Array ( [total] => 9 [pageSize] => 24 [page] => 0 [results] => Array ( [5252] => Array ( [iID] => 5252 [tTitle] => Back to Balaton [tSlug] => back-to-balaton [iTime] => 1310335200 [iUpdate] => 1310335200 [tDescription] => Like an apparition of years past, Joost, Data, Edwin, Hogo and myself all synchronized our plans to meet Benno in Budapest. For a few days, with an additional trip to good ol' Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe, and one of the few names in Hungary which descends from Hungary's Slavic predecessors. On our first day Benno threw a housewarming party, recently having moved house. Painfully, due to our having to wake up at 430 to catch our cheap and early flight, Niamh and I had several moments in the course of the evening where we were ready to keel over. The trip to Balaton, us staying in Revfulop, was my first in almost 15 years. Good times, and interesting to see that the lake now hosts some dozen Tescos as well as some dozen Lidls. Things change fast. One full day was spent in and around Balacsony, where an annual wine festival kept us busy for a day. Then, after a morning dip in the lake, we headed back to Budapest before everyone's return to home ground and Benno and my departure for our Bessarabian adventure. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2929 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1089 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462053452 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 13 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 46.8287 [fLongitude] => 17.6311 [tLocation] => Hullam hostel [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20110711 ) [3824] => Array ( [iID] => 3824 [tTitle] => [tSlug] => khazimula-org [iTime] => 1187388000 [iUpdate] => 1516114504 [tDescription] => In mid-2005, ten guys from my fraternity, Veto, traveled to the village of Lidgetton in South Africa, to help build an orphanage and a school. I wasn't there, as I was busy in Afghanistan at the time (not planning any terrorist moves, really). In April of this year, Betsy and I visited the site to see how the school, orphanage and children were doing. I also was talked into doing a website for them. Having been very busy in the last few months, it was only this month which saw me have time to work on this project. I wanted to try something else, deviate from my usual modus operandi, and opted for installing TextPattern. A while ago already, I had been looking for easy to use, easy to expand, ready to install CMS systems with a wide range of possibilities. The obvious choice is WordPress, but TextPattern seemed to be much more hackable and uses an organizational structure that's not only easy to understand, but also fairly easy to expand. Or so I thought. I installed TextPattern, but ended up being frustrated by the fact that although it seems to be perfectly suitable for a blog-oriented website, it doesn't work well for a more static environment. And on top of that, categories can't be nested. At least not easily. So I took my learnings and installed WordPress instead. The site was taken offline in April 2012. [iCategory] => 5 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3486 [iClicks] => 759 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 27 [iVoters] => 6 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 421 [iOldID] => 3114 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462157964 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => sparse [iHideMap] => 1 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 1 [iFullImage] => 2 [fLatitude] => -26.0287 [fLongitude] => 28.0151 [tLocation] => Shingara Sands [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Work [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 5 [categories] => Array ( [5] => Array ( [iID] => 5 [tName] => Work [tSlug] => work [tDescription] => Work, shmork! But, yes, one needs to make a living as well. I'm a self employed web developer with extensive experience in 'the south', that is, the developing world. I strongly focus on social applications, or, 'web 2.0'. If you're intrigued, you can check out my CV. My business is called Baba's projects. [iOrder] => 6 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => sparse [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => bf:blogitem=3114 ) [533] => Array ( [iID] => 533 [tTitle] => Business trip to Lidgetton [tSlug] => business-trip-to-lidgetton [iTime] => 1176069600 [iUpdate] => 1176069600 [tDescription] => This Easter weekend, we were on something of a business trip to the small town of Howick, known for its falls, about an hour's drive north of Durban, and the village where Veto, two years ago, helped build a orphanage and a school. We were now here to get an understanding of the current situation, progress, and possible future requirements, as there might be a few bucks available to spend on the project again in the near future. Our 'tourguide' is the likeable and extremely energetic John Tungay who, at 70, has the enthusiasm of someone decades his junior. Founder of the Drakensberg boys' choir school, former secretary to Margaret Thatcher, former bigwig at the SABC (the South African equivalent of the BBC), inventor of the word amperbroekie and, now, the driving force behind Khazimula. At the end of Saturday, while copying my digital images onto a DVD, I noticed a video on one of the shelves with a sticker, The weakest link, with a date in 2004. I commented on it. In that particular show, one of the questions was "Who was the founder of the Drakensberg boys' choir school?". "They had the answer in one go." John said. Second try In 2000, my fraternity built a house in Beius, Romania, with Habitat for Humanity. In 2005, we thought we could do one better and organize a similar trip on our own. Through an acquaintance, we bumped into John's Khazimula project in the village of Lidgetton, near Howick. Although the boys slept at Khazimula ("to shine"), most of the work was done on the nearby school Jabula ("happy"). Worth it? At Khazimula, only since January, 21 kids now live who seem to be enjoying their stay. They go to school at Jabula, a short drive down the road. Here, unfortunately, the metalwork and woodwork classrooms, which were the ones worked on by Veto two years ago, still have not been used, mostly due to unreasonable local authorities exercising their power and, undoubtedly, venting their frustration at not having control. Activities on the side Besides visiting Khazimula, during a weekend when the weather resembled Dutch crappy, gloomy, cold and rainy, weather, we also were dragged to several social events: A Zulu boy's 21st birthday, the opening of an art gallery exhibition and a boat trip on Midmar lake. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 8470 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 11 [iVoters] => 3 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 527 [iOldID] => 903 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462176979 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 78 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -29.5065 [fLongitude] => 30.2371 [tLocation] => Downtown [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20070409 ) [1439] => Array ( [iID] => 1439 [tTitle] => [tSlug] => veto-org [iTime] => 992296800 [iUpdate] => 1516117107 [tDescription] => "Idiots online." The website of a close group of friends. A lookback of a lookback (2005) Five years ago, at my fraternity's 15 year anniversary, we created a book with stories and pictures from those 15 years. Now, five years later, it's time for another anniversary. A digital copy of the book was no longer available. I scanned the pages, OCRd the stories, found the pictures that hadn't been corrupted on my hard drive and uploaded the remains. The microsite of the book was taken offline in mid 2008. [iCategory] => 6 [tURL] => [iViews] => 14111 [iClicks] => 856 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 561 [iOldID] => 219 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462174079 [iHot] => 6 [tTemplateName] => sparse [iHideMap] => 1 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 1 [iFullImage] => 2 [fLatitude] => 51.9228 [fLongitude] => 4.45848 [tLocation] => Woongroep Buitensporig [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Own stuff [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 6 [categories] => Array ( [6] => Array ( [iID] => 6 [tName] => Own stuff [tSlug] => own-stuff [tDescription] => Erich Fromm said that "creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties" and, without giving freedom to my creativity, I'd die. [iOrder] => 2 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => sparse [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => bf:blogitem=219 ) [686] => Array ( [iID] => 686 [tTitle] => The roof, the roof... [tSlug] => the-roof-the-roof [iTime] => 963525600 [iUpdate] => 963525600 [tDescription] => Friday, by far, was the most difficult day of the week. Some of the guys had only gone to bed at 5:00am, getting up at 8 again. Building went terribly slow. However, a human chain we formed at the end of the day to get all 1400 tiles on the roof, and that made quite a difference. We even convinced Habitat into us painting a number of tiles red to make VETO appear in huge letters on the roof. Not that the house was completely finished. Just the walls and the roof were standing and all windows still had to be fitted. Still, all that was already planned to happen at a specific later time. We were just needed to make the house waterproof. Although you could easily argue that a house with holes for windows isn't really waterproof. After being finished, some speeches followed, the most emotional, by far, being the speech by the future owner of the house, whom had also helped in building the thing during the week. Occasinally, his pregnant wife would come and visit us to see how we were doing. During lunch on Friday, we had one pizza left, since Marco was staying at home because of his strained ankle. I went round with the pizza and also stopped by the couple, future-to-be owners of the house. The guy didn't want the pizza but urged his wife to have some. First only one slice, but when I also offered a second slice, her husband also pressed her to eat the second slice. Everyone had planned to leave on Friday evening. About half the group would take a train from Oradea to Bucharest, the other half would go in the opposite direction, to Budapest and then on to the Netherlands. Just before taking off, the same lady who had made us the typical Romanian sandwhiches earlier in the week, now cooked us dinner. Truly truly wonderful stuff, filling everyone to the brim. In addition, she also made everyone a good lunch packet of sandwiches for on the road. Again, the amount of butter occasionally surpassed the amount of bread in the sandwiches. Saying goodbye to Emil and the owners of the house, leaving our poker table and an unused coverall as tokens of our appreciation, we left a tiring but very interesting and fulfilling week behind us. We were driven to Oradea in two shifts, the Bucharest group going first. Our train was some 50 minutes late. But when it finally arrived I located my cabin and was sleeping in less then 10 minutes. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3394 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 672 [iOldID] => 1059 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462135212 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 12 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 46.6323 [fLongitude] => 22.3508 [tLocation] => Accomodation [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20000714 ) [681] => Array ( [iID] => 681 [tTitle] => Cold [tSlug] => cold [iTime] => 963093600 [iUpdate] => 963093600 [tDescription] => Considering Romania was suffering from a heatwave, the 17 degrees Celsius outside temperature felt rather cold. Fausto's, a very nice restaurant slash snack bar, serving very good Italian pannini, was a welcome breakfast place however. After trying to come to terms with the sights Oradea had to show us, a no-longer-used synagogue, a ruin of a fortress-now-an-art-school, a larger than live vulva and 'the black vulture', and after meeting with some English speaking local women, both of whom were widows, who tried to make really good friends with Art and myself, we arranged for being picked up by Emil, our Habitat contact in Romania. That, as it turned out, meant waiting in the rain for three hours. I had called Emil to make an appointment for being picked up. A blue van was going to pick us up next to the church on Oradea's main square. No bus showed up for several hours. However, since I had already started to grow familiar with the more, say, Mediterranean style of life in Romania, I wasn't really worried. Still, waiting in the rain does make you feel rather irritated and when I called Emil again I learned, not only that he wasn't allowed by his phone operator to call abroad (I was using my own Dutch mobile), but, in stead of a blue van, they were sending a white van. In addition, we ourselves found out there was another church around the corner. There we finally found our van. The trip to Beius was as bad as it gets. Not that the van was in bad condition, but the road was terrible. Potholes everywhere, no asphalt, dogs, heavy rain. All in all, it was a pain. This trip, although a little bit shaky, also made it the perfect time for a nap. Some two hours later, we arrived at our destination. Beius, Romania. Coming to work We didn't stay in a Habitat-built house, but at a regular farmer's who, in his spare time, had built a fairly big private dwelling. Both he and his wife spoke very good French, so we were able to communicate fairly well. Remarkably, when we filled up the house, first our bunch coming from Budapest, then later the rest coming in from Bucharest, the two owners slept in the basement. Right next to where we had our evening drinks, regularly changing into late-night drinks. I guess they both slept a lot during the day. Mind you, not that we had to pity the couple; they were receiving, for Romanian standards, very good money for us being there. We were all happily surprised when hearing that, besides a youngest son of 17, the couple had two older daughters. Sadly enough, we never got to meet them. Very convenient, since already on Monday evening, Art scored one of the locals. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2449 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 672 [iOldID] => 1054 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462041097 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 14 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 46.6323 [fLongitude] => 22.3508 [tLocation] => Accomodation [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20000709 ) [677] => Array ( [iID] => 677 [tTitle] => It's raining, man [tSlug] => its-raining-man [iTime] => 962748000 [iUpdate] => 962748000 [tDescription] => The core part of the trip was going to be a week in Beius, Romania to build a house there. You read that right. My fraternity and Habitat for Humanity had teamed up to work at one of the Habitat sites in Romania. In Beius, already some 20 houses had been built over the past couple of years and some 40 more were still scheduled to be built. We were going to use our magical powers to create one of those 40 houses there. Mind you, not that it was easy to motivate my, ehm, friends, for going to Beius. Of the 38 people of my fraternity, only 20 commited to going. And last minute, three even bowed out, leaving only 17. Great. For now, however, I was on my way to Budapest. We only were going to