Thursday, November 29, 2007

La Bouillabaisse in Nice, France

Hi, I am in Nice right now and the other night I had the ‘death by bouillaibaisse’ dinner experience at Chez Freddy. This seafood stew is so huge I could barely finish half of it! I think I am not going to eat now for the rest of the week.

The humongous seafood stew I ordered that could feed 3 to 4 people!

My leftovers, still a bowlful of seafood fare on it. Looks like I have barely eaten anything. You want some?

Anyhow, I am completely exhausted. Wasted. Kapot. And this is all from work as this is a business trip. However, this weekend I am going to kick off my heels, relax, and visit the posh and charming villages of the French Riviera. The famous colorful and lively Cours Saleya market in Nice is beckoning me as well. Ah, I can’t wait. So looking forward to it.

Stay tuned next week for stories and fotos!

Travel Period: November-December 2007
Destination: Nice (Alpes Cote d'Azur - Provence-Alpes), France

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Montserrat: a surreal experience

Before the trip to Barcelona, I have been researching low-keyed places to go outside the city. I know for sure that the busyness of Barcelona will dauntingly suffocate me, and it did. Don’t get me wrong, Barcelona is a wonderful city. The testimony that millions of visitors visit yearly makes Barcelona one of the most sought-after cities to holiday in the world.

Even on a low-season November, the throngs of crowds in La Rambla are inevitable and Gaudi would have risen up from his grave seeing the hordes climb up his unfinished minster masterpiece. Unfortunately, the action was too much for me to bear. I got cranky. I need my space. Inertia!

Our yellow cable car, Montserrat-Aeri that will bring us to the mountains.

This is the Benedictine monastery in Montserrat about +-700 meters above sea level. On the ground floor are shops and above it is a big square and the basilica.

There were a couple of options, Girona to the north being one of the strongest contenders in my poll of choices where the city of Dali, Figueres is nearby located. Tarragona and the valley of Nuria were runner-ups. The other option I was heavily leaning on is Montserrat, the mountains of the monks situated just less than an hour train ride from Barcelona.

I have seen fotos of the rock formations in Montserrat earlier on and fell directly in love with the place. Of course being 40 minutes away by train from the city – you take the train in Avenida Carillet station (this is the train going to Manresa), and a 5 minute cable ride called Aeri from Montserrat station to the Montserrat Benedictine monastery, this opportunity proved to be a real steal compared to the rest.

My German colleague who is a good friend of mine came with me together with his Dutch boyfriend. I did not mind going alone really but having 2 huge bodyguards with me I certainly won’t turn down! ;-)

Tickets can be bought at the Tourism office near Catalunya metro and La Rambla. It’s best to take the €32 combi ticket: train + aeri/cable car + funicular + museum + audio + lunch. Another option, instead of the aeri/cable car, is the funicular, which we didn’t take as we were drawn to the aerial experience and its views.

For €19 you can get a ticket without the lunch but €13 is nothing after a tiring hike up in the mountains and seeing the prices of food in the restaurants. The self service lunch package in the €32 ticket entitles you to 2 large plates + 1 dessert + drink, which definitely costs more than €13, unless you are penny pinching.

Lovely weather, cold yet sunny with blue skies! At my back in the second foto is the sculpture called - ‘Pathway to understanding’.

This is the inner courtyard of the church and as you can see everyone is standing, like in a trance, admiring at the great frieze artwork above the main entrance to the basilica.

In Montserrat lie the Benedictine abbey and the most famous relic of Catalunya, the Black Madonna. Entering the church’s inner square and sanctuary made me stop on my heels and ask the million euro question – how on earth were the monks able to build a church as magnificent as this on top of the jagged mountains? Trust me, up to this moment I am still searching for answers.

They also say that in Arthurian mythology this is where the Holy Grail is located - hmm, I would like to check this out further...

There are about +-30 Benedictine monks that live today in this abbey. These monks pledged the vow of chastity, obedience, and poverty. With the exquisite nature surrounding the place, I cannot see the point of poverty at all. As well as, these monks are already rich. The multitudes of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world that come and spend their monies here make their bank accounts swell like fat pigs.

This monastery is also world famous for its boy’s choir, Escolania that performs Gregorian chants at 1 o’clock sharp daily with exceptions in July and during holiday periods. We didn’t realize it was half past 1PM as we were mesmerized with the spectacular mountainous views outside. Who is there to be blamed? But too late now to check out the singing boys.

