Posted in coco, column

Hij komt.. Hij komt…

Today is a big day for all the children in Holland. He comes. He being Sinterklaas, another version of Santa Claus. He’s a saint, a friend of all children, his birthday is december 6th and he gives the children presents at december 5th, Sinterklaasevening. Today he will be arriving with all his colored helpers on a boat, from Spain. And all the kids are excited. And all the big kids (another word for adults) as well 🙂

This period is always a bit magical for me. Like Christmas. I remember the times I went so see the boat arriving with my mom. Getting ‘pepernoten’, shaking the hand of Sinterklaas and knowing he was in the country again. Later I always borrowed my sisters kids and went to the harbor in my small town with them. Having learned the tricks my mother used on me. She always had ‘pepernoten’ in her coat and gave me a few every now and then, saying a helper (called black pete -and yes, in this time and day of course there is a discussion about his color) gave her that, when I wasn’t watching.
pepernoten
Another tradition is putting your shoe in front of the fireplace. Filled with a carrot for the horse (Sinterklaas rides a horse over the roofs) or some sugar and water. Maybe even a drawing for Sinterklaas or a wish list. After singing one of the special songs (as loud as you can) and going to sleep like a good girl, you might get a present in your shoe. So exciting to go down early in the morning and finding the small present. Later, when you’re big enough and someone told you the awful truth, you would hear the stories about the parents who forgot to take the carrot out and put the present in and the drama they had early in the morning. Being a parent is not that easy in the this few weeks.

‘Zie ginds komt de stoomboot’ – singing out loud.

 

 

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Posted in coco, travel

Candy makes the world go round

So, you’re in Berlin and it’s raining a bit. Not the best weather to go sightseeing or do anything at all. And then you hit the jackpot. Close to the Alexandersquare and the TV-tower you find this hidden treasure. A candy store. An actual candy store. With cookies, chocolate, lollypops, nougat and so much more. You just have to go in and then they offer you things to taste… heaven for little and big people. Unnecessary to say I tried myself through the cookies and chocolate. It all tasted so good. Next thing you know, you’re walking around with a shopping basket 🙂
Besides all the sweet stuff, they also have the cutest little cans to save all the food in. They would even look good in your house, when they were empty.

La Cure Gourmande, worth a visit. They also have stores in other countries. But this one in Berlin will see me again, very soon!

 

Posted in hotel, travel

Nhow Berlin

One of my all-time favorite hotels is also in Berlin: the Nhow! As part of the NH Hotel Group, but then so different from a ‘standard’ NH hotel. Nhow Berlin has a theme: music! That’s what attracted me a couple of years ago to this hotel. Being in Berlin a few times a year, you always look for a good hotel, a home away from home. And while music is often the reason for my travels to the capital of Germany, a hotel with a music theme seemed only fitting.

Now, a few years and several stays at this hotel later, I have to laugh at my shocked feeling at the question: “Do you want a pink/yellow room or a pink/blue?” Yeah, while this hotel is not only a music hotel, it’s also pink. Very very pink. But stylish and cool.

Getting curious now? It’s time for pictures. First of all the room.

One side of the hotel looks over the Spree, the canal that goes straight through the city. From there you might have a wonderful view of the OberbaumbrĂĽcke.

nhowaussicht

Then: why is this a music hotel? Well, first of all, it has a stage in the lobby, where you can just walk into a concert or other ways of live music.

And then this: room service. Not only do they bring you food or drinks. This hotel also delivers guitars, piano or a whole dj-set in your room!

nhowroomservice1

Last but not least I do have to mention the elevators. 5 in total, all in a different color, all with different kind of elevator music. Classical, Jazz, Pop, you can choose your ride up to your room. Try them all, but warning for the orange one: being locked up in this orange box, even if it’s a short ride, makes you go a little crazy 🙂

Posted in coco, column, hotel, tv-series

Watching too many crime shows…

It’s december 2013 and we’ve been driving for a few hours. On the way to a concert in Prenzlau, northeast Germany. Practically in the middle of nowhere. But we are happy. First of all we’re looking forward to the concert, but also because our hotel is a castle. Sometimes you just want to stay overnight feeling like a princess 🙂

