After several years of frequent traveling I can only conclude that my travel stress has not disappeared; on the contrary, I think it has increased. It is a transition-related anxiety that bubbles up despite my love of change. It mainly consists of fretting over the things to do before taking off.

Rounding up, packing, tidying up. I hate to leave a mess behind. Once everything is in order and I have closed the door behind me, my mind automatically switches to travel mode and I can genuinely enjoy the process. This weekend was special and much anticipated, as I was to reunite with a very close friend after almost three years…

Floweringtree LakeCasadelCampo

We talked and talked. We strolled around the streets of Malasana and Lavapies. We had coffee in the sun. We made onigiris and talked some more.

omigiri2 bananacake5

We ate patatas bravas, went to a barbecue and looked for dates in at least ten grocery stores. We finally found some and used them when baking a birthday cake. We walked by the Manzanares river and in the Casa del Campo. We watched a movie and had late afternoon siestas…
Market Bonboneria Pasteleria

Neighbours

Travel stress may be here to stay, but it is compensated manifold.

This past weekend I topped up my well-being credits.

Saturday started with an orthodontist appointment and a morning tea with a friend; it continued with a cooking class, a long afternoon coffee with a friend, a dinner with another friend and later on a party. Sunday was kicked off with morning lounging short but sweet followed by yoga, garnished with new acquaintances and rounded up with late Indian dinner with friends; by the time the paneer and red bean stew were on the table, relaxation was hovering in the air and time did not matter anymore.

The positive vibrations spilled over into the new week. On Monday I kept the momentum by visiting a close friend to celebrate her birthday; I must have been quite tired by the time I was dropped off in front of my apartment because I managed to mysteriously loose my purse somewhere in between the car and the front door.

I was not defeated however; On Wednesday evening after work, I gave my feet some tender love and care and then walked with light steps to meet up with nice colleagues for Korean dinner. Tonight I am cooking for my guests – two couples and a dog. The dog will most probably not care to try my culinary skills and will hopefully make itself comfortable somewhere on my living room floor. I will for myself make sure to lay back and enjoy the process with the minimum amount of stress. Rather than aiming at being the perfect hostess, I will aim at having fun. Life is too short not to take the necessary shortcuts…

Into the tramway came a little singing girl on a stroller pushed by her mother who got a seat next to me.

Twinkle, twinkle little star echoed in the wagon full of sullen people on their way home from work.

The little girl, Mariam, looked up on an ad posted above her head; I can see a hand mom, she said, a thumbs up!

Her mother laughed. Isn’t it strange she asked, a hand hovering just like that in the air, does it exist? Mariam giggled.

We had to get off the tram and change to a bus. Again we stood next to each other, I and the mother, a young woman with a black braid tucked under a dark red cap.

She’s in a good mood, I commented. Oh yes, the mother answered, children are just amazing. We need that kind of energy I said, and the hope…With all the wars going on around us, replied the mother, we definitively do! We are lucky to live here and to be able to offer everything we can to our children, she added.

We got off at the same stop. We greeted each other and walked off to different directions.

People can be cruel and corrupt. But sometimes life beams at you with an unspoilt smile, like that of a little singing girl.

There is no space in this world for the tug of blown up egos; the world belongs to Mariam and it’s time she got it back.

I bought orange-yellow tulips in Amsterdam this weekend in the memory of a very dear person who left this world a year ago.

Tulips

Petals in the  colours of the last bouquet of flowers. A new tradition and a symbol of precocious spring.

 

 

Thanks to a friend, last weekend became a getaway to the nearby and vibrant Antwerp. I had visited this city on several occasions in the past, but without developing any particular affection for it. This time was different:  a mini exploratory  city-trip  with the mission of trying out suggested addresses and accidental discoveries. Results documented…

@The Coco-Mat Residence on De Keyserlei 11. A Coco-Mat store at the ground floor. An apartment hotel with eco-friendly furnishing in the same building. Two bedrooms equipped with sturdy Coco-Mat mattresses. Comfortable, spacious and just two minutes away from the Central Station on foot.

CocomatResidence

@ La Tartine on Minderbroedersrui 60 for late lunch; if you fancy bread, this is definitively an alright place with nice atmosphere; the soup of the day was not a bad choice either.

tartine

 

antwerp

schelde

The Schelde for semi-industrial views and romance in the air. The small streets of the historical centre for architectural eye-candy and calm charm.

backstreet

@ The beautiful Bourla Theater at the Komedieplaats for coffee, lounging and ceiling spotting.

komedieplein

@ Vitrin Cafe on the hot Marnixplatz in Het Zuid for an aperitif. Definitively not the only option though: once on the square you have a 360 degree angle of choice.

cafe vitrine

@Caramba on  Kaasrui 8 for Mexican food. Not overly impressed by the Tex-Mex as such, but definitively enjoyed the appealing interior, despite our drafty window seat. Caramba

Another big advantage was the cocktail bar Dogma on Wijngaardstraat 5, practically just across the street, despite the name-change. I had a great time not drinking but watching the barmen, in 30’s style clothing, making elegant cocktail after elegant cocktail. Meditative.

img_6925

@La Popote for late breakfast: heartfelt food, French chansons and a joyful mélange of vintage paraphernalia. We must have spent at least a couple of hours in this small bistrot  tucked away behind the Central Station on the Kievitplein and Van Immerseelstraat 7.

La Popote

 

 

 

I must admit that I have been at a lost for words lately; the manifestations of human stupidity do not cease to disappoint me.

Yet, I firmly believe that when you get together with the right people, miracles can happen. And there are a lot of really good people out there that never make it to the news. I am lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of them. The Spanish put it quite well: mejor solo que mal acompanado, being on your own is preferable to bad company.

Saturday evening I was in a constellation of friends; the first get-together of the new year was definitively time well spent. We talked and talked and munched and munched. We had glass after glass of tea, until it was past midnight and we had cookie crumbs in our eyes.

img_6806

img_6829

Sunday was alone time, a day of recuperation and preparation for the week ahead. I ate leftovers for breakfast; put away washed dishes; read; worked on the sofa with hot tea on the table and dates at an arm’s length; took pictures of cute soap bars.img_6827

Nothing is more spectacular and exciting than everyday life.

Imagine.

You have spent months in silent contemplation in a warm and dark place. Suddenly an undefined force expels you out to somewhere you did not know existed.

You are blinded by the brightness around you. Slowly you start making out shadows. Some shadows stay still. Others move around. Some come very close to you.

These huge shadows have strange powers. They hold you, turn you around,  lift you and carry you as if you were light as a feather.  The first time a shadow engulfs you in their embrace, butterflies flutter wildly in your  stomach.

The huge shadows make sounds, not like the soft sounds you are used to, but new, loud ones. The shadows seem to be addressing these sounds to you, but alas, as much as you’d like to, you cannot understand a thing.

You feel endlessly tired and hungry – sleep and comfort food is all your little heart desires.

Every time you open your mouth to say that you are sleepy, hungry or tired of lying in the same position, out comes an acute complaining cry that makes you grasp for your breath. Sometimes the cry gets out of control and escalates into wailing. You want to stop it, but it lives a life of its own.

littlefeet

The huge, moving shadows are very attentive to you when your mouth makes noise. They get agitated and immediately try to accommodate you.

Often they resort in feeding you; food is always the same, but it tastes delicious. There is a special shadow responsible for food. A kind, soft, nicely smelling shadow.

Days and nights are a blur. Everything is so different, but slowly things start to make sense. You forget that warm and dark place that once was your universe. Out of nothing, a new and strange world is taking shape.

Imagine. Only a few breaths  make up your past. You are pristine and unspoiled like merchandise that has just come out of its wrapping. Untagged and Unlabeled.

A sweet child of mankind.

Chick on a Pea

a vegetarian, gluten & sugarfree culinary lab by a chick who loves her peas!

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers