I have never visited Valkenburg and Antwerp

It has been a long while since Lena and I took a vacation with just the two of us. Actually, the last time we did was back in 2015, when we went to Hamburg. Lena also told me of the times she went to Valkenburg and how much she liked that, so we decided to take a long weekend to the South.

We went to Valkenburg on Friday, where we stayed for one night. After that, we traveled to Antwerp on Saturday, stayed there for two nights and headed back on Monday.

We definitely enjoyed our time together, and away from our daily lives for a bit. Oddly enough, even though Valkenburg is actually in the Netherlands, our time there felt more like a vacation abroad than our visit to Antwerp. Valkenburg has a lot to do and to see, the scenery is very mountain-like and is obviously designed to attract tourists. Antwerp on the other felt more like we were in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, with big buildings and lots of construction.

But in both places we walked around a lot and saw many things. Valkenburg is known for its man-made caves, of which we toured two. In Antwerp, we spent our first day in the Antwerp Zoo, and some shopping before traveling back on the second day.

But, enough yammering, time for some pictures!

No Medley = cocktails!

Nom nom, heavenly mud!

The entrance to the caves. I’d never been in these kind of caves. I liked it a lot. The temperature was nice and cool with the heat outside. It was pretty creepy at some points too, especially after the second tour, when Lena and I walked to the entrance by ourselves. If we stood still, we would be in total silence. And you’d walk past a lot of “rooms”. The realization that something could be hiding in the dark, just right in front of you, was pretty haunting.

We had a lot of fun at the Valkenburg castle ruins.

It really was quite something to see.

Quite the view too.

Limburgse vlaai!

Coming back from the Wilhelmina tower by cable cart.

Not sure what to say here. It just was a nice photo-op ^^

We found these fakies on the Antwerp Saturday market. Funnily enough, there were also about 4 stalls selling bunnies, guinea pigs and all kinds of birds, which is unheard of for Dutch markets.

Antwerp Zoo fun.

They had a birds of prey show, which was very enjoyable. One cheeky bird just kept coming back for treats while they tried to get it into its cage.

Did you know that the people in Antwerp are insanely irresponsible when it comes to zoos? You could get really close to these penguins, which some people saw as an opportunity to pet them. At another part, we saw someone getting within petting distance of a bird that looked ready to strike, and one parent let their child drink out of a fish pond…

That’s it for this month! I’ve been promising to do something tasty for some time now, and hopefully September can give me that opportunity!

I have never DM’ed a game

Just a quick update today. For a long time, Lena and I have been trying to get a tabletop group together, but without much success because of difficult schedules. However, we found one of my colleagues interested, and two of our friends got more time available, so we just went for it!

We did some character preparation and last week, we finally kicked it off with our first session. In this group, I got the role of Dungeon Master, which is both awesome and scary, because it comes with a lot of responsibility. Luckily, the first session was received very well, which makes me hopeful for the next session.

That next session is tomorrow, so I should get back to preparing for it!

I have never dyed my hair

Two “I Never”s on one day? What is it, vacation or something?

Yes, I didn’t just create an animated GIF today; Lena also dyed my hair. We were thinking of doing something like it some time ago, and I even hinted at it before, but we never got around to doing it. Lena got her hair dyed at the hair dresser’s a few weeks ago, and I recently had my hair cut, so now seemed like a good time to do it. Unfortunately, the hair dressers ran out of blue. Also, having them do your hair is very expensive and time-consuming, while doing it at home provides a lot more comfort while waiting.

Since I’m a completely layman when it comes to dying hair, I had Lena take care of everything. It took a few hours, but we came to a pretty good result.

This would seem like a pretty good place to put pictures, but I figured it would be more interesting to keep the result for a real-life meeting. Don’t worry, there are pictures (including progress pictures), which I think I’ll post in a week or so, perhaps with some of the responses I get.

Stay tuned!

