Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Blue Skies Up Ahead

So I've been abroad for just over a month and a half...And my experiences have been good so far. I'm comfortably settled in and destined to become a master chef. I'm good at making pasta, popcorn, toast, pasta and I've recently learnt how to make couscous (read the Dutch instructions off the box...that is what I call WINNING). Cycling has become such a big part of my everyday life that a day without peddling seems like a waste. Even though I believe that I've mastered the Dutch way of cycling, my blunders still get crudely pointed out by aggravated Dutch ladies who don't think twice before yelling their foreign obscenities at me. Always fun to get shouted at by someone you're likely to never see again.

Weather wise we've hit spring! Yep, today is marked as the official 'first day of spring' for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere. The world is in bloom, the birds are swaying, the trees are singing (Dylan Moran reference, sorry I just had to). Our days are getting longer and the sun shines more frequently, heck, the temperature is soaring to a crazy 17 degrees on Friday, the warmest it's been since I've arrived. Along with the budding leaves, I've been noticing how the people are becoming increasingly cheerful, singing as they cycle along and a few Sundays ago, I found these kids in the quad. So pumped up with all the Vitamin D they were receiving, they started scaling up the walls. So sun exposure equates the sudden urge to climb shit, makes sense right?

Even though I'm living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, homesickness creeps in and spoils my mood, especially when I'm forced to sit down and pretend to be academically motivated. But when it gets too much, I simply head out to remind myself of where I am.

So when I miss this...
...I go out to see this.

The nightlife in Amsterdam is overwhelmingly diverse especially when you come from a town with such a limited amount of good bars. Last Thursday night I met up with Mia for a gig in town which turned out to be a lot of fun as we got nostalgic over 2 euro wine. We got together on Saturday with her sister Janel, Cath, and a new friend Gerrit, joining for some St Patrick's celebrations. Gerrit being a local, took us to a cosy little Irish pub just off Dam Square where we got well acquainted with, possibly the best barman in the world, Pedro. Our friend Pedro provided us with party hats, good laughs and free alcohol, filling up our drinks when we weren't looking. A good night with five South Africans celebrating an Irish holiday in Amsterdam...multicultural fun! 
Anyhow, here are some photographs of what I do in between all the essay writing.

best place 

Oh Edward

Reinier took me to see the lights

if you ever get the chance, try balance on a bicycle whilst in an elevator. it's a great way to meet people. this is our 'before' photograph

out to grab some grub

cath opted for ice cream

and I got this delicious cheesy delight of abundant joy

it was difficult to manage

success. happy st patrick's y'all

Monday, 5 March 2012

In search of Amelie Poulain

So this weekend I took my first lone wolf trip in Europe and met up with Cath and the girls in Paris. A night bus trip of 8 hours followed by 2 metro's got me to our first hostel. The girls spent their first night in agony and digust so we went on to find greener pastures and the 'Aloha' hostel. After our immediate transfer to the better option (for an extra 10 euro per night), we took to the streets. 

Like a walking cliché I shambled down the streets of Paris humming the Amelie theme song to myself and I often burst out singing the tune from ‘Champs Elysees’ by Joe Dassin. Give it a listen and tell me that you wouldn’t do the same? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA4KihbsISU

Fun fact #1: Parisians do grunt! At first I thought it was just me hearing myself grunt (which I did to add to the atmosphere) but they actually do a guttural “AUW!” when you pass them. It’s absolutely fabulous. But not quite as fabulous as the way these natives dress. The Champs Elysees is a live catwalk show. Cath and I were dumbfounded by the beautiful waif-like figures parading up and down the streets. Feeling and looking sufficiently less glamorous than the natives, we trudged back to our beloved ‘Aloha’ hostel and binged on digestive biscuits and Jaffa cakes, Cath’s discovery. They were able to lift our spirits when we felt like giving up on our burned out limbs. Thank goodness you can’t find these tasty treats of delight in Amsterdam; otherwise we would soon more be rolling than strolling down the streets.
When we got to the supermarket (which was equally as overpriced and overwhelming as the rest of the city) I couldn’t stop myself from reciting bits and bobs of ‘Foux Du Fafa’ by Flight of the Concords as I cruised the isles in search of cheap dinner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5hrUGFhsXo

To say the least, I was not disillusioned and disappointed like some Japanese visitors. Check the link. It’s called ‘Paris Syndrome’, a psychological disorder which mostly affects Japanese tourists who visit Paris and get severely disappointed by the city itself when compared to the media hype that puts it on such a high pedestal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_syndrome (I know you can't always trust wikipedia, but it's well worth a laugh)

Two days of marathon walking was not enough to really get in touch with the city or come to terms that I was actually in Paris. But we did see the Arc de Triomphe, visit the Notre Dame, got lost in the Louvre, hiked up to the Sacre Coeur, climbed the Eiffel (which was well worth the queue, my nausea in the lift and fear of heights) and ate MacDonald’s like real (copout) tourists. Here are some photos of what we did, what we saw and what we awkwardly posed in front of, like real tourists.

The 9 hour bus ride home was a bit much. I couldn’t climb stairs or walk properly for that matter, my legs conked in with every second step. This was exhaustion to taken to a super saiyan level. My arrival at the flat was as rewarding as I thought when I collapsed face down on my bed. Paris was satisfying. What a dream.  

Gerard Depardieu

Jacques Cousteau

Auw hauw hauw


 here is a playlist I have complied for night bus trips:

1. Grown Ocean-Fleet Foxes
2. America-Simon and Garfunkel
3. Soul To Squeeze-Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. Blue Light-Mazzy Star
5. Hanging-Josh Homme
6. Visions of Joanna-Bob Dylan
7. Big Indian-Dandy Warhols
8. Perfect Disguise-Modest Mouse
9. Ramble On-Led Zeppelin
10. Vagabond-Air feat. Beck
11. The Giant of Illinois-Andrew Bird
12. Whiter Shade of Pale-Procol Harum
13. Only You-Portishead
14. If You See Her, Say Hello-Jeff Buckley (live at Sin-e)
15. Only Living Boy in New York-Simon and Garfunkel
16. Do You Think There Is A Heaven?-Devotchka
17. Ma Fleur-Cinematic Orchestra
18. Reckoner-Radiohead
19. Here It Comes-Modest Mouse
20. Tangerine-Led Zeppelin
21. Hey Rabbit-Fionn Regan
22. Needle in the Hay-Elliot Smith
23. The Boxer-Simon and Garfunkel (live in Central Park version)
24. Scenic World-Beirut (Long Island version)
25. Zebra-Beach House
26. Avril 14th-Aphex Twin
27. Big Boy-Balam Acab
28. Gymnopedie 3-Erik Satie
29. Beercan-Beck
30. Guaranteed-Eddie Vedder
31. Flashing Lights-Kanye West
32. Chicago-Sufjan Steven (live in France version)


a european vending machine (for josh)

this is my first sight of Paris (above ground)

awkward 'I have arrived' face

chicken vending machine? LOLWHUT

cute cath

cold cath

lekker stampvol


he was playing 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen, I nearly cried

they grunt, i laugh


BE BRIGHT...and she was

looking for Amelie...

night out night blur

even this statue of Moses looks like he's saying, 'Hauw hauw hauw'


we had our 'Amelie moment' in a photo booth