Friday, July 28, 2006

What digicams can do


Our scanner here at home werkt niet, hij is kapot [doesn’t work, it is damaged] and the Dutchman is too lazy to fix it, so instead of putting up a fight, I made use of my hidden creative talents --- I experimented by capturing some old pictures through our digital camera. I surprisingly found a stack of selected old pictures in our library; I thought all of them were brought down a year ago to the berging [stockroom]? Was I glad they weren’t!

And, walla... the pre-digital days... the results were, although far from perfect - they were not that sharp, they were okay.


Left foto: The Dutch Houses of Parliament in Den Haag [The Hague], the seat of the Dutch government. 2002

Right foto: With the preserved Dutch traditional windmills in Kinderdijk (in the South Holland province). 2002.


Left foto: A “Manila” cafeteria in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. I just need to take a souvenir picture of this! 2003

Middle foto: Taken in one of the oldest Catholic churches in Bohol island, Philippines. I am not sure though if this is Loon, Baclayon or Loboc church. 2004

Right foto: Gran Via, known for its beautiful architectural designed buildings, is the most popular street of Madrid, the capital of Spain. 2005


Left foto: Sitia bay (if I am not mistaken) in the northeast of Crete, Greece. 2004

Right foto: With the black swan. I just loved how the little (Italian) boy sneaked a look at me, sooo cute. This is in front of the Crystal Palace in Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain. 2005

They turned out fine, didn’t they? I guess I will go down to the berging and start digging up all our old pictures.

See, I thought I was doomed with our kapot scanner, but the digital camera came to the rescue. So sweet.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Black... and Big


I have been doing some re-arranging projects at home this weekend. I still have a lot to do actually... but I am lazy, and moody.

My color scheme mix is very basic: earth and metal colors (silver/gold) + black and (off) white. I also have a minimalist inclination, though nothing like a real hardcore minimalist, just a bit. I still like to have a few decorative objects sprawling on top of the tables.

What has been playing in my mind lately though is the color BLACK.

I want to switch my current color scheme towards a prominent black ambience. Uh, quite daring and rebellious, I suppose? I even thought of having black curtains! Oops, hold your breaths, our walls are off-white, so the would-be result of this black makeover should be nothing close to an Adam’s family abode. I just like to come home to a simplistic atmosphere with less maintenance (read: cleaning), less clutter and easy on the eyes --- more monochromatic, more minimalist and urbane.

Psychiatrists say that the color you choose reflects your character and personality. Hmm... I do like green though.

In the meantime, the Dutchman is still trying his best to come to terms with the black lamp. I don’t think he’ll go easy with black curtains though? He’ll probably freak out!

On to other stories...


I have finally succumbed to the Hollywood trend: Nicole Richie’s oversized goggles.

Right, it’s goggles people and not google, lol, okay? The bigger they are, the hotter they should be, says the fashion watchers.

So even though that - (a) I’m more than a decade older than Nicole Richie and (b) Dutchman thinks they are hilariously too big (he really means it), I still thought it would be nice to own one before the summer sunshine ends and the trend is passé. Another good excuse to wear them is --- wear anything that you fancy now before you are too late to wear any because you have just hit old age and would look real stupid on them.

I must admit, with the colossal framed glasses I feel like a mutant bubuyog, a half-human and a half-bug creature.

Anyway, I think they are really nice and chic. Girls and women out there, you should try to get a hold of them this summer. Inside fashion buzzes say, popularity of these oversized spectacles will linger for a while.


PS. To family and friends, my misst2000ph YM lifecycle has come to an end (actually, I forgot my password thus I got locked out, lol), so please e-mail me.

Tags on shopping, fashion and home lifestyles: Strappy wedges and spectacles (05/2005), Segunda Mano (12/2005), Great Finds (04/2005), Final rest of the tale of the 3 dressoirs (05/2005), Fashion police in I AMsterdam (11/2005)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Almost au naturel


I’ve quite gotten used to seeing women baring their melons here in unorthodox Europe. To be able to half-strip in public, be it in the beaches, lakes or in your own backyard garden and not having a puny bit of inhibition at all, is a profound act, or so I think. It’s like conquering yourself and the whole world: I don’t care what you think; I’m going to give my two little babies some sunshine!

I do wonder sometimes --- when will my courageous day ever come so I can join their pack?

It also works both ways; the spectators casting no malice.

European men are not shocked nor are they embarrassed to see such valorous display of feminine flesh; they look but rarely they stare and most importantly, their pets down there don’t misbehave in public.

I’m chuckling as I write, but many NON-Europeans still see this as a light form of exhibitionism or say, a taboo, uh no... an anathema.

And since 60% of visitors in this blog are outside Europe, mostly in America and Asia, then here is a little tease for you, a ripe beach blond in a t-back (click to enlarge):



VOILA! I think she’s got perfect breasts! Not too small, not too big, just right - perky and very proud.

Dutchman thinks they were genuine goods, the real McCoy so to speak; he surreptitiously screened her, lol, the sneak... I, on the other hand, thought they were too good to be true.

A friend, whose secret ambition is to dabble as boob examiner at night says, if only we took a frontal picture of her then he would know if they were real. Well too bad, we are not perverts to commit such tawdriness! She was roaming around the beach; the kind who can’t stick her bum in one place for five minutes and off must she go some place else (reminds me of ADHD), so while doing a pictorial of me (who obviously need to lose at least 3 kilos, make that 5), we surprisingly got a souvenir from her.


So there, I think she knew she has perfect boobs and just loves showing them off, ha-ha.

And although I am contradicting myself, what’s the fuss then if they were real or not? Oh well, just being a nosy parker, I guess. Title of this post should have been --- effects of sustained expatriation and coming to terms with European cultural summer oddities.


P.S. The heat wave today makes me want to strip off... !!!

Tags: Girl Talk - Boob Investment (02/2006)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Expatica Articles: Dutch holiday essentials and Orange shocked


“And, when it's a hotel type of holiday with inclusive continental breakfast, the Dutch, and I am not joking, will bring their own supply of morning rituals. ‘Did you just see that?’ whispered the Dutchman, secretly nodding at me to look sideways at the family beside us.

‘Oh wow yes, a block of Gouda cheese that you can only find in Holland!’

Sitting on top of the table a few meters across us was a Ruijter chocoladehagelslag [chocolate sprinkles].

‘Someone brought hagelslag too!’ blurted out the Dutchman, trying hard not to laugh and choke on the bread he was chewing.

I looked further to the balcony and saw two Dutch women - they too have some slices of ham wrapped in paper, obviously bought in a delicatessen in Holland. You don't see these in the Greek islands, at least in the center since most cold cut meats are pre-packed in plastic.

Hmm, is this some form of Dutch ingenuity or are breakfast habits just too hard to break?

After witnessing the awakening hotel breakfast events, the Dutchman sipped his cup of tea, placed it neatly in front of the table and held my small hands. He looked straight into my eyes and slowly let out a deep-gutted sigh, ‘We should have packed the pindakaas [peanut butter].’


To continue reading the article, please click: Expatica - Dutch holiday essentials or click the Dutched Pinay logo on the side bar just below the chatbox.

I also forgot to publish in this blog my previous Expatica article, so here it is...

“I learned about this orange phenomenon very early on in my relationship with the Dutchman. In order to locate each other quickly, during one of our airport rendezvous, he told me over the telephone that he would be wearing the Dutch national color, orange.

Uh, what? National color, did he say?

Of course this curious cat further enquired --- Why on earth does the Netherlands have a national color? This got to be the first country I have heard of that has one? And, why such a bold color as orange? Why not the colors of your flag?

The quick answer the Dutchman gave me: Willem van Oranje [William of Orange], the father of the Dutch Royal Family.

Okay, his last name is really Orange?”


To continue reading the article, please click: Expatica - Orange shocked or click the Dutched Pinay logo on the side bar just below the chatbox.

Helaas, the Dutch lost to Portugal in the round of 16, 0-1.

