zondag 11 september 2011

De wereld van Witte de With in Rotterdam

This is an international arts festival which is held every second weekend of September in Rotterdam. There are a lot of creative arts designed by European artists, music, etc. so there is no time to experience boredom. Since I am thinking of writing about not having a bicycle in a bicycle infested country like The Netherlands, I found a connection in one of the features of the arts festival.

Click photo album and short video
Short video  (at the 41st second of the video, you can view recycling of bikes)

Living in a land of bicycles without having a bicycle
The Netherlands is a country where bicycle is a common mode of transportation. I’ve been living here for some years but I don’t bike anymore. I know how to bike but I prefer walking far distances or taking a public transportation which is efficient, anyway. The first time I started living here, my friend gave me a second hand bike. It is a type of bike called by the Dutch as an “oma fiets “, a big, heavy one with a higher saddle and with foot brakes. However, I was more comfortable with hand brakes. We tried to make the saddle lower but it  was at its  lowest. I remember I used to tiptoe to touch the ground when I hit the brakes. It was not that convenient but I managed using the bike until one day in autumn, there was a very strong wind. Together with the heavy bike, I got  carried by the wind and almost fell in a Dutch canal. I tried to hit the foot brake but could not manage it at all. Luckily there was  a big tree which stood in my way so while I was being pushed into the canal, I turned the handle bars swiftly straight to the tree so the wheels hit the big tree instead. It was better than falling in a canal knowing I could only swim a bit. It worked, I stopped with a thud and arrived safely at home although a bit shaken by the incident. After a while, André bought me a brand new modern Batavus bike. I used it in going to a Dutch training centre where I studied the Dutch language. One afternoon as I was biking home, there was a young man who overtook another biker. He did not see me coming the other way and we had a frontal collision. I found myself lying on the ground with bruises on my knees and a damaged bike where the front wheel was bent from the impact. It was repaired and I biked again like any other foreigner trying to live the Dutch way. Within a certain period of time, André bought a scooter. I suddenly had an excuse not to bike often and only used my bike in going to school and for some errands. Later on, our scooter became my saving grace because we started using it in buying groceries, going to villlages/cities, etc. When I started working, I got a subsidy for public transportation. From then on, I used my bike  lesser until recently, my old bike ended up in a garbage pile. Nowadays, I only use a stationary bike in the gym during a group lesson. Aside from the usual bicycle, Dutch  people are very creative and innovative in finding ways to create an efficient bike. I’ve seen bikes which are more like an art in itself. Bikes with wheelbarrow-like extension to place children on it, bikes where a biker lies down while biking, etc.  During the international arts festival, I saw a public workshop on creative recycling of bicycles where accessories are from found or thrown-away objects. 

maandag 15 augustus 2011

Summer Carnival in Rotterdam

During the last week of July, there is a street carnival parade in Rotterdam. It begins at 2 pm until around 5 pm. It goes on until late at night because it is also a contest. The participants are various groups from different parts of The Netherlands. They originate mostly from Surinam, Antillian and there are also Latin American groups from Bolivia and Peru.
From Amsterdam, it is 1 hour and 10 mins. travel with a normal train. An alternative is hispeed train called Fyra which takes you to Rotterdam in 40 minutes. However, there is a difference in train prices.
Upon arrival at the station, there are signboards pointing to the direction of the street parade. Tip: go to the direction of Witte de Withstraat. It is a nice location to watch the parade. Just like any carnival parade, it is such a delight to see this colorful and lively street parade. There are around 30+ trucks with different music, dj's, singers and bands. After every truck, there are big groups of participants dancing in the street with beautiful costumes. Participants and the crowd dance the afternoon away to the drumbeats and catchy music. They have the energy to keep on dancing from starting point to final destination in the city square of Rotterdam.

