29 December, 2009


This year was my first time welcoming Christmas without family presence. It doesn't help that there would be no church service in Maastricht since people normally spend Christmas Eve having dinner with their family or closed ones. 

"We traditionally go to church on Christmas day," David Mackelburg --a classmate-- told me.

To avoid feeling lonely and miserable during Christmas Eve, I emailed Agnes, a friend from Junior High who is getting her Master degree in Utrecht, to check if she already has a plan for Christmas. Luckily she agreed to spend Christmas in Amsterdam and she even has a friend that could sublet his apartment to us!

So on 24th morning, I took the 2,5 hours train ride to Amsterdam. Her friend's place, Tri, is about  10 minutes by bus from Amsterdam Centraal. Located in a quiet neighborhood with little shops and a supermarket --Albert Heijn-- near.

Tri's place is a studio apartement and it reminded me of Anne Frank's hiding place with steep stairs and (what I called) super effective arrangements. Since his apartment doesn't even have a bathroom sink, I either wash my hands in the shower or in the kitchen's sink. However, it's quite a nice place filled with unique fireplace and modern (read: practical) furnitures mix several second-hand antiques. 

I enjoyed strolling around Amsterdam Museum Quarter. But then she refused to buy --admittedly-- an expensive museum card Agnes, so I went visiting Van Gogh Museum alone. I promised to meet Agnes near IAMSTERDAM giants in one hour, so as impressed as I was with Van Gogh paintings and early sketches I must did the tour very quickly. Both Van Gogh and Rijk Museum have extensive collections but Van Gogh has this nice shop selling beautiful stuffs. Including cute leather bags with 'cuter' price tags....*youknowwhatImean*.

Apart from exploring Amsterdam, we did two kinds of simple yet delicious cookings during Holiday. The first one was Mashed Potatoes with mushroom sauce for Christmas Eve dinner. The second one was spaghetti Aglio Olio that looks more like a fried noodle for our Boxing Day lunch. 

"So far I only do simple figuring-my-own-recipe kinda cooking. I still not a good cook like most Indonesian girls in Maastricht..."

"Not yet, we're on our way...," Agnes replied.

Overall, I had a nice time celebrating my first Christmas without family in Amsterdam. I also grateful to be able to attend a Christmas Day service in a church. The service was in Dutch and although we didn't understand most of it...still it's a church. 

Because (for me) it won't be a proper Christmas without a church service. 

Happy Christmas!

22 December, 2009

Na-Da-Na-Da Maastricht Winterland

After Vienna's Christmas Market, Maastricht's Kerstmarkt "Maastricht Winterland" seems so petite and simple. But at least it has a cool Ferris Wheel.

My new flat mates turned to have the same thinking as I do, so on one Thursday evening, we agreed to go visiting Maastricht's Kerstmarkt together.There were eight of us girls and boys, all of us were International students with minimum experience for Holiday season in Holland. So we took every chance to get the taste of it: taking a ride on that Ferris Wheel, ate ginger bread, bought candies and tried several traditional winter beverages available.

We enjoyed the Winterland so much we almost missed the last bus to Vijvardale.

New York, I Love You

New York I Love You at first glance is more like Woody Allen kinda thing: based in New York and presents dysfunctional relationship we used to call love.

In turn New York I Love You is much more than that. A film based in big city (New York!) with complex love story is easy to find. Yet one without succumbing to typicality of Hollywood's romantic comedy is a rare.

New York I Love You offers subtle, sweet stories without unnecessary cynicism the world seems to be presenting these days. In such unfriendly world, New York I Love is a piece of audience-friendly compilation. 

One of them also happened to be Natalie Portman's directing debut too...couldn't ask for more.

21 December, 2009

Classy Vienna

On one winter day, I received an email from my Auntie Mir. She was invited to be a speaker for an Economic Conference in Vienna. So I went there to see her and to give myself a break from this hectic Module 3 assignments.

The trip to Vienna taken place on my second week living in Vijvardale. The flight was schedule on a Tuesday noon so I arrived at Vienna Airport around late afternoon. I made a wrong decision and bought super expensive City Airport Train tickets (which I found out later was not even necessary).

First thing I did is to find a room for one night because auntie Mir was only to be arrived the next day. Fortunately near Vienna's flower market area, I immediately found this pleasant place for 70 EUR per night. I got in, paid, check-in, put my things, and in a few minutes was back in the street again for dinner and a night stroll.

Just before got back to the hotel after taking a walk on my 1st night in Vienna

The next day after breakfast I went to Vienna's favorite shopping area Kantner Stase. After spending some high-quality time at Zara (aka. shopping), I picked up my things at the motel and went straight to Hilton Plaza Hotel in this nice cozy street not far from the Parliament area. Auntie Mir was already at her room, and her first comment after opening the door was, "Wow you looked stylish!"
Coming from a lady with purple hair like her it's really is something :). Then she told me that her luggage with my Tarivid and the food I ordered from her super-cook housemaid: frozen chili sauce with Indonesian traditional crispy beef or dendeng balado went missing in the airport. Singapore Airlines has found the luggage and would send it to the hotel tomorrow afternoon, she says. But I must go back to Maastricht tomorrow day time while it's also important for me to get back with Tarivid in hand because this antibiotic ear drops could hardly exist in Europe.

Finally I decided to cancel my morning flight back to Maastricht and instead took the OBB train later at night. The train's route was not a simple one either: Vienna-Salzburg-Munich. From Munich I took a German night train and arrived at Utrecht Centraal in time to catch an Intercity train back to Maastricht. The German night train was uncomfortable experience and I spent the entire night without sleep, but taking Holland's Intercity train that day turned to be even worst experience...I couldn't find a seat at all and was stuck near the door, spent half of the trip standing. Then I finally got tiny spot to sit at the stairs. Never before I could be so happy to find --even an improper-- place to sit.

After spent more than 10 hours on the train you must think one would want a nice rest as soon as she arrives at her comfortable tiny (and new) room... but no! I had promised Gogo I would met him in the library at 1 o'clock. And then from noon till dawn we did recordings for our radio documentary project, fourth module finale assignment. The next day after attending Sunday Service at church, I once again met Gogo at the library and did our last recording.

Well, I often describe myself as a hardworking person and walk the talk*wink*.

Places visited:
Vienna's famous and truly impressive Christmas Market "Vienna Magic of Advent" at Rathausplatz (there are also several Christmas Markets in the city but not as big); shopping street Mariahilferstrase at night; Vienna's famous Opera House; historical Cafe Central (I hesitate before finally found the courage to get in because the place has this intimidating ambience for a cheap-looking tourist like me); spent most of my time in Karntner Stase --Vienna's favorite shopping street (a quality time at Zara!); oh...and Sacher Cafe.

Matching outfit with these folks at Vienna's Opera House
Cafe Central

A friend from Arts & Heritage program, Bianca is Australian-Indonesia decent and Vienna's original, before I left, I Facebooking her and asked for a-must-try cafe in Vienna. She told me about this place, Cafe Sacher, where I should try Vienna's famous Sacher Torte. I did and it taste superb! Like Cafe Central, Sacher Cafe has a European classic feel too.

Cakes & Chocolate @SacherCafe

To sum up, things cannot be missed in Vienna: 
Christmas Market during the winter and the city's beautiful cafes with its beautifully-taste desserts.

Vijvardale 10

I consider myself lucky to get a room in Vijvardale 10. The place was an old building bought by the university and turned into a student dorm. 

So the place is a bit used but it has an elevator, and I am lucky enough to live in one of the nicest floor, 2nd floor room 102. 

Located a little far from the Centruum and might be the only one in the building who cannot ride a bike, I now depend a lot on Bus number 10 and 51.

Good thing there is a nice Albert Heijn around 10 minutes walk from where I live.

Another good thing is I now have fellow Indonesians living in the same building as I do...Mone, Billy, Diena and ka Wulan. Sweet!

04 December, 2009

Student Flat Experience

When I first arrived in Maastricht, my cousin's close friend Batty picked me up at Schipol and took me to Brouwersweg 100, the address of Maastricht University guesthouse where everything is nice and decorated in Ikea-esque manner.

However, I have to share bathrooms and 2 toilets down the hall with like 10 other people and the cleanliness of the toilet after 5 PM became a serious issue for me. Not to mention I got an unfriendly roommate from Singapore who likes cooking but hates cleaning and whose side of bed was so messy it hurts my eyes.

Well I do can be very high-maintenance when it comes to cleanliness. That's when I decided to find another room in different part of the city that I like, Centraal Station area. In a short notice --and in the middle of a busy week-- I got a room in Heugemerweg. Fourth floor with no elevator, and another shared toilet and kitchen. It's like an apartment but with no living room and no television. I lived with fellow students from Korea, Spain, Serbia and two girls from Milan. One of them is a lesbian with a shy Dutch girlfriend. Both of them have high cheekbones and cool pixie haircut. Stylish!

But one my roommates (I'm not sure which one) also has a serious hygiene issue. When one day I came to a smelly toilet and turned out someone was not doing his/her flush properly...well, that's when I decided to get a room a bit far from the Centruum with my own toilet and my own bathroom,Vijvardale 10.

On my last day,  while waiting for the guesthouse car to arrived, I went to Bonnefanten Museum, the one and only art museum in Maastricht with a very nice gift shop and cafe.