This week

Beach, beach, beach.

Swimming, swimming, swimming.

Holidays, holidays, holidays.

And also some other stuff, of course :)


Open-air theatre

On Thursday we were praying for the rain not to pour and driving to a small place between The Hague and Leiden for an open-air theatre play in English.

A few months ago I won the tickets (of course), so it was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy another cultural performance in the Netherlands!

This time it was The English Theatre, which was organising another English theatre company's tour around the country with Shakespeare's play "The Twelfth Night". It was unusual because of several reasons:

1) It was outdoors. We were sitting on chairs, wrapped with blankets, sipping our drinks and eating food we have brought with us - a real picnic!
2) There were only five actors, but around 10 characters - so each of them were performing two roles, some even more. Men were playing women, women were playing men etc.
3) I haven't read the book and haven't seen other performances, but this was definitely one of the biggest comedies I have ever seen! Couldn't stop laughing (even if I didn't understand some parts due to the specific English) and wondering how did Shakespeare write it in the original version.

If you have a chance - go and see the play either here or in the United Kingdom!
If not - make sure you attend any other open-air theatre, it is a completely different experience!


Ķīniešu valoda

Pirms vairākām nedēļām es apmeklēju kādu pasākumu, kas bija paredzēts šeit dzīvojošiem ārzemniekiem. Vairākas valodu skolas iepazīstināja ar savu piedāvājumu, tostarp bija arī īss ķīniešu (mandarīnu) valodas demonstrējums.

Ar hieroglifiem nemāku rakstīt, bet ķīniešu val. skolotāja šādi rakstīja ar latīņu burtiem:

Sveiki - nī hāo (izrunā kā nī hāo).

Nī = Tu
Hāo = labi

Es esmu - wo shi (izrunā kā vo ši).

Mani sauc - wo jiao (izrunā kā vo tjau).

Kā Tevi sauc? - nī jiao shenme? (izrunā kā nī tjau šemmē)

Paldies - izrunā kā sje sje.



Memories. Good film.


I want a bank card!

So... The story about my "integration" and settling down in the Netherlands continues.

After I got my Dutch bank card to pay in the shops and to withdraw money, I found out that with this card it is not possible to pay online. I never had such a card before in Latvia (although I do have a similar Belgian card), so it was new to me.

Whatever - I went to my bank and applied for a credit card (MasterCard). After waiting more than one hour in the queue and filling out the form, last weekend I got to know that... my request has been denied! And in the bank they even couldn't give me a reason why.

What? Denied? For what? I didn't do anything, why wouldn't you give me a simply card so I can shop online (flight tickets, Amazon etc.)

As one Dutchie wrote - "It is probably because you don't have any credit registry in the Netherlands as foreigner. Often they demand Dutch citizenship with a proper creditrecord (no debts!) or explicit proof of high income and/or capital as non Dutch citizen."

Well, let' s try plan B then - apply for visa card as suggested in the bank. The lady just told me to go online on visa.nl and said I could fill the form in English.

Turns out not to be true. At first, the form is only in Dutch. At second, there are so many different visa cards, that I didn't know which one to choose and what is the difference.

Nevertheless - I applied for one of them and let' s hope they will accept at least that! Otherwise my boyfriend will need to continue buying my stuff online...


Getting ready for Malta

It is late, so I will not write a lot, but...!

Today we rented online our car for our trip to Malta, which starts in one week. Yippi!

Plan - two days in Gozo, three days in the main island and then a wonderful Maltese/Polish wedding in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (Mdina).

I haven't been to any wedding for years and I really like them, so looking forward to that.

Apart from that - sun, beach, hopefully swimming, showing Michael around the beautiful island, eating a lot of good, fat food and desserts, memories and meeting long-time-not-met people.

In short: holidays, here we come!


Article about Malta

This time my article was published in an online magazine "Dispataches International". The same as other magazines I am writing for, also this is an international youth magazine.

Article is about the new Maltese legislation, which nows allows people to divorce. Believe or not, before it was not possible.

"Over the last few weeks, the Maltese islands have received a much larger amount of media coverage than before. It is not only because of the increasing amount of African refugees who arrive in Malta each day by boat, but because on May 28th 2011, 52% of Maltese voiced their desire to legalize divorce," that is how my article starts.

Full article you can read here.


Open-air cinema

You know what is one of the things I love the most about Amsterdam?

The huge amount of cultural events, possibilities and things to do. I can't get enough of it!

Especially I love those free open-air cinema evenings, when it is dark outside, loads of people sitting together, having fun and watching great films on a big screen. Random people pass by, stop and stay even without planning to do so.

Why didn't we have such things back home?

One of the first open-air films I saw two years ago in the festival "Pluk de Nacht" - when I was living in Amsterdam for the first time.

This summer I was sure I want to enjoy the festival again as last year I missed it. So two weeks ago we want to see a nice French film "Les Emotifs Anonymes". We arrived two hours before to make sure we had a good spot and had a great time with champagne bottle from home and pancakes bought on the spot.

Yesterday we went to another festival with another open-air film - this time it was World Cinema Amsterdam and Israeli/Mexican film "Salsa Tel Aviv". So amazing, laughing all the time! Even a bit of rain didn't spoil it.

Now just need to find another film - I am sure there are some more in the upcoming weeks, e.g., in Het Ketelhuis etc.



I hope that after this post the group suddenly won't have a lot of freeloaders... :)

Just wanted to share with you a nice idea which I found a few weeks ago and have used a few times so far. Here in Amsterdam (and other cities around the world) we have a group, called "Amsterdam Freecycle".

The idea is simply - you have something to give away or you need something? Subscribe and give or take things for free! TVs, sofas, books, clothes, cables, furniture and anything else you can imagine - especially useful if people move and do not want to throw away previous furniture which do not fit in the new apartment.

So far Michael and me have got a scanner and beautiful champagne glasses. We have also contributed and given away one of our bikes, a plant and an extra iPhone cable.

So - join if you can contribute or you can't afford buying some new things you might need! And make a similar group in your city if it does not exist yet!



Tikko izlasīju Calis.lv forumā (ko šad tad laika pakavēšanai lasu) par kādas ģimenes jauko pieredzi, uz gadu AFS apmaiņas programmā uzņemot meiteni no Jamaikas.

Par šīm programmām pēdējo gadu laikā esmu dzirdējusi diezgan daudz un vienmēr nožēlojusi, ka nebija informācijas par tām tad, kad es mācījos skolā. Aizbraukt pašai apmaiņā man nebūtu bijis līdzekļu un gan jau arī tobrīd vēl interese, bet es domāju, ka tajā laikā gan es būtu gribējusi uzņemt kādu viesskolēnu. Piemēram, cik gan forši būtu bijis iegūt brāli uz gadu! :)

Nezinu, kāda citiem latviešiem ir bijusi pieredze, bet zinu vienu beļģu meiteni, kas gadu pavadīja AFS programmā Latvijā un lieliski iemācījās runāt latviski. Tas vien ir kā vēŗts! :)


Very cultural life

There are so many things going on in Amsterdam and our busy lives, that it is impossible to mention and blog about all of them. Pity, because it would be worth to!

But let me just mention the main cultural things I have been doing from last Sunday till this Sunday, so you would get an idea what I am speaking about.

(last) Sunday: free open-air cinema in "Pluk de Nacht" festival
Thursday: a small film night at home
Friday: an insight into "Leidseplein live" festival and the opening concert of Grachtenfestival (absolutely amazing)
Saturday: stand-up comedy in Comedy Theater with four comedians from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia
Sunday: attraction park and water park "Duinrell"

Besides that - hosting two American CouchSurfers for three nights and two Brazilian CSers for other three nights!


Concert in our living room

One day on CouchSurfing a saw a post - an American guy was writing that he is offering to play free concerts in random living rooms. Who is interested to do that in Amsterdam?

Me, me, me!

So I e-mailed him and we established a date for something unusual - a concert in our own living room! Never had any and never attended any, so it was something interesting to try both for me and Michael.

The concert happened last Tuesday, and it was simply amazing. Wes Swing and Sophie, travelling musicians from the USA, were singing, playing a cello and a guitar as well as selling their CDs. As stated above, the concert was for free, but they were accepting donations.

The concert had also a surprise - a couple of songs, played by another American musician who is living in the Netherlands and whose friend got in touch with Wes asking if it's possible for the other girl to play. Sure, it is! We also bought her CD :)

In the beginning I was scared if our living room is too small, if we will have enough people, if people will like the music and buy CDs etc. But in the end it turned out great! Invited friends also took a couple of friends with them, so we ended ~20-30 people, which was perfect amount. As everybody was bringing some food and drinks, we did not have shortcut of those and we still need to drink the last bottles left after the party!

