Monday, April 30, 2012

My picks for Queen’s Day 2012 in Utrecht

Sunday night and feeling a bit lethargic (in other words, lazy), we agreed not to head off to the Koninginnenacht (Queen’s Night) festivities in Utrecht. But this morning, we managed to move our bums and joined Utrecht for Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day, 30 April). This is a yearly nationwide event in celebration of the Queen’s birthday here in the Netherlands.

So what’s in store during this day? Street party, live music, stage shows, lots of drinking, dressing up in orange, spontaneous street acts and selling junk, well anything really.

Here’s my picks for Queen’s Day 2012 in Utrecht:

Little Miss Dutch Maid in the prairie.

Selling junk.

Like in most cities in the Netherlands during Queen's Day, there are designated areas and streets that one can sell their (used) wares. And well, some even offer blind date matching services.

Selling manicure services as well.

Dyed orange hair and a Netherlands flag boa are popular outfits for the day.

It was the first time in many years that it didn't rain during Queen's Day. 20C! These macho tattooed guys are definitely enjoying the day.

Street games - you hit the button and the girl in bikini goes down the tub of water.

'Zin in een vluggertje?' literally means 'Want a quickie (sex)?' but this one means a quickie chess game =)

I know, I know... I am almost 42 (in a few weeks) and I should not be wearing outfits like this. Just trying to be trendy for a day since I have no orange to wear. I don't think I will wear something like this next year.

I love this umbrella and I found a cocktail stall! Finally mojitos!

This man is just so cool. Orange bra is it.

Doing the rumba. Cuba here I come (in 2 weeks!).

Hollow Man has gone orange.

Boating is popular during Queen's Day. Unlike in Utrecht, in Amsterdam it gets hectic on the canals (read: boat traffic).

Best in channelling 'Oranje' and 'Nederland'.

'Hi, I am Miss Netherlands and we have lots of tulips!'

Best in creativity: Orange eyelashes for the win!

Live music of course. They are in every corner. Can you imagine the noise blaring from every corner, I mean everywhere? I am so getting old.

This man is brave enough to wear a (orange) ribbon on his head.

More boating fun on Utrecht's Oudegracht.

We didn’t stay long in Utrecht. Like I always say in this blog—we are getting old.

We don’t appreciate large crowds anymore. The noise is unbearable. It was nice for the first few hours though but after that I just want to escape and be back in the comforts of home. If you are young and reading this, you’ll understand when you get to our age.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Visit Period: April 2012
Destination: Utrecht Centrum (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

No Mojitos at Winkel van Sinkel in Utrecht

Blondine and I had lunch at Winkel van Sinkel yesterday Saturday. Blondine had the salmon bagel while I had some omelette. They were OK--4 stars out of 5.

The meet up is not just for our usual girly lunch update but to also further excite ourselves (now that sounds like this sentence needs some censoring, lol) for our up and coming CUBA TRIP which will happen in 2 weeks’ time. Yep, 2 more weeks!!! Flights have been booked 2 months ago. Hotels have been booked last week as well. Right now I am checking out the rental car.

Winkel van Sinkel, quite busy during lunch.

A quick trip to the WC (toilet). This is the basement of the restaurant that used to be a warehouse exiting to the wharf. In the old times, businessmen trade their wares by coming to Utrecht on boats and loading the wares on the below the street level wharfs.

Nevertheless we are bursting with desolate anticipation. WE CANNOT WAIT TO GO TO EXOTIC CUBA!

You know, Blondine and I have promised ourselves that we will go to Cuba before the country changes. Cuba right now is time warped. In the 50’s. We all know that Fidel Castro won’t live forever, so who knows, before we know it, Cuba might look like Miami? Oh dear, please no. So NOW is the TIME TO GO.

Now, we chose to meet up for lunch at Winkel van Sinkel because we’d love to have some Cuban introduction: MOJITOS. Trivia: Did you know that Mojitos originally came from Cuba?

The Winkel van Sinkel restaurant on Utrecht’s Oudegracht is famous for its salsa dancing and Caribbean cocktails. However, since the restaurant was packed with diners for lunch, they had nobody to concoct the cocktails for us. The waiter probably thought--Silly girls ordering Mojitos at this early hour. Haha.

Let’s just say that Sauvignon Blanc saved the day.

The facade of Winkel van Sinkel at night. Foto from

Tonight, we might check out the free market and Queen’s Night celebrations (Koninginenacht) in Utrecht Centrum.

Visit Period: April 2012
Destination: Utrecht Centrum (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

More snippets of Berlin

We have finally come to an end of my Berlin travel posts. Hopefully in the near future when I come back to this city, I will be able to visit the amazing glass cupola of the Reichstag. Because of the new security guidelines, visits will have to go through a preliminary screening and visitors will have to register 3-days in advance online at the Reichstag website. Unfortunately we did not have the luxury of time.

Another thing that I’d like to do in Berlin next time around is to visit the food or farmer’s market. I have simple wishes, I do not ask a lot =)

Below are more pictures that I took during our 4-day Berlin long weekend trip in March of this year. They are daily street scenes, some of our dinners (they did not merit their own post), more historical monuments and places and things of interest.

One of our dinners at Restaurante Malatesta, an Italian restaurant in Gendarmenmarkt. We shared a spinach salad doused in balsamico vinegar and showered with roasted pine nuts. Dutchman had homemade ravioli with buffalo milk and ricotta cheese filling while I had seafood risotto which was quite salty. For dessert, see next picture. Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5.

We shared our dessert: Creme caramel at Restaurante Malatesta. 3 stars out of 5... Bonne Maman's creme caramel at Albert Heijn is much better. I must add that the older Italian waiter who attended to us was a such a sweet gentleman. He thinks the Dutchman is American because he ordered Coke, haha!

Mini cars are so easy to park in the city.

I was speechless to see the massive Nespresso shop in Berlin! Wow, look at the variety and the in
ventory, and how do they stock all of them so high up? This one is located on Friedrichstrasse.

Beer bikes even go late into the night in Berlin. If I am not mistaken this concept started in the Netherlands, I blogged about this 5-7 years ago, but this has since been banned here. I can understand why because Amsterdam and Utrecht for example where these beer bikes started are full of canals. When the boys get rowdy and intoxicated with alcohol they might find themselves drowning in the canals! Scary.

The Berlin MINI.

Some random architectural interest, building bridge and sculptures. In Budapest, they have similar statues guarding doorways.

Berlin has a Galeries Lafayette but it does not come close to its Parisian sister. It embodies the same style though, the atrium and the dome.

Das Sachsenhaus, proud of its 'Made in Germany' stuff.

We also had dinner at the Spanish restaurant chain called Maredo. We had high hopes of this restaurant but our experience was summed up into a 3 stars out of 5 rating. My salmon was OK and the scampis as well but it lacked the ooomph. I even forgot what Dutchman had. The dinner was saved by the dessert: Appelstrudel with ice cream and whipped cream. This is 4.25 stars out of 5.

I cannot help it but I am attracted to the green colour.

At Alexanderplatz, some (cheap) Don Lucas Brut (cava sparkling wine).

A small protest rally on Alexanderplatz.

The 17th of June Avenue (Strasse de 17 juni).

Grosse Stern (Great Star), is the central square of the Grosser Tiergarten on the 17th of June Avenue.

As we drove out of Berlin, we followed the Polizei =)

From Berlin, Dutchman and I went to nearby Potsdam for a half a day visit. Potsdam is hands down very pretty. More about it next...

Travel Period: March 2012
Destination: Berlin, Germany

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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