I have never created an animated GIF

In the most recent team shuffle at work, a set of seven development teams were spawned, following the naming convention X It. For example, there’s Pay It, Sell It and Ship It. The team I was assigned to supports my colleagues on the Customer Service department and was therefore named Care It. However, the team quickly received the unofficial name of Team Carrot, due to the similarity in the way they sound.

At first, I found it kind of a dumb name, but, as nicknames tend to do, it grew on me. This then went the opposite direction, leading to our team adding carrots to pretty much everything.

Now, for our internal direct communication, our company uses Slack. For those who don’t know Slack, I’ve heard it’s pretty similar to Discord, though I haven’t used Discord to compare functionality. Anyway, one of the fun features of Slack is the ability to very easily add custom emoticons, including animated GIFs.

Last week, one of my colleagues found The Cult of the Party Parrot, and added a whole bunch of those parrots to our Slack. I couldn’t resist converting the parrot into a carrot, so I used my morning off to fiddle around and edit the GIF.

It’s not the greatest GIF around, but I do have some ideas on how I could have done it differently, so I guess I learned something, which is what I Never is really about. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a situation where I can apply this new knowledge, but it was fun nevertheless!

I have never replaced a car headlight

Though I would describe myself as a technical person, my technical skills are mostly related to theoretical areas, such as math and computer science. When it gets to more practical fields, I’m not quite as useful. Furniture assembly, in-house repairs and even handling PC hardware quickly become difficult tasks. Basically, if it doesn’t have Ctrl + Z, I get nervous I mess something up and cause irreparable damage.

For a long time, this has been a major bane when anything about my bike didn’t operate properly. There’s this social standard that one should be able to fix their own bicycle, which has caused me endless hours of just screwing about in hopes of getting some usable result. Which usually worked in the end, by the way, but still took a lot of time and effort.

“At least I won’t have this problem once I get a car,” I thought optimistically. “Cars are so complicated, nobody will think strange of me when I bring it out for repairs.”

In the real world, however, it turns out to be perfectly doable to do some small fixes on a car.

For example, replacing a headlight.

Not too long ago, someone pointed out that our right headlight didn’t work. That wasn’t hard to validate. Fixing it however, seemed like a high-level task. Before I knew it, I was reading Wikihow articles and an online Skoda manual on replacing a headlight. We already had some spare bulbs in our possession, but I had to make sure they were also of the right type.

After meticulous research, I concluded that our bulb was in fact the right one, and I set to work.

I was done within 5 minutes.

It turns out replacing the light was actually pretty easy to do. Perhaps there’s some lesson here to not ward off anything that could, if extremely unlucky, could go wrong. Anyway: mission accomplished, fine avoided!

I have never bitten a tea bag

Quick post today, about the I never I should have written a week ago. I wanted to do a post about going jogging every day for a week, but that turned out not to be a great idea.

So last Saturday at 2 am, Lena and I were tired and goofing around and we both bit a tea bag. There’s a video and I’m not sharing it.

On an unrelated note, here’s what’s left of my garden:

Out of the 12 I planted, only 4 survived. To be fair, only 4 of the plants that perished could be blamed on me. The rest simply didn’t sprout.

Right, I’m gonna put some more effort into this month’s I Never again.

I have never planted a kitchen garden


With our trip to Turkey so recently, it was tricky to find an actual I Never subject for March. Lena and I are working on something, but we determined it wouldn’t be completed this month (and perhaps we’ll delay it until May (ooh, exciting!)).

So I had to improvise. Now, where we live, spring has come very definitively this past week, and our local supermarket The Albert Heijn has, like the previous two years, started giving out DIY fruits, vegetables and herbs. We haven’t gotten any of them yet this year, but we did have a dozen left over from last year, just sitting in the windowsill, waiting to be brought to life.

Today I finally took some time to plant them. Have some pictures!

Can’t do gardening without a glass of wine!

First steps. By now I realized it took very long for the dirt to dampen, and I was starting to doubt my methods.

Figured it would be better to continue at the kitchen counter. Lena came downstairs and thought I needed to have a picture with the wine.