So if you ever have an opportunity to host such an event in your living room - do not hesitate to do it!

Latest tracks by Wes Swing


Die Welle

I am quite picky about good films, but yesterday I saw a film which is definitely worth mentioning - German film "Die Welle" ("The Wave") from 2008.

First - watch the film.
Second - read the background about the film.
Third - tell me where can I borrow the book! After seeing the film I want to read the book on which the film is based!


Balkan mission

I have never been in Balkans myself (although - it depends if Bulgaria and Greece are in Balkans), but I decided to post a link of Facebook group "Project: where does our Yugo end?"

Four crazy Dutch guys went to Bulgaria last week to buy a typical Balkan car there. After buying a zastava for pretty good price, they are now travelling around Balkans and exploring these amazing countries in their "new" car.

Check the pictures and follow their stories online!



Not a long time ago a friend of mine said she is now working for goviral network and asked me to join and post some of their videos on my blog. Apparently I can also get some money for that!

I am not sure how is it working, but posting the first video to see how it goes.


Me and drugs

In this Magazine Libertas edition I wrote two articles - both of them about drugs.

1) "I do not smoke tobacco or weed. I have never even been inside a coffeeshop and I am determined to keep it like this. Yet I live in Amsterdam, “the capital of cofeeshops”, and I am writing an article about coffeeshops."

2) "I am convinced that internet and online media are the biggest addiction nowadays. Facebook, Twitter, online newspapers, e-mails, Skype, YouTube and more, and more, and more. Once you turn on your laptop / computer, you can't switch it off. It just seems wrong. There is always something more to read, to watch, to check. Sounds familiar?"

Read both articles (and all the magazine) in full here.



Some years ago in Latvia Hansabanka (yes, a bank, which is now called Swedbank) had a very nice idea - if you were waiting in the queue for longer than 20 minutes, you received a free voucher for a cup of coffee/tea/hot drink in a coffee shop (not the Dutch coffeeshop). I remember sometimes waiting in the queue and thinking that I could wait 20min - just to receive a free voucher :)

Today when I was waiting in ABN, I thought about passing this idea to the banks here in the Netherlands. It was not very crowded branch and after hearing the reason why did I come to the bank (not for suggesting the voucher idea) the lady said that I can sit down and wait, adding that there are three people before me.

It took exactly one hour before I got what I wanted! After 50min of waiting the lady said that there are three people working with customers and that I am the next in the queue. So did everybody really need 1 hour for discussing their issue with the bank or did they all (by accident) wanted something very complicated like a loan?! For me it took 10 minutes...



Nedēļas nogalē es pirmo reizi dzīvē izdarīju vēl kaut ko, ne tikai to, kas ir minēts iepriekšejā rakstā. Pirmo reizi dzīvē es arīdzan... vēžoju!

Seši cilvēki - seši noķerti vēzīši. Kā to dara?

1. "Iegādājas" māsu, kas visu izplāno, lai pārējiem nav nekas jādara. :)
2. Atrod ezeru, kurā mīt vēži, un sarunā tur aizbraukt.
3. Atrod divus stiprus puišus, kuri airēs un uz kuru vārda būs vēžošanas atļaujas (Lādes ezerā - 2 Ls no deguna).
4. Sarunā ar superīgo saimnieku, ka var lietot viņa murdus un no viņa var nopirkt arī vēžu ēsmu. Parasti ēsmā esot vardes (tikko nobeigtas), bet mēs vēžojām ar vistu kakliņiem.
5. Paņem murdus un brauc ar sešiem cilvēkiem (no kuriem viens vēžoja bērnībā un otrs pāris reizes kaut kad, bet pārējie nekad) divās laivās.
6. Izmet un iztin murdiņus zigzagā kaut kur ezerā. Gaida aptuveni 20min un tad ceļ vienu pēc otra ārā.
7. Sūrstojas, ka lielākajā daļā murdu nekā nav, un met atkal.
8. Priecājas, kad ir, un spēlējas ar vēžiem.
9. Brauc krastā, runā par viena vēža likšanu akvārijā un pārējo piecu vārīšanu.
10. Plāno nākamo vēžošanu uz ilgāku laiku un nopietnāku sagatavošanos. :)