Amsterdamdamdidam

This morning, while driving back from Friesland to Leiden, I heard one of Nothing but Thieves’ new songs:

The song is called Amsterdam. I don’t think the videoclip was actually shot anywhere near our nation’s capital though… or maybe he left his heart in the Amsterdam in New York state…?

I realized I had heard another song named Amsterdam just a week ago, by the Danish band Nephew:

I was looking into Nephew as they were one of the big names starring on the Roskilde Festival 2018 poster. Amsterdam was obviously one of the first songs I clicked on and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised! I really like their sound and am looking forward to seeing them play @ RF18. All I have to do is brush up on my Danish… :s

Sadly for me, a band that will not be present at Roskilde but is very high on my wanna-see-live-bucketlist, is Coldplay. Did you know thay also have a song called Amsterdam?

Oh! And I just learnt that Imagine Dragons, another fave of mine, also has one!

None of these songs seem to have a lot to do with the city they’re named after.

Want to know more about Amsterdam?

Read about the (slightly cliché) must-sees here, look into a list of free tours here or watch these 14 (very accurate!) YouTube tips below:

My tip: leave Amsterdam at least one day during your stay and visit another city in the Netherlands to get a feel of the non-Disney version of the low lands!

Non – Amsterdam tips:

  • Leiden
  • Rotterdam
    • Modern by default > bombed to bits during WWII
    • Cool, edgy and innovative
    • Colorful melting pot
  • Maastricht
    • Most southern city of the Netherlands
    • Feels like France on a sunny day
    • Cool caverns and beautiful river landscapes
    • Hills! Believe me, that’s a big deal here…

I can name several other out-of-A’dam tips but I’ll leave it at this for now. Fellow WP blogger bitterballen bruid has put together an awesome list though. Read it here!

Enjoy your time in the Netherlands!

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Buitenplaats de Plantage

As I mentioned in my first Blogtober post, my boyfriend took me out on a mystery dinner last week to a village carrying the poetic name “Vogelenzang”, which means “Bird’s song”.  A very fitting name for such a beautiful place!

The restaurant we went to was actually a former plant nursery, with a green house and outside gardens. Check out the pictures below, to see what they turned it into!

The weather was a bit on the chilly side, with rain constantly in the air but thanks to the good company and the beautiful location it ended up being a wonderful wonderful day!

So, if you are in the Netherlands and are looking for something different: visit Buitenplaats de Plantage in Vogelenzang (about half an hour’s drive from Amsterdam airport)!

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Cleanup – RF16 edition

Roskilde-Festival2

A year and a half ago, while traveling, I met the most wonderful couple from Denmark. I only spoke to them briefly but you know how it goes, sometimes you just need 5 seconds with someone to know you have a click.

Our friendship was sealed after their visit to my hometown some months later, and now it was our turn to visit them. And besides just being great friends, they also gave our trip a major upgrade by giving my boyfriend and me super-special wristbands, granting us access to some behind-the-scenes action (and above average toilets).

It was an amazing week. Let me talk you through some of it!

Music

First of all, there was the music. It’s worth mentioning that the festival gates may have opened on Saturday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that the music terrain opened (for the masses) and the big names starred. The first part of the week was primarily camping ground partying (not to be underestimated). There were also some smaller stages and performances in the so called “warm up”-days. The bands named below are some I feel are worth mentioning as most other reviews don’t seem to take them into account.

Warm-up

One of the bands I saw during the warm up days was M.I.L.K. Kind of an akward looking dude with a bit of a seventies look and a chilled out vibe.

Wednesday

  • And then, when the gates to the musical grounds opened (and the camping grounds were starting to look and smell increasingly troubling), the first performance to kick the whole spectacle off hit me like a bucket of ice cold water on a hot summer day. It was refreshing and energetic, as well as confronting and slightly uncomfortable. It was filled with love, hope and forgiveness. In all honesty at some point I had to sit down because I was too emotional to stand on my feet any longer.It was the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with Damon Albarn.

