Archive for the 'travel' Category

Clarification

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Meg wanted me to make it clear that we’re not spending all our vacation at the Rodeway mentioned in the previous post. So here’s the view from the Oceanside, Ore., condo she rented for a couple of nights — a huge improvement, right? The beach is fabulous, and we are planning a Tillamook cheese curd run this afternoon. It’s not the worst vacation ever, just to be clear.

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Run-in with a raccoon

Usually I fly home to visit my family during the holidays, but because I’m going to be spending a few months with my parents, I decided to drive down so I could take more stuff and have my own car while I’m there. I left Seattle at about 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and things went well for the first nine hours or so. There was a little bit of ice on the road outside La Grande, Oregon, but nothing too scary. I got to Boise around 10 p.m. and was feeling pretty alert, so I decided to drive a little farther.

Just outside of Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho, I saw a huge raccoon in the road. I swerved to go behind it, but the critter turned around and ran right in front of my car. THUNK! THUNKETY THUNK THUNK! Continue reading ‘Run-in with a raccoon’

Biking way more than necessary

This weekend was entirely free — no lectures, no transferring to different hotels, no suggested day trips, etc. — so I spent a couple of days exploring the area surrounding Rotterdam. Since I traveled mostly by train yesterday, today was a day for biking. The late summer weather was lovely, so it was a perfect day for it.

Poppy bought a bike in Hoenderloo (near Hoge Veluwe) and rode it back to Rotterdam last weekend, so she had the wheels to join Molly, Jonathan and me on an easy ride to Den Haag by way of Delft. Continue reading ‘Biking way more than necessary’

Utrecht

Trent left this weekend free for self-directed exploration, so a lot of people from the group here decided to go to Brugge, Belgium. A few of us stayed in Rotterdam to explore the surrounding area, though, and I am one of them. Today was kind of rainy, so I ditched my bike in favor of the train and went to Utrecht with Poppy and Jonathan. Trent has told us it is one of his favorite cities, and we could see why. The city isn’t too big, but there are a lot of interesting things to see and do. We actually ran out of time, so I’ll have to go back someday.

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to climb towers, so I was delighted to discover that the tallest tower in the Netherlands is the Domtoren in Utrecht. Continue reading ‘Utrecht’

National Library of the Netherlands

After lecture today we took the Metro to The Hague to tour the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands. It has more than 3.5 million items in its collection and adds more every day because it is required to keep a copy of every print item published in the Netherlands. It was very cool seeing the seemingly endless rows of books in the archive (there are more than 50 kilometers of books). Anyone can browse the library’s catalog, but it costs €15 annually for a library card that allows you to check out items.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about that €15 fee for a library card. Yes, libraries — especially archival libraries such as the National Library — are expensive to operate and maintain. And €15 a year is really cheap. However, the idea of limiting access with even so modest a fee kind of sticks. I’d really like for the National Library to be free. At least it’s free to look at the super-cool old books in the exhibition hall of the library.

Day of rest

Today was a much-needed day of rest. I went to church this morning and got a spiritual recharge — something I’ve been overlooking since coming to Europe three weeks ago. The members of the congregation were very friendly and welcoming, and a couple of them even translated the services for me. The only weird thing was trying to sing hymns in Dutch, but I did give it a go. I may have even learned a tiny bit of Dutch pronunciation from it. After church I did laundry, wrote postcards to my family, and went for a short bike ride. I think I may be ready for another intense week now.

Kinderdijk

After hours of riding public transportation to get to and from the Kroller-Muller Museum yesterday, it was time to stretch out my legs a bit. I decided a bike ride to UNESCO world heritage site Kinderdijk was just the thing. It’s not too far from Rotterdam, but my first attempt at trying to find the place took me two hours — and I ended up back in Rotterdam. After studying the map much, much more carefully, I took a completely different route from the one I originally planned and got there in a much more reasonable 45 minutes. It was great strolling among the 19 working windmills that still pump water off the land surrounding them.

Hoge Veluwe, Kroller-Muller

This weekend the group had nothing specific planned, but Trent told us the program would pay for travel expenses and entrance to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Hoge Veluwe National Park. It was our choice what day to go, but a few of us thought that the museum was less likely to be crowded on Friday, so we set out earlyish to leave plenty of time for exploration. That turned out to be a good choice, because once we saw how incredible both the park and the museum were, we didn’t want to leave.

Continue reading ‘Hoge Veluwe, Kroller-Muller’

Like to be lost

Trent has kind of a complex about getting lost, probably because he does it like, oh, all the time. Personally, I like getting lost. Today after lecture, I decided to ride around Kralingse Bos, a huge park north of Erasmus University. It can’t even touch Amsterdamse Bos in sheer awesomeness, but it was nice to ride around the lake and be out in the open. When I finally left, I thought I was heading out the same way I came in, but apparently I was mistaken. I got profoundly lost.

I rode around some very industrial areas of Rotterdam for awhile and then around some very rural areas. It was delightful I finally found my way back to Erasmus University, and I was pretty sure I could make my way back to Hotel Baan from there (not completely sure). One of the things I like about getting lost is that I’m forced to examine my surroundings more closely than I usually do, and I often see something wonderful that I would have missed otherwise. Today, I saw a bike that was a little stranger than most, so I rode closer to get a better look. What I saw made me smile for the rest of the day: A newly-wed groom was taking his bride out for a spin on his bike equipped with a big cargo cart. Things like that should happen more often.

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen

Yesterday part of the class got stuck in an elevator at Erasmus University on our way upstairs to the guest lecture. Yep, I was one of the unlucky ones who got stuck. Unfortunately, I’m very claustrophobic, so the experience was a lot more unsettling than I let on at the time. So, what does this have to do with a very cool art museum? Nothing, except that when I was looking at a painting by one of the Surrealists, I heard a weird buzzing in my right ear and suddenly got extremely dizzy — I guess my brain needed its own version of surrealism. I went back to the hotel (it was only about 5:30 p.m.) and slept until the next morning. Greta thinks it was a delayed reaction from my elevator experience, and I’m going to agree with her on this one. I’m going to try riding the elevator again when we go to Erasmus tomorrow to try to deal with my irrational fear. I don’t know, though, whether I’ll be looking at surreal paintings again anytime soon.