Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lunches in Amsterdam

Every Friday, I go out with a few colleagues for lunch. It is something we’ve agreed on to spend lunch break together, outside of the office, once a week on a Friday.

The Dutch way of lunching at work is simply very rudimentary. Bring your own food. I’m afraid to say that lunching the Dutch way is quite boring. The food—it is always the same set of suspects, day in, day out: soft brown wheat bread (boterham) + anything on top ranging from pate to thin cold cut meats to tuna to cheese to peanut butter + milk. So I guess this Friday lunching out is good for a change ;-)

The cafe restaurant in the designer hotel, Hotel Lloyd. They have an impressive and interesting bar and a one of a kind lighting fixture, right there in the middle.

Two of our regular lunch cafes are the café restaurant at the designer hotel called Llyod Hotel and the KHL koffiehuis along the eastern dock harbour of Het IJ. They are across each other.

I like the Llyod Hotel cafe because of its outside terrace. It’s pretty, spacious and inviting. The café and the bar area has an interesting mammoth rack display of home ware items ranging from towels to bed sheets. It’s like having IKEA’s bedroom and bathroom showcase departments inside the cafe. I don’t have a favorite on its menu yet. But every time I am here I always order hot fresh mint tea leaves.

KHL bar and restaurant interior on the left. Our drinks: cola with lemon, hot mint tea (mine), and milk. It is very common here for the locals to drink milk during lunch.

KHL stands for Koninklijke Hollandsche Llyod and the café dates back to 1917. It used to cater mainly to boat workers and shipping crew docked on the harbour.

Now, my favorite in this café is their salad: Salade geitenkaas (Goat cheese salad). The warm melted goat cheese sits on a crunchy baked crust saddled with green leafy salad and topped with balsamic zest. I always order this every time I am in KHL. Colleagues were already asking when I will ever get tired of ordering the same lunch. Who cares? =)

This is my all time lunch favorite in KHL Koffiehuis - Salade Geitenkaas (Goat Cheese Salad)

There are other noteworthy cafes in Amsterdam. The posh Caffe PC in PC Hooftstraat where Blondine and I normally go to and incidentally we were there last Sunday. Their salads have too much sauce though (the Dutch needs to learn that salads are best when seasoned basic: olive oil, salt and pepper) but their bread is heavenly. And the tuna I had last weekend was just cooked right.

Another café that came as a big surprise is Caffe Esprit in Het Spui. The place is nice and trendy, and it has an outside terrace on a little square. And I swear on their carrot cake, very wicked on the palate although calorific.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Athina, Hellas (Athens)

When I came back to work, my colleagues ask me how was Athens. I surprised them and myself when I replied, “I felt like I was back in Manila!”

The most popular cart vendor in Athens, the pretzel - Koulouri vendor. This one is taken in Omonia circle where I had a quick lunch before heading off to Acropolis.

The weather obviously was very Manila-ish. Hot, sticky, and smoggy. Summer and even autumn in Greece is like the tropics, although during winter, it can get cold and freezing in Athens. The fumes, street vendors, chaos on the streets, noise, rows of buildings one after the other built during the 60’s and 70’s in the city center reminds me of downtown Manila and Cebu, and of course, the eternal traffic pandemonium! The madness on the road that goes on until the early hours of dawn had me in a confused state for a minute. I was sandwiched with a car, a cab, and two motorcycles in a very narrow street while S stood at the other side of the road laughing -- Welcome to Athens!

Scenes of Plaka; a shop selling traditional ethnic Greek garb and a busy corner street of lively Plaka during a very warm Saturday afternoon.

More fotos of Athens can be found here: Athens, Greece

Shops in Plaka; an art gallery and carpet store. I like the dilapidated look of the carpet shop. S told me the story about these old buildings (they abound in Athens!) left by its owners to rot. Will talk about this on my next entry.

There were a couple of places I found really nice in Athens.

A very cozy corner in Plaka. I was tempted to sit here for an afternoon drink but Phil and Stan sent me a SMS inviting me to check the view from their hotel which turns out to be a couple of blocks away.

Plaka, the old town at the base of the Acropolis is where everything happens at night. In all my travels, I have not seen such a huge outdoor terrace – nightlife area other than Plaka. I met up with my friends, Phil and Stan, and we sauntered for hours in Plaka and its surrounding areas. Strip after strip, in every corner, are inviting outdoor cafes, lovely restaurants and tavernas with rows of terraces, sparkling clubs, pretty shops and hundreds of street vendors hawking their wares.

I find this very charming - the shop across the street extended their selling grounds and use the rundown building to display some of their stuff. Not really sure what they are but the whole set up caught my eye.

The walk seemed endless but the beauty of it all is the magnificent and breathtaking backdrop – the lighted Acropolis on top of the hill at night. Where in the world can you see a nightlife place with such impressive backdrop that dates back to the ancient times? I think Phil wanted to pinch himself when he said this.

Traditional Greek coffee with Oreo. An afternoon with S in Psiri in one of the tavernas.

We also discovered this interesting place called Psiri. The area was tipped to Phil and Stan by the hotel personnel. So we went there for some evening drinks. There were a number of tourists present but mostly are locals.

In one of the side streets the whole area was packed so we probed further and meandered in. It was almost impossible to walk through without squeezing and kneading yourself with everyone else. But what really entertained us are the people there. A lot of fierce looking outrageously clad feral haired youngsters! The place was a teenage hangout, like a raw sub culture for the young group in Athens.

Phil, Stan, and I posing and having our goofy moments in the Kolonaki shopping area. Next foto is me and Stan - Phil took a series of shots, it looked like a comic strip, and we did not even know about it.

For a moment we thought there was a hairdo competition going on or perhaps the whole team of L’Oreal hair gel teenage models got lost in Psiri, Athens. We didn’t get to take pictures but the impression left us that extreme and weird hairstyles for the young kids is the new genre in Athens.

The day after, I met up again with Phil and Stan, and the plan was to visit the archaeological museum which I will be making a separate entry in this blog as I took lots of fotos of the nice pieces there. We decided to take a walk and explore the surroundings en route to the museum and it was a good decision as we were able to see some interesting places along the way.

S (who is almost Greek) and I in front of the beautiful Orthodox Agios Dionysius Church in Kolonaki. S said the church is famous for its intricately carved door.

In one of our turns, we came upon the uptown area called Kolonaki. S told me later that it’s the posh and trendy place of Athens and adding that I have been indeed to the right places, ha-ha. It was easy to notice that it’s the snobbish part of the city because the shops scream with luxurious designer-signature names. High-class shopping is the main hobby of many female residents here. Many embassies are also housed in the area near the avenue towards the Parliament side.

The Agios Dionysius Church interior and the impressive ceiling at the lobby entrance. I love the green and rouge colors of the half domed ceiling.

The day after, S brought me to the Agora market. My gay friends warned me beforehand when I told them I am going the next day that it’s not a sight to behold and I should consider passing it. They were so distressed with all the carcasses of dead animals hanging for sale on the stands!

The Agora market. S said that before Greece was part of the European Union it was a chaos here. With Greece entry to the European Union, everything changed. Regulations were put in place that is why each meat vendor have a fridge.

Well, for someone who’s German and Dutch, I can surely understand why they are distraught but I am Asian and I have seen worse in the Philippine public markets. I have seen chickens, goats, and pigs beheaded and slaughtered mercilessly, many times right before my very eyes.

Cheese-feta vendor and this poor hanging dead pig is so patriotic, so Greek, the Greece flag must fly beside it.

Gyros vendor posed exclusively for me but he forgot to look into the camera. Yummy olives.

In some cultures it’s normal to see these kinds of brutal acts, while for others, not. I think I can say that I have the best of both worlds. I have the luxury dwelling in both (or many) cultures. With a very open mindset, a heightened curiosity, having traveled here and there, growing up in an eastern culture, and now living in the western part of the world, all things fold right before my very eyes and nothing really surprises me anymore.

Just for the experience, S brought me to the cheap part of Athens where locals buy cheap or items by the bulk. Its like Quiapo or Baclaran in Manila. Next foto is a group of men playing backgammon or Tavli outdoors right beside a shop. Tavli I was told is a typical board game in Greece.

The pinnacle of this trip is not just visiting the celebrated Acropolis but of course the food. Fresh yummy seafood!

I love love love grilled Octopus (called Khtapothi Sti Skhara in Greek)!

One evening, S brought me to Gazi, a place that used to be an old industrial terrain, and in some areas, still being inhabited by gypsies. Gazi is now transformed into a new and cool nightlife hangout by the locals. Cafes, restaurants-tavernas, and clubs have ransacked the area. I would not be surprised in a couple of years if real estate here would go up more than twice from what the market offered now.

I will be posting more entries on Athens Archaeological Museum, Lycabettus Hill, and Pireaus... soon...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Acropolis of Athens

One thing for sure, no one has been to Athens if they have not visited the Acropolis!

This is the entrance to the Propylea (see the unfinished structure that can be seen through the doorway opening), the monumental gateway to the Acropolis and me with the Parthenon as my backdrop.

The Acropolis is a must-see must-visit when in Athens. It is identical in status, symbol and importance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Colosseum in Rome. One of the most important piece of archeological antiquity in the world as its buildings go back 2,500 years (5 BC).


This short clip is taken in the Propylea, the entrance to the Acropolis.

The climb up to the Acropolis was quite exhausting because I took a different entrance which was farther. In addition, I was still very tired from my late night arrival and moreover, I was developing a cold. With the heat, it was too much for me to bear but I know I could not forgive myself if I did not visit the Acropolis. So I pressed on.

Close up of the beautiful work of magnificent art detail - frieze on the Parthenon, preserved since the 5th BC.

Obviously the most impressive building in the Acropolis is the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Pathenos, considered to be the most important surviving structure of Classical Greece. I love the frieze artwork running around the exterior walls of the cella. I wanted to inspect the detail up close but unfortunately I could not get closer as it is off limits to get near the archaic structures.

Another building, the Erectheum, right across the Parthenon was also a favorite. I love the lady pillars, the porch of maidens. They are so pretty and elegant!

This is the foto the old limping woman took of me. She had the right angles.

While I was taking a picture of myself for a souvenir, a limping old lady passing by smiled at me and stopped me on my tracks motioning her husband to wait for her. She right away grabbed my camera, backed away a bit, and knelt down on her knees to take a shoot of me with the Parthenon in my background. Everything went so quick, I could only mutter a hurried thank you when she handed back my camera, waved and left. It’s not everyday you come across with a limping sweet old lady offering to take pictures, and the actual picture coming out beautifully.

More fotos of Acropolis here: Acropolis - Athens, Greece

The elegant porch of maidens of the Erechtheum temple and the restored amphitheater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

It was a very hot day, 35C I reckon, so I took shelter under the shade of a tree at the back part of the Parthenon where the water fountain is located.

There were two American ladies with Californian accent sitting on the bench. One of the girls intrigued me. She was wearing a thin shoulder strapped short dress and it was a sight to behold --- her hairy (inch long hairs!) legs caught my stunned inquiring eyes. Then without hesitation, she swiftly lifted her arms to tie up her hair into a ponytail. Oh my dearest lord. What did I just saw? A nicely tucked thick dark bush under her armpits... I think I just saw the highlight of my Acropolis trip, lol. I can’t help it. Let me guess, they were virgin armpits. Never been shaved or plucked.

Nevertheless, I was in awe (truly) of this woman’s courage and confidence to show off her hairs and not care about what most women fear in this generation --- caught in public with hair on their legs or armpits.

The view from the top of the Acropolis overlooking the packed city of Athens and the Lycabettus mountain that I visited the day after.

Lesson learned: French and German ladies do not have monopoly of the hairy armpits stereotype.

Anywho, I was so tired and sleepy that when the 2 ladies left, I took their bench and lay down on it using my bag as my pillow. Under the bench was this big dog who was earlier chasing away other dogs that came near his territory, also sleeping, soundly. I would not be surprised if people took fotos of me and the dog, ha-ha. The heat took control of me and I just need to take a little nappy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Change of Guards at the Hellenic Parliament

The soldiers guards the Hellenic Parliament, the Presidential Palace, and the Tomb of the Unknown Solder. This particular guard just had his makeup retouched ;-) I saw it!

Every Sunday morning an official change of guards ceremony takes place in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The parade of Greek guards dressed in their best frilly ABBA-like top impression with matching cheerleader skirts strut their way from the back gates of the Parliament down the avenue and towards the Parliament’s quadrangle facing the huge Syntagma Square. The parade is led by a marching band uniformed in white.

Soldier in traditional mainland uniform in front of the Hellenic Parliament, and next foto is the grounds of the Parliament with tourists waiting for the changing of guards on a Sunday morning.

The change of guards in front of the Greek Parliament happen everyday but it is only during Sundays when the whole ritual is celebrated with a marching band followed by a unit of traditionally dressed Greek soldiers. Around 1045 the parade starts from the back of the Parliament and at 1100 sharp, the change of guards commence in the square.

My friend Phil jokingly told me that we will have to be there at 1030 when there are no people around. I arrived 1030 sharp and the party already started! Loads of eager tourists lined the front yard of the parliament taking pictures of the guards. It seems everyone else have the same idea.


This is the parade after the changing of guards ceremony took place. They are going back to their base which is at the back of the Hellenic Parliament.

I also noticed that the guards on duty have their own dedicated assistants interestingly dressed in guerilla fatigue outfit, who with their heavy duty rifles strapped on their backs you would think would be doing equally macho surveillance tasks. Well not – instead, they watch over these guards that look like toy soldier dolls displayed in a merchandising shop. They baby sit them, wipe their sweat, make sure their caps with tassels are arranged neatly and not blocking their eyesight, check their outfits constantly, and get this – retouch their makeup! Hmm, the Greeks take the tourists and their flashing cameras seriously.

This is the actual ceremony during the changing of the guards in the Parliament.

The soldiers are actually called the Evzones. They are said to be the elite of the Greek Army now part of the Presidential guards. You have to be the best to get recruited in this unit, be at least 180 centimeter tall / 6 feet tall (a rarity amongst Greek men), and lastly, I’ve heard, must be good looking.

Seeing the soldiers in their woolen leggings, cotton pleated kilts, and in the 35C heat make me perspire all the more! There are different varieties of the uniform I gather but the most popular of them all is the traditional mainland white which you can see in the fotos above.

Closer look of the guards taken on the backstreet when we followed them to the back of the Parliament.

Another interesting bit of inside information my almost Greek friend S who was visiting told me is their shoes. They are made of leather with wooden soles and a black pompon on top. Under the soles are nails, she said. That’s why when they do the strange march, legs up front and down, the shoes make this icky noise. It’s because of the nails! These nails I was told helped the soldiers climb up the mountains when they fought against the Turks during the Ottoman occupation.

Wow, all I can say is total basic ingenuity.

More to follow. Soon...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back in the cold

I am now back in the Netherlands and at the airport I was met with the crispness of the cold temperature seeping through the runway tube. Before touchdown the pilot announced it is 10C in Schiphol, a far cry from 30C-35C in Athens by day, and 22C in Budapest.

A candid-stolen shot; withdrawing money from an ATM in Athens (the ATM brand is a previous employer). Thanks S!

Navigating my way through the crowd in Schiphol, I quickly searched for the nearest toilet. I need to re-touch my makeup as I am heading straight to work in Amsterdam. Although I barely slept comfortably in the plane, luckily I did not have eye bags or dark rings under my eyes.

The taxi ride to work was quite interesting. The young driver, who I reckon must be Turkish or Moroccan looked like Jan Smit who did not shave for 2 days. Jan Smit is a (folk-country) singer in the Netherlands who hails from Volendam and is very popular with the younger group.

So right I am back and all I hear is the mortgage crisis in the USA. Lehman went bankrupt and who would have thought the mighty AIG would be in deep shite? Fortis too lost its share value while still having a huge debt over the ABN-Amro takeover. Then I had a good laugh at Wilder’s debating skills in the Tweede Kamer which should be the talk of the week in town! Oh dear, Dutch politics is indeed hilarious.

At work this week I have been totally sacharijnig, impatient, and aggressive and rightly so I think. I always try my best to be politically correct though, if I can help it, but the feisty confrontational side of me prevails especially when something needs to get done ASAP or when there is injustice. You know, I have hands to type and I have a mouth to speak.

At home, haven’t really slept well and been catching up lately. After dinner I just fall lifeless on the couch and Dutchman had to wake me up and drag me to the bedroom at midnight.

The last few days this week have just been so incredibly tiring, and stressful. I looked like a walking zombie, gaunt, sucked out of energy and blood but ready to take out a fight, lol.

Anyway, glad that the week closed beautifully.

I will post fotos and stories of Budapest and Athens in the coming days, and also my last entry of Texel!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Druk... busy... druk... busy

These days I glance at the clock and gasped – it is already 5PM?!

Time fly so fast. Unfortunately there are still so many things to do, people to speak with, activities to arrange, meetings to set, information to gather, and so on and so forth. The objective is to catch my short tail end 100x every month. Catching this tail is a challenge in itself as my arms are never too long to reach them unless I do some back breaking antics. There is never, never enough time in this world!

With the new CRM system in place at work, there’s more work expected. I have my own targets to meet but at the same time I have to execute, I just realized today, a huge amount of administration work for this new bravura of a system. In my altruistic world, doing admin stuff is every sales person’s nightmare. Why get stuck in administrative chores when the sole purpose of your existence in the company is supposed to chase after the money? Woman, the business.

So now I have gym 3x a week, but since last week and also this week, I settled for a temporary 2x a week regimen because of other important appointments that have taken place. Dutchman has been complaining a bit, just a wee bit that we now eat later. Well, unless he starts rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty in the kitchen, he will have to wait until I get home and make dinner. Normally, I spend 2 hours in the gym, so right that’s a guaranteed late dinner 3x a week.

I just bought hair colour. I need to dye my hair tomorrow.

I’m still chasing customers. Forever chasing them. Sometimes I tell myself to sit still and do nothing because I don’t want these customers to scream foul – Woman, stop harassing me! I am never shy to ask for the order. But sometimes I need to back off and this is causing me so much stress because I do not have the value of patience. Running around in circles in my mind... hold back... no, now,... no, hold back... no, now, now,... I need to do it now... I said hold back! But I want it now! GRR

The way things are now seems the list of things to do and achieve in this life will never come to a complete end. I always feel like I am running after something that I can, of course, achieve... but every time I do, the sense of satisfaction is set back to zero.

As for the financial aspect, there are many things to be arranged. There are quite a number of online banks offering 5.5% interest which is really good. On the other hand, the Belastingdienst (tax department) just sent me a letter today that I still owe them money. I thought I just paid them something a few months back? In this country, you get penalized when you don’t spend.

On the housing front, I am still searching E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E D-A-Y that my fingernails have tapered off from typing and clicking on “zoeken”. I now have telegraphic memory of the houses up for sale in the market. However, nothing has so far caught our fancy. I’m afraid this zoeken saga has turned into the search for the Holy Housing Grail. Sometimes, I feel the frustration building up.

There were a few houses that held our interest but the perfectionist Dutchman always managed to catch something not right in between. As for me, my demands are pretty simple (unfortunately not in Dutch standards). It must be a stand alone house with huge floor to ceiling glass windows and a yard. But helaas there are not many choices in the Netherlands, I realized. What can I do? I am so stuck in this country where typical Dutch houses are uniformed row houses, duplexes, and stand alone houses with small windows and boring designs.

Sigh. Will we ever going to find this Holy Grail of a house? With 2 individuals with very high standards set for this quest will it ever materialize?

I still have to book my hotel in Athens, print my e-ticket, and arrange a couple of last minute travel stuff. I think I need the long weekend in Athens so badly. Oh, I am so looking forward to walk all around the city, and enjoy the hopefully much better weather there. I can’t wait to indulge again in art, architecture, and history!

Which reminds me, I need to pack and I have not figured out yet what to wear and bring, and I am leaving in less than 72 hours. I am not looking forward to packing really but I am looking forward to shopping new boots for winter in Greece.

There’s golf clinic and a dinner event the day before I fly and I can’t make up my mind if I take the train or the car during this day. I want to drink alcohol! So that means I can’t drive or I have to get all boozed up really early and abstain in the last 3-4 hours before I sit sober in front of the wheel. This trivial thing is actually a point in my supposedly busy schedule! lol

Then Dutchman asked me tonight if I am going to do the grocery shopping tomorrow for next week since tomorrow is the only day I am available before I fly out of the country. Well too bad honey, tomorrow I am going to the gym!

We did household cleaning last weekend and we promised to each other to do this general cleaning every 2 weeks. A weekly thing would be too much to ask for our lazy butts. Weekends are supposed to be sleeping-in times. I am not sure if promises are made to be broken because we seem to have broken this promise a gazillion times.

With that, I desperately need and want a maid!!! I am actually in the brink of compromising – the maid costs goes to my pocket.

On other domestic news, more tasks are piling up, same with my clothes – lots needed to be ironed, to be folded, to be hung in the closet. On the other hand Dutchman could not understand why I needed to have so many shoes and he has ultimately lost count of my clothes -- he does the washing that is why. He has come to a point that he doesn’t really care anymore that I have have turned one of our bedrooms into my personal walk-in closet. One wall just literally rows of closets and 3/4 of the space are mine.

Then Dutchman also reminds me we need to make a decision ASAP, like this month, no next week, if we are going to the Philippines in December so we can book the flights ASAP. I’m torn apart as I am eyeing my overachievement bonus and didn’t want to take a leave – lol – I actually wanted to work my ass off! Goodness gracious, I need a loyalty award from my boss. But then again I will probably be told that I am being selfish as I want the money for myself.

The car now needs her every 15,000 kilometers maintenance check – need to set an appointment this week, or maybe next week.

I am glad I am done with my dentist and dental hygienist appointments because that means I have now room to set appointments with my general practitioner for other matters.

Lately, I seem or have been sleeping less...

What else?

Oh, there’s people to email, call, reconnect, and more. I am so terrible with friendships and relationships. ARGH. I am too focused on myself, my own life, my own world. I live in my own self-centered universe and I forget there are other people around me that wanted too some attention.

At any rate, there’s just so many on the plate right now. I better get started. But, i
t was therapeutic to write though.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Texel, part 1

Aren’t we glad we went to Texel last week and not this weekend? We woke up this weekend to a gloomy, cold, and rainy day. Saturday was a bit better though, yet you still need a light jacket to make yourself warm and comfortable outside.

The Teso boat that sails between Den Helder and Texel Island.

Weather news said last weekend was the last warm weekend in the Netherlands, which was more like a catching up really because we never had a great summer. One can count with their hands how many sunny and warm weekends we had in this country for summer 2008.

So much for the weather talk, I will write about our experiences in Texel, divided into 2 parts. The first part will be about Den Burg, the capital of Texel Island and De Koog, the touristy town in the west side of the island. For the second part, I will be writing about the little villages in the countryside, Cocksdorp where we stayed, Den Hoorn, t’Hoorntje, and Oudeschild.

The birds loved to hung around the boat during the entire sailing time to Texel. They were floating on mid air, and perhaps they loved the wind force of the boat.

Texel is the largest island in the Waddeneiland (a group of islands in the north of the Netherlands). It is easy to get to Texel. The huge Teso boat sails every 30 minutes from Den Helder. Teso has been sailing for more than 100 years I believe in the Den Helder – Texel stretch. It took us about 2 hours drive to get to Den Helder from Utrecht. For a car with 2 passengers, the boat ticket is €35 retour and sailing time is approximately 30 minutes which is relatively fast.

Interestingly, I just found out that the Waddeneiland is actually part of the Friezen Island community spanning 3 countries: The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.

To see where Texel is, click HERE for a map of the Netherlands. It is the island above Den Helder along the coast of the North Sea.

De Koog

De Koog as it seems to be is the most popular and fun place in the island.

One of the bar restaurants filled with confetti and banners in the busy strip in De Koog town center.

Dutchman says De Koog is hands down by definition the Malia of Texel, ha-ha. Malia is actually a beach summer holiday place in Crete, Greece where the young hardcore partygoers go. We’ve been to Malia before and we will never go there again. I don’t know if that is a bad way of describing De Koog but it is indeed a place to chill out and party – lots of bars, loud bars if I may say, the usual touristy shops and café restaurants dot this little strip in the town center. If this floats your boat then its definitely your place to be.

I like this little traditional white church in the town center. These cabaret (or carnival?) girls in costume just finished their dance in the town square and are leaving while bystanders like us cannot help but take a sneaky foto of their voluptuous behinds.

De Koog beach on a Saturday afternoon.

We searched for the beach which was quite a long hike than expected from the little strip where everything happened. I did not mind the walk anyway as it was quite nice and the weather was just perfect. We passed along hotel apartments with tenants sitting outside on the balcony enjoying the warm sun. The roadside became finer and dusts of white sand appeared everywhere. Before us was this modern and nicely designed wooden bridge leading us to the main beach area. Below the bridge is a parking lot full of cars. Around its perimeter, on both sides is the camping grounds. I could see a number of tents, caravans, and plastic tables and chairs scattered around in the mounds and bushes. And I thought... oh my, I was glad we were not on a camping weekend.

White little beach huts for rent with orange wind shields on the grounds.In a windy country like the Netherlands those wind shields are important beach accessories.

The white beach stretch was quite busy, but nothing compared to Scheveningen or Zandvoort on a warm and sunny day. Lots of children playing on the sand, couples sunbathing and kissing, families having their afternoon snack, and a group of guys were drinking in the beach were flirting with me, beckoning me to take a picture of them until they realized I was with the Dutchman who was 30 feet away from me.

I did not bring my bikini as we were not expecting to swim in this short island-weekend holiday. In fact, I was looking forward to bike around the island the next day!

More fotos of De Koog here: De Koog - Texel, The Netherlands

This is one of my favorite fotos in Texel - capturing this lovely couple flirting openly in public with the yellow and white little beach huts in the background. If you look closely in the foto, there is another couple on the far right sitting on the beach.

At any rate, Dutchman and I spent the whole afternoon strolling along the beach shore and having cold drinks in an outside café beach terras watching this group of guys having fun dipping in the sea and a curious seal observing them 10 feet away.

In Dutch, a seal is called a zeehond, literally translated as “seadog”. Well, when the seals bop their dark shiny heads up and down the water, they indeed look like dogs from a distance.

Den Burg

Located in the middle of the island, the capital, Den Burg, is relatively and unexpectedly big. The number of shops and commercial establishments in the city I thought was far too many for a small island such as Texel.

This is the little square in Den Burg town center with lots of cafe terraces.

Dutchman kept telling me – this place would be dead in the winter and you would not want to ever come here. Which brought me to question how these shop owners could survive? I am sure during winter they won’t be open 5 days a week.

The little square with the café terraces (forgot the name of the square) is quite nice as when we were there, there were many people around. Most of them were like us on a bike, taking a rest before hitting the road to the next village. It was a beautiful day, and naturally on days like this, terraces abound.

The church in Den Burg, and another foto of the gezellig little square with cafe terraces.

I initially thought of having dinner in a cabaret house in Den Hoorn. I read this in the tourist website of Texel, but we got lazy and decided to have dinner instead in Den Burg, at this restaurant across the church (above in the foto). It was the restaurant that had a lot of guests so we thought it must be okay, at least. My dinner did not prove to be a disappointment but it could have been better.

More fotos of Den Burg here: Den Burg - Texel, The Netherlands

Time flew so quickly, it was past 11PM on our watch, so we drove back to Cocksdorp, in the north of the island, where we will be staying for the night.

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