Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Buon Appetito!

I love pasta, that's no secret. I go all melty for real pasta, for the most basic sauce, for a traditional recipe. Creamy carbonara makes me cringe but this simple recipe for Spaghetti With Rosemary fills me with joy. Spotted on the fantastic and taken from The Silver Spoon, that monumental tome to Italian food which I have not cooked out of as much as I'd have liked, but it makes me happier knowing that it's just there.

It concentrates on just a little tomato and rosemary. Sure, you could add a few slivers of prosciutto, toss in a handful of spinach, crumble over pretty white feta, but it's not necessary. There's beauty in simplicity. It's a dish like this that transports me to Italy. And there's a genius step that may go unnoticed - the addition of a flour slurry that not as much thickens the beautifully-reduced sauce, but coats the sauce to the spaghetti threads instead of puddling at the bottom of the plate. It's a dish that compliments Mario Batali's luscious description on how to sauce pasta.

Spaghetti with Rosemary, serves 4 adapted from seriouseats, originally from The Silver Spoon
2 Ts olive oil
2 Ts fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 red chili, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 Ts flour
1 Ts milk
1 Ts water

Heat the oil in a frypan. Toss in the rosemary, garlic, and chili. Cook until fragrant, about two minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. In a bowl whisk together the flour, water and milk. When done simmering, season the tomato sauce with salt, and then pour in the flour slurry. Stir through and then cook for 5 minutes. Toss cooked spaghetti in with the rosemary sauce and stir to coat. If preferred, serve with parmesan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Finally, we have work. *huge sigh of relief*

We had training today and I won't go into too much detail on what the job is (although I'm sure there will be plenty of stories which I won't be able to help but post). Training was conducted by a wonderful Diablo at an (overly) leisurely pace, starting with a long coffee (at which point we saw a large dog saunter through the office). It's working with an international team doing media business research, not far from Amsterdam and fairly convenient to get to. Casual clothes. The pay isn't great although we've discovered is pretty standard (and we won't get paid till the next cycle in three weeks, after our sofinumber comes through), but what's great is we can choose our holidays under our contract.

There's even a hering stand outside. Things are going to be ok.

Most Annoying Ad In History

If we hear this ad jingle one more time we will seriously lose the post, we hate it so much. However this is a document of our time here so should be included. Even worse a lot of ads have a 'follow up' shorter ad in the same commercial break so you get to hear it twice. And why is it on youtube? PS sandwich spread? Gross.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tonight's Dinner

Could not have asked for anything more: tomato, ham and eggs on toast, pommes noisettes with tomato sauce.

Happy Days

Happy Australia Day!
Even though we are newly-arrived, we thought it would be fun to make some Australian treats for Australia Day. We salivated over the idea of meat pies, sausage rolls, slices and pavlovas (one big one or mini?), but being budget-friendly settled on a sausage sizzle and lamingtons.

We bought some merguez sausages from our Islamic shop, cooked them on the grillpan and popped them between brown bread, caramalised onions and tomato sauce. The sausages were absolutely amazing - pure beef flavoured with paprika, fennel seeds and spices. We sat in our patio and enjoyed them in the sun (before running inside from the cold).

Thank you Dani's mum for the lamington recipe! The sponge turned out completely different to a normal lamington - we only had a large round cake tin to bake in, wholemeal flour instead of plain, and used a vanilla bean as there is no vanilla extract in Haarlem - but they were incredibly delicious. They were slightly chewy and nutty from the wholemeal flour and flecked with vanilla beans. The icing was just perfect, made with Droste Dutch cocoa. They were best the next day and day after - luckily they lasted that long!

In the evening we went out with Justin's friends (Dani's brother) who took us to some parts of Amsterdam we hadn't seen before, and had a great night. Went to a few bars and even found a place near Dam Square that sold olliebollen! Had dinner at a Dutch eethuis - truth be told the others thought it was great but we found it very average, a chicken salad with pesto for Dani and I got to try perhaps the national dish, kip sate (chicken satay), which was drenched in a thick sauce that was like a sweet curry. Expensive, too. But the company was great and they taught us some Dutch swear words, it's about time we knew some. They even kindly obliged with some stupid Dutch questions we had, such as:

+ Is Jensen married? Is he gay?
+ Why are there 15 lines on a strippenkaart, and not an even number?
+ Why are there so many Argentinian steakhouses?

And Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to Kath and Jay! I hope you are having a wonderful time in Melbourne and I can't wait to hear all about it. You are beautiful people and a beautiful couple and I wish you the happiest of happiness for all your anniversaries to come x

Friday, January 25, 2008

More Holland

A favourite ad for Holland Casino:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

After a few stressful days, it was nice to slow down with some slow cooking in the form of slow-roasted tomatoes.

We bought some truss tomatoes at the weekend markets but they went soft quickly so I threw them in the oven with rosemary, sliced young garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. 100C for 2.5 hours.

They made a delicious dinner bashed up a little in buttered pasta and sprinkled feta.

We Did Not Get Our Sofinumbers

There, no fluffing around, because there has been enough fluffing around, we did not get our sofinumbers.

Me, at counter 12, being told that no, the tax office did not issue sofinumbers after you have registered with the town hall. But you have to register with the town hall to then get your residency permit from the IND that only then gives you your sofinumber at the tax office. But you told us 2.5 weeks ago to come to you and you would give it to us the same day. No, you have to go to the town hall and they will give you your sofinumber. In around two weeks. If we generate one for you, and the town hall does as well, you will have two. Well could I just cancel the second one? No, you will be in a lot of trouble.

Dani, at counter 10, waiting for her sofinumber to be generated after filling out a form. The clerk then calls her back and says that because the residency permit is valid for six months, that he couldn't give her a sofinumber, only if it was valid for three months. Um...the only visa that is valid three months is a tourist visa (ie you can't work). More explanations. Pleading that someone just give us the right answer and that we can get. it. done. Suddenly all the clerks were involved, all looking extremely unintelligent except for my clerk who started being very rude and defensive, accusing us now that by registering with the town hall we had caused our problems. Huh? Hadn't you all told us that the only way to get a residency permit is to register? Well, the rules changed. Excuse me? We were here 2.5 weeks ago and you told us to come back. Even had a special scribble on the envelope. Dani's clerk: they changed the rules end of November. My clerk: they changed it since you were here 2.5 weeks ago.

What are you all talking about? Where is the list of procedures? Out of all the bureaucrats, why hasn't one of them created a checklist, a list of steps, in order, to follow for the very few of us who come on a Working Holiday Visa? Is this logic in a world of everything illogical?

I'm beginning to see The Netherlands as that boyfriend you don't want to tell your parents too much about. They have good points that you love, which you share, but then they stuff you around so much that you don't want people to know, you're embarassed about. Don't get me wrong, and Dutchies, please don't be offended - because we love this place and this is venting from sheer frustration. But how much of this can you take?

Of course we wanted to go back to the town hall to confirm that everything has been lodged and we will be getting our sofinumbers from them, in 2-3 weeks. But, the town hall department that handles residencies is closed on Thursdays.

Apparently we can start work without the sofinumber, our payments will just be delayed till we get it. We have a training day on Tuessday, and will go to that rain hail or shine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Just came back from the town hall. Our lady wasn't there but a new bureaucrat guy to deal with, who obviously had never heard of a Working Holiday Visa before. He started asking robotically for our rental contracts and busying himself at the photocopier and when given the long spiel on our situation stared blankly at us. Quoting the lady we've been dealing with, he smugly replies, "I can't believe that she'd say that". Oh, ok then.

He told us we'd have to wait 2-3 weeks to be registered which would then allow us to come back for a sofinumber. The tax office told us when we had the residency sticker we could come in and they would give us the sofinumber the same day, whereas the IND and the town hall both told us it was the town hall that would give us the sofinumber. So now we are going back to the tax office and trying our luck there.

When I get stressed, I automatically think: cigarettes. But I'm being strong and don't want to take a step backwards. Deep breaths.

We went to the tax office, and asked to see someone about getting a sofinumber. They told us it was too late (3pm) and that we'd have to make an appointment, which would take two days for them to call us back with a time. We suggested we come back in the morning, which she said was fine, that they open at 8am but the staff we need to see don't start till 9 or 10am. When we were there the other week, the girl scribbled something on the back of an envelope and gave it to us for next time, so we showed the receptionist. "Ah, this is very important! You don't need an appointment. Just come back anytime". Funny because there was nothing on the envelope that had a code or our names or anything that could identify what we needed.

Tomorrow morning, we go back.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cue Suspense - How Did It Go?

This should give it away:

Back to the IND for our appointment, and after one hour, a residency permit!

The appointment was in a small room with four interview desks, of which at most two were ever being used (hence the initial two weeks' wait?). We had to hand in forms, a passport photo, show proof of funds and pay 30E. The 30E was paid to a cashier sitting in a tiny sectionned-off room within this office; that was his only job, to take fees from applicants. It didn't seem like much of a job, and with no TV or internet to distract him between the four of five payments he'd have to receive all day. While our lady was inputing our information, another went around asking staff and whoever they were interviewing if they'd like a drink. "Coffee, tea, maybe a hot chocolate?" I like a department of immigration that offers speciality drinks* (I was too bemused to accept). Without any fuss, our passports were stickered with a residency permit - dated till July. In the meantime, our residency is reviewed - everything we've read says this is stock standard and that it's always extended for the whole year. But why add another step in an already overly-bureaucratic process - for a one year visa?

So tomorrow, back to the town hall for our sofinumber, and then it's all done.

And to top it off, today was a glorious day. Warm and blue skies, and for the first time in a long time we dolled ourselves up, both in new boots, unburdened by layers and puffy jackets. After the IND we went into Amsterdam to see about some jobs, hopefully good things there, and the city was just sparkling. We toasted our success with cofffee and cake (not great but the coffee came with these more-ish caramel sugar sticks that you are all getting for Christmas). Today I was in love with this place, and it makes it all worth it.

* Remember when Kramer visits his lawyer Jackie Chiles and when asked if he'd like something to drink, replies "yea, I'll have a decaf cappucino" - "uh, we don't have decaf cappucinos"..."that's unusual, it's a very popular drink".

Monday, January 21, 2008


Warning: lost post.

What a day. Otherwise known as, Julia and Dani do Race Around The World Haarlem, or, Treasureless Hunt. The day was supposed to be pretty simple, although we know it's never like that. But still, one can hope. The landlord wanted to check with the town hall on what the deal was with us staying with her before giving us a photocopy of her ID, or the last thing we were told we needed to complete registration. From January 1, there is a tax that depends on how many people live in your home, so even though we were saying that she is a friend and we are housesitting while she is on holidays, she was worried that she'd still be taxed. By this stage, we were willing to pay whatever the tax could be, and mind you, this could all have been worked out months ago had the Dutch consulate given us the right information.

So we were told, hand in these forms and the town hall will stamp our passports with a residency permit, then take the passports to the tax office and they will issue us with our sofinumbers then and there. Which was perfect with our training day lined up for Tuesday.

With the registration office at the town hall only open 9am-12pm, she went there first thing and came over afterwards. Good news, no need to pay taxes, just sign some new forms. And even though we'd been asking her for one thing - a photocopy of her ID - she didn't have it so emailed me a copy of it. The internet cafe doesn't open till lunch time, and our lady at the town hall told us she could print it from an email, so off we went. The one lady who we've been dealing with there is vague and has given us wrong information before, but is quite nice. Let me describe the town hall of Haarlem. You get a ticket and wait, and there are floor-to-ceiling silver doors on one wall that look very imposing, very I've-seen-people-go-in-there-but-I-haven't-seen-people-come-out. Her office is behind one of those doors. So we go in, and our lady isn't there. It's someone else, someone decidely unfriendly looking. A bureaucrat who gets off on that little bit of power they have over you. She refused to access our email saying "I don't know anything about computer programs" and slid our papers back at us. "Ok we'll try and print off her ID somewhere and come back before 12pm". "You'll have to come back by 12pm".

