Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cool or Fool ?

According to an international poll the top coolest nationalites in the world are: Americans, Brazilians and Spanish.

I am not kidding, check it here - while the link lasts !!!

The top cool nationalities are:

1- Americans
2 - Brazilians
3 - Spanish
4 - Italians
5 - French
6 - British
7 - Dutch
8 - Mexicans
9 - Argentineans
10 - Russians

The least 5 cool nationalities in the world are: Belgians, Poles, Turks, Canadians and Germans.

Art on Wall (Arte na Parede)


During a recent visit to Nijmegen, the first thing that called my attention when I arrived in the city was this mural.
Há pouco tempo fiz uma visita `a cidade de Nijmegen e uma das primeiras coisas que chamou minha atenção na rua foi esse mural pintado na parede.

The characters from past and present hold potatoes.
Está relacionado `a batata e todos os personagens seguram o tubérculo. O plantio, a oferta, o passado e o presente.

The mural is located between a commercial area (left) and a residential area on the right. I think the mural is cute !
O mural fica entre uma área comercial `a esquerda e uma zona residencial `a direita. Achei fofo...

The shop selling French fries ( "patat" in Dutch) is just around the corner. I suppose the shop owner lives next door and ordered the mural to be painted bewteen his door and the shop ???


A lojinha vendendo fast food e também batata frita fica logo na esquina. Veja na porta de entrada da loja o saco de papel em formato de cone carregado delas. Acho que o dono mora logo na primeira porta perto da loja e mandar pintar esse painel, rs rs... Será ??

More about art on walls here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Netherlands from Above (A Holanda Vista de Cima)

A new programme in the Dutch telly has been aired every Tuesday since the beginning of December 2011: Nederland van boven, with awesome godviews. It is divided into several themes (commerce, water, free time, nature,  underground, residencial areas, dangerous areas...). I believe I have watched this week part IV ("residencial areas").

Unfortunately the whole show (which takes 19 -20 minutes each) was removed from Youtube. Therefore I am posting here some short previews of it.  The images are stunning, plus there are some interviews with architects and people on the streets.

One of the interviews which called my attention took place in a helicopter with an architect who plainly classified the way people live in two major categories: alpha and betha. In general lines, according to him, the bethas like "things and machines like cars, caravans and boats, lots of material stuff around them, collections and an organized, calm public space, beautiful gardens"- thus the people who live in horizontal areas such as the suburbia. The Alphas (he considered himself also to be one) are " people who like books". They like authenticity, love consumming culture, zigzaging in confusing streets and be piled upon other people - they are the urban people who live in apartment blocks in the big cities. They find it fine. The bethas have an aversion to crowded, urban chaos.

Gosh ! I immediately recognized I used to be an alpha when I arrived in the NL - I like the style of living amongst different people, ethnic diversity, having quick access to public transport, lots of culture, shops, entertainment. In another words: being in the world !

But... Hey, I am an alpha person living a betha life for most of the time I live in the NL. I had to make this concession to my husband, who enjoys living in the village where he was born and near to his parents. But I guess most people cannot choose - they live not according to their nature, but according to what their financial conditions allow them. I confess that now I have learned to enjoy living in the suburbia in the complete silence and one stone away from the woods which I can spot from my bedroom window. Mostly, I like to live in a village because many things I can easily do with a bike, I have lots of space and I know more and more nice people here (more social connections). And the security !! With kids this is an ideal lifestyle. The public transport to Amsterdam is also excellent. However, I confess that even during the decade I worked daily in Amsterdam I "needed" go there also now and then on the weekends on a regular basis just to have a shot of adrenaline that only big cities can provide. I love enjoying the view of the historical buildings, I fantasize about the centuries old stories those walls would tell if they could speak... Yes, a village doesn't offer too much mental stimulation... :(   and can be quite monotonous :(   and people think and live more or less the same way ! 

For now, enjoy some previews of the show Holland from Above. As I mentioned before, the whole episodes were removed from Youtube. When they are uploaded again, I will publish them here. Notice how busy and crowded The Netherlands can be. It didn't impress me much when I first arrived here because Rio has millions and millions of people piled up. But now I recognize The Netherlands are a never ending urban area. You are never really alone here. There's really no middle of nowhere.


Another short preview of the second show:


Alphas and bethas fragment:


By the way... Are you an alpha or betha ? If you could choose... would it be a house in a village or an apartment in a big city ? Culture or nature ?
*****
Upadate 19th January: a friend just sent me a link to all episodes: http://nederlandvanboven.vpro.nl/bekijk-alle-afleveringen.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Lovely White Apartment in Amsterdam

Awwnn... I have just discovered this old apartment in Amsterdam that is a really an eyecandy. White covers the space - however, if you pay attention there are here and there some small Eastern motives or pieces of decoration. And very sparsely a touch of bright colour (pink, green in the kids rooms). Some Dutch people are getting more and more inspired about Scandinavian house interiors where white floors, and walls dominate. This combined with some pieces of dark furniture. Yes, I could move in immediately - I just would need some boxes to pack my own books and two pieces of suitcase. Let's get inspired, shall we ?

The entrance hall
The Kitchen

The Living Room

Upstairs

The light grey bathroom, modern & straight

And the bedrooms:
Ficaram inspirados ? Eu acho que branco dá a sensação de amplidão e calma. Cliché mas verdadeiro... Mas vou te contar: eu moro numa casa com escadas de madeira pintadas de um tom bem clarinho ("champagne" se não me engano). Dá para ver cada pelinho ou fios de cabelo, cada ponto de lã que cai das meias pretas e cada sujeirinha. Eu tenho que aspirar a casa com o dobro da frequência que eu fazia na casa antiga. Ah, mas que uma casa de piso clarinho é lindo, isso é ! (Mas dá um trabalho, ai...  )

All photos: Taverne Agency

Follow me on Twitter: @AnnaGFH

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Museon (The Hague)

During the winter vacations we planned to visit the Museon in The Hague. The Museon is a popular science museum  with educational purposes and an enormous collection (260,000 objects) for the stimulation of the children's minds.  It is divided into five areas of interest: Geology, Anthropology, Biology and Environment, History and Archaelogy, Nature and Technique. My husband still had cards from Holland Pass since the summer and we decided to use it to get some discount for this attraction. Luckily the queues were not long, and we headed immediately to the ground floor exposition: Plantastic, the magic world of plants.

We soon realized that this was rather for little kids. There are interactive displays with flowers, seeds, roots, fruits... My little girl liked it a lot, but my son was after one hour a bit bored and wanted rather to go up to the first floor, where the skeletons and crsytals were.
These huge giraffes make a sort of "link"between the ground floor and the first floor. Near the giraffes there were boards with explanations of what/how they eat and what leaves they look for.

Still on the ground floor there was a workshop being announced: Origami for kids between 7 and 12 years old. Unfotunately my little girl couldn't take part on it becasue she is not 7 yet. But... c'mon ! She is an origami expert already. She should be teaching the other (older) kids. She is really intereted in making three dimensional objects with paper and sculptures with her own hands. She folds and cut paper every day. Every day.

Another workshop was this one: to make decorative paper plates.
These metal dresses were part of an old workshop.

On the extreme left side of the ground floor there was a "Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011" exposition . The competition is organised by BBC Wildlife magazine together with the Natural History Museum in London. I was allowed to take photos of them. They are far, far prettier than you can enjoy here. No way I could get even closer to the beauty of the colour and the impact they cause. This first photo below is called "The Assassin". It is incredible that several different photographers around the world could register these special moments. Luckily next to each photo there was a long description (in Dutch and English) of how the photographer could capture each moment, under which conditions and where in the world.
The photographer was looking for a location in the Pacific for some photo clicks when he suddenly realized this area was full of seastars. He decided to click the place when he noticed the mysterious spirals being formed.

That's scary that the photographer was in the water as well, and so close to this polar bear.

As much as I remember, it took months (almost a year)  for the photogpher until he could get the trust of this wolf. One day the wolf was comfortable enough to remain quiet and very close to the photographer. That's when he could take a snapshot.


