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Coffee Bars in Maastricht: Bandito Espresso

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping and hilly surroundings. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. A necessity for many students is a relaxed environment to study, and enjoy a good cup of coffee accompanied by homemade cake while keeping up-to-date via a WiFi connection. As quite a few international students come from a country wherein coffee is so much more than the traditional Dutch drip coffee, Maastricht’s entrepreneurs saw the opportunity and several coffee bars, where coffee is served with craftmanship and passion, enriched Maastricht. In this new column we will visit the many coffee bars that Maastricht has to offer and we will meet the passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place and of course taste their coffee! This time, we interview Diënne Hoofs and Jeroen Brouwers of Bandito Espresso, the much loved café of FASoS students, for whom going to Bandito is almost a daily routine. In the morning one can see the Bandito staff chopping onions and other condiments for their daily soup and throughout the day, batches of cookies can be found baking in the oven. It is a hidden gem within FASoS which is worth exploring. The Bandito Espresso’s fresh and organic food and drinks are now also available at FPN.

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Jeroen & Diënne

What is Bandito Espresso?
Diënne: We call ourselves an espresso bar with organic specialty and fresh food! Everything we do is organic. We try to be as fair trade as much as possible, but that’s always a challenge because companies often choose one of the two, organic or fair trade.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How did you end up starting a business in Maastricht?
Diëne: In Landbouw Belang (a social group with cultural and social activities), we had a voluntary dinner café where we had the crappiest coffee. At the same time, I had a friend who’d just moved to Berlin to start a coffee business and taught me about coffee. I really enjoyed it so I convinced everyone to buy a coffee machine.
Jeroen: I was totally against it at the start, like why should we buy an expensive machine? But then when they bought it, I totally got into the machine.
Diëne: Me and Jeroen were always getting into fights on who should be making coffee and we realised to make more coffee, we needed to turn it into a little business. Jeroen went to Berlin and my friend taught him about coffee and the business.
Jeroen: We started as a mobile business here at the Markt on the Wednesday and Friday market. We just had a table and an old Faema. Bandito was born officially on paper and slowly, it evolved to the Bandito Espresso now in FASoS and FPN.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How did you end up in FASoS? in FPN?
Diëne: At the time, Jeroen and I knew that there were no facilities at all in FASoS and a lot of students were complaining about it. At first, the Director said no. So then we did a coffee assignment here for 4 days, but there wasn’t a reply from the Director. We were almost thinking of moving to Berlin to fuse our business with our friend’s company but all of a sudden, we got a phone call from the Director who asked us if we wanted to open a café within 4 weeks! The week we opened here, they called us asking if we wanted to open another café over at FPN. By that time, the building wasn’t even there. It took us a long time, but in the end we decided to do it.

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Kwinten Hoofs, one of the four owners of Bandito Espresso

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS
Sean Hoofs, also part of the founding four.

What do you aim to offer with your business?
Jeroen: We’re trying to do everything as fair trade and organic as possible. Not only from where we buy our groceries, but also until the customer. With the customer, we try to be as fair trade and not as pricy. I want to offer fair food and drinks but also fresh, I don’t want to sell something that comes out of a package. We do it how we do it, and we try to keep this price low. This is our philosophy.
Diëne: We want to give this moment to get together for students to have a nice coffee in a homely situation. It’s important to us for the students to feel that this is your Common Room, it’s your space so we want to accommodate the students as much as possible. 

Bandito Espresso FASoS
People queuing to get their coffee, lunch or cookie and then they are off to either to common room or the Bandito garden

Bandito Espresso FASoS
The FASoS Common Room

How do you explain the rise of new coffee bar in the Netherlands and in Maastricht?
Diëne: People nowadays have proper coffee machine at home, so why would you go to a café for coffee that’s worst to what you’re used to at home? People just don’t want to put up with it anymore, luckily. The rise in coffee bars in Maastricht is definitely a good thing. I hope that it will bring up the standard of coffee in every café in Maastricht.
Jeroen: You have cities that lead. It’s not Maastricht, but in the Netherlands it’s Amsterdam. In Europe, Berlin is one of the leaders. They were influenced by a lot of the Australians who came there. Australians who back home used the old way of Italian coffee-making. Over in Italy, I think they’ve lost a bit of the spirit. Coffee bars really exploded in Berlin and then, it came in the Netherlands.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS

How important is the student community for the city?
Jeroen: The students are very important, I think without the students Maastricht is nothing. Factories are closing down, yes there’s a tourist sector but that’s probably it.
Diëne: I think the students saved Maastricht. In Maastricht, the vibe is so international. It was the New York Times who called Maastricht the smallest cosmopolitan in the world. That’s exactly what Maastricht is.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS
Enjoy their soup in the Bandito garden

Bandito and the students:
Diëne: We really like working for and with the students. We get to meet them every day for 3-4 years, so you build this relationship with people. You go through their highs and their lows, being a part of all that is really nice.

 
Bandito Espresso FASoS

The perfect place to relax in Maastricht?
Diëne: I’ve just moved out of the city, but I really like being outside in Maastricht. I like hanging out at the Maas, at the park or at Tuinen van Vaeshartelt where you can grow and pick your own fruit and vegetables.

Maastricht in three words:
Diëne: Cosmopolitan, cosy, (has) potential

Verdict: Great coffee, amazing homemade soup, baguettes and cookies for a student price. The perfect place for your daily coffee or lunch.

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Bandito Espresso FASoS

Text: Karissa Atienza
Photos: Brian Megens

Coffee Bars in Maastricht: KOFFIE

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping and hilly surroundings. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. A necessity for many students is a relaxed environment to study, and enjoy a good cup of coffee accompanied by homemade cake while keeping up-to-date via a WiFi connection. As quite a few international students come from a country wherein coffee is so much more than the traditional Dutch drip coffee, Maastricht’s entrepreneurs saw the opportunity and several coffee bars, where coffee is served with craftmanship and passion, enriched Maastricht. In this new column we will visit the many coffee bars that Maastricht has to offer and we will meet the passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place and of course taste their coffee! In this edition we interview Maartje Knaapen and Joost van Miert, the proud owners of ‘KOFFIE by Joost and Maartje’ .

KOFFIE is located in the Maastrichter Heidenstraat and shares the accommodation with the clothing shop Le Marais Deux where you can find designer brands which you will not find in the main shopping street.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

Maartje is 24 years old and studied Theatre management at the Utrecht School of the Arts. Joost is 25 and so before starting KOFFIE he jumped from one job into another, working as a joiner in his last one. They opened the coffee bar on the 22th of March 2014 (open from Thursday to Sunday) but since the 14th of April they are open full-time!

What was the reason for you to start your business and why in Maastricht?
Back in 2014, we missed a spot where you can enjoy a good cup of coffee. We wanted to create a place where you can and without pressure to keep ordering, just a place to relax and study for an afternoon. This concept was already introduced in the big international cities and we though it was time for Maastricht to get one as well. Another reason for choosing Maastricht is that we both lived in Maastricht, we know the city and saw the opportunity as Maastricht has a young international generation which are open for new initiatives.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

What do you aim to offer with your business?
We show in our place who we are, that’s why in our branding we specifically use our names Joost & Maartje. We aim at setting the bar for coffee higher in Maastricht. Nowadays, everyone should be able to get a good cup of coffee. Furthermore, our coffee is from direct trade and almost everything in the place is handmade and/or made from recycled material. The clothing shop, for example, sells Tom’s shoes which is  brand that for every pair sold, they donate a pair to a kid in a developing country!

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

Coffee is:
Quality, craftsmanship, relaxing, aim for improvement.

Where does the passion for Coffee come from?
Maartje: 
I used to work for the coffee place next to the central station, Douwe Egberts. So you can say that I grew slowly into the craft of coffee. I got addicted in my journey to create the perfect cup of coffee. It’s a challenging and relaxing journey at the same time.
Joost: I met Maartje at her former workplace, she introduced me into the world of coffee and from being a typical Dutch drip coffee drinker, only caring about quantity, I transformed into a coffee freak only pleased with a high quality cup. I totally fell in love with the art of coffee. I started reading about it, watched YouTube tutorials, how does the machine work, what type of bean do I need. In short, all the steps from the bean until the finished product that need to be perfect to make the best cup of coffee.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

How do you explain the rise of coffee and more specifically the new coffee bars in the Netherlands?
The development that wine has made over the last 30 years has now started with coffee. Today, people look for pure, unique and quality products, in that trend people started to appreciate a good cup of coffee. It were the big companies that first showed the people what can be done with coffee by introducing new home coffee machines and people were able to make better coffee at home than in bars. Then the bars couldn’t stay behind and improved their machines, but more importantly their knowledge about and time for coffee. However, I still think there’s a lot to improve which is of course good for us as we already are one step beyond. For the rise of coffee bars in the Netherlands, I think it was Amsterdam who set the trend as it is a very international city filled with people from countries where they value coffee much more than traditionally done in the Netherlands.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

How important is the student community for the city?
With the university and its international influence, Maastricht developed into a dynamic young place were chances for people to come with something different and new grew. Traditionally the locals here can be pretty narrow minded and it are the students who open their eyes and their worldview. Moreover, they force the city and its entrepreneurs to come up with new things that students need or are in demand by them.

How important is the student community for your business?
You can say that it is vital to our business. Since the opening we had organic growth of students coming here to get a good cup of coffee and study. When we opened, it were the international students who came first, curious to explore our place and looking for a workplace outside their room where they can order a good cup of coffee and work in relaxed environment.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

How do you see the mix of locals and students in Maastricht and your business?
Partially the locals mingle with the students but I think the majority still lives apart. This is not necesarrily have to be a bad thing. In core, if everyone feels welcome in this city it is not a problem that there are two separate worlds.

Clothing:
It’s a cooperation with a Le Marais Deux and since April 14 we have mixed the two totally, making it a unique place in Maastricht. People study, drink a cup of coffee in a clothing shop without the need to buy something but of course they are more than free to do so.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

The perfect place to relax in Maastricht?
As we are very busy with the business we barely have time to relax, but every now and then a nice beer in café Zondag or de Brandweer. I also get a great feeling of happiness when I cycle over the Servaasbrug and I see the sun rise. What I would recommend for the students to experience in Maastricht is Carnival . For tourists, walk through the old historical city centre with its narrow streets, designer shops and park.

Maastricht in three words
Cousy, enjoy and discover.

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

KOFFIE, Joost & Maartje

Verdict:
As an espresso and americano guy, I ordered the Americano this time. It has a very exotic taste, a taste that makes you walk an extra block a couple times a week to get it!

Contact information:
KOFFIE (facebook)
Maastrichter Heidenstraat 8
6211 HV Maastricht

Photography and Text: © Brian Megens

More photos click here

The next coffee bar to be visited is Bandito Espresso located in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Coffee Bars in Maastricht: Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Maastricht is well known for its historical city centre, shopping and hilly surroundings. However, since the foundation of the University of Maastricht, a younger, more international generation has entered the stage. Inevitably, these new inhabitants have an impact on the city as they come from various backgrounds with different lifestyles, preferences and demands. A necessity for many students is a relaxed environment to study, and enjoy a good cup of coffee accompanied by homemade cake while keeping up-to-date via a WiFi connection. As quite a few international students come from a country wherein coffee is so much more than the traditional Dutch drip coffee, Maastricht’s entrepreneurs saw the opportunity and several coffee bars, where coffee is served with craftmanship and passion, enriched Maastricht. In this new column we will visit the many coffee bars that Maastricht has to offer and we will meet the passionate owners, hear their stories, show their place and of course taste their coffee! We’ll kick off this column with the ‘new kid in town’ Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Located 50 meters away from the market, Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee is a spacious coffee bar where the love for bikes (you can stall it inside) and coffee comes together. Located in the Hoenderstraat (side street of the Markt), the bar is run by the couple Renske Tackenberg and Ruud van Loo together with Jack, their 2-year-old Australian Shepherd. Renske and Ruud both have a background in healthcare and switched careers as they opened Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee on June 6 this year.

How do you explain the rise of new coffee bar in the Netherlands?
Ruud: I think people in general never appreciated coffee the way they do now. They became aware because of the big companies who introduced new home coffee brewing machines that coffee can be in all sorts of tastes and that there is so much more than just the average drip coffee that is traditionally used in the Netherlands. Furthermore, people travel a lot more nowadays and visit countries where coffee is so much more than what they are used to. As people are discovering the diversity of coffee with their new machines at home, the restaurants and bars couldn’t stay behind and stepped (or still need to step up) their game in order to stay in front of the home machines. Just ask around, everyone can remember their first good cup of coffee and we try to offer the best!

What do you hope to bring in with your business?
Both: We hope to create a place where people can bring in their bike (Yes you can stall your bike inside!) sit down and relax, work, study or whatever they like to do while enjoying a quality cup of coffee and a nice piece of cake. For the future, we would like to create a community with people who share the same passion for bikes and coffee and organise events like: coffee workshops and bike rides.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Where does the passion for Coffee and Bikes come from?
Ruud: I started cycling when I was a kid, but soon I was more intrigued by the mechanics of cycling than riding itself. The passion for coffee came when I was in New York where I saw the diversity of the several types of coffee. I bought the little red machine and started to explore the world of coffee, what do I like, what type of bean do I need for the perfect espresso, how do I make a good espresso, cappuccino. In short, I started to experiment in order to master the art of coffee as best as I can.
Renske: Ruud dragged me into both and now I am as passionate about coffee and cycling as he is. For example, I never could imagine all the work and dedication that goes in a good cup of coffee and how much variation you can create when making changes to each step. Moreover, I am crazy about cycling as well and love to ride my bike.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Bikes, Coffee and Maastricht:
Both: The south of Limburg is well known as the cycling area in the Netherlands with its hills, attracting not only leisure cyclists but also professionals to this area. Moreover, one of the big cycling classics, Amstel Gold Race, starts in Maastricht on the Markt and brings the cyclists over all the famous hills in the surroundings. This race is also our favourite event that Maastricht has to offer. So one of the reasons to start our business here is that Maastricht is the centre of cycling in the Netherlands. Another is the university which brings a whole new international generation to the city that we hope to serve. Furthermore, Maastricht is well known for its restaurants, shopping and historical city centre, thus attracting tourists from various countries who hopefully feel like dropping by our place as well! As Maastricht is already notorious for its cuisine we feel that we (and some other coffee bars) can contribute by setting the bar on the quality of coffee higher. Furthermore, we also sell bikes to people who are looking not only for a reliable way of transportation but people that want a unique and special bike that they can cherish.

Alley Cat and students:
Renske: We would probably not have settled here when the university wouldn’t be here as it’s the university that brings young ambitious international people to Maastricht that changes the dynamics of the city. For example, last week there was a student from America that told me so much about the country that it almost feels like I’ve been there myself. However, we don’t only aim at students, we hope to become a place where students, locals and tourists mingle and where we can share our passion for coffee and cycling.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee


The perfect place to relax in Maastricht?

Both: After a long day of work, walking along the Maas, sun going down. You see people, sporting, relaxing BBQ-ing, just having a good time.

Maastricht in three words:

Both:  Diverse, cosy, vivid.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Verdict:
The place: as a coffee lover and former cyclist, I absolutely love the fact that both come together in a relaxed environment where you can just come in to study while being around such awesome bikes.
Coffee: I always drink my coffee black and prefer a good strong cup, I’ve tried a doppio (double espresso) and ever since, that is my standard order here.

Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee

Photography and text: © Brian Megens
More photos click here

Contact information:
Alley Cat Bikes and Coffee
Hoenderstraat 15-17
6211EL Maastricht

Our next interview in this series will be with KOFFIE by Joost & Maartje, stay tuned!

