Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where has Summer gone?

I hate to admit it, but it happened today, a pang of wanting to be living back by the beach. A pang bad enough to even make me want to be living back in Manly Beach, Sydney. My expressed wish, my "big dream" has always been to live on one of the isles of Hawaii. I feel so far away from all of that right now.

I love Amsterdam and I love liberal European ideals but the cold in combination with the early darkness and the high density urban sprawl was a little gloomy today. I want sun and beaches and nature.

Sunny days followed by torrential rain

I miss clear blue water and waves. I even miss almost being killed* several times while trying to learn to surf "Ang!!! PADDLE PADDLE PADDLE" as a wave the size of me comes crashing down, tosses me around and sends my board slamming into my face.

The Bower Break. Just off our local  Shelly Beach

Secret trails to secluded beaches

I miss early morning swims before work, and cracking open a coconut for breakfast at a secluded beach not many people venture to.

Collins Beach, will always remain as Little Penguin Beach to us

I miss smoldering weekends, packing our boards and heading up or down the coast with friends. BBQ's on the beach and the music of guitars with a Corona in hand and our bare feet in the sand.

The mini mal I hardly got to use

Looking at the tropical birds in the trees 

I love Amsterdam and I love my life here. But being here is part of a road that will eventually take me away. Until then all I can do is dream of the tropics and enjoy the ride in what I think is the most beautiful city in the world.

* I may be exaggerating a little.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free Cat

Free to a good home*

*Also willing to trade for another cat

Of course this is a joke and I would never abandon or palm off my sweet little kitty just because she has picked up some annoying behaviours (probably from me) lately.

The last couple of weeks she has been seriously bullying us.  She has been waging biting wars against our unsuspecting feet and Jumping up on chairs and our bed to bite our arms. We have been trying several things suggested by cat behaviourists to stop this behaviour, spray bottle, yelling "ow", putting our palm in front of her face and forcing her to back off... It just has her coming back for more.

It has crossed my mind that she is suffering a little from separation anxiety because I am no longer here with her all day. Before leaving for work she sits between me and the door and meows very sadly. My aim this weekend is to invest in a lot of kitty toys to keep her entertained during the hours i'm at work, hopefully it helps and I have my happy kitty back before too long!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Brussels Weekend Snap Shots

Last weekend we jumped on a train over to Brussels (something we have been meaning to do for a while now). From Amsterdam, Brussels was only 3hrs away and cost €44 for a return ticket. We treated ourselves (because of my new employment status) and stayed at the Grand Metropole which had some incredible French Renaissance mixed with Art Deco architecture. 

One of the things we noticed during our first stop in Brussels a few months ago was the amount of street art and murals all around the city, Belgium also has a big comic book culture and a lot of these characters can also be found painted around the city too. 


Inside the Comic Trip Center.

As well as waffles, chocolate and Beer, apparently Belgium is also famous for having fantastic moules mariniers - mussels cooked in a delicious broth of  white wine, butter and herbs and served with a side of fries. It seemed like they were all the rage too, restaurants were full of people eating them and we couldn't resist either. 




We strolled through a little antique market, I was hoping of finding some original Art Nouveau or Art Deco jewelry or home wares but instead I got the same feeling I often get at antique markets - that it's just people's old junk they no longer wanted :)


Before heading home we made sure to pick up some speciality Belgian beers and chocolate. Then we spent 3 hours standing up in an over booked train while first class carriages were empty. Apparently Benelux Weekend tickets don't even entitle you to a seat on the train. Thanks a lot NS Highspeed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Early Autumn at the Bloemenmarkt

Autumn is here and the Bloemenmarkt is stocking up on winter hard plants and selling off the last of Summer's sunflowers.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Amsterdam Drug Dealers

The other week Mats and I were out on the town and stopped outside a "Smart Shop" to see what sort of mushrooms they had on display, it was the first time we had been approached by a drug dealer in Amsterdam...

Drug dealer: "Hello there, I noticed you were looking at drugs, that shop is closed but I am open, would you like some drugs, cocaine?"

Mats: "No, we're OK"

Drug dealer: "OK, no worries! (smiles) Well, have a good night" Walks off whistling.

50 metres down the road we walk past him; he smiles, waves and says "hello!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Amsterdam Art City

Open Ateliers in Amsterdam
October (and some November) Weekends

One of the first things I noticed when I got to Amsterdam was the abundance of high quality, original art everywhere. And before too long I knew exactly why, Amsterdam is inspiring, it is for the free and it is an incredibly beautiful city, with water reflecting all around you, beautiful blossoming flowers everywhere, world class parks, trees lining the streets and canals, stunning architecture, a laid back atmosphere, several festivals and markets, Amsterdam is a city that is vibrant and alive.

And if you're an artist the best part is you live in a country where the government and society supports the arts. There are several world class art schools that attract artists from all over the world and several community programs that get people involved and encourage creativity, to add to this there are festivals, markets, galleries and exhibitions all year round that focus on the arts.

During October and some November weekends Amsterdam has a free open exhibition known as Open Ateliers where artists open their workspaces, it is the perfect opportunity to see how artists work and to see some of their works in progress as well as many of their completed works, best of all you can also meet with the artist and discuss their work.

Yesterday we went to open galleries in The Pijp, it was very eye opening for someone who dabbles in painting to see such a high standard of work among the local artists, probably higher than I have seen anywhere else. Some of my favourites included: Pieter Schmits who's nudes were incredible, with nice uses of colour and an interesting technique of letting thinned out paint flow on his canvas leading to beautiful flowing lines of the female form. Julie Dassaud (below) who had some very cool mixed media paintings with an industrial edge. 


John Paaijmans who works with Indian ink using syringes and drips to create some really funky drawings. And, Antonio Fuertes who's beautiful profiles (like the one below) and still life's had a classical style with a modern edge.  

If you missed it this weekend, then I really suggest you don't miss one of the other weekends.

Open Ateliers Locations include:

The Pijp - October 3 & 4 
Nieuwmarkt - October 3 & 4
De Baarsjes - October 10 & 11
Plantagedok Mogelijkhedenplaats - October 17 & 18
Hotdocks - November 14 & 15



I look forward to seeing more during other weekends!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Job Hunting Hell in a Foreign Country

recently mentioned how hard it has been for me to find work here in Amsterdam. Most expats probably line up work before they head to their new country. But if you're part of a couple you probably found it's not that easy... As in our case, one of you probably found a job and the other made the move hoping to find a job once you got there.

This is more difficult than it sounds. Back home, I used internet job boards to find work, but in my experience as far as the Netherlands goes, searching for jobs online doesn't do you much good. My first steps after arriving here were to contact geological, engineering and environmental recruiters and after signing up with them, or never hearing from them I then contacted companies in these fields directly, even if they weren't hiring. This didn't work for me, but I felt it got my name out there at least.

Of course my job search would have been much easier if I knew Dutch, there is an abundance of jobs related to my field here, all posted in Dutch, none ever got back to me.

But I guess at the end of the day nothing beats word of mouth for getting yourself a new job. And so, 6 months and 1 day later I am gainfully employed and it's in exactly what I want to build experience in. Life was so good yesterday and now it's even better. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Amsterdam Elephant Parade

Amsterdam Elephant Parade 
On now until 31st October

At the beginning of September 100 baby (art) elephants were scattered around the streets and parks of Amsterdam. The open-air exhibition aims to raise awareness and funds for Asian elephants which are threatened by extinction. You can read more about the Amsterdam Elephant parade here.

If you're in Amsterdam and you haven't already seen them then I suggest you check them out soon. They will be around until the end of the month, then they get auctioned off!

Locations include: Museumplein, Koningsplein, Westermarkt, Kalvertoren, Nieuwmarkt and many more.

Here is a little taste: