If the music is too loud, you’re too old

How do you know you are getting old? Except the saying we once saw on a t-shirt in Manila: If the music is too loud, you’re too old!? You go to Amsterdam and you are more excited with restaurant scene than with coffee shops.

Then!

Amsterdam is BEAUTIFUL! Very European, very human, very nice place to live, very, very tolerant, very rich, very cool… probably because they send all the Nazi types down to Cape Town. Oh, I’m just being mean now.

Surprisingly for the weather in March we had four warm, sunny days and we did our share of cultural tour around the city. Let’s keep it short and just write about our top choices: No. 1. without any doubt is Indian restaurant Shiva http://www.shivarestaurant.nl

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We were lucky to stumble into this restaurant on a first evening, great food and excellent prices so we went back for a dinner on a last evening. My favorite dish was Kheer, cardamom rice pudding with saffron. Vegetable Korma is also a dish I would like for us to cook at home.

Kasteel Donker dark ale with an alcohol content of 11%. Kastel Donker

Smoked salmon and Le Grand Caractere cheese for breakfast. Crazy inexpensive at Albert Heijn Supermarket.
Breakfast

Lazy afternoon in the sun.
Relax

Great Ceilings Design. Rijksmuseum, Maritime Museum and Flower market. Amsterdam ceilings

Dinner at Mamouche, Moroccan restaurant.

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Morning Selfie, young, beautiful and sober.
Selfie

Best lunch in the Philippines

Hospitality is in Filipino peoples’ nature. They are kind and generous, always smiling. It’s like they know something hidden from the rest of us.

We went Island hopping in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan province.

Crowded Pandan Island

First stop was Pandan Island. Only island in the bay where you can buy food. We arrived hungry, during a lunch time, and on all stalls the food was sold out.
And despite that here we had the best meal in the Philippines. By accident, and by loving people who invited us to share a meal with them.

Everybody else were eating

The only thing left to buy were fresh sea urchins and Buko juice. I love Buko juice, it’s healthy and full of nutrients. It’s not enough for the hunger we felt.

Fresh sea urchins stall

Buko juice stall

We were desperate.

So I asked some people to sell us some of their food. No way, they invited us to join them and share their meal.
I just hope that one day when we go back to our home I would carry in my hart some of kindness and happiness we encountered here in the Philippines.
Filipino Bahala Na! or Leave it to God, philosophy. Because every time I leave Philippines and go back to Europe I’m always surprised how unhappy and rude we are. How we don’t know how to smile to strangers, how we rush and have a feeling that we don’t have enough. It’s never enough.

The best meal in the Philippines

Food shared with a perfect strangers

Cooking station

Fiesta table

Later on the sun came up.

Bangka resting on sunny bay Pandan Island

La Terrasse, Puerto Princesa Palawan

We needed a nice place to sit down and enjoy talking with our new Danish friends.
After adventurous day of island hopping at Honda Bay, La Terrasse came like very, very pleasant surprise.
A great place to have a cup of Italian style coffee. Espresso and cappuccino taste like the one in Europe’s finest cafeterias. Usually all around the Philippines coffee is brewed or instant.
The service is fast and the interior is super clean and cosy. Great restrooms design.
It feels like not being in the Philippines at all, especially not at Puerto Princesa’s main road, just 5 min walk from the airport.

Unfortunately the food was nothing special. We had hummus plate, grilled vegetables salad and fish plate. Not so fresh seafood for a place that boost freshness of their food on the menu.

People gaze! Another great sentence in my life.

Diving Tubbataha

There’s a big map of the Philippines glued to our bedroom’s door. One year ago my husband circled Tubbataha reef with a hart on that map. We were so excited to go diving there, and not only that, Hans Christian Andersen was our first liveaboard. To go diving from the boat. OMG I was overexcited. The feeling is similar to butterflies in a stomach before a first serious date.
From Manila we took hour and a half flight to Puerto Princesa with Cebu Pacific airlines. HCA organized airport pick up so after 15 minutes we were in the port. My husband has public crash for boats. And HCA won him over immediately. Him and a friend of ours went on and on about how she has beautiful shape, and beautiful this and beautiful that. And it has, it really is a nice boat. Plus, we were so lucky to have only nine (yes, only nine) of us on the boat that usually accommodate up to 40 divers. That must be crowded and uncomfortable. But maybe the crew works better under pressure.
I did have some nagging and complaining about the cleanness and everything else, but basically that was a worse version of me. Tired and exhausted as never before. We did 4 dives per day and all of them included heavy kicking with the fins.
For both of us the most exciting part of this trip was to see sharks in the Philippines waters. We were diving all over the country, and except Malapascua Island sharks are nowhere to bee seen. Reasons are various: overfishing, dynamite, cyanide, pollution, all combined together.

The Tubbataha reefs consist of two atoll-like reefs each with an inner lagoon and are separated by a 7 km wide channel. On the larger, north atoll there is a small island, more like a sandbank. Bird island is the name of that place and it was nice to see some birds and green color on the horizon. This sand cay is also used as a nesting ground by marine turtles. So they say. Bottom topography of the reef itself consist mostly of vertical walls or very steep slopes which are rising from great depths. Dive guides warned us about the currents but we did not experience strong current except on Jessie Beazeley Reef and on Densel Wall. Despite no current – no big fish philosophy we did saw fantastic nurse shark, grey reef shark, whitetip sharks, marble sting ray, devil ray, mantas, school of blacktip sharks, fantastic school of my favorite blue and yellow fusilier and huge schools of jackfish.

Day one – diving North Atoll
We arrived on North Atoll around 9 am and started our diving there, Malayan wreck dive site. The story is that during early morning dive of the wall in the blue on some 35 to 40 m you can see the school of Hammerheads. On the day one we were 3 hours late but we did two more morning dives there in following days and haven’t been lucky to spot them either. Rest of the dive is wall diving. At the end of the dive we saw remains of Malayan ship and nice school of many-spotted sweetlips. During the dives Humphead wrasses were swimming around us and we saw Whitetip reef sharks, resting on sandy slopes of the wall. Turtles and nudibranch Notodoris Minor, what a fancy guy!
We continued with Wall Street and Amos rock. Before night dive we did quick stop at The Ranger Station. Like the good soldiers, we bought some T-shirts, left some money to the guys for the beer. The sunset was spectacular and romantic. Every sunset on Tubbataha was spectacular, fantastic, breathtaking, romantic…. Some of the divers from other liveaboards had barbecue picnic on the beach, drinking beer and having fun, our team decided to go on night dive. Not me, I was too tired, so I decided to skip the night dive, my husband came back with nice pics of lobsters and parrot fishes.

Day two – diving South Atoll
Delsan Wreck was great dive, school of sharks, some very nice current. Napoleon Wrasse, up, close and personal, turtles, barracudas, fusiliers, nice big lobster, groupers, and gobi. Black Rock and T Wreck, I wouldn’t know, my new Tusa mask was foggy throughout both dives. Afterwards, our dive guide was burning the film on the glass with a lighter before every dive. That helped, but I didn’t like dishwashing detergent scent throughout the dives (which he kept putting on like his little secret).

Day three – diving South Atoll
Malayan Wreck x2, no Hammerheads but we like to dive in the blue. Both of us had a same emotion of happiness and freedom on this dives.
Terraces dive site introduced us with Nurse shark. Nice fat guy, sleeping at the bottom of the wall. After a long time both of us dove without camera, and I loved it. Carrying camera changes perspective. On Seafan Alley during descend I didn’t expect great dive cause visibility was 5 m, and the sea around us was murky and full of particles. Surprise, surprise! Fantastic huge sea fans, big nurse shark, swimming toward us, looking at us. Had a feeling like he’s measuring us:-) In a small cave Marbled ray, also first encounter for us. Fantastic dive. The beer after was also great. Especially the moment when our dive buddy, non-alcohol drinking German guy asked the waiter on the boat to bring him something non-alcoholic. The waiter looked at him and asked: San Miguel Light?

Day four – diving North Atoll
Shark Airport toward Washing machine dive site, medium to strong current, nice long drift dive with marble ray and devil ray, sharks, school of Jackfish.
Manta cleaning station, two dives, Mantas on both dives!!!! I could stay on this dive site for a month. We dove all together, nine of us, and of course we had two idiots who did not listen during the briefing. No, I’m wrong they are just stupid, and selfish. So the guys were hovering right above cleaning station and the rest of us knelling at the sandy bottom and looking at them. Finally, dive guide went and move them. Today, looking backwards, I’m sure that we would have prolonged experience with this fantastic creatures if only this two guys stayed at home. Hope never to see them again. Jessie Beazeley Reef was a hard core dive. Last dive, 15th dive, very strong current and washing machine. Uf! Sometimes I feel so small and fragile.

Day five – goodbye day

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Fantastic experience. Time to move on.

