I’ve just spooned away a nice portion of kushari, originally Egypt’s poor man’s dish, but now enjoyed by everyone. Real comfort food, with vermicelli, macaroni rice, lentils, chickpeas, crispy fried onions and a rich tomato sauce. I like to add some chili, to give it a nice bite. Tastes so good, especially while watching the boats pass on the river Nile. Kushari joints are everywhere in Egypt, it is the country’s street food.

As far as I know, there is only one spot in Brussels where you can get kushari. It’s at Mr Falafel, Bd. Lemonnier, a tiny restaurant which only sells 2 dishes. Fresh veggies are available, prices are low, service is friendly and – surprise! – in Dutch! It is so funny when people talk to the owner in French, and hear him answer “Wablief?”

According to an article in The Guardian, kushari was served to the protesters at the Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Guess who was in the country a few months later? Yep. And it was absolutely my best Egypt trip ever. No busloads of tourists (literally), just a handful of individual travellers. During the day we all did our thing individually, but in the evening we would meet up at a restaurant to mingle with locals, mostly people in the tourist industry, to have a meal together, and to talk Egyptian politics. Not my favourite subject, but I must say that I enjoyed sharing a freshly cooked meal with others, it is one of the joys of travelling alone. The chef would make one single dish, a nice tagine or something typical Egyptian, beer and wine were plentiful. A unique experience.

I can assure you that it is the most wonderful thing to visit the Great Hypostyle Hall almost alone, or just be 2 people in a tomb. Pictures will follow.

Why this all of a sudden craving for kushari and Egypt in general? It is all Joann Fletcher’s fault. This driven and erudite Egyptologist has made a series for the BBC, Immortal Egypt. Her enthusiasm and passion for Egyptian history, her appreciation of things of beauty and her delightful red hair make this series a true feast for the eyes and ears.

All the episodes can be found on Youtube, I listed them here. Enjoy!

1/4 The Road to the Pyramids

2/4 Chaos

3/4 Zenith

4/4 Invasion




In any museum in Amsterdam, for 59,90€ you buy a Museumkaart, which gives you free access to 400 museums in the Netherlands. Valid for 1 year.

My favs:

Here you’ll find the list of museums with free entrance with the Museumkaart.

FOAM, a jewel specialised in photography.

Eye, the filmmuseum in an upcoing area in the city. Take the boat just behind central station to get there.

Het Rijksmuseum, a must see.

Het Stedelijk Museum, another must see.

Hermitage, not to be missed.

Museum Van Loon, a beautiful house where the happy few organise their weddings 😉

The Royal Palais, a gem.

For those of you who really like Vincent. I think the colours changed too much over time, but they are restoring the works

Tropenmuseum, nice exhibitions.


As member of the Purple Army, I can only say: Prince, if only we had known

ou dearly

Prince death: Powerful drugs found in singer’s home ‘were mislabelled’

Oh my dear Prince. I would have loved to see you perform your minimalistic versions of your greatest hits (“more than Madonna has children”). Unfortunately, there were the Paris attacks, and you’ve decided to start your tour in Australia. Because you were afraid to die in the arms of Islamic State.

My sweet Prince, I always thought you had a clean life, no drugs, no alcohol, good food and all. Now I understand. You were a pain patient taking opioids, probably just trying to be as strong and healthy as possible. Just move on with life. That is what I always liked about you.

Are we gonna let the elevator
Bring us down
Oh, no let’s go!

Now I get the picture. But there are still many open questions. Where did you get the Fentanyl? A doctor? A street dealer? And most of all: why? You can get prescription drugs, painkillers, which are safe to use. My guess is that you didn’t know what was in those pills, and before you knew it was too late. It is just so sad that it happened the day before you were going to meet Dr Howard Kornfeld, specialized in opioid addiction. The Narcan shot – save shot – and the plane landing were serious signs of trouble.

You have always been an example to me. You brought life to my life. The eternal ups & downs, life, you knew about them, and you perfectly knew how to lift the spirits, reminding us that life is short and difficult and that we better make the best out of it while we’re still here.

You were on heavy drugs, while also living a super healthy lifestyle, food wise, sports wise. Holding an I don’t know many kilograms guitar and still doing the dance moves while being over fifty… Wow. If only I had known… If the audience had known… The doctor just came too late, you were looking for help, but then you had that fatal overdose.

Oh my dear Prince, I feel for you. Your suffering must have been hell. Every time I saw you in concert, I cried, and then – through your music and your messages – I was filled with joy, and lust for life. I’ll try to hold on to this feeling: the lust for life.

Your music will never die.

We love you, respect you, and if only we had known… we would have protected you.


All Prince concerts listed in one single website

Great videos below.

My Prince concerts:

10/7/2010: Werchter, Belgium


8/11/2010: Sportpaleis Antwerpen, Belgium

18/11/2010: GelroDome, Arnhem, Netherlands

6/7/2011: Sint-Pietersplein, Gent, Belgium

Review of the concert the day before, which I didn’t attend.

And a second one, in Dutch.

10/7/2011: North Sea Jazz, Rotterdam, Netherlands (3rd row when he was performing The Beautiful Ones)

The first time ever I got so close to the stage … He was dressed in red, and it struck me how petite he was. Not much taller than myself, and so fit. I know it takes a lot of work to look that good for someone in their fifties. The older you get, the fewer calories your body needs, so you have to be very selective in what you eat. A very attractive “quincado”  (definition here, in French: Les Quinquados).

The concert was different from his usual big shows, with his typical greatest hits-medleys. Much more intimate, more authentic, I’d say. One of the best I’ve seen.

Full concert here: North Sea Jazz 2011

13/7/2011 Rockhall, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg (the only Prince show where I was disappointed. The musicians seemed to be low on energy, and the concert hall was filled with bankers. Not a funky crowd.)

27/5/2014: Sportpaleis Antwerpen, Belgium

30/5/2014: Botanique (front row), a concert for only 400 people, Brussels, Belgium

A beautiful memory, that I share with a couple of friends. There were rumors the night before that Prince was going to play at Botanique, so I walked up there, and met a friend who was also hoping to see Prince 🙂 The next day, it was concert day. My friend Ann came from Antwerp, we were so thrilled, so excited, we were going to be part of this unique experience! Botanique is a beautiful concert venue, with 3 concert halls. My favourite one is “La Rotonde”, Prince played at “L’Orangerie”. And it was smashing! When he played “The Beautiful Ones” at his piano, I was so close that I could almost touch him. I got goose bumps, such a magical song, what a voice range.

The concert halls at Botanique

Botanique on Tripadvisor

The Prince concert is national news in Belgium. Images of the audience, waiting impatiently, and Prince at his best, on stage!

7/6/2014: Wiener Stadhalle, Vienna (front row), on his birthday.

A first review in German.

A second review in German.


It was a sheer coincidence that I saw Prince here, I had booked a trip to Vienna without knowing he was performing there during my stay. Of course, a few days before I left, I found out, booked a ticket (it wasn’t even sold out!), and upon my arrival, I dropped off my stuff at my hostel, jumped on the bike to get at the Stadhalle real early. There were already 88 people waiting, so they stamp your hand to guarantee fair play. I found a guy with good legs and running shoes, we chatted away about Prince and his music, and when the doors opened, he ran, made it to the front row and kept me a spot, as I had asked.

All these people you meet, fans who come from different countries to see the gig, the laid back atmosphere, the nice chats, … All part of the experience.

It still is strange, and not only for me, that we are never going to be able to see him perform anymore. As said, he was an example for me, a sort of therapy if you like, an artist who knew how to pull people through rough times. His shows were not only funky, they were philosophical as well. He knew very well that “we must bring our own light to the darkness”, that nobody else is going to do it for us. His message was: life is short, live a little before you die. Always positive, even if life is a b*tch. He has had his share as well. He was called “Princess” in high school, was bullied, because he was short and because he was gifted. High school kids don’t like people who stick out. His son Amiir died when he was only a few months old, his marriage with the beautiful Mayté Garcia didn’t survive. They were magic together, both on and off stage.

Here is the song “Peach” for you, Prince performing, Mayté dancing. The energy just splashes off the screen. Wow.

Prince and his lovely wife Mayté performing one of his best songs.

What is left, is his music. A majestic legacy, as impressive as what Mozart has created in his life. I put them on the same level; even if the music is very different, the quality is the same. And I am thankful for what he has created.

Crazy that the day after I saw Prince, I saw Mozart’s masterpiece from the second row. Yes, rows are important, especially when it comes to dance & music. Two magic flutes in one weekend, OMG, was I a lucky girl.