    It wasn’t so much the songs themselves, but what they stood for that brought me to my knees. Just imagine dedicating your life to music and finally being able to play in a major orchestra in Damascus and then seeing everything around you being destroyed. Many of the musicians fled the country, some stayed. In short, the orchestra fell apart. And even at Roskilde festival, some members could not be present because of visa problems or other complications due to their status as refugees.

    These incredibly strong people, with their very Arabic rhythms and melodies, did not sing of their suffering (as far as I could understand from their comments in between songs). They played and sang with joy and gratitude for being alive and well, inviting the (incredibly white) audience to join in. THEY were welcoming US… It was as much beautiful as it was painful…

 

  • My personal highlight of the week was a performance we hadn’t even really planned to go to. It was Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu area band, that lured us in when we walked past their stage (after watching Slayer).

Their connection with the audience was so energetic that the whole tent was pretty much bouncing up and down. They themselves seemed to be surprised by the love they were getting from the crowd, as some of the musicians took out their phones at some point to film what was going on in front of the stage. Pretty bloody awesome.

  • Another unexpected surprise was Odesza. All though the duo had already made their appearance in my playlists before the festival, I had absolutely not expected their performance to be as vibrant as it was. It wasn’t just the fact that they were switching back and forth from drum kit to mixing board that made it entertaining, both to the eye as to the ear. It was also the colors and lighting they were using on the very cool cube shaped Apollo stage. It was truly mesmerizing.

Thursday

All though we had had quite wonderful weather during the warm up days (which turned out to be a truly appropriate name) by Thursday, everyone was wearing their rubber boots and fashionable ponchos. Luckily we had managed to find a dry spot when the heavens truly started to pour down on us.

  • As it turned out, our place of dry refuge gave us an audio image (we couldn’ t see her, only hear her) of a very entertaining performance by Elle King. She switched effortlessly between country, blues, reggae and pop. And she turns out to be very funny as well!

If you only know her song Ex’s and Oh’s, as I did before hearing her at Roskilde, do check out her other stuff. She rocks.

  • Our next show of the day made us feel like uninvited guests at a Norwegian private party at first, but the atmosphere was pretty contagious and the songs turned out to be pretty easy to sing a long to; it was (pardon my French) Kakkmaddafakka. These extremely Northern-European looking guys really made me smile, as they sang “I wanna be a gangsta. An original G. So come on, please give me your money”. I loved how they were being so polite about it, hahaha!

 

  • All though I did not stay to watch the whole performance, I was dealt a small slice of “what the fuck”-ness as I walked past Grimes‘ performance. Besides not being particularly good, imho, it had the same weird alien vibe that K-Pop artists have going on these days, only… weirder? Thanks Grimes, you really made me feel old…

Friday

  • Luckily Calypso Rose showed up on Friday to save me from that Grimesy feeling. It was the performance we had been looking forward to all week and boy did she deliver! The 76 year old bootyshakin’ queen of calypso knocked my hat off as she sang: I am the daughter of a warrior. No time to rest or retire. Others have come and gone but Calypso Rose is still singing on.

Even after she had left the stage and the lights were switched back on, the audience was still chanting her name. I swear, she must have put a spell on us! Hail Calypso Rose!

Saturday

On the final day of Roskilde Festival 2016 the camping grounds started to empty out pretty quickly. One of the final big performances on the iconic big orange stage was primarily a big feast of recognition for all the Danish visitors, as Dizzy Mizz Lizzy rocked the podium. All though I had never heard of them before, I think they would do very well in the Dutch charts as well. In the video below they play a medley of three of their most popular songs (I think). If you’re into drums and raging guitars, give ’em a go!

Food

Roskilde Festival prides itself in being a non-profit event, providing really cool projects in Denmark and abroad with funds to make the world a better place. Also, their is a strong focus on sustainability and social awareness during the festival itself (all though the enormous amounts of beer and liquor do make it challenging to stay focused on these topics at times). When it comes to the restaurants and food stalls at Roskilde Festival, only proprietors were invited that could demonstrate that at least 80% of their ingredients were of eco-friendly origin. Pretty cool!

