Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Monday breather in Woerden (Netherlands)

Last week, I had been feeling like I a half-functioning android. Waking up every single morning for the whole week with a heavy load on my head, it was as if someone by chance dumped a sack of amphetamines in my morning coffee. Every ounce of energy in my body has left me. Argh! I was tired, very tired --- I am just so overworked. A week long holiday to recharge myself is what I need. But for now, a long weekend will suffice.


I can’t stress this enough but it is true that working with your brains is more taxing than working with your hands. Physical work can get you physically tired but work that requires thinking gets you, not just mentally worn-out but alas, physically too.

Writing though is therapeutic. This is primarily the reason why I maintained this blog. I may not write very personal nature about my life in here but keeping this helps release a part of my active mind. That’s why I always say – I blog for myself.

Nevertheless, last weekend, we didn’t do much (I was tired and so was the Dutchman), except for the usual house chores routine suspects and watching, “The Good Shepherd” movie in Oudegracht, Utrecht. I would give the movie a 4.5 stars rating from a 5. Indeed, a very captivating movie that I would recommend to everyone. Intelligence and spy films have always been my favorites anyway.

Then come Sunday evening, while going through the “Het top punt van Nederland” book, looking for a place to go to the next day, Monday for my day off (two days in the weekend is not enough(!) and I am extremely dead tired; all I wanted to do on a Monday is unwind, do nothing, or maybe, go visit another town?), an idea hit me. I closed the book and laid it down on the table. I told the Dutchman --- I am going to Woerden.


The Petrus Church (Petruskerk) was built in 1372 and construction-expansions never stopped until 1509. The old Stadhuis (City Hall) is now the stadsmuseum (City Museum of Woerden) goes back to 1501. 


The Roman Catholic Bonaventurakerk (Bonaventura Church) built in the late 1800. The “Windhond” windmill in Woerden, anno 1755. A literal translation of windhond is wind dog.

There is actually no mention of Woerden in the “Het top punt van Nederland”. The book generally suggests attractions in the Netherlands that can only be enjoyed all throughout the year except winter – which is quite useless for now really. When I was with my previous employer, I always pass by the Woerden area but never had the chance to see the town center. And since it’s quite near to Utrecht, the idea triggered my itching feet. Kortum, last Monday, I visited.

It was a relaxing experience I must say. Not doing anything for a whole day was a nice change, rather a welcoming change. Walking around, looking at nice architecture, window shopping (meaning, looking through the window shops, lol), sitting by a café, chilling out, drinking a cup of coffee and eating a piece of apple tart while watching people go by, was just perfect for a somewhat lazy and gloomy Monday.


Here is a typical narrative I often hear from many individuals. They say that if they stopped working, they would be lost. Because they were so used to working, they would not know a single thing to do with their lives. Well, for me, I definitely know what to do! Part of my -what to do list- is DOING NOTHING, lol. Au contraire eh? But life is a paradox anyway...

A friend of mine once told me - You really know how to enjoy yourself alone. Which is true and which is what I would suggest everyone should try to do (for the most part of living), once in a while.

Dutchman got envious and announced that he is also taking the Monday off with me. Hah!

Such a pity, I would need another 25-30 years before I can truly retire, maybe if I do good, 15 years. My only surviving hope is when the Dutchman wins the lotto.

Visit Period: May 2007
Destination: Woerden (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Friday, February 23, 2007

NYC and Me: Ground Zero, Subway and the Financial District

I did not really went around the Financial District. It was enough to see the tall buildings.

And speaking of 911, I went to visit the Ground Zero, which up to this day is a large hole of a construction site. By the WTC Subway entrance stood a 911 wall memorabilia filled with blown up pictures of the tragic event. 5 years has passed and people are still brought back to tears when they see the horrific images. Perhaps these people knew someone in the 2 towers that didn’t survive.

I didn’t stay long. It was quite a disheartening scene to see people crying.

Across the WTC site is this Century 21 department store selling signature clothes at knock-down prices. They sell past season’s clothes at 50%-70% off from the original price. It’s a massive place. If you are one hell of a shopper, bargain hunter and someone who will take time scouring through garbage-full of items, then this is indeed the place for you. Unfortunately I didn’t see anything there that I really liked. I did buy something for the Dutchman.

It was getting late already and I didn’t want to walk back to Times Square where my hotel is located so I decided to take the Subway which is old and honestly, decaying. The Subway definitely need a revamp, majorly and there needs to be a lift and an escalator as well. I wonder how old travellers tow their luggage and the sick and invalid can survive with the stairs?

TIP: Value for your money in experiencing the Subway, buy the $7 Metro card with unlimited rides for a whole day. The price for a one-way Subway ride is $2, so the Metro card is indeed a steal. You can easily buy this through the ticket vending machines in the Subways.

Next, Central Park and more of 5th Avenue

Travel Period: February 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NYC and Me: Passing through SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown and some observations

So my walking tour of Manhattan continues. After the Empire State Building visit I will be following the trail via SoHo – Little Italy – Chinatown and lastly the Financial Centre.