The basilica sells colorful sets of candles for the pilgrims to light on. On the second foto shows the magnificent interior of the church, which prompts me to ask, again - how did the monks manage to construct this monstrous and meticulously detailed designed church? Life must have been so complicated in the past.

The awe-inspiring view of the Benedictine monastery (now we know why the monks built the monastery here) from a couple of hundred meters above. We just want to go up, and up!

The Black Madonna on the other hand didn’t entice me a bit. The queue to get to her was too long, that it brought momentary flashbacks of my childhood days in Cebu - devoted patrons of the black holy child, the Santo Nino, lining up patiently along the candle lighted corridors of the Basilica del Santo Nino. As a kid, I was not really sure if I liked going to church but I was always eyeing the pink sugar spin candy in the church’s courtyard.

So I guess, one can surmise that I went to Montserrat because of its breathtaking display of nature. My most unforgettable experience in fact, which my German colleague couldn’t agree more, and he kept thanking me for inviting him along, was the hike through the serrated rock formations. It was glorious!

In its entirety, I was in AWE. I stood there admiring the dramatic work of nature. Just to stand between the amazing ancient rocks was already the perfect cherry topping for this weekend getaway.

The whole experience was kind of surreal. I was surrounded by massive rock formations 1,200+ meters above sea level. Below, I could see the valley; the houses looked like ants and the river that flows beneath looked like a tear drop that broke its course. The realization that the world is so big and we are so small always trembles me.

Me, my disheveled hair, and the rock formations near Sant Jeroni, the highest peak of Montserrat.

Temperatures in the mountains dropped to a 3C but the weather was so pretty, clear blue skies enveloped us and the sun was shining mightily, I got a tan! Hiking for hours surely got me a tan.

I read somewhere that these rocks even have names. Some of them were oddly shaped though while a few reminds me of a sexually stimulating object? On the first foto, you can see a previously (and abandoned) abode of these reclusive monks hanging by the cliffs.

When I arrived in Amsterdam Schiphol airport, Dutchman was waiting outside and he thought there was something different about me. At home he finally concluded – What have you been doing? You got a tan!

So I told him about my fantastic experience hiking in the jagged mountain cliffs of Montserrat with the perfect sunny weather. It was the best thing that ever happened to this (Barcelona) trip!

Dutchman frowned and said, “Oh... not for me!” - lol

To see my fotos, go here: Montserrat, Spain

Montserrat - so nearby to the city, yet when you arrive there, you are literally whisked away into a different world that is so, so far away.

Travel Period: November 2007
Destination: Montserrat (Barcelona - Catalonia), Spain

Friday, November 23, 2007

Buzzing Barcelona

I was just 10 minutes in Barcelona, waiting for my luggage, and I already got propositioned by an airport employee. Ah, rightfully so, welcome to Spain, lol.

Most of my days in the city were spent working. My high heels were killing me and I would have died wearing them. For diversion, there was this nice spa, I was told, in the hotel but sadly enough I wasn’t able to make use of it. I was so tired and just wanted to stay in the hotel room after dinner (dinner starts at 9PM in Spain!). I was also not feeling well and had been taking medications - the spa/sauna would have dehydrated me. Actually whilst writing this blog entry I am at home and sick.

Local male retirees with their canes having a chat session in La Rambla. I love this foto.

Ultimately, I was looking forward to the weekend where I could unwind and get out of the city. Yes! Get out of the city. I know you people would probably raise your eyebrows in shock and say – Huh, are you nuts? You are in exciting Barcelona and you want to get out of the city?

There have been many times I have untiringly written in this blog that my city girl days are over. Finito, klaar, or perhaps this is what they call -- signs of the ageing times. I am now in search of a more placid life: tranquility, nature, and space. Where I can truly breathe; away from the hustle and bustle of the city, which is a far cry considering I live in the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Doing the touristy stuff here with the lion in Monument a Colon (Columbus monument). Middle foto is one of my favorites taken in the Gothic quarters. On the right, graffiti on the door, in some weird way, it has its charms.

In the weekend I enjoyed doing a couple of obligatory touristy stuff in Barcelona with a colleague. The highlight for this weekend was actually the trip to the Montserrat mountains which I will be talking about in another entry, however, for the weekend in Barcelona it was Montjuic and Mercat de la Boqueria.