My culinary highlights were:

  • The most commonly served lemonade :  hyldeblomst, aka elderflower!
  • Polish sausages, that didn’t turn out to be Polish
    (the Danish word for sausage is actually pølse, so I have learned)
  • Best falafel I’ve ever had
  • ginger shots
  • Danish pastry

People

I am not quite sure how to sum up all the lovely encounters I had during my week at Roskilde Festival, but it was truly heart warming. I don’t know how the rest of Denmark really is (or how many of the great talks I had with Scandinavian looking peeps may actually have been with Norwegians or Swedes) but from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for making me feel so welcome. Or as one of the Kakkmaddafakkas said:

Thank you for reminding me what normal is

As my blog only covers a tiny slice of what the festival had to offer, I added some other reviews of the festival below:

Mind Cleanup – April

All though May has already kicked into gear my April Mind Cleanup was still due. So here it is. The first topic mostly has to do with celebrations that have taken place in May, but the discussion started on April 30th, so I think it does count for this blog…

emoji lightbulb 2Epiphanies

All though it is something that is not always apparent (to me) a heated discussion that broke loose nationwide last week has reminded me that Dutch society is broken, or at the very least torn.

The discussion started on twitter, where a young woman posted a picture of herself holding a sign reading “No 4th of May for me”.

Beside being Star Wars day, in the Netherlands the 4th of May is also Remembrance Day. On this day we commemorate all the victims of the Second World War and all wars after that.

The point of this lady’s protest-selfie was not that she thought one day was too short to remember ALL of the victims of ALL wars worldwide. She was upset by the hypocrisy of it all. She felt it was all just a farce; how we all pat ourselves on the back for beating fascism in the second world war on the same public square where days earlier our own homegrown, contemporary far-right groups gathered to promote their racist propaganda.

Her hashtag “geen4meivoormei” exploded on twitter and poured out into all other forms of social media and even into the morning newspapers. Most of the reactions I read did not agree with her and you can imagine how some of the harshness that was slung at her, demonstrated she was on to something.

What saddens me the most is that the 4th of May celebration is precisely the kind of day she should be participating in most actively, as it is perhaps the only day that us Dutchies ever shut up for long enough for someone else to be able to make a point. We shut our mouths for two whole minutes.

How useful would it be if we used those two minutes to analyze our own xenophobia, guided by someone who has perhaps been on the receiving end of it? I hope somehow this outspoken young woman finds her way back into this national day of reflection and helps it be an inclusive one, where everyone feels welcome and represented.

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Epic moments

  • I spent a couple of days in Prague at the beginning of the month. Verdict:
    • Beautiful, beautiful town.
    • April is a great time to go, as the fruit trees on the hill are in bloom and the weather is very pleasant (or maybe we were just really lucky, not sure)
    • Love the goulash, not so much the dumplings.
    • A lot of booze-related tourism
    • Friendly people despite of this.
    • I had so many really really deep philosophical talks with my bf that we started to believe we were being haunted by all the great thinkers of Bohemia in our sleep!

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Self reflection

It’s been two years since my trip across the North Sea in the Yvette II and 73 years since grandparents made their trip in the original Yvette.

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Epicureous

I really like sweet potato and especially  when I cut them into fries and bake em in the oven. The only thing I haven’t mastered yet is the right dip to go along with it…

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Movies / Series

I finally got around to watching the 2nd season of Fargo and I absolutely loved it! To my own utter surprise, I really appreciated Kirsten Dunst in it and may even forgive her for the horrible job she did in the Spiderman movies. Apparently she is better at playing difficult roles than she is at easy ones.

So yah, totally recommend Fargo season 2, even to people who haven’t seen season 1 (there is very little correlation between the two seasons)

emoji music

Music

At this point I don’t even know if this has much to do with music anymore, but apparently life gave Beyoncé a big truckload of lemons and she made some serious lemonade. I have only seen snippets of the music video and am not completely sure how I feel about all of that but that it’s one for the history books can hardly be denied.

