Thursday, 17 January 2013

Update and loose ends?

Soon we will continue this blog.
After 2 years of living in Cyprus there is a lot to tell. Good and sad things.

We will let you know.

Happy New Year!!

S & M.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Honey, I am home!

(Loose ends will follow.)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

19 - About clouds and more...

The ash cloud from Iceland has reached Cyprus. If not physically, then certainly in a practical sense.

In our last blog we said that we would have visitors. Even though our neighbours are friendly and we are welcomed everywhere with open arms, we looked forward to the coming of our family. First, S's brother and his wife. Fortunately, the weather these weeks was very well, so for them it became a real beach holiday.
The night before Tim would be coming the airspace in the Netherlands closed. For a long time it was uncertain whether one could fly from Germany so he left early by train to Düsseldorf.
Using mobile phone and text message we kept each other informed about progress; Tim as he actually experienced it and we following the news and information on the Internet. Nevertheless, the result was that Tim still had to take the train back to Eindhoven. Rebooking to Sunday? Unfortunately, that day it appeared no air traffic either.
The third attempt, for Tuesday, and again no luck. If we would have continued to try, the first opportunity would have been on Thursday, with an arrival at half past eleven in the evening. His departure was fixed for seven o'clock on Sunday morning. That would have been 2 days and 2.5 night in Cyprus. Too bad but it is the way it is.
At those moments you notice that you miss 'home' more than you realize. Not that we sat in sackcloth and ashes, but, let's say, optimism has suffered a dent.

Fortunately there is plenty to do here and if we are bored we even make shopping into a project.
That in itself is not so difficult. Each store has its own charms or delights. For the prices you do not need to compare. There seems to be a resale price maintenance. Everything is everywhere, with a few minor exceptions, the same price. So you choose on availability, accessibility and customer service (read: nice cashiers).
Driving from Girne to Lapta we sometimes make multiple stops: 

Hürdeniz: For fresh fish, coffee (Lavazza, espresso. We cant get it anywhere else.), wine and vodka.

Lemar: For Maaslander cheese. Is the largest supermarket

Tempo: for coconut and almond biscuits.

Bektas: For the non-food department, wooden spoons, dough roller / stick. 

 Bell: Only English frozen and canned food.

Ileli: Average range, nothing special but open just about 24 hours a day.

Starling 1: Best butcher, for both sheep and beef.

Atakara: In the first weeks our regular address, now a bit off route.

Ya Beles: Fruits, lots of fruits and vegetables. Only shop where you will be hugged on entry.
Eggs from the farm.

Starling 2: our most at hand supermarket for everyday things.

For reasons of privacy of those involved no pictures of the cashiers.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

18 - Two or Three.

Actually you do not talk about it, but this time we make an exception.
People who know us well will know that we share almost everything together, we love to work together and the two of us can spend days together without having to see anyone else.
Apparently its the same during this trip, but appearances are deceiving. Actually from Valkenswaard on we travel with the three of us. From time to time our companion surprises us with sensual allusions and she describes her desires.
Sometimes we ask her to be quiet for a while, but honestly we both think it is just nice when she opens her mouth again. And while doing so she gives us even goosebumps.
Seldom have we seen so much musicality, agitation, depth, profoundness, tragedy, self-awareness, denial, drama, crap, quality and feeling in one person. We like Amy Winehouse.

Given her lifestyle is not certain that there are many albums to follow, so we cherish and enjoy what is available as long as it can, you can't always listen to Pink Floyd. ;-)

Moreover, starting next Friday, there will be more people in our small house.
We already knew that S's brother and his wife would come from Istanbul to Cyprus because of the elections on April 18. They stay with us for a week. But, son Tim is also coming for a week! Friday we pick him up from the airport and 9 days later he will fly back. The week program is still open but we do anticipate his arrival when we shop for groceries.

17 - New Friend

The world here seems to be smaller and more manageable. Yet I do manage sometimes to drive into an unexpected dead end street. Of course one day I've learned to turn in three times, but unfortunately the streets here, or rather lanes, are narrower than  foreseen in the driving training of the CBR (Dutch organisation responsible for the isuue of driving licences). So drive until you reach a side road, or a parking spot, or just a narrow strip along the road without cliffs or rocks. Yes, living in a mountain country is different!

Last Thursday was a beautiful day. Early on, the warmth of the sun, which made the humidity of the night disappear quickly and one could enjoy the every day beautiful views. Sometimes the air is so humid that the horizon over the sea is barely visible. Sea and sky than merge completely. But not that morning. Blue skies and an unobstructed view, in short, a good day for another ride up the mountain. Of course it is not The Alpes here, but still, but for a Dutchman, very impressive pimples.

S wanted to work on the website, for M pulled the 'adventure'.

Where the asphalt ends, the fun begins. Deep tracks, worn out by the streams after abundant rainfall in recent weeks, making each simple dirt track a challenge. The higher you go the more narrow the road and the less likely that its cleared after that last downpour; each time there are stones, mud and rocks loosened from the mountainsides. Quietly manoeuvring you quickly leave the villas behind you and the views are getting better, you see more and more flowers, smell the wild thyme and hear the bees over the sound of the diesel.

Than, high on the mountain, between the trees and partly overgrown with bushes a chapel. 

There are many chapels in Cyprus. Generally of Greek Orthodox origin, of before 1974. Many have been restored, but most have half or completely collapsed and they are often used as a shelter for the night by shepherds and wanderers. All valuables, including mosaics and even murals have disappeared.
My attention was drawn by the broken crosses in the cemetery.

Not only the crosses, but also the graves were destroyed.
You do not have to be faithful to have a hard time about desecration.

As I am told there are organized groups from both North and South Cyprus, which are paid for, commissioned, to steal the valuables from each others (religious) inheritances. 
Naturally, the local 'hooligans' are blamed.

It made me silent.


The way down was less exciting, but, once back in Lapta, the logic of infrastructure on site (a maze of streets running up and down) played a key role in finding the dead end street.

Of course I had seen that tanker before. On the way back I saw him again. Now it was parked in the middle of the road while a black hose spewed an enormous stream of water in the pool of the apartments along the road.

The driver made an apologetic gesture.
There was no other choice than to wait until the man had done his work and would continue to drive.

With words, hands and feet, he told me to get out because it would take approximately 10 minutes. I speak only a little Turkish, but do understand it a bit and we were able to fill those ten minutes chatting.

Now I know that an average pool needs 5 tankers of water. Each freight costs 100 lira and Mustafa (as he is called) fills two swimming pools a day. The drive in and out, filling the tanker and emptying it takes almost an hour.
He also has a 4x4 car, a Nissan, and we compared cylinders, fuel and profile depths. So it was fun and I was invited to his home for coffee. No, not next week or on occasion, but right now: “Follow me".

And some time later, there you are, after you threw yourself with blood curdling speed down the mountain behind that truck, with a nice cup of coffee in a courtyard behind Mustafa's house, on a sunny Thursday morning in Lapta.

I made a new friend.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

16 - Moved


We were quiet for a while and we hope no one takes it personally.
For us it is not really quiet, although the days here are threading naturally and effortlessly together. The 24 hours economy, talked about often in the Netherlands seems to be the reality of the day over here, or better, a 7 days a week reality with no difference between Sun, Satur or Thurs.
Individual economic motives probably play an important role, especially for smaller retailers because for them its a hard struggle.
For the supermarkets it is normal to be open from 7 in the morning till midnight. With what kind of shift that is achieved we do not know, but it will not be with the irregularity compensation as we know it in the Netherlands.

Since we are here now for some time, preferences emerge for various neighborhood shops, supermarkets, market stalls and restaurants.
Conversely, people, especially in the smaller shops, start to recognize us and we are happily greeted on entering. And they all tell us enthusiastic stories, which of course can only be properly understood by S, since M's language deficiency is still very high. The Turkish spoken here, you can compare with the Limburg language in the Netherlands, a different accent and many words lent from the neighboring country. Additionally, here they speak double speed. No easy language lessons.

We are now almost two months on the road and honestly, we like it. Of course we miss the kids, family, friends and things like our own bed, toilet and kitchen, but it feels good to be here. A prelude to the decision to be taken? I do not know. Everything will depend on whether we can earn an income from work, here or in a remote way.
The way we live now is absolutely the end. It feels as if we placed ourselves in a Southern French Province house.

Because it is furnished, it is therefore full of stuff from other people. They have the habit to explore flea markets and shops and buy all kind of things. The result is that the house is filled with trinkets, a canopy bed, benches, table(s), chairs and cupboards. These cupboards are full of cups, plates, dishes, glasses, pots and pans, some with price labels still attached. On the walls rustic scenes, harbors, nudes and walled cities, mostly in watercolor.

Most of that stuff we would never buy, but here, strangely, is it in place. Though we did ask for some big boxes so we can move several things to the basement.

The owner, Dogan, is very friendly. He is also our neighbor and lives with his wife Hürmüs in the other part of the house. We drink coffee regularly and sometimes we eat together. They see to it that we can really feel at home.

Of course there is the risk of seeing things too optimistic, but we often think that everyone here in Northern Cyprus is very friendly. Especially compared to the south and even compared with Turkey, while that country has a reputation for friendliness and hospitality.

Not so long ago the house was restored. It used to be an olive mill. The space below the living area was used as storage. The original house was expanded over time. Not because the family was growing, but probably because the front part was a guesthouse. A kind of bed & breakfast for the farmers who came to have their olives pressed. The next day they could take their oil, freshly pressed, to their home.
So now we live there. The olives grow in the garden but are no longer pressed here. Therefore no more donkeys that used to make the mill go round. However many other animals. If you consider that we have only fish in Valkenswaard!
Now we wake up to the crowing of the cock and sound of the chicken (we share the fresh egg every other day), we jump out of bed (literally, it's a very high bed) and then, when we open the kitchen door ... eight cats and two dogs stare us, quizzically.

One dog is Dogan's, the other he has adopted from the street. His own dog, is not only named Chow Chow, but also is, is pretty watchful. The first time we got home while there was nobody else, was very exciting. The dog was standing at the top of the stairs and made a grunting sound. The sweat ran through M's crack. If CC smelled that, we do not know. M pretended to be tough and mumbled something like "Well Well" and walked past him without looking, than quickly climbed the stairs.
You should try to open a door for the first time, nearing dusk using a poorly fitting key while you tremble and shake and a slight panic takes over. Yes, M is simply terrified of dogs.
Fortunately, the dog stayed downstairs and the door opened. From the balcony at the front, M quickly warned S who was gathering the groceries from the car.
S, slightly less terrified than M, stepped firmly along CC and did her best to ignore him as best as possible. CC growled dangerously. With the adrenaline still fresh in his body M 'dared' to come out and call to the dog.
S entered safely, but that night M was afraid to get out.
This unexpected situation called for discussion. During the tour, the owner was always there and the photos had no threatening dog visible.
Although the house is very nice and romantic, being locked in for 2 months is not the intention.

The next morning, the first time we experienced the spectacle with the two dogs and eight cats, Dogan advised us to throw a biscuit to CC.
 Now that dog wants to stay with us all the time. It lies cross our door, down the stairs, top of the stairs, even on the stairs ... to protect us. Even against the cats. If they are too pushy he hunts them away. Unbelievable. And very good for M's self confidence!
The other dog is a real street dog, a bitch that was probably abused previously. She is always wagging their tails at us, but if we get too close she turns and walks away. But that look in her eyes .... so sad! When we arrived she was heavily pregnant. A week ago we saw her suddenly slimmed. She has her puppies hidden somewhere and will show them for sure, one of these days. She looks less sad and dares to come closer now, at least ... when CC is not around, because he is very jealous.
Now most of the time the dogs are in front of our door. The Dogan doesn't understand it. He says it never happened before. :)

Monday, 15 March 2010

15 - Radio report part 6

Guus Meeuwis with Brabant:
(Translated below)

Een muts op mijn hoofd, mijn kraag staat omhoog
Het is hier ijskoud, maar gelukkig wel droog
De dagen zijn kort hier, de nacht begint vroeg
De mensen zijn stug en er is maar een kroeg
Als ik naar mijn hotel loop, na een donkere dag
Dan voel ik mijn huissleutel diep in mijn zak

En ik loop hier alleen in een te stille stad
Ik heb eigenlijk nooit last van heimwee gehad
Maar de mensen ze slapen, de wereld gaat dicht
En dan denk ik aan Brabant, want daar brandt nog licht

Ik mis hier de warmte van een dorpscafé
De aanspraak van mensen met een zachte G
Ik mis zelfs het zeiken op alles om niets
Was men maar op Brabant zo trots als een Fries
In het zuiden vol zon woon ik samen met jou
Tis daarom dat ik zo van Brabanders hou

En ik loop hier alleen in een te stille stad
Ik heb eigenlijk nooit last van heimwee gehad
Maar de mensen ze slapen, de wereld gaat dicht
En dan denk ik aan Brabant, want daar brandt nog licht

De Peel en de Kempen en de Meierij
Maar het mooiste aan Brabant ben jij dat ben jij
Ik loop hier alleen in een te stille stad
Ik heb eigenlijk nooit last van heimwee gehad
Maar de mensen ze slapen, de wereld gaat dicht
En dan denk ik aan Brabant, want daar brandt nog licht

En dan denk ik aan Brabant, want daar brandt nog licht

En dan denk ik aan Brabant, want daar brandt nog licht


A cap on my head, my collar stands up
It is cold here, but fortunately its dry
The days are short here, the night starts early
The people are tough and there is only one pub
When I walk into my hotel, after a dark day
Then I feel my house key deep in my pocket

And here I walk alone in a too quiet town
In fact I've never been homesick
But the people they sleep, the world closes
And then I think of Brabant, because there the light still burns

Here I miss the warmth of a village pub
The way people talk to me with a soft G
I even miss the nagging on everything about nothing
If only one was as proud of Brabant as a Fries
In the south full of sun I live together with you
Its why I love the Brabant folks

And here I walk alone in a too quiet town
In fact I've never been homesick
But the people they sleep, the world closes
And then I think of Brabant, because there the light still burns

The Peel and the Kempen and the Meierij
But the best of Brabant, is you that is you
Here I walk alone in a too quiet town
In fact I've never been homesick
But the people they sleep, the world closes
And then I think of Brabant, because there the light still burns

And then I think of Brabant, because there the light still burns

And then I think of Brabant, because there the light still burns

F: So that was our Brabant Guus.
Well S and M, thank you for your candour. I am sure the listeners have enjoyed. Will you stay there for much longer?
S: We stay here until late April, then we go to Turkey. End of May we are back home.
F: So dear listeners keep on submitting your questions and who knows we ask S and M again to free up time for us and chat with us some. Of course we love to play your musical requests.
Bye all.

M: They still don't know what you wanted to say about that house ..
S: Just that it is an authentic Cypriot house with a fireplace. Very romantic. And warm.

14 - Radio report part 5

F: So far Gerard van Maasakkers. You like Gerard van Maasakkers S and M?
M: I hardly ever listen to him. I met him once, years ago at a presentation of a film of mine in Eindhoven. He was very enthusiastic about the music I used, from Art of Noise. I do not think it has influenced his music substantially thereafter. But if he occasionally passes on the radio I do not mind.
F: We have a question of G from S. He wants to know if the car is doing well and how expensive diesel is in Cyprus.
M: The LandRover is doing terribly well. We attract a lot of attention with it, particularly the winch on the front bumper feeds the imagination. It feels really cool to drive around in that thing. Soon we will go to Arkamas, a peninsula in the south to do some real off-road driving. As it seems it is not only allowed, but it is even famous in the 4x4 world for it. Here we do sometimes, but because of the mud and pits we are careful. Before you know it you're stuck. The nice part to it is that we get much further than with a rental in the previous years. A piece of dirt is no problem. The diesel fuel is suddenly very pleasurably priced: TL 1.70, which is € 0.85 per litre.
F: M from V wants to know if you have made any spectacular discoveries.
S: In the long history of the island there have been many waves of archaeological excavations. The probability of us suddenly discover something new is small, but perhaps we have done a little rediscovery.
The week before M went to have a look at Lambousa. Of course he could come very close with the car, despite mud, stones and a descent. Later, when he wanted to bring me there and show me the fish pond of antiquity, carved in the rocks in the sea, the path appeared impassable.
M: The rain of previous days had completely washed away the path, thus uncovering a series of rocks, carved in the rocks. Lambousa was a port in ancient times that has been under the control of Romans and Phoenicians, but the residents were eventually expelled by the Arabs. Several excavations have brought many artefacts to the surface, but we suspect that during the last archaeological round in the early 90's of the last century they the funding was cut and they filled up the place with debris. It is now partly washed out again. Our friends of Aphrodite will probably know more of this so the story will be continued. Later we will put the pictures on the web. Unfortunately I can not drive the car down there any more. Besides, two church towers of the old harbour village should be visible as well, but they are on military grounds and not accessible to visitors.
F: Did you suffer a lot of military or political?
M: Not directly, but it is everywhere visible and palpable.
Yesterday we were in the capital and we walked through the back streets. Suddenly you are standing in front of a barbed wire and you see a house of which only the front is intact. The back is a ruin and with the support of a scaffold that is placed against it, used as an observation post. We have no pictures of it, because taking them it prohibited and we do not know how far they are here to enforce rules. Any way they do have enough visible blue (and green) on the street.
The population however is very laconic about rules. Everyone knows someone who works with the police or government. Short lines make a lot possible.
In southern Nicosia we know, via via, a businessman who took us on a Saturday night to a real Cyprian restaurant. It was the first time we went over the Green Line by car. It was surprisingly smooth. Parking at the restaurant as well. The food was absolutely fantastic, exuberant tasty, and way too much. Our coffee we wanted to take downtown, so we followed our friend into nightly Nicosia. Everywhere people outside bars and restaurants, partly because the smoking ban here as well, but nowhere a parking spot. Our guide just parked his car on the sidewalk in a busy street and gestured that we had to do the same. During coffee I asked him if we could get a problem with. He replied laconically: "I don't, they know me". He has some important business with a company that deals with international relations and trade, was good friends with Makarios and his brother seems to be in the government. Anyway, the coffee was finished and luckily the car was still there without a ticket. Don't try this in the Damstraat in Amsterdam.
F: We are almost at the end of the broadcast today. S, I still haven't understood what you wanted to tell about that house.
S: Dogan showed us the house and told the new tenant wouldn't move in till one month after. He was going to call him and see if that could be two months. First he showed us another house, further up the mountain. This house however was a bit coldish and also somewhat isolated. We did meet Tamer, Dogan's brother. At his place we drank coffee and got to talking. The brothers know a lot of people who write, act and make films. They want to organize our acquaintance with that group. It was hard not to be enthusiastic. Dogan did arrange the second month for the first house and we agreed on the price (you have little choice). They make everything ready so we can move in.
F: When are you going there?
S: We change homes on Sunday. Saturday night we tackle everything and Sunday we drive up there. Fortunately it is completely furnished and it even has a washing machine, but what was especially interesting that it is an authentic Cypriot house with ...
F: I almost forgot a request from M In E, she is afraid that you are already homesick and has therefore requested this song, from Guus Meeuwis, yes, you guessed it right, Brabant.
Here it is, Guus Meeuwis with Brabant:

13 - Radio report part 4

Gerard van Maasakkers and "hee gaode mee”:
(Translated below)

Hee gaode mee dan gaon we'n eindje lopen
Hou toch op mee poetsen, kijk toch nie zo nauw
Hee gaode mee, de bluumkes staon weer open
Laot oewe jas mer hangen, 't is nie kou

Ik weet 'n plaatske in 't Nuenens Broek
D'r is nog niemand ooit geweest
Wij gaon d'r samen nou 's op bezoek
Dan maken wij mee alle plantjes
En alle vogelkes in 't Broek 'n hul groot fist

Hee gaode mee dan gaon we'n eindje lopen
Hou toch op mee poetsen, kijk toch nie zo nauw
Hee gaode mee, de bluumkes staon weer open
Laot oewe jas mer hangen, 't is nie kou

De zon gao nerges zo schoon onder as daor
En nerges is de lucht zo blauw
D'r liggen nerges zoveul blaaikes as daor
Dus haalt oew schoen mer van de zulder
En kamt mer vlug wa dur oew haor
Dan gaon we gauw

