Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Antics in Amsterdam

Spent a good day walking around Amsterdam with Britt.. of course, who else... off to a new adventure! We met up at the Central Station and walked everywhere from there. This was good to get a better idea of how Amsterdam is organised seeing as I knew where I had been before but no clue how to get there.

First we went off to the Bloemengracht where I knew there was a hammock store and I have had my heart sent on one of those chair hammocks since a year or four ago or so. We tested them excessively up to the point that people walking into the store started asking us for prices and other possibilities. After this we went on a hunt for a very good restaurant that Britt had discovered on an earlier trip. It was absolutely unbelieveable. Additionally we ended up sitting on a carpet with pillows along one of the canals and had fresh mint tea to accomapny our dish. We toasted with some tourists passing by in a little boat and I guess I'm now on a picture of someone with my glass of mint tea raised above my head. Branded a hippy in Amsterdam for the rest of my life. I think I can live with that.

Of course we went to another thousand stores (including book sotres which are great in that they provide maps of Amsterdam) and of course ran into the occasional gay book store and free tibet store and whatnot. Ended up at an Ethiopian restaurant after which we met up with my brother and his band to go to see One Republic in concert. Very nice however, I felt I wanted to move but the music was too laid back. still it was good!

I abandoned Britt who had more plans to fill the night and took the train home. Apon arrival one of the cars (singer of the band) had been broken into. The navigation system had been taken out so that was a bit of a shame. Otherwise it was quite a good day!

The next day was my dad's birthday which we celebrated after he flew back in from Ethiopia and am now back in Zeist.. trying to have an normal week of waterpolo, weights, waterpolo, sleep, waterpolo, food, waterpolo, weights and sleep.

Music: The noise everyone is playing and is frustrating me yet, I am calm... outwardly.

Quote: My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.
Edith Sitwell


Venice Vidi Vici

That was the plan but not entirely how it turned out!

It al started off with me sitting on Dusseldorf airport quite relaxed waiting for my team. However after a couple of textmesaages telling me they just arrived and were also looking for the gate and would contact me when they knew but me not seeing any of them, I started worrying. However I didn't want to seem inpatient so didn't call... no reply to my text, no flights that went to Italy... I finally get a call asking me where I am...

Turns out we all started off at the wrong airport (Dusseldorf Weeze not Dusseldorf) and when they realised they rushed on to make it in time and forgot to inform me. I guess that is what you get for travelling on your own. So I missed the flight. Drove back home, took a train to Amsterdam, stayed over at a teammates dad's house and hopped on a plain the next morning, gameday.

We had some serious issues starting up and when we finally decided to play up to par we were a little late. We drew in the 3d quarter but lost due to having a lot of people with 3 personal faults -which get excluded form further playing-. On the brigt side I did block two penalties. We ended up losing with 3 goals. This means we will have to win by 4 goals this weekend. Possible (and neccessary of we want to play euro-cup finals) but definitely not easy!

The day after our game we got to wander around Venice. A place I had always wanted to go and now, without even expecting it we had a whole 4 hours to spend there. I must say it is not easy to find your way trhough this maze of little streets and waterways, but definitely quite the adventure! Was good fun to hang out with our team somewhat more then just in the pool as well. See them from a different side and enjoy the good weather with them. Another place I need to have some more time to hang out!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Run Through 北京 (Northern Capital (Beijing))

It was a very quick trip, not so much in that it all went by fast but more so in that events followed up upon each other very quickly. Sure it didn’t last very long either, we touched down on Monday at 2pm and left on Friday at 12pm but with the amount of “things” that we ran through it seemed like I must have been gone for at least a month!

We practiced every day and we played a game against China every day. Playing water polo against China was definitely a very interesting experience. They were an extremely physical team, very bound on winning which they didn’t manage as we ended up pulling through around the third quarter of every game. However one can tell they are going to be a team you better not under estimate because if your concentration wavers; you lose.

The climax, literally and figuratively speaking, was the highest point of the Great Wall of China that we hiked up. This is Seriously not for the faint hearted, only 5 of us decided to pull through all the way to the end. And I must admit I twice thought of not going all the way, but you know, once almost there it would be a shame not to finish it off! I have now two very sore calves to remind me of the hike of a million stairs that all had a different height. We stopped at every tower between staircases: after the first couple to catch our breath and after every next couple to make sure our legs would still go on!

The forbidden City was pretty, but also very empty. Luckily I have a mind full of imagination filled by the text of a history book on the last empress of China which made the walk through it a lot more interesting! The houses were very pretty but no trees or plants or anything grew on the thickly stone paved floors put down there so no one could hide behind trees or dig tunnels into the forbidden city to harass anyone within its walls.

Walking through a great mall type of thing there was more you could buy then you could possibly imagine for less then you could possibly pull out of your ATM back home. At first excited by the prospect of haggling I was quite glad I ended up not buying anything after I came out. OF course it is only too easy to forget all the child labour going into these things but I guess that when I can be only a little help to avoiding it and being conscious of what I buy then I will.
Meanwhile we were dealing with a major jetlag with no real time to get over it in between all activities. We were not supposed to sleep on the bus but going through China traffic makes every place we wanted to go at least a sixty minute drive away. Guess what… yep! However, this meant that when you jolted to a stop or when our Chinese tour guide decided to tell us a story you magically appeared at certain locations with no conscious memory of the trip!
The Olympic pool was pretty impressive too and really interesting to see it with no one in there! It better be swarming with people at every game but somehow I’m pretty sure it will!
Even our tour guide got all excited and started taking pictures. On the way home she started cracking jokes (we laughed mostly at her excitedness about the punch lines and at her disappointment over us already knowing the answer to her final ground breaking joke which were all very appropriate jokes the worst one taking a stab at the stupidity of the Japanese!)
All in all a terrific trip in a little too short a time! And for the purpose of taking the bite out of out china experience, I’m not sure it did its job because I think it only made me want to run around there even more to experience the country and the culture. I only want to know more about the Chinese language and I only want to see more of the countryside. But That will have to be an episode in the life of memories of Meike. For now, 再見/Chè chè (thankyou) for reading! I will as usual update pictures soon (my camera broke so I have none to show for!)
Quote: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall" -Confucius

Music: The China National Anthem -sang by our tourguid in the bus after she had us sing ours and nearly cried over it.