Some pics à la National Geographic style...
The photo above with the pelicans is from Daniel Beltrá, from Spain.
The photographer take a pic a his own son admiring a bat who came seing for some flies.
Beautiful indeed and this photo has won many prizes.
You can admire these photos above up to the 4th of March 2012. Winning photographs are available to buy as prints. Check here for more info, while the link lasts !
Aaahhh... I love black and white. This one above I find lovely !
Now on the first floor: it was rather for what older kids. Lots and lots of minerals and crystals from around the world, huge skeletons of scary animals, rooms with expositions about the skimos and their lifstyle, replicas of a Neanderthal woman and a Homo Erectus, big primates and small primates, big monkeys and small monkeys. This family above was reconstructed from skeletons and skull remains. They were hunters and collectors who lived in the area now known as the Lowlands.  


There is also a large room about the Roman times in the Netherlands. They occupied mostly the central and the south of the area, and brought many new eating and clothing habits. There is a wall with huge photos of the many foods they introduced in Northern Europe - and the many local produce they have incorporated in their diet as well. Also a huge book with famous recipes and ood ingredients according to Apicius recommendations.
Another pretty work: this angelic boy was reconstructed after skull,skeleton and clothing findings.
There were many other rooms on the first floor about ecology, main immigrant groups in the Netherlands, the Dutch emigration to the USA, Canada and Australia after the WWII, Islam and religion, African war weapons. We visited all of them, except a room called "Children in regions at War", because just the title of the this exposition revolted my stomach. So we told the kids it was time to leave - and indeed it was.
To finish this post I let the readers with a piece of a poem I have found projected into one of the columns at the Museon. There was no author and it sounds better in Dutch than in the English translation. But then I think in English  you can get the "spirit"of it as well.

The Winner Takes All

Swearing, hitting, killing...
Fighting is part of life
Such as eating, making love - quite normal

"That's right !", say the biologists
"Fighting is part of nature's way.
The strong survive, the weakest die."

"Come on !", cry the philosopers
"We are not wild beasts;
Fighting is unicvilised and dumb;
Discuss your differences, do not fight."

"Drivel !", Say the psychologists
"Know yourself.
You fight because you fear."

We fear the cold and the heat
and hunger, thirst, poverty and loneliness.
Power, humiliation, exclusion and death
Fear leads to hate

Hate is never holy, war is never just
For strife breeds only victims
and winners lose the most
It is war-war or jaw-jaw in palaces and village squares
We must make laws, set rules,
For all our sakes

Stadhouderslaan 37
2517HV Den Haag

Public Transport:

Bus 24, direction Kijkduin
Tram 17, direction Statenkwartier
Bus 21, from Scheveningen

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ice Sculptures Festival, Zwolle

Last Friday we drove to Zwolle in order to visit an exposition of ice sculptures. The festival has been widely covered by the Dutch press, however I have to confess that I first heard of it via Aledys Ver, From Argentina to the Netherlands For Love blog.

Checking the event's offical site, we discover that the temperature at the exposition hall is kept at  -8°C.  That's really cold, especially for the toes and fingers ! We packed shawls, gloves and hats... and the kids though Zwolle was somewhere in the North Pole

The exposition is downtown, and from the trein station or car parking of easy access on foot. We discovered it was market day on some of the streets downtown so we HAD to stop in order to buy some fried fish and roasted nuts. The kids pointed to a "ice sculpture" some meter away and asked me to photograph it (actually it is a glass sculpture in the middle of the market - not sure of the importance of it or whether it refers to the festival.)

Once in the exposition hall I found it difficult to photograph in there, due to different lights coming from several angles. Thus the result below is not the best. There were mythological figures, historical figures, boats, giant octopuses and scary deep sea fishes. Different types of ice were employed. The result is very, very pretty. I know, I know...  it is not the most simple thing of the world to pack your bag and go to... Zwolle, the Netherlands. That's why I share eyecandies here in this blog. Have a look:

This last sculpture refers to the glass winged man wearing a suit I had seen outside downtwon near the market.
For more photos check here - while the link lasts !

Service:
Entrance tickets: adult  € 8,50; child:  € 4,50; +65 years old:  € 6,50.  We bought a "family ticket" for 2 aduts and 2 children (5 - 13 years old) for  € 21,50. The Ice Sculptures Festival is open up to 29th January. We parked the car for  €5 euro (the whole day) at the "IJsselhallen" (Rieteweg 4, 8011 AB Zwolle) and then walked to the Rodetorenplein. There are sign boards pointing the way.  And also an ice hotel nearby.
Thanks for the tip Aledys !