Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

No Sunny Skies in Amsterdam:

No one in this city seems to be in a hurry to go anywhere. The colors of clothes seen on the streets match the mood of this city's citizens–washed out and lacking energy. Some of those people on their bikes are merely waiting to go on holiday, others just wish the rain would go away. Me? Well, I'm a part of the latter. I would like to see the sun again. It's been raining for almost two weeks. Isn't it supposed to be summer?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life in Europe:

I have now lived in Western Europe for almost four years. I really feel at home in Western Europe. I don't feel like an outsider and I don't feel foreign, either. Ik spreek Nederlands. There is a strange transition period when one is an 'immigrant', and when the people who previously surrounded you, in your former home, actually don't know you, or what it is that you are up to, anymore. Or where you spend your time, where you live, or what your daily life is like. There is no sharing of experiences, except digitally. Whenever I went back to the USA after living in Copenhagen or Düsselforf, I couldn't help but compare and question every aspect of my life in the States to that of mine in Europe. It was just different. I do love the young and educated super-liberals in the USA who hold Europe in such high esteem. Myself being one of them, when I lived there. When asked what their preferred political affiliation they easily spill out: Social Democracy. It's easy to look to Europe from America and think that everything here just works. 'Oh in Europe they have high speed trains. In Europe everyone cycles. In Europe, people eat dinner over the course of three hours, and really... just enjoy life. In Europe they have six weeks of vacation. In Europe they're really environmentally friendly. In Europe the cars are really little and they tax gas–and car ownership–quite a lot. All for the better I say!'...I guess most of these things are true. But Europe is not a magical paradise that Americans tend to get through the media. Europe is a continent with a beautiful background and landscape that its daily life occurs against. This is no way makes people more cultured or educated. But it's often hard to see beyond that when visiting Europe for the first time. I recently dug through my former digital publication and found my first post, about my first few days in Copenhagen. I was so stunned to read how different I thought daily life was in the Nordic, from that in the USA. But I imagine at the end of the day, the lifestyles, beyond the visuals, were quite the same. We are all humans, part of a larger circular cycle that interconnects and intwines us all.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Books & Magazines: Spui

In Amsterdam, the American Book Center is always handy for English language books. While Athenaeum is a bit more focused on Dutch books. But the Athenaeum 'news-center'/magazine shop, right next to their book store, is my second home... Inside are magazines galore, all of which are mini-worlds just waiting to be explored. A continually evolving exhibition of printed pages...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Het Loo Palace, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands:

Last weekend I went to Het Loo Paleis (English: The Woods Palace)–which is historically the residence of the House of Orange-Nassau. The palace is done up in the Dutch Baroque manner, with a restored Baroque/French formal garden around back, to match. Dutch history is so incredibly layered, rich and always full of subtle surprises. The place was originally built between 1684-1686 for stadholder and Prince of Orange–King William III and his wife Queen Mary II–who together made up the duo 'William & Mary'. That's right people, the King of England, was once Dutch. I have a thing for Baroque architecture–usually palaces–and their gardens. The way the plants/shrubs have been just perfectly laid out and meticulously trimmed, gives me chills. For me, formal gardens and their curved and trimmed components come from the pages of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. So, for me, in visiting Het Loo, the imaginary and intangible come to life. Love that. These days, the palace–once a pleasure retreat–is a national museum open to the public. Stop by and seep in the history. Have a stroll through the garden. The Netherlands really is, such a beautiful place. And one of the reasons, I feel, is due to the scale of the built environment. Everything is just a bit tiny-er in the Netherlands. There's even suffix a suffix that you can add to the end of almost any Dutch word, to make it the 'tiny' version. I give you: lepel (meaning a spoon), and lepelje (meaning a 'tiny' spoon). The je suffix in Dutch basically brings the scale of anything down to, Dutch scale. I really like that. Because who really wants to say things like 'the small cup' in English, when in Dutch you can say 'kupje', meaning a tiny cup. A very non threatening tone can therefore be added to almost any Dutch word, with je. Kerkje, stoelje, huisje. It's so fun, and I love that about Dutch. And I've learned that saying 'I love ___', to profess your love for, say–your favorite pair of pants, is a very American expression to use, when in Europe. People here don't love things. So really, you could say that Het Loo is a, paleisje–a 'tiny' palace. It quite tiny... but still grand, like most of the Dutch landscape. It's moments like that afternoon at Het Loo, that remind me of why I wanted to move to Europe in the first place: for the architecture, for the history, for the art, and for the relaxed and liberal lifestyle that so well suits me. And not to mention all that lekker Goude Oud kaas–which in English, means cheese.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Secret Spaces in Amsterdam:

I'm back from a week and half in Barcelona. During the past three weeks my mom was visiting here in Amsterdam (and Spain). While it's always fun to have family and friends visit Amsterdam, it's also exhausting. However it's been so rainy in Holland since returning from Spain, and I'm totally over it. Yesterday, the city resembled winter, and it was about 12C (55F)–rainy as ever. Apparently the rain will return on Sunday. But I'm hoping it stays at bay. Yesterday I cycled home from work in the pouring down rain while holding a flimsy umbrella–and realized how far I've come in my Dutchness. While I'm not 'Dutch' (I am American by birth), my Dutch language skills have become much better as of late. And cycling with an umbrella in one hand, with the other on the hand-bars, is a feat in itself that I can proudly partake in. Dutchified! Amsterdam, while never ceasing to amaze me, has become my home over the past three years. I really love it here, and I really love this city. And on top of that, I have the world's most beautiful Dutch boyfriend. As I stay here, I continue to find new layers of the city to delve in, new side streets to meander through, and the unexpected (that I expect)–everywhere. This weekend I'd like to do some urban exploring in my city. It's time to discover some more 'secret spots'–only known to me. Until then, feel free to browse through some of my less secret spots in Amsterdam: there are whole worlds within this city still waiting to be explored.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waterland, North Holland:

Waterland is a municipality of North Holland located about a one hour run, or about a half hour cycle, from Amsterdam's Indische Buurt. It's composed of some really magnificent villages; with beautiful churches, gardens, wooden houses, and polders galore. I enjoy visiting. It's peaceful, there in Waterland, just north of Amsterdam.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011