Ghent: Our First Adventure in Belgium

Ahhh yes, Ghent. Let me tell you about the wonderfully dynamic medieval Ghent, capital and largest city of East Flanders province in the Flemish region of Belgium.  First, I LOVED this city, and I will definitely go back one day.  So you know, back in the Middle Ages Ghent was one of Northern Europe's biggest and wealthiest cities, and it grew to be the second biggest city in Europe by the 13th century - Paris coming first.  The medieval architecture is really impressive, it has been preserved and restored with great care throughout time.     

Amsterdam: The Beautiful Details

The time has come to say goodbye to Amsterdam, we're catching the train and heading to Belgium!  Ghent, to be exact.   At age fifteen, Belgium left a good impression on me, so I always wanted to return for a longer stay and to see other cities.  This time around, I revisited the charming city of Bruges, and explored Ghent and Brussels for the first time.  I'll be back tomorrow with my first post on Ghent, one of the cities I enjoyed photographing the most.  Okay, so I enjoy photographing everything, everywhere, but Ghent was particularly medieval and unique.  

Enough rambling, back to Amsterdam.  This post is full of statues, monuments, architectural details, sunsets, cool stores, bridges, canals and other special details that I spotted while walking the picturesque streets.  The perfect close to my series of posts on this great city:

Canal Cruising in Amsterdam

On many of our long walks and bike rides throughout the city, my brother and I kept seeing people peddling around the canals on these little self-propelled water boats laughing...and struggling.  Maybe you remember the little pedal boat I speak of, from your childhood at the local lake, I know I do!  Anyway, we really wanted to rent one and explore the canals of Amsterdam for ourselves, so we tracked down a rental stations and shazam!

DJ Kaskade: Live at Club Air in Amsterdam

In my last post on Amsterdam, I told you all about the circumstances that led up to my brother and I randomly meeting Ryan Raddon, a.k.a. well-known electronic music DJ Kaskade, while out roaming the streets!  After we met him, we walked around the city some more, got a bite to eat, returned to the hotel to shower and change, and then ventured back out on the town to ask around and find the club where he was playing later that night.  After a bit of investigative work we found the club, it's right up the street from the popular Rembrandt Square (or Rembrandtplein).  During the day, Rembrandt Square is buzzing with locals and tourists, its Cafes and Coffeeshops crowded…  But by night, the clubs take over the scene.  At that point, we had already checked out another club right in the square on a previous night, I think it's called Prime.  It was okay, the most enjoyable feature being the digital strips running up the walls and across the ceiling where various graphics play out in sync with the music.

Anyway, we found Club Air and noted its location for later, later being some time around 11 or 11:30pm - then we walked around enjoying the debauchery in the streets until it was time for the show.  Flash forward a couple of hours and it was time, here is the scene in the club when we first walked in:

Videos of Nature by TSO Photography

I just saw this on my feed and felt compelled to share it with you.  The video was filmed by TSO Photography over the course of seven days on Spain's highest mountain - El Teide.  Apparently this mountain has a reputation for being one of the best spots in the world to photograph the stars.  I'd like to check it out in person some day!  I hope you enjoy this as  much as I did, nature never ceases to amaze me.  Check out more fascinating videos from TSO Photography on VimeoFacebookTwitterGoogle+, or tumblr.

I'll be back in a little bit with a post on seeing DJ Kaskade (electronic music) perform at Club Air in Amsterdam. As I mentioned in my last post, my brother and I happened upon a poster for this show while we were walking the streets of Amsterdam, and then we met him a few seconds later when he approached us with his cameraman on a bike. Read the full story here.


Amsterdam: The Museumplein and Meeting DJ Kaskade

Museumplein means Museum Square, and there is a big one in Amsterdam. The square is composed of the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum, along with the Concertbebouw concert hall. I'm ashamed to say we did not go to any museums on this visit to The Netherlands, time always eluded us. The day that we finally biked to Museumplein we got carried away walking the entire neighboring Vondelpark beforehand, and by the time we arrived it was too late to visit the museums. As I mentioned in my last post, the sun sets around 10-10:30pm, so we were always caught off guard by time, the prolonged daylight was so deceiving. 

Amsterdam: Coffeeshops, Naughty Shops and the Red Light District

There's no way around it.  If you go to Amsterdam you must take a stroll through the Red Light District and visit some Coffeeshops!  Come on, you can't miss out on some of the things that the city is most popular for, I assure you - it is an unforgettable experience.  Coffeeshops are distinctly different from a Cafe, where coffee and food is sold.  A Coffeeshop sells a variety of pot alongside coffee and beverages.  The whole smoking thing is harmless in my eyes, it's only something that is novel in Amsterdam because of the open atmosphere and tourist industry that powers the coffeeshop culture.  Smoking in public, in the heart of the city, over a cup of coffee and some good conversation is pretty great though.  Add in where you are and the incredibly diverse people watching opportunity and it's a very unique mix.  That's what everyone in Coffeeshops seem to do, hang out and talk, people watch and enjoy the moment.  It's very relaxed and low key, not out of control, at least not from what I've experienced during my many visits to this great city.  

Amsterdam: A Day in the Life of Vondelpark

Apparently, the day after I left for Europe back at the end of May, it started to rain here in Miami and didn't stop until July 11. The weather dude says it rained for 37 out of 40 days! How depressing huh? Well, yesterday the sun finally came out for the entire day, instead of slinking away at noon to make room for thunder and rain like all previous days. Luckily, I was off galavanting through Europe

Amsterdam: Life Along the Singel

Our first stop in Europe was Amsterdam!  For me, going to Amsterdam is like visiting an old friend.  I've been several times, so when I go back I always have that sense of familiarity that one lacks in new cities, which is welcoming.  Although I have to admit, as much as I thought I knew and loved Amsterdam before, now I know it and love it even more.  Now I know what you're likely thinking to yourself, "Oh yeah, I know why she must like to go there!"  I've gotten this type of response from several people and my reaction is always the same: "Not really, I can do that whenever I want right here!"  Granted, the open atmosphere, social acceptance, and coffeeshop culture make smoking in Amsterdam an unusually giddy place to smoke!  Known for being a hotspot of debauchery, Amsterdam has much more to offer than that.  The vast array of cultures that come together in this city is wonderful, people are friendly, the adorable Dutch Row Homes and overall city layout and architecture, the charming canals and bridges, the great museums, the vast parks full of aromatic flowers, singing birds and lots of picnickers, not to mention the public transportation system and prevalence for riding bicycle instead of driving cars.  Well, I could go on rambling, but I'll let some of my photos do most of the talking down below.  

37 Days in Europe

I fell in love with Europe at an early age, my aunt took me along on her travels when I was fifteen, and again at age seventeen. I got to experience a taste of twenty cities across thirteen European countries before I had even graduated high school. I am forever grateful for those travel experiences, they played a big role in shaping who I am and the way I see the world. Ever since those trips, I was thirsty for more travel, which I have been able to do several times since then, both within the United States, Canada, and Europe. My first time revisiting Europe after age seventeen was when I went to Istanbul, Turkey for business (and pleasure) when I worked in the design industry with my aunt; the second time was to The Netherlands and France for leisure.  I always found myself longing to spend more time in Europe(I'm sure that's not too unusual), and so it was always my plan to go on a longer adventure at some point in the future.