Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

summer vibes

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

I’ve been back home for over a month now, and it feels like my trips to South America and Florida were ages ago. It wasn’t that hard to get used to being back; I started working a couple of days after I got home from Florida, and before I knew it, I was back in the daily routine.

Fortunately, on the 15th I got myself another small break; I attended the 4-day Dour festival in the south of Belgium. It’s quite a big festival, with mostly underground music; anything from hardcore to ska to indie to electronic music. I went with Otto, Josse and… Tim! Who had surprised everyone by coming back a month earlier than he’d told us.

Sitting by our tents singing songs

“at a Frans Bauer show”

Fun festival! I hadn’t really thought about the fact that it was in French-speaking part of Belgium though. So every now and then I had to dig back into my highschool-acquired knowledge of French.. quite some time ago, but along the way it started coming back a bit. Sometimes however, when I wanted to say something in French, all that came out was Spanish.. haha. I saw some great bands like Isis and The Red Chord, though on the second day I didn’t see much because of a hospital adventure (this time it wasn’t me). And on Saturday, day 3, I already went back home, because I didn’t want to miss the Big Rivers festival in Dordrecht AND two Couchsurfing friends from Spain who would be there. They also stayed with me two years ago during Big Rivers, and liked it so much they wanted to come back.

Desorden Publico playing at the “big church” stage

with my CS friends from Spain

crowd at Scheffersplein

overview of Statenplein, while The Animals were playing

It turned out to be a good decision; it was fun to see my friends again, and the festival was just amazing. It’s become possibly my favorite festival over the years.. there is something about being able to see some great bands (anything from ska to blues to rock) on many different stages all throughout the old town of your city, accompanied by so many familiar faces. The festival was a bit smaller than last year, due the economical crisis, but still they managed to deliver a great line-up. Some of my favorites were Boo Boo Davis, The Upsessions, The Blackbirds (Beatles coverband from Hungary), The Toasters and Shiner Twins.

Besides that I’m trying to make something out of the summer, despite that I have to work. Ah, how I miss going to school and having a 8-week summer break.. haha. But it has worked pretty well so far. Of course there are the weekly concerts in the Wantijpark, always a fun place to hang out. Had a couple of barbecues with friends, visited some relatives, played a lot of music and biked to Rotterdam, where I visited some secondhand record stores and then took the Waterbus back.
I also had another Couchsurfer (from Austria/Italy) over earlier this week, and on Tuesday we set up our very own CS meeting, with about 15 people from Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Italy. It took place in one of the Irish pubs in Rotterdam. Great place, and they had this singer performing there, just with his acoustic guitar, playing Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Kinks.. all in his own kind of Irish folk style. He was amazing. What a night.

While browsing around in the Plaatboef in Rotterdam, I found this little vinyl gem:

The other night I was listening to it on my headphones and noticed how fine the production was. The compositions may not be as good as Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (though close), but it has an amazing sound I haven’t heard before on a jazz record. It’s just perfect.

the new year

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

So, 2009 is here. Actually it has been for over 3 weeks now.. I’ve been busy and this post has been pending for some time, but now I finally got around to finishing it.
I kicked it the year off in Rome, which was great. Very interesting city, incredible how much ‘history’ can be packed into one place. I’ll try to write more about it later. Pictures are here:

For me this is going to be one heck of a year, I’m sure. The quiet days of last fall are over, I have to watch out to not get too busy again.
I’m still taking Spanish lessons, and I’ve started a bible course at church (Binnen 2 jaar de Bijbel klaar), where we will read the entire bible in two years, and discuss it about every two weeks. Also I will probably join the ‘Zorg voor de Wereld’ (care for the world) committee at church. The purpose of the committee is to think about how we as a church can mean anything (practical) to our neighborhood and to the rest of the world. And to set up some concrete plans. I’m not really sure if I can do it, but I might as well try.
Musically, besides playing at church and with Double Sound, I’m getting together with some friends every now and then to jam a bit. Just seeing if anything good will come out of it..

Mostly though, it will be ‘one heck of a year’ when it comes to traveling. Of course first my trip to Peru and Ecuador (only 2.5 months to go!). But after that there won’t be much time to catch up, because a couple of days later I’ll be off the Orlando, Florida, with my dad. We’ll be attending my church’s General Assembly there. My dad is a delegate, and I will be just checking the whole thing out a bit, and hopefully meet a lot of fellow Nazarenes from other countries. I’ll see what happens, shouldn’t be too hard to kill some time in Orlando!
Once back in the Netherlands, I’ll be looking forward to the Big Rivers festival and perhaps North Sea Jazz again, if they have a good line-up (thought I don’t doubt they will).
At the end of August I might go to Brazil.. I know, would be insane! But some people from church are organizing a mission trip there. I have to think and pray about it, but it sounds incredible.
If I don’t go to Brazil I might go WWOOF-ing for a couple of weeks in Europe during the fall. Or, if I really enjoyed being away from home while in South America, and still have a decent amount of money left, I might take a long trip (half a year or longer) and ‘WWOOF’ my way around the world. But for now I’ll just consider that a crazy dream.

Ah, the excitement!

Meanwhile I’m going to think about a new job. By the summer, I have been working at AGF for about 3 years. The initial idea that I would only work there temporarily, but it turns out there is so much to do that I got offered a permanent contract last summer. I have great co-workers, the work is ok and I have a lot of freedom. Downside is that I could probably get a better salary and that it would be nice to try out something new. Maybe even something completely now, not even IT-related. Perhaps my trips will give me some new insights, we’ll see..


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Two things that have once again amazed me:
– how time keeps flying
– how great it is to be ‘out’ (of town / the country) for a couple of days

Rewind to about a week and a half ago. On Friday I ended up pretty stressed out. Maybe it was just a busy day and the idea things would be busy for the next couple of days. A trip to Paris, work, a Sigur Rós concert. And the first class of a Spanish course I was about to start, for which I still had quite a lot of prepare (or so I thought).
Frankly I didn’t feel like going to Paris at all, I thought I’d rather just stay home and relax. But then I figured, no, this is exactly what I need. Nothing like a trip to another country to get away from everything.


Pukkelpop: after

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Pukkelpop was awesome. First of all the weather was as good as it gets, especially since the forecasts had been pretty shabby. We had a perfect temperature, it was sunny most of the time, and we didn’t get any rain at all.

Festival wise I guess it was pretty similar to Lowlands, but I liked it a bit better. There were more stages and they were smaller. All in tents, except for the mainstage. Sometimes this meant that the tents were absolutely packed, but if you got to a show early, you could always get up front easily.
The atmosphere was good, it seemed the people were in general less annoying and more polite. Also, very few times I had to wait in line for food, drinks, a toilet (Dixi’s, but they were generally pretty clean) or whatever.

Then of course the bands.. saw a lot of great shows. The best:
I was blown away by Sigur Rós. During the past week they have become one of my favorite bands. I started listening to their album Takk… about a week ago and I thought it was really great. At Pukkelpop they showed their film Heimat, which I’d heard great things about. I saw part of it and loved it (once I got home I immediately ordered the DVD). So by now I’d gotten pretty excited for their gig. They didn’t let me down, it was beautiful. Highlights were Gobbledigook (imagine an atmospheric post-rock show and then all of a sudden you get this) and Untitled 8 a.k.a. Popplagið (with the most intense and epic climactic buildup I’ve ever heard/seen).
Henry Rollins did a spoken word show and had some really positive, interesting and funny things to say as always. Incredibly inspiring. One funny thing was the story of his guide in a country in South East Asia. He wasn’t very good at English, which resulted in lines like: “WHAT’S YOUR LIFE?!” (instead of “How are you?”) and “Let’s put the biological against the tree” (let’s go pee).
The Ocean, a post/metalcore band from Germany, blew me away as well. They were really tight, hard and even though I’d only heard one of their songs in advance, it never got boring.
Metallica was of course the big headliner. They played well and it was obviously a ‘big’ show with fireworks and everything. I guess it just kinda cool to be able to say you’ve been to a Metallica show.
Menomena, a band from Oregon I’d never heard of. The three band members all sang and played different instruments. I guess it was post-rock, with very unconventional song structures. Quite impressive.
Other great shows were by MxPx, Kaizers Orchestra, Thrice, Iron & Wine, A Wilhelm Scream and As I Lay Dying. Also discovered some other cool new artists: Motek and Alela Diane.
In general I thought it was a great line-up, although I would have liked to see a bit more jazz, funk, soul, acoustic stuff or world music and less “British indie-rock”. But I guess that’s just the nature of the festival.

So now I’m back home, checking out a lot of new music, I’m really excited about it again. I’m glad that I went; I didn’t feel like it at all when I got back from Ukraine, but it was definitely worth it.


Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

And tomorrow I’m leaving again, for the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium. Lots of good bands playing. Hope the weather will be good.

Eurasia NYC 2008 – Kiev, Ukraine

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

So, about my trip to Ukraine. It wasn’t as much a trip to Ukraine as a country as to the Eurasia Nazarene Youth Conference 2008. That’s a mouthful; basically it was a conference for young people from my church from all Europe and the larger part of Asia.
It took place from August 2 – 7 in Vorzel, Ukraine, near Kiev. There were about 270 participants, originating from India to Ireland to Russia to Israel. Also a couple of people from the USA, mostly missionaries and youth/church leaders.

On Saturday the 2nd I got up at 4.30 am. Ouch, that hurt. Especially since I’d gone to bed around 12 am. Met up with some people on the train to Schiphol Airport, where we met up with the others. We were flying out with 7 people from the Netherlands, in Ukraine there would be 3 more. I’d met them all before, but didn’t know most of them too well, but we would all got along great.
Our flight had a one and a half hour delay, but besides that it was fine. The requested a vegetarian meal was provided. Funny thing, I was sitting next to a Azerbaijani lady who started talking to me. Turned out she lived in Dordrecht as well, only a couple of blocks away from me!
Once in Kiev, the airport reminded me a lot of the Budapest Keleti train station, it had a similar Eastern European vibe. A couple people from NYC were waiting for us there, we had to wait for some others and then we got on a small bus who took us to the conference center. The airport parking space was filled with new, expensive cars, which kind of surprised me. But as soon as we got on the road, it became obvious this wasn’t “the West”; it was bumpy as heck. About an hour and a half later we got to the conference center, which was actually a sort of holiday resort. Not exactly a holiday resort as we imagine it, but for a conference like this it was great. There were rooms with 2, 3 or 4 beds and private bathrooms/showers. There were quite a bunch of Ukrainians celebrating their holidays there as well.

We got the schedule for the next couple of days and it looked like this:
A regular day started with breakfast at 7.45 (for the diehards, most people would show up later or not at all). At 9 there was a short service, after which we’d gather with our “family groups”. These were small groups consisting of people from different countries, in which we shared our thoughts on the sermons, seminars, or whatever else had occurred to us.
At about 11 it was time for seminars. Sometimes there would be just one for everyone, sometimes there were about 6 and you could sign up for them. Lunchtime was at 1, and then some free time, with usually some sports going on. At 4 another round of seminars, and then dinner at 6.30. Finally at 8 another service.

Frankly, the first evening/morning of the conference weren’t very good at all. The food was really basic (I don’t think there’s a word for ‘vegetarian’ in Russian, so for me it was even more basic), the first service was awful, didn’t learn much from the first couple of sermons, the schedule was pretty packed, it seemed hard to meet people from other countries and I was really tired (starting of with 4.5 hours of sleep had been a ferociously bad idea).
All of this left some of us with a rather cynical attitude about the whole thing.

But things were about to get better. We got some more free time, so we could just hang out and meet people. We got a bit used to the food, sometimes it was actually pretty good, and there was always enough. Also there were a couple of seminars that really appealed to me.
And so after a while I really got that ’summer camp feeling’, enjoying the presence of so many beautiful people around me. I had a lot of fun together and also some valuable conversations. I’d brought my guitar and sometimes I would sit outside and play, and people would come up to me. One time this Irish guy asked if I could learn him some Simon & Garfunkel tunes, and then we played and sang them together, with some other people joining in as well. Golden moments!

Most of the time we stayed at the resort, but on Monday we left to check out Kiev. It took about an hour by bus (our bus’ air conditioning was broken.. it was HOT) to get there. We didn’t leave very early and had to be back before dinner, so that only left a couple of hours to check out the city. It would have been nice to just have a full day, on the other hand we did get to see some of the best sites: a couple of magnificent churches and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. On the way back it was even hotter in the bus, so when we got back a lot of people went to the lake for a swim. Sure was refreshing.

We played quite a lot of sports, mostly football (soccer), and also some volleyball and table tennis. Always great fun.

On the last day I got diarrhea, and I felt really sick. Man, I hadn’t had it in 15 years or something. I felt like I was pissing out of my ass, it was almost funny. Fortunately it also killed my appetite, so I just stopped eating, and once I was home I was better, pretty much. Took a while before I was able to eat normally.. at least I lost a couple of pounds.

All in all it was a very valuable and enjoyable conference and now that I’m home I definitely miss being there. The atmosphere was great, and I’ve definitely learned some new things ‘faith-wise’, which I hope I’ll be able to apply in daily life.

The rest of the pictures can be found here:

And here are two short movieclips I made:

And a more ‘professional’ short movie that was made during the event, with people explaining what the Kingdom of God means to them, and just some random shots; you can see me a couple of times.

These types of events always make me realize how much I love my church. It’s so great to be able to meet people from different countries through it.
Next summer there’s the General Assembly of our church, in Orlando, Florida. It’s an international meeting which takes place every four years. My dad will be going there as a representative for our church district, for the 4th time. At the conference I was talking about it with someone and he said I’d probably really enjoy it. And then when I got home my dad asked me if I’d be interested.. so I thought about it for a while and I’ve decided to go. Should be great to check it out and hopefully meet a lot of fellow Nazarenes again. And I figure Orlando is not a bad place to hang out.

back from ukraine

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Back from Ukraine, with diarrhea. But other than that it was a wonderful time.
A report with pictures will hopefully follow soon.

en l’Ardennes avec mon collègues

Monday, June 9th, 2008

It was nice to be ‘outdoors’ again.

Last weekend I went on an outdoor activity weekend in the Ardennes with my co-workers. The Ardennes is a “region of extensive forests and rolling hill country”, stretching over various countries. We went to the Belgian part, around a town called La Roche En Ardennes, close to the border of Luxembourg. It was organized by Gebru Activities, a group of volunteers that organizes these kind of activities several times a year.

We were there from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. The accommodation was rather ‘basic’, it very much reminded me of the places I stayed in during the church summer camps when I was teenager. Big rooms with bunk beds, you get the idea. It wasn’t very clean either. My standards for accommodation aren’t exactly high, so I didn’t care, but most of the rest probably did, as it was the subject of many conversations.
It was situated rather nicely, right next to the woods, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.



On Friday night, and after a short introduction by the Gebru team and a short walk, we had a barbecue. After that there was a game planned in the forest, but it was raining, so we played an indoor game instead. Then we just hung out a bit.
For the night, we were all sleeping in the same room. Well, most of us anyway, some had decided they’d rather sleep in their cars. One guy snored, but what bothered me was how some people kept yelling at him to shut up. Others just resorted to other rooms (there lots of different bedrooms). Either way, I just couldn’t really get to sleep for some reason, so I only got a couple of hours.

The next day the weather was better, fortunately. So we went out on a 3 hour hike. It was beautiful! I didn’t know the Ardennes at all, really, so I was pleasantly surprised. And although I was just walking on sneakers and hardly ever walk long distances, it went pretty smoothly.



Next up was canoeing over the river Ourthe. I’ve done some canoeing in the past, but never in a river with some decent current. That made it quite enjoyable. Only downside was that it was pretty cold, especially as we got wet (thanks to our dear co-workers) and later soaked (thanks to a tiny waterfall). Afterward we had to change our wet clothes in a parking lot.. haha..


The co-worker who I was driving had to leave early, so while the others started cooking their self-made meal on a self-made fire, we said goodbye and drove back home.

Almost all my colleagues were there, it’s a really cool group of people and the atmosphere was great. And that in a beautiful environment. Definitely a fun weekend!

summer plans

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Time for summer plans.

I just signed up for the Eurasia NYC 2008 in Kiev, Ukraine. NYC stands for Nazarene Youth Conference, so it’s a gathering of people between 15 and 29 from our churches in Europe and Asia. About a year ago I went to the NYC for North-West Europe in Scotland and that was great. For some reason I wasn’t so sure about going this time. But the reasons I could think of for not going didn’t seem very valid, so I’m just ignoring them. Should be pretty interesting for sure, not in the last place because it’s another new country for me, and it’s a former USSR one. Gotta wait until the 2nd of August though.

Besides that, I’ll probably be attending Pukkelpop, a big alternative music fest, kind of the Belgian version of Lowlands, which will take place from 14 – 16 August. I was thinking about going to Dour, since I missed out on that last year. But this year’s line-up is not too great, while Pukkelpop’s is. Another plus is that now I won’t have to miss out on the Big Rivers festival in my own town, where the Mad Caddies will be playing! Right on.

Pride Runs Deep tour

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

So from 19 through 27 April I went on tour with my band Pride Runs Deep. First time I ever did such a thing. To actually be able to do a tour was like a dream come true. Just being out there, on the road, and playing shows..
When I got home it felt really weird, like I’d been living in another world for a week, I guess it kind of felt like waking up from a dream. But I sure hope I’ll get to do this many more times.

To get an idea of where we went, here’s a map with the route (click to zoom):

So we had two shows in Germany, one in Croatia, one in Austria and three in Poland. This meant a LOT of driving. Most days were consisted of the following routine: sleeping – driving – waiting at the club – playing – sleeping. It was pretty exhausting, especially the two times we drove during the night. Still it was ok most of the time.

It was also great to check out two new countries: Croatia and Poland. In Croatia we were staying in an apartment in Zagreb, and there we had a day off so we got to check out the city a bit. Cool place. We saw quite a bit of Poland, although mostly roads and the areas around the clubs.

We all got along well, fortunately, and we met some cool people along the way. There was a lot of laughter, but still there were times I wished I could have done this with some of my close friends. For that matter, my views on the band haven’t changed, I’m still not sure if I should stick around.

Pictures at my Picasa
Videos on YouTube: compilation I and compilation II
Written at MySpace: tour report