start our creative process the next monday but I wanted to visit a good friend of mine whom I met when studying in Budapest a couple of years before. About half the team was going to fly to Bucarest and take a train from there to Beius. Myself and the rest of the group were traveling overland, but I left first. I was going to hitchhike, and since it's no fun to spend a night on the autobahn, I left early. It had been some time since I last hitchhiked and although it can be pretty tiresome and downright annoying, it still has something of a romantic ring to it. So I wasn't too bothered. Hitchhiking in Holland is almost impossible if not a terribly slow process. So for the first leg of my journey I took the train to Arnhem. Then, starting the adventure at the border with Germany. Waking up with a headache for lack of sleep, I hastened to get to the train station in time. I only barely managed and if it weren't for me having to change trains in Utrecht, I would have gotten an aditional 90 minutes of sleep. Now, however, I was destined to watch it raining cats and dogs. Only hoping that Budapest would bring nicer weather. Baby steps Arnhem isn't a very exciting town. And at 7:30am with a continuous drizzle it's downright appalling. I arrived under rainy skies, but since it was still too early, no shops were open to get myself an umbrella. I was going to fight nature. Luckily, I was wearing a cap so most of the rain went by reasonably unnoticed. I wasn't wearing the cap as a fashion statement though. The day before, I had shaved my head completely bald. And drivers have a general dislike for taking bald hitchhikers with them. The cap was a necessity. The walk to the nearest ramp onto the highway wasn't bad. I was able to take a bus halfway and walk the rest. The actual spot, however, was terrible. One very big roundabout, with almost no place for cars to stop, with cars going in all directions and drivers looking at you as if you're mad for taking up space on their precious highway. My only chance was to be picked up by a German car, but not many Germans left Arnhem at 8:00am for Germany. Still, the third German car that passed, stopped. I had my first ride. Into Germany. The guy was very friendly and had hitchhiked extensively when he was younger, mostly in New Zealand, but also in Germany and France and he was now living in Muenchen. Good news, I thought, expecting a ride to Muenchen. Wrong. The guy was flying from Duesseldorf to Muenchen, after spending a week in the Netherlands for his job. We had such an animated discussion, that I didn't notice passing the gas station where I needed to get off. As a result, I had to get off at a very basic parking next to the autobahn. Not a good thing at all. Afraid of already being stuck so early in the day I asked every driver that stopped there to take me with him to the next parking, since the next gas station was too far away for comfort. That is, some 60km, but in the 'Ruhrgebied', that's like the other side of the world. I was lucky. A guy in a pickup was so kind as to drive me to the next parking. Jammed My next two rides were from two friendly, but not talkative men. The first, driving a pickup truck, the second, an old van. However, the objective wasn't, to meet new people, but to get out of the Ruhrgebied quickly. This, to my surprise, went fairly smoothly. I arrived at another gas station soon. Hordes of Dutch, traveling south to Austria, Switzerland and Italy were stopping to chill, so finding a ride here wouldn't be much of a problem. After only a couple of minutes I got a ride from two Dutch men. I was luckier than I thought. Not only did they share one of their raw herrings, a typically Dutch treat, we also talked a bit before setting off. And there I learned they weren't going in the right direction at all! I said good-bye, took my backpack out of the car, forgot my hitchhiker's guide to Europe and went out in search for a car going in the right direction. A Dutch couple, working at the University of Twente, were willing to take me with them and were going in the right direction. I did have to convince them, though. Mostly because they didn't have any room in their car. Not that it was small. In fact, it was a huge Volvo. But it was packed to the brim, camping gear all around, heaps of books, bicycles on the back of the car. So there wasn't any room anymore for anyone to sit absolutely anywhere. Willing to put my legs around my neck, if necessary, they made some room for me and I was settled for a couple of hours, reasonably comfortably. Although I did get a bad leg cramp later on for sitting in such a tight spot. It being the first week of summer holidays in Germany, the roads were packed. The Dutch couple, claiming to be traffic-jam spotters, were very adept in avoiding the traffic jams along the way. They were going to Switzerland and they didn't really mind if they would enter the country either East or West. Me, however, I did mind a lot in which direction we were going as long as I ended up in Austria. The result being that although we 'did' quite a distance in a short time, I wasn't really moving towards my destination. Still, the weather was clearing, the temperature was getting warmer. By now, it wasn't that bad anymore