Hee gaode mee dan gaon we'n eindje lopen
Hou toch op mee poetsen, kijk toch nie zo nauw
Hee gaode mee, de bluumkes staon weer open
Laot oewe jas mer hangen, 't is nie kou

Translated by Google:
Hee Gaon gaode it than we'n short walk
Give me a polish them, yet look as closely nie
Hee gaode along the bluumkes staon reopen
Laot oewe mer coat hanging, 't is nie cold

I know my plaatske in 't Broek Nuenen
We got it no one ever been
Together we gaan d'r nou 's visit
Then we test all plants
And all vogelkes in 't Broek' n hul big fist

Hee Gaon gaode it than we'n short walk
Give me a polish them, yet look as closely nie
Hee gaode along the bluumkes staon reopen
Laot oewe mer coat hanging, 't is nie cold

The Sun gao nerges as clean under as DAOR
Nerges And the sky is so blue
D'r are nerges zoveul blaaikes as DAOR
So the number of the shoe gets OEW zulder
And combs mer quick wa dur OEW haor
Dan gaan we soon

Hee Gaon gaode it than we'n short walk
Give me a polish them, yet look as closely nie
Hee gaode along the bluumkes staon reopen
Laot oewe mer coat hanging, 't is nie cold

12 - Radio report part 3

F: These were the Mandolins from Nicosia, that today came from Assensjak.
I believe S some wanted to tell about the new house.
S: We have, in between thunderstorms, visited various estate agents. To see what is available for purchase and what is for rent.
F: Are houses expensive in Cyprus?
M: Here one has a lot more square and cubic meters for less money. Unfortunately it is not always clear who has the actual rights to the land and houses are often built into projects. They are mainly British expatriates who are buying houses and so they can sit nicely together. It looks as if entire Western European suburbs are transplanted into a previously little rustic peace of Cyprus. It should be illegal!
F: By the way S, what did you want to tell about that house?
S: I will get to that. When I cam back on Saturday, M showed me a strange looking restaurant in a village near here, in Lapta.
F: Why strange?
S: It was clearly restored, with beautiful stained glass windows, but outside many large ceramic vases, antique things and some clutter. Also two dogs, a few old cars, a lot of flower pots and firewood. It looks as it is closed, but seems to be open. An old Cypriot, military pants, red beret, comes out to feed the dogs with some leftovers from fish. M lowers the window and asks, in English, whether it is a real restaurant.
The man is quite excited, speaks English, Turkish and Greek together, is not drunk, maybe a little tipsy, but not much, and asks our names where we come from. We must come in.
M: Through the kitchen, which is indescribable, we walk into the restaurant. There are three older Englishmen, who had just eaten, at a table, and they compliment us ..
F: Compliment?
M: Yes, they congratulate us with the fact that we have found this place. Why we do not know, but it do is a peculiar place.
In short, we get something to drink, look around and make an appointment for the next day for dinner.
F: And have you been?
S: Yes. Sunday we ate there. All good things that the old man prepares himself, fresh wild asparagus with egg, a sort leaves, that look like spinach, in olive oil, salad, olives, fried cheese, beans, all starters before a delicious fish that was grilled in the stove. The man could appear just like that in TV program about eccentric people. A continuous “speech waterfall”, but someone with whom you can feel at home.
M: It appears that this man has a two sons who buy old Cypriot ruins and rebuilt them with authentic materials according to original designs to homes.
When I phoned them the next day, the man already knew that we wanted to come along, his father told him.
S: On Monday we first looked around with another Estate Manager. He offered us a true villa. A large furnished house, big kitchen, spacious living room, three bedrooms, CV, golf clubs, pool. All tiled and marbled. Between a couple of other equally big houses. The neighbours on the left side are not there, the neighbours on the right are a retired couple and English teachers who are always there. 400 Pound plus heating, electricity and water.
M: Nice house, but I also imagined what it would cost to get that place heated. Furthermore we do not actually want to live like that, but amongst people. And we mean real Cypriots.
S: So on Tuesday we went to the son. He is called Dogan (pronounced Do_an). Unfortunately, the building that we saw on the internet was just one day before, let for a whole year. That was a disappointment. We could see it. It was very nice. Oblong. On the first floor, storage space is below. Dining kitchen. Look at
It's just an authentic Cypriot house with ....
P: And we go to our next recording. I thought because S and M left from Brabant it is a fun idea fun for the Brabant troubadour Gerard van Maasakkers and "hee gaode mee" (Hey will you go along) to be heard.
Gerard van Maasakkers and "hee gaode mee”:

11 - Radio report part 2

De Zangeres Zonder Naam met 'Mandolinen in Nicosia'
(Translated below)

Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
In het middernachtelijk uur onder een hemel van azuur
Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
Hun exotische muziek, in een nacht vol romantiek
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen voor Maria

De druivenplukkers trokken door het land
Andreas nam Maria bij de hand
Ze dansten en ze dronken een paar glazen
Maria raakte spoedig in extase
Het werd een nacht vol hartstocht en vol vuur
Tot aan het vroege morgenuur

Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
In het middernachtelijk uur onder een hemel van azuur
Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
Hun exotische muziek, in een nacht vol romantiek
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen voor Maria

Maar druivenplukkers trekken altijd voort
En zoeken hun geluk van oord tot oord
Maria ligt nu 's nachts te vergeefs te wachten
Gepijnigd door wanhopige gedachten
Andreas heeft z'n nieuwe avontuur
Ergens in een druivenschuur

Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
In het middernachtelijk uur onder een hemel van azuur
Mandolinen zongen zacht in Nicosia
Hun exotische muziek, in een nacht vol romantiek
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen voor Maria

Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen voor Maria

Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
In the midnight hours under a sky of azure
Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
Their exotic music, a night of romance
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen for Maria

The grape wander through the land
Andreas took Maria by the hand
They danced and they drank a few glasses
Maria soon became ecstatic
It was a night of passion and full of fire
Until the early morning hour

Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
In the midnight hours under a sky of azure
Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
Their exotic music, a night of romance
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen for Maria

But grape pickers always move on
And seek their fortune from place to place
Maria now light waiting, in vain
Tormented by desperate thoughts
Andreas has his new adventure
Somewhere in a grapes barn

Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
In the midnight hours under a sky of azure
Mandolins sang softly in Nicosia
Their exotic music, a night of romance
Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen for Maria

Mandomandolinen in Nicosia
Mandomandolinen for Maria

10 - Radio report part 1

F(emale Host): This week in our program listeners wil ask questions to S and M who are travelling to Greece. Oh no, sorry, through Greece and I believe travelled through Turkey to Cyprus. S and M are listening to us and answers via a direct radio link from Nicosia.
Hi S and M, can you hear me?
S: Yes
M: Yes, loud and clear. Only we are not in Nicosia, but in Alsancak, (pronounced; Alsandzjak) a small town on the northern coast, near Girne.
F: Oh, on my note it says radio Nicosia, so I thought you are there. That's okay though. In Assensjak. Is there night as well?
S: In Alsancak it is one hours later than in the Netherlands. The evenings last longer, but morning light comes much earlier.
F: Is Assensjak a nice place?
M: Alsancak!
F: Yes, It is what I said, Assensjak, a nice place?
M: Not too much visible. It is still winter. But we have not been out much here. Last week was really bad weather with very much rain, thunder and lightning storm. Not just an hour, but consecutive days. There is no central heating mode and the warming mode of the airco was up to it. We literally slept under a pile of quilts and blankets to get and stay warm. Sometimes we took a drive by car to get warmed up. But that was not always easy because of the mud the sometimes road that were washed away and the flooding and detours.
S: Last week I went down briefly to Mersin, because of my mother's birthday and for papers to retrieve. Left on Thursday with the boat. Everyone on board was sick due to rough weather. When I wanted to return Friday there was no connection possible, it just blew too hard. I could Only come back Saturday.
F: That does not sound very comfortable. Now the weather is warm, right?
S: It is still, especially at night, very cold. By day the sun shines mostly and it is warms quickly, but it cools off significantly and our room was very humid.
F: That brings me to the first question from one of the listeners, L from V asks how you found a place to stay.
S: Beforehand, we found addresses on the Internet of organizations of people renting homes who are a part of year back in, mostly, England. Unfortunately, these homes are often expensive and you have to pay considerable additional costs. We found an address of a hotel, that rents 'villas' at more reasonable prices.
F: How expensive?
M: Between 300 and 400 British pounds per month, excluding water, gas and electricity.
We have chosen the hotel and are now in one of those villas. Although they often use very beautiful words for simple things.
It's just an apartment, sitting room with open kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom and toilet. The finishing could be better. Hahaha
F: Why are you laughing?
M: Because, for instance the sliding doors to the balconies, we have two, are not really burglar proof, but especially because there are no options to hang your towels, except for the large bar in the bathroom. Fortunately S brought these special suckers, so now we now have towels hanging in our bathroom as well as our kitchen. It makes it very homey.
S: However, Sunday we will move to a very nice house in Lapta, an authentic Cypriot house with ....
P: we are ready for our first music. On special request J from A,
The Singer With No name with 'Mandolins in Nicosia'.
De zangeres zonder naam met 'Mandolinen in Nicosia'.

9th - May we go in or not?

The night was very long. Leaving at 2 o'clock, mooring at half past nine. It turned out one of the machines was broken, so the ship only had half strength feed. The original Scandinavian ship, built in 1974, was obviously no longer the youngest, and had already lost much of its glory. Probably experienced its zenith during its daily crossings between Sweden and Denmark, to be discarded because there came a permanent link in its place. How can a ship take revenge? The roll on/off platform at the bow was to recieve thorough maintenance. The 20 meter extra space appeared to be created to manoeuvre the trucks. They had to leave ship backwards.

So there you are, sleep still in your eyes, nothing can amaze you any more.
First on the boat ... Yahoo, last off, in reverse, damn. Makes sense?.
The row of passenger cars on the quay is short, because there were only six on board. Parking, first booth. Two men for the tax / insurance. On presentation of the green card and the payment of 20 TL (Turkish Lira) we get a paper with our plate numbers on it. Now to arrivals and the passport control. No problem, the proper stamps, a merry laugh, we get routine .
Next area. Behind us a conveyor belt for luggage as one sees at airport arrivals. The opposite wall has a duty free shop that opened its shutters, but the owner soon sees there is only a small group of newcomers and before we are finally gone it was locked again. To our right, middle of the room, contrasting with the white marble floors and walls, a wooden shed like structure that can best be described as a self carpentry 'koek en zopie tent' as seen near natural skate tracks in the Netherlands. Two hatches, one of them occupied. The fellow drivers report here with their registration, insurance papers and recently obtained little form. Since one doesn't want to be a difficult person, one adapts and gets in line, neatly. A nice lady with a unclear blue uniform, probably customs, views the documents, stamps them, takes notes and fills impressive documents, in triplicate, on critical paper, white, yellow, blue.
Good morning, Merhaba, here you are. Sigorta? (= insurance). No, we do not need, we have a green card. Cyprus is on it: CY. Ohh, but this is not Cyprus Cyprus, this is Turkish Republic of Cyprus. It is something else. Yes, but Turkey recognizes 'our' green card. (Strange that in such situations you tend to think into us and them and ours and theirs.)
Somewhere in the preparations M has read about the insurance issues, on the Internet of course. But the laptop is in the car and the extension cord is not long enough. How was it? They (here we go again) are trying to sell an expensive insurance, but it is nonsense, you just have to stand firm.
Uncompromising M points on the green card and the word 'international'. Indomitable the lady refuses to issue a certificate. She wants us to go back to that first booth, pay 90 Lira for the first month, mentioning between lines not to forget to get an extension later for another 3 months, no cost, just administrative. Complaints gentleman from the Netherlands? Seems the customer-friendly approach has been introduced here as well. No long discussion on the marble floor, but pass it on to the boss. The most-right building in the parking lot outside, upstairs, second floor, first door right, there's the head, ask there. End of discussion. M's face shows. First to outside. That's not so easy.
The policeman on duty at the exit is now obviously missing stamps and forms. The complaint handling and its resulting logistics is not yet streamlined. With a radiant smile S knows to persuade the officer to let us pass with the promise that we will come back.
Meanwhile M grumbles that without his car he has no intention to leave at all. Fortunately no one besides S understands it.
With practically steam escaping from his ears M steps into the referred building, running the two stairs, knocks on the door and enters without waiting response.
A desk, two men, one lady, a few chairs. The colour grey dominates. Atatürk at the wall. "Sigorta, insurance, problems, green card, international."
The somewhat older gentleman separates himself from the trio and askes in English for the reason of the unannounced visit. S apologizes, whispers to M that this is totally unacceptable but she shows friendliness itself.
M, not aware of any harm, shows the green card to the gentleman and asks for the reason of the refusal of the international document.
The man looks at M with an affable smile: "The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognized by the International World".
Well, what can you say against that. After an impeccable pronounced thank you in Turkish and a faint smile, onwards to the first booth after all. It slowly sinks in with M that he just stood face to face with the supreme boss of the customs in Girne, where he thought he was to wash the ears of one or the other insurance agent. Moreover, the Internet story about the insurance is true but for South Cyprus.
The two men are still in booth 1.
Suddenly the 90 appears to be 145 TL. Why? It is an expensive car. And the 20 you already took? OK, then TL 125. We clearly feel we are screwed, but the two men do not shrink. Another complaint? To be safe, we demand the amount to be written on the form.
Again to arrivals. All passport control booths are empty. Once we were here sniffed by police dogs searching for drugs. (in 2008) After all we do have Dutch passports. Now its all empty. The “koek en zopie tent” lady awaits us. This paper is more like it. Athough she ducks our 90-145 question, she keeps showing her friendly smile. We get the yellow paper. And of course our insurance papers are returned. In our view, its not really a governmental paper, but just another commercial insurance company document. We will find that out later.
Good day lady, goodbye and have fun.
Our policeman at the door, looks into the papers, browse them affectionately, clears his voice and asks where S comes from.
It looks as if every agent, customs officer, booth occupant, handyman or mechanic once came from Mersin. This always creates a – us knows us- atmosphere, after which all behave like knowing each other for years. As does this officer.
Finally outside. Around the building, through the port, deflect a customs officer, after all he was not wearinga uniform or at least didn't wear anything blue, along the now closed kiosk to the car that is now a significant obstacle. Clearly not the best way to make friends in the international truckers world.
We get in, start, someone puts a hand in the air, takes the yellow form and appears to be content.
Out of the gate and remember DRIVE LEFT.
We are in Cyprus. It is half past twelve.

8th - Night games, part 2.

Back outside we see real customs officers at work. Trucks from the boat are immaculately examined, cargo doors open, diesel tanks measured, mattresses behind the seats checked, the kitchen shutters under the trailers viewed; nothing escapes the attention.
From the passenger's cars all doors are open. Searchlights inspect corners, holes, cardboard boxes, garment bags and all sorts of zippers. That is waiting us too when we return in May.
It is now well over half past eleven, the ship is empty and we can return to counter 3. Now the story fits. Another note and another stamp. At the adjacent desk (4) we have to ask a staff member to check the car and sign off.
At this counter are two ink stamp boxes. It looks hopeful. Without ink stamp, this world is silent, so there is always someone coming along. For a moment M plays with a naughty thought, is not that, without this ink stamp ..... etc? Just Kidding. You shouldn't defy fate too much. The wait is long, but it appears no one is short for ink stamp. Lets ask one more time. It seems you can wait in the car, someone will just come along. This is called an unexpected automation.
Quarter past 12.
S is dozing away with the music of a local radio station for minorities.
Half past. Meanwhile, ship 1 is being loaded with an endless row of Ford Ka's, probably meant as a rental car for the upcoming summer season. Most offices are shut or at least dark. There is still a single truck that is inspected and the last person's car drives away now. It is almost one o'clock.
No police car seen, probably no contraband was found. Worked well, the boys can go home. Ehh, at least if we can go too.
It is about a quarter past one as a staff member comes along the line of waiting cars and gives his signature. No control, except for the plates to be the same as in the papers.
Now we go back to office number one for the last initials and .... one paper, the size of a post-it sticker bearing registration number and another initial.
Happy as a child we turn around and stare into the face of the man in the orange overall. He is in a hurry. He remains friendly, but wants our tickets, tears out his copy and wants our newly acquired post-it-sticker. Quickly to our car, we are the first to drive on the boat.
It is well past one.
With extreme precision, the LandRover is tightly directed next a wall. Little forward, some backwards, slightly to the left, a bit to the right. Oops, almost the mirror, no it is all well. You feel the man in orange is growing in his role. His vigour suggests that the fitting and measuring is necessary to have all vehicles placed on the narrow boat. Car on the handbrake, no alarms please.
When we come back later in the hold we see our car grouped with four other cars, then 20 meter nothing and than exactly 5 trucks. Behind that a stray passenger's car. In short it was a calm crossing.
No fighting for the luxury seats, plenty of free places at the window, no long queues at the buffet (with delicious tea). Here and there a deep snoring passenger on the floor or on a continuous row of seats.
Fortunately too, the smoking ban is emphatic present. In the salon no one smokes.

7th - Night games, part 1

The fish tastes good, even the completely in oil cooked fries are eaten. A delicious salad and we had a dessert from the house. Finally a glass of tea.
Half past nine we return to port. With ease we dodge the potholes, we feel on familiar ground now and we turn in the now open gate and park behind a TIR truck.
One simple gate building, two counters.
The first is for access to the site. 20 TL per person port charges.
In the second a friendly guard who wants to see our papers and sends us ... to?
In front another dark road. In the distance lights and activity. No signs. Two possibilities. We choose the most busy one (for convenience site 1). Driving along a long barrack. Everywhere parked freight and passenger cars. Links two jetties, one with a boat, one without. Only a single uniform. Nobody stops us. We arrive at a crowded parking lot, decide to turn and drive past the barracks again, back into the darkness.
Then to site 2.
It is a lot calmer. Here a boat and a truck that slowly manoeuvres backwards from it. AND a cabin with a nervous, armed policeman. Disturbed in his daily routine he steps out and looks at us with a Louis van Gaal look when we ask if the boat to Cyprus departs from here. With the finger (happy) at the trigger he annoyingly gestures us to site 1. Meanwhile, the reversing truck approached us to within two feet away which leads to the dilemma, either let the police officer politely finish his nervous gestural behaviour, either accelerating and thus, at least, reducing paint damage, but put the fragile friendly relationship between the policeman and us to the ultimate test. Adventure calls and M accelerates, drives around the truck, thereby creating a buffer. In the mirror we see the agent walking back to his cubicle.
So site 1 it is.
We park the car at something that looks like a row of parked cars. Here no agents with or without weapons. Many men, many windows, two large waiting rooms (with passport control booths that one recognises from airports). Outside everyone busy doing nothing, the halls are empty, here and there only a single window lighted.
The first boat is still there, even there nothing happens. At the second pier one looks into the darkness. It is now half past ten. A ship approaches in the distance. We look for a counter with .... with what actually? Customs? Ticket control? Everyone knows a different answer to that we ask. Helpfulness all over the place.
How it exactly has gone we dont know anymore. Only afterwards there is a suspicion of a probable sequence of events. Pen and paper ready?

Counter 1, the furthest away in the barracks.
Control port charges and car paper check. Note in the computer.
Later we have to go to counter three.
Meanwhile the ship docks. Itis the Calypso, the ship that according to schedule must have left Cyprus at midday for a journey of 5 hours!?
We sit on a bench in front of the barracks. A man in orange overalls yells the trucks backwards off the boat, gesturing others to circle the parking lot, does a lot to prevent car damage and is visibly enjoying his role. Everyone is now busy with papers and stamps. Counters are opened, we are in line at counter 3, "Did you arrive in Turkey?" "No, we want to go to Cyprus" "Come on back in one hour'.
Then hall 2 opens and the passport control booths are filled. People bound for Cyprus queue there. Imagine a country without stamps.

6th - Foreplay for a crossing

Here we are again ....

So it continues.
Yes, we are now in Cyprus, but that story is not yet told.
It would be an adventure, well, that is.

Of course you do not get away from Mersin and family if there is a mother or mother in law.
But now we do have 4 of the most delicious jams you can imagine in the luggage:
Strawberry confiture like you only know from grandmother's time,
Blackberry syrup that you think of as have you own picked your own blackberries in the forest,
Citrus jam of the mother of all citrus, unprecedented in the Netherlands and
Peach confiture that looks and tastes like gold as you think gold will taste.

Needless to say that there are greeting from aunt, cousins, nieces, the orthopaedic, the janitor, the local middle class, lottery sellers (no, again no wins), the neighbour and mother S herself.
We leave the tent and travel refrigerator in Mersin and will pick it up again in May when we go camping. The vacant spot is quickly filled with these jams, but also with biscuits, fresh fruit and plenty of water. The car is washed, refuelled and the oil level and tire pressure are checked again.
Tension vibrates on the front seat when we drive off after the traditional throw of water behind the car driving away from Beyaz Ev, the White House, in Viransehir, Mezitli, Mersin.
In many Asian countries it is customary to wish travellers good journey by throwing a bucket water (only water, they keep the bucket) behind them when they leave. The idea is that the trip will go as easily as the water runs over the ground. You understand that this idea is completely destroyed as water is thrown during a rainstorm, or during a flood, or after months of extreme drought, so it evaporates before it touches the ground.
The boat between Taşucu (Turkish mainland) and Girne (Cyprus) is shipping only 6 days per week and departs officially midnight, as on this Monday night. The office wants the passage tickets to be collected before 8 o'clock in the evening.
The road to Taşucu is not known to Eve. Fortunately we are briefed by cousin K; take the road to Silifke and follow the signs Kibris Taşucu, go left just before the paper factory.
Flawlessly! Eve can suck on a tip like that. Although, riding a mostly unpaved road, unlit, about 3 kilometres wasn't that easy. And yet there was the watchman at the gate lit by only a poor light bulb, sending us back to the village itself, to collect our travel papers before 8, telling us we better make sure to be back before half past nine. Lack of signs is no problem, just follow the most paved road and there naturally arises a small centre where we even recognize the store where we bought tickets 1.5 years ago for the Seabus, then being pedestrians.
Punctual at 5 past 8 we park our LandRover in front of the small office. "No problem" says the grumpy lady. This had to warn us. Somehow, the international agreements on time and correct classification of it is lost in this shipping company.
According to this lady we have report before 9 o'clock at the harbour, the boat departs at 12 and will travel 5 hours to complete.
The waiter from the restaurant where we eat on the terrace (outside!) claims the boat will not leave before 2 o'clock and being there at midnight is okay. He says the whole time story is there to enable the local officials to return home in time. The boat will not leave a minute earlier.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

5th - 8 February and the next days

The following day the weather is not well. Although it no longer snowing or raing, we do not see the sun. The Toll Road to Istanbul is of reasonable quality, but we have to keep an eye open for some big holes in the road.
Strange that Eve knows the way almost everywhere. In Greece all we did was change the maps and she chatted happily in order to lead us along the proper roads. Here in Turkey it is apparently more complicated. Last night we got all these confusing speed limits and now she thinks that the neighbourhood where S' brother lives is on the wrong side of the Bosporus. Wrong bank is here a different continent so it is to be careful. The traffic in Istanbul requires proper use of routes and schedules, because taking a false turn is no pleasure. Yet she persisted her obstinate mistake. Luckily S knows her way around the city and after she had put Eve back on the right track, we managed to park right in front of brothers' door step. Still pretty awesome.

Its so wonderful to have a days rest at your families. The groceries are picked up, the food cooked and the dishes done. A few visits and the battery is charged again for the last big stage. Wednesday morning the stuff back in the car, tires and oil checked and the fuel filled up. Wow, Diesel s expensive in Turkey! 1,50 Euro per litre.
The route takes us through the mountains just beyond to Ankara by a beautiful toll road. Today the sun shines, but the traces of the snow that fell in the past night are clearly visible. Again, no shortage of road salt. Information on local station taught us that the trains ran on time, there were no significant delays and our stories of square wheels on slippery rails due to autumn leaves were cause for great hilarity. Perhaps the standing committee of Transport can organize a trip to this country to see how it can be done in a civilized manner. They can also look at the road pricing system that works here, with chips in the car and a card system that can be charged at petrol stations. The only delay we had was due to the point that we had to buy such a card for the first time, but we could have done at such a petrol station. Whether it is flawless we don't know, but it's something you can do instead of debating about it for years and still do nothing.
(Indeed, I don't think much of Emiel Eurlings nor the ANWB.)

After Ankara, the road now became almost everywhere four-lane, just by laying another two-lane road next by them. Unfortunately, all holes in the old way are still there. The term "shake before use" now has a whole new meaning. But, as the LandRover can manage the Sahara it must also be able to handle this. It did. After removing a brief misunderstanding with Eva we conquered the Taurus Mountains and we are now at the Mediterranean Sea.

In short ....
We are having a great time.
The car is doing great. Only one of our contact keys broke down, we will try tomorrow to get it repaired in Adana.
The wind is blowing hard, but the sun can be seen regularly and it was 20 degrees today.
This weekend relax with the mother of S (they greet you all). A few other family visits, some work on the website (hopefully renewed in the air soon).

Until a next ... ..


Oh yeah, have a fun carnival!
Sebnem and Marte.

4th - 7 February 2010

It is Sunday afternoon when we moor in Igoumenitsa.
Fairly quickly off the boat. No customs, no formalities. Start and drive off.
Finally a sun that shines. Good roads, they seem new. Soon the roads elevate again. Tunnels and viaducts alternate quickly. Suddenly we drive a foggy cloud and sure enough, it begins to snow. Fortunately overhere they are not out of salt. The roads remain reasonable and we have never committed to the idea that it is risky. The greatest danger lies in the Greek road pirates. We have seen better drivers.
Quietly rolling, we are taking our time and around 8 o'clocks at night we are at the Turkish border. The snow changed into rain, the wind blows hard. It no longer freezes.
The border town is deserted. More devastated is almost impossible. Fo this everyone has warned us; to spent hours at the border, endless queues and filling out useless forms. Being send from cabinets to walls that only seem to exist in the minds of officials.
Stamps and bribes as oil and grease for stuck economic disputes.