Thus started our bolt around town. Shops don't open in Haarlem/Amsterdam on Mondays till 12/1pm. Luckily, luckily, we found an internet cafe near the station that was open, so printed off her ID and raced back by 11.30. And when our number was called, we found our lady back behind the desk. I almost kissed her. She took our papers, and told us we now had to go to the IND, the immigration department, which was the first we'd been told out of half a dozen visits to her. And that it would take four weeks to process. At this point, I felt my insides falling to the floor. My first thought was, I've had it, I'm off to London, and was already imagining curry nights at my local pub. My next thought was to find calm, although it wasn't easily forthcoming. While we stammered she confirmed it would take four odd weeks to get our passport stamped, then, excitedly asked, "you're not on a Working Holiday Scheme are you?" (again, she knew us well by this point) and proceeded to wave away our worries, saying that the process was much more streamlined for us. Except when pressed, she told us exactly the same procedure, with the same wait. She told us to make an appointment with the IND in Hoofddorp, and instead of taking our passports once stamped back to the tax office, to bring them to her and she could issue us with a sofinumber.

Straight away I called the IND to make an appointment, and while confirming my details over the phone, my phone credit which was full cut out. 5 minutes' worth. Dani tried, same thing. We went to a pay phone and shovelling about 10E worth of coins into the phone, Dani got an appointment - in two weeks. I couldn't of been angrier. The phone cut out before she could confirm the time, and out of coins, we decided to just go to the IND and see exactly what was going on.

22E to get there, mind. It was so windy we couldn't walk, literally trying to walk and couldn't. Luckily we got a ticket to see someone, and waited in the queue, with the Ghana woman who is no doubt in a more desperate situation than us, and the young Russian girl hoping to stay with her Dutch boyfriend. We got the loveliest, funniest guy. As suspected our appointment time was never lodged, and he took pity on us and made an appointment for tomorrow. He gave us forms to fill out, told us what to bring for tomorrow and confirmed that our passports would then be stamped which we could take to the town hall for our sofinumbers.

We screamed for joy! From total despair to light at the end of the tunnel in a few short hours.

It means we've missed out on our training day tomorrow but hopefully there'll be another, and we'll hit the Amsterdam pavement in the afternoon with a few leads.

As much as we love this place, the Netherlands should never have agreed to a Working Holiday Scheme. The rules changed at the end of November and no-one, on the Australia end or here, knows what the rules are and the bureaucracy for a one year visa is too convoluted. While we lament that Spain and Australia have not signed a WHS agreement, it's perhaps Spain realise that they can't handle the extra paperwork.

On a sparkly note though, managed to purchase tickets - met Visa - for Jane Birkin next Friday. Yippee!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This Weekend

We missed out on seeing the Barcelona 1900 exhibition at the Van Gogh museum which ended today as we were waiting for the landlord to come over to discuss the residency permit and renting the apartment for another month. But that is the priority, and we *hope* it will be sorted tomorrow.

The flipside is reading that there's a Magnum photo exhibition starting in February celebrating the agency's 60th anniversary. Woo hoo! Any excuse to see Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau et al.

The weather went from bucketing down to fairly still and we laid low. We bought our fruit and vegies at the Saturday markets, and today needing some groceries found our Albert Heijn closed. However our new favourite supermarket (which is only marginally better), Dekamarkt, opened at 4pm so we had some frites and waited for the doors to open. So did 25-100* other people, forming a giant mass along the otherwise deserted street; it was a sight to behold.

Lastly, our weekend was marked by one of the best things we've ever seen, Fist of Zen. Do anything to watch it, seriously.

* Dani says 25, I say 100.

We're From Holland - Where The F**k You From?

Sound familiar? This is the catchphrase of an ad for a travel agency running at the moment, and of course we absolutely love it.

And here is the clip of the song by Bobby Burns that's used. More hilarious.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Week

There's been a lack of updates this week: still wireless-less, and internet cafes are never much fun, nor can you can think of what to write when the time and euros are ticking away.

