Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Weekend

I have had a busy Friday. First thing is the morning after dropping my kids at daycare and school: an intake interview in Amsterdam. Actually, it was more an update. Or sort of.
Then I rushed to the hairdresser. I think I have been into a Dutch hairdresser only once in ten years. No, it was not a good experience. I have mixed (curlied/straight), dry, thick and volumous hair, Mediterranean style. In one word: complicated. Luckily I have back in 2000 heard of Renato, a Brazilian hairdresser who had just arrived in the NL and opened a salon in Oud-West. Bingo!! I have never been disappointed in one decade. Renato and Charlton: best brushing in the world. (And they make me feel another person. A better one. A woman that is put together. And carrying on. Or sort of. )

This is the "after". I will spare you from the "before" hair.

Oh boy ! Why didn't I schedule that interview for an after brushing ???

At the salon there is always good music, the boys are always with good humour, they do not push you products, you do not have to wait that long and they do understand what you wish. Also very sincere. I mean, if you wish very much something that will not suit you, they will tell you: "ok, I can do that my dear. But you are going to be HORRIBLE. People will laugh at you and it is going to be very difficult style maintanance. You will need serious professional therapy at the end". The clientele is mixed: ladies & gents, young & mature, Dutch & non Dutch. People come also from villages, Purmerend, Almere... just to have their services. Charlton (above) & Renato (below): obrigada rapazes !! In case you do not believe me and wish to experience it yourself: Bilderdijkstraat 145, Oud-West, A'dam. 020 618 5695 Oh, and they do speak English + Dutch. By appointment only.
Always on the run, I arrived at Kalverstraat to check the sales at Zara's kids section. Three shirts for less than 10euros ? Deal ! Then it's time to go to Savon. How many times have you seen a salesperson actually enjoying the products LIVE ? Thanks to Bambos' tips, I have purchased a mud mask....

And the afternoon was not over. Time to prepare desserts for a dinner tomorrow.

Car to the garage for repair: tick
Intake interview: tick
Haircut & brushing: tick
Photos and interview with blogger Suzanne: tick, tick
Zara & Savon: tick, tick
La creme brullee: tick !
Saturday evening I was invited together with other bloggers (Pat & Steph, Amanda, Pamela and John) for a potluck dinner at Andy's place. Partners/significant other/half orange/twin soul or deksel van de pan were also invited. I decided to go with good friend S. and sleep in Amsterdam at her place. Unfortunately blogger Pamela couldn't show up. And what has Pam missed ? On the menu: Quiche Lorraine and a delicate cheese pie...

Fish, Bahia style: cilantro, tomato sauce, coconut milk and shrimps.

A mushroom casserole, a chickpeas curry and in the black pan (left) a boef bourguignon - because our host has watched Julie & Julia recently.

It was snowing a lot and the views from Andy & Fred's place was beautiful. Amsterdam was so silent... Well, afterwards and before the desserts: time for a guessing game. It is called Celebrity. The teams play against each other to guess as many celebrity names as possible before time runs out.Each person had to write in 6 pieces of paper six different names of famous people. We threw them into a bowl. And then, divided into two teams, each of us had to describe something about the person in order to make people of your team guessing the right name. The second round gets more difficult: you can use only two adjectives to describe the person. The last round was only about gestures and mimic. Great fun !

Dancer ? Singer ? Vogue ? Madonna !! (Ok, this was an easy one. But how the hell can you mimic Berlusconi ? Fidel Castro ? Angela Merkel ? Michelle Obama ? Pfff... You do not wanna know how we did it !). Het was heel gezellig jongens !

Andy & Fred: we enjoyed it a lot. The strawberry triffle was also great, btw. Bedankt jongens ! (That's how I' ve presented the facts. It may or may not has happened as I told you. You can read about Andy's version of the story here. )
And I wish a nice week to all of you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

It Ain't Good if It's Not Dutch - The End

Wednesday 27th and yesterday I have finished with the Dutch prociency exams. The last days I think we were all pretty wired because of the responsibility. And finally yesterday afternoon, when the exams were over, most of us were in good mood and confident (me included), one was feeling sick and others were prepared to do exams again ("next time it will be better..."). Two or three of us were feeling "blanco". Actually a pair of students from our group decided not even to take exams...

Hong invited us to go to her place and have some drinks to relax. Why not ? I promptly accepted a glass of red wine.
It was a cold and sunny afternoon. At Hong's place we have changed some impressions about the course, the exams, our performances, our future plans and ambitions... in English. I was gently reproached by them for speaking in Dutch.

She showed us her photo album about her life as a model in China and hotelerie student in Switzerland, talked lightly about Budhism and let us admire her antiquities...
At the end we decided to meet up again for drinks when we know the results (after 7 weeks). A celebration drink (viering borreltje) ?
And maybe when spring arrives a barbecue and caipirinhas at my place ? We will keep in touch anyway !
(P.S.: Bedankt Hong. Het was lief van je !)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meanwhile in Rio....