Tags: Orange Virus (06/2006), Holiday & Camping Culture (05/2005), Expatica Main, Expatica Netherlands, Netherlands Expat Blog

Sunday, July 09, 2006

2006 Summer Beach Holiday in Kos, Greece (and Kalymnos & Pserimos Islands and Bodrum, Turkey)

Our one-week-and-a-half summer holiday in Kos, Greece was a great success!

Kos is situated by the east border of Greece/EU and west of Turkey (see light red dot in the map) and is part of the Dodecanese group of islands.

The Kos sun and beach holiday was reaped with the perfect combinations of relaxation, some historical quests and a variety of summer activities, i.e., boating and island hopping; snorkeling; lazing and swimming in the white sand beaches or the pool; motor biking; visiting ancient ruins (Byzantine and Romanesque), castle fortresses and Greek windmills; trips to the striking mountain villages of Kos; enjoying the nightlife; long walks by the coast with the sweet smell of jasmine wafting in the air; shopping a bit of course; sumptuous and romantic dining experiences in the city center along the beach, harbor, and city squares; and sailing out of the Greek and EU borders to visit another world, Turkey.


Map of Kos, Kos town center is located at the northern tip of the island. Next map is the detail of Kos town center. The green patches in the map indicates the locations of antiquity ruins (a lot, eh?!).

For the summary of this holiday, see below.

KOS ISLAND: Kos Town

Kos Island is the birth place of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine (460 B.C.). In this album, you will find a collection of Kos white sand colorful beaches; the harbor boulevard decked out with 16th century traditional European ships bidding a variety of island excursion trips throughout the Dodecanese region; city ruins way back during the Hellenistic age; Roman ruins; the imposing Neratzia fortress built in 1450 anchored securely by the harbor which is also known as the Knights of St. John’s castle (has a twin sister castle in Bodrum, Turkey called St. Peter’s castle, also built by the Knights of St. John); the abundant shopping streets in the Centrum; beautiful market squares; blue and white Greek houses, pretty churches and a minaret; inviting Greek taverns and just the normal Kos daily life scenes.

KOS ISLAND: Embros Thermae, Platani, Asklepion, Kefalos and Kardamena

Embros Thermae is a hydrothermal spring (about 40C) that draws its hot water source from the volcanic mountain rocks and spits it back towards the Aegean Sea. Rocks were placed to lock the hot temperatures from the cold sea. Platani is the only place in Kos (perhaps in Greece?) where Orthodox Greeks and Muslim Turks live side by side peacefully. Greece and Turkey have a long history of shared hostilities. The Asklepion ruin, probably the most remarkable ruin in Kos, is said to be the oldest hospital complex in the world built in honor of Asklipios, the god of healing/healers. Some of the remaining pillars in Asklepion were said to be Hippocrates medical school. In the olden times, Kefalos was the capital of Kos. Today, it is well known by locals and tourists for its pristine blue flag beaches and as a surfing paradise. Kardamena is a popular beach destination by the English, lots of nightlife and beach partying in this place.

KOS ISLAND: Antimachia, Tigaki, mountain villages of Asfendiou, Lagoudi, Zia and the Old Pyli Castle

Have a glimpse inside of the old castle fortress of Antimachia built in 1404; the castle walls up to this day are still in tact. Check the delightful white sandy beaches of Tigaki (and Marmari). Enjoy the beauty of the striking and picturesque mountain villages of Asfendiou, Lagoudi and Zia. Charming Zia is said to be the most photographed of all mountain villages in Kos Island. Then visit the Byzantine Old Pyli castle, situated in Old Pyli, once the seat of the Byzantine empire, now a deserted village. The villagers moved to another location a few kilometers away when a cholera plague struck the area. They named the new village, Pyli.

PSERIMOS, PLATI and KALYMNOS ISLANDS

Come and tour with us in this 3 island get-away in the Dodecanese: Pserimos, Plati and Kalymnos. Pserimos is a small island with only about +- 100 inhabitants, a great place for a serene retreat. The harbor is snug right beside the beautiful and pastoral white sandy beach cove of the island. Plati, an islet where nobody lives is a nice secluded place to swing around for snorkeling and swimming. And Kalymnos, famous for its production of sponges, is the biggest island of the bunch and another favorite tourist holiday destination. Shops, café-restaurants, white-washed Greek houses nestled on top of each other and boats adorned the Kalymnos harbor.

