Landmarkt, Between Sunshine and Showers

2016 AUG Amsterdam Noord Landmarkt colllage-1.jpg

When you lived in Amsterdam long enough, it becomes harder and harder to convince yourself to go out in the center or in the trendy neighbourhoods, especially during the weekend. It’s just too busy, and you simply don’t feel like asking for permission – every two minutes or so – to move along the sidewalk or to cross the street. It becomes even more complicated when you feel like eating something, as all the seats are already taken.

Today was one of those days when, soon before lunch, I wanted to go out for a little walk – in spite of the pouring rain – yet I wanted some peace. We also needed to do some grocery shopping, and we were starting to feel hungry for lunch. This is how Landmarkt, the market plus restaurant in Amsterdam Noord, came to mind. It proved to be an excellent idea.

Situated just across the river IJ, as you come from Amsterdam East, Landmark is surrounded by nature  – like you are in the countryside – and feels so welcoming.

We grabbed a shopping basket, added some items to it, but then we saw the restaurant. We decided to stop for lunch and continue the shopping afterwards. Taking our half full basket and placing it under the table seemed like a very natural thing to do, and I was happy to see we were not the only ones to do so.

The lunch itself was a very pleasant surprise. Everything tasted delicious. At De Proeverij – the name of the restaurant within the market – they take pride in using the same ingredients they sell. We had green bean soup with croutons and mint, and two sandwiches that we shared between ourselves: grilled goat cheese with beetroot, nuts, and pesto, and, the other one, salmon with cream cheese and green onion. As we say in Romanian, we licked our fingers – that’s just how good the food was!

By the time we finished lunch, the sun came out. However, as we were going to find out soon after we left the Landmark – grocery shopping completed – the miracle didn’t last long. We were caught in yet another round of pouring rain, our feet soaking wet. But the again, it was all worth it. :)

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Amsterdam, Noord

Landmarkt, Between Sunshine and Showers

Weekend Stroll in Oud-West

The weather was surprisingly good yesterday, so it seemed like a good idea to (re)explore the streets of Oud-West – more specifically, those of Helmersbuurt – in the company of Alehandra, equipped with our cameras.

We started our walk on the Bilderdijkstraat, then turned left to the Eerste Helmerssstrat, where we admired and photographed the beautiful houses spread along this quiet street.

Towards the middle of the street, we entered through a sort of gate, and it felt as if stepping into another world. We were at the Wilhelmina Gasthuis terrain – “WG-terrein” – a place that has always intrigued me.

The Wilhelmina Gasthuis is a former hospital, its various wings nowadays turned into living spaces for people, but also offices rented to social organisations and small businesses. I remember visiting a Romanian couple living in one of the studios here, back in 2010. I was almost shocked when seeing medical chairs and tables and other such “creepy” objects still populating the hallways of the building.

So, yes, this area has always intrigued me. Especially when the alley going through it is called Pesthuislaan – the Plague House lane.

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Residential streets of Helmersbuurt:2016 AUG Amsterdam Helmersbuurt -24Amsterdam, Oud-West
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Amsterdam, Oud-WestAmsterdam, Oud-West

Weekend Stroll in Oud-West

No Hashtag, No Filter

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time trying to understand why we spend so much time and energy – in other words, so much life – on the internet. I even wrote a couple of things that I am not going to publish – that’s how troubled I felt about the whole thing.

I’m browsing through my social media feed as if partaking a case study. My eyes are attracted by the beautifully curated photos, yet my heart feels the void. Everybody is happy and everything is boring – that’s all I could make out of it.

As always, when in a dead end situation, I turned to books and friends. Away from the “aesthetically coherent” Instagram feeds, away from the nonsensical hashtags. The world has suddenly become a better place.

Today – on Facebook chat, how ironic! – I was discussing the exact same thing with a friend. He said he’s no fan of hashtags and definitely not interested in getting validation on social media. Instead, he’s happy to live an analogue life. After discussing some more, we decided to see each other in the weekend and continue the conversation – offline, that is.

“So, Saturday or Sunday?” I asked, ready to place the slot into my phone’s calendar.

“Well,” he hesitated, “I don’t feel like making an agenda for the weekend. I am sick and tired of agendas. Not sure what to say to you right now.”

I started to smile. Was that for real? Were we just planning to meet this weekend without picking up the day and the time?

“Cool!” I said.

“Hear each other on the phone instead?” my friend asked.

“Old school, I like it,” I said.

“You have my number?”

“I have it.”

He smiled. I checked to see if I had his number.

This conversation got me out of my social media dilemma. Once again, I realized that happiness is not a hashtag. Friendship is not a hashtag. What is a hashtag anyway?

I came home and, after a quick dinner together, my boyfriend was getting ready to leave for a concert. As always, he bought two tickets, in case somebody wanted to join. But none of his friends could, when he dropped them a group message on What’sApp, earlier today. As he was getting dressed, his phone rang. His best friend called to say he would join, if the ticket was still available. Hearing them discussing where to meet etc. made me smile, just like the conversation with my friend did, earlier in the day.

After all, life does happen outside our media devices. Life can only be analogue. No hashtag, no filter.


No Hashtag, No Filter

International Moods

It’s summer and my Facebook feed is full of holiday photos. If I were to make a wrap-up, I would say that Croatia, Ibiza and Santorini – in this particular order – were the most visited places in the last couple of months.

While I make a mental note to put Croatia on the radar for next year, I also realise that I am not exactly what you would call an effective traveller. By this, I mean that I am not visiting a new place each time I travel – I simply cannot give up on revisiting my favourite places just because I haven’t seen the entire world yet – nor am I a big fan of short stays. I need at least three full days – excluding travel – for a getaway in a place I see for the first time, and at least a full week to call that a decent stay. A real holiday cannot be any shorter than two weeks. It’s surely not a coincidence that my best travel memories are linked to such longer stays.

Besides being loyal to cherished destinations and a big fan of long stays, I’m also failing in following some contemporary travel trends: the ski holiday in February and the exotic holiday around New Year’s Eve.

In my case, it’s all a matter of feeling. I can wake up one day realising that I miss Berlin. If that feeling stays with me long enough, then I book flights for Berlin. Or, it’s June, I am at the office, raindrops hitting the glass walls on a background of grey skies. Depressed by the crappy weather in Amsterdam, I daydream about the sunny beaches of the Black Sea and some Southern European heat. No way I am going to leave this year pass without getting to see Vama Veche! – this seems to be a yearly mantra, thus plane tickets for Romania and a trip to the Romanian seaside are booked every summer. I can  also come across photos of various destinations that get me into a certain mood – the mood of the place I travelled to, or the mood I can imagine belonging to somewhere I’ve never been – and I know I want to feel that for real. And so, I book that feeling. I am not practicing the escape holiday – I quite enjoy the every day as it is, where it is – nor am I interested in ticking  “places I visited ” on the world map. Let’s just say I only travel when I really want to go to that place.

My summer holiday is already booked as we speak, and this year I am happily revisiting – for the fourth time – and for a decent stay – ten days – a place that stole my heart irreversibly.

Looking at each of the photos below simply makes my heart beat faster, knowing that I could submerge into any of those local moods at any time. This morning, however, I woke up in Amsterdam. What about you?

LISBON, Portugal: Waking up to yet another bright day in Europe`s sunniest capitallis-1Lisbon, Details in the Apartment

LONDON, United Kingdom: Waking up for the most generous of all breakfasts – the British breakfast (always vegetarian version)London, Colourful Houses near Portobello Road
London, English Breakfast (Vegetarian Version)

PARIS, France: Waking up in Paris always feels like a dream
Paris, FranceParis, France

ROME, Italy: Waking up with the clear intention of soon having a(nother) pizza
Rome, The City of Orange & GreenRome, Pizza

SANTORINI Greece: Waking up to the blue of the Aegean and the white of the façadesGreece, Santorini IslandGreece, Santorini Island

UMBRIA, Italy: Waking up in an old farmhouse made of stone brings you back to the essence of life
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BERLIN, Germany: Waking up in a city always changing and reinventing itselfBerlin, As Seen From Berliner DomBerlin, Rainy Morning

BARCELONA, Spain: Waking up and then… tapas!Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

BUCHAREST, Romania: Waking up with a cup of home made, Turkish style coffee Bucharest, RomaniaRomania, January 2014

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands: Waking up and feeling that`s where home isAmsterdam, Jordaan2016 AUG Amsterdam Writing rsz-1

International Moods

The Magic of Writing

In writing, just like in all other arts, in between that sublime moment of inspiration and putting things into shape lays the assiduous act of creation.

While there are infinite possibilities of telling a story  – the shape you are so willing to release into the world – you can only choose one. The best one. After writing and re-writing a text for a few times, how can you be sure the latest version really is the best one, the one that can best serve your story? Well, you can’t be sure, really. Tomorrow, when you go through your text again, you might find a better way of expressing that idea, or some more inspired words to say the same thing. And just when you thought you were done with that chapter, you are back into re-writing it. “Is this ever going to end?” you ask yourself. Not really. But you can decide that’s the final shape of it, and move on.

One day, however, when you’ll be reading something you wrote a couple of months ago, you are sure to feel the magic. Beyond those unnecessary adjectives – you make a mental note to erase some of them once you finish reading the entire piece – and beyond that punctuation dilemma – is it really allowed to place that comma over there? – well, beyond all these, you are sure to feel the magic: it’s the satisfaction of the story you managed to give shape, with your own hands, previously filtered through your own brains and heart. And there it goes, your story, wandering free around the room, making you smile, and making you shiver. Who knows, maybe one day it will be ready to be released into the world, as a bird set free onto the sky.

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The Magic of Writing

Sunday Stroll

Today’s stroll took us to the Westerpark and Jordaan, and we were happy to discover that the city was rather quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of yesterday’s Gay Pride boat parade.

We had lunch in the park, at the Sunday Market, then walked in the nearby streets of the Westerpark and the Jordaan, happy that the sun made its graceful appearance eventually.

All in all, a low profile Sunday, the way Sundays are meant to be. :)

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Sunday Stroll

Never Tired of Beauty

I’ve been asked quite a few times how come I’m not bored of taking photos of Amsterdam, over and over again.

I’m not sure I have an answer for this.

What I do know is that Amsterdam puts a smile on my face whenever I go out for a walk, and that its beauty never ceases to amaze me. The next thing I know is that I want to capture this on my camera. And this is how these photos are born!

After all, I can never get tired of beauty.

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Never Tired of Beauty