Croatian eating disorder

How to gain 4 kg in 2 weeks? Easy. Go and spend Easter with our parents.
Yesterday, I went straight form the airport to our home scale. OMG 69,3 kg! Shit!

How in the hell that happened?
I know what happened. The food happened.
Lovely, organic, fresh, local food.
And I’m not sorry, not even a bit.

Lambs are in season. The winter was strong so the pancetta taste like heaven. The bread is homemade, everything is homemade.
The beet and the asparagus are fresh from the garden and the field. The olive oil is from our olive trees. The brandy is also homemade, from our plums. No additives, no pesticides, no fertilizers.
We really enjoy living in the Philippines. Still, we just can’t wait to go back home and live there.
Have our own garden, few hens, maybe a goat or two. And a donkey! I just love donkeys.

Itinerary:
Saturday
Lunch: Beef shank soup. Roasted lamb. Baked potatoes. Baked button mushrooms. Spring onion. Red radish. Strawberry cake. Plum brandy. Wine.
Dinner: Whole ham baked in bread. Homemade horseradish mayonnaise. More wine.

Sunday
Breakfast: Whole ham beaked in bread. Spring onion. Red radish. Ajvar. Snow.
Second breakfast: Strawberry cake. Coffee.
Lunch: Baked pork chops. Baked potatoes. Baked mushrooms. Strawberry cake. Apple chocolate cake. Wine.
Dinner: Vegetable soup.

Monday:
B: Coffe and cigarets. Pancetta. Bread.
L: Lamb, pork, beef, cabbage stew. Apple chocolate cake.
D: Lamb, pork, beef, cabbage stew. Bread.

Tuesday:
B: Apple chocolate cake. More coffee.
L: Beef tripe Stew (my favorite meal of all time).
between the meals: Pancetta. Bread. 3 oranges.
D: Beef tripe Stew.

Wednesday:
B: Beef tripe Stew.
L: Smoked ham roasted on a bed of Sauerkraut. Homemade sausages and potatoes.
D: Proscuito. Bread.

Thursday:
B: Coffee and cigarettes. Shit, I started smoking seriously again.
L: Breaded Pork Chops. Peas and rice. Pickled cucumbers.
D: Strawberry cake.

Friday:
B: Yoghurt.
L: Pork tenderloin. Bread. Baked paprika with garlic. Strawberry cake.
D: Proscuito. Soft fresh cow milk cheese. Bread.
Dinner No. 2 and night out with friends: Buffalo wings. 2 bottles of wine, cigarettes, homemade brandy, some beer, some homemade honey brandy. What remains of the night is blurry.

Saturday
B: Massive Hangover. Shame. Remorse. Shame. Remorse. Shame. UF!
L: Slow roasted lamb shanks. Potatoes. Spring onion. Strawberry cake.
D: Lunch leftovers. Some more shame.

Sunday
B: Coffee and cigarettes. No more shame & remorse. Whole ham baked in bread. Horseradish homemade mayonnaise. Spring onion. Red radish. Hard boiled eggs. Champagne. Brandy. Wine.
L: Slow roasted veal. Potatoes.
D: Whole ham baked in bread. Red radish.
D2: Octopus salad. Pancetta. Homemade bread. Homemade sausages. Wine.

Monday
B: Cold cuts. Octopus salad. Homemade bread.
L: Octopus, squid, potatoes prepared under the bell. Wine. Brandy. Beer.
D: Cold cuts. Slow cooked veal. Veal soup. Wine.

Tuesday
B: Wild asparagus egg salad. Pancetta. Homemade bread baked under the bell.
L: Spit roasted whole lamb. Onion. Homemade bread. Chocolate cake. Wine.
D: Beet shoots with olive oil. Pancetta. Proscuito. Homemade goat cheese.

Wednesday
B: Beet shoots, olive oil. Pancetta.
L: Rooster soup. Roasted veal and potatoes under the bell. Beet shoot. Wine.
D: Cold cuts.

Thursday
B: Cold cuts.
L: Meatloaf with hidden boiled eggs. Potatoes. Appel strudel. Cheese strudel. Apple Chocolate cake.
D: Lunch leftovers.

Friday
B: Wild asparagus egg salad. Brandy testing with my mother.
L: Roasted turkey with pasta tatters. Ajvar. Wine.
Croatian wine and gourmet festival. Lots of good wine.
D: Roasted turkey with pasta tatters. Ajvar. More wine with family.

Saturday
B: Coffee. Apple strudel. Cheese strudel.
L: Roasted veal with potatoes and button mushrooms. Ajvar. Chocolate apple cake.
D: Airplane food. Yuck!