Thursday, November 29, 2012

From Norway to Ohio:

This past spring I found myself in Scandinavia, and more specifically Bergen, Norway. At that time I thought that my life really couldn't have been more perfect. Norway was really stunning, and if you are ever planning a trip to Scandinavia, first go to Copenhagen, then Stockholm, and then head up to Oslo–located in Norway. It really is mystical up there, too. Eaves of tiny houses, tucked away in the woods, come to a point in the form of dragon-headed silhouettes, while wooden churches from almost a millennia past weave mystery within this nautical yet mountainous country. Many buildings in Norway boast foundations made of stone; as such the cityscapes feel 'heavy'. When strolling through the streets of the few true urban environments the country has on offer, one has the feeling that the residents of these spaces (which dot the edge of continental Europe) are wrapped within so many layers of cultural significance, they have no need to emigrate, at all. There's no need to ever leave Norway.

The cityscapes and urban places in Ohio couldn't be any more different than those situated in Norway. There are fountains and tree lined boulevards, skyscrapers, and Art Deco relics abound; for what the USA lacks in length of existence, it regains though its immense rapid expansion, cultural history, social progress–and its version of democracy which is still quite unique in this world. Ohio, here I come.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oliebollen are Back!

An oliebol is a deep-fried and powdered-sugar coated ball of Dutch-dough that is traditionally served around the holiday season (of the Western world) within the Netherlands. The stand litter the streets of all major cities, and the oil from the balls is most often used to soothe an upset stomach that's been made upset due to an excessive intake of alcohol, particularly on New Year's Eve. Personally, I think they're disgusting and have only ever eaten one bite, of one ball, which I immediately spit out. Olliebollen zijn niet voor mij.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tramming Through Amsterdam:

Most morning when the clouds cover Amsterdam's skies, or when rain drops down from above, the city's trams and I become best friends, together dashing off into the distance onward toward our final destination. The tram is a comforting beginning to my day, providing it with a rhythm while simultaneously allowing for reflection. During my tram rides, many pages of books are (and have been) read, many visuals are consumed, and countless articles on International Herald Tribune can be scrolled through with my fingers on my tiny 'mobile' screen; so works society with apparatuses that are in-dated alongside infrastructure that is out-dated. Every so often an older tram is presented to me outside an anonymous tram stop; suddenly I'm transported to another time and place: a time where maroon, black, and tan were considered chic, and rubber and chrome were pleasant combinations for both the eyes and skin. The trams of this city delight me, whatever their surface may expose, as just below their immediately perceivable surface, countless stories of those who've glided through the cities streets are stored. Amsterdam's trams, like its people, are always on the move–while its citizens are provided with public transportation, convenience, delight, and above all: surprises.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

John does Berlin:

I spent last week in Berlin. 
It was very cold, but it was also (and more importantly), absolute fun. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Glamour at 27:

The above chandelier currently hangs in Huis Doorn. A glamourous relic of an era since past, it stands as a friendly reminder of ideas of those before us, having since its inception being converted into a fully functioning electrical device for the 'modern' age. Like the chandelier before me, I'm building on my past, gaining in my present, realizing that where I come from in the world–and the conscious and subconsciously-created memories from my childhood that keep resurfacing–are more precious to me than most anything else. Like Mark Twain, I'm an American who grew up on the frontier of a new country previously unseen by Europeans for centuries, at a time when the country was less than 200 years old; floating down river streams within the Appalachain-Blue Ridge Forests. That was my youth; today I'm 27.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Diana Vreeland vs. Anna Wintour

Today I cycled through the city center of Amsterdam, and–after having a wonderful weekend in and out of the city–I loved every minute of it. The air is changing along with the seasons, and a crispness punctuates my every step; adds an extra kick of power to each pedal, should I find myself on my bike. Today I also became a bit more Western European, adopting a very smart Senz umbrella that will never blow away in the wind, and it will also never turn inside-out, because of that wind; it's just durable. One step closer to loving dark winters, shy and slightly socially backward people, and long dinners over copious wine. Yes–one step closer to unavailing, and merging with, my inner European; he's in there, he's beginning to speak Dutch naturally and effortlessly, and I can feel him surfacing and finding his feet. This weekend I also went to see Margaret Cho with my great friend Amanda (hey Amanda!), slipped cocktails at the super-low-key and equally as swank-and-chic Door 74, before rounding off the weekend to two tiny but lovely castles situated in the east of the Netherlands. One was a very stunning composite of manicured gardens and Alice in Wonderland topiaries, while the other was the home of William II, the last Emperor of the German Empire. What the latter lacked in baroque landscaping, it made up for in its abundance of late nineteenth and early twentieth century collections of paintings, porcelain, and fine wares. Closing off the weekend I saw the Diana Vreeland documentary currently spinning in theaters in this city, again; inspiring to the max, I must admit I found it better the first time around. Perhaps, then, Anna Wintour really is my hero.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Plantage Middenlaan:

In just a few weeks, Amsterdam's trees will let go of all of their leaves.