Mercat de la Boqueria, adjacent to La Rambla, lifted up my tired spirits! I am far from being a real foodie but the sights, sounds, colors, and the buzz of the place totally brought me back into action. As a protocol in my trips, I always make sure to visit the local markets. Doing so gives me an idea what ticks the locals and allowing me to glimpse at their everyday life. I find it very interesting really as each country (or region) has its own distinct cuisine and habits.

Hanging dried spices sold in Mercat de la Boqueria. This is one very ‘salty’ mussel dinner. At least the white wine helped ease out the saltiness. I would not be surprised if majority of the Spanish are suffering from hypertension.

I was on the telephone with my mother and I remembered complaining to her that the food in Spain is too salty. She reminded me that perhaps my palate has adjusted to the bland northern European. She's probably right.

Montjuic on the other hand revitalized my soul. The place has lots of greenery and space. One can walk there forever, which I did until my legs got tired and I had to quickly stop for a break. Apart from climbing the Sagrada Familia which I wasn’t able to do, Montjuic offers great sceneries of Barcelona from a hilly perspective.

The beautiful view of buzzing Barcelona from Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) in Parc Montjuic. Next foto is the Museu itself.

In the evening at around 19:30 there is a lights and fountain show just right below the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC). This castle-like museum is also lit up and towers above Barcelona like a majestic queen in the evening.

To get to Montjuic, take the metro and get off at Espanya station, then walk towards the museum on top of the hill that looks like a castle or get off at Para-lell metro and take the funicular going up to Parc Montjuic.

To check out my fotos of the city, go here: Barcelona, Spain
To check out my fotos of the market, go here: Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain

Here, the Sagrada Familia looms ahead of me. This building is cursed and will never be finished.

Later that evening, I went to Sagrada Familia, which was on the next metro stop from my new hotel. I changed hotels in the course of the weekend as I was not prepared to pay €210 a night, what Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I was charging us and this is already with corporate discount. Unfortunately, I only stay in 5 star hotels if someone else is picking up the bill, like when work requires us, luckily. Otherwise, a 3 or 4 stars would suffice.

Anyway, I walked inside this café just right by the corner of the massive grey church. Honestly speaking, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia not only gives me the goose bumps and eerie feeling, but the church sure looks like a devil’s cursed unfinished palace. Gaudi and the Catalans have been busy with this building for more than a century already and I doubt if we will ever see the light of day in our lifetime.

The Sagrada Familia really looks like a devils palace! On the right foto is the Hospital de Sant Pau, listed in UNESCO’s world heritage. You would not think this building is a hospital don’t you?

I ordered an espresso, which is called ‘café solo’ there. The man behind the counter, who is the bartender and cashier, reminded me of my previous boss in the Philippines. He was half Filipino-half Spanish and they looked quite a lot similar with the moustache and curly hair.

He gave me my café solo and I sat down in one of the tables. For a moment, I didn’t realize he was staring at me. I gave him the thumbs up sign, meaning the café solo was good, which in fact was true. But little did I know that by doing so I am actually encouraging him for something else.

As a result I got another cup of café solo, on his tab. He won’t let me pay even if I insist -- la cuenta por favor? I guess that would have been an insult to his Spanish male ego. As he does not speak English (nor majority of the Spaniards), I was desperately clinging to my broken ‘poquito’ Spanish. Moreover, I had to shove away another proposition. The persistent man wanted a kiss! How dare he, lol!

I told you, these Spaniards are lady grabbers.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ola Barcelona!

In Barcelona right now and I have been sooooooo busy and totally knackered. Help! My feet are killing me!

A far away view of Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan province in northeast Spain. Foto taken from the airplane before landing.

In the Metro trying to find the train that goes to Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I where I am staying for the week.

It’s been all work and no play and I haven’t seen much of the cultural part of the city yet but in the weekend I will. Other than that, the weather is good, pretty much consistent at a mild 16C by day (7C by night) compared to 6C in Holland by day (and freezing point in the evening).

The beautiful atrium lobby and interior of Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I. The glass walls are amazing in the evening because they glitter from the light reflection. This foto was taken inside, and from the vantage point of the glass capsule lift (while going up to my room which is adorable by the way).

My room at Hotel Rey Juan Carlos. Big enough for me.

Our group had dinner in this restaurant (sorry forgot the name) along La Ramblas. One of my colleagues swear this is a great place, and well, the food was indeed yummy. Very creative, love their utensil chandelier or curtain, whatever =)

I will post stories and fotos of lively Barcelona sometime next week when I am back in the Netherlands after recuperating from walking around in high heels.

Have a great weekend everyone! Adios for now ;-)

Travel Period: November 2007
Destination: Barcelona (Catalonia), Spain

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lage Vuursche: the little village in the forest

Due to its flat topography, the Netherlands is not only a great place to bike, but also to walk. The country has many protected nature quarters, and hundreds of walking routes through fields, forests, and along rivers.

On that note, which is a reminder, I am really serious about my quest for fitness. With the busy schedule Dutchman and I lead, what better way to fuse in fitness as part of our weekend leisurely activities, and at the same time, indulge in culture and nature exploration. Sounds like it fits right to the bill!

The 3 main walking routes in Lage Vuursche - we randomly picked the yellow route.

Lage Vuursche is a little charming village, with just a couple dozen houses, cuddled by trees in the middle of the National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug Forest in Baarn, Utrecht. Queen Beatrix used to live here in Castle Drakenstyn with her family before her rise to the throne.

I didn’t have the chance to take a picture of the castle (it’s not open to the public anyway) because we didn’t follow the red route - the ‘kasteeltuinwandeling’ [castle garden walking route], where obviously the castle sits. We will do it another weekend after the trips, hopefully before the year ends.

Taking the the yellow walking route - we walked more than 4 kilometers. This is not really the best foto in terms of quality (when enlarged) but I still want to keep this shot as I loved the background, the carpet of leaves, and the symmetrical trees, very common in the Netherlands.

You can find more information and an interactive map of this delightful and cozy little village with the facilities it offers here: Lage Vuursche

Anyway, the weather played tricks on us, the sun shone then it showered sporadically. Air was relatively thick with water – damp air which makes it feel colder, no, chilly I mean. Glad we wore our gloves and I had a hat with me too, otherwise we would have frozen our knuckles and wet our sorry heads.

Walking through the forest and communing with nature is indeed a great way to spend the weekend. You reap the ultimate relaxation – fresh air, unsullied nature, and stillness.

The national park Utrechtse Heuvelrug forest

Lage Vuursche is only a little part of the massive Utrechtse Heuvelrug forest that spans across the center of the country.

This tiny village is also very popular for its ‘gezellig’ Dorpstraat where you can find a couple of fine restaurants, hotels, shops, and traditional pancake houses. Pancake houses are quintessential Dutch restaurants that families with children go to during special occasions and weekend outings.

Heerlijke ‘Erwtensoep’ voor €4,50 met roggebrood en spek - in short Pea Soup with pork and rye bread (which is a different type of rye bread actually - hard and bitter, and popularly eaten as breakfast bread in the northern European countries).

After the walk, I was tempted to buy a cup of filling ‘Erwtensoep’, a homegrown Dutch winter soup, which is also called ‘Snert’ by the locals. The coldness in the forest requires some warm snack after. We picked the restaurant with an oval atrium with white canopy draperies, and they had these framed menus hanged up on the wall columns, and from where we sat, they advertised the ‘Erwtensoep’ menu, but on the other wall column, about 3 meters from our table, they were offering another heerlijke Dutch appetizer – ‘Bitterballen’ with mostard.

The glowing Pancake House right across the restaurant we had tea. I love the lights and check out the English bike on the roof. Its only 5:30PM when we took this foto and it’s already dark. Welcome winter.

Took us longer than expected to decide what to eat but didn’t matter as the waiter seemed to forget we walked in, lol. Even when paying, I had to drag Dutchman to the counter as the same waiter was taking his time and ignoring us, well, ignoring many customers actually. Of course we didn’t tip him but I bet he did not expect tips from this job as he gets paid with the normal wage + benefits anyway. Service personnel in this country are so darn lucky not to live on tips.

Anyway, we had ‘Biterballen’ with our tea, and I promised to cook Spaghetti Arabiatta for the Dutchman when we get home.
On a cold day, nothing is much better than a home-cooked meal.

Visit Period: November 2007
Destination: Lage Vuursche (Baarn), The Netherlands

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Zia and the climb up the Byzantine castle ruins in (old) Pyli

Big cities do not leave me struck and enamored anymore, unless it has pockets of charismatic quarters such as the Montmartre in Paris, or the seemingly town-y feel of Amsterdam where everything is within reach by foot. Huge sprawls of conurbation really turn me off. Maybe growing up in the city has completely robbed me of the magic. But it doesn’t mean I am scraping off big cities from my travel list. It’s just not as fulfilling as opposed to finding myself exploring little villages, ancient fortresses and forgotten ruins.

Now, this post came upon when I was checking my online foto album, which is a work-in-progress by the way as I still have travel fotos that needed to be uploaded. I like to look back at the places I have visited and muse over my experiences, and savor again the sights. It’s also a great repository for people to refer to in their future travels. I do the same anyway, I search for fotos and stories online of places I like to travel and I am thankful there are people out there who give time to post their experiences and fotos online. It helps greatly in reaching an informed decision.

For this entry, I’m talking about ZIA, the pretty little mountain village of Dikaion in the Greek island of Kos, and the forgotten Byzantine castle ruins of OLD PYLI.

The beautiful panorama of Kos from Zia mountain village.

This was in the summer of 2006 (just last year). It has always been our tradition, something I have imposed on the Dutchman, lol, that in every beach holiday we go to, we will incorporate it with some cultural activities. The Dutchman is reluctant, of course, but in the later years, he has been quite flexible (a good sign for such improvement ha-ha!) and have tolerated many a visits. But when it becomes unbearable and he gets claustrophobic with the cultural experience, I go alone. I just let him sit back lounging in the sun at the pool or beach all morning or afternoon until I am back. Fair deal!

For a backgrounder, Kos is part of the Dodecanese group of islands and is situated to the east from Athens near the (sea) border of Turkey.

The main road in Zia lined up with taverns and souvenir shops.

So we went to Zia on a motorbike we rented in Kos Centrum for a week. We thought it was best to rent a motorbike than a car or jeep in Kos seeing the island is relatively small.

Upon reaching Zia, I was impressed with its charm, albeit the mountain village being too touristy with many souvenir shops littered all over the place, but, on the other hand, the village evokes a downright appeal. It has its own particular ambience, a special localized sphere beneath the conspicuous touristy make-up.

I then quickly surveyed the hamlet and explored the little cobble-stoned side streets with joy - yeah, just like a little child in a candy store, lol.

Olive oil in their pretty packaging and next foto is my favorite - took this in one of the taverns by the main road. Think this can be a postcard foto no?

Locals here in Zia sell the typical Greek goodies that you can find all over the country: olive oil with herbs and chili peppers nicely packaged in pretty bottles, honey with thyme, olive soaps, and a varied assortment of herbs.

Behind this sign is the old watermill built in 1800. The owner improvised a bit and is now selling traditional handmade carpets, handpainted ceramic and herbs & honey. Next foto is the tavern with a veranda where we had lunch.

We had lunch in one of the pretty taverns with a terrace on its roof that boasts of spectacular views of Kos. Zia was a beautiful experience and I highly recommend people traveling to Kos to visit this quaint little village in the mountain.

More fotos of Zia and (old) Pyli Byzantine castle ruins here:

Zia, Lagoudi, and Pyli castle

Later in the afternoon we head off to Old Pyli - the ghost town. I saw a sign board on the main road saying there is a castle up there. I also learned about the poignant story of Old Pyli, abandoned by its villagers in 1830 when the cholera epidemic stole the lives of many of its inhabitants.

The Castle sign in Greek.

We passed by the (new) Pyli village, where after the tragic epidemic its inhabitants relocated, and have since then owned the place as their new home. The direction to the Byzantine castle ruins was clear enough and when we arrived Dutchman gave me a quirky look – “I am not going to hike up that mountain to see only stones and ruins!”

“Fine, then you can stay put here with your motorbike!”

A part of the Byzantine castle ruins.

The climb up the castle ruins proved to be a difficult task. For one, I was not in my right shoe attire; I was wearing girly slippers, lol. Not even those rubber flip-flops which would have been easier to walk on, I think. So I took my girly slippers off and mounted the rocky mountain bare-footed. Yes, bare-footed.

Other visitors were glancing at my feet, perhaps thinking of the bravery, treading on hot earth (it was probably 30C!), loose stones and pebbles, and rocks, but when my eyes meet theirs, they smile back sheepishly.

Me with the Byzantine castle ruins behind.

It took me almost half an hour to reach the top, which is actually a detour to a tavern where a better view of the castle ruins can be seen. I was panting heavily; my breath was all over me, lol. Luckily, the tavern on top was open (the other castle we went to, the tavern was closed), and thankfully too, I didn’t leave my purse with the Dutchman. I would have salivated at the cold drinks the English couple, who also just arrived, was sipping.

The magnificent view from atop and the English couple who took my foto above.

Briefly, the owner of the tavern chatted with me. He is in his mid-thirties. He told me his family owned the land for generations and that the castle ruins – which serves as its view is more than 1,000 years old. He did ask me where I come from as he cannot seem to figure out my features. I told him I originally come from the Philippines but now live in the Netherlands. Our short conversation ended when I thanked him for the drink and proceeded to go down the cliff where the magnificent view of the Byzantine castle ruins can be seen, and a peek of Kos City far away behind.

The tavern up in the mountain.

The panorama was amazingly breathtaking. I stood there for a while and locked myself with the view before I started taking fotos. The English couple politely turned to me and asked if I want a picture of myself with the castle ruins. Well, who would not want?

Then I realized – Oh my! The Dutchman is still below waiting for me! LOL

I said my goodbyes to the English couple and the Greek tavern owner and readied myself with the downward trek, something I was not really looking forward to. After almost half an hour of descent, the image of the Dutchman and the motorbike emerged – already in full gear and just waiting for me to hop in at the back.

Bare-footed I said!

“What took you so long?” scoffed the frowning Dutchman. “I’ve been waiting for you for more than an hour.”

I thought - Ah, good that they provide a pool of running water so I can wash my dirty feet - not really paying attention to the annoyed Dutchman. Well, what choice do I have? I just had one marvelous experience up there so he needs to get off my back ;-)

On the way back to Kos saddled at the back of the motorbike, I tried telling Dutchman the magnificent views above, the ancient castle ruins, and the tavern... but my story just fell into deaf ears.

Like what they all say – Ignorance is indeed bliss.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Work to live

With the Euro always on a fresh high (appears to be a weekly thing now) against the weak US Dollar, and wild speculations seeping through the market that the €uro will reach to an imminent $1.50 exchange, I am on the brink of temptation to book a flight to SFO and LAS! Like, I will be totally reckless. Drop whatever I am doing, and succumb to my spending urges, quest for travel, and ultimate relaxation. Woohoo, a 2-week holiday in the US. It will be cheap for me there ;-)

Anyway, the other day, I started checking flights online, Amsterdam - San Francisco - Las Vegas - Amsterdam and they came out between €450 and €600 in December. Not sure if that is a reasonable price but nevertheless San Francisco and Las Vegas will for sure be warmer and sunnier than Holland. A much better place to be.

However, *pulling myself back to reality*, my big problem right now is ‘Time’, which is not a surprise really.

Closing the year is not always, and never has been, an easy walk in the park. Hormones are flying up in the air – although I have always thought mine were a clandestine testosterone operation. Well, this is not about the high adrenalin pump. Stress levels go up, and they come in different flavors and variations, and from different, sometimes confusing, directions - with an ‘s’.
I can’t just easily take time off.

Even the romantic weekend castle getaway in France for our 7 years anniversary will have to take a backseat as the equally busy Dutchman is traveling every week, and stuck with loads of work up to his neck, he is having difficulty breathing.

Sigh. I/we really need a long vacation, sooo bad.

Speaking of stress, personally, I think I have a high level of stress tolerance. Might be a gift, but I have the ability to switch (on and) off and shield myself from pressure. I don’t bring work-related stress at home, I don’t take things personally - life is too short, I am not easily offended, I don’t kiss ass, I am straightforward, I am not emotional, and most importantly, I leave work at work.
My laptop at work is left under my drawer, well, not all the time but most of the times.

Additionally, I dearly subscribe to the so-called ‘lazy’ and ‘selfish’ European mentality and lifestyle, which as a matter of fact many foreigners contemptibly point out as amazingly [insert any negative adjective you fancy here] work ethic, but oftentimes leave them bewildered and wanting for more, lol – WORK TO LIVE. The irony lives!

If I find myself with millions of Euros (Dutchman please hurry win the lotto, do you hear me?), I would be happy and content to retire at this age. I know exactly what to do: Do nothing.

There was a recent survey carried out here in the Netherlands about happiness that I chanced upon. That people who are retired are happier than when they were working.

Hmm, that’s a kilo of wisdom in there.

Next week I will be somewhere nice and vibrant for work and I will try to catch some rest and relaxation in between, perhaps indulge in a nature trip or a lovely spa to royally pamper me.

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