When This Adventure Ends

Study Abroad, Travel

Hallo vrienden!

I was inspired to make a short film about my life here in the Netherlands. You can see a bit about what my every day looks like, from my friends, to transportation, to festivals, studying, arts and culture, and other activities. Most of the footage used is from the city where I live (Breda), Amsterdam, Den Hague, Utrecht, and Den Bosch. Genieten!

“When this adventure ends, your next one will begin.”

Day Trip To Figueres

Inspiration, Travel
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Figueres, Spain (April 2016)

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
– Salvador Dali

My friend and I had an excellent day trip to Figueres in the third week of April. We visited the Dali Museum, which was absolutely exquisite. We were lost inside the building and made jokes that it was probably Dali’s twisted sense of humour. After a lovely lunch on the terrace of a restaurant, we hiked around the Castello Sant Ferran. The walk offered amazing panoramic views of the small city and the surrounding farmlands. The castle dates back five hundred years or so, and is said to be the largest fortress in all of Europe. After a short trip to Spain, I headed back to the sub-arctic (though spring-like) climate of the Netherlands!

Mind Blown By Another Famous Dutch Artist

Inspiration, Travel

I had to run an errand in Den Hague today, so I made a quick side trip to the Escher Museum. This museum is inside of a former royal residence dating back to the eighteenth century. Queen Emma bought the stately house in 1896. She used it as a winter palace from March 1901 till her death in March 1934. It was used by four subsequent Dutch queens for their business offices, until Queen Beatrix moved the office to Paleis Noordeinde. The first and second floors have exhibitions showing the royal period of the palace, highlighting Queen Emma’s residence.

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Escher Museum in Den Hague (February, 2016)

The museum features a permanent display of a large number of woodcuts and lithographs by M.C. Escher, among them the world famous prints, Air and Water (birds become fish); Belvedere (the inside out of a Folly); Waterfall (where water seems to flow upwards); Drawing (two hands drawing each other). Escher in Het Paleis shows the early lovely Italian landscapes, the many mirror prints and a choice from the tesselation drawings, also the three versions of the Metamorphosis, from the first small one, to the third, of 7 meters. This one is shown in a circle. It underlines the new vision of the museum on the work of M.C. Escher. The third floor of the museum is dedicated to the Optical Illusion, besides the famous Escher Room in which grownups seem to be smaller than their children, one’s eyes will be tricked by multiple interactive displays (Source: Wikipedia).

I was completely mind blown by this museum. The quality of Escher’s work is simply stunning and I found myself thinking… “Wow, is that really a lithograph?!” Or “No way, that can’t be a wood block print…” I also visited the Maurithuis during my last visit to Den Hague and I have to say that the quality of the museums in the Royal City are simply OUTSTANDING. I would highly recommend adding this to your list of things to do while travelling through the Netherlands.

When Life Hands You Lemons

Travel

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Christmas Decoration at Katowice Airport (December, 2016)

“With every roadblock, a detour is built. With every ending, a new beginning is defined. Embracing a challenge makes life interesting, but overcoming it makes life meaningful.”
– Matthew E. Fryer

I found this quote to be so true during this experience, and I choose to have a really great time exploring the stunning, historical city of Warsaw this past week. I had planned to stay only the weekend in Krakow, but there were bigger plans in store for me, as my passport was stolen during my time in the beautiful city. So instead of travelling home to Breda, I ventured to the capital city of Warsaw before the Christmas holiday to contact the Canadian Embassy. Everything worked out in the end, and I was able to order a new passport. After waiting a few days for the document to be made, I made it back to Breda on Christmas Eve. Stalin) by day and night. One evening I also went to the top of this building to see a beautiful panoramic view of the city at sunset. This is the tallest building in all of Poland, and it offered beautiful views. I was so glad to make it home to the Netherlands, but this experience was definitely a classic example that when life hands you lemons… you should grab some Tequila and salt!

Graphic Design Festival Breda

Artwork, Exhibits, Travel
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Blind Walls Gallery In Mols Parking (October 2015)

From September 25th to October 25th, 2015, there is a festival across Breda focused around graphic design and digital art. Graphic Design Festival Breda is meant for contemporary creatives to allow one to view the world differently with a month of public interventions, exhibitions, talks, tours, and workshops in the city centre. This festival is offered every two years, and this is the fifth year that it has taken place.

 This past weekend, I signed up for a tour of some of the street art in the city centre. I still have yet to see all of the outdoor murals and pop up art exhibitions, so stay tuned for more photos. As part of the festival, many new murals have been added in the centre from international artists around the world. Several of these works shown above are from artists in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, including the same one who designed the famous Markthal in Rotterdam.

 I learned a lot about these murals, some of which I had already seen before, but now I have a deeper perspective on each one. For example, in the Mols Parking lot, this area has thousands of people buried below the concrete from the terror of the black plague in 1353. Much later on, a large circus was hosted here, with many exotic animals. This area is home to at least eight large scale murals. One of the murals (the one with the mice) focuses on a child’s perspective of the black death. Another has uses the subject of a circus theme to further develop a sense of place, and add to Breda’s unique history.

The orange one that features the words “Any day, Queens day” is a love letter from an American artist to the city of Breda. The smaller words across the wall are examples of why this artist loves this country, and shares a sense of pride for women, especially, whom at the time this mural was made, the Queen of The Netherlands. At present, King Williem-Alexander is the monarchical figurehead. There was originally another wall with more words, but the shop expanded a few years and had to remove a piece of the artwork.

