Sunday, September 18, 2016

Amsterdam: A First Glance,The Van Gogh Museum & Travelling by Bike

Canal Houses, Amsterdam
So, I've been in Utrecht, Holland for three weeks now, and I'm loving it.  I especially love going everywhere by bike  - yes, they ride without helmets here. It is incredibly safe, though. I did attempt to find a helmet initially, but really, it's almost impossible to find one in bike stores unless you are a child or a super sporty racing cyclist.

We have our own lanes, which neither pedestrians nor cars are allowed on, and almost all of them are separated by meridians.  About a week ago I traded the 4.40 euro daily train ride for a daily 30 minute (return) bike ride. I paid 50 euros for the bike and 27 euros for two super high quality locks! So, it's a lot cheaper. Plus, having a bike bag to stick your groceries in is fantastic - it's so nice to not have to carry them!

Utrecht is super small, and my trip to Amsterdam last weekend lead me to one of the smallest-feeling capital cities I've ever been. It is beautiful, though and those of you who know me, know I love photographing boats! So, check out the highlights and my slideshow below!

My new bike!!! (pre-bike bag)
I took 360 Amsterdam's free walking tour (you tip the guide a few euros, of course) and learned a bunch of facts about the historical (and modern) aspects of the town.

A few highlights:

  • The canal houses are very expensive, and few people own the whole house; normally they have an apartment on one floor
  • To move into and out of these tiny, skinny, houses they use a special type of crane and have hoists at the top of roof (Check out the slideshow for a zoomed in photo)
  • The city had a historic "magic" piece of bread, blessed by a priest; the bread "survived" a fire and was known to be sacred. The special metal box they kept this bread in is still housed in the Amsterdam Museum.
  • Although most people in Amsterdam are not religious (and very tolerant of all religions), there is a small community of nuns that live in the historic centre; apparently the waiting list to join this community is over 30 years long, so most of the residents are senior citizens
  • The Van Gogh museum is beautiful - I'd recommend a trip. However, I'd definitely say I was disappointed by the fact that it was so commercial. I felt like there was store upon store upon store - perhaps more items in the stores than art on the museum walls!
  • The main church is quite pretty - but don't lean up against the walls. Apparently lots of people use the side wall as a urinal after partying...
  • Boat photo, Amsterdam canals
  • The "coffee shops" are apparently in place primarily for tourists - according to the tour guide, anyway. Locals are very tolerant, but prefer not to participate in this aspect the tolerant, legal culture.

In other news, I'm basically working like crazy on my PhD (I've gotten SO far ahead of where I was in three weeks here; it's incredible!). I'm also auditing two classes (although I don't get a grade, I feel obligated to do the assignments since I'm getting the courses for free). The Digital Linguistics (Python) course is slowly killing me, and the Speech Production and Perception course has quite a high workload, too. 

I am starting to wonder if taking two courses was the best idea. I am super exhausted and swamped, especially with the upcoming launch of my new teaching, organizational and motivational resources blog (coming in November 2016!). On the bright side, I'm learning a lot. By the time I get back to Barcelona, I'll have quite a lot of data analyzed, and (hopefully) two journal articles in progress. Those two were a surprise addition to the ones I need for my PhD, actually, but here's hoping they happen!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the slideshow below. Happy Saturday and have a wonderful weekend!

Abi - the cat who loves Kiara best now. He often hangs out on my bed.
Check out the slideshow below for my first shots of Amsterdam! 

Stay tuned for my second day trip to Amsterdam, tomorrow! I've got tickets to check out the Anne Frank Museum and I can't wait to check out this amazing piece of history.

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