A few more songs:

Mountains, the original video. Song was written by Wendy & Lisa. Lyrics by Prince. My absolute favorite. Especially when played REAL LOUD)

Motherless Child (wow!)

This was weird: one of the group members, 3rd Eye Girl, liked my post. Or was is Prince himself? He was quite active on social media, loved his computer.


Days of wild – the dawn experience – all is good)

Superstition (with Stevie Wonder)

Prince & Sheila E, ladies and gentlemen!

And his most talented protege, Sheila E.

His top performance. Look at the moves. Listen to the voice. Look at the crowd.

Feeling better, y’all? I am.

Funk therapy. Highly recommended.



Nobody is going to do it for us

we must bring
our own light
to the
darkness.nobody is going
to do it
for us.

as the young boys
down the

as the fry cook
gets his last

as dog chases

as the chessmaster
loses more than
the game

we must bring
our own light
to the

nobody is going
to do it
for us,

as the lonely

as the great beast
in nightmare

as the final season
leaps into

nobody is going
to do it
for us.

Dislike on Facebook (For Steven P.)

It seems that there rarely has been an invention that impacted young lives as much as did this “social medium” referred to as Facebook.

I’ve deleted  my account, for multiple reasons. Instead, I will create an account for work related purposes, just because I find it a useful means of communication, that is, if you want to quickly reach a young audience.My students ask me so often when and where there are interesting events or apps or websites or even movies which can help them practice their Dutch. I find that valuable, and I want to spend time on helping them in their endeavour.

Few things are as shallow as Facebook. When a dear friend of mine (= a friend who texts me once in a while to meet up) was hospitalised for a whole week, I wasn’t even informed about his illness. If I had known, I would have rushed to check upon him (and brought him flowers).

18727701634_f0dee1e86c_k (1)

A popularity contest, or so it seems, based on Filthstagram pictures, a planet in which everyone is happy-go-lucky and with an eternal pretty face, no rosacea or wrinkles to be spotted; it makes me sad to see to which we have come.Especially because my mirror doesn’t do Instagram effects, and also because natural beauty seems to have become inexistent or at least very, very rare. I’d like to quote Marc Jacobs here: “I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting.”
I just want to go back to the pre social media world, peopled with friends who have flaws, just as I have flaws, so we can laugh at them. Humour still is the best medicine.

And believe me, my life isn’t a bed of roses. I’ve had it with the way people never meet up anymore just because it’s fun and because they want to go and do stuff. No, after 6 years in the city it strikes me more and more how things are ever that shallow. People calling themselves friends, just because they happen to hang in the same bar (taking selfies, of course). I call that alcoholism. Drinking buddies. Would they still go these places if there was no alcohol available? I doubt it.

Social media, with Instagram, Foursquare,  Yelp (okay, useful from time to time, and I contribute, I admit), Facebook and the like, should multiply connections between people. Instead, I see a poorer world. I think I’d rather live with a lot less than with too many, preferring the few ones I can call when I’m feeling a bit under the weather. We live in a day and age dictated by images, yet they are not always what they seem.

Think of this what you may, I’m not collecting”likes” here.

Happy New Year!

Explosions of colour, reflected in the water
Explosions of colour, reflected in the water

This afternoon, I had my first Kulfi of the year. No, that is a lie. I had my first kulfi in my entire life. Thing is, I always skip desert, simply because I never have enough room for it.

A new Indian restaurant opened about a month ago in the center of Brussels (Jai Ho), and today I ate there for the second time. As I entered the restaurant, I greeted the only guest present, an elderly gentleman. We started chatting about travel. He had just flown back in from Hong Kong, where he celebrated New Year’s Eve. Apparently, the fireworks are quite impressive there.  Lucky him, in Brussels everything was cancelled due to an ongoing risk of terrorist attacks.

He appeared to be an avid traveller, and had been to India on several occasions. We chatted about Indian culture, world heritage, food, … and as the conversation continued, he brought up kulfi. The staff being so charming and fun to talk to (the gent was joking with them all the time), they allowed me to eat only bits of my different dishes. Result: I have enough Indian food in the fridge to last me at least 2 days, and I finally got to taste this rich, delicious desert.

