Friday, November 17, 2017

Top Unique Things About Dutch People and Netherlands

Breathing and talking at the same time
One fun fact I found in Dutch people is the ability of saying some short words while breathing in! That still makes me laugh when I hear it. The older people can do it better so I guess this ability requires experience. Of course I am not referring to long sentences but a "yeah" or "no" and sometimes repeating it twice. This is so usual then when I was sharing this with my girlfriend and friends they realize it and start laughing. I always say that the reason is because Dutch people hate to loose time and waisting energy, so they try to speak as little and as efficient as possible.

Dutch architecture
One of my favourites in the Netherlands is the houses. They do not build so many high apartments and the houses have an order and respect their traditions. Every time I feel I am in a fairy world, with cosy houses. In Groningen it is hard to find a house, so most of them are divided so that they can be rent to as much people as possible (it happens because it is also a student's city). Big window is the uau factor. I was so surprised to be able to watch people inside watching tv. Everything inside is exposed and this makes it so beautiful and the sense of security is very big, even when walking on the streets.

Dutch lunch
When I started my job in the Netherlands my biggest concern was the food. My eight hours of work per day included one extra hour in the middle of the day to have the so called lunch. The problem was that when I was checking my workplace I never saw any small cafe or restaurant around. So I had to go shop with my girlfriend on the day before my work start to buy a tupperware with a spoon, a fork and a knife. Then I had to figure out what could I take. The sandwich is the most common. The bread with ham and cheese and a cup-a-soup next to it.

So many bikes
Such a flat country gives one of the biggest advantage. Transport is easy as bikes are everywhere and I am still to find one Dutch person that doesn't own one. Actually I read that there are 2,5 bikes per person. And yes you can see it. Everywhere! It is amazing to have bike lanes and to have the possibility of go to the market, or to the post office, or to visit friends or to drink a bit more. It may seem very hard in the beginning to ride one (with so many rules), but at the end it becomes the favourite thing you can do. Bikes are mostly destroyed as you can buy them for around 50 euros second hand. And they will be stolen, so there is no purpose in spending so much money. By night you cannot forget your lights!

It's always cold
There is something called Summer here but it rains and it's not hot. Maybe the hottest season here is the end of the Spring. Being lucky is having sun and warm temperatures for around 4 weeks per year. It becomes quite frustrating as everybody is anxious for the cold temperatures to go up and then you go to a beach and it starts raining. So many times we just gave up and remained on the towels with some rain drops on the body. Winter is very cold. These are temperatures that can make your ears fall in the ground. At least it feels like that. But the bike is still there and you can see many people with a special suit for the rain. You arrive to work and just take it out and you are as good as new.

Habits and traditions
Contrary to my believes before living in the Netherlands, Dutch are very conservative people. They are very attached to their traditions and this means there are different rules in different situations. Birthdays are usually several chairs in a circle where everybody says "happy birthday" to everybody. Then conversations are here and there while having some snacks and the famous Tompoes, the cake that has youtube video instructions on how to eat it! Days like Sinterklaas, Koningsdag, 4th May Dodenherdenking, 5th May Bevrijdingsdag are celebrated by everyone on very specific ways. There is no discussion on what to do on those days. Habits are there and they should be respected.

Drop and Frikandel
It was quite strange to find all these small windows in various walls with some kroketten and bitterballen. Then I understand that you often need to stop and insert one coin to kill your hunger. Snacks in most are fried in the Netherlands and you can get them almost everywhere: in the pubs, streets, supermarkets... Just be careful when someone offers you a drop! Mine was a salty one and I guess it was the first time I had to spit something...

The most frequently used word in the Netherlands. At least I hear it all the time. Meaning nice or cool or tasty, I still don't understand why in my own language we also don't make it so simple. One word fits all, and if a sandwich is lekker, also the travelling may have been lekker.

Kijken, kijken, niet kopen
Look, but don't buy. The first expression I leaned in the Netherlands. It seems that Dutch people are know for being very tight with the expenses. This is something I actually admire, and I have see many times exchanging gifts like a common shampoo, toothpaste or a cheap perfume. Is it related with being cheap or it is just practical? Anyway, I can identify with this part of it.

Dutch hardly talk during lunch
My job was a very isolated one. We were several people on the same room doing a few calls per day but communication was not the best. Each person was taking care of their own business, so I guessed the "decompression" was happening at lunch time. How I was wrong... There was a common area where 10 or 15 people sit together magazines! The silence feels awkward but Dutch people are fine with it. Having a conversation with my colleague was always heard by everybody else. Also, I have never heard my toasted sandwich chewing noise so present!

3 Kisses
So... my question is how do I go back to my 2 kisses Portuguese version? Once you are in the Netherlands, saying hello to a lady is done with 3 kisses on the cheeks. This is mostly done with people you know well, but I have to say it is more interesting than just the formal handshake.

Don't refuse
It is very polite in Portugal to say "no" is someone offers us something. Then Portuguese usually insist and we get it in the end. Well, in the beginning I was offered many times a coffee or a piece of cake. I said "No, thank you" just to be nice, but the question didn't pop up anymore. At the end I was hungry and thirsty and looking at everybody eating and drinking...

Nothing escapes the agenda of my girlfriend. Sometimes my girlfriend tells me she will has a dinner on the next days with the girls and I get a little surprised. At the end of the day it was my fault. That dinner was already booked 6 months in advance, and I was the one not paying attention. There is no last minute coffee meeting like in Portugal. That will mess with the Dutch planning and may bring serious consequences!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dubai - Explore the Future

C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\DSC_1472.JPG

C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\DSC_1228.JPGNo words can describe the impact of this place. I’ve been there with a very good friend of mine. We were here for 5 days and it’s enough to see the main highlights. If you really want to enjoy the weather and the sun, then you should go for a week. For a cultural trip it was good enough. I advise you to organize at home the attraction you want to do and the places you want to visit. For example, we wanted to go on top of the Burj Khalifa and planned this before. This way you don’t lose precious time. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed in Dubai. Planning on what to do, like ski for example, will save you a lot of money, as you can do most of the times online and the prices are very distinct as if you pay at the place.

7 Top Things to See
C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\DSC_1416.JPGDubai marina is the most popular area in Dubai. The atmosphere is amazing with nice restaurants and terraces around the harbor. Especially in the evening is it a really nice place with locals and tourists. We enjoyed here a shisha and enjoyed the beautiful view. Here you find around 200 high buildings, most of them more than 300 meter.

C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\DSC_1498.JPGBurj al Arab is one of the most famous buildings in Dubai. It’s 321 meter high. It’s a very luxury hotel, the only 7 star hotel in the world. It’s  made on a artificial island in the sea. Nobody knows for sure, rumours points to costs of more than 650 million dollar to build this hotel. The price for 1 night sleeping here is from 500 till 50.000 dollar. So it’s also cool to make photo’s in front of it

Dubai Mall
and the Dubai aquarium is something you can visit for free. Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping centre in the world. With 1200 shops and a luxury style is it really impressive to walk here but you also have local shops and restaurants. In here you find the Dubai Aquarium, also the biggest one in the world. Even in the desserts they like snow. In another shopping Mall called Mall of the Emirates you have the biggest indoor Ski place of the world.  It’s 85 meter high and penguins are living here. I don’t like cold so we didn’t do these things but it’s nice to see it behind a glass.
C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\P1000474.JPG

Burj Khalifa. You can visit this highest tower of the world. We’ve been to the 124th floor. This is 452 meter from the ground. From here you have a beautiful view on the city. Before I was very scared. It’s too big for your imagination. It’s unreal to go in a elevator which goes 42 km per hour. The ticket you order comes with a time when you need to be there. Next to that you have a safety check comparable with how it is on an airport. All this made me cry and I really didn’t want to do it. I was in panic and the big path to the elevator made it even more exciting and scary. But why going to Dubai without going up this tower? I never regret this experience and of course I was very proud.

C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\DSC_1302.JPG
Dubai Fountain is an amazing show! I didn’t have expectations and I was really impressed. Later I read that it’s the biggest and most expensive show in the world. the height can reach 150 meter. The atmosphere is cosy and romantic, the water moves on different songs what makes it a complete unforgettable show.
C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\P1000543.JPG
The Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque which one you can visit if you are not Muslim. I never visited a mosque before in my life but it was a beautiful experience! It’s an amazing calm place. In the old part of the city you see a completely different world. For me it was a shocking contrast between the most rich place I ever seen next to such a poor place. But don’t forget to go there for wide your cultural view. Here exist also a lot of souks were you can buy traditional souvenirs. You can visit different souks with markets or goldsouks for one of the world’s cheapest gold.
Dessert. One day we arranged to go Dune bashing. We picked up in a SUV. I was a bit scared because I had no idea what was going to happen. They dropped the air out of the tires and we started racing in the dessert! If you like adventure and exciting then you can’t miss this! You can make it a full program with for example camel driving, which we did. Next to that you get belly dancers and a nice dinner!

C:\Users\Silla\Pictures\2012-06-25\Dubai december 2012\P1000590.JPG

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Amazing Place Chosen By Cristiano Ronaldo

It is no secret that I am from Portugal, and I can't deny that the biggest ambassador at this moment of my country is no other than Cristiano Ronaldo. This fantastic soccer player has the possibility of choosing the most beautiful places in the world to live. So it is quite impressive that decided to have a vacations house in his own country. Born in the island of Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo heard of one of the most beautiful places on Earth, called Gerês. 

It is quite impressive how Gerês is still out of the eyes of the majority of tourists in Portugal. The name of Cristiano Ronaldo is indeed on the reasons Portugal is right now on the map of many travellers. Big cities like Lisbon, Porto and of course, the region of Algarve are already destinations that got a lot of attention for many reasons. I will come back to provide more information on them, but at this moment I want to plan as best as possible to describe them.

Cristiano Ronaldo built a luxurious mansion right next to "Barragem da Caniçada". This is a very isolated place with an easy access to the river. It is possible to be around his house, but the best view to choose is actually the opposite mountain of Rio Cávado. There is a small village named Pandoses and the there is savage tracks that you can do to enjoy nature. 

There are plenty of houses there with huge dimensions: Cristiano Ronaldo built the best for the comfort of his family. His room has 26 m2 and the closet 11 m2 with a private bathroom of 14.50 m2. Ok, it is not open for travellers, but it's nice to know out of curiosity. It is quite common to see his boat on the river, or the jet-skies. It is quite impressive how this says so much of the people living there. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest starts in the world, but he is able to find tranquility in the area. 

Silence is something you can find on the summer or winter evenings of the Gerês area. There is a lot to say, as this amazing nature place is well know by the hot water lakes in the middle of nowhere. My favourite is the sky in the evening. Because it is only small villages and lost houses, there is no light pollution. It is an amazing and magical place!

The National Park of Peneda do Gerês is a protected area in Portugal. In this vast mountain area of around 60 000 hectares, almost all of it forests, it is intended by the state to protect the soil, water, flora and fauna. This area is quite big and holds the provinces of Minho, Trás-os-Montes and Galiza (Spain). There are two big rivers. The one mentioned Rio Cávado and Rio Lima.

Visiting Gerês may not seem so easy, but you can easily take a train from Porto to Braga for around 5 euros. You can enjoy the city of Braga and stay there or decide to stay in Gerês. This area can be quite crowded in Summer or also in Winter. Still you can find houses that can hold 8-10 persons for around 100 euros a day. Gerês is big and you can decide how you want to explore it. If you are a big fan of nature, 8 days may not be enough to know the most important places. So, this is why I advise to rent a car in Braga or in Porto. This will allow you to get lost in this area and still having the opportunity of visiting Spain. Food is amazing in almost every restaurant in Gerês, but I will soon review one of the favourites of Cristiano Ronaldo... Mine also!

The landscapes are incredible. You will find all colours in rocks, in the trees, in the animals (crows, wolves, eagles...) and flowers! There are lots of lost roman roads that were connecting Braga to Astorga, known as Geira. There are two important spiritual catholic places, Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda and São Bento da Porta Aberta. They are very popular and attracts hundreds of people in local events in different seasons.

There is a lot to say about the amazing Gerês. There are hundred reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo choose this place to bring his family and I will come back with more details. For now, I really advise Gerês as a destination if you are going to Portugal, or landing in the North West of Spain.