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DAY TWO: Rotterdam

Posted on March 22nd, 2014

Dave!I've been meaning to get to Rotterdam for years now, and today it finally happened.

The reason I most wanted to visit was so I could see the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. It's one of those places that comes up in conversation from time to time when discussing art. It totally lives up to the hype...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

From the minute you enter and see how the coat-check room is a series of cages for your belongings and a rope-and-pulley system for your coat, you know you're in for something good...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The collection is varied and excellent...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

After I managed to pul myself away from the exhibits, I saw that I had plenty of time to walk to the waterfront and see Erasmusbrug (the Erasmus Bridge... also known as the "Swan Bridge" or the "Harp Bridge), then take the metro back to the train station...

Erasmus Bridge

As most of Rotterdam was destroyed in World War II, the city has a modern aesthetic, with a lot of new architectural and artistic structures...

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

ANYWAY...

I had about 25 minutes to get back to Rotterdam Centraal, which was no problem since the metro only takes 10 minutes.

EXCEPT...

When I went to purchase a ticket, I found out I couldn't buy one. The machine only refilled chip-cards. No problem, I'll just buy a chip-card. Except they don't fucking sell chip-cards. No ticket window. No attendant. No Assistance. Nothing.

So I had to run as fast as I could to get back to the train station.

I hauled ass.

Which was not easy because I don't run very often. At least once along the way I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

But I made it to the station with two minutes to spare, so it's all good, right?

No. My train was running 14 minutes late and so I ran all that way for nothing...

Rotterdam Schedule

Note how my transfer time is 0 minutes. But not really... if you do the math, it's actually -7 minutes. Yay.

After all that bullshit, I decided I deserved PATATJES MET...

Patatjes Met

Well, I always feel that way, but still...

   

DAY ONE: Leiden

Posted on March 21st, 2014

Dave!The flight over The Atlantic was a non-event. Which is the best kind of flight to have, really.

The plane was one of Delta's latest Airbus A330-300's which feels like the seats are even narrower than usual. It was uncomfortable for me... so I'm only guessing it must be downright miserable for at least half the passengers on the plane. I suppose it's only a matter of time before airlines do away with seats altogether. They'll just stack everybody in the plane like firewood.

On the bright side, the new entertainment system features Picture-In-Picture...

Plane PIP

After landing, I took the train to Leiden so I could kill some time until The Dutch Bitch got off work. Back in 2012 I walked around the city to see the sights, but this time it was pouring rain...

Leiden

To escape the weather, I went to Leiden's National Ethnology Museum, (Museum Volkenkunde)...

Volkenkunde Leiden Ethnology Museum

It features artifacts from peoples around the world (outside of Europe), with sections devoted to North America, South & Central America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania...

Volkenkunde Buddha Room

Volkenkunde Museum Leiden

Volkenkunde Day of the Dead

Volkenkunde Clay Figure

Volkenkunde China

The museum is incredibly well-done and has a surprisingly deep collection. The only problem is that everything is suspended in glass cases with no background, so it can be tough to focus on the artifacts. A few times I experimented with angle-shifting to see if I could add some separation, but it wasn't terribly effective...

Volkenkunde Artificat Angle-Shifting

The display spaces are pretty amazing, and full-wall projections are used to put you into the place where the artifacts are from...

Volkenkunde Oceania

Volkenkunde Oceania

And then? It was time for PATATJES MET!!!

Patatjes Met!

And now I could really use a nap...

   

Tripper

Posted on March 20th, 2014

Dave!I woke up.

I finished packing.

I drove over to Seattle.

Pass Drive Glory Mountain

I made my way through SeaTac Airport (barely, as it was torn to shit as usual).

Busted SeaTac Shit!

Then I caught a flight to the Netherlands.

The end.

Or... the beginning?

   

PIXAR!

Posted on July 27th, 2013

Dave!Back in the Netherlands for one last day of vacation time.

The "Pixar 25 Years of Animation Expo" has been traveling around the world since it first began in New York back in 2005. With each new stop, it gets updated with material from their latest works, so now it's actually more like the "Pixar 34 Years of Animation Expo." And it's currently showing in Amsterdam, so off we went...

Pixar Amsterdam Expo

The expo is pretty great, mostly focusing on the artwork that goes into a Pixar production before it ever gets to a computer... but they've got a few exhibits dedicated to showing how the computer art is created as well. But the highlight of the show has to be a giant beautifully crafted zoetrope featuring the Toy Story characters. It's Pixar animation of an entirely different kind, and well worth checking out.

From there it was time to cash in some of my Reward Certificates at the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam. I had been dying for a Coke to wake me up all day, but the Coke machine was broken, so I started going into withdrawals right there in the restaurant while waiting for my lunch.

After a Coke-free meal we stopped at Ben & Jerry's for ice cream, which is always a treat because they've got an awesome mural painted on the walls...

Ben & Jerry Amsterdam

We were going to see the Greatest Illusion Show on Earth because, honestly, how could you not... but being lazy at Casa de DutchBitch sounded more appealing, so Hans Klok will have to wait for another time...

Hans Klok The New Houdini

And there it is... the end of my week's vacation. Tomorrow it's back to Schiphol Airport and my flight home.

   

Maastricht

Posted on July 20th, 2013

Dave!I pretty much have one day in the Netherlands before heading out again.

The DutchBitch decided that this would be best spent visiting "Maastrecht." I thought this might be the name of a windmill... or perhaps a cheese farm... but she tells me that it is a city. "Wow! There are other cities in the Netherlands than Amsterdam?!? I asked before getting slapped in the face.

And so there are. Maastricht is about as far as you can get from Amsterdam whilst still being inside the Netherlands...

Maasrticht Map!

It's a very pretty city. The first photo I took was this statue of St. Hubertus reading a book to his deer skull hat...

St. Hubertus

One of the more famous landmarks of Maastricht is the red tower of St. Jan's. Which looks fantastic when photographed in HDR...

Maastricht St. Jan's

St. Jan's Red Tower

Sadly, there was bad news to be found in the shadow of the Red Tower... somebody lost their Miffy doll and binky. She now waits patiently for her owner to come back and get her...

Lost Miffy

Walking through the city I found this really cool "Bidweg" monument... "Bidweg" meaning "Way of Prayer"...

Bidweg Monument Maastricht

The waterway nearby is filled with brilliant green plants which I thought looked like something out of a Van Gogh painting...

Green River in Maastricht

There's a wall surrounding old Maastricht that you can walk on top of. It's quite pretty and looks more like a garden than a wall...

Wall Walk in Maastricht

The wall itself is home to a lot of flowers and plants that have managed to grow between the cracks...

Maastricht Wall Flowers

Wall Flowers in Maastricht

I got excited when I saw a Free Ladies party... until I saw it was a month ago...

Hot Urban Night Maastricht

A sign asking people to be quiet so the neighbors can live in peace was interesting. I wonder if it works. I sincerely doubt it would any effect in the USA...

QUIET! Mind Our Neighbors

Awesome kid drawings at a Maastricht school...

Maastricht Kids Paintings

The DutchBitch then took us to hell...

Helpoort Sign

Helpoort Maastricht

Helpoort... or "Hell Gate"... is the oldest surviving city gate in the Netherlands (from the year 1229!). It's in amazingly good shape for being so old, and well worth a visit.

After wandering around for a few hours, it was time to head back to Casa de DutchBitch. But not before... WAFFLES!!!

Waffle in Maastricht

The perfect end to a perfect afternoon.

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Day Seven: HAM->AMS

Posted on April 17th, 2012

Dave!The problem with mid-day plane schedules is that they pretty much kill your day. My 12:30 flight was too early for me to run into Hamburg and do something... but too late for me to arrive into Amsterdam and do anything. Which means I was kinda stuck.

So I decided to sit in my airport hotel room and get caught up on work. Which was a great idea... until I fell asleep. Usually when I feel there's that possibility, I set my alarm clock. But today I didn't for some reason. Which was pretty stupid.

Nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting to the gate with a mere ten minutes to spare.

But it all worked out in the end.

I made it back to DutchyLand in time for one last order of PATATJES MET and an aged cheese sandwich with the Dutch Bitch.

Not the worst way I could have spent the last day of vacation.

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Day Five: Zaanse Schans

Posted on April 15th, 2012

Dave!Today The DutchBitch says "It is a beautiful day to visit Zaanse Schans!" And, like the fool I am, I believed her. Though I suppose if you ignore the freezing winds and overcast skies, it was a beautiful day to go exploring.

Zaanse Schans is a tourist attraction north of Amsterdam with various shops and interesting things to see. But it's best known for its collection of preserved and functional windmills...

Zaanse Schans

Windmills

Among the attractions is a "Klompenmakerij" or "Wooden Clog Workshop" where you get to watch them make shoes...

Klompen Wooden Shoe Maker

They also have a "Kaasmakerij" or "Cheesemaker Shop" which has all kinds of delicious hand-made cheeses...

Cheese Maker

It's a nice shop... but you can't bring your chicken in with you...

No Chickens!!

And there's a gift shop with... Miffy!...

Miffy

Eventually the sun started to come out a bit, so we walked down the row of windmills...

Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Once we were tired of goofing off in Zaanse Schans, it was time for PATATJES MET and OUDE KAAS!!

