Thursday, June 24, 2010

Winter Sun

On the weekend we had lunch at the Sirromet Winery - gorgeous views; sunny, cloudless sky.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Light and Dark

On Saturday night we went to the lantern festival at the German Language School. Although I couldn't get the photos to turn out how I wanted them (need to read up more on aperture and shutter speed), I quite like how they portray the interplay between light and dark.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last Day in Amsterdam

Saturday morning we headed off to the Nordemarkt. I guess this is the counterpoint, culturally, to all the markets we went to in Hong Kong. Some impressions:

Hmmm.. nuts and chocolate-covered nuts

A variety of cheese-grating implements.

Floating ginger.

Then we moved on to some organic markets nearby.
So much goat's cheese!

These were the biggest oysters I've ever seen. Some of them were 20cm long!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous on my last day, and people were taking advantage of it straight away - sitting outside even though it was still quite cool. Some final impressions of Amsterdam, bathed in sunlight:
Since I started with the rubbish photos, I shall finish with one. This is what most of the bridges ended up looking like by the time I left.



Randomly stumbled across this today - strings of paper cranes tied to a massive tree, for a wedding. Gorgeous!
Found at Once Wed, photography by Kirsten Ellis.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A bit of culture, massive type, brief moments of grottiness, and Mexican food

My third day in Amsterdam started off leisurely. Al had a meeting, so Cath I rode there with him and whilst we waited for him we indulged in a spot of shopping and a delectable apple tart.
Mhh.. yummy cake - this was not the actual cake in question, but a photo that Cath took after I left - I never had sunshine like this while I was there.. :)

In the area I saw this fantastic shop door:

Then we rode the bikes to Dam Square to visit the Van Gogh Museum. It's not a terribly large gallery/museum, I was through in about 1.5 hours, but a brilliantly put together one. A lot of his major works (although, sadly no Starry Night), background and even a vase he owned and that he painted a few times. I was very surprised to find out that he was only an 'active artist' for about 10 years. Obviously I couldn't take photos in there, but if you're interested, here is some background. A must-see if you're in Amsterdam.

Next I walked over to the adjacent Rijksmuseum. It's in the middle of renovations, so a lot of it is closed, but still definitely worth a look for "The Masterpieces" exhibition. You can check those out here. Click on the links at the bottom of the page so see 360 quicktime files of the exhibition rooms.Very nifty! Studying art theory at uni, I never really got into the Renaissance, but if super-impressive to see a Rembrandt or Vermeer up close and personal. To stand in front of it and see the brush strokes is amazing - these guys were truly masters at capturing light. Other than Rembrandt and Vemeer there was a beautiful collection of silver ware, Delft ware, and this completely amazing doll house. You must look at the large image of this, it's a replica of this woman's house - original materials, so all the silverware is ACTUAL tiny silverware, actual ceramics, imported fabrics and the like. Amazing stuff. Also a must-see if you're in Amsterdam.
Oh, found a in-depth presentation of this exhibition.

After the museum shut I went outside to a biggish square where the letters "I amsterdam" are a popular motif for tourists.

After I spent enough time photographing strangers I cycled into the Red Light District. Although considered a must-see by many this was actually my least favourite aspect of Amsterdam - I only stayed for about half an hour. It's quite a grotty area, and there were loads of inebriated (sometimes scary-looking) dudes around. Granted, there were also many tourists like me who just wanted to see what the fuss is about, but there were definitely some dodgy types hanging around there. I also witnessed a guy trying to bargain a cheaper price with one of the prostitutes/strippers (?? not sure what her particular business model was, and didn't hang around to find out). Although I'm sure it's a well-regulated industry with some kind of protections for the workers, the window displays of the girls just offended my feminist sensibilities on the whole.

I was glad to unlock my bike and ride out of there. :) For dinner the 3 of us went to a cute little Mexican restaurant with really fun decor - Mexican wrestling-themed. Enjoy:


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The first glimpse of sunlight and a fish curry to die for

After my tour I strolled around Dam Square, which is where the travel office was located, slowly making my way back to Cath and Al's in Jordaan - yes, girls can read maps.

To celebrate beer o'clock we went to their local for a couple of drinks

When we stepped back outside, for the first time whilst I was in Amsterdam, the sun greeted us, and I just had to take a couple of photos of the blue sky to prove that there is such a thing in Amsterdam:

Once at home Al started preparing a delectable fish curry; this was SO YUMMY! Definitely a 10/10 from me! Wouldn't mind the recipe for this one.. *cough*


Keukenhof Gardens - Part 2

After taking all these photos it was time for a break and a snack: Dutch pancakes, known as poffertjes, above.

Then I was off for more photography. The variety of tulips really amazed me; starting from colours themselves, to the combinations of colours - whether that was one strong almost-fluoro colour all over, a dull pastel, bleeding into each other like watercolours, streaks, speckles, rimmed petals etc. Then, the petals - round, stumpy, skinny and long, smooth edges, fringed petals, crinkled petals, thin and fat petals, one row vs an explosion of petals. Enjoy:

Rows and rows and rows of flowers...

An old windmill that stands on the grounds:
The inside of the mill

From the windmill I could look down onto a display of traditional Dutch dancing:

Some typographical treatments on 2 of the bridges that cross the little stream that runs through the Keukenhof Gardens:

Another pavilion, featuring orchids:

Birchtree lane:

And finishing up with this pretty little flower: