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.
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.



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 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 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:


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:


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 coco, column, groupie, music, travel


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.

Posted in coco

Pokémon GO

Yes, so I admit: the hype of Pokémon GO got to me! It started out as curiosity and now I’m one of those players who would love to collect all of them. I’m not playing at gyms or wanting the best Pokémons, I just want them all 😉

Living in a village I started of with all the small usual ones, but after a while you have to go out in the big world to catch more. And so I did. In Holland there are several hotspots and with my niece I visited the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Nice weather, sitting there, just having fun. Every catch was special and we had a lot of fun watching people running around with their smartphones, trying to catch that one special Pokémon.

Then I read about Kijkduin. The Pokémon capital of Holland. I had to see that with my own eyes. And believe me, it’s true. And above all very entertaining. Right at the beach, lots of people gather there every day to catch the famous little animals. But even if you’re not into the game, sitting there for a while is very entertaining. Every 10 minutes or so people all start to run in one direction. They even go so far as running all the way to the sea and then standing there, because the wanted animal is in the water, out of reach. A lovely day at the beach, 2016 style. It makes my game fun and just enjoying this whole spectacle got me 125 out of 150 Pokémons so far. My favorite? Jigglypuff.

Posted in coco, column, groupie

How to embarrass yourself at first sight – part two

As you might have noticed, I tend to embarrass myself every now and then 🙂 What can I say: a country girl from a small country in big fancy cities in very big countries, it’s asking for trouble.

So here I was, waiting at the CBS-Studios in Los Angeles, for an actor of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ to finish working and all of a sudden this Ferrari drives up to the door. Apart from auto shows I never saw a very red Ferrari ‘in the wild’, so I drooled. Not my best moment. Then this guy walks out of the studio. In the few seconds I took my eyes of the car, I noticed him to be very good looking. And he walked straight to my Ferrari! So yes, did I already tell you I drooled? It must have been a very awkward sight, because when the guy got into the car, he put it in reverse and drove towards me. I was way too curious to be ashamed, so when he opened the window and said ‘Hi’, I just spat out the words ‘Who are you?’. He looked very confused and asked ‘Who am I? Or how am I?’ Obviously I hadn’t made myself clear, so I asked again. ‘Who are you?’ He must have thought I was weird, which I have to admit, was true at the moment. He gave me his name ‘Michael Damian’, said goodbye and drove off. With my Ferrari. Well, at least it should have been mine!

Normally that would just be another embarrassing moment in my book filled with them (really, my Diary is very similar to the one Bridget Jones is keeping). But no, not this time. A day later I was looking for cd’s to bring home with me, when all of a sudden one of them caught my eye. ‘Time of the Season’, recording artist: Michael Damian. Wasn’t that…?

A year later, back at the CBS-studios. This time I was prepared. I knew Michael Damian! I met him again and in the years after that another couple of times, even in Paris, where he was directing a film. Embarrassing moments sometimes are the start of something good. Unfortunately I did never see the Ferrari again, but hey, you can’t have it all 🙂

Michael now is a successful director. His latest film ‘High Strung‘ became iTunes #1.

Posted in coco, column, groupie

How to embarrass yourself at first sight – part one

It’s a very cold day in New York, february 1996. I’m standing at the artist entrance of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Friends from the USA, Canada and Holland are getting together that weekend to see Jeff Trachta perform his role of Danny Zuko in the musical Grease. I’m waiting there to just say ‘Hi’ to Jeff, but it’s cold and I’m unsure if he’s not already in the building. A man comes out of the artist entrance and smiles at me. Nice guy.

A little while later the same man comes back and sees me still standing there. He smiles again and while I’m getting really cold, I said ‘Hi” and asked him if he knew whether Jeff Trachta was already in. He didn’t, but he went inside to have a look. And sure thing, a few minutes later he stuck his head out again. Jeff was already there and he was rehearsing, so he couldn’t come out. No problem. I thanked him, because now I got to go back to the warm hotel and wait for the others to arrive.

The musical is fantastic. Grease used to be one of my favorite movies growing up and the cast is really really good. Half way through the show Teen Angel makes his entrance. For a second I stop breathing. Isn’t that the friendly man from earlier? At the end of the musical one of the cast members introduces him as a very special guest star: Al Jarreau!

It takes me a short while to figure out who he is, but when I do, I’m ashamed. He’s a way bigger star as all of the people in that theatre together and I asked him if he could check to see if somebody else was already in the building. Way to make a first impression! 🙂
Nice as he is, he doesn’t have a problem with it. I feel the need to apologize, but he laughs about it. He thought it was very funny. And I never forgot his name, when I hear ‘Roof garden’, I think about that cold day in New York.

Posted in coco, column

How is it?

In school I wasn’t the best student in foreign languages. Reading and understanding it wasn’t the problem. But the grammar… I grew up with Dutch and in school I got German, French and of course English. After I dropped German class as soon as I could, I struggled through the french and english grammar like a true warrior. It wasn’t until I got international friends and started traveling to the USA more often, I started to get more fluent in English and better with the english grammar. It does help to read books and talk with your friends in other languages.

The past few years I started traveling to Germany a lot, speaking German with my friends there. Even though my grammar is still horrible, I can make myself understandable, which is okay for the moment. I do notice my english skills get worse, when I speak more German. Obviously I can only speak one foreign language at a time 🙂 I do feel ashamed sometimes when all of a sudden I have to speak English and I stumble and say the stupidest things. Actually I should be used to that, because one of the most difficult things in foreign languages, aside from the whole grammar thing, is sayings. How many times do I translate a dutch saying word by word in another language and have people look at me in a funny way? I always try to laugh myself out of it, but it stays difficult.

In Germany you have a whole card collection with german sayings, translated in English. Very funny things. My favorite is ‘You go me animally on the cookie’ (Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks) – a saying to express somebody is getting on your nerves.

Not that long ago I was at a concert of my favorite singer, who also happens to be a graduated simultaneous interpreter in 4 languages of the University of Bologna and he started his concert with: “Hello people, how is it?” All of a sudden I felt a whole lot better. It can happen to the best of us 🙂

Foreign languages are cool and if you hear somebody stumble over their words, just let them be. As long as everybody understands each other!