And the Prince Said Fuck Off

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republicanism

At present time there is this island in the North Sea that is ruled by a queen. Her name is Lizzie. Considering the average person on that island lives up to about 80 years of age and tends to stop working long before that, Lizzie is ancient and she is still working, or so one says. In PR terms she is fulfilling her duty. If you ask me, she is fulfilling what she considers her divine right to rule until she drops. Lizzie is married to a nazi-sympathiser, but we are not supposed to know nasty shit like this. Considering his age, he is near death too, but that kind who consider themselves blue-blooded just live longer than the average person in the realm. This nazi sympathiser is called Philip. They tend to call him prince. That is a royal title. The only Prince I acknowledge wrote Purple Rain and tons of other brilliant songs. That is true (rock) royalty, but I digress.

What Philip Did Next

This nonagenarian prince went out driving a few days ago in a massive Land Rover. He caused an accident while pulling out of a side road hitting another car containing three passengers including a 9-month old baby. It has been reported that his Land Rover made a tumble but Philip was not hurt. The other car was badly damaged and one of the ladies in it suffered a broken wrist. Not at all cool, obviously, but it could’ve been a lot worse.  Then a few days later this woman with her broken wrist appeared on national telly. Apparently this prince was spotted driving in a new Land Rover without a seat belt a day or so after he caused the accident in question. This lady was lamented that she found it disrespectful that this prince was wiping his royal arse with the rules (not her words) only a day or so after the accident. She mentioned that she hadn’t heard from this prince or any of his representatives with a apology and she wondered whether the same rules were applicable to her as to members of the royal family. She also said that this man should be prosecuted if possible.

To Get Fucked or Not to Get Fucked

Now, I think that the monarchy is an archaic totally fucked up institution, but I am clearly in the minority. I think the royal-loving or indifferent majority are delusional but I guess everyone has the right to be so. I am going to assume that this lady who got hurt in the accident is not a republican, at least not prior to the accident. The general public quite likes the royal family. I guess people like to admire and look up to other people who look like them but are for some reason deemed special. There is nothing special about the royal family. They don’t have any particular skill or talent. They were just born or married into a certain family. Many complain about the celebrity culture of the recent decade, which tends to be more about being famous for the sake of being famous. Yet, the royal family is no different. If they make a live appearance the general public wants to catch a glimpse of them. If any member of the general public is ‘blessed’ enough to meet any royal in person, they bow like a proper subject. A royal acknowledgement of one’s skills and achievements in the form of a title, is considered one of the highest honours one can get. We are being told the royals are above politics and that they have no influence on the ‘democratic process’. As naive taxpaying subjects we are supposed to believe that just because so-called royals don’t share their political opinion in public that this means that they are not at all trying to exercise their royal influence to get their way. One complains about benefit cheats, but one doesn’t mind wasting their money on the biggest benefit cheats of all. The public loves the pedestal the royals placed themselves on and then at the same time the public wants the same rules to apply to royals as to the subjects of the realm. ‘The Prince should wear a seat belt just like the rest of us. The Prince should be prosecuted for causing an accident and putting three people including a baby at serious risk’. As consort, Philip owns the UK. It’s his realm and he can do whatever the fuck he wants. I don’t think there is such a thing as getting fucked in the arse just a little bit. It’s all or nothing. Same with the monarchy. Either you swallow the fake fairy tale with all the shite that comes with it, or you choose to pop the bubble. If you are cool with an archaic institution like the monarchy, then they’ve got you by the balls and they will squeeze as hard as they can. I suggest you don’t complain about any discomfort.

images: bellacaledonia.org.uk

 

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Valencia: Reconnecting with Iberian Vibes

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Plaza de la Virgen, Valencia

During my yoga adventure in Mysore, India I had seen the light (well, sort of). While caught by the -brutal- ashtanga yoga bug I had consulted the resident ayurvedic physician about a few health issues I am experiencing. She gave me an insightful diagnosis and recommend an extensive diet and lifestyle plan. I am very keen to take it all into practice and was aware that this would be a bigger challenge when I have a roaming lifestyle. I reasoned that if I want to take the yogic lifestyle (even more) seriously and make it as easy as possible to stick to the recommended diet, it would be useful if had the possibility to cook for myself and be stationary for a while. Before I left Malta to go travelling, I had decided that I wanted to check out the city of Valencia, Spain as a base after I would be done roaming. And two years after that idea came to me, I did have a little sniff indeed.

First Taste of Spain

I’ve always had something with the Iberian Peninsula and Spain in particular. In my mid-teens I went on holiday to Portugal with my parents and my sister. As very few people flew in those days to travel within Europe, we undertook the journey by car. We had been to neighbouring Belgium and France before and that was already quite different from the Netherlands, but by no means as exotic as the lands south of the Pyrenees. I was captured by the beautiful mountains of Basque country and the aridness of Castilla y Léon as we made our way past Valladolid and through Salamanca to the Portuguese border. On the way back, we travelled through Extremadura where signs along the road warned against throwing out burning cigarette buts as they could set the surrounding nature alight in an instant. Coming from green Netherlands I had never seen grass and bushes that dry. I can’t say I had any contacts with locals at that time, but I was charmed nevertheless. After that family holiday I visited Spain several times sticking to the cities of Barcelona and Madrid and tourist towns at the Med that can’t really be called Spain. Just before graduating from drama school in Amsterdam I had the desire to live in Spain. My Spanish was very shoddy at the time and I was well aware that it would be very hard to get work as an actress there, but already then, I had a strong longing for sunnier climes. I started building a career and forgot about any immediate move down south, but the longing for sunnier climates always remained.

Valencia Cool

Many years later in different circumstances, setting up base in Spain has turned from an old dream into concrete attempts to make it happen. Why Valencia? people ask me. After my life in Malta and on the road, I have very little desire to return to colder former bases like London or Amsterdam, yet I am keen to have a base in Europe. After the smallness and island mentality of Malta, I want to live in city with good vibes and plenty of culture and where it’s not necessary to take a plane to escape. I found Barcelona ‘too Catalan’ when I was there at the end of the last century, and I’m sure the region’s longing for independence and the current tourist zoo can only have made matters worse. Therefore, Spain’s second city is a no-no. I liked Madrid when I visited many winters ago, but the place is cold in winter and too hot in summer with no body of water of considerable size nearby. In addition to these points, Madrid and Barcelona are relatively expensive. Valencia, Spain’s third city, is a very decently-sized city at the sea with plenty of culture, intellectual live and general coolness. It looks nice in the ‘brochure’ (Youtube) too. And now I’m here I am instantly taken by a very good vibe. I find people very chilled and friendly and as it is a multi-culti place, you see and hear people from all corners of the world; foreigners who live here to work or study and people from abroad who are visiting. Compared to European countries located on more northern latitudes, the city is cheap as well. It’s definitely not affordable for all, as I was quite shocked by the amounts of tramps and begging people I saw on the streets. I couldn’t remember this back in the days when I was in Barcelona and Madrid. I am reasoning that the crisis, of which Spain is still recovering 10 years after the Lehman shit hit the fan, has had a big impact with very harsh consequences for some.

Valencians seem to know they live in a cool city, but they don’t feel the need to shout it of the proverbial rooftops. While Madrid and especially Barcelona seem to take the majority of the Spanish cool-city limelight, Valencia is just getting on being groovy. As Madrid is too big, too cold and/ or too hot for many, and Barcelona’s tourist circus is getting out of hand, tourist- travellers are looking for alternatives. Valencia has become quite big on the digital-nomad scene in recent years and I think the city is to attract more rather than less foreigners in years to come. Although I hope this will have a positive effect on the local economy and culture, I hope it doesn’t get out of hand. For now I can say,  Valencia is the dog bollocks, hombre.

Ashtanga; What does Yoga have to do with it

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View from yoga hall terrace in Mysore, India

After a long and hot summer had come to an end, I headed East once more to engage in some ‘serious’ yoga for a month. During my Malta days I practised at a wonderful boutique yoga studio owned by an equally wonderful and adorable woman. For several years she has been nudging me to do a yoga teacher training course and recommended a good and affordable course she did herself. I’m not sure what took me so long but in October it was about to happen: I would be doing a 200 hours ashtanga yoga teacher training course in Mysore, India, home of ashtanga yoga.

Yoga: Western Idea vs Eastern Reality

If your idea of yoga includes concepts like peace, stillness and fluffy-duffiness, ashtanga yoga is something else and especially ashtanga yoga in India. At Hridaya, the yoga ashram I studied at in Mazunte, Mexico in the summer of 2017, one indeed practices the peace, love and self-reflection you might associate with yoga. Ashtanga yoga, however, can be described as a yoga  boot camp powered by drive and flow. At ‘my’ yoga studio in Malta I practised Bikram, which is not ‘fluffy-duffy either and rather sweaty. In addition to Bikram I had done a few classes of ashtanga yoga in Panama. I knew this teacher training course was going to be quite tough, especially since I was a tat out of practice in terms of rigorous exercise. The course was not necessarily tougher than I thought, but I was quite surprised by the boot-camp-yoga-torture nature of it.

What’s in a name

Ashtanga yoga means eight-limb union in Sanskrit and the structure of this yogic philosophy, was written down by an Indian sage named Patanjali. Not a lot is known about Patanjali, whether he really existed and if he did, whether he- or she-  was more than one person. Most scholars, however, place Patanjali some time in the middle of the 2nd century BCE. Pantajali has penned down the essence of the eight-limbed yogic lore in 195 sutras, which means threads and could be translated as verses. What most people consider to be yoga, the postures, called asanas in Sanskrit, is only one limb of the eight-legged entity called ashtanga yoga. The other seven include the adherence of certain guidelines called namas and niyamas, breathing exercise called pranayama, meditation and study. Patanjali didn’t mention any particular postures or asanas in his work. The man who brought ashtanga yoga asana practice to the attention of people in the west was K. Patthabi Jois, who started his first shala, or yoga house, in Mysore, India just after the second world war. His teachings reached a wider audience after a Belgium writer mentioned Patthabi Jois in his book ‘Yoga Self-Taught’ (original title: J’apprends le Yoga) published in 1967. Once the word was out, many westerns started to visit K. Patthabi Jois’ shala and he gathered a celebrity following. Whatever celebrities do, the masses tend to follow and ashtanga yoga asana practice became and remained a massive yoga hit. Rather than finding a meditative state in the stillness of holding a pose like in hatha yoga asana practice, ashtanga yoga asana practice is very much about dynamism and feeding the inner fire. The aim remains the same: samadhi, which can be translated as a unification with the divine or enlightenment.

The Yogic Boot Camp Approach

Although yogic lore prescribes ahimsa, which means non-harming,  a few teachers at the shala I attended seem to believe it shouldn’t be applicable to any of their teaching styles. During asana practice I felt like I was in a ballet-boot camp of some sort as corrections towards the right form of the pose were made rather forcefully. The teaching style of other classes is quite traditional too with a strict teacher- student hierarchy very well-known to über-hierarchical Indian culture and society. I, however grew up in the ‘don’t-you-think-you-are-better-than-anyone-else culture of the Netherlands and the teaching culture at the shala didn’t gel at all with my idea of how grown-up paying students should be treated. A newly made yoga girlfriend from Mangalore living in Mumbai, explained how stuff goes down in India. When you want to master something, you train with a guru, which just means teacher. This guru will show you some ‘tough love’ and you roll with it as you assume the guru has your best interest at heart. I don’t believe in ‘tough love’. I consider my parents to be good people and I had a very good secondary school education. However, the idea of ‘tough love’ reminds me too much of exactly those aspects in my upbringing and the way I have been force-fed knowledge that I don’t like.At.All.

Continuing the Yogic Path

Although not an entirely pleasant experience, I have to say I learnt a lot at the ashtanga yoga shala in Mysore and I have befriended some incredible people. Some of the teachers might have ‘scary’ teaching tactics, my sister and fellow students were very kind and  supportive. Our ‘graduation ceremony’ was guided by a priest, who conducted a whole ritual before we got our certificates. Religious rituals seem very peculiar when these are foreign to you. In addition to practising yoga, the little slice of Indian life I have witnessed in that month loves worshipping too. An experience doesn’t necessarily have to be pleasant to be useful. This particular experience has not only deepened my practice and gave me a yoga teaching qualification. It also helped me refind the spark within to get shit moving forward again after having felt unfocused and diffused for several months. Walking the yogic path makes me very content and although not always easy, I plan to keep on walking until I am able to take off and fly.

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Yogini and Cat Pose

 

bottom image: beautyandthebeatblog.com

 

 

 

ADO the Hague Shenanigans: Tribal Warfare

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ADO Mayhem

While spending some time with my friend Alice and her family in the Hague I joined them to watch a live match of the local Eredivisie football club. Eredivisie means Premier Division and is the Dutch equivalent of the British Premier League. The local club is ADO, which throughout recent history has been known for its fierce hooliganism and it has had some dire performances since the start of the season. This weekend’s opponent was PSV Eindhoven, which is one of the big three clubs, together with Ajax and Feyenoord, and last seasons’ champions. It was my first live football match and I found it a rather interesting anthropological experience.

Study in Human Behaviour

I remember the big social debates back in the 80s and 90s on how to control football hooliganism, that was- and still is- a big stain on the sportive and wholesome image of football. Most measures that were taken to tackle the issue at the time are still in place today. The spectators of last weekend’s match were of a wide variety of people divided in different sections. Everyone was wearing sneakers or something similar as if it were us who were getting sportive. As I was with my friend and her family, our section was dominated by kids and their parents, many kids wearing ADO the Hague t-shirts. Like going to the theatre, your ticket allocates you a seat in a certain section of the stadium. You enter your division through a very narrow hallway, where they inspect your ticket. Once you are through, you are underneath the stadium where they check your bag. Make-up artists are available to paint kids’ faces with ADO colours green and yellow and there are wheelie bins from where you can grab a flag in the same colours. Before the match starts, there is some sort of entertainment on the field and the hardcore ADO fans make the most noise and wave the biggest flags. The opponent’s supporters where located in a separate division as far removed as possible from the home hardcore supporters. This section was completely closed off and PSV fans looked like a bunch of caged animals in a zoo. It was tribalism of the highest sort. If one would have witnessed a gathering like this somewhere remote like deep in the Amazon, it would have been considered some sort of ritual, most likely of a religious nature by a primitive people. There was a lot of security around. People, men and women, in certain uniform where standing at the lowest level of the grandstand with their backs to the field facing the people on the grandstand. It must be the most boring job in the world. But then, if you are a geek like me, it could be fascinating to watch the expressions of thousands of people while they are watching a football game. There wasn’t much joy for ADO fans as the home team got completely thrashed and had to deal with a historic loss of 0-7. And I was there. I saw it all unfold. It was great to witness the atmosphere and PSV was a true joy to watch, but I did miss the re-runs of goals and other exciting actions like you have on telly.

Games and Big Money

Spectator sports in general and football in particular are a curious thing. It used to be just a game played by people- mostly men- who had jobs to make money and played football for fun, fitness and self-expression and then some people watched that game in support of ‘their’ men. At some point certain entities saw the opportunity for big money and a lot of things seemed to have gone to shits since then. Many supporters have great love for their club often just out of tradition. They are from that region and/or their family and friends support that particular club. In primary school I was a Feyenoord Rotterdam ‘fan’. Not because I loved their game or had any relation with the city of Rotterdam. But just because all the boys were Ajax fans, so someone decided that therefor all the girls were supporters of Feyenoord. No one supported our local pro football club N.E.C, that has always played at the top of the First League or, if they’re doing very well, at the very bottom of the Premier League. Because so many people seem to like football Big Money found a way in and blew it up. Those in charge of the football club or governing bodies might quite like footie but for many the real love is for the shekels it generates, especially the higher up you go. They say it is all for the fans, but the bigger the fan, the more he or she gets fucked by Big Money. I was lucky to get my match ticket for pittance, but in general it’s by no means cheap to watch a live match of the typically working-class game. Attending with a family of two adults and two kids sets you back at least €100 and then you haven’t even fed yourself and your offspring with shit food. Merchandise too cost a true mint. I haven’t even talked about following your club to away-matches. There are hobbies or obsessions that are considerably cheaper. Pro-footballer players do very well in terms of money or make an absolute mint when playing for top clubs. That money comes from somewhere. Football, which you would think promotes sportsmanship, team effort and all sorts of other wholesomeness, is sponsored by corporations, that are the least wholesome around in terms of product as well as business practices. I am talking gambling companies, soft drink providers and fast-food outlets. And then there are the mega -corruption  scandals surrounding football’s governing bodies UEFA and FIFA. Something turned very ugly with the beautiful game indeed and the very sad thing is, the masses are just taking it. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s high time that supporters and people in general take the power back from greed and other fucked up powers that should-not-be.

The Deal with The Hague

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In the Hague

Taking a break from Amsterdam, I went to the city of the Hague for a few days after returning from London where it was still flip-flop weather. I stayed at my friend’s Alice, who I’ve known since secondary school. She has always had high-flying jobs since graduating from uni and back in the days we regular met in London, where she often travelled to for work.

What’s in a City

To Amsterdam locals, the Hague, the Netherlands’ third city and the seat of the central government and the Dutch royal house, is a bit boring. This is understandable from the capital’s perspective, as most Amsterdam locals think their city is the centre of the universe, but it is not necessarily true. For some odd reason I have quite a few girlfriends who originate from the Hague and in in my acting days I really enjoyed working there. The Hague in dutch is Den Haag and it’s official name is ‘s-Gravenhage, which absolutely no one says. The longer version literally means ‘of the counts’ hedge’ and the short version ‘(of) the hedge’. The Hague is technically not a city as it hasn’t got city rights. There are no reliable sources that can confirm any human activity in the area now called the Hague prior the 12th century until a certain count decided to buy a court there. After this count was crowned King of the Romans in the middle of the 13th century, he rebuilt that court to a royal palace and it was named the Inner Court. From the mid-13th century onward the counts of the Lowlands used the Hague as their administrative centre and main residence and it has been a centre of political activity ever since.

The Hague’s Class

In Dutch the Hague is referred to has the Court City. It’s is a stately, very international and multicultural and the only city of considerable size in the country located at the coast. The city houses many embassies and international institutions like the International Court of Justice and the International criminal court. The Hague attracts a fair amount of tourists, but most definitely not at hysterical Amsterdam- levels. This could be changing though, to the horror of most locals. Even the powers/ idiots that opened the tourist flood gates realise that visitor numbers in Amsterdam have indeed got out of control, and other cities, like the Hague could take on parts of the tourist masses. The Hague is typified as a city with a rather stratified population. In general, Dutch folks believe in flat structures and although it is by no means a classless society, it is most definitely not as class-aware as the UK and almost the opposite of an incredibly stratified country like India. However, the Hague has its ‘chavs’, a term I don’t particularly like, and its snobs. With the exception of the artistic class and a few salon socialists, there is not much in between. The city has the Dutch equivalent of a polytech, but no university. There are renowned universities in very nearby Leiden to the northeast and Delft to the southwest. Despite- or maybe because- of its political and royal character, the city has always known an interesting artistic scene with a loyal following. The Hague’s crowd is much kinder in their expression towards artistic endeavours compared to Amsterdam folk who think they’ve seen it all and are notoriously hard to impress. The city’s must-see exhibitions include those on 17th, 19th and 20th- century greats Vermeer, Mesdag and Esscher.

My friend Alice absolutely loves it in the Hague and I can see why. It might not be as swanky as Amsterdam, but neither is it as pretentious and full of itself. It is smaller, you can still enjoy the city centre without being heavily annoyed by tourists and the sea is close by. What probably truly is the country’s swankiest city is only a 10-minute train-ride away and if you do want to visit the capital, you can reach it by train within 50 minutes. The Hague might be boring, but it ‘does ‘boring’ in rather interesting ways.

Amsterdam Nostalgia and Annoyance

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A piece of Amsterdam as in the brochure (with filter and without tourists)

After my play time in Malta I returned to the Netherlands where summer was still present, but it wasn’t as hot as it once was. Yet again, I spent several weeks in Amsterdam at my dear friends Rick and Louis, who are like family, and whose loved-filled households has been one of my main pillars of stability and belonging this summer. Amsterdam in particular and the Netherlands in general haven’t been my home for a long time, but this summer especially, I’ve noticed I’ve become a whining former local, who is feeling rather nostalgic about the Amsterdam that once was.

An Amsterdam of Yesteryear

I spent my college years in Amsterdam in the last century. A time before the introduction of the euro, when work was plentiful, everyone had money and life was just generally rocking. We were young, hot and the world was most definitely our oyster. In those days too, Amsterdam was visited by many tourists, but the city and especially the city centre, was still very much a living city catering for the local community. Gentrification was still very limited and due to the housing crisis, squatting was still a housing option. At squatted properties there often was room for left-leaning political activity, cheap accommodation for artists and other perceived fringe people and alternative parties and not-so legal raves. Amsterdam still had many rough edges at the time, too many and too rough for some.

Watershed Moments

In the last decade and a bit, we got a new currency (the euro), different neighbourhoods gentrified considerably and some people thought that Amsterdam needed to attract more tourists. I am not sure if there is a relation between these factors, but in some respect, it all went downhill from there. Some ad-people came up with the slogan I AMSTERDAM, which they even turned into a landmark. Due to some heavy campaigning and perhaps a general increase of global tourist activity, the flood gates opened and foreigners came to visit the capital en masse. Studying and working abroad became far more normal than it used to be in the last century, and the combo of visiting and residing foreigners seemed to have turned Amsterdam, and especially the city centre, into an entity that could be described as something between a sleazy fairground, an open-air museum and a human zoo. Nowadays it is not uncommon at all to enter an establishment like a shop or restaurant in the city centre where no one speaks Dutch. Or you just walk around town for an hour or so and don’t hear a word of the national language. AirBnB-ing has gone through the roof and residents in the city centre, many of which were already a whining lot, seem to have lost their neighbourhood to tourists, who misbehave and have no respect for the local community. As Amsterdam always had the reputation of a liberal and tolerant city where anything goes, some visitors can’t quite handle the perceived freedom and lose control to great annoyance of the locals. Back in the days you wouldn’t find any tourists outside of the city centre or the upmarket neighbourhood of Oud-Zuid (Old South). Now you find the trolley suitcase-pulling masses in neighbourhoods not even snobbish locals wanted to be found dead in in another decade. Most of my child-rearing friends I have known since my college days, are happy with the polish of the city. The tourist masses in the city centre might be annoying, but the gentrification of more socially-challenged neighbourhoods means they have become more child-friendly. Also, houses prices have increased significantly, which is all good for those who bought their mansion in the last century or the first decade of the new millennium. I, however, can’t help but feeling a longing for the Amsterdam that once was.

The Cool that lost its Cool

The edginess, the spaces for unpolished art, the grotty squats and warehouses north of central station, where you could have a good party or two, that all is no more. Neither are affordable accommodation or an inexpensive meal in a pub. A capital city with a village feel, that was cool, has become a city that has totally lost its cool and is prostituting itself to all and sundry. Although, much to my surprise, I still seem to move about as a local as I am often asked for the way, like I still know this city like the back of my hand. But I don’t; I just got stuck in time. I am not against what is considered progression. My home town too has changed quite a bit in the last decade and a half. As it’s a university town, there are a fair amount of foreigners, but as its not on the tourist trail, it hasn’t been tempted to sell its soul to the tourism-devil. As an ueber left-leaning, quite intellectual and culture-loving town, it still has its edge as much as a provincial town can be edgy.

If you plan on visiting Amsterdam for the first time, I am sure you would love it, despite my whining. Yet, in my opinion, being a tourist in Amsterdam was much more fun 15 years ago. Now there are probably more tourists than locals in the city centre and unless they make money from tourism, most locals are pretty fed up with visiting holiday makers. Visit at your own discretion and don’t say I didn’t warn you about that the place being like a zoo or the locals treating you like shit.

European Drifting in an Endless Summer

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flipfloplifejpgWith the exception of a couple of days, I haven’t stopped wearing open-toes shoes since I arrived in South Asia in February, escaping the cold, cold climes of Western Europe and North Africa. A serious heatwave has hit Europe and other parts of the world and everyone is whining about the heat. After having spent time in the country of my birth, the city of Antwerp just south of the border, and my beloved London Town,  l moved south to Malta. I reasoned, that in addition to meeting up with some lovely folks I hadn’t seen for almost 18 months, a sunny, hot and rainless summer and a more chilled way of life would be guaranteed. As the heatwave seems to prolong itself, I initially felt rather daft for wanting to spend a good part of summer on the Rock, as it’s full-on summer EVERYWHERE in Europe.

A Footie World Cup Came and Went

We were entertained by a World Cup football with some exciting performances and many freak exits. As the Boys of Orange weren’t playing, I could enjoy the circus as a rather neutral spectator and enjoy World Cup fever in Belgium and London. Although Malta is never competing, it’s incredibly difficult to escape the World Cup on this island, as matches are displayed in pretty much every bar, restaurant or café, whether indoors or outside. There are also a few so-called fan zones, where spectators can gather to watch matches on big screens while getting pissed and being annoyed by Malta’s notoriously bad DJs during half time. During the final, the whole of Europe except ‘la douce France’ wanted Croatia to win, which they didn’t and now some Frenchies have another reason to feel unrightly utterly superior in general rather than just in terms of football.

Not all Heat is created Equal

People in Malta are whining about the heat too, although it seems a normal Maltese summer to me. The big summer difference between the Rock and Western Europe, is that the island nation is far better equipped to deal with the heat, as aircon is ubiquitous and every dwelling has at least one big fan. It’s in winter when you might be suffering in Malta; if you can’t be arsed to invest in a decent gas or oil heater or spend a fortune on running electric heaters, time spend indoors can be cold, cold, cold to the bone. It’s the world upside down in Western Europe. My experience in London is, that Brits can’t build decent houses, that keep you warm in winter and/or relatively cool during a hot summer. Compared to that lot, ‘we’ Dutchies can build decent dwellings, that keep you warm in winter. There are too many rules and regulations in place to fuck that up. We don’t do aircons, as we don’t need them and, unlike in Malta, where you NEED a fan in summer, Dutchies don’t do fans. If a heatwave strikes, you don’t seem to be able to buy some sort of cooling device, as the few fans and portable aircon systems available are sold out in an instant.

As I am receiving and sharing a lot of love on the island and enjoying a chilled lifestyle, I feel I did make the right choice to spend a few weeks here. Throughout the years I have learnt, that travelling or temporarily residing in a place is totally different from actually living there. An although I’m currently having a ball, I have no appetite for becoming a Rock Resident once more.