On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Hot Holiday Trends

B- and I were in Vienna this past weekend. What a great city! High, high, high on my list of recommendations. We're coffee junkies and since Vienna is the birthplace of the coffee house, we were on cloud nine.

One of the wonderful things about the German-speaking world is their love for Christmas. They really go all out in a way that is not cheap and commercial. Back in the 70s my parents spent four years in Nuremberg -- ground zero for German Christmas. They talk about it to this day. Vienna isn't quite into it as Bavaria, but we did visit about half a dozen Christmas markets complete with stands selling mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Browner than Pete

Back in Holland, most of the gift-giving happens on Sinterklaas Day, so starting in November our mailbox fills up with the same paper-wasting circulars we get back home. This holiday season Kruidvat (the Dutch version of CVS) offers these great gift ideas:

The Philips 15-watt face browner with a 60 minute timer. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like the gift of skin cancer.

For those loved ones that are aware of the dangers of skin cancer, Nivea offers a fake tanner gift set. Kruidvat suggests that you'll be browner than Pete, you know Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas' slave/friend.

The back story is that the Dutch are sun worshippers. When we learned that electricity would be included in our rent, I asked if there was a usage threshold where they would suddenly want us to kick in an extra few bucks (not so strange, this happened to me in college). The property manager said no, no problem unless we installed a tanning bed. We thought that was an odd thing to say until we realized that they were easily available in most appliance stores.

Indeed, preternaturally brown people abound all times of year, though mostly women. Add excessive smoking and intensely dry radiator heating to all the tanning and one finds that many Dutch women look much, much older than they are. It's a bit sad, really.

No Wii for Me

My quest for a Nintendo Wii has hit a snag. We got a call from our neighborhood video game shop where we'd put our name on the reserve list. The shop explained that Nintendo was only supplying them with 35 consoles for all of their three locations. Their supplier couldn't say when they'd be getting anymore. So instead of toughing it out like the rest of the shops in the world, this one decided that they're not going to stock Wiis at all - in protest or something.

We were somewhere in the range of 250th on the list, so we had no hope of getting a Wii anytime soon. I wonder how the first 35 people feel.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine example of how the concepts of "capitalism" and "service" have been interpreted in Holland - "We have over 400 orders for the Wii. There is a delay in getting the shipments because it is so polular. As a result, we have decided not to sell it."

Is it a protest, or was it simply that they could not be bothered to deal with the hassel, even though the Wii would make them a lot of money? It it anger or apathy? A very odd mentality from a nation that (historically) prides itself as "traders"...


12:24 PM GMT+1

Anonymous redsnapper said...

May be smart. The way Nintendo (and Sony) have been playing the releases so far is to short allocations from small resellers so they can increase the allocations to their big resellers. The street price of the console is close enough to the small-count wholesale price, that once you factor in the total staff drain of responding "No I Don't Have Your Order In Yet" 1000 times per day for an indefinite period, trying to sell Wii or PS3 is a huge losing proposition. It may be less about protest and more about just the economic realities of being a small reseller in a world of much bigger players.

11:04 PM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

You make a good point, Red. Too bad they didn't bother to explain that to us on the phone. They only acted really mad at Nintendo. heh

10:39 AM GMT+1


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