I’ll spare you Lena’s comments on what this resembles.

Using Medley’s bottle to measure the amount of water needed for my dirt.

The result! Three times arugula, two broccoli and red beets, and one thyme, spinach, cress, basil and watermelon.

And now we wait… Check back later to follow my plants’ progress!

I have never visited Turkey

I’d like to think my faithful readers were wondering why there was no I Never entry for February. Initially, I’d write something about how we only got back a few days earlier, but that was at least a week ago. Unfortunately, I fell pretty ill in the meantime, which delayed my posting. Plus, it was a pretty big post to write. But here it is anyway!

During the trip, I didn’t take many pictures, and most of the pictures I did take were with Lena’s phone. I did steal some pictures from her Facebook, so thanks bby <3


To provide a little background: back when Lena and I visited Melanie and Diederik to make sushi, we were also informed that Melanie was pregnant (and oddly enough with the same due date Lena had for Medley). While we were having dinner after playing in a Pokémon tournament, we discussed the holiday to Turkey they were planning (their last opportunity before their baby arrives), and possibilities for going with the four of us. Suffice to say, we concluded to join them on their trip and have some holiday time for ourselves too.

Day 0 – 1: Deventer – Opende – Antalya

Our journey started right after I was done working, on Tuesday February 22nd. After a quick meal and packing the final things, our family set off towards our first stops: dropping Medley off at her grandmother, and Lena and I staying the night at another grandmother.

The next morning, the real trip started. We received a ride to Schiphol, where we met up with Melanie and Diederik. This part started off hectic, with some difficulties scanning our tickets, long lines at the baggage check and more lines at the passport control. Lena and I got separated from Melanie and Diederik at the passport control, because we used our Dutch ID cards instead of passports, which prevented us from using the self-scan. Diederik ran ahead to our gate, while Melanie waited for us. As soon as we made it through, the three of us ran after Diederik. A check of the boarding information taught us that the plane was already boarding, but also that we were running to the wrong gate. So while trying to call Diederik, we turned around and made our way to the right gate. Fortunately, upon reaching the correct gate, we found that boarding hadn’t started yet and that we were even the first in line. We were soon joined by Diederik and we could finally fly off to Turkey!

Bye bye rain!

Fast-forward 7 hours and two time-zones, to landing in Antalya. After the usual exit-the-airport tasks, our translation troubles started. The bus that was supposed to quickly take us to a bus/tram terminal turned out to have a way longer route than we thought. And when we finally made it to the terminal, the trams turned out to have stopped driving at that hour. The good thing was that taxis in Turkey are very cheap, and a quick trip took us to our beds: a guesthouse in the old city of Antalya.

With all the rushing and traveling, we hadn’t had a chance for a proper dinner, so we headed off into the city. Antalya’s old city felt very much like what you’d expect from a Mediterranean city: heavy use of stucco, ornamental iron and many orange trees (thank you random website for teaching me the terms). This is where I took my first picture of the holiday:

It took some time, but a little after 3 am, we found a place to eat a hot meal. The journey had left Melanie confused, because she accidentally ordered meat. But we shuffled some food between us and it all turned out fine. Straight after, perhaps around 4 am, we finally got to bed after a long, long day.

Day 2: Antalya – Fethiye

The plan wasn’t to stay in Antalya for long. Melanie and Diederik had been here before, and they preferred to go to a new place. So after resting up, checking out some of the local bazaars (“kijken, kijken, niet kopen”) and eating delicious ice cream, we took a bus to Fethiye.

It was a long ride, over the top of some gorgeous mountains. You know you’re up high if you have to chew gum just to keep your ears popped. But the views were amazing. We made it to above the snow line and were served some beautiful scenery.  It always reminds me how lucky we are not to have mountains in the Netherlands, because it makes these sights all the more special.


But time moved quickly and it was almost dinner time when we arrived. We quickly jumped into a guesthouse called Status, which was a grave mistake. It was extremely dirty, with stains everywhere and a wet spot covered with a spare patch of carpet on the floor in our bedroom. I didn’t even dare try the shower, fearing what I might find there.

Now, these first two days were very stressful, what with the rushed flights, long traveling and Turkey’s culture of loud “singing” early morning made us pretty weary. Add to that this dirty guesthouse, and our holiday spirit was quickly dwindling. We were getting pretty desperate, even considering our possibilities of flying home the next day.

But  we decided on something else.

Day 3: Fethiye

Lena and I stayed in the guesthouse this morning, while Melanie and Diederik took a hike through some local mountains. After some extra sleep, we too got up and headed for the city. We had a McDonalds brunch and some pricey coffee and cake after. Using the coffeehouse’s wifi and despite already having paid for the second night at Status, we booked an apartment at Kilim Apart Hotel.

That was the best decision we could have made. We grabbed our things from the guesthouse and took a leisurely stroll to our next destination, where, to our surprise, we were greeted in Dutch. Turns out that the man checking us in originally came from Belgium. The hotel was also popular with Dutch and Belgian guests.

We came across chickens while going there. Lena insisted I be on a picture with them, so here you go

Anyway, once we were let into our apartment, we were so happy! The apartment was very large, with a two-person master bedroom and a main room functioning as a kitchen, dining room and bedroom with two extra beds. We had two balconies and the view on all sides was amazing. And this was the only place we stayed that had bed sheets like we’re used to (as opposed to the carpet-like covers we slept under in all other places). And the best part was that it was barely more expensive than the gross Status guesthouse.

You’d think three pictures is a bit much, but we were just so happy with this place!

For the night, we took it easy. We went shopping at a nearby supermarket, made pasta for the two of us and had Melanie and Diederik over for some board games.

Day 4: Fethiye

For our final full day in Fethiye, we went out of the city. Melanie and Diederik had rented a car and had already done some research on hiking possibilities. Our first stop: Tlos, an old ruin Melanie and Diederik had already visited the day before, but did not want us to miss out on. It was very cool to visit. We managed to get to the top of an amphitheater, which was a really impressive sight. When you look at it from the bottom, it doesn’t look so big, but from the top you can really appreciate the enormity of the structure.

The view from the top

I like this picture because we look derpy C:

All four travelers

We found actual ancient Greek inscriptions in a rock. I tried to translate it a bit, but it seems my Greek is as worn as the rock itself!

Lena and I also managed to get up on part of the structure and in Assassin’s Creed style make our way to the other end of it. Melanie made a video, which I’ll add if I get it.

From Tlos, we headed to Kadyanda, only stopping at a small ruin on our way. When we were near Kadyanda, we parked half-way to the top of a mountain and started hiking the final part. During the whole of the vacation, this was the most I Never-y part of them all. Not only had I never hiked 5 km up and down a mountain, we also took an off-road shortcut while climbing up and I drank water from a fountain getting its water straight from the source. It was refreshing and delicious.


Apparently, it’s a hiker thing to make little towers of rocks to show other hikers that you’re on the right track. Of course I had to join in. Not that it added much, since we only walked on paved roads. Oh well.

Once at the top of the mountain, we took the tour of Kadyanda, another old ruin. This one was left very much untouched and there were no other people there. We walked along the path, past the agora, the necropolis, a temple, an athletic court and all other kinds of ancient buildings. The most impressive place however was the amphitheater in this place. Because of the season and the altitude, there were no bugs and no birds. The thick foliage and long distance from civilization meant that at that place, there was absolute silence. It was the most majestic thing I’d ever experienced, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Definitely one of the best highlights of the trip.

Enjoy the silence

Anyway, after the scenic tour and descent from the mountain, we had dinner at Kadyanda, a restaurant that was apparently popular with tourists. The main course was good, but most of all I remember the chicken soup, which was marvelous. Anyway, after dinner we drove home and got to bed. The next day would be traveling day again.

Day 5: Fethiye – Marmaris

On day 5 we went to our final city: Marmaris. Luckily, this journey was a lot shorter than the previous one and we arrived in Marmaris at a good hour. It was Sunday by now and Lena and I were still pretty tired from the long hike the day before. However, Lena was looking for new shirts, so we went into the nearby bazaar and walked all around it. Something that really stood out were the huge amounts of cats that were there. We had seen lots of cats everywhere thus far, but on this day we saw more cats than any other day. The best part was when a shopkeeper came out with a long stick with a sausage on the end and fed it to a Maine coon in a roof gutter. Nothing to make Lena happier.

Our little friends. You can’t see it in this picture, but there were shadows of cats walking on top of the roof.

Anyway, our dinner experience was pretty interesting. Our main course passed without strange incidents, but after ordering our desserts, we saw an employee run out of the restaurant and into the Sok market across the street. When he got back, we got our desserts, still in the plastic, served on a plate. After dinner we hopped into the same supermarket and got some extra ^^

After more board games at the hotel, this day came to an end.

Day 6: Marmaris

With two more days left, we decided to split up again this day. Melanie and Diederik went off hiking again, while Lena and I took to the city. Though the day started off grey, the sun came through shortly after we left for the city. Though we didn’t do anything spectacular, we had a very nice day around the harbor. We bought some super-legit Pokemon Go TCG cards, which we opened at a cafe. At the same cafe, Lena was very quick to make a friend:

This is how I found her when I came to the table with our coffee

We also visited the castle for some culture, checking out some ancient artifacts. Lena bought cat-food and quickly found a following of cats who kept begging her for more and more food. All in all, it was a very nice and relaxing day.

I bet this was Lena’s favorite moment

After Melanie and Diederik came back from their hiking, we joined them as they had dinner at the place we had dinner before earlier that day, after which the four of us went for a cocktail. Because we wanted to have some more fun on the final day, we called it a night after that.

Day 7: Marmaris

For our final day in Turkey, we tried to rent a boat. The day before, Lena and I had talked to a man who offered boat tours, so we went back to him to arrange everything. After everything was set though, he had a little surprise for us: we would be getting a sixty-person boat, with a beautiful sun-deck where we could lounge throughout the trip. The boat took us past a fish farm, beaches, a cave and across the bay. The weather was again beautiful. We could see far enough to notice the curvature of the earth on the horizon. It really was an excellent activity to end the journey on.

But it wasn’t completely over. Instead of going back to our starting point, we requested to be dropped off at the final sight of the boat tour: a tourist town called Icmeler. We wanted to check the town, but it turned out that because the tourist season hadn’t started yet, there wasn’t anything open yet. We did find some orange trees and I shook some oranges out, which was oddly satisfying. Unfortunately, I threw it away after a single bite: it was the sourest thing I’d ever tasted! Later Melanie told us that the town of Icmeler was apparently known for its sour oranges. Still, it was fun.

From Icmeler, we walked a bit into the mountains, towards an old abandoned hotel that we saw from the boat. The captain told us that construction of the hotel had started in the 90s, but it was never finished. It looked very spooky from afar and we wanted to walk around in the haunted hotel.

On the way there we walked past a set of abandoned apartments, just a bit off the road. From what we could tell, they had once been completed and they probably have seen use, but by now they were a hangout for the local youth. One of the apartments looked better maintained than the rest, complete with a usable bed, which we assume was used by a hobo some time ago. It’s a shame the apartments were abandoned though, the view from the building was gorgeous.

A piece of the mountain had fallen off during a storm behind the apartments. Perhaps it’s for the best that there’s nobody staying there.

Anyway, we made our way to the big hotel, but were stopped by a small guardhouse with a dog. Apparently the local authorities didn’t want strangers snooping around those parts. We settled on sitting on the rocks to enjoy the view for a while, before going back for our final dinner.

For dinner, we sat down at one of the restaurants near the harbor, where Lena, Melanie and Diederik ate a big, freshly-caught fish. The local cats were begging us for food, so we took the head of the fish with us and fed it to some cats later on.

It’s this cat’s lucky day!

But it was the final day, and we had quite a trip planned for the next day, so we went to bed early.

Day 8: Marmaris – Opende

Unfortunately, our trip back wasn’t the easiest one. I was starting to feel a bit sick, probably having caught a cold during the big mountain hike, and the trip just seemed to take forever.

The first part still went pretty smooth. Melanie and Diederik had again rented a car, which they used to drive us to Dalamar Airport. However, once we got passed security, there appeared to have been a mix-up in the flights. Our tickets said we should take flight PC4279 at 14:55. The signs however said that flight was supposed to have left at 8:20, but had a delay until 17:20. There was another flight scheduled to leave at 14:55 with a delay until 15:20, but we weren’t allowed on that one, because it was the wrong flight number. Luckily a stewardess overheard our conversation with the information people and told us to go the booth of our airline company to have it re-booked. While the man there was setting that up for us, the amount of people there kept growing, but we did eventually get a ticket for the earlier flight (with extra legroom, so silver lining!).

Unfortunately, our quick arrival in Istanbul didn’t really amount to anything, because our next flight was delayed by an hour and a half, on top of the two-and-a-half hours we already would have had to wait. We spent our time getting some dinner, walking around, grabbing Turkish fruit samples and eventually settling near a power outlet to play Phoenix Wright vs Professor Layton.

After a very long wait, we could finally fly home. It must’ve been past 12 am when we landed. Lena’s mother picked us up, so we didn’t have to drive home, which was good, because neither of us were in a state to drive. When we finally got back, around 2:30 am (which to us felt like 4:30), we fell asleep in no time.


So much happened in our week abroad. We had highs and we had lows. In the end, we liked it a lot, but we think we would prefer to go back at a later time. The weather was better than back home, but it wasn’t my ideal temperature (my ideal being hot enough to wear a t-shirt all day, but not melting hot). Also, because we were there during low season, a lot of the fun things weren’t open yet, though that did mean it was more quiet. Except for the mosques’ early singing. That’s never quiet.

Anyway, if we were to go again, it’ll probably be more around March or early April. But there’s plenty of other destinations we want to visit first and I’m sure all about those travels will be on here again. Until the next time, good night!

I have never played in a Pokémon tournament

Somewhere near the end of last year, before going to Melanie and Diederik to make sushi, Lena and I quickly went by the Gamemania games store, where we could get some Pokémon merchandise with a discount. It was there that we came to conclusion that the both of us really wanted to play the card game, but never had anyone to play against. Somehow it never occurred to us that we could play together.

And so it came to be that we dug up our old cards, bought some new ones and started building some decks. Lena played all kinds of Eevee decks, and I tried to continuously improve a Squirtle deck.

Having heard of our recently-refreshed hobby, Melanie and Diederik invited us to the Alolan pre-release tournament, which we happily joined.

Simply put, the pre-release tournament was a promotional event to get people familiarized with the new set of cards about to be released. Everyone got a random set of cards, from which we were given twenty minutes to build a deck. After that, we played three rounds against others to see who built the best deck. And unlike regular tournaments, there were no prizes, aside from everyone getting to keep the deck they played with.

I lost two battles and won one, but all-in-all, it was a fun event in a friendly setting. I got some reasonable cards (unlike Lena who managed to get both legendary cards), but it’s a decent deck.

Anyway, Lena and I are spreading the Pokémon love to our friends and a local tabletop community, so perhaps I’ll be able to post some more Pokémon soon!

I have never made sushi

It’s only a little over two years that I had sushi for the very first time in my life, when the Hearth’s Warming Con committee went out for dinner in Amsterdam. Even though I don’t like fish, I enjoyed it a lot. Since then, we’ve taken plenty of opportunities for a sushi dinner.

This month, we got an opportunity to make sushi. Melanie and Diederik invited us over and guided us through the steps.

It was a lot of fun (and very tasty!), but there’s not much of a story to wrap around it (unlike the seaweed of the sushi), so have a bunch of pictures.