Okay kids, we’ve got a lot to go over, and all of it in pictures. Comfy? Good, we’ll dive right in.
In my last post I kind of laid into the Dutch language a bit. I feel I should expound upon that some. For instance, many of words are super easy and logical. For example, here’s a store that sells really old things:
Heck, even whole phrases are pretty easy to figure out:
And once you can figure out phrases, every day directions start to become clear, such as #1 and #4 here.
However, I still find some signage either interesting, frightening, or just plain noteworthy. Examples:
So let me just conclude with the language here to point out that much of the words seem to have a heavy basis in both English and German, and I would assert that if you just walk around speaking English, while pretending to be the Swedish Chef who is trying to sound German, you’ll basically sound like a local. You can probably get by that way for a couple weeks, easy.
Now, most of my travel has been stumping around in my moonboot. This will change soon, but more on that later. I took time to visit the museum district, and take in the local sculptures. Impressive stuff.
Along with the sculptures, there’s an interactive art / water fountain that was fun to watch for a while:
Since I was already in the museum district, I had to stop by the Van Gogh museum. Now, I haven’t really been a big fan of his before. I have to say that this trip changed that. And actually, I have to blame a lot of my new-found appreciation on a graphic novel I read in their gift store:
This tells the story of his decision to become an artist, and the mere ten years he spent devoted to it before going mad and dying. Awesome art, great story, highly recommended.
After that, exploring his works and especially seeing the chronology of his work and how it progressed over the short time span was really cool. Theoretically you weren’t supposed to take photos of the pictures, but people were doing that all over the place. I tried to be a good little tourist and just took pictures of the building and surroundings.
Moving on, you will invariable run into the Flower Market:
You can literally spend days just walking around, and especially in summer, you’ll constantly be running into new things as they pop up and change day-to-day.
And then there are things that are there every day, but still awesome to stumble across:
As you walk around, you also notice that not only are flowers taken seriously here, but Ice cream is as well. This is an attitude I can get behind. The most ostentatious local example of this is the Magnum Ice Cream Bar Shop, where you can decorate your own Magnum bar with your choice of a wealth of toppings.
Now, the people in front of me were choosing safe bets like “marshmallows, coconut and caramelized sugar” or “strawberry sugar, crumbled cookies, and chocolate chips”. Please. Amateurs.
I stepped up and proudly announced my concoction would be the recipient of:
– crushed pistachios: a nutty compliment to the sweetness of the ice cream and chocolate shell.
– Goji berries: add something chewy and tart to the mixture
– Sea salt. At which the lady exclaimed: “oh, gosh, feeling adventurous!” Then she had to search for the salt bowl, leaving me to suspect I am the first to actually order salt. She asked me before assembling the whole thing if I was serious about the sea salt. I nodded gravely.
I don’t joke around where ice cream is concerned.
So, full of ice cream (not a day has passed without sampling the local wares), more wandering is to be done. You can’t avoid the canals here, and that’s a good thing. In addition, on the weekend, so long as the weather holds, it sees like the entire town comes out to the center.
Now, I’ve mentioned bikes a few times. However, I discovered not all bikes are created equal here. For example, since bikes are such an intrinsic part of life here, people have evolved the bike to be a carrier of things. They do this by combining a bike and a wheel barrow.
Anyway, I resume my ambulation with the canals:
I randomly stumbled on a huge park, which took me about 40 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Since it was a sunny day, pretty much every part of the grass was full of people sun bathing, bbq-ing, or just chilling. This pictures doesn’t do justice to the sheer mob of people at the park.
But even as crowded as it was, the park was large enough, and diverse enough, to offer places that somehow had no people.
near the center of the park, there was a bandstand set up, and I got to watch what I assume is a local band (Cirque Valentin) put on a show:
Now, after all my days of wandering, I’m pretty much in love with the city. What I’m NOT in love with, however, is the hostels here. I suppose I’m spoiled by my experiences in Spain, but each hostel I’ve been to here has been more hurried and impersonal, and doesn’t lend itself to the cool communal atmosphere I experienced in Spain. Plus, they are so busy that I was having to move almost every day, which was getting old.
So, I’ve splurged on a hotel room now. And boy did I forget how nice it was to just have your own room. Plus I have a balcony with a view. Life is good.