October 14, 2008
Ola has visited me this weekend! She flew in from Eindhoven on Thursday and left this morning for Krakow. She flew via Eindhoven because the BizzAir company does not fly on Schiphol, and because it is cheaper than any other airliner. Also, it flies from Katowice which is rather close to Krakow.
We spent Thursday at home, mostly, and Friday too as we both had to work from our laptops. We did manage to visit the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden late in the afternoon–where we spent a lot of time taking pictures. In the evening we went to see a show, íSa by dancegroup T.R.A.S.H., and on Saturday we visited Amsterdam. We had some luck with the weather this weekend–Amsterdam was delightful to walk through. We visited the Nieuwmarkt (where she bought some lovely cheeses), De Wallen, De Dam, and we had a walk along the canals and saw may interesting sites along the way. Of course we also had a canal-tour later in the afternoon, and a wonderful dinner to finish off our visit to Amsterdam (after which she tried Jenever and decided it was enough like Wodka to like it). Unfortunately we didn’t have enough money on ourselves to pay for dinner and we could not use our cards… Aleksandra had to find a cash point outside to get some money to pay for dinner. But it was part of the fun!
Sunday I had rehearsals for Midsummer Night’s Dream but Aleksandra entertained herself in Leiden all afternoon, and in the evening we had a roast chicken from the oven for dinner. Then, on Monday we first visited Madurodam in the morning. Later we had coffee in Den Haag and saw some of the Madurodam sites for real!
In the afternoon Aleksandra wanted to visit Kinderdijk because she really likes windmills. Even though I grew up about 20 kilometers from that site, I had never visited it before. I was surprised to learn it is on the Unesco World Heritage list, it does not look very spectacular and it also does not feel significant. It’s basically just three rows of windmills (ok, some of them are old) without much information. Nevertheless, we spent a few hours there taking pictures and walking along the canals and windmills. Today Aleksandra is flying back to Katowice. I cannot visit her anytime soon because of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which premieres in one month), but I want to visit her again by car!
October 2, 2008
As of today, I am the proud owner of www.makoho.nl! The site now only hosts my WordPress blogs, but I will almost certainly start experimenting with subdomains and media-galleries. Don’t go blind when I experiment with new themes–I may not get the colours right straight away : )
It means that all my new posts will no longer be posted to makoho.WordPress.com, but to www.makoho.nl.
October 1, 2008
Posted by makoho under Uncategorized
Aleksandra and me at the top of Sania Skala
|Poland is a lot more beautiful than you would think! And in some areas a hell of a lot more ugly, too. On the one hand there is Krakow: this city sits on the banks of the Wisla river, with over 1,000 years of history collected in its churches, castles, parks, and squares. Krakow is inspiring and very beautiful.
||On the other hand there is Warsaw. It was destroyed during WW II by a little angry German man with a small moustache, and in the following years it was rebuilt by a Russian man with a much larger moustache, in the prevailing style of that era: concrete, in various shades of gray. Warsaw is really ugly. Seriously.
|Luckily Aleksandra and me spent most of our time in Krakow, and a few days in Zakopane: a village at the foot of the Tatra mountains, with great views of the snow-capped mountaintops in High Tatra. We went for walks in the valleys and climbed a few mountaintops, ate highland food (very salty and fat), drank hot beer, and took lots of pictures.
Yes, that’s right. Hot beer. I had no idea this custom existed in the universe, but apparently the Polish have been heating up their beers all along! There’s special herb-mixes you can buy in the shops to add to your beer as you cook it, and they make the beer taste darker and more like autumn or winter. I tried a few beers like this, but it isn’t my cup of tea. I did bring some of those herb-mixtures with me, but I’ll save it for special occasions. I like my beer cold.
||On my first day in Krakow, Aleksandra had to work but she prepared an entire program for me! First she arranged for me to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines in the morning, then in the afternoon she planned a walk in Krakow with little assignments and questions in 10 envelopes.
|I saw the Main Square with the Market Hall and the famous St. Mary’s Church, the Barbican Theatre, the Wawel Castle on the banks of the Wisla river, and some places where the late Pope John Paul II stayed (the Polish are very proud of him and commemorate him in many different places around the city). She also guided me to some of her favourite places in the city.
Other fun things that we did were:
- taking a trip to Zakopane by bus;
- walking through the Koscieliska, Strazyska and Bialego valleys;
- visiting the Jaskinia Mrozna cave (even though Aleksandra suffers from claustrophobia!);
- climbing Sania Skala (+1372m);
- riding the very steep train to Gubalowka;
- walking the banks of the Wisla river at night;
- walking through the Jewish Quarter of Krakow;
- taking some night-pictures in Zakopane.
Aleksandra is coming to Holland in October, for 5 days, to stay with me. I think I will go back to Krakow in the near future to see her, and there are many places I still want to visit (Auschwitz, for example). The story will continue.
Here are some of the pictures I took. There are none of Aleksandra (except the one above) as she prefers not to be on display on the Internet.
Me at one end of the Koscieliska valley
Interior of a cafe in the Jewish Quarter in Krakow
Wisla river by night
Part of fence in the Jewish Quarter in Krakow
Courtyard of the Wawel Castle
The sink full of bubbles from the Jacuzzi, in our hotel room, Zakopane.
September 23, 2008
So I lost a bet with Pieter and Manuela, who said I would get drunk on Friday night when I had said I would NOT get drunk. I suppose I was begging to loose that bet. Now I have to take them to a sauna someday in 2009. But that’s not too bad!
The weekend was a great success, with a boat-trip, a barbecue, an evening of hilarious sketches, and a lot of beer. Some things that I remember are looking out from the top of Fort Penningsveer in the middle of the night when the fort was bathing in moonlight, playing rounds of improvised sketches on Saturday night and walking around the room as a dress-up boy dressed in plastic bags, laughing until we spilt our beer talking about porn-channels and genitalia, and seeing Lorien take the rudder of the boat in front of ours, losing any feeling for direction, speed, and danger, and managing to almost drill her boat into the side of the 150-feet wide canal.
The fort itself was rather nice, built in the early 1800’s and a part of the Amsterdam defence line organized in the early 1900’s, and serving as a camp to detain NSB members after World War II. It is no longer a military complex since 1950.
Here are a few pictures of the weekend:
September 19, 2008
The Toverlei weekend in Haarlem starts this evening! I’m picking up Marieke and Joop tonight and we’ll drive to the Fort Penningsveer. As I’ve still got a cold I won’t be partying too much. I want to be fit when I fly to Warsaw next week to meet Aleksandra. We met at John Lennon Airport (Liverpool) when I returned from my Lake District holiday, and we’ve been planning to meet each other again since the last week of August. I’m flying to Warsaw, then take a train to Krakow where she lives. We’ll spend two days in Krakow and three in Zakopane, a small town at the North side of the Tatra Mountains in the Southern area of Poland. I am flying on Wednesday, and it is hard to wait!
Anyway, the theme of the Toverlei weekend is Improvisation. Thank goodness we don’t have to dress up like last time (its theme was Glamour), but they did ask us to bring some kind of decoration to hang on the walls.
I found, in one of my closets, a huge picture of myself that was used during the performance of the Three Penny’s Opera in 2006. I fiddled around with bits of paper and glue, and I quite like the result. Here’s me being happy with the decoration I made:
(it says: Big Brother is Watching You)