City trip: Amersfoort

For my second city trip I choose Amersfoort, a city which is roughly 80 kilometers away from Eindhoven. Which is in all honesty really close if you think about it, but then again compared to some places literally everything in the Netherlands is nearby. However those 80 km away translate to about 100 km by car or train. I used one of my train tickets to get there which gave me some time to get some reading done.

It was a beautiful day – not as good as they said it would be, since it started to rain in the afternoon – and I was up really early which meant that I arrived in Amersfoort around half past ten in the morning. By train it takes about two hours to get there which tells you enough about the time that I woke up in the morning.

I choose Saturday for my trip and at Friday night I still wasn’t sure where I was going. I was thinking of a couple of different options, one being Vlissingen. Which is right next to the sea and I love going to the sea. But the trains weren’t going there that weekend due to some railroad work and that meant that I would have to take the bus instead and if there is one thing you don’t want to do is take the bus instead of the train. Because it takes at least double the time and that is quite generous.

So when that idea was off the table I started looking for other options and eventually decided on Amersfoort, in all honesty I didn’t know anything about Amersfoort so most of the information in the post I had to look up. Amersfoort is a city in the province or county of Utrecht. And it is the second biggest city of the county – after the city of Utrecht. It is the fourteenth biggest city in the Netherlands, but compared to Eindhoven  (the fifth biggest city) it feels rather small it really has more of a town feel to it. Perhaps that is because Eindhoven is industrial and ‘newer’ and Amersfoort (the city center at least) is old and still a lot of parts of the old city wall are visible. Like I said Eindhoven feels newer and more open but looking back in history both cities got their city rights in the 13th century so they have been basically around for the same amount of time. However that is pretty much where the comparison stops. It’s fun to learn these things about the Netherlands, I would have guessed that Eindhoven was much younger. We don’t have a whole lot of old buildings and that is exactly what makes a city like Amersfoort so charming. Don’t get me wrong, Eindhoven has other things I love – as I am writing this I’m sitting in one of the old industrial buildings that the city has given a new purpose. And I love this place you can often find me writing here. But I also love walking through old cities, venturing through small cobbled streets which get really slick when it rains. Those street where you if you look past the street signs, bikes and occasional cars can almost imagine what life must have been like in the old days. You can’t do that when you’re walking though Eindhoven, at least it’s hard to imagine anything beyond the beginning of the 20th century.

When I arrived at the railway station I started to make my way down the city center, I of course looked at some of the shops the city has to offer and at all the beautiful store fronts and restaurants. Amersfoort has the same feel as Maastricht and Utrecht for instance although both of those cities are a lot busier. I kind of missed a big square where you can sit and have a meal but that probably had to do with the fact that there was a market that filled the two squares that I came across. One of the squares was so filled with different market stalls that you could hardly see the surrounding buildings nor did it really invite you to go into the stores or sit down because your view would be blocked by the backside of the market stalls – which is usually not the most attractive sight. Which in my opinion was a shame, the other square was a lot emptier but at the same time it didn’t have the diners or the potential to take a seat on a terrace and enjoy the view like you have for instance in Maastricht. That took away a lot of potential customers for the diners especially on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a bit of strange choice in my opinion.

In the middle ages the city had a wall surrounding it to keep the citizens safe from outside dangers, part of that wall is still visible and surrounding the city center, I took a walk around the wall. It really made me wonder about all the historical significant details those walls must have seen since the day they where raised. Man! Just imagine if those walls could talk!

Anyway I’ll insert some pictures give you an idea of what Amersfoort looks like. In my opinion it’s definitely worth visiting if you have a chance. There is a lot to see and I bet that in the summer there is even a lot more to do as well. I know that there are some boats which can take you on a trip underneath the city. I didn’t have a chance to check that out but I’ve done something similar in Den Bosch a few years back and it was really interesting. There is also the Mondriaan Museum – one of the Netherlands well-known artpainters, even if you don’t know who he is you are bound to known his work which consist of red, yellow, blue and black squares. Piet Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort in 1872. The museum unfortunately wasn’t open yet because they were renewing some things inside. So that was kind of a shame, I might have gone there if it had been open.

My next city trip will be to Den Bosch or as it is also known s’Hertogenbosch, I need to look up why it’s known under two different names.