Maastricht of… Leo and Rianda Graus of Tribunal

When studying in Maastricht, especially if your faculty is in the city center, you know café Tribunal. Whether it is because you have an occasional coffee or lunch, or because you can relax there after a tough day, it’s the place where you’re sure that you can meet new people and have good service with a smile. And then you see Leo or Rianda, who run Tribunal, their enthusiasm is contagious and makes you smile, however shitty your day may have been.

This couple met 20 years ago (1995) when Leo was working in the café his parents had passed on to him two years prior and Rianda, then working as a stewardess for Lufthansa, was out for a drink with some friends. She thought he probably was one of those guys that carries a lot of baggage and was reluctant to start dating him. However, in 1998, the two married after dating several years.
Though his parents had stopped running the place, they still came for a drink at Tribunal everyday, until it wasn’t possible anymore.

Tribunal is a famous institution in Maastricht, offering so much more than just a drink and good food: providing the theatre students next door with crazy nights (which have a certain reputation of resulting in people dancing on tables), catering to the staff of the law faculty (you can often find the Dean there reading a paper) and accommodating students with their first coffee that day (best coffee in town). We had a talk with the owners and ‘their Maastricht’.

De Tribunal on the inside

Tribunal on the inside

Ashika Baan: What is your favourite bar or restaurant?
Rianda Graus:
As we run our own bar we have some regular spots where we go. I love Il Bacaro, it’s perfect to have a bite, seeing as they have a concept of little dishes, tapas-style, and the quality of the food and drinks are good! In the late hours we like to go to Café Sjiek, which is perfect to have a relaxing drink before going home. Also, in Wyck there’s a new bar called ‘t Wycker Cabinet, which has a nice atmosphere.
Leo Graus adds that Il Bacaro is their go-to place for a nice, light supper and that the concept they offer there is very successful, you don’t feel leaving stuffed, everything is in moderation, plus you can come there quite late and still be served dinner.

AB: Where do you like to go shopping in Maastricht?
Rianda: My style varies a little, but I love the portable line that Scapa provides. You can always find something nice there. Also, Depeche in the Platielstraat is somewhere I like to go when I need something. For classy affairs, Max Mara is ideal, because it’s very chic and you feel very feminine. For jeans I prefer Levi’s, they’re very comfortable and the styles don’t change too much.
Leo: For my clothes I go to Camel Active, it’s simple, classic and not too fussy. As for my shirts there is one place in Maastricht and that is Kölse Tes, in the Maastrichter Smedenstraat, the center. They have beautiful shirts and for shoes of course the well-known Monfrance. I’m pretty easy for clothes actually, he adds, winking.

One of the waitresses serving coffee on the terrace

One of the waitresses serving coffee on the terrace

AB: What is your favourite event in Maastricht?
Rianda: We always go to the TEFAF, the biggest art fair in Europe. The opening night we get tickets for and that night it’s all about people-watching. You see so many interesting people that attend the exclusive opening night, you could write a book about it. We also love the Preuvenemint, the restaurant event in August where approximately 30 restaurants and caterers from the region show their best and provide the public with little amuse-bouche sized bites, while drinking a cocktail and listening to music. The event lasts for several days and the Sunday is always synonymous for the night that the locals come (Maastrichtenaren), so you can find us there.

AB: Where do you go to experience culture and art?
Rianda: Well, the TEFAF, as mentioned before is a great place to enjoy art, there’s more art in one place than 10 different museum exhibitions could house. Of course, we have a close connection to the Theatre Academy next door to Tribunal, so we go to their performances and end-of-year pieces. Also, we both really love the opera, so you can find us once a year in Verona, where we visit the opera. I love Puccini, and my dream is to see Nabucco in Verona, unfortunately this year we’re going to miss it, but it will happen some day!
LG: I love to listen to jazz music, and of course, as Rianda said we love the opera.
But when you pick up our Ipod, you will find all sorts of music. Ranging from Elvis Presley to Maria Callas.