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Cowabunga – funny moments

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Bummerama

  • Ecuador earthquake. 😦 The Japan one was nasty too, but I have a little Ecuador shaped compartment in my heart and my entire heart goes out to those struggling there to rebuild their homes and lives. If you are wishing to contribute to this process and you want to be sure that the money makes it all the way down to those who need it the most, take a look at Runa Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund

Derailed thoughts

train-tracksMy parents live in the rural North of Holland. It’s a 2,5 to 3 hour train ride to get there. Not long, for some countries’ standards; pretty bloody long for Dutch ones. I have a love-hate relationship with this train ride. I hate it when the train is overly full or when I need to pee or when one annoying person decides to sit nearby on the one day that I forgot to take my earphones with me. I love it when I have a quiet seat by the window, when I have a good book with me or the skies treat me with pretty sights (rainbows, sunrises, thunderstorms, etc).

It can also have a very philosophical effect on me and my thoughts.

Last weekend for instance, I had decided to go up North after a long week of work and a slight flu. I decided to leave early in the morning. I ran into a co-worker, who was actually on his way to the office that very morning. He told me one of the software systems the company runs on had been down all night and he wasn’t particularly looking forward to this day, as it was bound to be chaotic. I felt lucky it was not my turn to work the weekend and smiled as I soaked up the morning sun.

I was completely relaxed. Something that would prove to come in handy later on…

ns storing.jpgWhen I got to the station I saw something was up. The train schedule screens were lighting up and I saw grumpy people walking away from the info-desk. I asked what was going on and found out a combination of planned and unplanned issues had disrupted certain routes, including mine. It would take a bit longer, but as far as I could see, it only meant one extra change of trains and not too much delay. It was still early, so no prob.

By the time I got to my first stopover a new issue had arisen and it was announced that I would have to take a bus for a part of the way. Bummer. I don’t like buses. At all. The sun was still shining though, and I had a newspaper with me, as well as my earphones so I wasn’t too bothered. I walked to the busplatform and sat on my bag, which was soft and comfy as I had taken some dirty laundry with me. I sat there, just soaking in the mid day sun. It was surprisingly warm, which reminded me that Spring had definitely made its arrival.

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When a big object suddenly blocked my rays, I knew the bus had arrived. When it rolled to a stop, about 200 people ran towards it. I moved myself out of the chaos and back into the sun and decided to wait for the next bus. Soon after, several buses arrived all at once and I shook my head, witnessing the shamelessness with which people pushed and shoved themselves towards the entrances.

A guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I could see if the bus in front of us was already full. I was already starting to say something along the lines of “I know as much as you do, dude”, when I realized the guy was blind and that he was the only one who actually didn’t have a clue. I asked one of the orange-vest peeps to help the guy onto the next bus, which they said they couldn’t really promise and he seemed to be OK with that. He disappeared into the crowd at some point and I guess he found his way.

I watched several more buses come and go. More people were now waiting on the platform and I realized my chilled out mood wasn’t going to get me a seat on any of these rides. I decided I didn’t really want it anyhow. Not like that. So I called my parents and told them I was going to get a bite to eat in whatever-town-I-was, and see if things would be different later on in the afternoon.

So, I walked back to the train station and, to my own pleasant surprise, saw a train that was about to leave in precisely the direction I needed to go. It was pretty much empty. Ah, how I love my guardian angel!

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And as the train snaked it’s way through the Dutch fields, my own train of thoughts went back to the rowdy crowd that I had witnessed earlier. The way they ran towards an arriving bus… It was just so strange… And kind of funny too… I envisioned what it must have looked like; me sitting there, squinting into the sun, hardly moving at all… And then this same plump family running by, every couple of minutes; first to this bus, then to the next, to the left, to the right. It was just so silly; fit for a Laurel & Hardy sketch…

I reminisced about how little respect there had been for the elderly and handicapped. At the same time, I thought back to how unapologetically some of these elderly citizens had driven their strollers into the crowd to get through. I thought about how organized we always claim to be, as a peoples, and how primal people were reacting to this situation. I pondered about food aid trucks in war-stricken zones and how ruthless people could be in their quest to get their hands on a cup of rice, a piece of bread, a can of condensed milk.

police-dogs-waiting-food-china-1.jpgI reflected on how ugly this side of mankind was and how I could pour this situation into a blog. I said to myself “it shows what an inferior species we are” but I immediately realized that isn’t true at all. The fact that we sometimes share our food and belongings and can do this very selflessly, is actually what makes us special as a species. Fighting over territory and food (especially when it’s scarce) is a very instinctual reaction that is displayed by pretty much every living thing on earth.