We are finally meeting with our landlord-of-sorts this weekend to get a photocopy of her ID, and pre-empting this getting our residency permit and sofinumber on Monday, we have a training day for a marketing job on Tuesday. Thank goodness!

We started a new routine this week which we're loving. Hot lemon water first thing in the morning, a jog in the park up the road every second day, and pilates every afternoon. Dani is hanging to join a gym, and I really want to get back into yoga, but until we know where we'll next be living, this is a good alternative.

Our local park is quite lovely, with beautiful big houses on the perimeter and an oval track for walking or jogging. We're the only ones that jog though, and this attracts quite a bit of attention, for this reason or not. People stand at their windows and blatantly watch for long stretches. It's also a dog park, so I get my fill of pups. Whereas in Ibiza it was silky terriers, here beagles are all the rage. The other day a hond took off with my beanie and I ran around the park after it, Benny Hill-style, trying to get it back. The owner didn't seem too worried by it.

Speaking of not-too worried, here it is, two and four wheels good, two legs bad. In that, bikes and cars are the priority, and you better watch out*. The number of times we've been almost-clipped, and it's not just us the new arrivals; young or old, cars and bikes don't stop for anybody, if you're in the right or not. Look both ways kids!

How are we going with the language? Well, we want to enrol in a language course, but again, when we know where we'll be living, Haarlem or Amsterdam. English is so easily offered up here, although we're starting with a few basics. For example, I said 'broodje' for the first time this week. This is a word that had us both a little freaked out. Broodje is sandwich and with so many delicious sandwiches out there (such as warm rookworst, or haring for me) we needed to get the pronounciation right. Dutchies, correct me if I'm wrong, but I've got it down to 'brod-yeh'? Meanwhile, I sit at home with the dictionary translating recipes, and English shows are subtitled so we're learning by matching up the words. And we're sprinkling some Dutch into our English, such as "let's go to the Islamic winkel (shop) and pick up some kip (chicken) and noten (nuts)".

It's been a pleasant one-jumper-one-jacket 6C this week, and it's rained every day, which isn't bad at all.

Most of our favourite TV channels disappeared when we got back from Spain, although we are obsessed with Project Runway, Dexter and Katie and Peter Andre's show The Next Chapter.

PS are you all obsessed with the Tom Cruise videos like we are? My favourite bit is from the last 58 seconds, and at the 1.09 timestamp on this next installment. It just doesn't get any better than that.

* Thanks Lola!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Weekend Funny

Don't ask how we found this, but just take a look at this celebrity lookalikes agency - and be sure to go through all the pages.

I don't know who my favourite is, but it could be Jamie Oliver or Zinedine Zidane.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Traditional Dutch Food

Erwten soup - or pea soup - is the ubiquitous Dutch dish. Almost ever cafe has it on the menu, and we've tried half a dozen or so. Made with split peas, ham hock, bacon and vegetables, it's very thick, completely hearty and absolutely delicious. Sometimes it's served with pumpernickel and fatty speck, but the fun part is fishing out the slices of rookworst, a smoked sausage. Many butchers sell it frozen, so we bought some and had it for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gloves Off!

Today was a glove-free day!

After sending off our resumes we went to pick up a package from KB and while waiting for TNT to open, realised what a lovely day it was (8C) so had our first unhurried walk around town. We found some undiscovered areas, including our very own nature winkel with a delicious-looking meat section. We had a look at some of the sales, stopped by our adorable Islamic grocer and for dinner I made polenta and ragu. We keep talking about having salads for dinner but warm bowls of comfort food are made for this place.