Patatjes Met

Never mind that I have eaten fried potatoes with mayo and an aged cheese sandwich every day since I've been here... you just can't get enough of a good thing.

And, just like that, my adventure in DutchyLand has come to an end. I'm off to the airport in an hour.

   

Day Three: Keukenhof!

Posted on April 13th, 2012

Dave!Today I visited the world-famous Keukenhof, "The Garden of Europe."

It is so famous that I had never heard of it before The DutchBitch suggested that we go there this morning and take photos of flowers.

Here is my assessment...

If somebody were to say "It is one of the most amazing fucking things I've ever seen in my life..." they would be underselling it.

It's that good. Huge grounds filled with meticulously maintained flowers and walkways...

Keukenhof Grounds

Keukenhof Grounds

Dave Floating at the Keukenhof!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Windmill at the Koekenof!

Annnnnd... I'm going to have to stop before I post the entirety of the hundreds of photos I took. All of them amazing. It is impossible to take a bad photograph at The Keukenhof.

After a couple hours, all of Europe turned up at the gardens, so we decided to leave while we still had room to walk out. With time to kill, The DutchBitch drove me to the city of Leiden. Where they have a citadel!

Leiden Canal

Leiden Citadel

Leiden Citadel

View from Leiden Citadel

Leiden Windmill

And then it was time for PATATJES MET and an OLD CHEESE SANDWICH! Two of my most favorite things to eat.

Which makes the day just about perfect.

   

Day Two: Amsterdam

Posted on April 12th, 2012

Dave!Half the time when I am traveling I'm working. The other half of the time I am playing tourist and have a schedule of things I want to see. The wonderful thing about being in Amsterdam today was that I didn't have work or an agenda... I could just wander along the canals and soak in the city.

And when it comes to aimless wandering, Amsterdam is pretty hard to top. I could do that for days and not get bored, because it's just so dang beautiful...

Amsterdam Canals

After a while, I came across the Anne Frank House Museum. I've tried visiting here at least three times, but the line is usually absurdly long...

Anne Frank House Museum Line

But when I checked, it wasn't even around the corner. So, 35 minutes later, I finally got to see it...

Anne Frank House

It was both fascinating and heartbreaking, and now I know why people are willing to stand in line for such a long time to see it. After that I started wandering the canals again and saw this...

No Dog Pooping Sign

It didn't say anything about humans not being allowed to poop there, so I took a dump in the planter. And then... then... I saw something really bizarre. A boat dredging up bicycles from the bottom of the canal. You'd think that they might find one or two from careless people accidentally dropping them in, but you'd be wrong...

Dredging Bikes

A HUGE pile of bikes. They brought up a half-dozen just as I was standing there watching...

Dredged Bikes Pile

The DutchBitch tells me that people get drunk and drive their bikes into the canals all the time, so they have to clear them out every couple of years. Scary.

I stumbled across Amsterdam's brand new Apple Store. It is absolutely glorious, featuring a glass spiral staircase that's mind-bogglingly terrifying for people like me who are afraid of heights (if only they would let me photograph it). Apple does a good job of finding beautiful buildings to build into, and this one is no exception...

Apple Store Amsterdam

After lunch with some friends in the city, I was given a coupon for Het Scheepvaart Museum (Maritime Museum) as the rain came in. It's a pretty fantastic place...

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

The displays they have there are incredible. I mean really incredible. I wish they had more of them...

Ship Decorations

Ship Paintings

You can also go out on an old ship, which is pretty nifty...

Maritime Museum Ship

By the time I had finished and headed back to the train station, the sun was out again...

Amsterdam Centraal Station

All in all, a perfect day of new experiences for me in Amsterdam. How sweet is that?

   

Day One: Bulb Fields

Posted on April 11th, 2012

Dave!Despite having been to the Netherlands dozens of times, I've never gone out to the bulb fields when they're in bloom. Usually I've been here at the wrong time... but other times when they've been in season, I've had to work or didn't have transportation or something goes wrong.

Today The DutchBitch finally fixed all that. I have to say though, they're not quite as impressive as the postcards lead one to believe...

Empty Bulb Field NOT

I lie. They're everything you'd imagine and more.

And while a photograph can only partially communicate just how beautiful it is to be standing in front of flowers that stretch out to the horizon, the thing that really got to me was the smell. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but the bulb fields smell incredible. In particular the Dutch Hyacinth, which is almost other-worldly.

The bright colors don't record that well on a digital camera sensor, which makes photographing the field a bit of a trial (where is film when you need it?), but it's still a great subject to take pictures of.

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Red Tulips Fields

Red Tulips Fields

Bulb Fields

Bulb Fields

Eventually all the flowers are cut down so the bulbs can be harvested then re-used or sold...

Bulb Cutter

And thus the Circle of Life begins again.

   

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