A car in front us stops at the Greek police. We stop behind, leave the engine running and M gets out with both our Dutch passports. The other get in his vehicle and drives off. The officer gestures with his head to hand him the documents. Despite the wind and the rain there was deafening silence. M passes the man the passports. If he sees that we are Dutch he gives them back without looking into them and he says its good. Relieved.
Back in the car. We drive along a deserted area. The original strictly separated lanes for freight and passenger cars appear to be fused together. The wetness of the rain makes it difficult anyway to distinguish road markings, everything shines and sparkles in the light of our headlamps.
Suddenly a modern lighted building with unclear parking. Restaurant? Toilet?
Both. And a super Taxfree store.
One that would not be out place at an international airport. What a contrast. Sufficient staff in the shop, but its to feel that would prefer to do anything but attending customers on a rainy Sunday night. We quickly buy a bottle of Metaxa for S's mother. And we dive into the dark again.
On to the Turkish side.
A dual carriageway. Watchtowers on both sides.
Despite the wind and rain every watchtower is occupied. We are in doubt to wave or not. Still Greek.
Two towers, one left, one right of the road. A viaduct, a bridge.
Two flags, the first Greek than Turkish. This is the real border.
It seems a mirror image. As more Turkish watchtowers pairs. And occupied.
Another bridge over an clear river.
The traffic ( are we the only ones!?) is deflected to the left. Sharp turn, the control point, the size of a football field, unfolds in our view. No car shows. No queues, in the distance only a single truck.
We drive to the first police station for passport control and step out together. Passports and identity card. And friendly agent M points the way to the issuance of visas in a dark building.
M has no problems getting his visa and returns outside. S is happily talking to the agent; about the weather, the fact that visas are not needed if you are married to a Turkish and so on.
We step back in and drive to the next window.
A friendly officer in his forties looks over his glasses back through the open hatch of his comfortable checkpoint. We step towards him, presenting our passport, vehicle registration and insurance green card through the hatch.
10 minutes later we have five cars behind us waiting, but that doesn't hurt us. The friendly customs officer decided to fill out the details of our car well in the various systems in order to avoid any trouble in the time ahead. Yet only a note in the passport and the signature of a colleague and with the advice not to drive too long because of the bad weather we are soon back in our warm car to the last check, not more than a formality .
We travel within Turkey .....
It's still raining and blowing too.

The roads are bad. We bounce from hole to hole with in between some splashing gravel. The perfect reflectors as we saw in Greece are not yet on the market here. The TomTom makes a game of the speed limits. We decide to stay overnight in the first town, so we will be Monday in Istanbul around noon. Nobody has to stay up late for us.

3rd - 6 February 2010

Saturday morning ..... No, no bright sunshine, a nice boat trip on the Grand Canal though, back to the garage. We even found a post office to pay the Tolbon, but that was still in the car.
Quickly did some maths and now we wonder if we still go back to Venice. Even without having an espresso at the San Marco Square.

On to the boat.
First in the row of the competing ferry company, seems they didn't spend too much money on clear signposts. Luckily we did end up on the right boat, the bottom deck, catching a lot of attention; everyone finds the steel bumpers and winch interesting. Then the elevator up, a real reception desk and a bellboy to show us to room, sorry hut 7001. Its in the middle of the ship, overlooking the foredeck.
A cabin with shower and toilet, in short; fully equipped.
Precisely 1 o'clock, it may also have been slightly later, we cast off and sail. Only a slight vibration that didn't stop until we reached Greece. Really soft humming, a bearable acceptable background sound. Only that rain and wind. They stopped only when we land on the grounds on Sunday, but not for long.

The ship was a ferry basic, no disco, casino or nightclub. Even the store could hardly have that name. The served however a delicious espresso in the lounge, with evenly so delicious chocolates. Plenty of staff; all men with only here and there (all in all 2) a woman. Passengers; most truck drivers and only one other couple (probably) and a lady driving along with a driver. So, not really the company that you think to spend a dazzling night with on a party boat.
Dinner in the restaurant was quite different from what we see on "the love boat “. No captains table, no sympathetic Doctor, no cocktails shaking stewards, no entertainment, only S and M being the only guests, a waiter who was very friendly and did try to make it an eventful evening. But the food quality price ratio was slightly limp, although our mood was excellent.
Another round on the deck, but was no glimpse of moon or stars to discover, so to bed early.

2nd - 5 February 2010

Thanks to Eva we had a good night, good food, a hearty breakfast and a nice route partly on two lane roads but with a cheerful morning sun between rich snow covered mountains. Just before Innsbruck we picked up the motorway again and then quickly over the Brenner pass.
Then the sunshine finished ... as it seemed.
Each meter increase was accompanied by a reduction of light and an increase of snow threat. At the top it was no longer a threat. Until far in Italy all was white and became whiter, passed on in rain, much rain and much wind.

Near Venice TomTom was not completely updated so we have diverted a little bit and then we had to have paid the toll. Unfortunately we do not speak Italian. And unfortunately there is no instructions other than Italian on those automatic toll gates. The slip in ... .. (billet looks like it) now a slot for the credit card .... After all we must pay 3.50 Euro. "Here S, you can use my credit card" (you remain a gentleman).
Ehhh this slot looks for tickets .. and this seems for coins ..... Enthusiastic S presses M's card in between, while hard rain ravage her arm there in that deserted northern Italian countryside.
And then it stopped. No reassuring rattle of a printer that ensures that one slip comes back together with your plastic money card. No buzzer indicating that the payment is agreed. No happy swishing up of the bar. It remains silent.
S looks m in the face. "It's not coming back, nothing happens.
Fortunately, the red stop button is international.
"Prego?" sounds the squeaky speaker. "We need your help ', we yell simultaneously with an undertone of panic.
Is there bigger doomsday scenario possible, to already loose your credit card on the second day of your 4 months trip? In your mind you see the boat cheerfully make sail, leaving us at the dock of Venice, where we have to wait three weeks to the emergency service of the ABN-Amro for a new card and you can just hope they don't sent Gerrit Zalm personally to hand it over ceremonially, because you just can't take that right now.
Fortunately the young Italian duty officer of the Toll company understands our inconvenience and set off to help us. Buttoning his raincoat he oversees the situation, puts the red light on for our lane and closes it for all traffic. In our best "me tarzan - you jane' - English we explain what is going on. The boy looks not understanding to the machine. And he looks at us. Since .... there is no slot. Credit cards have the same slot as the receipt. Ohhh, but our card is there ... No, can not .. impossible.
He gets behind in the toll. Soon There rolls out a voucher. That we have to take. It is the voucher that we have to take to the post office, to pay the toll .....
OK, we will, now our credit card ...
S, has to move the car to the shoulder, M waits at the gate. The boy crawls in behind.
There is serious work. The entire device is unscrewed. From outside one can see that there are two different devices to each other. The top for the coins, the lower for the notes. Hermetically sealed cabinets likely only to be opened by the bank. "No card" sounds from behind the cabinets. "Has to be!" M calls, while he looks between the grooves through the holes of the toll cabin. The shiny boxes are not going to give up their secrets and the young man moves slowly back into place.
"Stop" "Arreto" "I see it".
"No, its not here".
"Yes, I see it. Its Between the two machines !"
And yes, the nice young man wriggles the card from in between, shaking his head. Loosing a credit card by putting it between two machines? .. He had a story to tell tonight.
Ashamed we left the toll road.
It was still raining.

And it kept raining.
One day we have to come back to Venice to see it dry. Despite the treats of the impending carnival, which starts here one weeks earlier than in the Netherlands, we found a hotel (Violente d'Oro) and from under the umbrella a, very average restaurant. I've eaten a better lasagna.