February in hindsight

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February the shortest month of the year is certainly proving to be right. It even feels like this month was even shorter somehow, time is flying by so fast I can hardly comprehend that another month is done!

City trip

The month was so short and busy that I hardly had any time to make any trips, I’m right now planning a trip or maybe even two for March. So there will certainly be at least one, but I’ve purchased three train tickets which I can use during the weekends. I have to use the three ticket on three days before April 16th – which happens to be my birthday. The weekend before is my dad’s birthday, so I am going to have to use them during March.

Reading and writing

I managed to finish reading two different books – completely different books at that. they couldn’t have been any further apart. I finished reading ‘Gone Girl’ written by Gillian Flynn which I really liked but also offered a huge insight into how sick a persons mind can actually be and how – with a lot of planning and deception – you can trick anyone into believing the story you spin in front of their eyes. After reading that book I needed something completely different, something lighter so I followed it by a children’s’ book ‘Fortunately, the milk’ and I wrote the for both books during February.

I’m planning on reading at least one book during March, of course I hope to be able to add more than just one to my list but the books I’m currently reading are quite thick. One is a paperback and the other one I’m reading on my tablet, my tablet is easier to bring with me when I’m out and about and the paperback is what I read when I’m at home. Which is why it sometimes takes such a long time to finish the books.

Gaming

I’ve been a gamer for quite some time now I started with some games on my desktop computer. Then I had a Playstation 2 and a PSP way back when, but now I’m in love with the Xbox One. I recently sold my old Xbox 360 because I wasn’t using it anymore,  especially since most of the games I own are backwards compatible on the Xbox One. I bought the Xbox 360 as a test, it was a refurbished model I wanted to see if I would use it or if it would be gathering dust in a short amount of time. Since that wasn’t the case I bought the Xbox One last year together with The Division which means that it is now a year old. If I remember correctly the release date for The Division was early March. And I have been using it quite a lot. The Division is still my favorite game to play but I have also been doing quite a bit of Destiny, Assassins Creed and I’ve been recently I started playing GTA V.

I was really looking forward to March because of two games that are being released this month. Ghost Recon Wild Lands and Mass Effect Andromeda. Ghost Recon is of course from the same developer as The Division. And Mass Effect is actually the first game series which I played from the first game till the third game all the way through to the end. So it’s nostalgia and I really want to see it.

Looking ahead:

  • Planning another city trip, who knows where I might go this time? S’Hertogenbosch (also known as Den Bosch) or Vlissingen, Amersfoort maybe. And I’m thinking of Groningen. But we’ll see which places I’ve actually visited when the once the month of March is over.
  • Lindsey Stirling – My first concert of 2017, actually my first concert in almost a year! That’s bad, I really need to go and see more concerts. The venue is 013 – Tilburg, March 17th. I’m so looking forward to this one, I have high expectations and she has been on my list for a while along with Pentatonix (PTX) who I still hope to be able to see although truth be told I’ve already missed a couple of concerts they’ve given in the Netherlands.
  • We’ve planned the High Tea, I’m going together with my mom and sister on the 19th of March! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time and finally we are going! We’re also planning on a small shopping spree while were at it.
  • Pinkpop 2017 – the Pinkpop press conference is during the month of March which also means that by the end of it we’ll know most of the names that’ll visit us during the three days in June and the sale for the tickets will start a couple of days later! By the looks of it I’ll have to be fast if I want to get tickets, especially since Justin Bieber has been announced. Mind you, he’s definitely not on my ‘must see’-list but if he’s there why not. The music he’s been making has been quite catchy to say the least. Besides that Green Day, the Kings of Leon, System of a Down and Martin Garrix have been confirmed as well.
  • Planning a vacation! So many choices, so many places to visit! I still have to make up my mind about a destination.

Book 2 – Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

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After reading a story about characters as twisted and as sick as ‘Amazing Amy’ in Gone Girl, I certainly needed to read something completely different. Something uplifting and fun, with a different pace and that book came in the form of ‘Fortunately, the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman and illustrator Skottie Young.

And it was literally the best choice I could have made at that time. This story definitively was what I needed I had so much fun reading it. The book has 160 pages – at least my version has – however since there are a lot of drawings in the book the story is relatively short. The fact that the story is relatively short doesn’t take away how awesome it is.

It’s basically one of the most surprising stories I’ve read in a long time it simply starts with a father who has to take care of his kids because his wife is away on a business trip for a couple of days. As all moms would do she’s given him a couple of tasks for the days that she’s away. And as all moms do she has already made sure that most things are taken care of before she leaves. One of the simple tasks that she asks her husband to do is getting milk for the kids’ cereal. But as most dads do in a situation like this, he forgets to buy the milk in the store and one of the mornings the kids want their cereal but there is no more milk.

The dad goes out to get some milk from the store on the corner, and promises to his kids to come back quickly. Not only because the kids need the milk for their cereal but also because he needs it for his own tea. However it takes a long, long time for the dad to return and the kids get worried and hungry. Finally when the dad returns he tells his kids the most wonderful adventure all revolving around a simple milk carton and why it took him so long to return home.

Besides the very adventurous story the book is also filled by wonderfully creative drawings made by Skottie Young. The portrayal of the story is simply perfect. The drawings are all in black and white but for some reason I felt the extreme urge to grab my color pencils and start coloring the drawings, probably because a lot of details were told in such a vivid way that you could color it exactly the way it was meant to be colored in.

I’m really curious now to read more of Neil Gaiman’s books, I know some of my friends love his work but up until now I wasn’t familiar with it. Does anyone have any recommendations for other books by Neil Gaiman I can read, there are so many books to choose from!

Yes, this is one to read!

Book 1 – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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A very surprising book!

I have read quite a few crime books and I have encountered a lot of twisted characters in those books, from terrorists to cold blooded murderers. But none of them was as twisted as one of the characters I encountered in this book. Nothing could have prepared me for this.

The title ‘Gone Girl’ tells you all you need to know, a woman disappears into thin air leaving behind a strangely acting husband, an overturned living room and a huge badly cleaned up blood pool on the kitchen floor. To top it off it becomes more and more clear that their marriage wasn’t as good as it should have been. There is mutual anger and resentment between the spouses. They’d been at odds for a while and since both of them lost their job and they moved from New York city to a small town where Nick grew up because his mother was dying. To top it off there were financial troubles and Nick is cheating on his wife with a much younger woman.

Most of the time when I read I use my tablet, just because it’s easier to take with me. I’ve read this book in the train to Rotterdam for example and I took it with me to the library. I remember specifically being at 40% percent of the book when I was wondering where the hell the story was going. At that point I honestly couldn’t figure it out! I was so curious to read more and figure it out, but whatever idea I came up with would have never even come close to the actual story.

What I didn’t know at that time was that I was actually at the breaking point in the story. Within a matter of a few pages the story started to change in a very different direction – very surprising direction I might add. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, this is one you really need to read or see for yourself. Even if I tried to explain it I could never do it justice.

Book vs. movie

This is a book which has been turned into the film and out of curiosity I choose to watch the movie as well. The thing is that I finished the book before I watched the movie which seems the logical order since the book was written first. It’s always intriguing to see how books and movies compare and I am able to separate the two. I know that a lot of people have trouble separating books and movies but I’m not one of them, I can enjoy both of them and see them for what they are.

The book and the movie are really similar, of course there are some things left out. That happens a lot in movies for obvious reasons, they often only have a hour and a half or two hours to tell the story. The book goes at a slower pace, the movie has a faster pace of course they need to capture the audiences attention in a different manner. While in a book they can take the time to build up the story, a writer can capture so much more than a movie could ever do.

To me the movie was less interesting, which isn’t all that surprising since I read the book and I knew what to expect and I could see all the plot twists coming. I think that if I hadn’t read the book the plot twits would have surprised me just as much as they did while I was reading it. There is no way you can foresee that twisted character development.

January in hindsight

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Last year I wasn’t really been feeling all that good about myself or where my life is at. Let’s face it, I’m thirty something and when I was younger I had hoped that my life would have been at a certain point and in all honesty that is not the case. And yes, due to some other rather personal stuff I’ve been feeling quite depressed. So I decided that I want to be happy with the things that I do have instead of feeling depressed about things that I don’t have.

And that is the reason for this post. I want to document things I’m grateful for, and this is also part of becoming a better version of myself. However right now this is a learning process and therefor what I do right now might not prove to work for me in future posts but I’ll try to come up with a sort of post that gives me a way to look back on the past month and keep things interesting for you to read.

At the end of this blog I will also add some things which I’m looking forward too in these following months.

Celebrating Christmas

Yes, no worries I am aware of the fact that this post is called January in hindsight and usually you would be right if you say that Christmas is celebrated in December. However in this particular case you are wrong! My sister and her husband made the trip of a lifetime – literally they went on a two month holiday trip to Singapore, New Zealand and Fiji.

They left in November and came back on January 6th so we had to adjust some of our holiday plans to their schedule and for that reason we celebrated Christmas 2016 2.0 on the third weekend of January. It was a really nice way of celebrating Christmas because there was literally no stress. Lets be fair, the holidays are often a very stressful situation because all of the pressure we put on ourselves and our friends and family. We always buy presents for one another, and since they weren’t here before we still had some presents to open. The ones I bought for my sister and brother in law were received with surprise and happiness. I purchased a gift card for a high tea for both my mother and sister. Of course my mother already knew this because I gave her the present in back in December but I had asked her not to say anything to my sister. Which resulted in a very happy sister who loved the idea of going on a high tea with my mother and I. Now all we have to do is set a date and actually go to Den Bosch for a nice Sunday shopping and having a high tea. That’ll probably make another nice post for a city trip, after all Den Bosch is a city with beautiful old buildings. Which brings me to the next part of this blogpost.

City trip

My first city trip post was written about Rotterdam, my first real visit to the city and it’s beautiful Markthal building. Read all about it in my blog about Rotterdam, you can find it over here.

Reading and writing

I haven’t written as much as I would have liked but I’m getting better at it. My first post was one about my ideas for 2017 and beyond, you can read it here. In which I explained that there are quite a couple of things I want to change about myself and my life and I also gave some hints about how I’m planning on achieving those goals. Most of the month however consisted of some drafts for future posts and little else.

In my city trip post I’ve also mentioned some books which I purchased at the book fair and which will – if everything goes as planned – show up here on this blog in the near future in the form of a book review for my 2017 Reading Challenge. The book I’ve been reading during this past month is ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and ‘Monkeewrench’ by P.J. Tracy. Two books which I hope to finish this month, so I better get back to reading! ‘Gone Girl’ shouldn’t be a problem, though the other book might proof a little bit more difficult because there is a bigger part of the book I still need to read.

Projects around the house

One of the best things I did for myself is trade in my old desktop computer for a laptop. Finally I was able to get rid of that huge desk I had because all I needed is a place to put the laptop down. I have rearranged some things in my living room and it looks amazing. It looks more and more like a grown up apartment and less like the room of someone who’s still trying to be a student even though those days have long gone.

So out with the old and in with the new, a new desk with a black glass table top combined with the really funky leather orange chair looks amazing. I’ve also bought some new decorations for the window sill, which looks beautiful and the fun part was that all the changes I made were really affordable but the result is huge!

And to top it off, I’ve finally painted my bathroom wall and ceiling, a job which had to be done for at least a year which I kept pushing forward.

Looking ahead:

    Lindsey Stirling – My first concert of 2017, 013 – Tilburg March 17th.
    High Tea with my mom and sister – my Christmas present to them both, we still have to come up with a date but it’ll probably be in March.
    Pinkpop 2017 – more names should be announced soon! I really want to go!
    Planning a vacation! So many choices, so many places to visit!

City trip: Rotterdam

I’m from the Netherlands, I’ve been living here all my life. But there are still some cities which I haven’t seen and I’m trying to change that. First stop, Rotterdam!

In December I bought a couple of train tickets through a special deal and I still had one left, which needed to be handed before the end of this month.

So I was trying to think of a place to visit and I really didn’t want to go to the regular places and then I realized that I had never really been to Rotterdam. I mean I’ve been there to go to Ahoy, which is a concert/conference hall. But I’ve only been there not anywhere else in the city. A while back I went to Rotterdam with some friends to go to the RetroCon and we traveled by train from the main station to Ahoy by metro and it occurred to me that there is a lot to see in Rotterdam. That is where the idea came from to visit the city if the opportunity came up. And this was perfect!

