Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bath Houses in Amsterdam??

Yeah, there were!

The one in Javaplein, I first saw when I visited Kaustubh in his old house at Ceramplein. Noticing its tower and its extraordinary architecture, I thought it was an arab-style mosque, with that tower being its minaret.

The photo is from a blog by Kees; from his entry entitled "a € 29.95 brain"

Later, I noticed the label "Bad Huis" on it, which I knew to mean "bath house". More interesting was to realize that there were people inside having drinks etc. This made me think that I probably was wrong to translate "Bad Huis" since it does not make sense to name a restaurant as "Bath House".

Then, Maikel the saviour helped me :). I summarized him all this one day and asked him what "Bad Huis" meant. To my surprise that place was really an old public bath house of Amsterdam, which has later been converted to a restaurant. It was really weird to me. I thought there was no bath houses at all in europe; with it being a tradition in Turkey (hamams), or in other asian countries..

I have made a search on internet but I could not bump into any detailed information. I only learned that it was a municipal bath-house, where the poor would come for their weekly shower (look interesting!). This info made me think that it was really in old times (eg. a century ago). But somewhere else, it says that it has been built in 1942, which is notably recent to me.

I still wonder the reasoning behind to build such houses in the city. Was it like having water in their houses was a luxury for the poor at the time?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

House Hunting Adventures of Tjeerd and Nina

Yeah, I know how tiring struggle it is to search for a house in Holland. I listened hunting stories from Olja; later I have witnessed many such attempts of my bosses Margriet&Age.. And now; for the last 5-6 months I have been reading the adventures of Tjeerd and Nina via their blogs.

The common things in all those house-hunting adventures were:
  1. tens of houses are checked from inside or outside before you can find "the one".
  2. after a certain point, the hunters get into a desparate mood: "we will never be able to buy a house" they say to colleagues, friends.
  3. If there are more than one hunters for the same house, bidding is used to choose one of them. The one with highest bid gets the house. There is always a case where the hunters get depressed to lose a loved-house because of their lower bidding offer.
  4. The checked houses always have something to be fixed & repaired. So, while making a bidding you have to also take into account the additional expenses you will make for such repairings etc.
  5. "it must be in a central place; but rather must have a yard with some green stuff" is one of the very popular initial requirements for the dream-house.
  6. You must be in contact with one or several realtors during the hunting, asking for appointments to see the house.
  7. Construction inspector is another guy with a must-contact. (S)he will inspect the house of interest and inform you on how much to spend in order to fix the things.
What I did was to scan Nina's and Tjeerd's blogs to exemplify those common things. This would be a nice tutorial for the expats of Holland who wants to buy a house, I thought.

(The complete house-hunting adventure of Nina-Tjeerd is available through Nina's own blog: MyLife... Start from this page from the post at the bottom of the page; and proceed upwards and then by clicking to "next posts".)

1. "Yet another house to be seen" mood
  • "This was the seventh house we viewed on the inside, out of the 25 houses we viewed from the outside. I think three more to go, so the tenth house will be it! :)" says Nina in her post titled "House 7".
2. "We will never make it" desparate mood
  • "Tjeerd thinks we will never find a house we both like and that is still available when we find out about the house. " says Nina in her post titled "And SOLD again...".
  • "Since several months we are looking around for houses just outside the city. Some houses are sold within a week, other houses are for sale for over six months. But every time when we call a realtor to make an appointment to view a house, we got the answer: “We just sold that house yesterday".
    I am not kidding, it’s every time! " complaints Nina in her post titled "Where's the crisis?" Read the whole post to learn about their funny idea on making money out of this experience :D
  • "We hope that the woman can’t get the mortgage for this house of course. This may sound evil, but it’s our only hope." says Tjeerd in her post titled "Househunting: too late part two", a post he made after they learned that the house they were interested in was sold to one other hunter.
3. "Oo dear house, don't leave us..Our bidding was not that bad" mood
  • "Unfortunately, the seller of the house didn’t like our condition about the construction technique, so he chose the other couple and they will get the house. Of course, it’s a pity that we didn’t get this house, because we really liked it" says Nina on her post titled "the house we didn't get"
  • "Now a colleague of Nina has won the bid on the house. A big pity that we didn’t get the house, because there were actually no negative things about the house (location, inside et cetera)." says Tjeerd on his post titled "Next"
4. "The cost for the things to be fixed is amazing :-( " mood
  • "But the house belonged to an old lady and there are many things that has to be fixed or renewed. " says Nina on her post "House hunting 2: Maarn".
  • "all the windows and window frames need to be renewed! And the draining in the kitchen isn’t connected to the sewage system yet. So the costs we did calculate for this house will be doubled! And that’s really way too much." is from Nina's another post: "House hunting goes on".
5. "We want a dream house" mood
Hmm, there is no post I found to be quoted for this mood :). But I remember our chats with Tjeerd last year. I know he wants a green place, and Nina wants a central place. So, the source is: personal communication :)

6. "Oo those realtor guys!!" mood
  • Nina talks about the "Realtor World" with a surprised-angry mood: "It’s a world we can’t see from the inside, so we just have to believe what the people in this world tell us. And that’s hard, because the news they tell us isn’t very believable." she writes.
  • "Tomorrow it’s “Open Houses Day”: many houses that are for sale open their doors, and you can visit these houses without making an appointment". says Nina on "House sold" post, feeling happy that they do not have to deal with any realtors..
  • "I sent an e-mail to the realtor to confirm the appointment, just to be sure. I got an automatic reply from him. It said: "I don’t work as a realtor anymore". What!?" says Nina, very surprised on her post "Realtor Mystery".
7. "Construction inspectors" mood
  • "Well, we know which contractor we will definitely not hire for the modernisation if we buy a house. Why not? They promised us to give a costs calculation last Friday in the afternoon, or else definitely last Monday. We didn’t hear anything " says Nina on a post titled "Waiting, waiting, waiting!"
  • "This contractor advertises with being the cheapest, but that can’t be true. We found out that it’s cheaper to hire a carpenter, an electrician and a plumber, instead of a contractor who arranges everything for you." says she on her othe post: "Contractor and Realtor"
The Happy End
Yup, they have finally managed to get a house few weeks ago, afterd facing with bankrupt realtors, dying owners and some other adventures. You can read how they are happy about this via Nina's post "Our new house" and Tjeerd's post "Our new house"

They even have a new blog for the new house www.dorpsstraat52.nl.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pide: Turkish Bread or Ramadan Bread

Well, the shape of a typical turkish bread sold in Turkey is as follows: (Photo from wikipedia)
One of the biggest problem I faced in Holland in my first weeks was to find a tasty bread. I have tried some among a flock of varieties sold at AlbertHeijn in vain: they were really bad in taste to me.. Actually, I didn't think that I would have a bread-problem in Holland since I had managed to "detect" a very tasty bread in Netto when I was living in Denmark, a country with a very similar supermarket profile.

After few weeks of my arrival to Holland, the fasting month (Ramadan) had started; and I discovered Javastraat in the meantime: the street with turkish shops where I could find many turkish things which were not available at AH (eg. red/green lentil, paprika paste, ayran (yoghurt drink), bulgur (broken wheat) among many other things). That's also when I discovered the turkish-morokkon bakery there: Kardaş Bakkerij. (I have just found out now over googling that they now even have a website)

In my first wisit to the bakery, I was SO happy to spot our pide there. Pide is a special turkish bread with a very different shape compared to the traditional one. It is special since it is only sold in the bakeries in Turkey during the month of Ramadan, the fasting month. I really LOVE its taste, I always questioned why it would not be made available throughout the whole year.

Turkish pide, the ramadan bread (pronounced as pedah)

One of my worries during my fasting time in Holland was to be away from my lovely bread, pide. That's why I felt like the happiest person in the world when I saw pides being sold at Kardaş Bakkerij. "the bread torture is over" I cheered up.

The biggest surprise came later, after Ramadan was over. I was again at Kardaş Bakkerij, and to my surprise I saw they were still selling pides. "How come?" I asked "Ramadan is over". And one of the employees there told me "pide is sold throughout the year here in Holland under the name of "turkish bread". How hapy I was! I enjoyed eating pides happily during my stay in Holland whenever I wanted ..

Then I left the country, and my military service started; and soon it was the next Ramadan. And unfortunately we were not served with any pides at the military unit. Having fed myself with pide for 1 year in Holland, it was really sad to miss the 1-month-pide opportunity in my own country..

That's why I even changed my facebook profile picture with a pide photo when Ramadan started last month and I had again access to pides :)

Ramadan was over last week, and I have to wait yet for another year to "reunite" with pides :) One alternative would be to fly to Holland in every couple of weeks to get the taste, if only I was rich enough to do so :)

Overigens ook geen spiegel :D

I have wanted to finish a post I intended to write on turkish bread sold in Holland; that's why I have logged on to Blogger about an hour ago. However, I could not do this since I have noticed that there was a new "somebody" who has started to follow my blog :)

So, I have preferred to switch to this somebody's blog instead; and it turned out to be an indian lady living in Holland; ~Lopa. A post in her weblog about a notice at her office has caught my eyes.

I read the post, and I have immediately remembered the funny notice on the window of an office located at the entrance of my university building at Nieuwe Achtergracht. Well, there were (and I guess there still are) two notices, the first of which being the following:

Although it is Dutch, it is not that difficult to get it: "this is not the reception" it means to say. By the way, I have just noticed myself appearing on this photo on the window, trying to take this very photograph :) .

Ok, nothing funny so far.. But the other notice which was next to this one always made me laugh:

"It is not also a mirror" it says :D. I can imagine how the employees working in this glass-walled office felt when people outside were trying to use their windows as mirrors.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three, no four huge tables on top of each other...

Isabella talked about Roadside Art in Holland in one of her recent posts in her A Touch of Dutch blog. Reading her post; what rushed into my mind immediately was how I described the way to my place in Funenpark to the first-time visitors.

"You will take tram 26 from Amsterdam Central Station; then you will leave the tram at the stop called Rietlandpark. What you will see there is three huge tables on top each other. Go to upstairs, and walk in such a direction where the tables would fall into your right. And,..... " I would tell.

And, usually, it would turn out that they did not notice the tables. Later when I showed them the tables, "Ugh, yes you had told, but we did not expect them in such a shape and size" they reacted :)

So, here is a photo of those strange tables.

As far as I remember, the one below the top one is wooden, with others being concrete. Actually, it took some time to me to realize that there were actually four of them. The bottom one is not noticeable from upstair level since it is on the same level with the ground.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dutch-style cyclists spotted in Turkey!

I was in Konya this weekend, a city in the mid-west of Turkey. The city especially attracts tourists from abroad for its sufistic (mystical Islam) roots. They come to the city to visit the grave of the world-famous muslim poet & philosopher Rumi (the founder of the order for whirling-dervishes). Rumi lived about 800 years ago. In year 2007, he has been described as the "most popular poet in America". Here is the wikipedia link.
(a photo I took during a whirling (sema) ceremony in Bursa about 10 months ago)

One other characteristics of the city Konya is something totally different: it is arguably the city with most common bicycle usage in Turkey. It even has, although noticably limited, bike pads in some streets. This, I have never seen in any other turkish city so far.

The thing which made me excited was to spot a dutch-style cyclist in a street in Konya yesterday. I have seen cyclists, albeits sometimes rarely, in all turkish cities I visited so far; and I had never seen this before.

So, what is it? :) Well, having somebody else sitting at the back-seat of your bike while you are cycling.. And this "somebody else" has to sit in such a way that s/he will make 90 degrees to the back of the cyclist. Very dutch-style! And, the man on the photo below exactly does this! Even more interesting is to see a women in the role of "somebody else" in the photo since I have never seen a female cyclist in the city. In this case, she is not riding herself, but at least she is "on it".
At the back, the Aziziye mosque is seen. It is attractive with its late-ottoman style minarets.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Mall-free City: Amsterdam

Yeah; that, I first noticed a month ago in a mall in Izmit where I "handled" my military duty (a neighbouring city to Istanbul).

"Oh, my God; how many malls are there in this city; hmmm there are 4 I know. But, but, in Amsterdam....I do not remember any... Well, isn't that strange to not to have any malls at all in Amsterdam, arguably the biggest city of Holland??" I have started to question..

I only remembered the complex at Amsterdam Bijlmer-Arena station; which even cannot be considered as "mall" compared to the ones we have here in Turkey.

Maikel, the savior
Yup, I had wonderful moments last week! Maikel was here, in Istanbul, for 5 days (and also Kaustubh for 1 day). We strolled around the city from european side to asian side; from black sea villages to genoese side to the islands.. And, of course, we also had time to drink a cup of coffe in the biggest mall of Istanbul, Cevahir.
photo from here, "Sociology Compass" blog.

It is not only the biggest in Istanbul (among about 20 others), but also biggest in Europe; and 4th biggest in the world.

Then, I had the chance to ask Maikel if my deduction that Amsterdam did not have any mall was true. "Actually we have Kalvertoren" he said. Then, I suddenly remembered the shopping center at the one end of the famous Kalverstraat, close to the Bloemenmarkt. "But, I would not consider it as mall, maybe semi-mall" said Maikel; and I agreed. It was "nothing" compared to our Cevahir Mall.

Maikel also told me that the "mall" culture would probably not visiting Holland in the near future.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A letter from Alfonso (or How global is the life now)

Global World
It was about two weeks ago (yes I was very busy to not to have time to mention about this before).

I got a letter from Alfonso in reply to my letter I sent (i guess) in February. It is amazing actually to get a letter in Turkey from an Italian friend who lives in France, with whom we met in Holland :) How global is our lives nowadays! Another funny thing is; we know each other since we have a common friend, Kaustubh, who is Indian :)

We met many times in either in his place in Ceramplein
(where he always performed cooking experiments for dinners, which, always turned out to be deliciious) or in my place at Funenpark (where he usually came with a bag of clothes to wash).

Alfonso, you mention in the letter that "experimental cooking is a little difficult" there "people are much more traditionalists". Then, I will say that they are not aware of what they miss by being traditionalist :)

Degree of Happiness in Amsterdam
It is nice to read in the letter that he was much more satisfied now with life in France than in Amsterdam:
"Don't get me wrong, Amsterdam was also a nice city. Now I understand that having a bad house and a not very-friendly work environment invluenced my staying in NL a lot" he says. Actually, the place they lived was a very old apartment with many missing things. And, both Alfonso and Kaustubh, never got a proper response to their complaints from the university or the housing company.

He also talks about how loose the work life is in France. "'to work' intended in french way" he says, "which means, arrive late; have nice time with colleagues; don't go home too late".
Alfonso; this, I would call Mediterranean style. We also have a very similar working style in state-based working places.

Alfonso, you say that your french gets better. I am sure! I am sure it is much better than the time you were trying to communicate with your Senegalese roommate during a dinner in my place :)

Also, if you "will have to turn the roulette again and will find a new position somewhere", I guess this will be a country with a different language (after Germany, Holland, and France) :). What about Turkey?:)

Hey, Maikel was here in Istanbul last week for few days; Kaustubh also joined us for 1 day. We have strolled through the city together, nice moments. You are also welcome!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Most Undutch" Turkish Dish

"Among the things you served us tonight, this is the thing most undutch" Inge had told me while she, Hans, Johan and I were tasting my bulgur salad (called natively Kısır) in my place in Funenpark as part of a Ramadan Dinner in September 2007. (Bulgur is broken wheat, commonly used in Turkish cousine)

(The photo is from last week where I made kısır for the site commander of my military unit as well as for other officers in the unit.)

Then I have made it a couple of times for other dinners in my place and for parties we had at Funanpark roof. I remember how people liked it during my German neighbours' BBQ party. It was then when Sara asked me the recipe. "Your bulgur salad has been one of our favorite dishes" she told me later "I make it almost every week". She also published the recipe in an iranian blog. It is in persian, but the photos worth checking.

The original recipe is from a turkish cooking blog "Portakal Ağacı", meaning "Orange Tree".

So here is the recipe for those who want to taste this "most undutch" turkish dish:

  • 5-6 spring onion
  • half bunch of parsley
  • 2-3 layers of iceberg salad (optional)
  • 4 gloves of garlic
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of red paprika paste (or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste if not available)
  • 2 glasses of hot water
  • 1 dessert-spoon of salt
  • 2 glasses of fine-bulgur (Beware: it must be the fine version, can be found in turkish supermarkets)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried mint
  • half tablespoon of chilly pepper (can be 1, if you want it hotter)
  • half tablespoon of black pepper
  • half glass of lemon juice
  • half glass of olive oil
  • 2 tomatos (optional, for decoration purposes)
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves or parsley leaves (optional, for decoration)
  1. Fınely chop onions, spring onions, parsley and iceberg salad. Put them together into a container and cover the top.
  2. Fry the chopped garlics with the olive oil and tomato and paprika pastes
  3. Put bulgur into a container and add the hot water on top of it. Add the salt and the mix with the mix in (2). Mix occasionally till bulgur sucks all the water and the mix looks homogenous. (10-15 mins)
  4. Add the chopped vegetables of (1), lemon juice, and spices to (3). Mix till it gets to a homogenous mixture.
  5. Decorate with tomotos sliced in half-circles and with the parsley and/or mint leaves.
  6. Put into refrigerator for a while. It is better to eat it cold.
My first trial of Kısır in Amsterdam
It was again a Ramadan dinner where we fast during the day, and have dinner when it is getting dark. I had invited my turkish friends from Delft and the one from The Hague. When they tasted my kısır, one of them said "the taste is OK; but it would be better if you did not use coriander". I was shocked "what? What is that thing? I never used that thingy" was my reaction. "It is a vegetable similar to parsley" they told, and suddenly I got enlightened :D

I remembered how I felt while I was preparing the bulgur salad. The "parsleys" I got from turkish supermarket at Javastraat was somehow pale. And they had really a different strange smell while I was chopping them off. I thought: "probably those parsleys got deteriorated. But I have no time to buy new ones, and since I will mix many things, my guests will not get its bad taste anyway". That is, I never realized that it could be some other vegetable :D

So, since we do not have corianders in Turkey, I never knew that they were being sold in Holland, and they were so similar to parsley :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Food Meme

Of four dutch-originated blogs I kind-of regularly follow, one is Kelly's. (The others are Isabella's, Tjeerd's and Nina's blogs). Kelly is a gibraltarian expat living in Almere, Holland. She has tagged my blog in her food-meme post. Here is the rule for the food meme:
List 7 items related to food or drink you love, also list 7 items you hate the most. Then tag 7 buddies and find out if your stomachs have something in common. Bon appetite!

I will make a small change and will list the liked/dislilked foods which are somehow linked to Holland.


1. Drops: I already have written about how torturous was it for me to try even one. No way! I can't like them!
2. Sweet popcorn: Another terrible experience. It was my first weeks in Amsterdam; and I was very happy to see pre-popped corns sold in Albert Heijn one day (I love them); and I bought one bag. And guess what: I was home, and I opened the bag with a big enthusiasm, and threw few of them into my mouth. And, I was shocked! I never heard/tasted before pop-corns with sugar!. It was unbearable! I do not like throwing foods away, and It took more than a week to finish all of them :D
Later I realized they sell two versions in supermarkets: with salt and with sugar..
3. Peanut butter: Well, it is not my cup of tea. Daniel once told me that this was one of the three things he would take with him if he were to live alone in an island. This shows how Dutchmen love it. But i simply can't. Peanut butter on bread does not taste good at all for me.
4. Breads sold in Albert Heijn: There are so many different varieties of breads sold in AH. I tried a couple of them, and did not like any. Thanks God, the turkish neighbourhood was very close, and I could go there to buy turkish bread from Kardas Bakkerij in Javastraat in Indische buurt.
5. Soups I tried at the university canteen: They were all terrible. The soups may be OK in itself. But they add some kind of flavor to all soups which change the taste into an unbearable nature.
6. Mix-fruit juices sold in AH: This is getting common only recently in Turkey. When I was in Holland, it was the first time I saw mixed fruit juices. I tried some (peach-orange mix or apple-raspberry mix or things like this), and did not like any of them. I prefer pure juices.
7. Round three-color bell peppers sold in AH: They are unbelievably nice in appearance: red/green/yellow bell peppers sold together. The way we use bell peppers in turkish cuisine is by stuffing them with rice and then cooking. I tried this dish with those huge bell peppers sold in AH: they are so thick, which makes your mouth not comfortable :) . Then, I preferred to buy the turkish-style ones sold in the turkish neighbourhood at Javastraat.


