Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Restaurant Paul Van Waarden, Rijswijk

We were invited by a friend and family member for dinner in Rijswijk. We truly enjoyed our evening with Jan. Like for other first visits to a restaurant we try to write a fair review on our blog. For this restaurant we had high expectations because they have one star in the famous Michelin guide. It is always difficult to compare Michelin restaurants from different countries. It is our impression that restaurants in The Netherlands score lower in our quality assessment than restaurants with the same rating in Belgium and France. At restaurant Paul van Waarden, the food, selected wines and service were good. There was enough space between tables and friendly staff. In our opinion the restaurant needs to work at its price/quality ratio. Some of the products on the menu should not be served in a restaurant with one star.

We waren uitgenodigd op restaurant in Rijswijk door een vriend en familielid. We hebben echt genoten van onze avond met Jan. Zoals bij ieder eerste restaurant bezoek trachten we een objectieve recensie te schrijven op onze blog. Voor dit restaurant hadden we hoge verwachtingen daar ze vermeld staan in de Michelin gids met 1 ster. Het is altijd moeilijk Michelin restaurants uit verschillende landen met elkaar te vergelijken. Het is onze indruk dat Michelin restaurants in Nederland met dezelfde waardering bij ons lager scoren in kwaliteit als in Belgie of Frankrijk. Bij restaurant Paul van Waarden was het eten, de aangepaste wijnen en de service goed. Er was genoeg ruimte tussen de tafels en de bediening was vriendelijk. Naar onze mening dient er gewerkt te worden aan de prijs/kwaliteit ratio. Sommige produkten op het menu horen niet thuis in een sterrenrestaurant.

Restaurant Paul van Waarden Rijswijk
Restaurant Paul van Waarden Rijswijk
Restaurant Paul van Waarden Rijswijk
Previous Michelin restaurant article: Hostelerie Le Fox, De Panne
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Yes You Can Do Cannes...Sort Of

The travel website Jaunted has a post today about how regular folks like us can take part in the Cannes Film Festival, coming up next month. Go HERE.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune

Weekend Getaways Near Pune
Once the capital of Maratha Empire, Pune is the city of legendary Maratha leader Shivaji and has the history of being the alternative capital of British. The city known for its numerous historic monuments, Pune in the present times has evolved as a thriving centre of business and education which also houses Osho Meditation Resort. Thus a popular tourist destination, Pune is frequented not just by vacationers, but also those on business and educational tours. 

Weekend Getaways Near Pune
While in the vicinity one must not miss the interesting sites surrounding the main city. Situated a few kilometres away from Pune some beauteous hills are ideal for weekend getaways. Rich with geographical splendour and history dating back to the age of royalty these sightseeing places are located in close proximity and are well connected. Some of the weekend getaways around Pune are:

Weekend Getaways Near Pune

While opting for weekend packages to tour around Pune one must add this beautiful hill station as well. Well connected with Mumbai-Pune highway, Lonavala is easy to reach. The angelic beauty of this pretty countryside appears best during the monsoon season.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune
With cascading waterfalls and quaint ponds the verdant vistas creating appropriate backdrop, the time of rainy season in Lonavala is ideal for a visit to the region. In Lonavala one must visit Reyewood Park & Shivaji Udyan and the pristine Lonavala Lake.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune

A scenic hill station, Panchgani is located approximately 100 kilometres away from Pune. Nestled amidst lush Sahyadri mountain ranges its beauty is only enhanced with the beauteous Krishna River flowing nearby. The place is surrounded by five hills and on the top lays a volcanic plateau which is the second highest in Asia.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune
The area is a favourite picnic place for residents of Pune and is dotted with numerous gorgeous sightseeing attractions making it an ideal retreat for enjoying weekend breaks around Pune. The highlights of Panchgani includes the hilltop overlooking Krishna River valley- Sydney Point, the large expanse of laterite rock- Table Land and a beauteous spot overlooking azure waters of Dhom Dam- Parsi Point and more.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune

A coastal town, Alibag is a small city was once renowned for its gardens of mango and coconut trees. In the current times it is the beaches of Alibag that makes it one of the highly preferred weekend getaways around Pune.

Weekend Getaways Near Pune
One can choose from a number of pristine beaches of Alibag including Alibag beach, Varsoli beach, Akshi beach, Nagaon beach, Kihim-Navgaon Beach, Kashid Beach and more. Those eager to see something more than just the beaches can explore other highlights of the region including the famous temples such as Kanakeshwar temple, Birla temple, Uma Maheswhar temple and Balaji temple. Also visit Kolaba fort, Murud-Janjira fort and Magnetic observatory while in the vicinity.

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Himalayan Adventures Tour

Trans Himalayan Jeep Safari
Himalayan Tours
Tour Details: Travel through the scenic hills and a valleys of the Himalayan Ranges. Give your heart some fast beats by indulging in some adventurous sports like paragliding, river crossing, angling, trekking, rock climbing and more.


Himalayan Tours
11 Days Package from Delhi to Chail-Sangla-Kalpa-Tabo-Kaza-Manali, with the facilities of paragliding, river crossing, angling, trekking, rock climbing.

Day Wise Breakup:

Day 1: Delhi-Chail or Kalka-Chail - Leave Delhi after early breakfast. Night stay in Chail Camp/Hotel.

Himalayan Tours
Day 2 : Chail-Sarahan - Leave after breakfast. Check into the hotel Shrikhand.

Day 3 : Sarahan-Sangla - Visit 800 years old Bhimakali Temple complex in the morning. Drive to Banjara Camp, Sangla. En route visit Kalpa, offering fantabulous view of the 6000m high Kinner Kailash massif.
Himalayan Tours

Day 4 : Sangla - Visit Chitkul (3450m) - 20 kms from the camp. This is the last village on the Indo-Tibetan trade route. May be walk up to Nagasthi (4 kms) - one of the last India outposts.

Day 5 : Sangla - Walk up to the Sangla meadows to see Kinner Kailash range in all its majesty or take a leisure walk to the glacier point. 

Himalayan Tours
Day 6: Sangla -Tabo - Visit Nako en route. Night stay in Banjara camp.

Day 7: Tabo - Visit 1003 years old Tabo monastery in the morning. After lunch, visit Pin Valley.

Day 8: Tabo-Kaza - Visit Ki monastery and Kibber - one of the highest motorable village in the world. Check into the hotel.
Himalayan Tours
Day 9: Kaza-Manali - Drive to Manali over 4551m high Kunzum pass and 3978m high Rohtang pass. Check into the hotel.

Day 10: Manali - Day at leisure/local sightseeing.

Day 11: Departure - After early breakfast, drive to Delhi or Chandigarh.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Summer in Barcelona

Finally we've got sunshine and warm breezes each and every day. I don't know if it is my Scandinavian roots that makes me obsessed with the sun or if it just has been an unhealthy long winter. Either way I'm glad that the summer finally started so I can work on my tan and do something about my terribly white skin. I am almost as pale as the boat, as you can tell. /T

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Trident Hotel, Cochin

The Trident Hotel, Cochin, INR 4750
Bristow Road, Willingdon Island, Cochin 682 003. India

The Trident Hotel, Cochin
Overview: Welcome to the Trident, Cochin. Located on Willingdon Island the hotel is 20 minutes from the city's business district and within easy distance from well known tourist attractions. With well appointed rooms built around a picturesque central courtyard, a swimming pool and beautiful landscaped gardens, the hotel offers contemporary facilities in a relaxed and serene ambience for both business and leisure ravellers.

The Trident Hotel, Cochin

By Air: Cochin (Airport Code: COK) has regular domestic flights to Agatti, Bangalore, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Goa, Madras and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum - the capital of Kerala). The airport is 38 kms (50 mins drive) from the Hotel.

Currently, there are also regular international flights to the Arabian Gulf countries. Flights to other destinations will start soon. Other international airports nearby include Mumbai, Madras, Bangalore and Trivandrum.

The Trident Hotel, Cochin
By Rail: Cochin is connected to the rest of India by an extensive network of rails. Cochin has two main railway stations, Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town. Many important trains start from here and many others pass through these stations. The station is 12 kms (20 mins drive) from the Hotel.

The Trident Hotel, Cochin
By Road: Three important National Highways pass through or start from Cochin, apart from many state roads. NH 47 from Kanyakumari to Salem pass right through the heart of Cochin while NH 17 to Mumbai and NH 49 to Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) starts from Kochi. Private and public transport services are available to and from all major cities of South India from here.

By Sea: Cochin has a magnificent all weather natural port. Regular boat service to places like Kottayam and Alleppey are available through the scenic backwaters of Kerala.

The Trident Hotel, CochinAccommodation
All the accommodation provided by Travelmasti are in the most comfortable hotels/ resorts/ camps, handpicked especially for you, offering the best stay to make your business or leisure trip, simply 'worth it'.

The Trident, Cochin's 76 rooms and 9 suites are located in the hotel's elegant edifice and surrounded by landscaped gardens.

Check in: 2 pm

Check out: 12 noon

The Trident Hotel, CochinSupperior Rooms: 
56 Superior Rooms (king or twin) welcome guests with pool or garden views.

Deluxe Rooms: 
Deluxe Rooms (king or twin) welcome guests with pool or garden views.

Suites: The 9 suites offer guests 2 room bays – a living room and a bedroom – and are located on the top most floor of the hotel, with a view of landscaped gardens and the poolside.

The Trident Hotel, Cochin
All rooms are equipped with standard features like:

Centrally air conditioned
Wireless Internet access
Direct dial dual line telephones
Personal bar
Tea & coffee maker
24 hour room service
Satellite television
Electronic safe
Hair dryer
Voltage 110-220

Spring sail (sail problem part I)

After checking the forecast, we decided to try out the new working jib. There was some frustrating twenty minutes when the jib (which is originally not for this boat) didn't want to let go of the forestay and in the end Alex had to cut a line to finally be able to release the mess. Since we had some problems also with the main sail (!), we were left with only the working jib - but surprisingly we got up all the way to 6,5 knots, just with that small little thing. (with the wind off the land, 23-27 knots).

It's funny how the combination a small hill (Montjuic) and a river valley (El Valles) can interfere as much with the wind forces and directions as it does. Nevertheless it was a very pleasant and smooth spring sail on a beautiful day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

De Bruin's 42nd Championship, Kerkdriel

We almost decided not to participate in this competition because we didn't like the panel of adjudicators. We were convinced that they would look for other qualities in the couples than the dancing style (quality) we bring. Last week we received no marks from Robert Bogaart and again this competition he didn't mark us. In the final, he placed us last in each dance. We have to say he is very consistent. Many couples received a lot of marks and it was a close competition. We end in place 5 out of 17 couples. We are very pleased with this result and our dancing. We danced relaxed but still paid attention to presentation and quality of movement. For our feeling, all our dances were very good except the quickstep in the second round. Our slow waltz in the semi final was our best dance.

Full result: NADB result D-class

We hadden bijna besloten niet deel te nemen aan deze wedstrijd omwille van de samenstelling van het jury panel. We waren overtuigd dat deze jury naar een andere stijl of kwaliteit zochten dan de onze. Vorige wedstrijd kregen we geen markeringen van Robert Bogaart en deze week terug niets. In de finale gaf hij ons dan ook alle laatste plaatsen. We moeten toegeven dat hij zeer consequent is. Bijna alle koppels hebben veel krossen gekregen wat het een spannende kompetitie maakte. We eindigen op plaats 5 van 17 koppels. We zijn zeer blij met het resultaat en onze kwaliteit van dansen. Ons grootste aandachtspunt was goede presentatie en beweging zonder teveel spanning van het lichaam op te bouwen. We vonden al onze dansen goed behalve de quickstep in de 2de ronde. Onze wals in de halve finale was de beste dans.

Demuinck Pardon NADB Ballroom DancingFoto: Bauke Wagenmakers

Previous competition article: Swinging World Trophy, Steenwijk
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Cocktail Drinkers' Guide to Gardening: March

Born in Hampshire, England, James Clay is an artist and sculptor who settled down in St. Remy 20 years ago. Over the years, he lovingly created a gorgeous one-hectare garden, filled with fruit, palm, pine and olive trees (he has 60 olive trees, all of them transplanted), plus many varieties of bamboo, flowering plants and shrubs. James knows pretty much everything about gardening in Provence.

