I love this city

On Thursday I went to the movies at Pathe Munt and wanted to park my bike at the floating bike park opposite the flower market. But it stank, literally. Lots of rubbish, and crows feeding. So I tweeted this;

My tweet was acknowledged and my concerns reported. 4 minutes ago I got another tweet from the City Council’s webcare team.

Love this city.

Summer Sculpture at the Rijksmuseum

The gardens of the Rijksmuseum have their own exhibition in summer, this year the sculptures are by Giuseppe Penone, who uses natural elements in unexpected ways – rocks land in trees, gold glints from within a tree, and marble reveals veins.

it’s it’s free to enter and wander around. I arrived before 10 and the garden was fairly empty, there’s a small espresso bar in the old summerhouse if you need some caffeine before going into the museum. Here are my highlights from the garden sculptures. (Scroll down for video).

The water sculpture is called “Hide and See(k)” and it’s by Jeppe Hein, it’s a series of water jets arrayed in a square within a circle and programmed to release water in a sequence. At times you can walk through it, so I did, and took this 360 degree view from within.

High School Graduation

There’s a sweet Dutch tradition that when your child graduates from high school you fly the flag – with a school bag at the end of the flagpole. Sometimes school books or congratulatory banners are added. There are a few around my neighbourhood at the moment. Usually the Dutch flag is used, but I like it that one family adapt the tradition and flew the Canadian flag … I’m posting it today for Canada Day.

So you wanted beer?

I was in Utrecht for meetings today and happened to catch sight of the beer boat. Delivering beer. With a crane.

(sorry about the portrait orientation of the video – was a bit far away for landscape to work)

Open Garden Days

This weekend is the “Amsterdam Open Garden Days” event, when 29 of Amsterdam’s hidden gardens are open to the public. By hidden gardens I mean the ones at the centre of each block of Amsterdam, hidden from the street. Here’s a satellite view of the Amnesty International garden where I started my stroll, the red outline shows the area I had access to on that visit – it’s actually three interconnected gardens two of which are privately owned.

Hidden Garden Amnesty InternationalMany of the gardens are connected to companies, or NGOs, but a number are private gardens, it’s a real delight to explore this hidden side of Amsterdam, here are some highlights from Friday. (Scroll over to see garden notes – the numbers correspond to the garden numbers in the Event Guide)

To visit the gardens you need a “passe partout” which you can purchase at any of the starting points for 20 euro, tickets are valid for all three days. The gardens are open on all three days from 10am to 5pm. Take with you some bottled water and some small change, a number of the gardens offer tea coffee and snacks for  Advice for next year; you can buy tickets in advance and that gives you a 20% discount. The money raised goes to the Canal Gard Fund (part of Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds).

World Press Photos 2016

World Press Photo 2016It’s that time of the year – the World Press Photo Exhibition is on. This year’s “Photo of the Year” is, unsurprisingly, related to the refugee crisis. It shows a man passing a baby under a razor fence towards safety. So was it taken in a war zone? No. It was taken in Europe, on the border between Hungary and Serbia after Hungary closed the border to refugees. The image has been titled “Hope for a New Life”, but the image is imbued with desperation and doubt.

The World Press Photo Exhibition is always a review of the year’s tragedies and struggles, and the winning photo wasn’t the only one related to the crisis. There’s an emotional portrayal of the after effects of an airstrike in Douma, taken by Abd Doumany, one of the most heavily bombarded cities in Syria. They are images every politician should see, they are a reminder of the reality of the war in Syria, the real reason people are fleeing, the frightening reality behind those “migrants” in the flimsy boats.

The image that struck me the most of the Syrian images was this one, from Sameer Al-Doumy, who won for his series in the Spot News category. The people in the image are trying to carry family or friends to get medical attention following an airstrike. In a city that has been been bombed unrelentingly for 3 years, and has limited medical and hospital services. Something about their ghost-like appearance sticks with me.

Syrian GhostsNot every image is as searing as this, there were definitely some lighter moments.

In a long series about North Korea, David Guttenfelder chronicles a bleak, grey landscape, high regimentation, and some rather endearing ingenuity including this driving simulator to help new drivers.

driving simulationI’ve visited the exhibition almost every year since moving to the Netherlands and this is the first time that I’ve seen photos in the sports category that appealed to me. Vladimir Pesnya‘s award-winning series on the amateur ice hockey team in the small town of Vetluga is a charming glimpse of a local tradition – they play on a fenced off bit of natural ice. But the series that I really loved was Tara Todras-Whitehill’s third-prize Sports story on the Ebola survivors football team from Sierra Leone. So much joy found despite the sadness and loss the players have gone through.

Ebola Survivor's Football Team

The exhibition is on at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam until the 10 July, and then on tour around the world through to January 2017.

Festival des Métiers – Hermès Comes to Amsterdam

Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out the Festival des Métiers at the Amsterdam Manege. It’s a display of the craftsmanship that goes into Hermès products, by the artisans themselves. You’ll see how a saddle is stitched, the fine porcelain painting, see what goes into printing a scarf, and the minute hand-stitching used create the famous rolled edges. At each station there is an interpreter translating the explanations in French for Dutch audiences. Even if you don’t speak either of these languages you can still watch and be amazed at the skill, and I’m sure if you had a real question in English the interpreter could help.

I’ll never be able to afford one of their products, but I still felt privileged to see inside the factory as it were, I was in awe of the skill.

It’s open until Monday, and you can see more info online, or on facebook.