Toilet and bed in the tram stop

Those who are often passying by Leidseplein maybe have noticed that every now and then the tram stop there changes the design.

Some weeks ago there was very loud music coming out of it, one or two weeks ago it was turned into Efteling amusement park, but this week you can see three people sitting there - a girl in the line for hairdresser, a guy who is reading a newspaper in the toilet and another guy who is reading another newspaper (or maybe a book?) in the bed.

As I could understand from the available information, it is a campaign for the weekly magazine "Blad".

It was hard to take proper pictures as there were loads of people around waiting for the tram, getting ready for Queen's Night and taking other pictures. But I tried my best!


History Walks

Following my luck always to win something, a few weeks ago I won two hours long walking tour around Amsterdam, thanks to English Breakfast Radio.

We agreed that the tour will happen exactly on my name day, so on Sunday afternoon Michael and me were ready to join three other people and our British tour guide. For the next two hours we walked and listened her stories about the history of Amsterdam during World War II and the Jewish population at that time. It was no surprise to hear that Michael was the first German taking part in this tour!

I must admit that I am a fan of history, although I do not think that it is a fan of me - I forget all the historical facts and important dates very fast, although I like to read history books and watch historical movies. Back in the school history was one of my favourite subjects as well (maybe thanks to the great history teacher).

I can definitely suggest the tour to anybody who is interested in history or has Jewish origins. I do not think that a lot of ordinary tourists will be interested in such a tour as it's not the most touristical one, but it really tells a lot not only about Jewish at that time, but also the city and Dutch people themselves. Having lived here for quite a while, it was interesting to see the city from a different perspective - and notice the signs and monuments which I would not notice otherwise.



I have been looking at this view almost every day for several months in a row by now (as it is Michael's PC desktop picture and I am using his PC). This weekend I finally had a chance to see the view in the reality as well.

What am I speaking about? About the interesting nature and world we are living in, an amazing loop the river Saar is doing in Germany.

It turns out that it is less than an hour drive from Trier, so during Easter we went there and I had a chance not only to see this view, but also to go from the highest point up down to the river itself. Next time it would be nice to bike along Saar and enjoy the view there!


Finally - Portugal

I suck with Google Maps. I just tried to make a nice map of Portugal, noting down places where did we go and how did we go, but I didn't manage.

So I opt for the easier (and more ugly) option, called Paint.

I hope you can understand something here. I circled all the cities we have been in green and also tried to make it clear what was our itinerary. You should click on the map to see it better.

Just to make it clear once again, I will also list it down here:
- Porto
- Coimbra
- Covilhã (long way via Vise) and Torre
- Lourinhã (long way via Lisbon), Peniche and Baleal
- Lisbon
- Faro, Almodovar and some countryside villages

All trip in total took 9-10 days (I think, it was nine nights) and we were travelling a lot, as you can imagine from the amount of places visited. Everything was just great and I am now longing to return back and see more of Portugal!


Go away, mosquitoes!

There is a Latvian saying which goes like this: "Tos, kuri Lieldienās bija kārtīgi šūpojušies, odi un citi kukaiņi vasarā nekoda." It means that mosquitoes do not bite those who were swinging enough in Easter.

To follow this tradition, I was swinging a bit already yesterday and now I am sure that in the summer mosquitoes will run away from me! How about you?


Going Dutch

I know that I have been treating my readers and blog really bad, but last week I was in Estonia (press trip) and this week I have my mum and sister over here in Amsterdam, so I was completely out of time and/or tired to write anything.

On Sunday Michael, me and my sister went to Volendam, which was completely overcrowded with tourists and therefore not so enjoyable. We also decided to be typical tourists taking a typical touristical picture, which you can see here. Despite not so good service it was fun, especially me remembering taking almost the same picture with two other people around 1996 (my first trip to the Netherlands).


Youth Opportunities in Europe

Some time ago I was invited to give a speech in the University of Brescia about youth opportunities in Europe. Just now I noticed that I haven't posted in my blog the presentation which I did for that, so I am fixing it now :)

See the presentation below! I am not so used to work with Prezi, but it was an interesting experience and I am slowly starting to appreciate it.

Thanks to everybody who shared their opinions and thoughts!


Name Days in Latvia

OK, as quite a lot of people are confused about the idea of a Name Day, I will try to explain it here from my point of view.

Name Days are celebrated in several countries at least in Europe, but I never managed to understand what unites them all. I know that Baltic countries, Russia, Poland and Greece are celebrating them and I am sure that there are more countries out there. As my boyfriend said, name days exist also in Germany, but they are not really celebrated.

Back home we have name days for every single Latvian name. As there are only 365 days per year and definitely more names, it simply ends up having 1-5 names per day to celebrate. E.g., my name day is on April 10, when it's also name day for all girls who are called Zīle (never met any, it's very rare and unusual name and it actually means an acorn).

May 22 is a name day for all those people whose names are not mentioned in the calendar because they are too rare. E.g., I have a family friend, called Intra. It is a very unusual name (I guess, there are around 10 women in Latvia with this name), so she mostly celebrated her name day on May 22. However, some years ago her name was included in the calendar and now she has her own name day (if I am not wrong). So yes, the calendar is being revised every year and new names are being added.

I do not know how do they choose which name will have which name day. Some of them are according to the Christian calendar (e.g., names like Anna, Peter, Ieva (Latvian for Eve) etc.), but some are pretty random and do not have any reason. At least I think so...

What do we do? Well, pretty much the same as for birthdays - presents, cakes, flowers, party etc. Sometimes it is celebrated even more because everybody knows when is your name day - just check the calendar! There is a saying that one can show up without an invitation to a name day party, while it is unpolite to do so for the birthday parties.

If you are celebrating Name Days also in your country, please, comment this post and tell more about it!


Erotic Museum

As last weekend we had Museum Weekend here in Amsterdam (I will try to write about it in the next days as well), I had a chance to visit some more new museums. Unfortunately none of them was really so worth seeing it, but at least it was cheaper.

One of those museums was Erotic Museum in Red Light District (do not mix with Sex Museum which is on Dam), so I decided to give it a try and visit it.

Museum has five floors, all devoted to erotic, but unfortunately it is not so exciting as it sounds. Most of it are simply pictures, paintings or small sculptures devoted to erotic or sex. They also claim to have the oldest vibrator in the world (which looked more like a meat grinder for me).

In one of the floors you can sit down on a muscaria and together with Snow White and Seven Dwarfs you can watch adult-only animation movies (e.g., about a wolf who wants sex).
In another one you can take a picture of yourself in a "sexy" costume or a picture next to a huge penis.

Apart from that, there is nothing else to do. Half an hour is more than enough for that and the entrance fee is not so low (normally - seven euro, I paid only 50% because of the Museum Weekend). So think twice (or three times) before going there.


Buying a boat

It has happened - this week we finally bought a boat!

We have been looking for a nice, not too big boat already for some months, but didn't manage to find anything what we would like and be able to afford. Initially we wanted to have a boat before Queen's Day, so we would be able to have a boat party then. Time was getting closer and closer, so we needed to act.

As the best way to buy pretty much anything is doing it on Marktplaats, Michael was checking a lot of advertisements for second hand boats with engine and reasonable price. After e-mail to a couple of boat owners, we went to see one of them.

We were lucky - the boat was nice and with engine, the price was affordable and the boat owners were nice. As the girl is pregnant, they are selling the boat to buy a bigger one for themselves - so not trying to get ride of it simply like that.

None of us had a boat before, so we don't really know how to use i
t - therefore a small "test" was needed, where the guy showed us how to use and navigate the boat. This weekend we are going to pick it up, clean it and wonder around Amsterdam canals a

It is too small for a party on Queen's Day as maximum 3-4 people can fit in the boat (depending how "big" they are), so this idea will not be realised. But at first we need to figure out if we can handle a boat and then - maybe - in the future we can buy a bigger one. :)

Interested to join us on a boat? We still have one free space there, so just let me know when you are around!


About Kalmane

Some days ago I got a message from an Indian guy on CouchSurfing who asked me if I know that my surname is a very typical surname in India.

Sure, I know that, have heard it before from Indians, who are always very surprised about it and once I even got an e-mail in Hindi...

But what I didn't know is the fact there is even a popular coffee chain! He also e-mail me a picture of it (found on Google):

Now I am curious, where else can I find Kalmane (apart from Hungary, where every town has Kalman street, thanks to Hungarian composer Imre Kálmán)?


Kāpēc? Bet kāpēc ne?

Šodien mana kora mēģinājuma beigās man bija "balss tests", lai dzirdētu, kā es dziedu dziesmas viena pati (tās paredzētas dziedāt šīs svētdienas baznīcas dievkalpojumā).

Pēc "testa", domājot un runājot par to, vai esmu gatava dziedāt gaidāmajā dievkalpojumā vai nē, es izteicu liktenīgo frāzi: "Man ir vienalga, dziedāt šondēļ vai nē - tas man nav galvenais."

Kā diriģente teica, tāda attieksme nav pareiza, jo korī ir jāgrib dziedāt tāpēc, lai dziedātu (šajā gadījumā) dievkalpojumā (vai koncertā), nevis vienkārši gribēt dziedāt mēģinājumos. Kāda gan jēga no cilvēkiem, kuri necenšas pēc labākās sirdsapziņas, lai tiktu apstiprināti dziedāt dievkalpojumos?

Devos mājup un domāju par situāciju... Man tiešām ir vienalga, dziedāt dievkalpojumā vai nē, bet tam ir divi iemesli:
1) Es apzinos, ka korī neesmu un nebūšu starp labākajām dziedātājām, jo dziedāt trīsbalsīgi man nav pierasts un nejūtos par sevi droši.
2) Baznīcu dziesmas ir skaistas, bet tās nav manas - man nav svarīgi kādam tās "izdziedāt". Jā, tas ir jauki un skaisti, bet tas nav mans mērķis.
Šobrīd man galvenais ir vienkārši dziedāt - jo man patīk dziedāt.

Ja es apzinātos, ka dziedu uz "urrā", tad arī otrais punkts nebūtu aktuāls, jo es gribētu savu "talantu" izdziedāt un parādīt: "Re, kā es varu!" Un, ja es dziedātu latviešu tautas dziesmas, tad pirmais punkts nebūtu aktuāls, jo es gribētu parādīt visiem "manas" dziesmas, pat ja tās nebūtu perfektā balsī.

Tagad man jādomā, ko darīt un kā turpināt...


My first (?) exhibition

As I told you some time ago, one of my photos was chosen for the photo exhibition about Amsterdam canals. On Friday there was the opening of the exhibition, so I hope that you are curious to hear how was it.

All 25 photos by 25 photographers (most of them - professionals) were exhibited in the exhibition hall of Het Grachtenhuis, where they are organising several events, so people have chance to see also the photographies. Entrance is for free, so drop by at any time!

The opening was quite informal, people were looking at the photos, drinking wine and chatting. Some official bla-bla speech and the announcement of the winner (really nice and artistic picture), who got 2 500 EUR. It was also possible to vote for the best photography as the "public vote", but I do not know when will they announce the result and how long can you vote.

Surprisingly, at one point there was a lady approaching me and asking if I am Anita. After confirming it, she said that my photo was the most original one and gave me her business card - she was from some art gallery. Ha, should I give her a call today? :)

Btw, all the photos on the exhibit are for sale - every artist was able to give his/her own prize, and the museum added the printing and sales costs. My picture costs 375 EUR if you are interested to buy it. :) Limited edition!

We also had a chance to see the official museum (which is in a building next to the hall), and that was amazing. I really suggest everybody to see it as it has a special way of presenting the story about Amsterdam canals. Keep in mind that you need to book it quite some time beforehands as the museum can accept only limited amount of people!