This is exactly what I love about Brussels. You can enter a place, and start a conversation with a perfect stranger. Most of the time they are even happy to do so. A very open minded, multi cultural city, I can only hope this will never cease to exist. The kindness of strangers. Stranger than kindness. I can not imagine living anywhere else in this country.

Where else in this country can you have your eyebrows done by threading, for only a few euros? I first got to know this technique in my student years, must have been 1994, on a 6 week trip through Egypt. Waxing your eyebrows can lead to nasty accidents, and don’t even start about tweezers! The address? Oria is located in the centre of Brussels, not far from La Bourse. They do good haircuts too, for half the price you pay elsewhere. The place is divided into two different salons, one for men, and one for women. The atmosphere is warm and amicable; I recommend Saturday afternoon, if you like to see a bunch of beautiful young Arab women getting ready for an evening out. Coming to think of it, I never saw another “real Belgian” woman there. Inexplicable.

So why all this fuss about eyebrows and hairdos and Brussels? Well, tomorrow, I’m starting a new job, as a language trainer, right here in my city. Done with the daily 3 (or more) hour commute to some place in the Walloon Region. I’ll finally be a true “Bruxelesse”, and I’m looking forward to exploring my city, something I never had the time to do before. When you arrive home at 18:15 every day of the week, there is no time to volunteer in a school, or to engage in other activities that can help you truly understand our capital city.

I get a great start in this New Year. I wish you all a joyful, healthy and peaceful 2016. Some words of advice here:

  • be nice, everybody is fighting a fight you know nothing about
  • stay away from toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic places
  • there are a few tricks to slow down time, try them (safety first, of course)

I wish you all the best for 2016. Take good care.





The climb to The Eyes of the Mountains

I didn’t do the hike. And I have no regrets about not having seen the lakes. They’re going nowhere, so I can visit them whenever I want in the future, in a different season.

What happened? They’d sent me the same driver, a guy who doesn’t speak a word of English and who reminded me of Manuel, the clumsy and chaotic waiter from Fawlty Towers. Even if the man’s intentions were good, he did not drop me off where I wanted to start the hike.


On the road, He had aleady asked several villagers where the starting point was. Not really something one expects of a taxi driver. Because it looked nothing Elena’s description, I called her and put her on the phone with the driver and the neighbour. They insisted that they were right and Elena was wrong, there was no path that fit her description. This man had lived in de village for more than 20 years, if such a path existed, they would have known.

There are 3 ways to the top:

  • the rocky trail, which I hope to hike one day, it a big big challenge and it’s very scenic (but dangerous, also)
  • the ski lift trail, which is comforable and is Elena’s favourite
  • the goat’s trail, as I call it, which is really the oficial one – it is marked.

I did start to follow the red dots, but soon it became more of a pain than a pleasure. After walking for 30 minutes, a steep climb, in the sun (hardly any shade!), goat’s steps in the sand, goat’s and other animals’ dung on the track – not to mention the flies, I decided to all it quits. The beginning was pretty, though.

My water supply had diminished way too fast, I realised the view wouldn’t be worth the effert I’d have to put in. On my way back (fast, because happy to get out of there), I bumped into two young, enthusiastic well equipped hikers. Hikers always come in pairs. For safety. I’m patient. That mountain will still be there in 20 years. Take my time (and excercise more).

I followed the road for cars, much easier, walked a bit uphill, the prettiest of mountain landscapes rolling out in front of me.  To make it better, a nice red Mini Cooper convertable is all it takes. And big shade and a scarf for your hair.

That day, I walked the full 20 km back to Bitola. Well yes, I had booked a massage, so there was no excuse not to get some excercise. Gigantic mountain houses with lots of land, a restaurant with a view, some goats (on a walk up to the mountains, ladies? Your track starts right there. Watch your steps though.)


Pelister, really worth a detour. 

My last stop in Macedonia was Kruševo, a paragliders’ paradise with the best of sunrises. Skopje-Ohrid-Bitola-Kruševo. What a country. Warm, friendly people who will always offer you their help.

Today I am in Sofia, I arrived yesterday after a trip that took 9 hours,  from 5 AM to 14 AM. I’m bit tired, so I chill out in Rd. Vitosha, there are shops, boutiques, restaurants, loung bars. All wih air conditioning! Not that bad. 

Tomorrow hopefully get to the Rila Monastery, than continue to Plovdiv.