And then it hit me… I was actually portraying anti-evolutionary behavior, despite often proclaiming to be a supporter of Darwins “survival of the fittest” theory. In that particular situation I was clearly not the fittest. I just gave up, hiding behind an excuse of being too polite… Or was I just too lazy to get down and dirty?

The fact that I ever got where I needed to be, was more luck than anything else.

I told myself that my attitude would most likely be more feral if my life really depended on it. Or that of my family’s. I don’t really know though. And I guess that only demonstrates how lucky I really am.

Odd jobs – #2

After leaving the health insurance company where I worked during my years as a university student I had a hard time finding something in my field. Or no, let’s be honest, I just gave up on my childhood dream of working in the field of development aid… Or I made peace with the fact that the economy was shitty and this field was one of the first things to disappear off of every country’s list of priorities. Completely understandable too… And the fact that NGO’s were no longer hiring westerners to set up projects but working with local people was only a good thing. In a way it is exactly what these projects usually have as a final goal anyway, right?

Anyhow, I am straying completely off track. My point is that somehow, I ended up working at a local car dealership. First for three months, covering for someone on maternity leave but in the end I stayed there for nearly two years. It was simple administrative work, a lot of excel sheet magic and a daily routine that was surprisingly enjoyable. The work atmosphere was very different from the health insurance company I worked before and again, I learned all sorts of new things about myself, about people and about (work)life.

Which lessons, I hear you say? Well to name a few:

  • I enjoy being part of a predominantly male workforce
  • MS Excel is a blessing and a curse,depending on the time of day and task at hand
  • I am actually no good with numbers
  • A dirty mind can be a great asset, in the right context
  • I do not enjoy having to look “presentable” every day
  • Everything they say about car salesmen is true
  • They can be nice guys, nonetheless (just never trust them 😛 )
  • Guys gossip just as much as girls do
  • Cars are serious business
  • Volkswagen drivers and Audi drivers come from completely different planets and can be recognized from a mile away
  • Audi Q-series are cool rides, but I am too small to feel completely comfortable driving one
  • Men are better at parking on average, I’m not even going to deny it
  • There are always exceptions
  • I can drive any car
  • Audi A1 (in Shiraz red) is my dream car
  • A VW Polo would make me very happy as well…

I could have worked there for many more years and would have had a better income than I do now, but at the end of the day I just got fed up with working in such a materialistic environment. I realized that I was getting way too comfortable doing uninspiring work. I decided to quit and travel for a while, and I’m still so happy I did!

Thirty kms down the road

In last Saturday’s blog I briefly mentioned the rivalry between the soccer team from Leeuwarden, which is Cambuur and the team from Heerenveen, which is SC Heerenveen. I also mentioned it’s kind of complicated, but I’m going to try to explain it the best I can.

Background information
To understand some of the animosity between these two teams, you need to understand Friesland a bit. And don’t worry if you don’t totally get it, most Dutch people struggle with this province as well.

Friesland is a rural province. You know the famous Dutch cows? They’re from here. See a big black strong looking horse in a movie? It’s probably a Frisian.

People here tend to be slightly conservative. They have their own language and anthem (and this last thing is particularly important for this story) and get quite touchy about its status. Other Dutchies like making fun of them and can get to them quite easily just by calling Frisian a “dialect” instead of a language. Quite a large minority still walks on wooden shoes.

boer-op-klompenI hope you’re starting to get the picture here. They’re farmers; if not for real than surely in spirit. They’re simple people with small vocabularies, not particularly fond of strangers. Tractors are cool. A meal is not a meal without potatoes. Yes, kind of like hobbits, except the landscape is completely flat.

