Living in De Baarsjes in Amsterdam has its perks. Like our Turkish corner market. We had one near our old place, and we have one right opposite our flat now.
Where it took me four years to coax even the slightest smile from the proprietor of our old Turkish store, the man from our new store I are on a first name basis already. We wave, we smile, we talk about the weather, he sells me fruit and veg. And he gives me tips.
"You should try the water melon, it's delicious." Me: "Neh... I don't really like water melon..." But I did get a piece for Levi, because Yusuf said it was good. And man, am I convinced! Juicy, sweet, refreshing, amazing!
I buy a new piece every few days now. Yusuf cuts me an eighth if I ask, and at around 1 euro a kilo, it's really cheap.
So it's chilled watermelon after dinner, and my best discovery of the Summer: watermelon smoothie. Works well with a banana and anything that has a little tartness to it, like peaches, strawberries or (gold) kiwis. When I told Yusuf about my newfound love for watermelon, thanks to him, he put me onto passion fruit for my smoothie. Summer in a glass, I tell you.
So if the weather is dreary, like it is today, and you need a shot of Summer, make a smoothie!
- 2 slices of watermelon, deseeded
- 1 banana
- 1 peach, gold kiwi, green kiwi or handfull of strawberries
- A big dollop of good Greek yogurt
Blend well. Drink with straw and umbrella!
On my way to Utrecht this morning, I decided to up my intake of vitamins with one of those freshly pressed orange juices at De Broodzaak.
The girl right in front of me thought the same, but upon seeing that there were no small bottles left to fill up, she changed her mind. "Hm," I thought. I know the bigger bottle is more (400mls vs 350 mls) for only slightly less (2,50 euro vs 2), but when your income is coming in in a slow trickle, euro by euro, every 50 cents counts.
I asked the guy making sandwiches if there were any smaller bottles left. "No," he said, decisively. "Can I put less in a bigger bottle then?" I asked. He looked slightly annoyed, mumbled something and disappeared in the back.
He came back with -surprise!- a whole box full of 250ml bottles. I filled one up, payed at the cash register and went to catch my train.
Now what was that? Was it just this guy being too lazy to go get a box? Or is this some weird (slightly dirty) sales ploy? Did he think I wouldn't blog about it?
Ok readers, here's your challenge: try to buy a small freshly pressed OJ at De Broodzaak when you are at Amsterdam Central Station, leave me a reply as to whether there were any small bottles, and if there weren't, if a little pressure makes them magically appear. I'm curious now!
After the rain stops at around three, people of all kinds flock to Edelwise Festival in Rembrandtpark on Saturday the 26th for a dose of music and fun. The average age of Edelwise visitors is a little higher than at the usual dance festivals. But then, it is decidedly not like other festivals any way. It's not huge, with one main stage, one smaller stage and a secret stage. But there are a lot of extras, that twinkle like little gems, waiting to be discovered.
Dotan is starting to play at the main stage when we arrive. I don't think I've ever been to a festival that had an actual band on main stage. Eventhough the music is good, and the vibe is mellow and lightly festive, it's all a little too laidback for me. Also, the sound leaves a little to be desired. Everyone's just standing around, talking, and it's a bad sign that we can actually hear eachother. Music from the other stages can be heard over Dotan's Stolen Dance.
There's big tents with living rooms set up inside, they're a hoot. Little shops with lovely festival trinkets and tote bags. Face painting, hula hoops, silent disco, a photo booth, there's loads to do! There's a puzzle shack, where you get locked in and can only unlock the door if you figure out the solution to the puzzles. There's table tennis, and at a small white tent with a big rainbow arch in front there is a wedding going on.
We decide to take a seat in the living room where there's silent comedy, everyone sitting around with headphones on, listening to Stefan Pop, who tells us absurd, funny stories with a big, infectuous smile (he's a regular at Toomler, I gather. It's in dutch, but if you can handle that, go! He's good!).
Food and surprises
When we go for food, pizzas are 4 coins, burgers 3, and organic fries are 1,5 coins (one coin costs 2,70, you do the math). And even in the food area there's entertainment. Pretty girls in tiroler-like outfits hand out bingo cards and there's prizes to win (a mad suit, sunglasses and more).
It's the kind of festival where you are surprised on a regular basis. A remote control airplane does stunts over our heads. A lilliputter on a mini motorbike zooms through the crowd at high speed. Someone with a soap bubble gun shoots random people.
Back at the main stage, Kraak & Smaak have started their set. It's lukewarm at best, there are a couple of bodies moving here and there, but the crowd remains uninspired to dance. Still, with smiling faces all around, it's a happy scene. We're starting to think that this is it. A lovely day, calm and fun.
But then the lively guys of La Pegatina storm the stage and man, those Spaniards know how to party! All seven of them play and sing like their lives depend on it. People flock to the main stage and the crowd goes wild. The band gets them to dance along, sing along, take their shirts off: this is interactive music making.
The guys even do a rendition of "Er staat een paard in de gang" (there's a horse in the hallway), a Dutch carnaval classic, but then La Pegatina-style. Hundreds of people are singing along. Epic! They play with infectuous enthusiasm and humour. I'm dancing my ass off. This is the most fun I've ever had at a festival or concert. And all of their music is downloadable on their website (www.lapegatina.com)
Fun and wonder
Afterwards, there's a DJ with a live singer. There's an interlude with happy hardcore from the nineties, also with two live singers and a group of enthusiastic dancers doing the classic "hakken" dance. And veteran Joost van Bellen is the closing act on the main stage. But honestly, nothing is as much fun after La Pegatina.
Edelwise is not a festival that you have to go to, for this DJ or that band. It's not about the headliners. Instead, it brings you a day of fun and childlike wonder, in the gorgeous setting of Rembrandtpark.
Last Saturday, the 21st of June, marked the beginning of Summer. During yoga class, a few days before, our instructor asked us to go back to the intention that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. Eventhough I don't usually 'do' intentions for the new year, this year mine was to have fun.
Having finished my studies, having gone on holiday and, upon returning immediately having found a job, I was elated. Convinced that this would be my year. Safe to say though, that life is what happens while you're making other plans. Fun is not exactly what the job turned out to be. Thirty lawyers coming, but most of all going, in a period of ten years is a lot for a small law firm. It should have been a heads up to me that something was amiss. But, not knowing what you do not know, how can you... well, know?
In the first three months that I was there, four people stopped working there (only two of them lawyers, the other two supporting staff, albeit the same role). Being owned and run by one person, that one person has immense influence over the atmosphere in the office. This one person is very self-centered, spoiled (does not deal well with no for an answer) and at times just plain hysterical. Screaming matches over nothing. Screaming matches because she did not get her way. Or just screaming. I'm not saying she's a bad person. Just impossible to work with. Oh excuse me, work for.
She would manage to hand you a task that would last at least an hour a few minutes before you were due off, and insist it had to be done the same day. She would do this nearly every day the first few months, until it started to dawn on me that she wasn't doing it by accident. She would also call each morning at 8.31 to check if you were actually there.
The tall one
We would have conversations like this:
Boss: "Give me the number of that man."
Employee: "Which man?"
Boss: "He was at that meeting. The tall one."
Employee: "I wasn't at that meeting, I have no idea who 'the tall one' was!"
Boss: "Well, find out."
The question of who could get blamed for anything constantly hung in the air. Everyone was always trying to cover their asses, hoping not to get screamed at. I'm not saying she screamed all the time. Just enough of the time.
Figuring maybe I just needed time to find a way to deal with the situation, that maybe I could adjust to, or get used to the way things went, I tried to stick it out. But day after day I got more stressed. I would have a knot in my stomach each evening because I knew I'd have to get up and go to work the next day. Sundays were the worst. I started to cry for very little reason in the weekends. I was sick to my stomach, got headaches, lost sleep.
And so I quit. I chose sanity and happiness over money and I quit.
Ballsy or stupid?
The question is: do we call that ballsy or stupid? I haven't found another job yet. I've been on a few interviews, but for one reason or the other, it hasn't worked out. So: hello insecurity, short time no see.
I really need a break. Is there anyone out there looking for a good writer? I am excellent in both dutch and english, written and verbal. Also good with content management (WordPress, even a little Joomla), Photoshop, newsletters (HTML, Constant Contact, MailChimp), social media, the works. I would love to hear from you.
Last Summer I was working on my thesis at a company on the other side of Rembrandtpark. Every day I would cycle to work through this lovely park with its lovely ponds, trees and fields, and gorgeous views. But one day a big chunk of the park was fenced off, what was going on back there? Turned out Edelwise was organising its first festival, right in our back yard!
Edelwise hosts monthly drinks and a party at Het Sieraad in Amsterdam's hot borough in west: De Baarsjes. Arty, quirky and fun are good words to describe their activities. At these experimental Fridays you can expect anything from singing saws to a workshop learning how to play the ukelele to of course DJs and dancing later in the evening.
Edelwise festival extras
This year's festival promises fun stuff like ping pong, karaoke, and silent disco. Also, just like last year, you can tie the knot at Edelwise! Of course there's good food, and lots of music. DJs to be expected, among others: Dotan (live), La Pegatina (live), Kraak & Smaak and the ever fabulous (and newly married!) Joost van Bellen.
26 July 2014
See you there?!
PS Very cool: there are (limited) free tickets available for people who live near Rembrandtpark. See the website for more info on free Edelwise tickets for neighbours.
Photo credits: Peter Bezemer
The other day I thought to myself how good the weather's been lately: "I haven't got rained on for a while," I said to myself as I got on my bicycle. Famous last words..
Just now I left the house, got on my bike to go to Sloterdijk station, turned the corner and was taken aback by the ominous sky ahead. But I figured: "I'm on my way now, how bad can it get?"
The thing about rain is, that if it hasn't bothered you for a while, you forget how bad it can get. The other thing about rain is, that whenever a few drops fall, you tend to think: "A few drops won't kill me." But then the sky bursts open, spewing forth lashings of rain, hailstones, thunder, lightning, cats, dogs, the works.
And here I am, still miles from my destination, soaked to my undies, with water in my sneakers. Welcome to the Dutch Spring!
One of my first memories of Amsterdam was when I was following my first photography course in the Bethanienstraat. I was seventeen or so and didn't live in Amsterdam then, but somewhere near Utrecht. To be honest, I was a bit green, and being accosted on the street by pimps and other shady figures in the red light district (shadier then than it is now) was new to me. "No thank you," was my go to response to offers of telephone numbers, drugs and dates.
Then one evening, as I was making my way to the Bethanienstraat for my lesson, after having been shopping on the Kalverstraat, a woman asked me for directions. She was from Iceland and very, very drunk. She was so drunk, she had no clue how to get back to her hotel. I didn't know either, but went inside a shop to ask, they told me the general direction. As it was on my way, I told her I would walk her halfway. After all, if I was hopeless and lost in a foreign city, wouldn't I want someone to help me?
The lady was drunkenly rambling, about her job (she was in town for a convention of some sort), her brother (who had been in an accident and had been run over by a car), and on and on, clinging to me with her heartstoppingly alcoholic breath.
On the Dam I pointed her in the direction of Central Station. I told her to go there, her hotel was opposite the station (according to the guy in the shop I'd asked directions in). She pulled me close, hugging me to her, while she fumbled in her trousers. I can remember being surprised, thinking: "What the?" Then she pressed a crumpled 25 guilder note in my hand and disappeared in the crowd.
I didn't get a chance to tell her I didn't want her money. I didn't even get a chance to say: "Thank you!" I just stood there, flabbergasted, with the money in my hand. I framed that note (in the exact crumpled state I received it in) and didn't spend it for over a decade. It hung on the wall in my room as a reminder that it pays to be kind.
Every year in March and September, it's restaurantweek in the Netherlands. You pay 27,50 EURO for the pleasure of dining. Some restaurants try to make off easy, by making a 'middle of the road' three course menu that will please 'most people'. After having been to about 10 restaurants for restaurantweek, I've seen it more than once. But ENVY does it differently: this chef chooses to showcase his talent and takes on the restaurantweek challenge to shine. My tastebuds are still in awe.