Here are video and photo impressions:
photo album 2011
photo album 2010

zondag 14 augustus 2011

Summer darkness in Utrecht

Summer Darkness is a dark underground interdisciplinary festival located in the gothic city square of Utrecht. It is a festival mixing music, fashion, arts, market, and dark underground dancenights. It happens during the last week of July.
With the gothic church and garden in the city, it is a perfect location for this kind of event. People show up in different outfits. There are stalls where one can buy gothic and funky clothes, shoes, accessories and audio cd's. At Tivoli concert hall, one can watch concerts with entrance fees. It goes on for a few days.
Train transportation is the most practical way. From the train station, it takes only a few meters and we are already in our destination.
Tip: If you want to taste the best french fries in Holland (best-tested in year 2011), do buy at the side of the back station. You pass it in going to the gothic church.
It was my first time to attend this event. We did not go to any concert and just strolled in the premises. It was a nice experience to watch the mode show of gothic lolita dolls and funky, cool male and female models.
Here are two videos I edited:
People & surroundings
Fashion show
Photo album 2011
Photo album 2010

Elf Fantasy Fair at Haarzuilens & Arcen

Elf Fantasy Fair speaks for itself, a yearly fantasy event which is held in Kasteel Haarzuilens (April) in Utrecht  and at Kasteeltuinen in Arcen. What's the harm of escaping from reality once in a while by dressing yourself up with what you want to be in your fantasy for a day or two? Afterwards, you go back to your normal, humanly life. This is an event where there are a lot of stalls selling fantasy stuff, program of activities like royal coronation, medieval times, short concerts, medieval foods, etc.
An entrance fee is required to enter this fantasy event. We enjoy every time we attend this affair. Sometimes we also dress up but othertimes, just in our daily clothes bumping into orks, elfs, dark and evil characters, royal family, scifi characters, medieval people, etc.
We usually rent a car but public transportation such as trains and buses are also accessible.
Upon reaching a designated train station, there are service buses bringing fantasy people to the location.
Here are my short videos 2011 at Haarzuilens:
inauguration and royal defilé
public in costumes
people in costumes at Dark Woods location
medieval fields
people in costumes
more people in costumes
glimpse of activities
Onno van Gulik, fire in style show

Photos taken by husband:
Photo album 2011
Photo album 2010

Here are short videos 2010 at Arcen:
honouring King and Queen of Elfia
horseback riding Dutch princesses
people in costumes
activities & more costumes

Japanese Fashion in Leiden

Japanese fashion weekend is held at Sieboldhuis, a Japanese museum in Leiden on Aug. 13-14, 2011. The styles of modern japanese fashion shown are gothic lolita, gyaru (street fashion), cosplay and visual kei.
From The Hague to Leiden, it takes 20 minutes with a train ride. From Amsterdam, it is a 35-minute train ride. From Leiden central station, it is around 15-minute walk to the museum.
Entrance fee in the museum is € 7.50. When we arrived there, the models were already gathered in the museum garden and in the hallway. It was busy and the photographers had their hands full with the beautiful models. There were two fashion shows, at 1 pm and at 2:30 pm. Then the show began. The narrator explained the origin and evolution of Japanese fashion. One thing I observed is that there are a lot of creative Dutch young women who design their own costumes. Some even made their own hats and weapons. There is a female duo with their own handmade Gothi Lolita clothes, the first in The Netherlands according to them. Unfortunately, there was only one male model. I expected a mixture of men and women fashion show. After the show, we explored the museum. There is a temporary exhibit of Kawaii Kimono, children's clothings. Going to the museum for the fashion show was worthwhile and educational.
For some video impressions, here are my short videos in youtube:
Gothic Lolita
Gyaru and visual kei
Para para dance & photo shoot models

Gay Pride in Amsterdam

A yearly event in Amsterdam which happens every first week of August for 4 days. These are the names of the streets where you can go for street happenings:
- Westermarkt (where homosexual monument is located)
- Rembrandtplein
- Rembrantplein/Reguliersdwarsstraat
- Reguliersdwarsstraat
- Amstelkade (Rembrandtplein-Noord)
- Amstelveld
- Zeedijk
The main event is the canal boat parade on Saturday afternoon. The route begins mostly at Westerdok, Prinsengracht, Oudeschans, Amstel and ends at Oosterdok (near the train central station). I already attended this event twice, in 2009 and on Aug. 6, 2011. Two years ago, we had luck in filming and picture taking. This time we did not have a nice location and it was very crowded than the past years.
The starting point is at Westerdok located at the back of the train station and ends at Oosterdok near the front of train station. Tip: go there an hour earlier because even if the program states that it begins at 2 pm, the parade begins earlier. If you want to be where the action is, I suggest you go as early as possible at Prinsengracht where it is too crowded yet with a very warm ambiance. The theme is "All together now". It was the first time that Ministry of Defense participated.
Here are videos I filmed and photo albums for your viewing pleasure:
video impression1
video impression2
video impression3
Photo album 2011
Photo album 2010