BODRUM, TURKEY

Bodrum is one of Turkey’s affluent districts that cater to European beach summer holidaymakers. Its Marina is the biggest in Western Turkey. The St. Peter’s castle in the harbor, built by the order of the Knights of St. John is told to be the sister castle of the Neratzia Fortress, also known as the Knights of St. John castle that guards the Kos harbor in Greece. Aside from the inviting Bardakci beach cove in Bodrum, shopping in the Centrum and experiencing the exotic Turkish hamam are one of the many things a tourist must do and try. Ancient ruins to see are: Bodrum Amphitheater, Myndos gate - the city gate of Halikarnassus (now called Bodrum), Turkish wheat windmills, and the Mausoleum of Halikarnassus, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, houses the tomb of King Mausolos – this, the latter I haven’t been to, such a pity.

Tags: 2006 Summer Beach Holiday: Typically Greek

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Friday, July 07, 2006

2006 Summer Beach Holiday: Typically Greek

Here is a collection of typically Greek sights that we encountered during our summer holiday in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, particularly in the islands of Kos, Kalymnos and Pserimos.














Fishing boats (in Kefalos) - Attractive and colorful Greek fishing boats dots the harbor of every Greek island.

Despite the rich and abundant seas surrounding the island of Kos, fishing production only serves as part of the daily food consumption of the locals and mainly compliments and services the strong and prime tourism industry of the island.

Pink flowers and Cypress trees – The bougainvillea, different sorts of pink flowers (the one on the picture I do not know the name?) and the pointed Cypress trees, they are everywhere. Summer in Greece gives you a feeling of everyday spring. Simply beautiful!














Blue windows, blue chairs and white houses (taken in Zia and Lagoudi) - The colors are a very pretty combination indeed. In the mountain villages, locals tend to adapt these two colors with the accent of a cloud of pink flowers hovering on top of the roof or a small bush-like bunch planted in a big urn placed outside guarding the house doors.

In addition, blue and white are the colors of the Greek flag ergo its national colors.


















White-washed Greek Orthodox churches and their dome-styled roofs that looked like a half jumbo egg painted in blue. This church is in Kefalos in the south, once the capital of Kos.

Inviting Greek tavernas, in blue and white theme offering lekker Greek cuisine: mousakka, domates kai piperies yemistes [stuffed tomatoes and peppers], souvlaki and gyros with tzatziki, Greek salad, dolmades while some call it dolmathakia [stuffed vine leaves], and Dutchman’s favorite, Greek yoghurt with honey.

















Old man with his cane and the Greek traditional worry beads – This one was taken in Kardamena by the harbor boulevard. He was such a puppy, he actually loved being photographed! He quickly straightened up his cane and after the shoot he gave me a huge smile. Check his hands too; he has those traditional Greek worry beads that I noticed many older Greek men are always carrying.

“Efcharisto!” [Thank you, pronounced as ef-ka-ris-to] I said walking away. “Parakalo!” [Your welcome] He grinned showing only a few teeth.

Beliefs says, when rolling your thumb and fingers with these beads, it will help ease life’s stress and worries.

Cats are everywhere! --- If dogs own Thailand, the cats own Greece.















Rich in history: Castles and protected archaeological ruins way back during the Hellenistic age before the Roman civilization was established on earth.

For such a small island, Kos has many significant archaeological sites to offer to the travel and history buff. The Asklepion ruins of Hippocrates, the Roman ruins --- Odeon, stadiums, churches, public baths, altars... then you have the Ancient Agora ruins, some fortress castles – I’ve been to three of them, just to name a few.


I feasted on these, literally... but the Dutchman complained, saying, “I have not a single inch of interest on these as I have been culturally overdosed and wrecked as a child.” LOL, such a pity. He actually grew up with culture and history enthusiast parents that dragged the whole family in Europe from one church, ruin, and museum to another.














No toilet paper in the toilet bowl please! The sign should have read, *Do not drop paper into the toilet bowl* --- and not toilet seat!

Greek sewage pipes are small and throwing paper toilets into the toilet bowl would mean clogging up the pipes. So everywhere in Greece, you will see these signs inside the toilet rooms (water closet).

As an obedient tourist, I didn’t throw my toilet paper into the bowl, that is, when I used it for purposes such as peeing, wiping my hands or anything else other than pooping! Can you actually stomach throwing the dirty tissue with your very own excrements into the trash bin? That is just so ewww!!! Gross!

And little box altar churches on the roads – A sad memento from the Greeks; they represent death, that someone died on this spot, and in many cases by vehicular accident. I have seen a lot of these on the roads especially along the dangerous long, winding and high roads.














Typical Greek souvenirs to bring home for use as well as gifts: Spices, herbs, cinnamon and olive oils in Zia mountain village. Other gifts and souvenirs include: honey and jam products, sponges in many sizes, olives, marmalades and sweets.

I brought enough spices and herbs to Holland that can supply me at least a year of blissful cooking in my kitchen.















Sun and the beach – Guaranteed sun and warm days... Precisely the main reason why the Dutchman prefers the south of Europe as a summer holiday destination, and that includes the Greek islands.

First photo taken in a small island called Pserimos, with only +-100 inhabitants. The second photo is taken in Tarzan beach in Kos island, a restaurant and beach club catering mainly to Dutch tourists (that is why the sun beds and parasols are in bright orange color! ha-ha!).














Islands and island hopping – No man is an island. In Greece, just like in the Philippines, island hopping is a daily grind and a sought after leisure activity by the tourists.

The first picture was on the way to another Greek oasis within the Dodecanese group of islands, Kalymnos island. The second picture is the Kalymnos harbor with white-washed and pastel colored Greek houses nestled on top of each other in the mountains.


Greece, so enchanting and will always be beautiful.

Travel Period: July 2006

Destination: Kos (Dodecanese Islands), Greece

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Holland from above


We are just back from our summer holiday in Kos, the island of Hippocrates, known as the legendary father of medicine. Kos is hailed by historians and travel enthusiasts to be one of the beautiful and historical vacation island oases of the Dodecanese region in Greece.

The weather was extremely hot with temperatures averaging at 35C each day. Fortunately though it was windy. We also sailed over to Turkey and the temperature there was worse --- a scorching 39C welcomed us at the port!

I will later make a travel recap and highlight some of the interesting sights, people and things in the places we visited.

For now, enjoy these air shots of the Netherlands, taken a few minutes before our touchdown at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.


Dutch farms, somewhere in the north of North Holland province.


So organized, eh?



The Dutch landscape: (amazingly) flat, low, green and swampy.

During spring, flowers planted for bulb production bloom in these open and rectangular fields. Since these fields are located near the airport somewhere in Lisse and Hillegom, most airplanes preparing to land at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport fly over this area. The majestic view from above is like a grand artistic patchwork of embroidered tapestry rendered in a variety of bright colors.


Residential areas from above, notice how orderly the houses are lined up?

Row and duplex houses are the regular types of housing designs in this country. Somewhat like a banal characteristic of the Dutch. I first thought they were boring, but now I got used to seeing them everywhere.


And check those straight lined up trees...

I don’t know how to stress this collinear and parallel tree obsession point in this country but they are just oh sooooo Dutch! Am I the only one who noticed that almost everything here must be aligned and perpendicular to each other or to whatever concept, ruling or common axis it is supposed to hold up to or be mounted on?


Anywho, I have always wanted to take pictures from above but unexpected circumstances in the past lead me not be able to. It is either because of: (a) my flight arrivals in Holland are scheduled during the evening or very early in the morning and (b) the weather is, as always, not cooperating --- grey and cloudy days are very typically Dutch, even during summer.

But, when we got back the other day, it seemed that Van Gogh was in a happy mood and painted a crystal blue Dutch sky. My luck!

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