But we learnt something tragic today. Oliebollen season is over. Oliebollen are, in basic terms, balls of fried dough, with or without raisins, and rolled in icing sugar. But actually they are much more. All over Haarlem and Amsterdam, oliebollen stands had queues of people ordering these golden delights, as well as bollen filled with chocolate, banana or chunky pear filling, apple beignets and waffles. 1.5E for one or 4 for 5E. The servers scoop them into bags in record speed with little sharp forks. Dani's favourite was the banana and well I had to try everything, but loving the waffles especially. Here they are fresh and slightly chewy, although you're left with an icing sugar beard with each bite. We knew the oliebollen were seasonal, but not so limited-edition. Today we noticed the stands were shuttered up or all gone. Oh no!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


We had an appointment at the tax office yesterday to get our sofinumber. My appointment was for 8.30am, Dani's for 8.50am. Except they start working at 9am, which is an interesting way of making appointments. They wouldn't give us a sofinumber unless we had our residency permit - which we thought was the case - even though the lady at the Town Hall said we could. They recently changed the rules regarding working holiday visas but unfortunately for us no one seems to have been briefed on how it now works. So one department says one thing, another says something else. Anyway, our landlord gets back next week, and all we need is a photocopy of her ID for the residency permit, and then we can get our sofinumbers the same day. We have been applying for jobs in the meantime.

We just learnt something: credit cards are not widely used here. We went to Albert Heijn to buy some groceries, and they don't take Visa. You know Visa, the card that's accepted everywhere around the world? Except here. Luckily I had cash. But who uses cash anymore?

Yesterday after the tax office we spent a few hours walking around Amsterdam, enjoying the mild weather and checking out the sales (I didn't buy anything at Zara but I feel happy knowing it's there; Dani got some great bargains). We had some delicious soup then I wanted to buy some bits and pieces for dinner. It sounds silly, and please indulge my love of ingredients for a minute, but liquid stock is very hard to find. I hate stock cubes so it was becoming a bit of a mission. I finally found some but it's expensive, so we may have to make it a 'wet weekend' project and make our own. Popped into a 'nature winkel' (organic shop - why would you not want to live in a place where a shop is a winkel?). Bought a big jar of Green and Black's organic hot chocolate powder, mmm. It's 60% chocolate, so dark and luscious. Essential.

Everyone knows I am obsessed with Kate Moss but equally with Doherty, so when we saw Babyshambles are playing in Amsterdam next week, we knew we had to get tickets. Except they are 165E, and sold out. Knowing that he will be lurking around the city is good enough - imagine that, a Doherty sighting!

In another music news, Jane Birkin will be here next month (squeal!) and I tried to get tickets but hey, Visa isn't accepted so I'll be snapping them up with cash. So exciting!

Remember that bit in Sex and the City when Charlotte is converting to Judaism and is out shopping with the girls, and says a spontaneous 'oy' for the first time? "Oy...hey, you guys, that was my first oy!" Well, it has been a bit like that with me. I get very excited when I spontaneously say things like "hallo" and "oops"! and "sorry!" - except I sing-song the 'allo' to sound Swedish, and while 'oops' and 'sorry' sound like nothing new, here they are used ad infinitum and sound like adorable doorbells. And hearing people say 'oops' and 'sorry' is a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Madrid, bis

We planned to spend a night and day in Madrid before heading home - a night to eat tapas, tapas and tapas, and a day to shop the already-cheap, post-Christmas sales. We left an Ibizan sunset and arrived in gorgeous Madrid, dropped our bags at our hostal* and headed to a tapas bar that we'd fallen in love with in June. On the way, we popped into a cool vintage store and Dani found a lovely coat just like what she'd been looking for, and I came away with a pimpin' fur coat and brand new forest green boots. We couldn't find the tapas bar two weeks ago so it was essential we track it down this time - luckily we did - munching on the best pintxos we've had in Spain (so good we had to double up on some). We met some multilinguists who showed us some bars in the area and in nearby Chueca (and we returned the favour by dragging them to a, er, drag bar. The chanteuse there asked if we were Spanish, and on learning we were Australian hopped around on the stage like a kangaroo. That's the third time that's happened in two weeks).

It was somewhere between tortilla and last canas that we learnt the day we'd allocated for shopping, Sunday, was actually a public holiday, Three Kings Day, and that all the shops would be closed. Oh. Surely not all? Yep, all. So this morning we pottered around the beautiful Plaza Mayor and savoured one last bocadillo at the Museo de Jamon, and it was good chance that our flight had been brought forward five hours early. Soon enough, we touch down, and it's not snowing. It's a very mild 7C and we're happy to be home.

PS I am in love with French bulldogs. This morning, a guy was walking his French bulldog (in a leather vest) and as it passed, it stopped, and looked right at us for a few heady moments, then came up and grunted avec plaisir while I scratched and cooed to it. Then straight away another French bulldog walked past and grunted while I scratched it's massive ears.

* The difference between hostels and hostals:
Hostel: a youth hostel.
Hostal: A 1-2 star hotel, usually on a floor of an old apartment building. Hostals are everywhere, and cost around 50E a night. They can be horrible, they can be decent. We stayed at one where the 'bathroom' was a shower faucet in the corner of the room with a shower curtain dividing it from the rest of the room. One that was like a dungeon. This last one had a nice simple bathroom and a receptionist who corrected my Spanish grammer.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Goodbye, Ibiza

We´ve spent almost two weeks on this unique island, and we´ve learnt a few more things about how this place, and it´s people, work. There´s nothing like it, and we´ll be back in the summer.

We won´t miss the creeps, the occassionl average tapas, having no shops to spend money on (actually a good thing...). But we´ll miss the weather, the ocean, the upbeat vibe, the soundtrack of ´eh guapaaas!´, the cana breaks.

For now, a night in Madrid - a buffer between the crazy and the straight - and then our lives resume in Amsterdam. We can´t wait to start work and I´m itching to grab my laptop and keep writing, although bracing for the cold will be a different story...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year, Ibiza Style

Ibiza in winter is quiet. Qui-et. There were days where we wondered around, looking at each other with round eyes, silently asking ourselves what the hell is going on. Most of the shops are closed, there are few buses, and it was just on that side of chilly that made it unpleasant to stay out for long without any real reason. We wandered around Dalt Villa, eerily still (reminded me of Death In Venice), read our books, watched Spanish-dubbed TV. But then the sun came out, and we found a simple cafe where we could sit outside with canas and the papers and catch up on the facts and the frivolous. For dinner, we went to a very average tapas bar on d´Espanya, Tapas 43, and checked in with the DJ. G came round and offered to take us to some bars. We went to a cosy bar in Jesus with fantastic music, then to Grial for more of the same. Then we went to Coccoon at Blu and spent the next few hours dancing to some great DJs. How fantastic to be back into Ibiza style.

New years eve started off with a trip to the markets for that night´s dinner, and the Mango outlet was open so we bought a few little things. The sun was out, sublime. In the evening we dolled ourselves up and can I just say, looked and felt fantastic. We went over to the DJ´s for dinner, the usual chaos, in particular opening the oysters, which involved screwdrivers and hammers and a lot of pounding. G joined us and we ate grapes at midnight - the charming Spanish tradition of having a cup of 12 uvas and eating one each second of the countdown to the stroke of the new year.

Us and G went to Grial for a drink, then over the Pacha. Yes, I wore my cherry necklace :-) Guest list for instant entry, thank you very much, and we danced till the lights went on at 8am. We were invited to the VIP area but it was pretty boring even with the drinks pouring so we escaped back down to the main dancefloor. The music was mostly great and the vibe was high. Such a fun night!

G gave us a lift home - a blessing with the taxi strike on (only 8 taxis in Ibiza that night, is that true?) and we got changed to head out to DC10, which was closed when we were here in June so we were super excited about going there. The club is an old DC10 hanger right next to the airport. In brief, it was the craziest place we´ve ever seen, filled with the most bizarre people we could imagine. The music was god-awful if you could call it music, just dumb beat-beat-beat-repeat. There was nothing to dance to so we sat and observed, and headed off around 5pm.

So it was a fun, crazy, funny, incredible new years. Typically Ibiza. Hope your new years was a happy one.


I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert´s Eat, Pray, Love thanks to Maitresse Lauren´s recommendation. I absolutely loved it and was sad to let the last page slip, but grateful to be able to carry her words around with me.