In my last blog I mentioned Sophie and I were going to visit friends and family in the Netherlands. That was a month ago and we’ve since returned to Davao where—post-jet lag—life is back to ‘normal.’
Or is it…?
Yes, sort of. Although it’s more hot and humid than before we left. Summer’s kicked in full force. Yesterday the indoor thermometer read 34 degrees Celsius. And every evening the house is surrounded by dozens of hornets who are attracted by the outdoor lighting. It will probably take just one major downpour to flush them out, but the southern Philippines hasn’t seen much rain in the past few months.
After a pretty much sleepless third night after returning to Davao we went on a day trip with some of our expat friends. We rode a public bus for an hour to Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, a region that’s slowly but surely expanding its tourism offering. We did a short boat tour through some lovely mangrove forest, but there’s also great hiking and biking in this area.
Professionally speaking, my day-to-day to-do list—which I drafted in the Netherlands—officially kicked in today. I’m writing pitches for news articles, updating my resume and personal online channels, and finishing the manuscript for the book about the Mindanao Peace Games that I started writing end of last year. And to top it off, on April 27th the Palarong Pambansa, an annual multi-sport event with student-athletes from all 17 regions of the Philippines, kicks off. I’m on the coaching staff of the Davao Region football team, and I’m very excited to watch the boys compete against their peers from other parts of the country. For some, doing well during Palarong could act as a springboard to a high-quality education at top schools in Manila.
But that’s enough for my usual musings about expat life in the Philippines. In this blog I’d like to talk a bit about my visit to the Netherlands. And I’ll do so using some pictures I took along the way. Yeah!
This is the Vrijthof, the main square in the historical city of Maastricht, the provincial capital, 10 kilometers away from my hometown. It’s always one of my favorite places to visit. I went to middle school here, and got my bachelor’s degree in European Studies at Maastricht University. The churches in the back have been towering over this square for centuries.
Sophie and I enjoyed a stroll through the main park in Maastricht. The old city wall in the background partly crumbled not long before our visit. When I was a student at Maastricht University the park was a favorite hangout during long summer nights.
I spent a full week with my parents and sister in my hometown of Valkenburg aan de Geul which is famous for its marl caves and quarries. Several times I went on walks with my dad that usually ended with us enjoying coffee and cake at some outdoor terrace. We passed by this small hill with exposed marl, a type of mud stone this region is known for, towards the end of one of these walks.
I captured this quintessential London view with my camera standing on Tower Bridge. Behind the Tower of London complex, the medieval castle on the river Thames famous for housing the Crown Jewels, you can spot “the Gherkin”, an unusually-shaped skyscraper in London’s primary financial district, the City of London. Sophie and I spent 4 days in London visiting her younger sister. We took the Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel and arrived 4,5 hours later at St Pancras railway station in downtown London. We explored parts of the city we hadn’t seen before, like Notting Hill, and enjoyed delicious scones, fish and chips, and other typical English dishes.