The food was creative, gourgeous and delicious. A feast for the eye, an adventure of textures and tastes. There were five courses (amuse bouche, hamachi with lime, pork belly lacquered with hoi sin sauce, a Bloody Mary 2.0 and a Donkey Kong dessert to finish) and I fully understand why ENVY has made it to the number 1 or 2 favourite restaurantweek menu the past years.
The ambiance is a little dark, with spots for dramatic lighting. But it fits, because it's different and ENVY does things differently. And then there's the service. We were served (among others) by a lovely girl with a very long pony tail and fiery red lips: friendly and passionate about the food she served. The young man who came to explain to us what was on our plates before each course was very knowledgable, knew all the dishes and their many elements by heart and presented the dishes to us with a talkshow how flair that we found amusing.
To sum it all up: it was the best restaurantweek experience to date. It was my birthday yesterday and I envy me for having had dinner here. In fact, I would like to go to ENVY on my birthday every year!
1016 HL Amsterdam
+31 20 344 64 07
Shall I tell you a secret? I don't really believe in new year's resolutions. If, for instance, you want to stop smoking, then you should quit. I don't see any added value to waiting till the new year to attempt to do anything. But during yoga class last week, our instructor asked us to look back and say goodbye to the things of the past year, and mark the new beginning. Here's what popped up in my mind.
In 2013 I:
- was horrified to find that my plan for my thesis research suddenly fell through, after which I had to scramble to arrange for a new company to do my thesis research at
- juggled a job, a minor and thesis and developed a tic under my eye and lost the skin on my fingertips as a result of the stress
- lost my job
- didn't have any money
But I also:
- made new friends
- started taking yoga classes
- graduated (followed by a great party)
- went on a lovely holiday to Thailand with Levi
- and, at the tail-end of 2013, suddenly and miraculously found a new job
It was a rollercoaster ride, 2013. But with school finally being over and done with (three years of hard, hard work: done! Yay!), a wonderful new challenge in the form of a new job and a wedding to plan at the end of Summer, this is what I look forward to in 2014: to be happy.
Hey, call it a new year's resolution.
Yeah, life. After all the sweat, hours and effort I put into graduating (with a glorious 8 for my thesis!), I threw a party to celebrate with my lovely friends and family. With an unworded, but heartfelt apology for having neglected them for over three years. I've never seen so many people that I love crammed into our living room, drinking wine and playing charades. Best party ever.
And then Levi and I went on holiday. I was working on my graduation all Summer, and to keep me motivated, we planned a holiday for right after I was due to finish. Three weeks of sun is what we wanted, and because that's hard to come by in Europe in November, we flew to Thailand.
- exploring peaceful and green Sukhothai by bicycle. So many temples, ponds, trees, fields. Gorgeous!
- lighting and setting afloat a Loi Kraton on Chaweng Lake for good luck during the Loi Kraton festival.
- this pizza in Bo Phut on Koh Samui. Most times when Thai try to make western food, it's best avoided. But this, made in an Italian-owned, stylish, modern restaurant with a beach view, was the real deal. Wood fire oven. Crisp thin bottom. Fresh and delicious toppings. Actual Italian olive oil to drizzle over. I didn't write down the name of the place, but I can point you to it if you're in the neighbourhood and in need of fabulous pizza. I am telling you: it will live on in my memory for ever.
- and talking about food: sushi and gyoza on Food Avenue on the fifth floor at MBK mall in Bangkok. Yum!
- we thoroughly enjoyed our spaceous and luxurious bungalow in the lovely tropical gardens at Smile House on Koh Samui.
- and then there was riding around on the back of a scooter, with Levi touring the entire island of Samui. Seeing waterfalls, jungle, tiny villages, temples and secluded beaches. Filling up the tank for the whopping amount of 2 euro.
So then we came back, and I checked my mail and found two messages from Rob, a man I worked for a couple of years ago. Was I still looking for a job, because he just might know something for me? Why yes, yes I was. Two days later I had an appointment for an informal meeting with the owner of a law firm, who was looking for a secretary slash marketing specialist. Three interviews and an assessment later, we're now ironing out the details of the contract, so fingers are still crossed. But I may just have some good news sometime soon.
I already know what I'm going to do with my first pay: shop will I drop! Oh yeah, and have a celebratory dinner with Levi. Will keep you posted!