My vacation with Anais

It’s been over a year since I had seen my love and fiancée Anais and so the two weeks she spent here were most welcome. Both because she was here and because I was due for a proper vacation. I take about two weeks every year for the purpose of being with her. I wish it was possible for it to be more, but unfortunately she doesn’t build vacation hours as quickly as I do. Nor is it very cheap to fly to and from the US these days.

In any case, this year it was her turn to come over to visit me. We didn’t really have an awful lot planned, because she had been here before and we’re running out of things to do XD.

For the first week or so we just took it easy. Allow her some time to rest after the flight and things. We spent most of the day playing videogames and we went out to see Suckerpunch in Zoetermeer. That Saturday we had dinner with Istran, Raluca and Stefan and spent an evening with beer and more games. The dinner we had was the oh so fun “Steengrillen”, which is basically DIY meat cooking. It’s quite fun! Especially with friends and/or family. Because of the time it takes to cook the bits of meat you have plenty of time to sit around and chat, which adds to the charm.

And then finally, to end the week, we had lunch at a quaint pizza restaurant in the Hague and a mid-afternoon showing of Rango.

The week after we visited the Escher museum in the Hague, after failing to do so the last time she was around due to it being closed for renovation. That very same day we went straight to the airport to visit Barcelona, more about that in the post “Mini-vacation to Barcelona“.

From here on we slacked a bit less and started doing a bit more. We went on another night out, but this time with just Istran and Raluca. We had planned to go have dinner at the “Panda” in Leiden, which is a wok restaurant, and have some beer afterwards. Unfortunately the night ended with me having to call my dad to pick us up because we had missed the Randstad Rail and otherwise would have had to wait an hour in the cold and walk home from Zoetermeer. Funnily enough, there’s two BP gas stations near that train station which makes arranging a meeting point somewhat annoying if you don’t know there’s two of them.

The day after, Sunday the 10th, we spent the day in the Rotterdam zoo “Blijdorp” watching the the animals and enjoying the nice sunny day. Then on my birthday, April 11, we spent the entire day in the flowery “Keukenhof“. Pictures of both days can be found on the photo page.

And then the vacation almost came to an end. The final full day we had together we spent reading and filling out forms for the emigration stuff and had our pictures taken for the passport style pictures we need.

I’m not sure when the next time will be that we’ll be together. At the moment we’re sort of hoping we can be together for the interview I need to do for my K1 visa. It would help a lot to have her there as well, but it all depends on when said interview is whether it is at all possible or not. Ah well.

Mini-vacation to Barcelona

A little late, but better late than never.

A few weeks ago, Anais and I went to Barcelona for a few days. Though, technically it was just one full day. We arrived late on Tuesday (April the 5th) and left for the airport around noon on Thursday April the 7th.

The view from the hotel roomOur hotel (Hotel Urquinaona) was located fairly close to the Plaça de Catalunya, a massive square with a lot of buses. The Aerobus from the airport had its last stop there, so the location seemed ideal. We landed around 9.15pm and got to the plaça about half an hour later. Now, normally my sense of direction is fairly good, but that night it was a bit wonky. So much so that we initially walked into the wrong direction and wandered around Barcelona in the dark.

At around 10:30pm we had found the hotel(Almost giving up and finding a cab or something) and got our room key. Then the second challenge presented itself: Getting the lights on. I had never come across a system like this and it really is quite genius. Turns out that they have this little box with a slit that neatly fit the plastic card attached to the room key. After sliding said card in there, the AC and all the lights we had switched on in our search turned on. Brilliant. No losing the room key, no needless waste of electricity by forgetting to turn the lights and/or TV off. Too tired to do anything else, we layed down and watched some Spanish TV.

The next day we got up bright and early(Surprisingly) to be total tourists in Barcelona. Before leaving the hotel, the receptionist told us to leave the key with her. Handy, they’re really not taking any chances of people losing their room key.

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família #27Our first stop would be the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, in its unfinished glory. We decided to go there by foot. On the way we got breakfast and a map. I can assure you, even with the map you can feel lost about twice every block. It’s weird really, because it is pretty neatly structured. But anyway, on the way we passed by Casa Mila and took some pictures of it. We didn’t go in simply because it was way too crowded. Then again, so was the Sagrada Familia temple. We got the elevator tickets, despite the fact that we’d have to wait till 1.30pm to get on. It was around 12 – 12.30 at the time. It was worth the wait though, because the view from up there is pretty amazing.

Casa Battló #7Our next stop turned out to be Casa Battló, another of Gaudi’s creations. We came by on our way back to the hotel(Taking my coat that morning wasn’t a very smart thing to do and I had intended to drop it off at the hotel after we did the things north of it). This place, for the most part, is really an attraction for those interested in architecture. Much of its features are peculiar one way or another and a lot seems to be inspired by the ocean. The most peculiar, to me anyway, was the way he decided to place two columns right in front of the doorway into the garden. Interesting decision, has to be said.

Museo de ZoologiaAt this point, it was closing in on dinner time and we hadn’t had lunch yet, so after a short stop at the hotel we got some dinner and headed for our next destination: the Picasso museum. You’d think this place would be easy to find, but the opposite seemed to be true. We were following the signs, but there apparently was a street we were supposed to go into and we didn’t and we ended up a few blocks too far at the Zoological museum. So then we headed back and we basically kept going around the museum in a circle trying to find it. When we eventually did find it, it was interesting but also a bit of a let-down as most of his more “famous” works were nowhere to be found.

This was our final stop for the day and we headed back for the hotel to get some well deserved sleep. The next day, before we left for the airport, we had lunch at the nearby Hard Rock café which was quite awesome as well. Good food too.

The end of our stay in Barcelona ended as crappy as it began: Our flight was delayed an hour. Now, that alone isn’t really too bad. I didn’t really expect otherwise from a low-budget airline like EasyJet, but what made it somewhat worse were the other passengers. Namely, the big group of Dutch highschoolers that were pretty loud and couldn’t even stop talking for one moment to listen to the announcement about their flight.

So all in all, a very nice getaway and I’m sure we’ll be back sometime to check out all the stuff we’ve missed.