Las Fallas, Valencia

Tradicionalmente las Fallas de Valencia nacieron del gremio de carpinteros, que la noche de su patrón (el 19 de marzo) sacaban los restos de madera a la calle y los quemaban.
En los años posteriores la gente empezó a sacar muebles rotos, sillas, trastos, etc. la noche del 19 de marzo (noche del cambio del inverno a primavera) para conseguir que se quemara todo lo malo ocurrido durante el año anterior.
A mediados del siglo XVIII se crean e introducen los "ninots" (muñecos), que eran figuras colgadas en los balcones de las casas representando algún suceso vergonzoso o algún personaje censurable, la noche de la "cremà" (la quema) el 19 de marzo los echaban al fuego.
La Falla fundada en Valencia más antigua es la "Falla Mercado Central" de 1797 y desde entonces las Fallas han ido cambiando y lo que antes era una pila de maderas hoy son unos monumentos espectaculares de mas de 20 metros de altura.
En la ciudad de Valencia hay unas 760 fallas (incluidas las fallas infantiles) y esta fiesta se celebra también en muchas otras localidades del resto de la Comunidad Valenciana.
Hay numerosos actos en el programa de fiestas de Fallas en Valencia, entre ellos destaco:
- La cridà: Es el anuncio del comienzo de las Fallas comunicado por la Fallera Mayor de Valencia y la alcaldesa desde las Torres de Serranos (la primera foto que he puesto).
- La ofrenda: Mas de 100.000 personas entre falleros y músicos participan en la ofrenda de flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados de Valencia en los dias 17 y 18 de marzo.
- La mascletà: quema de casi 200kg de polvora en unos 5 minutos todos los dias a las 14:00 entre el 01 y el 19 de marzo en la plaza del Ayuntamiento de Valencia.
- Castillos y la nit del foc: castillos de fuegos de artificio en el cauce del rio Turia del 14 al 18 de marzo a las 01:00.
- Exposició del ninot: Todas las fallas entregan su mejor muñeco y se exponen del 6 de febrero al 15 de marzo para que el publico los vea y el que mas votos obtenga se salve de las llamas del fuego.
- La cremà: Es la quema de todas las fallas la noche del 19 de marzo. A las 22:00 se queman las fallas infantiles, a las 00:00 todas las fallas de Valencia excepto la que gana el primer premio de sección especial que se quema a las 00:30 y la de la plaza del ayuntamiento que es la ultima a las 01:00.
Tres son los pilares basicos de las fiestas de las Fallas, indumentaria fallera, músicos y polvora.
1. Indumentaria fallera. Son trajes típicos del siglo XVIII y XIX, con sus peinados y joyería tradicional:

2. Las bandas de música: Cada comisión fallera (casi 400) lleva su banda de música. Tocando actos de "despertà", recogida de premios, pasacalles y ofrenda. Aquí os pongo una foto de algunos integrantes de la Unión Musical La Vega de Valencia de la que soy músico, llevo tocando el saxofón en fallas desde los 12 años:

Podeis encontrar numerosas bandas de música tocando en Fallas en todos los barrios de Valencia, ya sean pasodobles, dianas o charangas. Fijaros la fiesta que se puede llegar a montar con una banda de música a las 19:30 de la tarde camino de la ofrenda en el interior de un vagón de metro en Valencia:

3. La polvora: Mascletàs, castillos y toda clase de material pirotécnico de venta al publico y que los niños disfrutan en la calle:

Video de para mi, la mejor mascletà que he oido en años. Pirotecnia Europlà de Bèlgida con 181kg de pólvora:

Terremoto final de una mascletà, unos 10 segundos a 122 decibelios:

Falla Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Valencia 2010:

Falla infantil Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Valencia 2010:

Falla Plaza del Pilar de Valencia 2009, consiguió el 2º premio con un presupuesto de 240.000€:

Falla de la Plaza del Pilar 2009:

Falla Plaza del Pilar de Valencia 2010:

Desde su fundación en 2002 la Falla Nou Campanar había sido por 6 años consecutivos y unicos en la historia de las fallas en ganar el primer premio, llegando en 2009 a un presupuesto de 900.000€.
Falla Convento Jerusalen de Valencia 2010, 1er premio, presupuesto 300.000€:

2º Premio en iluminación ,de la Falla Sueca Literato Azorin de Valencia:

Y la semana fallera culmina con "la cremà" todo el trabajo de un año se quema en unos minutos. Toda Valencia arde la noche del 19 de marzo, foto de la cremà de la Falla Mistral Murta 2009:

Video de la cremà de la Plaza del Ayuntamiento de Valencia en 2010:

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Ganapatipule, One of the serene, sedate and unspoiled beaches of Maharsahtra, discover this wonderfull beach resort with Travelmasti.


Sparkling blue waters, endless stretches of golden or silver sand, sun beams dancing through the swaying palms, waves playing with the sand dunes, a cool breeze whispering sweet nothing in your ear. This is the land of Ganpatipule, one of Maharashtra's almost virgin beaches.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Nestled in the greenery is an almost 4000 year old land mark - the Swayambhu Ganapati temple (Swayambhu means 'self-made', this is a temple of the self-originated idol, Ganapati). It is flooded by thousands of devotees and tourists every year. Thus the village got its name Ganapatipule, Ganapati the lord of the "ganas" or army and "pule" which means sand dunes, Ganapatipule is one of the "Ashta Ganapatis" (eight Ganapatis) of India and is known as "Paschim Dwar Dewata" (the Western Sentinel God).

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Ganapatipule is a small village, serene, sedate and unspoiled. The beach here is still as natural and pristine as ever. And traveling by roads is an experience by itself. The vast "Konkan" stretch abounds with scenic greenery. There are narrow mud-roads, the earth is red and the roofed houses with clean courtyards add a quaint touch to the panorama. The local vegetation includes fruit bearing trees like mango, betelnut, banana, jackfruit, coconut, etc. The entire western coast is covered with these trees. The locals are as warm and cheerful as their surroundings. Ever ready to chat with the visitors and make them feel at home.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
These god-fearing local devotees take a "Pradakshina" around the hill where the temple is located, not just around the temple (Pradakshina is a form of showing obeisance wherein the devotee walks in a circle around the idol of the lord or around the temple, the house of the lord), As for the tourists, they can go walking simple to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Places to Visit:
Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Malgund: Just a kilometer away from Ganapatipule, Malgund village is the birthplace of the famous Marathi Poet Keshavsoot. This small, yet beautiful village is frequented by visitors who come to take a look at the renovated and converted house of the poet, now a student's hostel. The Maratji "Sahitya Parishad" (Marathi Literature Society) has constructed a beautiful monument salled "Keshavsoot Smarak" in the memory of the great son-of-the soil.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Pawas: Pawas is naturally beautiful and serene. The place is also prominent for the ashram of Swami Swaroopanand (a spiritual leader who influenced an entire generation of Maharashtrians). A visit to the place is a journey through time.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Jaigad Fort: The legendary fort stands high and proud on the cliff with a spectacular view of the sea. The fort is at the entrance of the Sangameshwar river and is 35 kms away from Ganapatipule.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Ratnagiri: The Konkan is the vast, beautiful western coast. One of its districts is the well-known Ratnagiri. It is here that the great freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born. This man with a mission led the "Swadeshi Movement" in the 20th centuary against the British. His house - Tilak Smarak - is a landmark now and is open to visitors. Also the "Patit Pawan Mandir" is of importance here. It was the first temple built for the non-Brahmins by revolutionary leader, Swatantryaveer Savarkar. 

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Other Attractions are the Bhatye Beach, The Coconut Research Center, Ratnadurg Fort, Bhagwati Bunder (Sea Port) and The Seafood Processing Centre at Mirya. Also visit Thebaw Palace, which was built for the exiled King and Queen of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1910 - 11. They lived for five years till their death in 1916.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra
Velneshwar: This small and dreamy village around 170 kms away from Ratnagiri is the place to be for water sports - thanks to its beautiful clean beach and rock - free sea. Also an old Shiva temple near Velneshwar if Frequented by pilgrims and tourists. The whole place is a mystic aura around in the presence of the master mystic, Lord Shiva.

Ganpatipule Beach, Maharashtra

Marleshwar: 60 kms from Ganapatipule, famous for its Shiva temple and waterfall.

Derwen: 85 kms from Ganapatipule, it is well known for its Shiv Shristi (an exhibition on Chhatrapati Shivaji)

Parshuram: Known for the Parshuram temple, it is 112 kms away from Ganapatipule.

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