Last night I took my son Koen to the Champions League match AJAX – Arsenal. It was a birthday present we still owed him. After we had settled ourselves in the ArenA stadium for the match to start, SMS messages started to come in, from daughters Merel and Fleur and good friend Ronald. In fact Ronald was the one who introduced me to this mass hysteria last year for the first time, when he kindly invited me to the annual AJAX – Feyenoord match. It was fun watching the game with Koen, while at the same time exchanging SMSs with 3 people. By messages going back and forth, we actually found out more about players since we lacked the technology couch-potato-watchers at home have. So halfway the match I thought it would be fun to send a MMS of Koen with his live comments from my Treo. Shooting the picture and preparing the MMS went well, sending it not quite. After several attempts I got error messages saying that delivery could not be completed ("but we’ll continue trying"), I guess due to either missing handset settings of the receiving phones or compatibility issues between the different mobile networks. So I decided to send the picture as an email attachment from my phone. It took several minutes before it arrived with Merel and Ronald, but it worked fine. MMS-Email: 0-2. Despite all the camera phones, MMS has not come off the ground. I think mobile operators are probably better off investing money in getting email accepted as a mobile application than MMS. The Blackberry success illustrates the potential market. True, the tariffs are not at a premium like MMS. Here in the Netherlands MMS is offered at something like 40 Euro cents per message, while email is billed per KB. However, faster end-user adoption of email is quite likely to make up for the lower tariffs. Uhh…and what about AJAX – Arsenal? AJAX was defeated with 1-2, due to sleepy players in the first two minutes of the match, an unfair penalty and last but not least an arbiter who needs some basic football education This last piece of opinion comes from still famous Johan Cruyff, who watched the game instead of his mobile phone.
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Reading just this blog, you almost would think we’re on a castle tour. After visiting Chateau Coulon Laurensac near Bordeaux in July, we visited today Kasteel Sterkenburg in Driebergen, the Netherlands. It has recently become the property of friends who are now making efforts to return some of its original glory. Which does not come easy…. We spent a sunny day at the castle as part of our quarterly get-together with longtime friends Jelle & Claudine -hosting us at their premises- and Hans & Angela from Delft. The kids of our three families were around as well and enjoyed discovering the castle and surroundings. When asked to help clean a chimney, the boys found an egg from a crow’s nest. A wonderful day at a piece of cultural heritage that deserves to be taken care of.
What does the picture below tell you? It’s a 9 year old boy waiting with his father just outside a fashion shop until his mother and two teenage sisters have finished shopping. Sometimes, that’s what visiting a city during holidays seems to come down to. The shops are apparently irresistible compared to culture and street life attractions. This picture was taken (with my Treo of course) in Santander, capital of Cantabria in north-western Spain. Like Oviedo, capital of Asturias, these are nice cities to wander around – and do some shopping… (Koen and I ended op crossing the street waiting on a bench for about 30 minutes until this single shop was conquered by the ladies, meanwhile sending SMSs to daughter Merel about how long it was going to take!).
Well, actually we were going North on August 6 again, after two very enjoyable weeks. We were explicitly warned for the 400,000 people coming to watch the annual Arriondas-Ribadesella kayak race, as they normally create chaos with tents all over the place, excessive alcohol etc. So we avoided the shortest route and drove further south before entering the highway. If not I was running out of gas and the single nearest gas station was in the centre of Ribadesella! It was tight with the gas left, but we made it and got a preview of the race…not every family member in the car enjoyed the adventure…After visiting Riba, we moved further north for Bilbao. I did not want to miss the opportunity to admire the great architecture of the Guggenhein museum. It’s designed by architect Frank Gehry and entirely made out of titanium. Seeing it in reality is even more impressive than the pictures of course. I took some pictures with my Treo 650 and bought a book about the museum.
The next day after our one-night-stop we went 500 kms. more South, on to Asturias, one of the north-western so-called autonomies of Spain. TomTom was getting us there by car perfectly, if not there were two Miyares villages in the TomTom directory and I picked the wrong one… It caused a delay of about 1.5 hour, but we actually passed a Pico with great view from the top. Asturias is about a quarter in size of the Netherlands and has just 1 million people. And, what a beautiful place it is! Gorgeous beaches in small bays, impressive panorama’s, quality of life as we can’t remember anymore more in northern Europe, no tourists and a cost of living half what we are used to in the Netherlands! We lived for two weeks among the Spanish, with the Spanish actually, enjoying hospitality of my brother in law German Gullon, his wife Heilette and three sons – adjusting to the Spanish rhythm. In-house staff becomes affordable at € 5 per hour and so Begogna each day took care of a typical local meal, thereby providing also our wives a great holiday. We wouldn’t mind coming back!
So here we went end of July, no paper maps, just TomTom on my smartphone, driving 1050 kms. south towards Bordeaux for a one-night-stop with Ronald and Margreet Rens. Since leaving the Netherlands, they now own the beautiful Chateau Coulon Laurensac. Ronald showed us proudly his wine cellar, gardens and Google ranking (…). One of his entrepreneurial activities includes organizing wine tours in the Bordeaux area and most bookings are taking place through the Internet: hence, a Google ranking is important. Our two families enjoyed a dinner (and wine…) in the garden until late. A very enjoyable evening, thanks so much! As a small token of our appreciation, please accept this posting which contributes hopefully a little to an even better ranking.