The Netherlands are – compared to most other countries really small – and while we can literally travel from on side of the country to the other side of the country in a matter of hours there is still a lot to see. And while traveling by train is often a nice option. Especially if you want to read something. And time to read I had that’s for sure. The trip from my city to Rotterdam would normally take just about an hour. But not this past Saturday. Yeah, it was one of those days. I had to switch trains in Breda which would have been normal and then I would have had a direct connection to Rotterdam. But unfortunately the train before mine broke down and it was blocking the route. So they advised us to take the train to Roosendaal and from there take the train to Rotterdam. But that meant that we had to travel two hours instead of one. However it was extremely busy because a lot of people had to take this train, and the capacity of the train was obviously not meant for such a big group of travelers. So honestly it wasn’t really a huge surprise when this train also broke down right after we left Roosendaal. It was the weirdest thing ever! The personal used the call system to tell us that the travelers needed to divide more over the length of the train because the front was too heavy and it was causing problems with the train. But five minutes later it became obvious that it was not enough, another train was called and we had to get on that train to make the rest of the trip.

All in all it made for a very interesting train trip but eventually I did arrive at Rotterdam’s Central Station. More than an hour and a half later than expected but still at a early enough time to explore the city. First things first, since I arrived to late I decided to immediately make my way to  Market Hall which was what I wanted to see. It’s a relatively new building in the center with all of these small food related shops and dinner places. It’s a really special type of building, iconic really there is no other building which looks anything like it. That really is the reason why I wanted to see it. The first thing I did was walk around it, look at it from all the angles – it was beautiful especially because it was one of those winter days with bright blue skies and a sun. And the light was cascading through the windows which made the building look even more beautiful. The interior is filled by little shops and markets all food related and a few restaurants.

One of them being Jamie Oliver’s restaurant called Jamie’s Italian. Anyway I just had to go there and eat the food which is approved by Jamie Oliver in the way that he cooks his food. I’ve always been curious to taste the food that he makes. Jamie Oliver makes cooking always look so easy and creates amazing dinners, which is what always made me curious. I choose a pasta, Sausage Casarecce it was delicious. Simple but delicious! Which is exactly the way he intended it to be.

After my late lunch I looked around the Market Hall to see the different shops and food courts. It kind of has the same feel as the Feel Good Market has here in Eindhoven. You can buy all different types of food and drinks, things you’ll normally never find in regular stores. I purchased a Chai Tea Latte and made my way around the market, afterwards I walked through the city and when the evening was setting in I made my way back to the Central Station. But before I went home I got on the Metro and I made my way across the city to Ahoy Rotterdam where I visited the book fair before it was time to return home.

I purchased a couple of books;

Books for which you might find a review on this blog sometime in the future.

2017 and beyond

When 2017 started one of the things I wanted to work on was my blog. I want to improve my writing and be a more active blogger. It would be really awesome if I could reach a bigger audience, but I’m not sure how I can achieve it I guess it’s a process. And given my track record for this month I’m not really doing too well. So from now on I’m really going to kick my own ass and make sure that I write more, especially more diverse posts about different topics. Things that I like to do, cities and concerts I visit and so much more. I already have a couple of things in mind.

This isn’t a new years resolution, I hate those! And I try to not be influenced by the ideas of having to change things once the new year comes around. If you want to change something in your life you should just do it or at least start working on those changes. Certainly you shouldn’t wait for the new year to make the changes. This is simply a process that I have been going through for a while – actually it has been months – and being a more active blogger is just one tiny part of the things that I want to change.

Since this is only a tiny part I want to explain what the rest enthralls or at least part of it. Last year I was in a really bad place mentally and work was extremely busy at the same time which meant that I didn’t really have time to think of myself or my mental state. Not really the wise thing to do. That is also why I often felt lost in my own life. The creativity was drained from me because I was so tired almost all of the time. Due to the stress and the way I felt I lost a lot a lot of weight something which I have been trying to do for years but it never worked and now suddenly I lost about ten kilos. That is huge and important to me, so it’s something I want to take care of and maybe even loose some more weight. I want to become a better version of myself.

And that is basically my plan for 2017 and beyond, so let’s get on with this show.