Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 6

     The morning started early at 6:15am. But fear not, I still managed to get breakfast and seem awake enough to function. Something I have learned on this trip is that personalities have truly come out. Didn't get enough sleep? Too bad, wake up and breathe in the Dutch air. By bus, we arrived at Centraal Station to hop on the train to Den Haag, then transitioned into a bus to visit the ICC.

     Featuring baby sloth in her most natural state. 

     At the ICC, we were given a presentation of how the courts work and briefs over some cases. 

     Although I didn't get any pictures, we were given the opportunity to meet with the Humanitarian Department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What I found interesting is that their main focus with helping refugees is to enable them and their choices instead of just handing them money. This creates a chance to open a small economy and let their host community thrive (the host community being the area they flee to, and hopefully stay at). Below are the notes I was able to capture during his presentation.

     Even if we weren't able to tour the Peace Palace, I was there and I threw the AST anchor in pride, always taking Apha Sigma Tau with me everywhere. The Peace Palace is also known as the International Justice Court.

     Elliot, Camille, Rachel and I ended our night at New York pizza where Archie was able to try the four cheese pizza that we ordered.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 5

     Breakfast at 7:30am, bright and early! We all left at 8:30am to head to visit with the urban city planner, Frans Dubbledam, to discuss the expansion of Amsterdam. Sadly, he wasn't as academically backed as we had all hoped. Included are the notes I took!

     After the presentation, we traveled back over to Central Station and picked up bikes from the Mac Bike shop. It took a few minutes, but finally Ruud was found and we started our tour of the Amsterdam Nord. The first stop was De Ceuvel. De Ceuvel can be described as an innovative small-business collective that is trying to revive the poisonous ground they work on. Each small business works out of old, renovated boat houses that are surrounded by lifted paths. The ground is very poisonous, and it will take 10 years to clear up, so these paths were built to help the process. This is the true definition of reusing, reducing, and recycling. Hats off to the young entrepreneurs.

Featuring Elliott, modern day Tarzan.

     A beautiful restaurant completely reconstructed with recycled wood and other materials ft. a recycled boat turned bench.

The "Idea Tree"

     After visiting De Ceuvel, Ruud took us to a place that was considered an area for Amsterdam's squatters. But what we saw was far more incredible than I imagined. People are given the space to create their homes and offices, and this is what we saw. 

     Seeing this place brought me back to childhood where my dad and I built my lofted playhouse in our barn. Except these lofts are so much more complex. Following this picture is the infrastructure people are given when they move into the warehouse, and from there, they implement housing into the metal skeleton. 

The artwork was also just as inspiring!

Archie got in on some of the dock action, too! 

     Lastly, we were introduced to an Amsterdam city council member who was also a representative for the Democrats 66 political party, Bart Vink. 

It was an extremely early night to fall asleep, but the walking and biking is really exhausting.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 4

     After being the first ones up, Marian and I ended up being the last ones up today... By 15 minutes. Our first tour is the Rijksmuseum. There were so many works, but what I found fascinating was the handcrafted furniture.

After the tour, we enjoyed some lunch at the Grand Cafe de Nieuwe (it was close-ish to Yellow Bike rentals). A chicken and cheese sandwich, simple and tasty.

     Then came for the countryside bike tour. Where else can you ride bikes in Amsterdam? ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. It's refreshing, and I even got to see the Amsterdam skyline. Being able to see this beautiful place from a bike's perspective is so gratifying. I rode it myself, I made it out here, and look at the reward. The tour ended with a lovely lunch by the dikes; although I'm not huge on pesto, this was pretty great. 

     Also, I earned my first battle wound today on the roads of Amsterdam. The bike and I crashed, and I ended up with a gnarly markup. Ending the day with a little sprite and protein, goodnight. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 3

     The first tour this morning was in the Van Gogh Museum. To know that he was barely 37 when he attempted to take his own life and passed away two days later, is a travesty. But with over 100 paintings and 500 drawings created in over a span of 10 years, his life was fully illustrated by this museum and his works. I was unable to get pictures due to the rules within the museum, so that I apologize for. But I was able to pick up a gift for mom (an ongoing tradition for when I travel). Archie was even able to get in on some of the Van Gogh action.

     After the tour in the Van Gogh Museum, we briefly learned about diamonds. It takes three years for basic diamond cutting training. Pictured below is the guide on how to value a diamond as well as a crystal colored, small inclusion, and has the 201 royal facet. Too much money in one picture.

     After the diamond museum, we tried finding the vegetarian festival. But to no avail, we did not find the festival, but discovered the Tour de France has started organizing.

     At 8:00pm, the class went in a tour of the Red Light District (which we all got lost trying to find last night), funnily it was not too far from Centraal Station. It was an opportunity to meet up with Marishka, who really fought and spoke for the sex worker's union here in Amsterdam. They are people, who should have the same rights we do.