The navigation system says we have to exit in 10 kilometer. And then all of a sudden it goes black. And we feel lost. Both coming from the past (read: traveling with a map in your lap, driving around searching for a while) we just laughed. Okay, it can’t be that hard. We’re really in the middle of nowhere, the castle/hotel will be on signs. Wrong! Still we’re laughing… we have iPhones! So we look at the digital map and find that the street we’re looking for exists several times. Hmmm. Okay, just a little bump. We just choose one and drive in that direction. Very small roads, but nothing that looks like our castle. So we drive around a little more. But our castle stays hidden. We have to admit: we’re lost.

Only one thing left to do. Find someone to ask. Even that proves to be difficult. Remember: middle of nowhere. There are no people on these small streets. After a few rounds we finally see somebody. A guy loading groceries out of his car. I park my car and walk up to the guy. If he knows where my castle is? He does and points me in the right direction. We should have gone to the other side of the freeway. It won’t be hard to find there. Then he looks at my car. My friend is out of sight. He looks at me and says: “But if you want to be sure, you can come inside, I have a map there.” And then all 100 or so episodes of Criminal Minds get to me. The middle of nowhere, me alone, this guy and then going into his house? NO WAY. I’m not gonna die here!

I thank him, he asks me to wait. He goes inside, getting his map and showing me how to drive. I thank him again. Yes, I panicked and overreacted, but still I just want to leave. Back in the car we laughed about it and drove of. To our castle and to the concert.

Posted in hotel, music, travel

Expo Milan 2015 and Genoa

On the opening day of the Expo 2015 in Milan Nevio Passaro, my favorite singer/songwriter, had two concerts at the German pavilion. So we went to Milan and visited the Expo. A very big event, which we already noticed as we tried to book a hotel room. Hardly any rooms left and very expensive. We chose our favorite hotel chain NH, the nhow to be exact. A theme-hotel, very modern. In Berlin the nhow theme is music and the hotel color pink. In Milan the theme is fashion and the hotel color orange. We just had to see it. It felt like home.

We took a taxi to the Expo. Remember, it was only the first day, so our cabdriver didn’t have a clue where to drop us of. Very funny, we had to ask policemen and everything went the italian way. Piano, piano (slow and relaxed).

At the Expo we were overwhelmed. All kind of countries from all over the world, had their own little area. So just walking on one of the main roads, you went from Europa to Asia to South America. Really cool. And all the countries had their own kind of food. So knowing that, what do you want to eat? 🙂

The concerts were at the German pavilion, a real stage at a square. Just sitting there, you felt it was very international. Just looking around the people walking by had as many cultures as the countries displayed. Very impressing. Having a concert of your favorite musician in an environment like that, is really special. I enjoyed it very much, even though it rained a little bit. Extra surprise was a guest appearance of Domenico Peronace. He and Nevio sang their song ‘Piccolo re (Make love not war)‘ together.


We wanted to stay in Italy a few more days, but because Milan was so busy, we took the train to Genoa. A smaller city at the coast. The train ride was amazing and Genoa absolutely beautiful. With the mountains on one side and the ocean at the other, Genoa has it all. Our NH Collection hotel was at the water, next to a pirate ship. Genoa is a good city to just walk around, pretty sights all around and not too big. Colorful and beautiful. Great few days there.

Posted in coco, column, travel

Dolphins make me cry

First of all, something you don’t know about me yet: I’m afraid of fish. I’m not just afraid, I really don’t like them, dead or alive. If you want me to eat fish, just make absolutely sure it doesn’t look like one!

So when my travel buddy told me she really wanted to swim with dolphins, my first response was not overenthusiastic. But okay, we were in Florida, wanted to see the Keys and a dolphin is not a fish, it’s a mammal. So I said yes. There are several organizations in the Keys, offering swimming with dolphins and while reading their websites, you do get a weird feeling about animals being kept to swim with tourists. So we looked around a little longer and found an organization, which has disabled kids swim with the dolphins as some kind of therapy. They only have one or two slots a day for tourists, just to finance their therapy sessions. So we paid a little more, just to ease our minds.

