Sunday 23 October 2016

Photo on Sunday 2016-38

A lovely sign I saw at the quay in Hauguesund yesterday while waiting for our company surprise trip to start. 

Wednesday 19 October 2016


Cathedral window in Prague Castle
Years ago I worked in a biscuit factory. It was okay work, not too hard and I got to eat as many biscuits as I wanted. People who say that after a week you get fed up with it? They don't know me, especially those cinnamon biscuits... That is however beside the point. 

One day, I was supposed to go on the other side of the conveyor belt and in order to do that, I had to go underneath part of the machinery, since there was no way around. I had gone down and was almost clear when I thought I was already completely clear. I straightened myself and my shoulder hit the machine very badly. I cried out in pain, which is very rare for me: usually I just fall flat on my face without uttering a sound. I was taken away by the first aid lady who looked at my shoulder, taped the small wound shut and I think I had a short break before returning to work. 

It healed nicely though and I never thought of it again. Then a few years later I started driving a bus. And whenever the seat and the steering wheel weren't properly aligned, I could feel my shoulder acting up. But a hot lamp or some tiger balm (not made from real tigers) and I would be right as rain. 

I only realised a short while ago, that the wound sustained in that silly mishap in the biscuit factory is the root of all my troubles. With the head I mean. It is very likely some muscle got trapped for a short time and never got the chance to become untrapped. I had better call the doctor again...

Tuesday 18 October 2016

A while

It's been a while. A long while actually. No inspiration, or too much for that matter and in the end, nothing happened! But I decided to break the silence. Get blogging again. Show the blogosphere I am still here.

Top of Hest, 352 meters above sea level
So, what have I been up to? Well, apart from work, not much. I climbed a mountain, signed up to become a member of the local triathlon club, sorted my Christmas dvd's and other dvd's, built two cabinets and muddled on in life. 

And that has basically been it. The mountain wasn't that high, the membership isn't official yet, the two cabinets needed some adjustments to keep them up and the muddling is basically normal. As for the dvd's: they are in alphabetical order again and I sorted them into two (three) piles: love (C), love (o) and they're okay (C & o). 

Oh yes, and in the middle of all that, I have started crocheting something that was supposed to become an armchair arm cover, although it might now turn into a blanket. Who knows?

Sunday 9 October 2016

Wednesday 5 October 2016

The normal routine

In an Italian restaurant in Vienna(!)
And before I know it, our road trip to Central Europe is only a memory and work is the order of the day again. Waking up at 4.30am every morning, driving/cycling to work and drive a bus all day. But some things have happened in the past week...

On Saturday I went to visit a Facebook friend, whose home is soon to be empty. Was I interested? Well, after visiting his (rented) home, I am in two minds about it. The view is good, the location is good and it is quite sheltered (my father's wish). There are two bedrooms, a large bathroom and in principle plenty of space. But (you knew it was coming)...

In the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków
Even though there is plenty of space, the kitchen area is quite small. And I did not see any possibility for all my stuff to find a place. The living room is okay space-wise, especially since the hallways have more than enough room for my book cases. The bigger of the two bedrooms can hold my bed, which is huge, but not with a lot of room to spare. The smaller of the bedrooms can hold a double bed, albeit a smaller version of my own. 

I think I am safe in saying, I will most likely not be moving there. I would rather stay where I am a bit longer, save up a bit more and try and find a place of my own next year. After all, there is no hurry to leave here.

In other news. Yesterday I spent the whole day in my pyjamas. I hadn't planned on that, but it just happened. I had decided to make a book of all of the blog posts of our road trip and then fill it up a bit more with other photos that never made it to the blog. In the end it took close to 8 hours to finish it up and by that time I had 150 pages!! I was quite worried that it would cost me an arm and a leg and probably a foot, but I was pleasantly surprised. Much cheaper than my worry in any case.

The only thing left to do now is make next year's calendars. For that I first have to sift through all the photos and pick the best ones. Since Brom was such a good blogger, he will be allowed to make one again.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Brom's photo on Sunday 2016-36


I have an idea for next year's trip. Like the six (out of 13?) Chinese cars we saw in Vienna! Although I think we should start at home and not in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). 