if my trip would take me a bit longer as planned. When I got out of the car, we were close to Heidelberg. Wrong way It's rare to get a ride from someone who isn't (or hasn't been) a traveler himself. But close to Heidelberg it actually did happen to me. A stereotypical German, working for Mercedes, driving a, you've guessed it, gave me a ride. A pity with people that don't travel much is that, generally, they don't have a good sense of direction and distance. I was trying to get back on the main road through Passau to Vienna. Because of traffic jams earlier on I was forced to take a more southern route and this guy was going in the right direction, directly east. At least, that was what he thought. He did go east, for a while, but then he took a turn southwards, some 150km earlier than what he had pointed out on the map. I felt fucked but tried to remain calm. What could I do? Getting off at the first gas station, since the Mercedes-man was leaving the autobahn soon after, I was picked up after another 30 minutes or so. This time by, seemingly, an older hippy, driving an old van, towing a very old car, who constantly talked about some Danish Lama, Ole Nydahl. I mean, really, this guy couldn't stop talking about Buddhism. Not that I really minded. He was very friendly and really went out of his way to drop me off on the right side of Stuttgart, towards Austria. The fact that the van did an average 60km/h didn't really bother me. It was hard to get a ride from Stuttgart. Not that people weren't willing to take me with them. They were going in the wrong direction. Almost everyone went south. As were the couple that gave me the next ride. Still, they were going a bit to the east first, passing the next gas station. Before we actually took off, I had been waiting for close to an hour. This wasn't promising, I still had a very long way to go. Lucky Baba The wait paid off. I halted a really big bad ass car, with only one person (although huge) in it. The car had Bulgarian license plates. I got lucky, more by being pushy then by the friendliness of the driver. He let me hitch a ride with him and it turned out that he was actually going to Bulgaria. I got along as far as Budapest. The guy's plan was to stop for the night some kilometers short of Budapest. Although it was getting pretty late, I was happy I could convince him to drive on, and sleep in Budapest. We arrived at the hostel I had made reservations by cell phone, just a couple of minutes before 2am. I paid for his nights stay, which seemed fair, considering the man drove me almost 850km, but he only staid a couple of hours. At 6am, he was up again, leaving for the final leg of his trip. Although it was quite hard to talk to the man, his English knowledge was very basic, I learned that he was working for a shipping company on the border between Bulgaria and Romania and that he had been in Germany to visit several ports. An interesting story that he told was, of a girl in his village, some 25 years old, who had been taken in by police for questioning, who would only be let out on charge of a really high bail. After the girl called him, using the police phone, he went in and freed the girl, using, undoubtedly, his ancient Bulgarian techniques of persuasion... [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2726 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 561 [iOldID] => 1050 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461760006 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 51.9228 [fLongitude] => 4.45848 [tLocation] => Woongroep Buitensporig [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20000705 ) [676] => Array ( [iID] => 676 [tTitle] => Mi Casa es su Casa [tSlug] => mi-casa-es-su-casa [iTime] => 962661600 [iUpdate] => 962661600 [tDescription] => In the summer of 2000, the first summer of the new millennium, I spent three weeks traveling some parts of southeastern Europe. Not only that, with 16 friends, we built a house in Beius, Romania. In just five days, we were able to built the house from the ground up! Okay, so windows, plumbing, electricity and a lot of other stuff still had to be installed, but who's counting. The other two weeks I visited Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Skopje, Tirana and a couple of other places, to finish it off with a couple of wonderful days in Rome, with my girlfriend Vinca. Budapest especially being strange, returning there for the first time in 3 years, having lived there for a year in 1997. As what always happens on these trips, I met a lot of interesting people, saw a lot of fantastic places, and only had time to relax after I got home again. Although it was summer, it was a busy time at work. Our customers are companies maintaining capital intensive production processes. Companies like Shell, Elf, Corus and others. Although typically, these companies all but shut down during summer, my agenda was packed. Going away for more than three weeks definitely wouldn't help. Only a couple of weeks after returning from Southeastern Europe, I had scheduled a week-long trip to the UK, for trying to sell our main software product to potential customers. All arrangements for that, I had to make before going away. Not just that, I had to make sure the IT infrastructure at the office would not breakdown in any way during my absence, that backup plans were in place and that everyone knew what to do in case of an (IT-)emergency. On top of that, with some friends from my fraternity, I was busy compiling a book, on 15 years of our existence. This too needed to be finished before setting of. I was to take the 6am train from Rotterdam to Arnhem on Wednesday. By the time I got to bed, it was 1:15am. Already Wednesday. I was looking at less then 4 hours of sleep. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7319 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 561 [iOldID] => 1048 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462181214 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 51.9228 [fLongitude] => 4.45848 [tLocation] => Woongroep Buitensporig [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20000704 ) [734] => Array ( [iID] => 734 [tTitle] => North of France [tSlug] => north-of-france [iTime] => 926632800 [iUpdate] => 926632800 [tDescription] => This trip's Tasteless Tacky Tourists are Benno Richters, Joost Hofstede, Harm-Jan Meester and Babak Fakhamzadeh. Four men, united by their Veto, sometimes travel the European continent in search for enlightenment. Mere weeks before going to Luxembourg et al, they enjoyed France so much, having visited the cote d'Azur in the south, they decided to do the north as well. So, in a four day trip in May 1999, this time staying closer to home, the Masters visited Luxembourg, Metz, Nancy, Reims, Lille and Diksmuide. Off to see the wizard So there we were. Waiting in Brussels, poised to go. Only minutes away from a four day alcohol binge. This time looking at a mere 1500km drive, covering six cities in the north of France and north of France. Featuring only one European capital this time Luxembourg, the start of our journey was an unavoidable stop on our way to France. Definitely the most spectacularly situated capital, Luxembourg is a friendly city with friendly people. Stopping in Metz on our way to Nancy, both cities are proof that the more to the south you go in Europe, the more people like to enjoy life. As specially Nancy, with its large groups of youngsters 'hanging out' is a nice place to while away the hours. Still, we were also looking for the 'classical' North of France. The industrialist north has never been known for its friendliness. The cities of Reims and Lille prove that very point. Both ugly, industrialist cities, at least Lille offers very interesting night life. And then there is Diksmuide. This Belgian city was completely wasted during the first world war. Now, surrounded by war memorials, it reminds the visitor of the aggressive European past. So, where to start? Well, in Luxembourg of course. Luxembourg The sleeping capital The size of an insignificant provincial city, the streets bursting with bigger than life banks and spectacularly located, Luxembourg is one of the more stranger European capitals, providing refuge for a large portion of Belgians and Dutch, trying to evade taxes. In the gorge between the old city and the new town, we found Luxembourg's youth hostel. Crowded with Canadians, we had a hard time getting through to the reception but we where able to secure a room. Site seeing is no more than a quick trip around the old town and taking a look at the Casemates, a large underground defense system, where we were able to spent several hours, because of signs not totally agreeing with each other. After that, you can while away the hours in one of the bars in the city center and enjoy the nice and quietness of this European capital. The start of a good holiday obviously calls for celebration. The four of us and Jack where going for it, until Joost gave out. Refusing his very nice Mexican meal, he opted for praying to the porcelain god during dinner. The city center and old city, not more than several hundreds of meters across is lively and very friendly by day, the gorge, between the old city and the region around the train station providing for lively scenes by night. After dinner, while enjoying some nice Bofferding beer in one of the pubs, we enjoyed lap-dances and a real spontaneous striptease by one of the locals. Okay, she was trying to impress her boyfriend, but we had the benefit. Too drunk, he ignored her, and she chose the good Harm-Jan instead. That is, until her boyfriend woke up and started to chase us, pissed and drunk, around the pub. Not being able to catch up with our athletic powers, after some twenty minutes, the nice lady started to go after us as well. She, realizing, that now, her boy was going to be unable to perform during the night. We walked back to the hostel, being welcomed by the same hordes of Canadians we encountered earlier in the day. This time however, they dwindled down to a couple rapidly and, intoxicated by Jack and too much Bofferding and tired from the physical excersice in the pub earlier on, we where almost witness of a Canadian rape. On our last legs, as real Mounties, I guess, we were able to save the day, slam-dunk the bad guy unconscious and free the babe. She, however, had one of the ugliest faces I have ever seen. Next stop: Metz. 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