1. Vla: A traditional dutch yoghurt-vanillin mix. This, I discovered thanks to Ewoud. He brought a box of vla when he first visited my place for a dinner. I liked the taste a lot. The only thing is: one variety sold in AH includes a red colored flavor. I later preferred not to buy that variety since I found out that carmine is among its ingredients (carmine is an insect-derived coloring agent)
2. Stroopwafel (Syrup waffles): Also sold in AH, also traditional. Again, a goodbye present by Ewoud; that's why I came to know them. I liked the taste a lot.
3. Ice-tea: When I first tried ice-tea about 10 years ago, I found it not interesting at all,and did not try again. Till it was served to me while I was in Vahid-Sara's place for a dinner. Then suddenly I liked it a lot! It has turned out to be one of my most favourite drinks in the Netherlands. The peach- and lemon- flavoured ones are my favorites.
4. Cashew nuts: This, I discovered in Holland in AH since we did not have this type of nut in Turkey (only recently it has been gaining popularity). The taste is just amazing.
5. Appelstroop (apple syrup): I was told that this is what the pregnant dutch ladies prefer to eat to have a healthy baby. It was my favourite thingy during my lunches at UvA canteen.
6. Celebrations: Again an AH product, I discovered this thanks to Olja. She brought a box of Celebrations as a present when I invited her, Hans and Suzanne for a Ramadan dinner. It is a box of miniature-size versions of popular chocolate bars.
7. Falafel at Maoz:
Falafel is a vegetarian meat-ball like middle-east food. The ones sold in Maoz are offered with unlimited salad. Since I preferred vegetarian food while eating outside, this was one of my favourites. At the end of an old post is a photo of the one of the branches in Amsterdam, a branch we had visited with Sara and Vahid (and also with Maikel and Alfonso during Queen's day in 2008).


I am supposed to tag 7 others as part of this food meme. However, there are only few blogs I kind-of regularly follow. So I can only tag 2 others:
1-Tjeerd: www.tjeerd.net
2-Nina: www.bellanina.nl

Friday, May 29, 2009


Isabella, the owner/author/mother of the weblog "a touch of dutch" has awarded my blog, and a couple of others, with "Great Expat Blog" award.

Here is her related blog entry. "I want to thank you all with your expat blog and love reading what you have to share! You are making a positive contribution, and your contribution to expats is helpful!" she says in her blog entry. Isabella, just thanks for the award! (Actually, I am no longer an expat "physically" as I am in Turkey busy with my military service. But I keep this blog active as a virtual link between Holland and I.)

I already had written about her blog a while ago; it is really a great blog. I take it as an unofficial guide for living in Holland. And it is so comprehensive! Isabella, just thanks a lot for sparing your time for your blog, for your enthusiasm, and for making such a great help for people googling about Holland. This is really something to be greatly appreciated!

Seven awe-sum things

As part of the award, she says "List seven things about yourself that are awe-sum".

I will make a small change, and I will list seven things that are not only awesome but also related to Holland.

A with-minimized-prejudice guy: Compared to the people in my environment, I am noticeably free-minded and also free-of-prejudices. This, I owe to my living experience in Holland (and also in Denmark). The people I met from different countries as well as the general lifestyle in Holland are the main factors behind. The people in my military unit are aware of this, and they sometimes call me "the free-mind Willy"
2- A can-still-understand-some-dutch guy: I thought I already forgot all Dutch I know. But, checking some websites in dutch, I surprisingly noticed I can still understand quite dutch! (Isabella, your blog is of great help; you put some dutch sentences/phrases, which helps me to refresh my dutch :) )
A can-bike guy: I can bike, I can bike, I can bike!! This I learned at the age of 28, in Amsterdam :). I even managed to travel between two cities :)