There is another mural by an American artist, Mike Perry, in the same alleyway who uses a poem by Mike Nicolas as inspiration. The poem is a palindrome, so the mural can be read from left from right, or right to left, and have a different meaning. Very neat!

All of these murals that are outdoors and around the city centre are a part of the growing ‘Blind Walls Gallery’. From what I have learned, this gallery is building from the idea that Breda once had fortifying city walls, now fallen of course, and utilizes presently blank wall space to build up a new wall, new culture, and to bring new life to the city. I must also tell you about the Three Seconds Gallery, which is housed in an underground parking lot. In the entrance/exit of the lot, there are artworks lined up along the walls on both sides. Each individual piece of art has a motion sensor. As cars enter or exit, which in theory takes about three seconds, the artwork as a whole responds to the car’s movements. So innovative!

One of my personal favourites of the tour was enjoying the Open Submissions Gallery at Stadsgalerij, a pop up gallery for the festival. The title of this gallery is What Do You Do? All of the works featured here were sent in from artists and every day people around the world anonymously, and then selected to be put on display. The beauty of this, is that simply anyone, whether professional or not, could have their artwork featured here. The theme of the works was “What does a graphic designer do?”

One last neat thing I learned from this tour, that a fountain in Valkenberg Park I pass by often on my way to university has a special purpose. There are many famous people who have originated from Breda, and it is said that if one drinks from this fountain, they are destined to be famous. It is another way of looking at the saying, “There is something in the water.” I thought this was a neat tidbit of information that I otherwise would have not known.

For anyone currently reading this, I would highly recommend checking out at least one of the many events hosted by the Graphic Design Festival Breda. The tour I took is offered on Fridays and Sundays until the end of the festival and only cost five euros; which is very inexpensive considering the amount of information and the excellent experience I took away from this.

From an academic perspective, I am brainstorming ideas for my upcoming thesis project. I am thinking about using examples of street art to argue if this type of community can develop a destination. I’m still working on the final research topic, and if you, dear readers, have any insight, ideas on books to read, etc, please comment below.

The Hague

Travel
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Den Hague, The Netherlands (September 2015)

My roommate Grace and I took a break from a long week at university and took a day trip to Den Hague. It was about an hour and a half journey by both bus and train. Also known as The Hague, this seaside city has the most cultural attractions per square meter. Did you know the Netherlands has two capital cities? Amsterdam is the national capital – the largest city and cultural capital of the Kingdom – and Den Hague is the seat of government.

We caved and had Starbucks twice in one day – once on the way there and on the return trip. We spent part of the afternoon window shopping and aimlessly walking around the city centrum. Without any planning, we came across a wake board festival and a celebration hosted by the United Nations for International Peace Day called Just Peace. We also found the Royal Home of the Dutch King and Queen, lots of monuments, and a few green spaces. One park near the Centraal Station had a gated area full of trees and reindeer. Apparently, The Hague is one of the greenest cities in the country.

We were sure to visit the Binnenhof, which had a fairy tale like appearance from the outside overlooking the water. We also ventured inside to find stunning architecture straight out of Hogwarts. The Binnenhof is a complex of buildings in the city centre of The Hague, next to the Hofvijver Lake. It houses the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Built primarily in the 13th century, the Gothic castle originally functioned as resident of the counts of Holland and became the political centre of the Dutch Republic in 1584. It is counted among the Top 100 Dutch Heritage Sites. The Binnenhof is the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use (Source: Wikipedia).

We also made a special trip to The Mauritshus, the Royal Art Gallery. Dear readers, don’t be sad that you haven’t visited it yet, as you can also view the royal collection online! This incredible art gallery has many pieces from the Golden Age (dating back to the early 1400s). Highlights included The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, and Self Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn. This building was so beautiful from every angle with artwork decorating the walls, fireplaces, and ceilings.

The Goldfinch is a 1654 animal painting by Carel Fabritius of a chained goldfinch. It is an oil painting on a panel of 33.5 by 22.8 cm. In the painting, a goldfinch is sitting on its feeder, chained by its foot. Goldfinches were once popular pets, as they could be taught tricks like drawing water from a bowl with a miniature bucket. This is one of the few works known by Fabritius. He painted the goldfinch with clearly visible brushstrokes. He depicted the wing in thick yellow paint, which he scratched with the handle of his brush (Source: The Mauritshus).

Girl with a Pearl Earring is an oil painting by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is a tronie of a girl with a headscarf and a pearl earring. This piece is claimed to be the Dutch version of the Mona Lisa. This painted was created entirely from the imagination of the painter – which is makes it even more immaculate to see in person. It was such an amazing experience to see this painting from 1665. I even wore my pearl earrings in honour of this exciting moment! Words cannot express how amazing this experience was for me… Lastly, the self portrait on display by Rembrandt van Rijn is claimed to be one of the last self portraits known to be painted by the famous Dutch painter. He painted the most self portraits in his life time which totaled more than all the painters from the Golden Age.

We finished off the day with a shopping spree at one of our favourite clothing stores, Primark. Needless to say, I will definitely be back to the stunning heart of the Netherlands. There is so much I have yet to explore!