not bound by the rules of the church. Antipathy towards bathing continued for centuries, during which time people would often go longer than a year without washing themselves. Bathing went back to being a normal practice in


health & well-being

– ‘Bath houses became places for social interaction and leisure activities’

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people’s lives in the thirteenth century, influenced by the Moorish culture of Southern Europe and also Muslim countries in North and West Africa. Public baths were restored and were free to enter, which often meant they were packed with people taking the time to bathe. Renaissance

In the Renaissance era the first bathing treatment facilities were built around natural healing water springs. These included the Paracelsus mountain mineral springs in Switzerland, the Belgian town of Spa, Baden-Baden in Germany and Bath in England. The first scholarly study of the therapy developed by Karlovi Varai (Czech Republic) was published in 1522. It explained how to use therapeutic mineral water to treat various illnesses. Saunas also have a negative association, however. In 1350 public baths across Europe were closed in order to stop disease from spreading. Later, in 1538, in France, all bath houses were destroyed following a syphilis epidemic. New Age

Nature gives us everything we need to be healthy. Priest and naturopathy practitioner Sebastian Kneipp (1821-

1897) introduced a holistic spa treatment model, which has been successfully used as a preventative treatment and natural healing method. During his lifetime, Kneipp was trying to create a systematic training method based on water and medicinal plants, the healing power of knowledge and supplemented by his own insights. Kneipp’s name is associated not only with scientifically based natural products but also with the philosophy of holistic living. His view emphasised the importance of everyday human behaviour and natural environmental balance. According to Kneipp, human health is affected by the following key elements: water, plants, exercise, diet and a balanced lifestyle. Europe’s largest spa of the nineteenth century was also only for the rich who visited for the therapeutic effects of water. To this day, water treatments are considered a stepping stone to spa services.


health & well-being

– ‘Bathing went back to being a normal practice in people’s lives in the thirteenth century’ –

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– ‘Create a systematic training method based on water and medicinal plants’ –


sport

On The Volley

By Simon Joseph

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Vanishing point ‘Kicking any habit is not easy’

‘We find ourselves in a place where there is just too much to lose’

It has been about six months now since I decided to stop following football. Kicking any habit is not easy, even if it is only supposed to be temporarily, and eliminating the desire to go back to said addiction certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, time is the greatest healer, we are led to believe. So, maybe the longer this abstention goes on the easier it’ll become, because we’re already past the halfway point of the football season and not only my desire to track the progress of my team is on the wane, but some of my idiosyncrasies surrounding the beautiful game are vanishing with it.

ourselves in a place where there is just too much to lose. Until recently, I’d got to a point in my life when even spotting a magpie (the bird, not a Newcastle United supporter) used to be particularly dangerous on match days. The merest glimpse of one could send me close to despair, two to near ecstasy. These days, they’re nothing more than a black and white bird at the bottom of the garden; not much different from any other. So, my superstitious nature is disappearing too; not just on match days, but in general. Superstition is nothing more than the belief in supernatural causality, not based on human reason. To believe in superstition, then, is to believe in such things as premonitions, fortune-telling, witchcraft or football. Where this stems from is difficult to say – how do belief systems arise?

My belief in Tottenham Hotspur and what they might possibly achieve was certainly in contradiction to human reason. But it isn’t just me who believes in a One notable oddity that’s disappeared is fear: the fear of false sense of accomplishment; we all play along with losing a game, of losing the bragging-rights over mates, it. How else does support remain loyal? In fact, the of losing confidence in something you revere. Fear puts more belief we have in the possibility of our club doing us in an awkward position. Week in week out, we find well and the more we fail to understand how money


sport

‘Football stupefies even its most casual followers’

removes competition from the game, the better we can feel about ourselves as supporters, since we are in some way associated with our club. Combined with this narcissistic sense of greatness is an irrational beliefsystem, often steeped in superstition. Perhaps it’s like believing in a god or living under a tyrannical regime: irrational belief-systems develop out of ignorance and fear.

part of this irrational belief I’d contrived. When we lost at Highbury that season, I pleaded with her: why didn’t you wear your lucky undies? I did, she replied, innocently. With my belief-system in tatters and despair about to set in, something suddenly occurred to me. What colour, I asked? The white ones, she replied. Oh no! You should’ve worn your away kit…

Years ago I bought a present for my girlfriend from the club shop – a set of Spurs underwear: one pair of lilywhite knickers for home games, and one pair of navy blue for away games. They quickly became part of my superstitious practices. I seriously believed that if she wore them on match days, Spurs would win. Perhaps more to the point, I believed they would lose, if she didn’t wear them. At the time she lived on Highbury Hill, and the old enemy’s stadium was literally at the end of her back garden. When Tottenham played at home I would make sure she was wearing the lilywhite knickers, while the navy blue pair hung in her bedroom window, which was clearly visible from the North Bank. Certain it would bring us luck, I would ask her to repeat the process in reverse for away games, as

As the old year turned inconspicuously into the new and the football season continued to labour along without me, I began to feel a weight lifting off my back. This turnaround has woken me, as if from some kind of reverie. Instead of my passions being diverted along artificial channels, I’m beginning to see football for what it really is. Football stupefies even its most casual followers: facilitated through the hope of winning, their support remains an absurd toil. Believing in football, then, is perhaps akin to believing in superstition. There’s no more reality in 4-4-2 than there is in 666 or Friday the 13th. So, no more fear of walking under a ladder for me, or breaking a mirror, or throwing salt over my left shoulder to catch the devil in the eye. I’ve no idea what happened to the knickers?

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‘This narcissistic sense of greatness is an irrational belief-system’


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white out sport

State of mind By Ananda van Welij

‘Freeskiing will be part of the Olympic Games in 2014’

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Just another girl from a country without mountains, addicted to snow.

Freeskiing is still a young sport. It has been around for almost a decade and a lot has changed over the years. From skiers hitting up the snowboard fun parks, being the rebels trying to sneak in and trying new things, to the official announcement last year that half-pipe and slope-style freeskiing will be part of the Olympic Games in 2014. Quite an accomplishment, if you ask me. It is almost eight years since I witnessed my first big, international freeskiing competition. I was only there as a spectator, supporting my then boyfriend. Many more have followed and I’ve seen competitions being held for the first time, running for years and being shut down as a result of the economic crisis. I’ve been to amateur competitions open to everyone that focused on just having fun with friends, to the big X Games in Aspen, Colorado: the Olympics of extreme sports. It’s at those first fun competitions with friends where you discover you’re good at something, that you have a drive to go for something, overcome your fear and show the world what you’ve got. It’s the first step in developing the mental toughness that is required to be a professional athlete.

I’ve seen talented skiers freak out at the start of their run and mess up like they just got out of a sick bed. I’ve seen them get sweaty hands, grim faces and crash and be injured, all because they have trouble dealing with the pressure. I’ve also seen skiers who have trouble putting things together beforehand ending up surprising friends, enemies and mostly themselves by doing everything perfectly when it matters most and getting that podium spot. The arrival of freeskiing at the Olympics has not only had an effect on the support and attention the top athletes are getting; over the past few months I’ve seen it having an effect on their mental state. Some are coping better than others. Some simply don’t care about the Olympics, while others will extend their career by a year, or two, in the hope of making it to the illustrious Olympic Games. It’s interesting to observe, especially because right now about 90% of the people who have been and still are competing against each other in ‘normal’ competitions, like the X Games, are the same as those trying to make the podium at the Olympics. The big prize is just a bit bigger. A bit more money, a bit more worldwide attention, a bit more support from the national ski federation, your name in a few more newspapers.


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And that’s just it. Just that little bit extra has changed some people’s minds. It causes them stress and makes them feel bad for going out to a birthday drink with a good friend two months before the first qualification stage even comes into view, and they still make it to bed before 11.00pm. Isn’t having a laugh and taking a step back from the snow for a few hours taking care of yourself, too? The mental you, the one who has to convince himself or herself to fly 20 metres through the air again and overcome the fear of spinning round three times while doing so? Isn’t it necessary to take a step back once in a while to refresh yourself and prepare for moving up to the next level? I’ve spoken to a couple of professional freeskiing athletes, who have a good chance of making it to the Olympics, about this. One of them said: “I think right now I’m doing pretty well with the pressure, because I try to see it as just another competition. Yes, it has always been a dream to go to the Olympics, a dream that can now become a reality. But I refuse to let it freak me out, allow new and extra media attention get to me and lose the fun I have in what I do just because they want to see a medal around my neck. In the end, if I don’t have fun, I won’t be as happy as I could be, standing on that podium.”

It’s clear that the mental game of the sport is progressing and professionalising just as quickly as the sport itself and the tricks we see flying through the air. Inclusion in the Olympics has kicked the sport into overdrive. And just like everything that steps up to a new level, some will progress with it, some will have to take a step back and others will have the opportunity to turn a dream into a reality. Maybe this is easy for me to say, not being one of the competitors trying to qualify, but I just can’t help but notice and think about what’s going on.  I hope a lot of my friends will make it to the Olympics Games. I hope to be there to cheer them on and celebrate just as hard afterwards as we do at any other competition. But I also really hope that on the road to Sochi they will allow themselves to have fun and not forget to live their lives, and have a good laugh about silly things. Because after the Games are over, life still goes on.  