TAP and Infraero paid hommage to Rio this week in a very special way. In the international airport Galeao they started with oldies (classics Samba do aviao and then Garota de Ipanema), continued the performance with Black Eyed Peas and then a funk rhythm - I gotta feeling.
What the hell am I talking about? Click here.

I think Rio has a natural vocation for parties and events.
Mmmm, World Cup and Olympic Games are going to be GREAT.

Big, relevant questions cross my mind. Such as:
* Will I be in Brazil blogging about it ?
* Will my husband be able to speak some Portuguese then ?
So far I only get out of his mouth:
camarão, cerveja, pão, água, casa, sim, não, táxi, carro, praia, lá, aqui, bom-dia, boa-tarde, boa-noite, toalete, quente, obrigado, cuidado, tchau, beijo, te amo.

Shrimps, beer, bread, water, home, yes, no, taxi, car, beach, there, here, good-morning, good-afternoon, good-evening, restroom, warm, thank you, take care, bye, kiss, I love you.
Bar, guarana, caipirinha, feijoada, churrasco and picanha do not count because they are translated as... bar, guarana, caipirinha, feijoada, churrasco and picanha anyway !!

(Am I mean ? Hahaha, probably. But he doesn't read my blog at all, hehehe !!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Zaanse Schans Museum [with Lu "Russian"]

Some months ago I started to follow a travel blog written by a Brazilian girl. She had lived 5 years abroad (Europe and USA) and then 6 years in St. Petersburg, Russia. The last couple of years she has been living in Brazil (S.P. region) and still travels a lot. In her blog she always tells her experiences and very amusing stories, with a relaxed style. It is like a friend telling you her adventures. For exemple: many secrets about the way of living that the Russians would prefer to keep for themselves, I suppose. Although I was a lurker and never placed comments on her blog, she noticed I was visiting her a lot and started to follow my blog (and place comments) in return. I think we became mutual admirers.

In December she announced she was coming to Amsterdam, and would also make a tour in other countries. Finally we met each other yesterday in the Centraal Station in Amsterdam. I could recognize Lu the minute I saw her walking fast in the middle of the crowd. I grabbed her by the arm and shouted: "Hey, why do you travel so much ?"She had a shock and then laughed. Another Brazilian girl, commentator of her blog and who is living in Holland also showed up: "Cuca". Both very talkative and cheerful, it was for me like meeting very old friends !! We decided not to loose one single minute: why not take a train to visit the open air museum Zaanse Schans ?

Do all Brazilian girls have long hair ?

New buildings downtown Zaandam (above and below).

(Of course I have been there before. My wedding photos were made there in the morning of the warmest day in July 2002, with windmills on the background, waving from a bridge or sitting under a willow tree with the ducks and swans around the two pigeons in love - gezellig. I have also posed for photos together with some Japanese tourists who then thought I was somebody famous in Holland. I gave them some autographs as well. Ach, waarom niet ? )

From Amsterdam you can take the bus # 91 or take the train direction Koog Zaandijk (I paid 2,20 euros for a train ticket - single trip). The entrance to the open air museum is free - although some attraction may charge a small fee entrance. You can visit mustard windmills, a clog factory, a cheese factory and much more.

Friday was cold, sunny and dry, perfect fo such a visit. Living the trein station in Koog Zaandijk it is a small walk up to Zaanse Schans. I have make some photos but not so many as the other two girls. It was refreshing to play the tourist for a while. We noticed how different our accents were but could get along very well.

This is a reprodcution of the first Albert Heijn supermarket in the Netherlands. You can visit it inside. Like other painted buildings in the area, the official colour is this shade of green. I think it is called "Zaanse groen".

Below: a cheese factory. If you like cheese, welcome to cheese paradise. Cheese with herbs, with garlic, with cumin, smoked, goat cheese, porcelain, souvenirs... en dat zo dingen.

The next photos are from a Clog museum.

Above and below: a shop with old stuff and some antiques.

If you wish to know more about De Zaanse Schans go to:

To visit Cuca's blog go to:

To visit Luciana's blog go to: In her last posts she tells her adventures in Amsterdam, Belgium, Morocco and Danemark during Dec.2009/January 2010. She started her blog in 2002 and so far has organized several bloggers' meetings in Brazil. Luciana is always recognized on the streets and very sincere about her experiences with the locals abroad. She hasn't loose her fresh looks into things, she hasn't become a cynical. I specially like her principles about what NOT to photograph and NOT to experience.

Saturday Lu is going to Dusseldorf and then on Sunday she is flying back to Brazil. I think whithin some days next week she will be writing about the Zaanse Schans in her blog. It was very nice meeting you girls !!