Archive for the ‘Netherlands’ Category

I spent a few days back in Amsterdam crashing at Jen and Mark’s place and exploring the city while they were off at work. The first day was spent just wandering around the canal district. Apparently the “Venice of the north” has over 100km of canals and 1,500 bridges, but I didn’t check the validity of that factoid. What is interesting though is the layout of the canals. In the old part of town, laid out in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, town planning decided to build a series of semi-circular canals which linked in at both ends to the harbour. The design was practical both for defence and transport of goods (beer was specifically mentioned a couple of times).

On my first day the weather was good, but it’s been pretty awful ever since. As a result, most of the rest of my sightseeing was indoors, though Amsterdam does have some cool museums. I checked out the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank house. As well as seeing some of Van Gogh’s most famous artworks, it was really cool to see the transition of his work from his first ever oil painting, through mimicking of other artists styles and finally to his trademark style of expressive blobs of brightly coloured paint. I already knew of his mental illness, ear cutting off incident and suicide at age 37, but I didn’t realise that he only started painting at a late age and did most of his best known work in the last two years. He initially worked at an art dealership but left to do religious work, and was later largely supported by his art dealer brother, Theo, who worked hard to promote Vincent’s work both during his life and after his death.

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photos to come…

I spent a little more time hanging with family, including some time with my cousin and his family as a working bee was launched to beautify their courtyard. Well let’s just call him my cousin, technically he’s my mum’s cousin’s son but that just gets too convoluted. Anyway he and his wife have a gorgeous 2 year old son who spent the day keeping us women busy as the guys were outside working in the rain. Little Colin was learning how to ride his walking bike and apparently the day after I saw him managed to do it all on his own. By all accounts he was as proud as punch. He reminded me that the best sound in the world is the gurgling laugh of a happy child. The second best sound in the world is the clink of ice cubes in a gin and tonic on a hot and sunny afternoon. Before leaving I also spent a day hanging out with some family friends who have twice done long trips around Australia and visited us both times. The first time was with motorbikes and the second with a campervan and kids in tow. They can’t believe an Australian wants to move to Germany when all they want to do is move to where I’m leaving. Funny how that works.

From Stetten I headed back to Munich to pick up some stuff I’d left at the hostel and discovered one of the inexplicable phenomena of backpacking: if you have a full bag, take some stuff out and leave it behind for a while then pick it up again, there is little chance that the left behind stuff will fit back into the bag you originally took it out of. Admittedly, some stuff was bits and pieces Brett left behind for me to carry, but that doesn’t account for the whole problem. I swear there could be a PhD thesis dedicated to the quirks of living out of a backpack and it would probably involve some quantum physics, elementary particles or other seriously complicated sounding scientific words. Anyway, I was left with an extra bag as well as my big backpack and daypack. I feel like a fool.

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