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Month: June 2017

cathedrals 20

Amsterdam (̅_̅_̅(̅(̅_̅_̅_̅_̅_̅̅()ڪ

Not so many cities have amaze me as this one. Visiting it at least 5 times so far with almost all possible means of transport, and with different purposes (touristic, leisure, business, shopping, visiting a friend….) gave me deeper introspective of Amsterdam.

So let’s start first with the cityscape! The favourite thing of this city as unique and quire romantic! CaptureAmsterdam’s Old Town is a mix of canals that go round and round making you being confused and hard to orientate especially since the cars are forbiden there.

If you look at the map carefully, you will understand where from the cities name derive: the dam of the river Amstel.

 

As the entire city is concentrical, it is piled with many canals over which boats are passing by with many toursts (quite drunk and stoned if I may say) that are partying for bachelor’s or bachelorettes. There are many bridges over these canals with flower pots and typically hipsterish bycyles leaned at the fence of the bridges.

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Canals of the river Amstel
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Mum and me in Od Town ❤

The very other thing likeable so much in the Old town of Amsterdam are the houses and facades. Literally, some houses are from the 15th century, still alive and yeah, without the curtains (calvinists believed they have nothing to hide in front of others).

Most of those houses are leaning (no, you are not stoned from the smoke of the nearby coffee shop – the are really leaning to get more space in the upper parts, but some houses are just failed based as it is all built on water). These houses are often slim, high and deep. Because of the danger of flooding the front door is sometimes higher up and only reachable via stairs

Oh yeah, and bicycles!

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Leaning houses and bicycles
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Leaning houses over the canal
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Leaning houses over the charming canals

Talking about duth charm, last time I visted Amsterdam, I visited with my mother. We rented a car from Brussels and drove through the Netherlands. My mother was ipressed by the villages, landscape, green meadowes and farms, number of cows, polders as an irrigation system of Netherlands and the windmills.

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Landscape of Netherlands

Thanks to this lifestyle, the traiditional footwear are clogs. These were wearn by farmers when going to to a garden or into a barn. Clogs are made of wood but they are quite comfortable shoes.

When I visited Amsterdam with my brother, we went to Heineken Experience. This was my second time but I needed to re-visit as Martin is being a fan. The entire experience is educational, showing the production of beer, bottelling as well as the entreprenurial and marketing spirit of Alfred H. Heineken.

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At the entrance of Heineken Experience
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Some marketing moves
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History  of Heineken company 
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How to make a beer
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Heineken’s Logos so far

In the end of our tour/ experience we ended at the rooftop, with a great DJ, beautiful view on the city and good beer in our hands. The world was ours. 🙂

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Partying in the rooftops of Amsterdam with the view on Rijksmuseum
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Heineken Experience at its very best

And for the first time I tried dark Heineken. Should I comment it? 🙂

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I actually did not know that this kind of beer exist. But it was a worth to try it as after all, I do prefer darker beers than light lager as they say the darker beer is smoother than the regular one.

If your Heineken makes you happy… 🙂

But I have to admit, it was the only time I tried it as it is so hard to find this type of beer in Amsterdam or elsewhere.

 

 

 

When talking about beer of Amsterdam, the other very popular one is Amstel beer. My favourite moment is when I sit at the Rembrandt square and enjoy all the small moments one could have with lovely ones. Small things bring big happiness.

So here we go to a bit of a cultural part of the city. Rembrandt was the famous painter of 17th century Amsterdam when the city was flowering together with Holland, Flanders and entire regione of the North sea accesses. Reimbrandt is, according to the historians, belonging to the Dutch Golden Age. His most famous peace of art is the Night Guard which can be found in Rijksmuseum, dutch King’s Museum. 

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Rembrandt and the characters of his Night Watch painting

Vincent van Gogh once said about him: “Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt—magician—that’s no easy occupation.”

As they both lived in Amsterdam, only Van Gogh lived in late 19th century in the era of post-impressionism and had less envying life (at least for me). Apparently, he cut his own ear as he was using absenth in this almost-all-legal city.

His most famous painting are The Sunflowers which can be found in Van Gogh Museum. 

Holland is the region of Netherlands famous by tulips and many other flowers. Tulips actually came from Ottoman Empire but somehow remained as trade mark of Netherlands. Having this in mind, everytime I buy a sack of tulip bowls. But last time with my mother in Amsterdam, we went to the Flower market and bought many different type of flowers and bulbs and garden decorates 🙂

The entire flower market is floating in the water, and  is one of the most fragrant places of interest of Amsterdam – in all seasons. This unique market exists since 19th century. The flower stalls stand on the houseboats and evoke the old days when the market was daily supplied by boat.

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Tulip bulbs at flower market
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Flower market

Amsterdam is full of coffee shops where you get a menu with cannabis joints and prices. Usually the smell of weed spreads around so no need to go there and get a muffin, mushroom or a joint… 🙂 Here how the typical coffee shop looks like:

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Coffee shop
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Menu in the coffee shop

Ofcourse, for those with a broader experience, there are broader options:

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Bank of cannabis seeds

The other weird side of Amsterdam is the Red Light District. Since the prostitution has been legalized in 1960’s, this has been a quite booming touristic branch. The entire neighbourhood appears red thanks to red led lamps, women dancing in the windows and many sex shops, erotic shows too… Ofcourse taking photo is highly forbidden and risky as usually the security comes, takes your camera and hits it in the canal.

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Red Light District

We even managed to find a Sex Museum. I was not impressed at all even though there were historical traces of sex, sexual education pornogrpahy etc.

Oh Amsterdam, do charming yet so challenging 🙂

So, as the night was falling down, the city became crazier. Parading youngsters in costumes, some of them already having enough of everything I would say, but still continuing on…

The morning after the city looks like it has been cheewed couple of times and just spit out. Clutched would be a better word.

That morning we went on a Cheese market to try Gouda cheese!

We passed by the mein square the Dam square where is the King’s Palace located and the New church. 

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King’s Palace at the Dam square

Famous resident of Amsterdam city was Anne Frank, as well – a Jewish girl who was running with her family from the Nazis and hiding in the attick of some dutch house at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. After more than two years in hiding they are discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, is the only one of the eight people that survived. After her death, Anne becomes world famous because of the diary she wrote while in hiding.

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Anne Frank statue

 

 

 

 

 

 

cathedrals 38

Reims – where the French kings were crowned

vacation-franceFinishing our Route de Champagne,  my friend Petra and I spent the entire day exploring Reims, a city in the Grand Est region of France.

It was a hot sunday but worth of evey walk through the city.

We ate and admired the local history and culture.

The city was, of course, founded by the Gauls, (Asterix and Obelix) 🙂 and became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire. From those times are dating some roman momunets in Reims amongst which the most popular is Porte Mars. It is a 12 m high monumet dating from 3 CE with many highly detailed carvings that are describing the legend of its existence: apparently the citizens of Rheims built the arch in the honour of Rome  as Roman Empire built major roads through their city.

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Porte de Mars

Many people know Reims for its cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims, formerly the place of coronation of the kings of France since the Clovis l in 5th century, the one that united Franks. This whitnesses the gallery of French Kings’ monuments  above the main portal (entrance) and glass rose.

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Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims
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Gallery of Kings at Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims
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Main portal and rose

Before I show the inner side of the cathedral, just a small fun fact: the cathedral has been erected on the site of some Roman baths.

The interior of the cathedral transepts with aisles, there is an impressive choir and interesting rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath as a of rare magnificence.

As the cathedral is cleraly belonging to gothic style of that epoche and popular at the territories of today’s France and Germany, the architects were playing with the lights as a vision of God’s good will to look at His people.

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In 11th century King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral.

But, before it became  cathedral, it was a minor church that  was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century.  In 13th century, the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, with an intention to build bigger site.

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During the Hundred Years’ War with England (15th century), fighting for the French territoires, the cathedral was damaged. The most famous king from these times was Charles VII and the battle at Agincourt in support of Jean d’Arc.

Both her statue and the image of the coronation of Charles VII are present in the cathedral.

 

It is important to mention that after the World War ll, the reconcilliation between France and Germany was signe in thee cathedral by French General Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

As the cathedral was again damaged in World Wars I and II, some glass windows were reconstructed by contemporary artists in contemporary style.

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Window glass – contemporary  art

Today is a major tourist attraction, as it receives more than one million visitors in one year.

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Approaching the Cathedral from Rue du Tresor
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Backside of the Cathedral

Next to the Cathedral is Palace of Tau, the archiepiscopal palace, built in 15th century as the residence of the kings of France on the occasion of their coronations. It holds some reliquies, tresory, tapistries etc of France.

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Palais du Tau – tresor of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims

Reims is a capital of Champagne-Ardenne region as like that has a great gastronomy. My friend and I were eating quite well, visiting restaurants with Michelin star and deluxe awards. Ofcourse, each meal was accompanied with the glass of champagne or red wine.

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