Holland v Ireland Nov 2023

Amsterdam is, like Paris, a great city to simply wander around without any plan. With its endless canals bordered by slender gabled buildings and spanned by arched bridges, it’s an eminently photogenic and walkable city. Or make that a cyclable city; away from the main thoroughfares, traffic on two-wheels vastly outstrips vehicles on four. At least cyclists stay on the cycle lanes and don’t ride through pedestrian pavements, unlike London…

The Rijksmuseum is one of the great galleries of the world and a must visit for first time tourists. Rembrandt House and the Van Gogh Museum are also worth your time. Anne Frank House is a sobering experience and another must do, though advanced booking is required. Queues to get inside the secret annex were long, but shushed and respectable. Unsurprisingly, all Israeli and Palestinian flags were banned.


Chilled, unflappable and taller than average. Also curiously doom-laden about their national team. Netherlands qualified for EURO 2024 with little trouble, but Oranje supporters expect little of their team at next year’s finals.

It’s all artisan burger joints or Argentine steakhouses in Amsterdam, Dutch cuisine takes some searching. Did eventually find somewhere and had a very filling Stamppot Andijvie; a mash potato, meatball, bacon and veg hotchpotch.

Visiting Irish downed vast quantities of Heineken and Amstel in their country of origin. In searching for other Dutch beers, found the Brouwerij Zatte Blond to be equally quaffable.

Johan Cruijff ArenA is one of Europe’s top stadiums to watch a match, that is unless you are in the away section. The entrance to which entails a hike around some Astroturf pitches, extensive body searches and fitful ticket scanners. Then it is an exhausting climb up umpteen stairs, high up into a fenced off corner behind Plexiglas. Many of the 4,000 Irish fans did not make it here for kick-off. It’s a minor miracle there was no serious trouble.

Why do Dutch folk speak such great English? Because their imported American shows on Dutch TV are subtitled rather than dubbed, and so they are regularly exposed to the language. It also explain why Dutch English has a slight American tilt to it.

Cathal Chu

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