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‘I’ve seen competitions ‘Overcome your fear and being held for the first time, show the world what you’ve running for years and being got’ shut down as a result of the economic crisis’


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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Surprising friends, enemies and mostly themselves by doing everything perfectly when it mattersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;


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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I also really hope that on the road to Sochi they will allow themselves to have funâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;


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Ajax Confidential

Ajax: the club with 7.6 million supporters

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‘Statistics say that Ajax has 7.6 million supporters’

‘About 1.5 million Dutch people are below the age of eight’

By Fan Fabulous

Do you support Ajax? No, it’s too easy to support Ajax. Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. Statistics say that Ajax has 7.6 million supporters from every part of our small country; that’s 46% of the entire population. The Netherlands has a population of around 16.5 million, 8.4 million of whom are female. If they are not considered ‘real’ football supporters, which is how ‘we’ football supporters think of them, of course, that leaves us with 8.1

million potentially ‘real’ football supporters. Oh, and about 1.5 million Dutch people are below the age of eight, leaving only 6.6 million potential football supporters, all of whom and more, apparently, support Ajax. If numbers really don’t lie then men certainly do so on Sundays.


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‘We have a beautiful city to support’

I was born in 1985 and grew up in and around Amsterdam. My grandfather and great grandparents lived in Betondorp, which is located opposite the old ‘De Meer’, where Ajax played when it was still called a stadium. Because they lived in Betondorp, my family celebrated birthdays and weddings at the Ajax stadium, holding parties in front of the well-stocked trophy cabinet. Everyone at my school supported Ajax. When Ajax played during school hours, we were allowed to watch it. There were guys with Ajax mountain bikes and every single birthday of someone in our class would be an excuse to go to the Ajax training ground and pick some grass from the field. So there was no doubt about it, I had to be an Ajax fan. By the time I was 10 years old I had reached my peak as a football supporter. I painted my face white, red and white for every Champions League match we played, which must have helped us a lot in winning the Champions League that year.

though they will leave when they hit 21.

Maybe we Ajax supporters have an easier task in being fans of our club. We have a beautiful city to support, we have won the national league on 31 occasions and are about to win it for the 32nd time. Some might say ‘Amsterdamse bluf’ to this but we had and still have the greatest players from around the world, even

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‘My family celebrated birthdays and weddings at the Ajax stadium’

But is it really easy to love Ajax? I don’t know. We have a stadium that, from the outside, looks like a UFO and even from the inside it’s still not possible to identify it, because it is painted red, orange, blue and green. These are the colours of an American Football team called the Amsterdam Admirals, which played and was based there for 12 years. Comparing this to an almost 113 year old, successful association football club, it should be logical to use Ajax’s colours but, even five years after the Amsterdam Admirals’ final game, we still have the beautiful colours of that legendary American Football club. Thanks to our 7.6 million supporters, we are able to hide these colours. There are 58 sections within the stadium and you are allowed to stand during matches in exactly seven of them. This leads to a ‘great football experience’, especially if you are asked to sit down by someone speaking in an accent that you can’t even understand. Sometimes it seems like the stadium is filled with supporters from all over the Netherlands, except Amsterdam. When it empties, at least 70% leave by train.


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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;It seems like the stadium is filled with supporters from all over the Netherlandsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;


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The Gold Room 72

By Denson Pierre

As closely as managers in the FFG-CL follow the permutations in the lives and form of Premier League players in whom we invest our time and effort, there is but one competition in which we hope to see our own stars ultimately shine: The Champions League.

anxiously awaiting the final whistle, knowing that one or more of your star players have scored positively and may have nudged you into a prize position after a long season of this super fantasy challenge. Two players are key to the success of their clubs, primarily, but are also vital to the outcome of this season’s FFG-CL. They cannot be fairly compared, as one is a master and the other but an overrated yet occasionally impressive performer.

The Barclays Premier League is a sensational, weekly fix over nine months of the year but it is only when we get to this stage of the season that we become glued to the higher skill levels and tactical displays of the best real-life managers, and certainly the highest level of skill and football nous being displayed by this select band of players. The last-16 of the Champions League offers no place to hide. No matter how they got there, teams find that statistics and probability tend to catch up with them, as only the best four teams within the competition will make it to the semi-finals.

Robin van Persie – for Sir Alex Ferguson to declare you the ‘complete footballer’ is simply one of the most absolute testimonies to the effort the former Rotterdam street footballer has made in sticking with his natural ability, training, discipline, injuries, continuous honing of skills and a clear love for the game, which, from the outside at least, supersedes his megalomania. He could ask for anything as he is simply that good, but he just asks for positive football and a chance to help Manchester United to the final stages of this season’s Champions League.

For the first time in many years the knockout stages of the Champions League are arriving with only two Premier League teams still involved. This concerns FFG-CL managers, since there is no great confidence that Manchester United or Arsenal have what it takes to triumph this year and so keep us playing our fantasy game to the very last day of the season, in May. We remain open to surprises, however, as it would be much more fun to spend the Champions League Final

Theo Walcott – oh, to be fast, English, good looking and cocky. Anything is possible now with this young man, who has just managed to agree a contract for £25 million, over three years, from Arsenal. The consensus view is that he is not consistently good enough for this amount of attention or money. Maybe he will come good more often than not and poke a few goals past ostensibly better teams. Maybe?


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The Sentinel Amsterdam vol. 6 #6