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Things to do in Amsterdam, The Pig Newsletter
issue#28 October/November 2009

Pig Amsterdam News

Europe's Famous Hostels

Check out the best bits of the Europe's most famous hostels with one click!

You might know the Flying Pig Backpacker hostels are (proud) members of the ‘EFH’ – Europe’s Famous Hostels.

This association is often recognized as ‘the best hostels in the European travel world’. If you book any of these hostels, you will be guaranteed with a memorable stay, while still keeping yourself on a cheap and reasonable budget! Each of Europe’s Famous Hostels is independently & locally owned, assuring a local traGet to know our friends in Europevel experiEurope Famous   Hostelsence. They all must adhere to the highest level of safety, & quality while preserving a local flair.

The hostels are located in Amsterdam, Bad Gastein, Barcelona, Berlin, Bruges, Cardiff, Corfu, Dublin, Edinburgh, Interlaken, Lisbon, Loch Ness, London, Munich, Nice, Prague, Riga, Rome, Salzburg,Valencia, Vienna, and in the future, more hostels more hostels will join.

Now, they have a great new feature: each hostel has made new videos showcasing the best bits about their locations so that you guys can see where you’re heading to. All you have to do is pick out the hostel you’re interested in from famoushostels.com and drop the name & 'famous hostels' into a YouTube search bar!

Check out 'Oasis Backpacker's Mansion' in Lisbon. This new generation of 'contemporary styled' backpacker's hostel is located around the corner of the famous neighbourhood 'Barrio Alto'. But you don't have to leave the hostel for a party...

Oasis   Backpacker's Mansion on youtube

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Column: The life of a Piggy

The language of the Piggies

by Aly Coy
Aly Coy

The Flying Piggies vary from across the world. Some are French, English, Scottish, Irish, Brazilian, South African, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, Austrian, Canadian, Australian, Newzealandian, and of course Dutch. Luckily for me, and most of the guests, we all communicate over English.

It’s actually amazing how fluent young Europeans are in English. Seventy percent of my friends here speak English as a second language and it’s easily forgotten that this is the case. They’ll rarely ask me how to say a certain word, and in some cases I don’t have a clue.

The Piggies come from all over the world, so it’s hard not to pick up on the pleasantries of their country. I’ve learned, hello, goodbye, thank you, how are you, I’m good, I’m tired, good morning, good evening, can I have a beer, do you want a joint, and swear words, in all of the languages above.

It’s amazing to have these human Google translators at your side. If you are planning a trip around the world you can ask what the locals would say and how to say it, instead of the textbook answer. You get used to responding in their language, and the people appreciate it too. It’s gotten to the point now that it even sounds strange for me to say ‘thank you’, instead of ‘gracias’ or ‘dankjewel’ for example.

Most pigs from Spain or France come to Amsterdam, not to learn Dutch, but to learn English. After a couple weeks they begin to look not as helpless in a group discussion and not everything you say to them is responded with ‘Que?’ They enjoy talking to me or other fellow Canadians because of our elongated words and almost over-articulated way of speaking. When Spanish or French talk to the British folk however, it’s not quite as understood.

The Scottish in particular have to work quite hard on calming their accents down. No one, English speakers included, can understand a word they say if in their traditional tongue. All of them have a kind of alter ego because of how different they sound outside of Scotland. But, as soon as the Scotts speak with their own kind, then will the incoherent ‘Aye’s’ and ‘fit like’s’ come out.

My accent has changed a bit since I’ve gotten to Europe. It just can’t be helped when you’re surrounded by so many other cultures. I’ll throw in an English ‘yeah?’ at the end of a sentence instead of the ever so Canadian, ‘eh’. I have an Australian ‘reckin’ and a Dutch way of saying ‘Amsterdam’. Some people can’t place my accent at all, and other just ask, Where in the States are you from?’

But what are some specific Flying Pig words to know?
Body language is a big one at the bar, mostly because of the loud music, A slight raising of the eyebrows and a your hand showing an inch of measurement, (usually pointer finger and thumb slightly apart) gives cue to the bartender for a half pint of Dommelsch. For a pint, use both hands hovering about five inches away, palms facing in.

Most guests can’t pronounce our local brew anyway, and usually call Dommelsch, ‘That white one on the end,’ referring to the colour of the handle. By using sign language, you’ll impress the bartender and get your beer quicker. If you don’t want to use your hands, a good way to remember the name is thinking, I’m going to demolish the Dommelsch.

Our Belgium bottled beer ‘Jupiler’, is also a common folly. Most people say Jupiter or Juliper. In Dutch the J’s are said like Y’s so it is pronounced Yu-pill-er. You can also quote a certain staff member by asking for a ‘Yupi’.

Yelling the word Jagerbombs at the bar will also attract the interest of the staff and of guests surrounding them. A Jagerbomb consists of at least four pint glasses filled a quarter of the way with Redbull and a shot of Jager that sits in between the lined up glasses. One glass at the end is flipped over, to start the chain reaction of Jager splashing into said Redbull. The most I’ve done on bar is 36. Serving to other people of course.

Some common conversation with the bartender asking, ‘Where are you from? How long have you been here? Why did you decide to come to Amsterdam?’ These questions work wonders with fellow guests, because their answer is always changing, you’ve been to five different places in a week. To the people who have the same story (however fun that story might be) the answers get a bit tiring in their heads. A better way to get a lively conversation at the bar is to ask, ‘’ What is the craziest thing that’s happened at The Pig recently?’ That way you’ll get some funny stories and the bartender will be thrilled to let you in on the gossip.

Some statements have different meanings at The Pig. ‘I’ll have one more beer then I’m going to sleep’ is translated into ‘I’m staying until close.’ Trying to turn down a free drink is also perceived as being modest and is not to be taken seriously.

Language of the Smoking Room
Some sign language commonly used in the smoking room is the universal sign for joint. Fingers similar to that of the half pint, but pressed up towards your lips and again, both eyebrows up to form a question. Same eyebrows for a cigarette, but the fingers would be forming a peace sign on your lips, (or considered a not-so-peace-sign in England).

Another favoured term with the Piggies is ‘Que Fuma’ for when a joint is up for grabs. If one person in the ‘session’ turns down the joint, the joint holder can then say ‘Que Fuma’ (roughly, who smokes) to the group, and the person who wants the joint replies ‘El Puma’ (the puma smokes). The fastest puma to reply gets the joint. This game saves time offering around the circle, and clearly the person with the fastest reaction time is in need of the weed.

‘Que Fuma’ may also be stated if the person holding the joint is taking too long with it, or has forgotten all together that they have it in their hand. In the case that Que Fuma is announced to the joint holder, they must pass it to the person while replying ‘El Puma’ in a not so enthusiastic way as previously done.

Eventually, you’ll train your ear to listen for those two words. I’ve had someone in the smoking room wake up with a start yelling, ‘El Puma!’

Some Dutch words to learn that can be used both at the bar and in the smoking room are ‘gezellig’, (throaty G to start and finish the word) and ‘lekker’. ‘Gezellig’ can’t entirely be translated into English, but it roughly describes a nice environment with lots of people around. ‘Lekker’ means tasty but is used to describe not only food, but a state of mind, sexy person, and it’s used overall as a positive response.

Most of the Piggies are trying their hand at Dutch. Some with success, others with a lot of misplaced ‘alstublieft’s.’ Reception will gladly help you practice your Dutch and they’ll be pleasantly surprised when you remember and use it later.

The most important thing about the communication between the Piggies is to open yourself up: to listening to the tone of the language instead of the specific words, to being patient with the people who struggle with English and to learning as much as you can from the multicultural Piggies around you.

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