Leo and Rianda

Leo and Rianda

AB: What is a unique experience that makes Maastricht so special?
Rianda: When you wake up early and you see Maastricht is starting to rise, you can see people walking to work, going about their business. Also, something that never ceases to take my breath away is when you stand in Wyck on one side of the river and you look at the other side, Maastricht city center, with the sun shining on it. That is magical.
Leo: I’m a real chauvinist; there is nothing more beautiful than Maastricht to me.

AB: Which person (historical figure, old friend) would you like to show Maastricht to?
Rianda: I think it if Jacques Brel would’ve written a song about Maastricht it would be a song showing you the impossible and doomed choice of staying here and leaving this place. It’s poetic.
Leo: I think I’d show my grandfather around. He would’ve loved to see what Maastricht has become.

AB: Where do you go to relax?
Leo and Rianda: We go home to relax. For us it’s an oasis of peace and quiet. We live outside the city, and in our free time we keep busy in the garden and by cooking. We have a passion for cooking, mostly Italian, but not too long Leo made this amazing Tandoori, marinated and then prepared in our Green Egg (a ceramic barbecue, in the shape of a green egg, obviously). We love to cook with it.

The newly-established terrace

The newly-established terrace

AB: What is the main reason to have a shop or your business in Maastricht?
Leo: You have a chance to grow in Maastricht. We just opened our terrace outside, and it’s something we’ve been busy with for a while. The chance to make more of what you have is a good thing in the entrepreneurial spheres. As a café we don’t want to stand still, we’re always busy with something new, more innovative.
Rianda: It’s true, sometimes I wonder what I would do if we didn’t have Tribunal. I thought about it some time ago and I think I would start a dog kennel, you know, in the style of Cesar Milan, dogs that could run around and be free.
LG: Also, Maastricht is unique in the sense that it offers you top-notch quality in different sectors: fashion, gastronomy etc. Everything that happens here, happens well! The only thing that’s not so good for the region is the blossoming ageing of the population. Since all the jobs are in the North of the Netherlands, in the so-called Randstad, young people move out of Maastricht. We should do more to keep talent here. It’s also a shame because in the summer all the students have gone and we have a very quiet 6 weeks here.

AB: Describe Maastricht in 3 words.
RG: Sjoen, Sjink, Sjeng (literal translation: beautiful, ham, local. Originating from a Maastrichtian song)
LG: delicious, cozy, beautiful.

Some regulars reading the paper

Some regulars reading the paper

Once they’re done with Tribunal, the couple will probably move back to Maastricht, as we can conclude, you can’t live without Maastricht, it’s uniquely fascinating.

Interview conducted by Ashika Baan, photography by Brian Megens. Click here for more pictures.

INKOM day 5: Maastricht Market, Mosae Master and BBQ

The last and final day of INKOM has arrived, you can see the toll of a rough week on the students. At noon, the Maastricht Market kicks off the last day. On this infomarket associations, companies, religions, sport clubs, political parties have their stand and students can go there for information. Free brunch and coffee is provided and lots of stand offer free giveaways and food. As the students partied the day before, it was quite empty until 1pm. However, students are students and will not skip free food, so it eventually got pretty busy as you can see on the pictures!

Overview of the infomarket © Brian Megens

Overview of the infomarket © Brian Megens

BreakingMaas reporting © Brian Megens

BreakingMaas reporting © Brian Megens

Fire department giving a demonstration Ps. nice shorts © Brian Megens

Fire department giving a demonstration  © Brian Megens

Paul Vermin the student agent socialising and informing students © Brian Megens

Paul Vermin (student agent) socialising and informing students © Brian Megens

The Queu for the free brunch © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free brunch © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free Coffee © Brian Megens

The Queue for the free Coffee © Brian Megens

And then everything needs to be consumed © Brian Megens

And then everything needs to be consumed © Brian Megens

At the end of the afternoon... view from a tower ladder from the fire department © Brian Megens

At the end of the afternoon, view from a tower ladder from the fire department © Brian Megens

For the Master students INKOM offered the Mosae Master. An event where the Master students could get together and find information useful for their further career, alcohol in the form of a wine tasting and food served as a tapas buffet were provided.

Mosae Master students © Brian Megens

Mosae Master students © Brian Megens

 

Dinner for the master students, Tapas mmm  © Brian Megens

Dinner for the master students, Tapas mmm © Brian Megens

 

Did I already say that they had tapas? © Brian Megens

Did I already say that they had tapas? © Brian Megens

The weather so far was pretty good keeping in mind that it was raining all day in the rest of the country, however, when it was time for the BBQ it was pooring. Luckily, tents were provided so students could enjoy their food somehow dry.

BBQ at de Griend © Brian Megens

BBQ at de Griend © Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

© Brian Megens

Students still smiling despite the weather © Brian Megens

Students still smiling despite the weather © Brian Megens

Lovely poncho © Brian Megens

Lovely poncho © Brian Megens

 

Enough food was provided! © Brian Megens

Enough food was provided! © Brian Megens

Keep on smiling Jeroen! © Brian Megens

Keep on smiling Jeroen! © Brian Megens

Unfortunately, tonight is the last party of INKOM 2014. For us it was a blast and we want to thank the organisation for making this event possible! We wish all the new students a great start of their academic adventure!

Ashika & Brian

Lakes, design and coffee

In April I visited my friend in Copenhagen. The next time I arrived at Københavns Lufthavne, I was on my way to Helsinki, Finland. During your Erasmus time you get to know a lot of new people. In May, I decided to book my trip to my Finnish, Riina. So it happened; waking up at 5:30 AM, catching my train at 8, up in the air at 9:30. Suomi, here I come!

Finland is, for the people who don’t know, locked up between Russia and Sweden. It has only 5.4 million inhabitants, which is not that much since the country is around 8 times bigger than the Netherlands (with approximately a population of 16.7 million). The country is famous for its lakes and islands. Just look at the map and you will see what I mean. Moreover, maybe some people know Suomi better for winning the Eurovision Songfestival (2006). Or the high prices. It might not be the ideal place for folks whose wallet is just as empty as their fridge (like me). Except, if you know where to go. With my guide Riina-Malla, aka Riina or Riini, it couldn’t go wrong. Well… it became a similar experience as with our guide in Brno: “I just feel like her”, she said when we arrived in Suomenlinna, the only and oldest fort Finland has. “I don’t what or why all these buildings are here”, referring to our splendid visit to Hrad Veveří (“We don’t know what it means, it might be English, but it might be French as well. We lack funding to do research on the origin of this cupboard” blablabla).

Suomenlinna, by the way, is worth visiting. Just stroll around the island, which is basically one big museum. The only difference is that there are still people living there. The landscape will reminds you of the Teletubbies or the Shire, part from the huge canons and other military stuff which can be found all over the island.
Helsinki has more to give than just one fort and high prices. Take a look in the white Helsingin tuomiokirkko (aka Helsinki Cathedral). Don’t go here on Saturday because every hour, there will be a wedding. Great if you love Say Yes to the Dress or Four Weddings, but not so great if you want to see the inside of the protestant cathedral. The other red brick stoned church, a bit further down the road, is called Uspenskin katedraali (great word for hangman or Wordfeud). From up there, the view is marvellous. But not as marvellous as you can get from the Torni Hotel. Why go there? Because you can have the best shit ever; a toilet with a panoramic view over Helsinki plus its area.

I’ve met Riina during my Erasmus in Vienna. Vienna likes alcohol and so do Finnish people. Unfortunately, alcohol is very, very expensive in Suomi. So what to do? As much Austrian people drink wine, beer and other stuff, Finnish people tend to have more coffee (kahvi)  in their veins than regular blood cells. Don’t expect your favourite cappuccino or sugar sweet lattes; Finnish don’t rape their coffees; they drink it pure and black. Or with a lot of (cold) milk; luckily Starbucks hasn’t opened a branch in Helsinki, yet.  Riina took me to a place called café Regatta (note; when someone says ‘cafeteria’, they mean a café, not a snackbar). The little red house was situated by the shore; a crackling fire, little sparrows twittering around and… good coffee with free refill. For hipster hunters, Helsinki would be an utopia. Finnish design (e.g. iittala) is to be found not only in the Design District, but also in the clothing of the inhabitants. Some creations could go straight to the catwalk and Armani or Chanel couldn’t hardly better them.

Helsinki has surprised me, in many ways. The views, the culture, the people, the nature… Helsinki is beautiful and doable in a few days. But really; make sure you have a local guide. Riina showed me all the secret and hidden places in the city; places where no tourists were there to be found. I ate the biggest soft ice cream of the city; had sushi behind a rock club (Kuudes Linja; lots of metal heads past us), together with 6 other native, blond, Finnish people (iittala cutlery and Ikea table). Of course, you communicate in English because sometimes you need 5 words to translate the Finnish word to English, because the Finnish language doesn’t use prepositions and make endlessly long words which are almost unpronounceable. For example
Kiitos vieraanvaraisuudesta: Suomi on kaunis ja vierailun arvoinen maa.

which means: Thank you for the hospitality: Finland is a beautiful country and worth visiting.

 

‘Coffee shop’ or ‘coffeeshop’

Jack Daniels. Jack Sparrow. Jack the Ripper. Jack and Jones. Jack Wolfskin. Jack Johnson. Jack Nicholson. Yes, Jack received a lot of nicknames during our time in Vienna. Especially Jack Daniels became quite popular because well… we liked the combination. Jack is from Australia, Sydney, to be precise. However, he studies in Vienna and speaks a bit German. Last week, he was in Amsterdam for a summer course on digital methods. And well, if one of your ‘mates’ is around, what would you do? Exactly; catch-up!

Apparently, Jack and his room mate Noel (New York) had crashed somewhere else last night, so I kind of found the Jack I was expecting. Hang-over. Luckily, Aussies have a great amount of energy and are inexhaustible (at least, the ones I have met). The only thing they need is a shower and a coffee. But the difference between ‘coffee shop’ and a ‘coffeeshop’ is more than just a space…

“Hey Marie, do you think I sound too Aussie?” asked Jack, after a ‘coffee’. Well bloke, at that point, I thought everything was ace. Especially his accent caused quite some amusement. Later that night we ended up at a house party, with a bunch of PHD students. Suddenly your situation “I just finished my study Arts and Culture” didn’t sound that impressing any more. Particularly when some dude from England tells you he just started his second PHD at the university of Utrecht. His first one was at Oxford.

Back to the accents. It appeared I was the only Dutch person in the room and for some reason, it was automatically assumed I knew the way in Amsterdam like the back of my hand. On our way to Leidseplein, it became clear I did not. However, when we finally reached an Irish pub and were all settled down with something to drink, the conversation of ‘where are you from’ continued. During my Erasmus, I have met many people from every corner of the world (South Korea to Finland). It was quite fun to hear all the different pronunciations. Most of the time you can tell where people are from. “Listen very carefully, I shall only say this once” is obviously a Frenchman, (or in this case, Michelle frrom thee rezistenz). Also Hercule Poirot does not hide his roots “No-no-no-no, I am not some French gent. I am some Belgian gent.” ( No-no. Ai em not som Frrenz zjent. Ai em som Belzjan zjent). I love it.

The English language has its own characteristics as well. The British English is often more ‘posh’ “top hole, old chap”. Except during Geordie Shore; then I’m very happy with the subtitles. Jacks’ accent (Australian) has its own characteristics. Coldies really influenced his choice of words and his strine. At one point (and I have to admit; I had drunk some plonk too), I had problems understanding him. But in the end, we had a rip snorter of a night. During our ‘breakfast’ (chips with mayonnaise at 5 AM), Jack noted that the inhabitants of Amsterdam sounded ‘weird’ and ‘funny’. It is true that Amsterdam has its own dialect. Just like Rotterdam and Maastricht. It is one of my favourite aspects of Holland; the accents. But ‘pure’ Dutch? I’m not sure where to find or to look for it. But I do know that ‘coffeeshop’ has the same meaning throughout the whole country.

Luckily, Jack liked both.