Mara: It sounds great, but unless I want to survive on porridge for the next ten years, I don't think this is going to happen Brom! And definitely not next year!!

Saturday 1 October 2016

Reflecting on Eastern Europe

We didn't visit this museum in Prague
I had been to Prague once, prior to our recent road trip. January 2003 on a study trip through Europe. We were there all of three hours. Most of which were spent in a nice and warm coffee house. In my recollection at least. I knew it was a beautiful city from what I did see and had wanted to go back ever since for a proper look. So, when this holiday came up and my sister said: "I would like to go on a road trip and I would like to head East..." Prague was a place that was going to be visited, without a doubt.

Synagogue in Prague.
Jews are an integral part of the history of most Eastern countries
The uneasiness started almost right away. We were going to be traveling to the former Eastern Block, That part of Europe that sends millions of people to the Western part to work. The part that seemingly seems to have quite a high crime rate. Steal cars, rob tourists. And of course it is a backward place. How could it not be: it was hidden behind this Iron Curtain for so long. 

King Charles IV of Bohemia.
The Charles Bridge in Prague is named after him
Well, my prejudices were exactly that: prejudices, because once we entered the Eastern Block, the roads did not change from nice tarmac to rubble. The signs were still the same. The houses were well-cared for. There were new businesses in shiny new buildings. It certainly wasn't grey and drab as I had feared. 

A little doggy on the pulpit in a church in Kraków
Our hotels were all shiny and reasonably new. The only place where we couldn't drink the water was Kraków, but since we only saw that after two days in the place... The food was good and there was plenty of it. The only thing that was really different was the fact that I didn't understand a word. Which makes for a more tense frightening uncomfortable time. I speak five languages, but none of the Slavic ones (like Czech, Polish or Slovakian) or Uralic ones (like Hungarian). 

Even through wars and communism, Poland remains Roman Catholic to this day.
Pope John Paul II 
In the end, the only sign we ever saw that any of the countries were still not completely out of the 'behind the Iron Curtain position' was in Slovakia and a little bit in Hungary and then only when in the small villages that no tourist ever sees. A bit more grey, a bit more drab, but still people owned cars and satellite dishes and probably all other mod cons. 

Inside the Cloth Hall in Kraków. Built as a  trading center, it has been used for that for centuries
The inner city of Kraków was on the very first Unesco World Heritage List!
Nobody stole our car (well our parents' car), nobody tried to rob us (or if they did, Brom must have scared them off) and the language barrier wasn't that big either. Most people we had dealings with spoke English or in some cases German. And in Budapest, there was one person who answered us in Dutch!

Beautifully renovated homes/farms in Northern Slovakia.
In the South, they had the same shape, they were just shabbier and a bit more drab
People went about their daily lives as they do everywhere else. The Iron Curtain had been gone for over 25 years and the young people had taken full advantage of that, dragging most of the country with them into the new age of freedom and possibilities. The Polish and Bulgarian people I work with on a daily basis should have prepared me for this, but I think my mind was stuck in the 1980's. I am pleased to say though: it has been dragged into the 2010's without any problem!

Solar panel field in Southern Slovakia
Will I be going back? Well, probably not to Kraków, mainly because we have seen all of the main touristy things. But there is Wrocław and Katowice close to Kraków, there is Warsaw and Gdansk and there are plenty of more rural places I would love to visit. Of Slovakia we hardly saw anything. Mountainous in the North with the Tatra mountains (beautiful) and quite flat and farmland in the South. I would like to explore a bit more though. 

Part of the Citadel in Budapest. Damage from the shooting taking place in the latter stages of WWII is still visible.
The grey concrete left of the windows had to be put in due to a very large hole made by heavy fire.
We only saw a tiny bit of Hungary and most of that was spent in Budapest, where we spent most of our time in one street enjoying a local green street fair thingy. So, Budapest is definitely on the list to see again. Plus Lake Balaton and the more Eastern parts of the country. I don't think we saw that much of the Czech Republic either. Prague for two hot and tiring days and that is about it. And yes, I would like to visit again. 

Anybody making cotton candy is civilised in my book
Here in Budapest, Hungary