Five days in Istanbul was the way in which I said goodbye to February. Nothing too much was on my agenda while in the city; I was there as a tag-along, and spent much time in my hotel room–which overlooked a very busy intersection, shown above–and read many books and watched many lectures on European history from around 1750 forward. It was wonderful to be in Istanbul, to be able to experience it, and to understand and absorb the streets of this former capital of the Byzantine Empire. One of my favorite moments from the short trip was when I re-read the first chapter of Thinking With Things, just outside the Hagia Sophia, on the place where the city's former hippodrome once stood. A confluence of East and West, Istanbul is teaming with tension.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
This past Saturday, all day, I shadowed Amanda and be shadowed me; inseparable we were as we meandered around and throughout Vondepark; enjoying the rays of sunlight that glittered on the lakes' surfaces and tree trunks alike; stopped for espresso double shots; alongside chewy and perfect chocolate chip cookies (which somehow always taste more special when purchasing just one, as opposed to making some at home one's self); explored an Asian food market off the Kinkerstreet (must return soon to buy so many fun things; those noodles and spices–oh my!); waltzed over bridges, past antique gas lamps, and countless bikes; paraded into a gallery opening in the Jordaan (at Hazenstraat, to be exact); wined and dined away the evening, alongside the company of my other; pumpkin quiche and copious white wine were combined to give way to fluid conversations, which lasted far into the night.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The signs of spring are slowly but surely returning to the Netherlands; choirs of birds, still–but not for long–visible in the city's trees, have begun to sing their morning and evening song; the sun continues to rise earlier each and every day, illuminating the sky at least until the evening begins (at 18:00); and it's now even possible–on a good day–to strut down the city's streets for a limited amount of time, five minutes or so–to the postbox and back, for instance–without even reaching for a coat. Spring will soon arrive in Amsterdam. And I am anxiously anticipating its annual bloom; let there be light!
Monday, February 10, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014
Two weeks ago I happened to visit the Rijksmuseum no less than four separate times. One of my favorite places in the museum that requires no entry ticket, is the bookshop obverse the café. Postcards and folded cards can be purchased for but a few Euros, and countless books that attempt to decipher the artworks that compose the museum's treasured collection line the bookshelves. On the last of my four visits that week, I cycled, parked my bike outside, near the lovely formal gardens at the museum's rear, and proceeded to–as if in a trance–walk toward the entry. My mission was simple: during one of my earlier visits I happened upon a book that would, I deduced, assist me in describing the components of 'art' with a bit more scholasticism. While walking toward the museum I happened to be listening to a wonderful podcast on design, which just so happened to be in English. Thus, I was 'in an English state of mind'. Upon descending the stairs to the bookshop's lower level, I searched for the book–headphones in ear, podcast still playing–yet I couldn't find it. The gentleman behind the counter was unoccupied by other customers, looked friendly enough, and so I proceeded to approach him, took out my headphones, and asked if he might be able to assist me in locating my desired volume. Upon opening my mouth–being in an English state of mind–I politely asked if this man knew if the book I was searching for was still in stock; I asked in English. He politely replied, 'Yes, but it's in Dutch.' As was expected. I replied, 'That's ok; I speak Dutch too.' At which point I heard a nearby voice, which came from about 2 m behind my left shoulder, extort, with slight resentfulness: 'Tschja. Waarom vraagt je het in het Engles?' Which translates to: 'Yeah ok (say it as if you are confused). Then why did you ask it in English?' Shocked, bewildered, and incredibility perplexed as to why someone would have the audacity to join in my conversation with the bookshop's employee, I quickly pivoted and saw a mid-50s Dutch woman standing very near; close enough to eavesdrop. Quite unsure of what, exactly, gave her the confidence to join my conversation and question my reasoning for speaking English rather than Dutch, I stumbled for what felt like a half a second, composed myself from the shock of her abrasiveness, and proceeded to ask, in perfect Dutch: 'Ik vind het heel interessant waarom je vroeg me dat.' (I find it very interesting why you asked me that.) Her jaw hit the floor and she quickly motioned to her friend, who was, unbeknownst to me, standing in front of the same bookshelves I was just searching through. What was this woman expecting? What gave her permission to castigate me for–incidentally–speaking English rather than Dutch? The whole exchange was rather insightful into the status of foreigners, and their subsequent acceptance, by those who were born in the Netherlands. On Monday I applied for Dutch citizenship. If only she knew that.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Muiderpoort is a former city gate located in Amsterdam Oost, obverse of the Tropenmuseum. This monument welcomes those unfamiliar to this side of the city. Its cupola is worn; the hands of its clock have seen countless hours, days, and years; and yet this welcoming site–Classical in all its beauty–still stands, as it has proudly done, since 1771.