Dutch Fever

Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that’s necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.

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Through Cold and Ice, Dutch Fever

The cold has struck Europe. Hard. After a very mellow winter, suddenly temperatures plummeted, especially in the east of Europe. In the Ukraine, over forty-three people died, twenty-eight of them froze to death in the streets. Hospitals are filled with people who suffer from frostbite. More deaths in Poland, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia. Most of the victims were homeless people.

The north of Finland has to deal with almost -40°C, in the north-west of Bulgaria temperatures dropped to -30°C, and even in Greece – sunny Greece – many schools were closed, due to cold. Ferry services have been cancelled because of storms and Athens has opened its public halls to twenty thousand residents who have become homeless because of the crisis. And the weather will worsen, with snow on Crete.

Here in Holland, a century old fever is starting to rise. If first appeared in 1909, a fever that grows more severe with every frosty day. The colder it gets, the higher the Dutch fever flares. It is called the Elfstedentocht-fever. The Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour) is the world’s largest and longest (200 kilometers / 124 miles) speed skating competition and leisure skating tour, and is held in the province of Friesland.

The last time the ice had the required thickness of fifteen centimeters along the entire course was in 1997, and on January 4th of that year, the Eleven Cities Tour started. It was extremely heavy. Temperatures were still below zero in daytime, ‘up’ to -3°C, but because of the heavy winds it felt more like -15°C! The 1997 Tour was the heaviest since the legendary 1963 Elfstedentocht. The Elfstedentocht of 1963 is known as ‘The hell of ’63′, when only 1% of the contestants finished the race, due to the extremely low temperatures -18°C and a harsh eastern wind. Conditions were so horrendous that the winner of ’63, Reinier Paping, became a national hero, and the tour itself legendary.

At the moment the ice is nowhere near the required thickness yet, but the fever is rising. Time to get my own temperature up now, my back yard is covered in a thick layer of snow (by Dutch standards ;)), and I need to shovel a path to the shed. Have a warm weekend!

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18 thoughts on “Dutch Fever

  1. Pingback: The Netherlands, a little country in big water « Christine M Grote

  2. Thank you, Marion, for sending me over here! I know there is always a flip side to wishes and desires, isn’t there? Part of why I wish everyone enough each post is just for that reason. In this case my wish is for just enough winter to make me more appreciative of spring and summer! We have the same problems with our homeless over here in the US – also the elderly, even though not homeless will sometimes freeze to death in their houses or apartments because they cannot afford heating fuel. So sad. Those of us privileged to have more than enough need to do more sharing.

  3. Very sad indeed for the people who suffer from cold and when people have to die because of it…that’s horrible. But you are also right that it brings a lot of fun when one has a warm home. It would be very special to have the greatest of the greatest ice-skating tour @ Holland… i wish it comes true. Our kids have never experienced this because they were to young when the last one happened. These days i wish i could skate fluently but i’ve never been a great skater and now i’m afraid to break something if i would try again. Glad i can enjoy the frosty air and white snow “walking through a Winterwonderland” . :-)

    • Perhaps Holland gets a joint day off if the Elfstedentocht truly will happen. Then we’ll all be glued to the TV and cheer the athletes onward. I don’t dare to skate anymore either, because of my back. But I loved to glide over the ice when I was young. Walking through the snowy landscape is also very enjoyable.

  4. Oh I know, I heard that many people were dying from this extreme cold! That is so sad. We pray for a girl from our church who is a missionary in the Ukraine. I hope she will not grow ill from this bitter cold spell.

  5. I love this post… great information…
    I suppose it is about time winter hit somewhere…. weather here is so all over the board you can’t decide what to wear!

  6. Pingback: Tuin Nieuws | DOLDRIEST

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