I had a quick lunch in a nice restaurant in SoHo (forgot the name) and the only thing I can remember about the lunch was myself calculating what 20% is of the total bill. I am not used to this tipping culture. Back in Europe, we rarely tip and sometimes we just round it off. Service people in Europe are paid well, they have a salary and they have benefits compared here in America, as well as in the UK where they earn mostly from tips. Which is also the reason why service is crap in the Netherlands (and in mainland Europe, unless you go to a very expensive restaurant of course)

SoHo fotos here:

There was a signature shop that was having a sale in SOHO. The head sales attendant who was a black guy greeted me the usual—‘Hi, how are you’ and I proceeded to look around the shop when I realized that he was trailing behind me. I turned around and he was there with a big cheeky smile on his face. ‘Where are you from?’

I was debating if I should say Netherlands or the Philippines, but anyway, I said I am from the Netherlands. He gave a chortle and said, ‘I knew you were European! From the moment you set your foot into the shop... the way you smiled when I said—‘Hi’... the way you move... and ah, the way you walk... (eyeing me up and down now) the way you dress up... just everything about you... I just knew it.’

There was silence. I felt awkward. I honestly did not know what to say?

Another sales attendant called his attention as there seem to be a customer having issues with the price that needed help. It was my chance to escape. Quickly, like a bullet, I sprang to the door.

There’s something with black guys here in NYC and I am sure it has something to do with my knee-cut high black boots.

Little Italy fotos here:

Compared to SoHo, it was quiet when I passed the Little Italy neighbourhood.

Some stuff I noticed:

Why is it that American coffee in café chain shops such as Starbucks serve large cups of coffee? The irony here is that it is actually the smallest cup in the house. I like to drink my coffee in little sips and warm. If you have a large cup of coffee it takes a while to drink it all up and when you are halfway it is already lukewarm.

I also looked for wine in the shops and couldn’t find them. But luckily I saw the only shop selling wines but they were going at $15 a bottle for the regular ones.

Why do American sales agents in retail shops always say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ but do not really expect you to answer back? I later on realized that this is just a way of saying ‘Hello’ or ‘Good morning.’ So at some point, I didn’t answer back, I just smiled.

Chinatown fotos here:

Next, Ground Zero and the Financial District

Travel Period: February 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NYC and Me: Boots stuff, Grand Central Termini and the Columbian woman, Yellow Cabs and the Empire State Building

My second day in the Big Apple was misty and a much chillier day than yesterday but I already made the decision to walk around Manhattan starting from the Times Square all the way down to the Financial District. I brought two boots with me in this trip, high-heel black boots for business (work related trip earlier in Boston) and for the real travel, my road warrior flat knee-cut high black boots.

Just like in the South of Europe, the guys in NYC are fresh and extremely forthcoming. They were hitting on me really fast, especially the black and coloured men. You know, just for comparison’s sake, this display of testosterone pride is not done in the Netherlands. Anyway, it must have been my ‘smokin’ hot boots, as one of the black guys who followed me was saying—‘Ooooh girl, those are smokin’ hot boots you got there!’. I am beginning to think that American black men have a high-cut boot fetish?

First stop was the New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. It’s a very beautiful terminal that can rival the terminals in Europe. The train station was opened in 1871 and was rebuilt in 1913 and recently between 1994 and 2000.

Outside the Grand Central Terminal while staring at the beauty of the building, I noticed a middle-aged woman across the street who kept staring at me as well. She finally came up to me and asked if I am from Colombia, in Spanish which I understood somehow. I told her I speak ‘poquito Espanol’ and that I am not from Colombia.

She then asked where I am from and I told her I am from the Philippines (I normally say I am from the Netherlands but originally from the Philippines—I always say this because they get perplexed when I say Netherlands when I am not blonde with blue eyes). The woman exclaimed, ‘Aha, Filipinas!’ Well, she was somewhat weird, she distantly eyed me up and down like I am a specimen for laboratory inspection but at the same time she was having this feeling of excitement to see me. I do not know why? She said I look like someone she knew back in Colombia. Anyway, if I didn’t say my goodbyes, she would go on forever talking and asking me questions. This was definitely one of those very strange encounters. Hmm.

Then I passed by NYC Library and the famous 5th Avenue. Did not shop, not yet, that would be later =)

I really enjoyed seeing the yellow cabs. They are massive. They remind me of the cars in the 1970’s and brings back a flood of memories during childhood in my elementary years where we had a shared pick-up service for school.

Back then in the mornings, my dad would send us to school and sometimes it’s the driver at my mom’s work. In the afternoon’s if my dad is not picking us up due to him working late, it’s my uncle and he usually arrives in his mammoth Toyota Crown car, exactly the same as the NYC yellow cabs, except that he had a white one.

Next stop was the Empire State Building. I arrived quite early at 11 in the morning so I was able to avoid the queues. Up in the tower the weather was still the same—a bit misty but we can see Manhattan area, just not that far enough to see Miss Liberty. At least it was less crowded so I was able to enjoy my time up there without having to wade myself through a crowd.

Tip: Arrive early at the Empire State Building. The queues start at 12 noon and the massive crowd in the tower can be daunting.

Next, Sights in SOHO, Little Italy and Chinatown

Travel Period: February 2007

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