Heerenveen
Heerenveen is a town just barely more than a village. In the rest of the country it’s mainly known for its sport related activities. The have a sports Academy and lots of facilities for top sporters to train. The ice skating stadium here is loved by everyone with a heart for speed skating thanks to the amazing atmosphere and surprisingly good conditions for a low altitude track.

Frisianness shows its charming sides here. People are proud of their background and show this by wearing embarrassing home knitted sweaters with the Frisian flag on it. Sportmatches here are family events, where everyone knows eachother in a jiffy, if they didn’t already and Frisians and “Hollanders” mingle quite harmoniously.

Before every SC Heerenveen match, the Frisian anthem is played and sung loudly by all.

Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden is the capital of Friesland. It’s also a small town but with big city aspirations/pretensions. People from Leeuwarden don’t particularly like to be described as Frisians. Don’t ask me why, it’s beyond me, because they’re pretty much the same. Ok, maybe they don’t walk on wooden shoes, I’ll give them that…

Leeuwarders consider themselves to be open minded (they really aren’t). Sure, there’s a bigger chance a L’warder will attempt to speak some English when encountering a foreigner, but it’ll still be a pretty cold welcome, imho…

Anyhow, there’s a soccer club here in a neighborhood called Cambuur. The story goes that factory workers came to Friesland for some reason (to process milk? Really, no clue), and that they settled down in this neighborhood.

I’m not sure about what era this would have taken place or if any of this is true but what I do know is that Cambuur soccer club was founded and it’s fanbase ended up having an anti-frisian sentiment

SC Heerenveen and I

I was introduced to SC Heerenveen by one of my best friends. Her uncle worked at the stadium and knew most of the players on the team quite well. He would get tickets for the matches all the time and when his own kids couldn’t go, we would be invited. I have fond memories of these matches and my friend and I became die hard fans in the end, more than the rest of the family.

We started going to away games as much as to the ones at the home stadium and made new friends in the process. There was always an easy going atmosphere, with funny chants being invented on the spot without ever getting truly harmful or insulting to anyone (OK, maybe towards the referee once or twice) and always in good fun.

Our biggest and realest rival was FC Groningen, from the neighboring province, that had “Pride of the North” as their slogan. Obviously, we didn’t agree. The match against them was the match of the year and no matter what happened during the rest of the season, this one needed to be won in order for it to be an OK year. We would steal each others flags or decorate each other’s cars / buses in the rival’s colors and things like that. FC Groningen supporters were actually quite comparable to SC Heerenveen fans, in hindsight. A lot of ugly words, gestures and chants did go back and forth during these “Derbies of the North” but it was really all quite innocent.

Heerenveen and Cambuur

This is how it went for years, until Cambuur got promoted into the Dutch premier league after years of absence. This changed the whole ball game, literally. Cambuur doesn’t have fans, it has hooligans. Dads don’t take their kids to these games like they do in Heerenveen (and Groningen), let alone their wives and mothers. They’re all punks. For real.

Their presence in the premier league didn’t only change the game, it changed traffic too, as statements through bumper-stickers, caused middle fingers to be raised by complete strangers while waiting at a traffic light. My friend even had a guy make a throat slitting gesture to her once, just because she had a Heerenveen shawl in her car… It was weird.

To make matters worse, the current coach of Heerenveen used to be Cambuur’s coach. When the announcement was made he received threats and Cambuurders vowed they would block all roads to make sure he wouldn’t be able to leave town. Even now, some years later, it is a very delicate matter that drives the Cambuur camp into a blind rage from time to time.

The animosity is such that Leeuwarders / Cambuurders refuse to sing the anthem of Friesland as they consider it to be the anthem of Heerenveen, as it has always been sung at Heerenveen games. They even avoid the word Heerenveen all together and refer to the city and the club as DKV, which stands for Dertig Kilometer Verderop. This translates to: Thirty kilometers down the road… All I can do is roll my eyes and hope we beat them this season.

The first meeting will be on the 1st of November and the return game is on the 31st of January. All though I will not be wearing my shawl in public that day out of fear for my life from these yellow-blue lunatics, I will be crossing my fingers all the way…