When we got to the Keys I felt pretty good. I’m gonna swim with dolphins, I’m so cool. Even when we got to the right place and saw the dolphins, I was still doing fine. First we got a small lecture about what the organization was about, what was going to happen and what we were allowed/supposed to do and what not. I listened very carefully. And then the girl telling us all that, wanted to be funny. ‘Of course there will be other fish in the waters as well, it’s not a pool. Funny is when people get scared when I say that, because they came here to swim with dolphins.’ Why? Why did she have to say that? Now all I could think about the other stupid fish swimming around my legs and the water was dark, I won’t be able to see them. I will imagine them there and probably feel them. I’m gonna be sick!

My travel buddy went first. That way I could take pictures of her with the dolphins as she could take pictures of me afterwards. Seeing her and the other people in the water and how sweet the dolphins were, I did relax again. It was gonna be fine. So I got in the water and got to know the three dolphins swimming with me and two other people. They were mommy, daddy and a kiddy dolphin (which was almost as big as his parents). The kiddy could get a little wild, but his parents would tell him of. So there I was. In the water, which tasted like fish (yuck). Fortunately I was so focused on the dolphins, that I really didn’t think about other fish in the water. There was only one moment in the water I almost freaked out. I was laying there, waiting for one of the dolphins to push me forward at my feet. When the dolphins go underwater, you couldn’t see them anymore and of course, right at that moment, I heard the tune of the movie Jaws. Only in my head and only for a split second. But that is what my mind does, it messes with me.

But hey, what can I say. I did it and I’m really proud I did. I swam with dolphins!

Posted in coco, travel

New York over the years

Lately, with all the documentaries about 9/11 and New York, I’ve thought a lot about my trips to New York. I’ve been there a few times over the past 20 years and of course, because of 9/11, the city changed in those years. Most obviously the Manhattan skyline. So I went through my fotoboxes (unfortunately I don’t have all of that digital yet) and looked for pictures of the New York skyline. Here’s my personal New York-journey through the years.

In 1996 I enjoyed this view from the Empire State Building:

nywtc1

Early 2001 I saw the Twin Towers up close and personal:

A few years later, the skyline had changed, picture taken from the Staten Island Ferry:

nywtc4

And this year I finally made it back to NY and saw the new tower from both sides, one picture taken from the Empire State Building and one from Liberty Island:

The skyline changed, the city changed, but it is still one of all time favorite cities in the world. Hopefully I’ll be back again soon.

Posted in groupie

Brad Pitt

Just another day in Amsterdam. Well, not just any other day. The national premiere of the movie ‘Seven years in Tibet‘ in Tuschinski Theater. I’m standing near the red carpet, waiting for Schae Harrison (Darla, the Bold and the Beautiful), who is visiting Amsterdam. In the audience rumor goes around Brad Pitt will be there as well. That makes me laugh. As if Brad Pitt will go from country to country to be at all those national premieres.

It all takes time. Lots of local celebrities. Funny to see what’s going on during such a red carpet event. Limousines dropping people of, lots of camera crews and every few minutes a tram blocking our view. Amsterdam is not like other places, they don’t block the streets for a movie premiere.

The next limousine drives up to the red carpet. I’m relaxed, just enjoying the whole thing. But then this guy comes out of the car, with the hat on, doesn’t he look like….? Isn’t that….? The screaming from the women around me, tell me it’s him. Brad Pitt! Brad Pitt just got out of the car and is standing across the street from me. Wuuuhuuuuu. Braaaaaaadddddd!

So yes, the other people were right. Sometimes superstars like Brad Pitt do go to small countries to be at the premiere of their film. Cool!

Posted in groupie, music, travel

Two in a row, isn’t that boring?

Artist: Gregor Meyle
Where: Waldbad Dünnwald Köln & Kloster Schiffenberg Giessen
When: September 3 & 4, 2016

Have you ever tried it? Two concerts of the same musician in two days? I did. Actually, I did more than that 🙂 I’ve been on tour. But let’s just keep with the two concerts in a row. Recently I went to two summer concerts of Gregor Meyle. Isn’t that boring?

