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Muntjes, bandjes, and a whole lotta speed skating craziness

Posted by speedskating-online on December 12, 2011 at 4:40 AM


Written by Lisa Solbach, german speed skating fan

As you all know, Heerenveen is the speed skating Mecca for athletes and fans from all over the world but especially for the Dutch. This year I also wanted to be a part of the spectacle and so I decided to go to the World Cup in Heerenveen for one day.

Friday, 10 a.m.: time to leave. The Thialf still being 349 kilometers ahead of me and my dear friend Julia, I was already excited and looking forward to the races and the famous atmosphere at the oval. So we got into the car and drove almost four hours straight to Heerenveen. We found a neat parking lot right across the street and started walking the short distance to my personal pearly gates. We made it to the Thialf!

And then our troubles began… As we do not speak or understand Dutch except for a few words and sentences, I felt like being thrown in at the deep end. The very friendly ladies and gentlemen at the entrance told us something very important but I had to admit that we didn’t understand them. So they had to explain everything once again – this time in English. However, everything they said turned out to be bad news. First of all, our affectionately packed ‘care packages’ were cut in half as we had to throw away all our beverages. Secondly, we were not allowed to go back to the car to fetch the really good camera we had forgotten in the trunk. Too bad, we did not notice the missing camera until we had already taken our seats.

And we encountered the language barrier yet again! For example, we had to find out about where to buy ‘muntjes’, so that we would be able to buy something to eat and drink. I guess I pronounced it in the worst possible way when I asked a lovely lady behind one of the counters about those coins. She nevertheless understood what I meant and that is the main thing. Then there was this guy who started asking us about some ‘bandjes’ when we wanted to take a short cut to our seats. Of course, we didn’t have any bandjes yet and so we had to go back to where we had come from in order to pick up wristbands that finally enabled us to take our seats. Dank u wel!

We absorbed the great atmosphere and swam in the orange sea of Dutch speed skating fans and their fan gear. The Glasblazers and their music put everybody in a jolly mood and moving along to their tunes helped to stay warm. The atmosphere in the corners was especially great! Each time the athletes passed the corners, people started screaming, stomping their feed and clapping their hands. It was loud, it was crazy, it was fun!

Last weekend I fell in love with the Thialf in Heerenveen and I will return as soon as possible to cheer on my favorite athletes again!

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