4- A having-dutch-friends guy: Many expats say that dutch people, although they are very kind, are difficult to make friendship with. But I have managed to develop very nice friendships with dutch people in my work environment: I am still in contact with Maikel, Daniel, Suzanne, Tjeerd, and I am glad that this is the case..
5- A good-cook guy: I am very good at cooking some dishes from turkish kitchen. Lentil balls, bulgur salad (kısır), pepper with stuffed rice (dolma), lentil soup, yoghurt soup.. All of these, I learned in Holland while living alone in Funenpark. (I should also thank to all friends who joined me for dinners, BBQ parties)
6- A bird-fan guy: I am a bird-fan. This, I owe to different birds I came across in the canals and parks of Amsterdam & Utrecht (Moorhens, coots, geese, swans, jackdaws, magpies....). I use the word "different" since you do not see any of those birds in Istanbul, which is a quite urbanized city.
7- An awesome guy: My university building was just next to the zoo Artis, but I have never been there :( That's quite awesome considering that I am a nature-loving, animal-loving, zoo-loving guy :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Smile in Photo: A Must for Dutch Driving License

Yeah, quite surprising...

I take driving lessons nowadays due to my attempt here to get a driving license. I take the lessons usually on the road which is just in front of the military complex. So, the SFH (our Soldier From Holland, abbreviated) watches my driving attempts when he has guarding duty at the gate of the complex.

Yesterday I had a short chat with him after my driving lesson was over. "Commander, I got a license here in Turkey,and also one in Holland" he said. "I got 100 from the exam in Turkey, and only 80 from the one in Holland, after my second attempt to pass" he said. I had already heard once from my German class teacher that many "experienced" turkish drivers had to take extra lessons when they wanted to make the license valid in Germany. So, it looks it is noticeably more difficult to get a driving license in Germany, or in Holland as the SFH told me.

The funny part is just coming: the SFH says that in Holland they turned down the photo he submitted for the driving license: "it must be a smiling one" the authorities had told him. How surprising!.. "Are you serious???!!" was my reaction. "Yes Commander, that was also the case for the passport photo" he replied.

One of the things I admired in Holland was to see everybody smiling in streets, in hospitals, at information desks, in restaurants etc.. But, I did not know that this was "kind-of" a policy they wanted somehow every citizen "to obey"; which is really to be appreciated I guess..

I must ask my dutch friends if they are familiar with this "smiling photo" policy :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Somebody from Hoorn in my Military Unit ..

Yeahh, it was totally surprising for me.. To meet a soldier from Holland..

It happened few weeks ago. I heard that there was a new soldier from Holland. Ugh.. Somehow I feel Holland as my second home. That was why I really felt excited to hear about somebody from 'my second country'.

Then, I met him. Well, of course he is of turkish origin. He told me that he was born in Holland and he is from Hoorn. It was such a nice feeling to talk about Albert Heijn, drops (he loves them !, he is not a typical turkish guy anymore :) ), trains, Alkmaar, football teams (he is a professional football player), Blokker ...

Then, I went to uncle Wiki since it was the first time i heard "Hoorn". I have learned that it is somewhere close to Alkmaar, on the coast of Markermeer, and it is really a nice historical city! Weird that I did not hear about it when I was in Holland..

"Do you know Blokker", he asked me, "the store chain". "Of course" I said. I was there almost every week. I usually went to the one in Javastraat, next to the turkish supermarket I went for shopping. There was also one on the other side of Rietlandpark station of tram 26. (And I remember how I was surprised when Vahid and Sara told me that they do not know about Blokker :D)

But, the weird point is, I never questioned the meaning of the name! Of many such things I discussed with Maikel, Daniel or Suzanne, this never became an issue. I guess the main reason was that I thought it came from the word "blocks". :), which makes some sense when you think of what is sold in these stores..

Who would guess that I would learn the origin of this name in Turkey, in the military complex, from someone in turkish military clothes ... This is life :) It is so unpredictable :D

Yeah, this "soldier from Hoorn" told me that Blokker was indeed the name of a village in Hoorn area. " "They even have a football team, and I played there some time ago" he said.
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