Noooooo. Every concert is different. It’s live, anything can happen. And music hits you differently every time. It all depends on your mood, your thoughts and how deep you get pulled into the concert. Let’s take these two concerts. The first one, in Cologne, was in the middle of a forest. Very relaxed, parking close to the concert, a small restaurant where we could sit and have a drink, waiting for the entrance to open. The audience was happy to sing along. Or better said: every now and then they just started singing spontaneously. With a good band on stage, that’s not a problem. They played along with everything, having fun. It was just a very happy concert, everybody went home feeling good. Perfect.

The next day, in Giessen, the concert was at the garden of a monastery. Parking was far away, you had to drive up with shuttle busses. And right when we got out of the bus, walking to the entrance, it started raining. Really hard. For about half an hour. It was really raining cats and dogs. Fortunately it stopped before the concert started, so we could just enjoy the music. The audience was cool, but more reluctant. And I, personally, was more focused on details. I was standing a bit higher, close to stage. Almost felt like being on stage with the band.

Musically the concerts might have sounded alike. Not really. Different band members on stage, slightly different set, in Giessen a musical guest. But even if the concerts were completely identical, it would have felt different. And good music never bores. Good musician never bore. And Gregor Meyle and his band definitely belong in that category.

So.. if you want to try for yourself, choose wisely 🙂 And have fun! You’ll see that it’s not boring at all. If I have the chance, I’ll do it again. And again. And again.

For a live video of the concert in Giessen, click here.

Posted in coco, column, groupie, music, travel

100

Even on the day where we all think about New York and all the people that died, in the towers, in the planes, in Washington, the brave firefighters, good things can happen. Happy memories can be made, even on September, 11th.

Like for 5 years. In Dresden, Germany. A big tour. Nevio Passaro toured with his new album ‘Berlino’, 16 concerts all through Germany and Austria. And I was at 15 of those concerts. Unfortunately I had to skip the one in Vienna, because after 3 weeks I had to report back to work. That tour was a big adventure. On the road for so many days, so many concerts… absolutely fantastic! (more about that in future posts)

September 11, 2011 was a day like any other in the tour. We all got to Dresden okay, 3rd concert of the tour. Funny location name: Tante Ju (Aunt Ju). My best friend and I knew it wasn’t just another day. We had been following Nevio to his concerts for several years now and by coincidence we got to count the times we saw him live. It turned out, even though we didn’t always travel together in the first 2 years, we had the same amount. So together we did a countdown to number 100. And in Dresden the day had come.

The concert was a dream! Right before the concert we said to each other: ‘Let’s party! This is our concert, our 100th. Today is the day.’ And we did. We went all out. We partied as if there was no tomorrow. And so did Nevio. He didn’t have a clue what day it was, that we were celebrating, but he partied with us. All the way through to the last song, ’50 special’, a party to end the concert and everybody went all out. Until he said ‘I can’t do more’. He was at his end and so were we. This concert shouldn’t have last one song longer. We gave all.

Afterwards we went backstage, we owed him an explanation 🙂 And we just wanted to celebrate with him. Because 100 is not just a number. In every concert, in every time we met, there are memories. Memories of fun times, memories of good music, memories of traveling where the music send us, memories of friendships, memories of love. Just thinking about all the places we travelled to, all the miles we drove, all the times we laughed till we cried, all the times we actually cried because a (new) song touched us straight in the heart, all the people we met and all the emotions that came our way (really good ones, mostly). But also getting to know the man behind the music. The person with all his dreams, his talent, his drive, but also his imperfections and emotions. The guy with the voice that just touches me, time and time again. It didn’t feel like 100 and at the same time it felt like way more than that. So we toasted on our  milestone. Con amore.

That was 2011 and today I’m remembering this day and smile. I will never forget this concert, this day, but we shouldn’t live in the past. And we don’t. It went on and on and on. More memories were added, more emotions were felt, more music was shared. And even though it’s not always a world filled with roses, we keep growing. And someday we’ll celebrate another milestone and another one after that. I’m looking forward to it.